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

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

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  

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  

Huzzah For Thoughtful Humans

Hello loyal fans. My faith in the benevolent nature of humanity was, to a degree, restored today. When you spend your days surrounded by little wieners (that is the correct spelling…just ask Martin Prince) who, for the most part, spend 23.5 hours a day thinking about themselves, (that is right…even when they are sleeping), it is nice to be surprised by some generosity.

You see…some glorious students of mine decided my little Ocellaris Clown in the school tank needed a friend. They pooled their money and went out at lunch and picked out a good little specimen and brought him back to me. Beyond that, they were responsible enough to check with me first and make sure they found something compatible. It was pretty darn exciting! There is hope for society! Glory be!

Now those guys need to go out and take over the world…at which point I will apply for the position of assistant dictator, a job for which I believe I am naturally suited.

Quote of the Day:

“Be a clown, be a clown,
All the world loves a clown.” – Cole Porter, “Be A Clown”, from 1948’s The Pirate

Published in: on September 11, 2007 at 8:44 pm  Leave a Comment  

Too Hot!

Hello loyal fans. All I have to say is that it is too hot. After working all day in a room in the mid 80s I come home to an apartment which is essentially the same. To say the least, this is less than ideal…and being about as dumb as Brendan Fraser I somehow forgot to bring my fan home (again). No respite for the incompetent.

It has reached the point where I am considering sleeping on the balcony. I might just move my alarm clock out there and blow up the air mattress. There is a really nice cooling breeze out there; in my bedroom there is just no relief.

It reached a point sometime this evening where I was creating phrases to express just how hot it is:

– You know it is hot when you can fry an egg on your forehead.

– Dante must have underestimated hell…unless this is like that Beetlejuice thing.

– I feel like a hot pocket in the hands of an eight year old learning to use a microwave.

– I am like Stacie’s mom.

Obviously I am delirious…

Quote of the Day:

“It’s too damn hot for a penguin to be just walkin’ around.” – Billy Madison

Published in: on August 30, 2007 at 8:19 pm  Leave a Comment  

Aquarium Related News

Hello loyal fans.  The 90 gallon aquarium is now up and running!  All the equipment is installed and operational except for the lighting.  The live rock is in and looking good.  I will probably try to get a fish or two tomorrow to go in the quarantine so they can go into the display in a month or so.  Normally it would be really important to wait, but because this is basically just an expansion of my 55 gallon using rock which is already well established, things should be okay pretty quickly.  I will do the appropriate water tests as necessary beforehand.

For those interested, here is a picture:

tanknew

On an unrelated note, today was the first day of school.  It was good to get back…but I had forgotten the general insanity that school is.  I am just not used to functioning all day; throw in the heat (mid 80s for the first time in weeks, and no doubt warmer in the classrooms) and it was just a pretty draining day.  Good, though…

Quote of the Day:

“If you are truly serious about preparing your child for the future, don’t teach him to subtract – teach him to deduct.” – Fran Lebowitz, Social Studies (1981)

Published in: on August 28, 2007 at 9:47 pm  Comments (2)  

Dissatisfied With Cars…But Mostly Dodge…

Hello loyal fans. I have returned from my journey to the land known as Southern California. If any of you have read The Odyssey (you know, by that Homer guy…), that is pretty much the story of my trip. I had my brakes done in preparation for my trip as they had been squeaking a little. Everything seemed to be pretty much ok (a little pulsating…perfectly normal, at first, they claimed) until I was on the freeway headed to San Diego about a week later. When I finally made it to San Diego I decided I should really have someone look at them and, low and behold, they had machined the rotors incorrectly… New brakes (again)…FUN! Today I get to go fight with the other place to get my money back.

But…that was not all… Those of you who know me in the real world may recall that my truck had to have warranty service done on a cylinder head back in January. In early March I began to overheat so, after consulting with a mechanic who is not an idiot, we determined that I had a blown (or at least leaking) head gasket. There was some coolant in the oil and the radiator was draining but not leaking… I took the car in to the Dodge dealer who assured me all I needed was an oil change (that did not make sense) and that there was no problem with the head gasket. They then refused to do any more work on it. It took 6 months, but the thing finally blew for real on the freeway home in Torrance. For those of you not following, the problem that already existed which Dodge refused to fix has now created a much bigger problem. Luckily, I was only about five miles from a dealer so I was able to get the truck there, but they do not know when they will look at it because I did not have an appointment. They could not seem to understand why I did not schedule this head gasket failure in advance! So…I got to spend five hours sitting in the dealer’s waiting room while I tracked down a car to take back here. I still have not heard from them, and I can not get ahold of them (it has now been five days).

