Saturday, September 15, 2007

Taking a Stand

Some kids at a high school in Nova Scotia rally around a bullied kid.

Two students at Central Kings Rural High School fought back against bullying recently, unleashing a sea of pink after a new student was harassed and threatened when he showed up wearing a pink shirt.

The Grade 9 student arrived for the first day of school last Wednesday and was set upon by a group of six to 10 older students who mocked him, called him a homosexual for wearing pink and threatened to beat him up.


They used the Internet to encourage people to wear pink and bought 75 pink tank tops for male students to wear. They handed out the shirts in the lobby before class last Friday — even the bullied student had one.

As someone who was picked on regularly in school, it's nice to see other kids standing up for this one.

Now We Just Need Scotty Playing the Bagpipes

This is so awesome.

More Classes

I registered for four more classes the other day. In January I start International Relations II (8 wks) and Middle Eastern Literature (16 wks). In February I have Myth and Ritual as well as Islamic Law and Theology, both eight weeks. I'm getting really excited to be back in school again.


I have to think of an appropriate punishment for my daughter, Erica. Shortly before I took her and her sister home tonight, she told met that she cut a few of my cat's whiskers off. My buddy, Tiberius. Erica has strings that she uses to make key chains, bracelets, and such. Tiberius is forever getting into them because she leaves them out a lot. I've told her many times that if she wants him to leave her strings alone she needs to put them away. Well, she left them out today. Tiberius got into them and she decided to snip his whiskers. "It was just the tips," she said. I gave her a talking to and she was nearly in tears. I told her that when she came back next weekend I would have a punishment for her. Now I just need to think of something appropriate for what she did. Ah, kids.

"I'm not dead."

If you think you're having a bad day, think about this guy.

I guess some things don't just happen in movies.

The President's Address

I did not catch Bush's address to the nation the other night on Iraq, and have only reviewed some excerpts. This strikes me as a reasonable assessment of what Bush said as well as a repudiation of some of his details, namely that al-Qaeda in Iraq is our biggest threat there.

Uninformed Voters

Steve Benen asks why Clinton is the Democratic front-runner when a)ending the Iraq War is the most important issue for a majority of the base and b)she is the most hawkish candidate on the war. He blames it on uninformed voters.

I suspect some will suggest that this is an elitist attitude — I’m accusing the majority of people of being uninformed about the details. I don’t think, however, that’s elitist; I tend to think it’s a reality bolstered by the data.

Sadly, this is not something likely to go away anytime soon, whether someone is a Democrat or Republican.

Healthcare and Pension Plans From the Netherlands

Justin Fox over at time has been writing about Dutch healthcare plans and pension plans. Looks like we might be able to learn a thing or two.

Public School Woes

Jonathan Kozol, a noted critic of our nation's public school system, talks to Salon about No Child Left Behind and the struggles teachers face in the system.

I am still flabbergasted that anyone thought NCLB was a good idea. I think most people heard the title and thought is sounded good, so were for it. After all, if you are against NCLB, you must want to...LEAVE CHILDREN BEHIND! What kind of sick person wants that? I do think that our society has a vested interest in giving all of our children the best education possible. I don't think the government should be telling teachers how to do their jobs, though. Give schools the tools they need to mold young minds, but let them work out the details. The bigger the gap between where decisions come on how to educate our students and the students themselves, the bigger chance we have of failing to give the students the best education possible.

Friday, September 14, 2007

To Be Fair

I recently linked to a study examining difference in liberal and conservative brain functions. Here is a rebuttal of said study. I didn't mean to imply that I agreed with the study 100%, at least the interpretation of the results. I do find it very interesting, however, but then I find the workings of the brain fascinating. I would like to see more tests done on this and perhaps other views of the results.

"...irrational escalation of commitment."

An interesting analogy for the Iraq war from an economic point of view.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

The Sunni POV

Matt Yglesias posts about what Sunni leaders are telling their people. In short: 1) we were defeated and went to them for help in pursuing al-Qaeda, 2) they are not a minority and will not submit to Shia rule, 3) we should leave immediately, 4) we make things worse, 5) it's okay to attack our troops. I guess Bush must be talking to different Iraqis than everyone else.

Tetris Master

I used to account myself a fair Tetris player back in the day. I'm nothing compared to this guy, though. No, that video is not sped up. Watch the timer on the bottom of the screen. He really is that fast.

UPDATE: Fixed link.

Women Are Strange

Katie Joy sent me a text message yesterday morning, "Top of the morning to you." It's the first time I've heard from her since our date a week and a half ago. I replied asking her how school was going. She never responded. I almost sent another message asking if her text to me was an accident and she meant to send it to someone else. I can't help but laugh about it.

3:10 to Yuma

I saw this the other night with my mother. Fan-freakin'-tastic. Definitely one of the best movies I have seen in awhile. Christian Bale plays Dan Evans, a Civil War vet missing part of one leg, and desperately trying to provide for his family. Russell Crowe is Dan Wade, a brilliant, if psychotic, leader of a band of outlaws. When Wade makes a mistake and is caught, Evans agrees to assist in escorting Wade to the train station to catch the "3:10 to Yuma" which will take Wade to jail. A battle of wills ensues fueled by the unrelenting pursuit of Wade's gang led by his number two man, Charlie Prince (a gripping performance from Ben Foster).

