Multiple targets  

Posted on Wednesday, 6 February 2002 at 09:43 PM. About Links to correct.

"The difference between me and a diplomat is the difference between a sledgehammer and a razor blade. I really shouldn't be in the diplomatic corps." -- Bill Janklow

The mighty pile of homework is acquiesced. In peer review in my english class, one of the people who read an essay I wrote complained about how she had a hard time understanding what I wrote. Maybe it's because I keep using words like 'acquiesced' where 'done' or 'ok' would do. (Among other things.) She gave me some good feedback about the outline, though, so I was constructive with her criticism in the end.

Mostly filler this time, filler mostly about some lectures here at chilly Iowa State. Chuck D came to our little hamlet and spoke about interracial relations and their impact on music last night, and was incredibly insightful. He wasn't eloquent, as he explained during the speech, but he wasn't eloquent on purpose, because he thought he could connect with his audience better that way. He was right, and as he sat on his stool and explained his issues with the perpetuation of a racist society and the US's foreign policy ("It's f***ed up!"), he spent a lot of time being right and winning over the crowd. Fantastic speech, really.
Tonight came a bit by Carla DeSantis, a businesswoman and journalist fighting for gender equity in music. This speech was slightly less engaging, largely, I think, because she was attempting to describe a social problem (stigma on women in music) from a business perspective (placing more Jewels and Ani DiFrancos and fewer Britney Spearses and Christina Aguileras on MTV and Clear Channel radio). DiFrancos made some insightful points about how horrible the music industry has been for the past twenty years or so, but she seemed to have neither a clear vision for the future or even of the present situation.
Chuck D, though. Wow. Hopefully when Chuck D retires from the music business he will go into teaching music history at some university somewhere. He's very passionate about music history, and serves as an excellent lecturer on the subject.

Battle Royale!

...Joan has this tendency to be unerringly correct about this sort of thing.

Finally, closure department: First, I changed classes a while back, and it looks like I made the right call. Professor Wu's English may not be the best, but his love for Calculus is plain to see despite that, and as a consequence following him through the lectures is a simple task. Thanks StrangeTalk!
...Secondly, Rapid City is no longer on fire, 500 jobs or so have officially disappeared, and South Dakota governor Bill Janklow made a rare display of compassion in meeting with the victims, demonstrating understanding and empathy for those dealing with the economic aftermath of the fire. Hooray for Wild Bill!
I'm going to bed, because I'm a bit sleepy. G'night!

Fresh Air  

Posted on Monday, 28 January 2002 at 07:31 PM. About Links to correct.

"If you did a Google search on the word 'scintillating,' you would find this song..." -- geekiest radio plug ever as heard on Minnesota Public Radio last night. It popped out all of a sudden in the middle of a classical music set, and I laughed, and laughed, and then laughed some more. Because the plug was dumb.

Friday afternoon, as I drove through Yankton in search of a high school, I was listening to Fresh Air on the radio. A few things John Powers said in his review of The Mothman Prophecies got me to thinking about the workings of the human mind, and I came to a conclusion that rang true over the course of the weekend:
Few things are more terrifying than realizing that one's mind is slipping into the depths of paranoia. Chief among them, however, is the realization that the fear and the terror were justified, well-developed reactions to extraordinary everyday life.
So it is that I managed to receive two parking tickets from two different universities in two different states in the span of twelve (and a half) hours. I let down my guard because I thought I was the crazy one, not the rest of the world, and it turns out that I was wrong. So lesson learned and all that... I'll pay the tickets, of course, if only in the hopes that one institution will leave me alone and that I might even a karmic debt to the other, a debt that accrues interest even as we speak and demands repayment.

Aside from parking tickets and radio shows, however, there is much else to speak of. The debate team of my alma matter, for instance, is much as it was. The same general roles are still being acted out, only now by different people. Even my role, one I thought was meaningless, is again being played--at present by a dark-humoured, vermilion-haired young girl with the most curiously shaped nose and that wonderful desperation of one who is very much alone, a hopeless solitude I thought was unique to my experience as a Lincoln-Douglas debater in our high-school's small forensics program. I learned much from the past weekend's experience, to be sure. I even learned something in writing about it: Vermillion, a small college town on the very southeastern tip of South Dakota, should more properly be spelled Vermilion. (The current spelling is admittedly acceptable, however; just not proper English.)

All in all, it was a good weekend, full of wonder and ice. Ire? No, ice. Minnesota is freaking cold, eh? Ja. I am very glad I went, despite my failures... and I made a little headway in the university collection of Schell's books.

Before I sign off this time, a couple more dread portents from the internet, namely one of a valiant death and one of... bigamy?

Sandwich Post  

Posted on Friday, 30 November 2001 at 05:09 PM. About Links to correct.

Hey, it's a long entry. Why? I came up with a great idea for a new college class today!

It came to me as I was sitting in a lecture hall in Marston, waiting for my calculus professor to start lecturing on three-dimensional vector functions. He was taking his time explaining the schedule for the final three weeks of class, and I was bored, so I read my copy of the Tribune. I finished that, and I was still bored, so I picked up a copy of the Daily I found on the floor and... read today's Daily! Three minutes later, the professor was still rambling on about his schedule and grading scale, and I was still bored, so I took out my calculator and my registration fee schedule and did some number crunching.

