90g Reef Aquarium Update

Hello loyal fans. I bought a new camera last week and have begun taking tons of pictures of the 90g. Here are a few of the new ones:

Full Tank Shot

Pajama Cardinals

Yellow Tang

Zoanthids

Ricordea Yuma

Quote of the Day:

“Photography is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality” – Alfred Stieglitz

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Published in: on November 26, 2007 at 6:31 pm  Comments (1)  

RFID For Students?

Hello loyal fans. As I was perusing the online news today I came across an interesting article about tracking students with RFID chips. Frankly, I have to agree with both the leaders of “Leave Them Kids Alone” the security expert in the article: this is a totally ludicrous idea. And, I do not agree simply because of the glorious Pink Floyd reference…although, all in all, it is all just another brick in the wall. The wall, of course, being “the man” taking away our personal freedoms. Sure, kids can often be wacky weirdos doing some incredibly stupid things…but it is, at the same time, an incredible disservice to fail to allow them the opportunity to learn from these bad decisions. This is really one of my pet peeves about the way children are raised today. Today’s children are ridiculously over monitored. I think this began towards the end of my childhood and has progressed in an incredibly rapid fashion ever since. The aspects of this “big brother” style of parenting can be divided into three distinct areas: health, recreation, and education.

Health:

The “modern” parent strives to protect his/her child from the scary bad infections and diseases which, according to television, are just waiting to infect and kill millions of babies every year. Simply take a walk down the aisle of cleaning products at the local Target and you will find dozens of different products, all promising to kill 99.9% of bacteria present on any given surface. Parents have been led to believe that this will, in fact, save their children. In effect, all it does is leave them unprepared to enter the real world. Eating dirt, licking the floor, drinking out of the toilet, rolling around in the mud, sharing ice cream with the dog…all of these things help develop immunities. Killing off any possibly harmful organisms living in/around the home only leave the child open to future infection by significantly more insidious organisms.

Recreation:

My concern here is, to a degree, less centered around the type of recreation to which children are exposed as it is directed at the structure superficially imposed thereon. Certainly, I believe too many kids spend too much time in front of the television and video games. That point is not worth discussing. What is worth discussing is the over scheduled nature of todays’ kids recreational activities. It seems that every moment is scripted: a play date here, 13 minutes of coloring there, soccer practice then, followed by 23 minutes of scripted Lego time. I yearn for the days when parents said “go outside and play” and left it at that. I do not see how parents really have the time in the day to so carefully manage their kids play, but beyond that I think it is so restricting that it creates a bunch of rigid automatons who have lost all their ability to think creatively.

Education:

Education may, in fact, be the realm of existence in which this “super-parenting” has its most powerful, and perhaps, most overbearing impact. I consider myself lucky to not have to deal with the vast majority of the Mommy-Nazis at the high school level. I could not imagine being an elementary school teacher dealing with the daily grind of over involved parents. Let me say that I am all for parent involvement, but the line of appropriate involvement seems to be crossed by today’s parents increasingly regularly. This problem is two-fold: 1) parents who refuse to acknowledge the necessity of their students’ personal accountability and 2) the over abundance of college prep activities. Both issues are the result of parents’ desire for their children to succeed. Issue one leads to parents blaming teachers for their kids’ failure to do homework, study for tests, and positively contribute to class. I can say, with confidence, that my parents would never, and I mean never, have called a teacher and blamed them for my failing grade, no matter how “bad” I claimed a teacher to be (granted, I never had this issue). Rather, I would have been held fully accountable. The second issue is evidenced by the glut of spending thrown at SAT prep classes and tutors for bright kids. Too many AP/Honors caliber students spend hours with tutors and in these classes hoping to boost their SAT scores a few points. These activities do little more than burn out the students. Sure, little Jimmy might end up at Cal, Stanford, or insert school of choice…but the student will also be totally burnt out on school and learning. What is the point? Ultimately, the difference between a degree from Cal and a degree from Wichita State is nonexistent. A degree is a degree. Beyond that, if a student has (in my opinion at least) artificially gained admission to a more rigorous university through these prep classes and tutors, their chance of success at that level must be diminished. The student will be thrust into an environment where that support is suddenly absent and will suffer greatly as a result. I can think of at least a half dozen people I met at UCLA who had that exact same experience.

