Surreally Seducted: Damn You Salvador Dalí!

One monkey promoting the ceaseless propagation of useless crap on the internets since a long time ago.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Does self-abuse extend my hospital stay?

Many things to write about. This will be the first.

I've spoken about how my boss tells us all to come to him with solutions, not problems. Well, I often fear I do too much of the latter on here. So, I pose this problem:

"The education system in the U.S. is broken. It needs to be fixed."

This problem can be broken down into various subproblems:

1. We need better teachers.
2. We need parents to get involved more.
3. We need students to care about their education.
4. We need to fund schools better.
5. We need to teach children the right things.

I assume that #4 is a flawed problem. Why? Because throwing more money at the education system, until it is fixed, is like using gum to hold up an old bridge. Sure, it keeps the bridge in working condition, but other cracks will appear, and you'll spend your whole life fixing the bridge. And yes, I understand that we can't not fund schools better. After all, it is the future that we are dealing with. So #4 is a wash. We must fund schools better, but this alone won't solve the problem.

#1 is being done by Teach For America. They are doing a great job. But I question how much they can do in the current system. This does not mean that this is a problem. TFA has come up with a great solution to one part of the problem. Better teachers may help the education system now and in the long run, but can we assume that there will always be great teachers? I say #1 is covered by TFA, but we could use more.

#5 I don't see any need to make religion a mandatory course in public schools. That being said, I think it would help to the nth degree if we did teach children about the various religions and sects, so that when they grow up they can make informed conversation with their friends about their religions. This education can be done without either dismissing or promoting religion. If you make kids read the bible, allow them to opt out, but remember to tell them how much sex they are missing out on (in the readings). Science courses, however, should teach science. Religion is not science. Religion is/was a way for humans to explain all those things they could explain (Don't eat pork because it's unclean provided the excuse for what we now know as trichinosis). See? Science was able to explain that one. You don't have to tell kids not to believe that eating pork is wrong, you just have to explain the science behind it. Look, all the scientific evidence points towards evolution. Therefore, it should be taught in science classes. Kids with religious convictions might not like it, but they shouldn't be giving in to Satan's temptations, now should they?

So that leaves the children and the parents. Tweedlemommy brought this up last week. I've asked her to send an email recounting her story. When I get it, I will post it. But I think it would be a great step forward to get those kids to school who cannot attend because their parents don't care. If that requires taking children from their parents if the parents don't care about the children's education, I'm fine with that. If that means we start creating groups that go around and make sure kids get to school, I'm fine with that. But if we are going to educate everyone, let's make sure we give everyone at least the chance to get educated.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Boo fucking hoo.

You know what Oprah? Get a fucking life. They didn't let you into their store after it closed? That's the way it works for normal people. How about "Crash, Celebrity Life," a show where you talk about how much normal people's lives inconvenience your own? Would it be too much to ask that you follow the rules as well? Maybe it was racist, I don't know. But you're Forbes' #1 Power Celeb. I don't think many people are going to discriminate agaist you. Send a white guy, a black guy, a hispanic guy, etc., a white girl, a black girl, etc. and then you can say whether it's racist or that it's just that the STORE WAS FUCKING CLOSED.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Big Time!

It appears that TS1 has hit the big time. Craig of Craigslist responded to this post regarding her difficulty finding an apartment in New York.

Yo, Craig, here's an idea. Bait-n-switch? Ban the IP for a week.

When you feel the world is crashing all around your feet

I said yesterday that sometimes we need to look inside ourselves to recognize that we've fucked up, and to take responsibility to do so. But should we be arrogant enough to believe that a) our way is the only way and b) we can look inside ourselves for the answers and regain our status as the best? If you answered no to either of those, you are probably incredibly perplexed about how the U.S. is going about about trying to fix the education system (if indeed we are trying to fix it). My boss always tell me to come to him with solutions, not problems. Well here's the problem: the best minds aren't going into educational policy. Teach for America, as good as it is, isn't doing anything to change the educational policy of the U.S. It's putting good teachers into (what I see as) a flawed system. I think we need to start sending teachers abroad to learn about how other societies educate their children, and bringing that knowledge back into the US. Do it either as part of their college education, or immediately after. Teach for America by teaching abroad.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

All the finest things are leaving you hollow

"Be competent in what you do."

