A petition worth getting behind

It’s argued over at Winds of Change that Segways, which are rapidly finding use by crippled vets (providing much-needed mobility with dignity), should receive the same public protections that wheelchairs do.

This seems like a no-brainer to me, and if you agree, hop on over, they’ve got links you can hop through to actually help do something about it.

The End of Theory?

The Speculist is musing on a question posed by Chris Anderson, on whether petabyte computation obviates the need for theoretical development.

Now, I’m, as my twin points out, not an analyst, but I DO a lot of work in theory (often reaching wayyy out into heresyland), in areas where such computational ability is of little use.  Though, it must be said, most of my hypotheses actually are falsifiable and/or rest upon questions where the data is empirical.  So, subtracting out field-selection bias, what do you guys think? 

On the one hand, it’s a ridiculous question — but ridiculous questions often yield useful fruit.

(Speculist guys, still lovin’ your page, still having trouble commenting).

SCOTUS actually doesn’t screw up for once

Still looking into the details if I get time, but unlike the First Amendment and the defense of private property against theft by one’s local government, the Supremes seem to have actually not raped one of the constitutionally-defended rights for once…

The Price of Freedom

One of my students gets it.

We skipped over the Japanese Internment, due to time pressures, but the primary sources of the Korematsu trial are in my reader (at least, the exec. order as signed by Roosevelt, and the dissent in the Korematsu case).

One of my students, a muslim gal (and currently the best student in the class) looked at me and said, “can they still do this?”  On my saying no, that the order was repealed, she then unfocused her eyes for just a second, before looking back at me and asking “could this happen again?”

“Yes.  Scare enough people badly enough, and it could.  That is why the State of Texas makes you take this course, so that you will know that it happened, and why it happened, so that you and your kids’ generations can make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

Poser 7

The wife has a new addiction, a piece of software called “Poser.”  Originally, it was meant to be a computer substitute for artists too poor to afford a figure model.  Now, it’s a great way for folks who can’t draw to assemble objects and dress together and paint scenes out of one’s head.  The learning curve is steep, but it’s well worth it — I’m getting to see an artistic side of the wifey that I probably wouldn’t have ever known about otherwise.

Crossroads in Time

Am taking a personal micro-vacation this weekend… sans wifey, unfortunately, but still, it will be Good ™.  I’m going to a… I guess you could call it a “themed camping event,” called “Crossroads in Time,” with a bunch of folks doing living history.  There’s no set venue, b/c the US LH community is so diverse and fragmented.  Instead, it’s late medieval (1300-1500).  I’ll be going as a servientes to Istvan Lackfi, Voivode of Transylvania, during the Neopolitan Succession Wars… roughly 1354.

Pictures should follow.  The plan is to play backgammon, drink beer, shoot at the clout (long-range archery), and learn to do interesting things with rope, while enjoying the air in southwest Utah.  So far, it looks like the weather is going to cooperate… highs in the mid-90s, lows in the mid-50s.

I did a LOT of living history when I was in Hungary, taking part in shows, the occasional television program, and a ton of lectures delivered to schoolkids, so while it’s sad that I don’t get to drag the wife along, it’s profoundly relieving that I actually get to use some of the equipment that I’ve got all over the place for the purpose.  Plus, the guy hosting this is doing this as part of his “let’s make my mid-deployment vacation memorable,” so I really have to do it up right so he has lots of cool photos to show off once he gets back to his unit.

Why I’m thinking about brain chemistry lately (movie and martial arts)

The Man Who Shall Not Be Known as “Sifu” challenged us to have done a … I don’t know what you call, exactly, doing all eight palms of baguazhang… ladder, series, what-have-you… I’m going to call it “the form,” even though I’m not sure that quite applies the way it does with other forms… 140 times by the time we see him next.  That comes to ten times per day.