Right now, an out-of-state Iowa State student with an average fifteen-credit schedule pays $5,225 per semester. That figure will go up about $2,500 next year, bringing the per-credit cost to $515 and the hourly rate to about $28, up from the present $348 per credit and $20 per hour tuition costs.

Twenty-eight dollars for every hour spent in class.

I thought about this as I sat in my plush red auditorium chair, and I thought about what else could be done with twenty-eight dollars, some of the other things that could be done to earn college credit, and how good the vegetarian hero sub I ate for lunch was.

Then came the revelation. It went a little something like this:

The college administration should create a new one-credit class for this fall. The class will be offered satisfactory-fail, with attendance optional and only one or two teaching assistants administering the class to save on costs. For the same reason, there will be no hand-outs, no paper tests or exams, and no student textbook. The usual administrative fees will have to be paid, of course, but since this is probably no more than $150, and because the TAs are working for lowered tuition rates instead of American dollars, each student will have about $20 of fees each week to be used at his or her discretion. $19 of this will be given to the TAs once a week, and they will take this money, go to a local supermarket, and purchase some vegetables, bread, meats, cheeses. (Maybe some vegan alternatives for the last two too.) The TAs will then bring these supplies to class, break out the recipe book they bought by pooling the other $1 of each student's tuition fees, and everyone will make sandwiches. FS HN 166L: the Sandwich Lab.

What makes this such a great idea is that the course could be offered in a number of different formats. It could be taught as a design course, an art course, an anthropology course, a consumer science course, an English course (the English invented the sandwich), or as part of a number of other courses by simply eliminating all of the time wasted on inane nonsense and using the spare time and money for something productive!


So I dunno... I shouldn't complain so much, and not so loudly, especially when I don't feel that passionate about the matter at hand. It's just that I'm paying large amounts of money to sit in a room and not learn things now (as opposed to before, when someone else paid large amounts of money so I could sit in a room and not learn things) and it is alerting even me, despite all my self-absorbed hubris, to how much this can suck, and to the fact that the ladies and gentlemen in food services can really make a good sandwich. I'm not kidding; this college has some very pronounced talents and strengths, and for whatever reason, making sandwiches is one of them. Teaching math classes is another, which is probably why the thirty minutes of pandering to the whims of obsessive students today upset me so much—it doesn't happen too often.

But I definitely shouldn't rant like this. Ranting gets people in trouble, as proven by the case of Steve Skutnik in this article in today's Daily. Skutnik, a senior in physics and a columnist for that very same esteemed news publication, fancies himself to be a pretty political guy, and he rants about things political on some regular maniacal whim of his. (Rants like these.) He used to have a KURE show, but he stopped doing it for some reason. He used to be a big-shot on the forensics team, but that collapsed recently. I don't even know the guy, but he keeps appearing here and there, apparently with some odd cloud of disreputability constantly surrounding him, a cloud that was probably a major factor in the student body government denying him a position on their election board, even though he was the only one who applied.


So... I'm going to stop ranting now (maybe), and let you all get back to your doughnut-filled lives. If you ever want to rant, though, I'm always listening. It's why I maybe don't post so often—it's really hard to listen and talk at the same time. Y'know? I think you do. Now, if someone would only come up with some kind of Perl listening script...

Microeconomics, part 2  

Posted on Wednesday, 14 November 2001 at 01:37 PM. About Links to correct.

Whee, another exciting episode of Economics 101: The Lab. I just sit here, and all I really have to do is shell into Dreamhost and rant.
For those who have been spared the displeasure, taking an Econ class is like taking an Algebra class... in Italian. A sort of crude, jerky Italian, the kind actors playing stereotypical snotty Europeans speak in bad PG comedies released by 20th Century Fox. The irony is that after reading P.J. O'Rourke's Eat the Rich and talking to some businesspeople, I was almost interested in things financial, too. Oh well... I guess it's on to Plan B.

Grarr... ng. Economic rent. "If you're a corn farmer, what does the beef matter?"
Gli sciocchi lo guideranno pazzesco.

It looks like I'll be leaving town tomorrow, and I'll be taking my box home in an attempt to revive it a bit over break. You can email me safely, but the Rapid Citians might have a better time calling me. We can play Super-Happy Death Game or get the BBQ groove on or something. In the snow.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Postscript: I notice that I broke the page again for those using Netscape 4. I'm going to stop caring. It looks fine on MSIE. It looks fine in Mozilla. It looks fine in Lynx. And I'm pretty sure it looks okay in Opera. If you're using Netscape 4, you really should download Mozilla 0.9.5. Heck, you should download it even if you're not. It's fun.

Microeconomics, part 1  

Posted on Wednesday, 24 October 2001 at 01:55 PM. About Links to correct.

Economics class!

...yeah. Woo, woo, woo. Sure.

Two things this time. First, I have discovered a different kind of game, and it's called "Hypermail."
This is what it looks like when everything is okay.
Whee. A day of wrestling with it has put me right off being a geek. It's not that it's hard to use or anything, it's just that people who use Microsoft Outlook break it. Grr. So I'm definitely going into photography now.

Secondly, drukqs is exactly what you would hope an Aphex Twin album would be like, which is to say, strange, bizarre, and esoteric to the point where no one but Richard D James and his custom Moog synthesizers really 'get it.'
Also, it would make good Halloween music.

What? Freedom? Alright! I will go now.

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