So…to all you parents and future parents out there, I implore you:

schoolofrock

Let them explore and experience the world.  Step in when necessary, but give them enough free reign to develop and thrive on their own as well!

Quote of the Day:

“I believe the children are our future…let the children’s laughter remind us how we used to be” – Dewey Finn (Jack Black), School of Rock quoting “Greatest Love Of All” by George Benson performed by Whitney Houston

Published in: on November 6, 2007 at 9:03 pm  Comments (2)  

On Halloween…

Hello loyal fans. Halloween has come and gone. Once again, no Trick-or-Treaters arrived at my door. Curses! A pox upon living in an apartment complex! I miss the Halloweiners showing up at my door begging for delicious confections. As curmudgeonly and misogynistic as I am, I never fail to have a few things on hand just in case the little ones actually come rapping, rapping at my chamber door.

And now, a word on the roots of Halloween. If you were unaware, the roots of Halloween can be found in the pagan traditions of Medieval Europe. The tradition of dressing up was supposed to pacify spirits who, according to these beliefs, were able to exist in the world of the living on October 31st. The day fell one day before All Hallows Day, a day in which all the Catholic saints were to be worshiped. Over time, All Hallows Day became All Saints Day and All Hallows Even (the day before) was shortened to Hallowe’en and, ultimately, Halloween. Most Americans did not celebrate Halloween until the late 1800s when Irish immigrants (the most hated of all immigrants at the time) brought the holiday into popular celebration. Presumably, the Puritan traditions still present in the U.S. presented the celebration of the day prior to this time. Halloween, in the form we know it, was not widely celebrated in the U.S. until the post WWII boom of the 1950s. The popularity of the holiday and the going ons surrounding it are evidenced by the preponderance of B Movies (e.g. The Blob and Creature From The Black Lagoon) and “creepy” TV shows (e.g. The Munsters and The Adams Family) which followed the Halloween theme.

I elected to honor our fine nation on this spooktacular day with a tribute to one of our most beloved presidents.

batchlincoln

Quote of the Day:

“If I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one?” – Abraham Lincoln

Published in: on November 1, 2007 at 9:08 pm  Leave a Comment  

Science v. Religion = Hilarious

Hello loyal fans. As I was perusing the archive pages of Dinosaur Comics I came across what is, to this point, my favorite series of strips. I feel that the short series sums up the contemporary religion debate admirably. If you find yourself a bit put off at first, I encourage you to read through the entire four strip series.

Science v. Religion Part 1

Science v. Religion Part 2

Science v. Religion Part 3

Science v. Religion Part 4

While I certainly fall squarely on the science end of this debate, I recognize that there are certain questions which science simply cannot answer. Conversely, I feel that there are literally thousands of questions which religion, in general, cannot answer. When posed with these questions, I find the response from the religious community is generally; “you just need to have faith”. For me, that is inadequate; I am simply not willing to accept the unexplainable as divine. This is, in my opinion, a terribly short sighted viewpoint. For centuries, bacterial infections were unexplainable; during those times, they were assumed to be the work of Satan. Now, that notion would be ludicrous. It is impossible for me to believe, as some of these faith touting people would hope I would, that down the road the modern “mysteries of God” will remain unexplained.

Quote of the Day:

“A man’s ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward after death.” – Albert Einstein

“I am as firmly convinced that religions do harm as I am that they are untrue.” – Bertrand Russell

Published in: on October 31, 2007 at 8:06 pm  Leave a Comment  

I Have Been Remiss In My Duties

Hello loyal fans. Allow me to apologize once again for the lack of regular posts. I have been busy. No excuses. Just busy. My goal is to post at least a couple of times a week from this point on.  I hope you enjoy the preceding post on fascism and democracy.