Bale and Crowe are without a doubt two of the finest actors in Hollywood today. As Wade, Crowe has so much masculine charm rolling off him you can feel it. Bale's raw intensity as a man so desperate for his wife and sons to see him as a man is heartbreaking. Both deserve Oscar noms as does Foster come award season.

One of the prominent themes of the movie is the nature of being a man. What is a man, exactly? Evans is certainly not seen as one by his family. His oldest son, especially, views him with contempt, contempt for not being able to provide for his family and being unable to protect them from the angry landlord to whom they owe money. Wade on the other hand seems to be the epitome of masculine - strong, confident, charming - but he is a ruthless killer. Making things worse for Evans is that his son, William, admires Wade and even his wife finds herself charmed by him. The pain is so evident in Evans seeing this and wanting so badly for his family to look at him like that. The dynamic between these two characters is what makes this a brilliant movie.

Definitely worth the price of admission. Check it out.

Men Are Nasty Predators

At least that's how we are being portrayed more often in our society. Check out this excerpt from a recent article in the Wall Street Journal.

The result of all this hyper-carefulness, however, is that men often feel like untouchables. In Cochranville, Pa., Ray Simpson, a bus driver, says that he used to have 30 kids stop at his house on Halloween. But after his divorce, with people knowing he was a man living alone, he had zero visitors. "I felt like crying at the end of the evening," he says.

At Houston Intercontinental Airport, businessman Mitch Reifel was having a meal with his 5-year-old daughter when a policeman showed up to question him. A passerby had reported his interactions with the child seemed "suspicious."

In Skokie, Ill., Steve Frederick says the director of his son's day-care center called him in to reprimand him for "inappropriately touching the children." "I was shocked," he says. "Whatever did she mean?" She was referring to him reading stories with his son and other kids on his lap. A parent had panicked when her child mentioned sitting on a man's lap.

This is horrifying. I understand the need to protect our children, but we are getting to a point where we are ostracizing men and depriving children of positive male role models. We can't keep our children in bubbles. We can't assume that every man is a monster out to molest our children. Read this letter to Prudence on Slate (second one down). A mom is concerned about her daughters sleeping over at a friend's house because they will be "sleeping in the same house with another nonfamily man," i.e. their friend's dad, a married man. What is our society coming to?

First Google Earth, Now Google...Moon?

Google is offering a $20 million dollar prize to the first person/s to put a robotic lander on the moon with little or no government aid. I think this is very exciting and I can't wait to see what will come of it. When I was younger and still dreamed of a career in aerospace engineering I always thought (and still do, actually) that real progress in space exploration would come from the private sector. The government is too big and unwieldy and has to overcome too many hurdles to be a major player in the space race. Yes, it got us to the Moon in '69, but how far have we come since? Not very. It will probably be at least ten years before someone can claim this prize, but it promises to be an exhilarating race.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

"...and He wept."

God Angrily Clarifies 'Don't Kill' Rule

I meant to post a link to this yesterday, but I didn't get around to it. I like The Onion a lot not just because it is so funny, but because like the best satire, it holds up a mirror to people and says take a look. I think I've mentioned before that some of their articles are so true I have a hard time laughing. The one I linked to above is my favorite article from them. It's...well, read it for yourself.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Left Brain/Right Brain

A new study shows a difference in brain activity between liberals and conservatives. It boils down to liberals being better at adapting to new situations.

Each participant was wired to an electroencephalograph that recorded activity in the anterior cingulate cortex, the part of the brain that detects conflicts between a habitual tendency (pressing a key) and a more appropriate response (not pressing the key). Liberals had more brain activity and made fewer mistakes than conservatives when they saw a W, researchers said. Liberals and conservatives were equally accurate in recognizing M.

This is very fascinating, although I can't wait to hear someone using it to justify their superiority.

What is a Liberal?

William Saletan writes about liberals and their position on biotech such as stem-cell research. He is rather scathing in his remarks, though he still identifies as one.

Then what makes me think I'm still a liberal? I guess it's a stubborn belief that liberalism isn't whatever dogmas currently possess this or that lefty camp. Liberalism is an admission of uncertainty. It's open to self-correction and to the complexity and unpredictability of life. Many ethicists and other self-described liberals don't fit or accept that definition. But I do.

I think that a big part of the problem is that we have been conditioned through the media to divide everybody into two neat camps that never overlap. Conservatives on one side. Liberals on the other. And never the twain shall meet. Our society is actually a spectrum of views with people scattered all along it. We hear things like Red State/Blue State and pretty soon, even though, we are probably closer to the middle than we'd care to admit, we're calling ourself a liberal or conservative and demonizing the other side. It doesn't lead to healthy debate.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Weekly Secret


The Surge

With General Petraeus due to give his testimony soon on progress in Iraq, Matthew Yglesias takes a look at a report that says the surge has failed according to the goals set by the Bush administration. Bet you won't hear Petraeus or Bush say anything like that, though.

Side Effects

I can understand why a lot of people don't stay on Avonex. The side effects don't hit me as hard as they did when I first started taking it, but they still aren't fun. I take it before I go to bed on Saturday night to try to sleep through some of it. It helps, but it's not perfect. It gave me the chills last night and no amount of blankets could warm me up. On Sunday, I usually feel more tired than usual, slightly "achy" all over, and just a general malaise. If it wasn't free as part of the MS study I am in, I would be exploring other options.

Egotistical Bias

Megan McArdle writes about why people divided on a touchy issues, say abortion, end up talking past each other rather than having a real dialog.