Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Great Idea: Soldiers as teachers

Sitting bored in one of my teacher credentialing classes one day, I had a Great Idea: what if we helped encourage members of the armed services to become secondary and elementary school teachers? My experience in attemtping secondary education has taught me that in-depth knowledge of subject matter isn't the most important thing that makes for an educational experience. Not only do contemporary teaching materials provide so much (teacher's editions from my day just had answers, today's provide entire lessons) but lots of teaching is accomplished in getting the students to focus on the subject matter. And who would know more about learning focus than a trained soldier? The teachers who have in-depth knowledge of the subject matter can be moved away from the remedial classes (of which there are many) and back to the higher-level courses.

Offer people a free credential program and $20k/year stipend (for student teaching time) if they survive, er, complete a normal stint in the armed forces. The G.I. Bill was a huge success and made for more college-educated people (who tend to be liberal). Who knows, it might help raise recruitment rates at the same time it combats teacher turnover.

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Friday, October 27, 2006

Will they listen?

I wonder which recent study many religious people will ignore the most: sex is great for your health or prayer doesn't help the ill get better.


Thursday, October 26, 2006

Bonus goat report

Because I've been neglecting all the latest goat updates. When in Ohio, be sure and visit the Goatel 6.


Goat report, 10/26/06

I wonder how fainting goats get ready for Halloween. Nice to see pictures of them in action...


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

More on advertising

Despite my thoughts on TV advertising that I shared in a recent post, I found myself in agreement with Momus that '...my attitude to hypercapitalist over-stimulation could flip 180 degrees, depending on whether the context was the West or Japan.'
I recall some similarly weird ad campaign I ran into in Washington DC a few years ago. There were people walking the streets in a group, acting like protesters and singing the praises of something called Ted. I soon sussed it was about United Airlines' budget spin-off and got really annoyed at the campaign (which was one of a few different campaigns, apparently). When people realize something's advertising, I figured, they'll just learn to tune it all out. If ads are dressed up as protests, soon people won't listen to legitimate protests and authentic causes won't get attention. I haven't seen any other faux-protest ads since then so maybe there's no danger of that, but it does worry me at times.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Mole Day

Happy Mole Day! I hope you celebrated Avogadro's Number between 6:02 AM and 6:02 PM today. I almost forgot until Ms Goat reminded me.

Update: I really did try to publish it at 6:02...


Saturday, October 21, 2006

Bye-bye, Tower!

Ah, it seems that Tower Records is going the way of the dodo. While I did enjoy shopping there many times as a teen, especially the great store on the Sunset Strip (which was only great before Amoeba came to town), I have to admit more than a little schadenfreude at the news.

Back in the early 90s I was working for Wherehouse, a rival music chain, that began to buy and sell used CDs This was a response to the fact that, even back then, people didn't like the high price of CDs. Tower took its mouth off the Big Record Companies' dicks long enough to cluck-cluck and talk about how this wasn't good for the industry because used CD sales keep money from record companies, who spend it on developing artists and other lies. Even though Wherehouse's used CD sales just filled them up with loads of used CDs they couldn't sell and they've had to close most of their stores, at least they outlasted Tower.


Friday, October 20, 2006

What I Learned from Watching Alias

We finished off the whole series in about 5 weeks and it made for enjoyable viewing. But there were a few lessons that I took away from the whole thing (uh, slight spoiler alert):

1) Torture is great!
What's great about torture, you see, is that when it's done to the bad guys, they spill their guts and tell all their plans with complete honesty. But when the good guys are tortured, they never give up any information!! In truth, torture is extremely ineffective as a means to get information but since it works well in drama it'll keep showing up in political thrillers.