So, as of Friday it seemed that things could only get better…but I was wrong. I am now driving the parents “Cool Mobile”(aka the minivan) and on Friday I decided to move the Camaro out of the space at my apartment and park the van there. I went to take the Camaro to school yesterday morning and I discovered a puddle of transmission fluid underneath. Another one bites the dust. Hopefully I will have a chance to look at it today.

I am beginning to think I need to start walking places.

Quote of the Day:

“Come, for I have found the clew I sought so long,
Let us go forth refresh’d amid the day,
Cheerfully tallying life, walking the world, the real,
Nourish’d henceforth by our celestial dream.” – Walt Whitman, Proud Music of the Storm

Published in: on August 21, 2007 at 8:32 am  Comments (2)  

What Is The Deal With Underwear?

Hello loyal fans.  A few days ago I was talking with a buddy of mine about some of the things in our society that seem pointless.  I think underwear is the height of that stupidty.  I mean, really, there is no practical application for underwear.  So…why does everyone insist on the importance of underwear?  And why do we strive to make it as small (in the case of women) or loose (in the case of men) as possible if we have deemed it so terribly important?

The origin of underwear is, of course, the loincloth…but the thing is, loincloths were not really underwear…they were simply clothes.  Some stodgy, Puritanical European no doubt incorporated these delightful little items into the daily requirement for a properly clothed human.  But why?  Why force this ridiculously unnecessary bit of clothing onto society?   I think it was to create suffering in the lives of all!

Sure, in the 1500s when people only bathed once a year, maybe hygiene demanded the wearing of underwear…I mean, you would definitely want to keep as much dirt and filth and such from getting all “up in your grill” as possible, but in the modern era it seems a bit illogical.  We rid society of corsets and codpieces…why not rid it of boxers and briefs?

Do not misunderstand…my intention is not to inspire you all to pile up your panties and burn them in the streets…it is just something to think about.  We have a lot of stuff that society tells us we need for no real reason.   Then again, if George Carlin does not wear underwear…why should we?

On a completely unrelated note, I am off to San Diego for a week…so I will “see” you all when I return.

Quote of the Day:

“Semper ubi sub ubi”

Published in: on August 11, 2007 at 10:52 am  Leave a Comment  

Monterey Trip

Hello loyal fans. I have returned from my enjoyable, albeit brief, trip to Monterey. We stayed at a very nice place called the Portola Plaza and had a good time visiting the Monterey Bay Aquarium and taking the 17 Mile Drive.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium was great. If you end up going you definitely need to check out the feeding of the Outer Bay tank. It is pretty amazing to see an 800 pound tuna flying along at 25 mph. Make sure you plan your trip around this one as it only happens once a day on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. The tropical reef exhibits have really developed since when I was there last summer, but everything else was pretty much the same. I planned to take some pictures at the aquarium, but as it turned out I did not. I did, however, take a few shots on the 17 Mile Drive. It only took us about an hour to take the drive through the winding hillside and coast around Carmel. The houses were probably as impressive as the view much of the way. There were some ridiculously huge mansions out there sitting almost on the shore. It also seemed like many were for sale…no doubt for oodles of millions. This is, after all, in the same place as the Pebble Beach Golf Course which charges a mere $475 a round…

Monterey

Quote of the Day:

“The sea heaves up, hangs loaded o’er the land,
Breaks there, and buries its tumultuous strength.” – Robert Browning, Luria (Act I)

Published in: on July 31, 2007 at 11:02 am  Comments (1)  

Kwik-E-Mart

Hello loyal fans. First, my most humble apologies to you, my readers, for the recent drought of posts. My brother was in town and we were off doing fun and exciting things (and playing a lot of Wii).

One of those activities happened to be a visit to the “Kwik-E-Mart” styled 7-Eleven in Mountain View. Talk about a major disappointment…wow. Sure, they had Squishees and Pink Donuts and such, but for all the hype that was just about it. The storefront itself did not really live up to all of my expectations. The colored panels and sign were shoddily assembled and installed. Some of them were literally falling off of the building…

For comparative purposes:

kwike1

kwike2

Inside the store there was nothing particularly Kwik-E-Martish aside from a couple of the products being sold. Buzz Cola was available (and tasted terrible) and Squishees were to be had (but the machine still said Slurpee); about the only product distinctly Simpsonsy was the pink donuts (which were available in abundance for a mere 85 cents). In that regard the Kwik-E-Mart did, indeed, live up to its cartoon namesake: it was definitely overpriced.

All and all, is it worth the 45 minute drive and $4 toll? No. If it was close by I suppose it would be worth the trip…or if you were really bored. You might as well just visit your local 7-Eleven and check out the products there…

apu

Quote of the Day:

“Thank you…come again” – Apu Nahasapeemapetilon

Published in: on July 24, 2007 at 4:27 pm  Leave a Comment