I have a week left, and I don’t think I’m going to make it.  Oh, practice is going well… but there’s this little thing called “my brain” that gets into the way.  You see, it pretty much turns to mush on me.  Ten repetitions of the form is about two hours of bagua — that sounds like a lot to folks who do a workout at the gym, but back when I lived in SF and was single with a fiancee 5000 miles away, I trained for five hours a day.  And ran up the phone bill from hell.  Bagua and Hsing-I are low enough-impact that you can do that.

But I’m starting to understand the meditation aspect hardcore, as I get further in and lose my ability to focus on what I’m doing.  Sometimes it’s cool (like when you suddenly wind up going off on a tangent, b/c lizard brain has found an application), and yanking yourself back is just a feature of “hey, dumbass, back on target.”  But then there’s the true “my brain just melted,” where it all falls apart.

I’m getting better at going further without losing it… but I’m not there yet.

Now, speaking of losing it, we saw The Happening.

Shyamalan has essentially managed to make a combination survival-horror and Red Scare flick, only this time, it’s a pseudo-environmental piece.  What if plants could react to us as pests the way we react to insect and plant pests, and generate a neurotoxin “humanocide?”  Like most of Shyamalan’s work, it’s worth seeing once if you’re into the survival horror of any kind, but, also, like most of Shyamalan’s flicks, it’s heavy on concept, and a little lightweight when it comes to the acting.  It also veers a touch into “message film,” though, given that some of those putting out the information leading to it are, well, dumbasses, the degree to which it’s meant to be taken seriously is up in the air.

It’s worth checking out, if you’re into Shyamalan’s directing… otherwise, I’d avoid it.

How did I know this dumbass teaches in the Northeast?

Well, it might have been that he or she inflicts Said on freshmen students who don’t have any of the intellectual tools and context by which to judge the author’s arguments… but besides that, the Atlantic’s editors should be ashamed of publishing this turkey.  It’s yet another angst-ridden post about whether students going to community college should be here, after all, by a teacher who should never have been hired in the first place.

I knew that Ms. L.’s paper would fail. I knew it that first night in the library. But I couldn’t tell her that she wasn’t ready for an introductory English class.

You’ve got a 40-something woman who’s come to you for help who has never used a computer before, and you say “go get some help?”  Hey, asshole, that’s what she came to you for.  And this is why, Professor X, who, by the way…

Professor X teaches at a private college and at a community college in the northeastern United States.

is going to remain a goddamned adunct and keep teaching at multiple colleges, because you fundamentally fail to recognize that you have to tailor your instruction to the audience.  It’s dirt damned obvious that this loser is going at the community college students with the same methodology as is being used in the private college.  And that’s a crying damned shame, because, what this editorial largely provides an utterly damning indictment of the Professor’s own professional shortcomings.

My students take English 101 and English 102 not because they want to but because they must. Both colleges I teach at require that all students, no matter what their majors or career objectives, pass these two courses. For many of my students, this is difficult. Some of the young guys, the police-officers-to-be, have wonderfully open faces across which play their every passing emotion, and when we start reading “Araby” or “Barn Burning,” their boredom quickly becomes apparent. They fidget; they prop their heads on their arms; they yawn and sometimes appear to grimace in pain, as though they had been tasered. Their eyes implore: How could you do this to me?

Hey, dumbass.  How, in fact, could you?  You know, for a fact, that you’re boring your students to tears.  Ever thought of maybe sprucing it up a little, or teaching the curriculum in a way that gets through to folks who happen to be kinesthetic types, rather than bookworms? Which doesn’t mean you dumb down the curriculum… it means that you get off your ass and learn to teach.

Pathetic.  If this instructor is full-time at the private institution, he or she should stay there, and not ruin any more students than is absolutely necessary.

Nationwide adult Herpes at 19% ??

Drudge had a post on how New Yorkers are sitting ugly at 26%… but that’s up from only 19% across the nation?

Hrm… yeah, I think some sexual conservatism just might kindasorta be in order…. I mean, dayum…..

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