2) Anything can be done in the interests of your daughter
Alias spent a lot of time dealing with the relationship of the main character, Sidney, and her father, Jack. Jack, while being emotionally distant, repeatedly saves Sidney's bacon, a nice dramatic device that shows us his true feelings for her. However, many times he does this by going around the law, through the law and with no concern for the safety of others. He'd blow up the planet if he thought it was in Sidney's interest and the show never pointed out the moral problems with this. It would have been nice if he'd have killed some innocents along the way and maybe learned a lesson. This lesson is particularly interesting because I now have a daughter. Wonder what I can get away with...

3) Hold guns against people
OK, this is a littly nitpicky but I can't hold this in. Alias primarly concerns the activities of trained killers, both good and bad. Despite the training they've allegedly received, they persist in detaining prisoners by holding guns against their nemesis' body. This is incredibly stupid as it leaves the detainor vulnerable to numerous techniques that have been developed to escape from such a position. If you're serious about holding someone captive with a gun, you keep the gun close to your body and stand about 10 feet away from your prisoner; I don't know of any escape from that, unless the captor can be reasoned with or hypnotized or something. I know this is hardly exclusive to Alias but I just had to say something.

4) Commercials really suck
Yeah, this has nothing to do with Alias. But we were able to watch the first 4 seasons on lovely commercially-released DVD sets but couldn't wait for the final season to come out on DVD so we borrowed copies from a friend who recorded them onto DVD. It was very difficult, even with fast-forwarding thru commercials, to feel a sense of the tension & suspense when you had these annoying breaks filled with the equivalent of annoying salesmen shouting at you.


Thursday, October 19, 2006

Game shows on DVD?

I never thought such a thing would interest me, but I'm really tempted by the coming release of The Best of Match Game. Get me my long skinny microphone!


Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Where I been

I was just thinking of something like this from a few years ago when Randy of This is True posted about a new one. Countries I've visited (excluding airport stops):

create your own visited countries map

States I've visited:

create your own visited states map

Since a lot of those are drive-thru visits, States I've spent nights in:

create your own visited states map


Sunday, October 08, 2006

Album art war

Freakin' hilarious, although Terry Gilliam deserves credit for the influence.


Saturday, October 07, 2006


When I was a youth in the early 80s, one of my favorite movies was one called Megaforce; I think I even had a Megaforce poster in my bedroom. Before the 80s were over I realized what a piece of crap the film was; it's been almost 20 years and I can still remember the lame stereotyped characters, the bad jokes (some of which I still quote, for some reason), the shoddy special effects and I can hear the theme song in my head as I type this. If you don't know of this masterpiece, read a good synopsis accompanied with pictures. You can also see a video clip; it warms my heart to see how many others on the web have 1) found this worthy of derision and 2) preserved it for enjoyment today.

I am thrilled to find it, which I did by just following some links around (yet again). I read Y.Llama's post the mentions Ween's 12 Golden Country Greats and decided to see if there was any legal action taken with Ween ripping of the melody to Chariots of Fire on one song. Sure enough, I find an interview of Ween with Trey Parker and Matt Stone where they say that Vangelis owns the song now. But the page starts off w/ Trey and Matt talking about how they'd like to make a sequel to Megaforce.

I actually can't believe that I didn't think of Megaforce when I saw Team America, it borrows a lot of the plot and characterizations. Or when Frink had the flying motorcycle in The Simpsons episode Lemon of Troy, which I recently enjoyed.

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Dennis Miller on The Daily Show

Today I watched a recent video of Dennis Miller on The Daily Show and noted how similar it was to a previous visit I'd seen. Both times, Miller totally slays not just the audience but also John Stewart, who can barely stay on his chair he's laughing so hard. What's strange about this is that Miller isn't close to being funny in any other appearances on other shows, unless you count the laughably unfunny CNBC show. Could Jon Stewart be providing him material for the Daily Show appearances? Or maybe Jon feels like he owes Dennis for the way Daily Show is similar in style to Dennis' run on Weekend Update? Or maybe Dennis is blackmailing Jon? Why does Stewart make Miller funny?

(for the record, I never liked Miller on Weekend Update, it was too much attitude for me)