Calling it "Eight Short Studies on Excuses" is as reasonable as calling this Mozart set of studies (http://www.classiccat.net/mozart_wa/265.htm) "Twelve variations".
On the topic - interesting and well written. What are the advantages of the normal mode of excuse-evaluation compared to this?
2) Taking a game-theoretic approach to excuses, rather than merely accepting "true" or "believeable" excuses, has the advantage of allowing you to reject excuses without calling into question anyone's character. Nobody wants to be the jerk who said "I don't believe your grandmother really died" to the kid whose grandma actually DID just die; it's much easier to be the guy with the "late work is not accepted even if your grandma dies" policy.
3) The excuse evaluator can add a cost to making excuses. A teacher might require an essay explaining the excuse in detail, thereby wiping out the added utility the student derives from procrastinating, but not wiping out the utility the student derives from attending his grandmother's funeral. This creates a threshold that prevents people with no real excuse from gaming the system.
I worked it out with the professor and I got docked 10% on every assignment, but he also added a bonus question for everyone and that let me stay in the A range regardless.
At least in my admittedly anecodtal experience, most professors are willing to work with you if you are making an effort in the class and have a genuine reason besides laziness.
The lower you go on the academic totem pole, the less tolerance there is. Extensions are hard to get at state schools-- even the really good ones-- and practically nonexistent at community colleges.
It may be unfair, but it makes sense. Teacher:student ratios are lower at elite colleges, and late work is rarer, so it's not really a burden. Also, professors at elite colleges are generally happier and have cushier lives, whereas teachers at CCs are usually underpaid and overworked already, so late work is an intolerable addition. Finally, many of the students in middling schools shouldn't be in college at all, while the assumption at an elite college is that the person who's late is a good student with a good reason. That assumption's not always true, of course, but elite colleges would rather make one type of error.
At private schools, tuition is much higher, parents are wealthier, and alumni contributions are important. So the utility function of the professor is actually linked to the grade of the student (also why you see more grade inflation at the more expensive schools, se, e.g., - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grade_inflation#Princeton_Unive...).
In state schools, class sizes run much larger; granting an exception with a 200 person class is not likely to remain a secret for long. This means the penalty to professors for not following tit-for-tat is much greater.
Also, professors at state schools just don't have the time available to even consider the excuses - it's easier to consider 4 unique cases (out of 20 students) at a private school vs. 40 unique cases (out of 200) at a public school.
They hold that belief because it is true.
I now resign myself to an additional -4 comment. Karma comes, karma goes. I guess it all evens out in the end. Funny that.
By adding my downvote to each and every comment in this subthread, I have imposed a cost upon the average user for attempting to game the karma system with uninteresting comments.
My downvotes signal that I would like to see fewer comments of this type. This comment does so more explicitly; I believe the utility I derive from discouraging karma-gaming comments (even those meant as a joke) is worth the risk of up to 10 of my own karma.
(for the record your post had 0 karma when I upvoted it)
Off-topic but I disagree : Battlefield Earth was a good book.
And terrible movie.