Sunday, November 29, 2009

Swiss Hypocrites

The Swiss banned minarets recently because they are a sign of "Muslim intolerance." This is no different than the ban of rosaries and crosses because they're a reminder of Christian intolerance.

If you don't like seeing minarets, pay attention to the fucking road.

Monday, November 16, 2009

If you think society is becoming more violent, you're still relying on "History: The Eurocentric Fairy Tale."

Consider this form of capital punishment, this form of entertainment, these spiritual awakening journeys, and this get-together that happened between the years of 1940-45.

Short-sighted ramblers pontificate that society is becoming more violent. On the contrary, those authors forget that they are viewing small trends in a larger scheme, trends apparent now in an age with more information and greater visibility. They forget that they have eyes and think that the contents of their eyes are the reality they view.

Friday, November 13, 2009

You're Doing It Wrong: Driving

This post was originally going to be titled "You're Doing It Wrong: Police." That's how my reasoning began.

You rarely see police walking. Police are almost always found driving around in vehicles with "POLICE" written in intimidating, massive font on the side. When not in blatantly obvious cars, they're in cars with giant spotlights poking out the front, trying to sneak around and bust you for driving too fast.

This, of course, ends up being their only interaction with most people--when they're in trouble, wherein the cop lectures the potentially guilty in a patronizing manner. Even if it's not when they're personally in trouble, they're only found at the sight of trouble or where there's likely to be trouble. It's natural, then, that people ought not like police because their presence only means bad things.

Were police to walk everywhere, they wouldn't be driving in seclusion, and their presence wouldn't necessarily entail bad things. Additionally, their interactions with the community would allow them to prevent more harmful crimes than bored kids loitering and speeding tickets; they could receive tips by word of mouth from community members who trust them. Plus, if they lived in the communities they patrolled, they would be personally invested in their success.

This problem has a flaw--walking. Nobody does it anymore. A cop couldn't stop people from speeding while he's walking around, and he can't chase down criminals in cars. In fact, he'd make an easy target for gang members with nothing to do but gun down cops.

The fact that people drive everywhere doesn't just isolate people from police, it isolates people from each other. Instead of individuals seeing the faces of people while the commute to work, they see their headlights, slanted like scornful eyes. They take no concern for the humanity of the people on the road with them; people call the product of this road rage. The entire process of driving causes stress, both the commute itself and the process of parking--there's never enough of it, and people have to act like vultures just to succeed.

This sort of constant stress is not only unnecessary; it's awful for your health. Not only would people commuting by self-propelled means add humanity of the American commute, the exercise itself would relieve stress and improve health. Problems caused by over-consumption--such as obesity--would be resolved. When you do need to drive long-distance, travel costs would be lower.

Sadly, there's no economic motivators for such a change. The automobile is deeply ingrained into the fabric of the suburban-city metropoleis, discouraging slightly-interested individuals from beginning the transition to a pedestrian society. It's going to take massive change--like economic collapse--to make a difference. The people who would not benefit from this change are the people in charge, and they'll fight their damnedest to stop the world from falling apart. Sad to say, conflagration is too distant to hope for.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

No Favicon

I noticed today that the "favicon" I've used on this blog for a while is missing. I'd forgotten that I was hosting it on Geocities which shut down the other day.

If I get around to it, I may create a new one. Till then, enjoy the blogger "B."

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

How to Gauge Teachers: Correlation

Standardized tests are one of the worst things to ever happen to the Western world. Inhumane, uncreative, and stressful, they force teachers to teach to a test instead of creatively envisioning and practicing new teaching techniques. They fail to analyze the thought process of the student and reward rote memorization.

They aren't going away either. It's the only technique anyone has come up with to measure the performance of students effectively and cheaply. Non-multiple choice tests are expensive and slow to grade.

Action has to be taken to ensure that schools are improving. One of the central proposals to do this is to get rid of teachers whose students fail standardized tests.

Such a proposal isn't fair to teachers. What if their students just don't give a shit? Teaching is easier than inspiring. They're both difficult, but a student who doesn't give a damn is destined to fail no matter how good a teacher is.

Instead of firing teachers whose students fail, why not fire teachers whose students' grades do not correspond to their standardized test grades? Grades are an indicator of student performance provided by a teacher. Standardized tests should verify this indicator. If the indicator is off, then a teacher is too harsh, forgiving, or ineffective.

This system verifies that a teacher is teaching in the way that the state requests. After all, this ought to be the goal of a standardized test. State-mandated standards are at heart horseshit, but a world without them is a pipe dream.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The Media Sucks

The media sucks.

If you don't believe me, go watch CNN right now. Turn it on. It looks like a circus; there's holograms and panic and emotion and screaming and death flu this, president/war that.

What a waste of time. Give me the news and shut up. We don't need strobe lights, we need information.
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