Quote of the Day:

“Duty is the sublimest word in our language. Do your duty in all things. You cannot do more. You should never wish to do less. ” – Robert E. Lee

“Do not confuse “duty” with what other people expect of you; they are utterly different. Duty is a debt you owe to yourself to fulfill obligations you have assumed voluntarily. Paying that debt can entail anything from years of patient work to instant willingness to die. Difficult it may be, but the reward is self-respect.” Robert A. Heinlein

Published in: on October 24, 2007 at 8:37 pm  Leave a Comment  

Democracy v. Fascism

Hello loyal fans. As I find myself spending more and more time in meetings, I have begun to develop great admiration for, and understanding of, fascist states. Democracy, and the bureaucracy inherent to it, is such a terrible waste of time and resources. We feign control within the decision making process, but in reality governments/study groups/committees/etc. are going to do whatever they want anyway; why do we delude ourself with visions of agency?

Anthropologists and social philosophers all assert that man yearns for structure and guidance. While there are a variety of theories as to why this is, it seems to be a virtually universal theory. Granted, there are some prominent anarchists who would refute that statement, but anarchy is, in a sense, social structure. Certainly it derives from the theory that man is inherently good and, therefore, has no need for artificially imposed regulation, but there remains regulation. Anarchy, though appealing in some ways, simply cannot be successful on the large scale. Frankly, anarchy will likely fail on the small scale (just as all previous utopian movements have). The social philosophy behind it is inherently flawed; man is, ultimately, not inherently good. If it were so, communism would function effectively and the democratic process in place in so many nations around the world would not be as corrupt as it is (United States included).

I am hesitant to speak ill of the democratic process, but in reality it is failing, and has in many ways failed since its inception. Democracy is the opiate of the masses. Television, media, and general ignorance allows this to persist. If Americans were not so uneducated and apathetic this nation would not be slowly spiraling down in the manner which it is. The more history I study, the more certain of this I become. Any time the rights of the citizen are infringed in this nation it is with popular consent. Thomas Jefferson would shudder if he were to see what the “great experiment” had devolved into. The nation which exists today is truly one of the Hamiltonian ideal. The people are blissfully ignorant to the usurpation of their “inalienable” rights. This persists at all levels of government and social organization.

So much time and so many resources are wasted on a decision making process which ultimately leaves nobody satisfied and nothing accomplished. The clear solution is simple fascism. Let the delusion come to an end. Why must the nation persist in ignoring the fact that this nation is led by an oligarchy of fools whose sole success is making the people believe they have the power. It is easy to understand how this has been allowed to take place; people are too ignorant and too apathetic to be responsible for the decision making process and so, naturally, a group of leaders have taken on the responsibility of doing all that “boring stuff”. And yet, there remains a national obsession with choice; it is ludicrous. The people have elected themselves out of the process. The only question which remains is who will be the American Caesar?

benito

Quote of the Day:

“The truth is that men are tired of liberty.” – Benito Mussolini

Published in: on October 24, 2007 at 8:34 pm  Leave a Comment  

Pop Haiku

Hello loyal fans. Frankly, pop music is horrible. But, it is so simple (albeit annoying) that it may provide the perfect inspiration for haiku. If nothing else, the haikuization of pop music can only make it better.

On a quasi-related note, today’s Dinosaur Comics is stellar and amazing! Even though Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake are doing their best to increase America’s stupidity, there are still dinosaurs out there encouraging young Americans to vote. Huzzah for dinosaurs!

So, without further adieu:




















OH WAIT! POP MUSIC SUCKS IS SO BAD IT IS NOT WORTH MAKING INTO HAIKU!

