Saturday, October 22, 2005


Superman Condones Child Abuse?

So Superman was in rotation on cable recently, and a couple of things occurred to me. First was astonishment that this thing won awards for special effects. I seem to recall that even then, it looked pretty lame. Even then, the plot was filled with terrible problems. I mean was making the earth spin backward somehow supposed to reverse time also rather than slosh the oceans up onto the continents before smashing them apart? I've heard of suspension of disbelief, but this is ridiculous. Whatever. That's an argument for another day.

At one point in the movie, Superman makes his debut, stopping assorted criminals in a montage of do-goodishness. It's not just criminals though. He also rescues a cat from a tree. How sweet of him. And the little girl, the blonde hair, the cuteness, she's just so grateful. She runs inside to tell her mom, and our view is on the outside of the house as we hear Blondie tell mommy that a flying man with a red cape came down and rescued Mr. Snugglekins from his lofty perch. Keep in mind that this is a lighthearted scene, played for laughs in the theater. Mom angrily reminds the girl that she's been wanred over and over again to stop with the lying. And then we hear it, the audible slap as mom administers some down home correction across Blondie's cheek. I'm sure audiences cracked up when they saw this all those years ago. That would be difficult to get away with today. Kids getting beaten can only happen in a serious, Oscar-type movie nowadays, I would imagine.

Now, can you imagine that twenty-five years from now, we'll be wondering what all the fuss about gay marriage was?

Awwww. Isn't She Special? Part Two

Next update from Herr Professor of the story which began here.

We covered the Arrangement of Physical Space, so let's move on to the Presentation of Lessons. The directives in this area are as follows:
1. Include a variety of activities in each lesson.
2. Break long lessons into shorter segments.
3. Have Special Girl review key points orally.
4. Use computer assisted instruction.
5. Write key points on the board.
6. Make sure directions are understood.

Seems like 1, 2, 5, and 6 are pretty standard practice for any class, whether Special Girl is there or not. But does Special Girl become the lesson repeater for the class? She will repeat all key points aloud. Wouldn't you want a variety of students to to take maybe one point each in review? Don't you end up picking on Special Girl? Are the other kids not worthy of being part of the review? Isn't Special Girl going to seem branded as the stupid one because she needs this special review time? I thought the whole point of this was to make her feel more normal.

And then there's the computer assisted instruction. Except the class doesn't have any computers. Pretty much the whole school is without reliable computer access. And if Special Girl does get on a computer somehow, who is teaching/monitoring her while that happens? If Herr Professor takes the girl to the library to try and use a computer there, who is watching the rest of the students? Am I the only one who sees the inconsistency, if not the sheer impossibility, of following this order? How sucky is that?

Plus I heard there was a near riot the other day at lunch. But at least they made it almost all the way through October before it happened, so that's a positive thing, right?

Next time: Assignments

Thursday, October 20, 2005


I'm Still Alive. Like You Care.

Because even though I was sick, there's no gross or embarrassing medical story to tell. Plus I'm a lazy bastard. But we'll get more from Herr Professor shortly. By which I mean either Friday night or Saturday morning.

Friday, October 14, 2005


Awwww. Isn't She Special? Part One

So occasionally at certain social gatherings, I get a little update from our official education correspondent. There's this practice called mainstreaming, where kids who were once in "special" classes (of the lesser kind) are now lumped into regular classes. Probably has something to do with making someone feel good. Thing is, they aren't expected to actually perform at the level of the class. They're expected to sit in the regular class, and then do lesser stuff while still getting the same units as the kids doing the regular work. Which to me sounds like the special girl getting a free ride or bonus, which is another way of saying the others are doing more work for the same credit, essentially being penalized. But what are these special favors?

In six categories, there are a total of 58 special treatments. This girl has been granted 31 of those special treatments. Some of these might be reasonable, but most of them don't seem to be. And some of them even seem to punish other students, of which Herr Professor has usually in the thirties in each class. Let's take a look.

Arrangement of Physical Space. Herr Professor (HP) is directed to do the following:
1. Keep this girl away from distracting stimuli. Examples include the air conditioner or high traffic areas.
2. Stand by the girl when giving directions. AKA stay away from the other students when giving directions.
3. She must sit near HP. Which seems like it would contradict the stay away from high traffic areas. Wouldn't the low traffic area be the corner farthest from HP and farthest from the door?
4. She must sit near a positive role model. The goal of this seems to be that this girl can then ruin not only her own education, but also the education of someone who actually wants to learn.
5. Increasing the distance between desks. HP informs me that the rooms are overcrowded as it is for the official acceptable number of students per class; this class has even more students. HP informs me that this ignorance of reality on the part of the high command is typical.

