Saturday, April 26, 2008

Outback and the lack of sleep

I have to head down for a cousin's wedding, but instead of heading down Friday I decided that I was going to take off of work a little early, pack, and sleep the sleep of the very very tired. Fate and friends, as they both often do, conspired against me. I first went to the Post Office to see if they knew where the package that had been marked online as being delivered actually was, since it certainly had not be delivered to ME. Turns out they had mismarked it and they had it. Sweet, because it was Absolute Sandman Vol. 2. I've finally gotten into Sandman, despite years and years of reading Gaiman's other works. I don't know why it's taken me this long, because everything he does is bloody brilliant. But needless to say, I was going to do a little reading before nighty night.

That was, of course, until my PS3 showed up at my door. Then I spent about 10 minutes hooking it up (using the wrapper it came in to not put fingerprints on the high-gloss black shine of it's curved fascade) and about 30 minutes turning it on (a sure sign of age setting in). Then I started plugging stuff into it, and it was like Cartman's Trapper Keeper - it just could use everything I could throw at it. Harmony remote? No problem. Bluetooth headset? Just fine. Wireless USB keyboard and mouse? Who's your daddy?

I found some pretty cool demos to play, but most of my PS3 time initially was taken up by setting up my media computer to share with it (which took way less time than doing it with a 360 for some reason), watching the HD Ironman trailer (which I think I watched about 8 times - it looks really good, and the casting appears to be inspired), playing around with Folding@Home (which is great, since it makes me feel like I actually am contributing something to better the world by having my PS3 doing computational work when I'm not using it - slick move, Sony), and watching 300 in Blu-Ray HD (which, truth to be told, may be too high a resolution - you can actually see the film grain, which is odd because I believe that 300 was an all-digitally shot movie). I think I love my PS3.

My neighbors then invited me to go eat supper with them. We settled on Outback, which is both a safe choice and usually a good one. Not last night. It took a while to get my beer (although I knew that - the waitress had informed me that they were clearing the line, so that really wasn't so bad). However, the cheese fries were both dry and lacking in the bacon and cheese department (they were more like inedible potato sticks with some cheese) and the chicken I ordered was COLD. So, for the first time in recorded history, I sent something back at Outback. It was a truly momentious occassion, marked by them coming back with the same chicken about 3 minutes later. It had been microwaved. The waitress, despite numerous warning signs that I must have been displaying, asked me how was it, at which point I told her. I did not raise my voice, nor did I even hint at the fact that it was disturbing to me that she thought they had put it on the grill instead of microwaving it. What happened later, however, was worse. She came by as I had thrown in the towel on eating the food (or, in this particular case, the napkin) and asked if I was OK. I wanted to respond "No, your horrible chicken and craptacular cheese fries have pushed me over the edge - please be sure to read the newspaper tomorrow as it will assuredly have details of how I jumped from the bridge to my death in the Ouachita River." I didn't say this for several reasons: 1) she might take me seriously and call the police 2) I doubt the newspaper would get it right and 3) I honestly can't think of a bridge that I could jump from here that could kill me (I could be wrong about that - maybe jumping from I-20, but there's all that traffic - too dangerous). I mean, the service was consistent with what it would have been if Rick James (not THE Rick James - read my earlier post for clarification) had been with us, except he wasn't, but it wasn't gonna break my stride, it wasn't gonna slow me down, oh no, I've got to keep on moving.

So we got back and I made the mistake of playing Rock Band with them. Not that I didn't enjoy myself, but I got the delusion for a little bit that I could actually sing and stayed up until 1:00. No nighty nighty for me. Now I'm trying to get ready to leave, and it looks like I'll need a Red Bull (or too).

Monday, April 14, 2008

Academic Freedom

I saw this today on the Monroe News Star web site:

Legislature debates science's say in the classroom

Of course, my interest was peaked by this article - I despise Intelligent Design, not because of what the basic idea is (essentially, creationism), but that it goes under the guise of being even remotely scientifically based. What the Ouachita Parish School Board actually proposed, however, is not quite what the article purports it to be:

Ouachita Parish Science Curriculum

What's my problem with it, then? Well, it references that "[t]he District shall endeavor to create an environment within the schools that encourages students to explore scientific questions, learn about scientific evidence, develop critical thinking skills, and respond appropriately to differences of opinion about controversial issues." Fine. It also says, "THEREFORE, the Board of Education of Ouachita Parish School District adopts the following policy and directs that it be inserted in the District’s listing of curriculum and instruction policies which is posted online at" The problem is that this does not actually say anything at all about what exactly the board will do to create an environment to explore scientific questions. What are the criteria, and what can and can't teachers do? This all may be entirely innoculous, but it seems like a ploy to appear transparent without actually BEING transparent about the policies.

Ultimately this got me thinking about what academic freedom is. I consider myself to be a proponent of academic freedom, and yet at the same time I've seen teachers (albeit just a few) give factually incorrect information to their students, be it either through blind belief or a desire that, regardless of what most people believe, that his or her viewpoint is the correct one and should be taught. This is where I have an issue. Academic freedom is not the same thing as freedom of speech. Freedom of speech is an inaleniable human right - academic freedom is the freedom to question, by both faculty and students, ideas and theories. It is not, however, an inaleniable human right nor does it mean that you can blindly ignore one idea or theory for another. When academic freedom is practiced by teachers, they are not just affecting themselves, but the children they teach, who themselves are expected to learn as fact what is being taught to them.