Quote of the Day:

“Rock gives children, on a silver platter, with all the public authority of the entertainment industry, everything their parents always used to tell them they had to wait for until they grew up and would understand later.” – Allan Bloom

Published in: on October 11, 2007 at 9:03 pm  Leave a Comment  

Being A Meativore Is Awesome

Hello loyal fans. Allow me to briefly comment on the awesomeness that is cooked meat. Frankly, it does not get much better than chowing down on a glorious hunk of cooked animal flesh. The inspiration for this post is twofold:

1) The recent two part series of Dinosaur Comics explaining how animals can be both “friends and food”

Part 1

Part 2

2) The offer of a student to complete his Westward Expansion project through a gift of steak wrapped in a twenty dollar bill (Andrew Jackson anyone?)

I respect the self sacrifice of vegetarians.  It is, in its nature, very Buddhist…and of that I approve.  Nevertheless, I can not fully understand the sadomasochism that is vegetarianism.

Hooray for meat!

Quote of the Day:

“If God did not intend for us to eat animals, then why did he make them out of meat?” – John Cleese

Published in: on October 11, 2007 at 8:51 pm  Leave a Comment  

Legos Are Awesome

Hello loyal fans. I am here today to speak to you about Legos. Legos are, frankly, awesome. While browsing MyFishTank.net today I came across this blog post about a Lego Pumpkin. This is pretty freaking sweet. After following the link to the Lego website I came across The Holiday Train Set; given my general love of all things railroad related, this was a pretty tempting little thing to run around some future tree…not very prototypical, but sort of light hearted and whimsical. It would be hard to argue that I don’t need more general whimsy in my life. Then again, I already have enough train related junk floating around my apartment to run more than a few trains around a tree (or ten).

Nevertheless, this piqued my curiosity and I elected to explore the Lego website further. Times have really changed since I was a kid. I remember when there were only three Lego themes: City, Castles, and Space and the mysterious, complex Technic sets. I also remember the excitement I felt when they added the Pirate set. Now there seem to be a cornucopia of different Lego options, the majority of which seem to be based on the stars of film and television (a fact of which I am not sure how I feel; on one level it is bothersome…on the other, I am happy to see Lego thriving…and who does not love Lego Star Wars).

Legos may just be the perfect toy. Sure, they cost an exorbitant amount for a bunch of little interlocking pieces of plastic, but they are still pretty awesome.

Just check out what some ambitious (and, likely, unemployed) folks did with theirs:

Quote of the Day:

“Batch likes Legos!” – Batch

Published in: on October 8, 2007 at 9:21 pm  Comments (1)  

On Cupcakes, Physicals, And Japan…

Hello loyal fans.  I would like to speak to you today about a few things, two of which I do not particularly find enjoyable and one which I admire.  The first is the cupcake.  The second is the hernia check.  The last is Japan.  While I have not had cupcakes or a hernia checked in a number of years, over the weekend both subjects managed to come up.  Around the same point, the beauty of Japanese culture also arose.  No doubt, there is some sort of comparison to be made here between American and Japan and such.

All of this began with an innocent cupcake dessert (of which I did not partake).  I might have considered the cupcake option if they were the vanilla kind with the little colored candies inside, but alas they were chocolate…bane of my existence.  The aforementioned chocolate cupcakes were also frostinged (I just made that word up) liberally and covered in a variety of Halloween themed sprinkles…neither of which I can condone.  Nevertheless, I am sure they were delightful for those who do enjoy such confections.

The other topic of conversation was the physical.  Somehow, and at this point I cannot recall why, the concept of “turn your head and cough” arose.  The simple question was asked, “why turn your head?”.  The simple answer…so you do not cough on the doctor/nurse/etc.

While this was all going on I was reflecting on my perception of Japanese culture as quite beautiful.  While I came to the conclusion that my perception might have been based on my position as an outsider, I am not yet willing to conceded that the only reason for my admiration is that.
Whatever the case, as a result of all this silliness a haiku was born.  So, with mad props…thats right…I said “mad props” to Julie, I give to you our Haiku:

Gently rustling leaves.

Turn your head and cough, they say;

Warm cupcakes…cold balls.

Quote of the Day:

“Garth…that was a haiku!” – Mike Myers as Wayne Campbell in Wayne’s World

Published in: on October 1, 2007 at 9:46 pm  Comments (4)