In education, edicts that "sound good" are commanded by upper echelon people who almost always have no idea of the characteristics of the environment in which they expect their commands to be carried out. The people on the front lines interacting with students on a day to day basis are never consulted and are routinely ignored in favor of some fad that some bigwig heard about in some conference in Hawaii or someplace. The damage might not be as bad if the bosses would just stick with something. Instead, the bold, innovative, ideas last for a couple of years, until the grant runs out or the next new fad comes along, and then they're tossed overboard in favor of the new flavor of the week.

Whoops! Threshold is on. Gotta run. Next time: Presentation of Lessons!

Monday, October 10, 2005


Gas Price War In Oklahoma City???

So I went to the airport to pick up the Matron and Carpenter, fresh from their trip to the heartland in search of old family ties. And I got to hear about gas prices Californians would envy. Of course, our gas here is highly taxed, and may not be so highly taxed as it is in Oklahoma. Still, with all the concern about shortages of fuel, and refining capacity, there seems to be enough to mount a gas war in Oklahoma City. While prices here in Bunktown are roughly in line with the $2.93 national average noted in this story, the statewide Oklahoma average is $2.67 for a gallon of self-serve regular. In Oklahoma City, the gas war has driven prices as low as $2.37 a gallon. So what exactly is going on with gas supplies and prices?

Tuesday, October 04, 2005


O'Reilly Sez: The Most Politically Smearingest Sites On The Web

Not as impressive as he billed it. Media Matters, in some way sponsored by Soros (the hapless Otis of the left compared to Rove's Luthor of the right), is "vile". Smoking Gun he doesn't like either. But didn't they run some stuff on Bill last October? Maybe he's got a grudge. And that's it. No other sites mentioned.

Two guests on the segment. David Kline, who wrote this book Blog!: How the Newest Media Revolution Is Changing Politics, Business, And Culture, and some other guy Joe Babbin, a former Undersecretary of Defense. The most interesting part for me was when O'Reilly told these two that a bunch of people turned down the chance to appear on the segment because they didn't want to find themselves in the Media Matters crosshairs. Of course he wouldn't name names, and if I was in his position, I wouldn't have either. Bill's point was that if these people, the talking head types, were afraid of Media Matters, imagine the chilling effect these smear sites have on people merely considering running for public office. Or being considered for nomination to high court positions. Are these people finding success? Are they keeping good men and women from public positions with the hack and slash campaigns they threaten to pursue? Even more important, did those two guests feel like chopped liver when Bill essentially said they were perhaps his fifth, sixth, or seventh or even lower choices to appear on the show?

Again With The Serenity?

Our friend the Bloggin' Bizatch popped in to let me know about another Serenity previewee. His experience was similar to mine noted here, with the whole you're on the list but not necessarily guaranteed a seat thing. Based on the date of his posts, I think he did make it into his preview screening, just like me. Like me, he also had some misgivings about the nature of the whole enterprise. You can read about them here, since, unlike me, he had the nards to actually voice his concerns. He was willing to take the chance that a little impertinence might keep him from getting in.

I didn't mind the notion of being used to promote the movie, or share his other concerns. Hey, I was going to get something for free. But I was a little bothered by the hype they wanted me to put up:

Joss Whedon, the Oscar® - and Emmy - nominated writer/director responsible for the worldwide television phenomena of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE, ANGEL and FIREFLY, now applies his trademark compassion and wit to a small band of galactic outcasts 500 years in the future in his feature film directorial debut, Serenity. The film centers around Captain Malcolm Reynolds, a hardened veteran (on the losing side) of a galactic civil war, who now ekes out a living pulling off small crimes and transport-for-hire aboard his ship, Serenity. He leads a small, eclectic crew who are the closest thing he has left to family –squabbling, insubordinate and undyingly loyal.

They wanted it, and I put it up. But I just have to say that this is the sort of thing that I normally ignore, once I've gotten over being annoyed by it. To me, it's almost insulting. This sort of hype job has almost become a parody of itself. "Trademark compassion and wit" just irks me. I liked the movie. I liked the series. I did not like the blurb they wanted. I am no professional writer. Probably most bloggers aren't professional writers. However, I believe the effort of each individual to promote the movie as he sees fit would have been much more effective. I count 106 words in the blurb above. If they had said "Hey, to be part of this promotion, write a brief paragraph, 75 to 125 words, about your feelings about Firefly and/or Joss Whedon," they would have gotten much more heartfelt responses, and people reading them would have been more likely to be swayed to see the movie.