Academic freedom should have different meanings based on the level it is being practiced - the academic freedom in a graduate-level college class should not be the same as the academic freedom in a first grade class. This is not to say that it should be absent - rather, there are certain things that should be taught as facts rather than theories early on which can be questioned later when a child has a greater ability to understand the nuances of questioning. And teachers, being accountable for walking this thin line, need a clear guideline of what is expected of them that takes into account the age of the children they teach. Ouachita Parish appears to not have a clear guideline based on what can be seen on their website - if they do, it is certainly not something that is publicly exposed. And therein lies the problem - I think that nobody wants to clearly outline what is and what is not acceptable because that is when people develop hard-line stances supporting or opposing it.

And so we are left with a nebulous statement that merely says we should do something, but not what that something is, how that something should be done, or when it should be done. It is a statement "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing" and would have best been left unsaid.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Watch Eli Stone!

I don't usually consider myself to be bossy (except when I'm bossing people around, and hey, somebody has to do that, right?), but I expect everybody reading my blog (currently two people - alright!) to not only watch Eli Stone this Sunday (April 13, 2008 at 10:00pm ET/9:00 CT) but to make sure everybody else in the contiguous 48 states (hey, I love Alaska and Hawaii, but I figured I'd cut you a little slack here) is watching it as well. My uber-awesome friend, AB, wrote that episode and I'm determined to make sure it gets good ratings. And come on, what else are you going to watch at that time, anyway?

Episode Summary

Friday, April 11, 2008

Rick James

I forgot to tell the story of how I was Rick Jamesed. Last Friday I drove to Shreveport to go see Ben Folds (which was great). I didn't get back to Shreveport until about 1 or 2 am, and I dropped off the people riding with me at their respective houses. Then I drove to my house (which is about 10 minutes away) and was just pulling into my driveway when I got a call from censored who apparently had gotten drunk and was trying to get back to his vehicle but did not know where he was. So I had to turn around and go find censored, who despite not knowing where he was, kept walking in the direction of his truck (at least, he supposed it was the direction of his truck at the time). Finally, he walked past a street sign and let me know where he was - it was the same street I had just left when I dropped my friends off! Rackin frackin! By that time I was nearly there - then censored thought that he was nearly at his truck and he was OK to drive, at which point I told him that if he took one more step towards his truck (I could see him on the road) that I would personally run him down rather than see him get behind a wheel. So he stopped, I picked him up, and we went to Waffle House to sober him up. Actually, I think the wait time on his meal did more to sober him up than anything, as the guy making his omelet kept on throwing it away (along with the pan), yelling out "I quit!", and then preceding to get a different pan and starting over again. I saw him go through two dozen eggs before he finally got one that was good enough (although censored did say it was one of the best omelets he'd ever had, but you can't always trust a drunk person). So we finally got home and censored fell asleep on my couch. So how was I Rick Jamesed, you may ask? Well, the couch was new, and censored fell asleep with his boots on - his boots that were muddy as hell. So I've been calling censored Rick James since, and I'll probably start referring to Rick as such.

Falling apart

It's pretty common for me to say I'm failing apart nowadays - things hurt that I didn't even realize I have. But lately it's just been crazy. I've had this twitch in my left eye for a month and a half, which coincidentally is also how long I've had a series of intense headaches behind the same left eye. I've gone to the doc for that and he thinks the twitching will eventually go away (it has lessened somewhat) and that the headaches are sinus-related (I'm taking the antibiotics to see if I get better, but so far they've just made me extremely sick to my stomach). Then for the past week I've had a crick in the neck - not nearly as bad as the one that my officemate has (he can't even turn his head), but bad enough where I can't get a good nights sleep. And of course, people say the useful "you must be sleeping wrong." Pray tell, how the hell do you sleep wrong? I haven't fastened my ankles to the top of the door frame and slept bat-style (although I might try that if it'll help me sleep), I've merely laid down on a bed and rested my head on a pillow (one pillow, not four as I've seen some people do, although how they accomplish it I have no idea). Am I doing something wrong? Did I miss a class where the teacher taught everybody how to sleep?

I just sneezed - ouch! When it hurts to sneeze, you've got problems. Well, it could be worse, I could have [insert disease which causes body parts to fall off here - yes, I know what it is called, but if you do it then you're partially culpable for my insensitive joke and thus can't start casting stones]. I should have been a lawyer.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

I'm back

Well, after much procrastination, I finally am back to the blogosphere. I've always hated using web apps run by companies, preferring to at least use open-source software on a server I could access manually and tweak the code however I saw fit. But because of a series of unfortunate events involving both my network connection at home and my roommate's server, I've said the heck with it and went with blogger (I mean, I use pretty much everything else Google makes, so in for a penny, in for a pound).

I was actually all prepared yesterday to write a post about how women feel it's perfectly acceptable to come up to men and tell them they can't dress themselves but they never do so amongst their own sex. The reason why I was prepared to post it but never did was because I wore a button-down shirt that was WAY too long for me (it looked like a nightgown) and a pair of jeans. Surprisingly, nobody said anything about it. I still hold to my original theory but feel I must gather more empirical data to support it.

I'm also curious when my friends will find this blog - I'm not actually trying to hide it, I'm just too lazy to blast everybody an email about it. Also, for some crazy reason it just seems pretentious to send an email out to everyone I know saying "Hey, look at me! I've got a blog now! Please read it!"