That's what Jon Stewart told the Princeton class of 2004 at our class day. I'm assuming he said the same thing to William and Mary. I think it's bad advice, or rather, advice that's a good beginning, but doesn't go nearly far enough. Dan and I were discussing this the other day. See, Dan works somewhere where everyone strives to be competent, and it appears that many of them fail to even be that. Of course, those people were never told by Jon Stewart that they needed to be competent.

Competency, I think, is one of the things that makes America that which it is. Our standards for competency? Low, and getting lower all the time. We are a nation that refuses to look inwards at our own problems, and that trickles down to many of us. You got a bad grade? It was that asshole professor. Enough people complain, and then the professor is told he needs to give higher grades to everyone, cause otherwise, it'll look bad for the school district. I think that it is just possible that by requiring high schools to educate everyone to a certain standard level, we are teaching the smartest high schoolers in the U.S. that mediocrity (competency) is what we should strive for. I see three things that need to start to change with education:

1. Tell kids early on that life isn't fair. You'll screw up, you'll get a bad grade or two despite your best efforts. Take responsibility for it. Perhaps, just perhaps, physics isn't your specialty, but that English class that you really like and are doing well in, maybe that's it. Or maybe physics is a challenge for you, and you'll see if you can rise to that challenge.

And that kid who stole your milk money in first grade? He may never get his comeuppance. So let it go. It is nowhere near the most embarrassing thing in your life (your first go at sex probably will be, though). You'll have bigger fish to fry.

2. Everyone involved in a students education should strive for excellency. Teachers, parents, guidance counselors, TA's, and the student itself. The best teachers I have were the one's who really loved what they did, and strove to be good at it. The parents are the biggest constant, so they should do the most work. Look, if you want your kid to succeed, encourage them. But don't force anything down their throat. They may grow up to resent you. And if you don't want your kids to be successful, or if you just don't care, WHY THE FUCK ARE YOU A PARENT?

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Ave gezunt...

Do they still do the Presidential Fitness challenge in elementary schools? If not, why not? Is it a risk of lawsuits? A lack of funds? Too many fat kids? If it's the latter, we're not really helping ourselves, are we?

As a wee boy, I remember not being very good at the presidential challenge. I wasn't incredibly fast, and though I've the good fortune to be at least decent in nearly every sport I've seriously tried, I've never had a great deal of upper body strength. Tweedlegirl would say that I'm lazy and I should just lift and work on it. She's probably right. But I'm more for reducing the number of fat kids by one, than increasing the number of bicep building preening prima donnas. But that's just me.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Filling in for Washer Dryer this week: Tweedledopey

WD usually does a good job berating Randy Cohen (the "ethicist"). I contend that these "question marks" denote that he is an ethicist of questionable correctness.

This weeks column deals with: receipts, kindness, and freebies.

With regards to receipts and "receipts":

I think Randy hits the nail pretty well here, but bends it all crooked like when he says:
The car-rental company is behaving reasonably -- indeed, generously. Why should it pay your total car expenses? Why not cover just what you spent in excess of a normal rental fee? You can't blame the company for wanting proof of your out-of-pocket expenses. Otherwise, people even more imaginative than you could claim that they had spent thousands of dollars hiring bearers to carry them around in sedan chairs. It would be a shame to undermine a company's trust by presenting it with fraudulent documents.

The rental company should pay for the total amount of the rental. Reason number one: the couple was told that a car was not available at the location at which the reservation was made. This could be construed as a great inconvenience. Reason number two: the couple no longer had a car at their immediate disposal. This could tend to through schedules off. If this were an airline, the couple would have received a free flight, and been put on the next flight. As the rental agency did not have a "next flight" available, the taxi was the next best thing, and instead of getting a free flight, the couple would get reimbursed for expenses accrued.

Ethical question #2 related the story of a man who broke of a relationship with a girl after she had bought an airline ticket to visit him. Randy says no one ever regrets being to kind in affairs of the heart. Um... Randy? I do. Not in this one. But in the past. In fact, I bet the ex-girlfriend in this case probably regrets being so kind to the guy (unless, in fact, there was a legitimate reason for breaking up with her, like her cheating on him). In that case, I bet the guy would regret paying for the ticket.

Ethical question #3. Freebies. Randy thinks you should ask the bartender if the owner says it's ok to give someone a drink on the house. Because, you know, it's your ass on the line if the owner gets mad at the bartender for doing so. So next time you are at the bank, and they offer you $1 million, make sure you ask the manager if it's ok before you shove the pistol back in your pants. Same goes for Mercedes dealerships, but not, apparently, for the delis.