A few added thoughts I wrote to SButler:

I really enjoyed the movie too. It was different from the series, but in a good way. One of the things that bugged me about the many of the Trek movies was that they seemed to think that since it was a movie, they should go crazy with the cosmetic details, altered uniforms and such, and gave not nearly as much effort to the story. Serenity did feel a bit rushed, especially for those familiar with the Firefly series. I wouldn't blame Whedon though. He just didn't have the luxury of ten or twelve hours to fully play out a massive story arc. He did do a great job with the time that he had, and I think he made the film accessible to those who had never seen the series as well.

And here is his review.

Next up: O'Reilly tells us about the smearingest political sites on the web. And you know it's true, because he's just looking out for the folks.

Sunday, October 02, 2005


Team Magnum And Assorted Tidbits

So we've been back from satellite tasking for a while, all of us except for Princess Wolfie, who is of course off at the new office. So we had a nice chance to catch up on all the latest gossip. I got some new glasses a few weeks ago. Not some radical Devo glasses or anything, but certainly noticeably different from the old glasses. And I'd gone so long waiting for someone to say something, I'd pretty much forgotten about it. And who should say something? Especially if you're a long time reader, who should say something? None other than Princess Wolfie! Can you beat that? Hello? Thank you! Finally! Finally someone notices.

And so I ask Princess Wolfie what's up with the new office. How are things going with the dictator, and all that. Cause the word around the company is that the big cheese at the new office is some sort of tyrannical monster. But according to PW, things are going good over there. Huh. Later, I found out why. There's an acting big cheese running things over there. Turns out, the big cheese didn't last too much past the opening of the office. The reasons behind his sudden departure are unclear, but there seem to be two favorites. He had some kind of nervous breakdown and totally cracked up. Or, he was fooling around with a secretary, who also happened to be fooling around with the president of the company, and big cheese and president got into an actual fistfight. I mean we're all grownups here, we're supposed to be setting an example, and these guys got into an actual fistfight? Seems kind of ridiculous, but certainly a lot more fun than the nervous breakdown theory.

What else is going on around the office? Well, Miss Tori and I are both being evaluated, and as fate would have it, we're both being evaluated by the same division chief, Mr. Borg, an ultraprofessional, rather technocratic sort. As one of the few white men most of our clients deal with, I am constantly asked if Mr. Borg and I are brothers. We aren't, or course, but I do like the guy, especially when he's not evaluating me. He is the sort of evaluator who believes that he shows his effectiveness by knocking you down and lifting you up again by the end of the evaluation process. The his bosses think he's some sort of miracle worker. And that's all well and good. I bend like the reed, so it doesn't really bother me. Miss Tori isn't a reed. And she does not take kindly to Mr. Borg's theory of evaluations.

But sometimes fate decides to toy with you. Miss Tori is out in a crowded restaurant, and the alignment of some of the tables is such that if you're at Table A, you can still be pretty close to the people at Table B. And Miss Tori is venting to her friend about Mr. Borg. Well looking over her friend's shoulder, she can see the front door. And you know what happens next. Miss Tori says, "Who do I hate more than anyone in the world? Mr. Borg! Who is my number one enemy in the world? Mr. Borg! Who just came walking in the door? Mr. Borg!" Now the story wouldn't be worth telling if that was it. As she watches Mr. Borg, he winds his way through the tables until he ends up at the very next table. Miss Tori says hello, and Mr. Borg says hello back. Which still might not be worth telling, except, as noted, these tables are close together. And Mr. Borg was joining a friend, who couldn't have helped but get a major earful of everything Miss Tori had been saying about Mr. Borg. The guy didn't say anything while Miss Tori and her friend were there, but how could he not mention it once she left? Since he is rather borg-like, I don't think he will hold it against her in future evaluations. But how embarrassing can things get? Hopefully, it will be a story to laugh over in future years.

And finally, when there's an accident on the freeway, unless you're in it, there is no reason to cut your speed to less than 50% of the posted limit. All you do is get in my way and waste my time. I hate you all. Just give a prayer of thanks to whatever divinity you hold dear that I don't have some kick ass supergun mounted on top of my car. If I did, I wouldn't hate you, I'd just kill you. Stupid society preventing my righteous vengeance!

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