30 May 2007

Georgia to Do Away with Two Diplomas

For those who don't know, Georgia high schools have previously offered two different seals on high school diplomas. One is the college prep seal. The meaning behind this seal is obvious: the courses the student has completed courses to get ready for college. The second seal is a vocational seal. Students take standard math and English classes, geography, and such, but instead of going into advanced classes, such as the upper maths and sciences, and some history classes, they take courses in welding, carpentry, auto repair, and computer sciences (to name a few). The seal, at least at my old high school, required that they take three classes from the same group (three consecutive welding classes, for example). Most of my friends who were on this track planned on going on to trade schools and working in construction or car shops.

The two seals had a few basic requirements in common: English composition, basic maths and sciences, and introductory social sciences. They then gradually moved apart as the college-bound prepared for their trek to higher learning and the future manual-laborers learned the general practices of their trade. Obviously, this system was not perfect, as both could probably stand a little more in the way of foreign language instruction and practical mathematics (money management classes, things such as balancing a check book and keeping a budget).

The high school I attended for the first two years, Bradwell Institute, also offered a dual seal, meaning that the recipient took classes in both the upper-level arts and sciences and in technical areas (a fourth seal, the college prep honors seal went to those who took the honors and AP college prep classes).

The state, though, has decided that the vocational diploma discriminates between rural and urban schools, and on account of race and income level. Because of this, they plan to do away with it, saying that students need to be held to the same standard.

I am all for equality. But specialized education is also essential. You don't see them arguing for the removal of honors classes in Georgia. It is not just unreasonable, but also harmful to the students. Instead of wasting the future mechanic or hair-stylist's time with the Calc, Physics, and European History, put them in the classes that will prepare them for what they want to do. We say we want to prepare them for college, but they aren't going to college. We say we want to prepare them for life, but we are wasting their time with stuff they don't need. Our current education philosophy here in the US seems to be get everybody ready to go to Georgia Tech, MIT, and other technology centers, to prepare us for the future and global economy. I first call into doubt the idea of devoting our lives to technology, lest the Matrix come about voluntarily. But I do enough of that in other posts. Here I focus on becoming so single-minded in education that we have tunnel vision. Where will the dreamers go, the philosophers, theologians, and those who practice the arts, the writers, painters, and musicians, the performers and photographers? And those upon whose toil society is built in the most literal sense and whose sweat keeps life running like a well-oiled machine, what will become of them? Our way of life is built upon diversity, starting education. Let us keep it that way.

I have always lifted Georgia's dual-diploma system up as an example of what good education looks like. Teaching students what they want to learn and preparing them for what they want to do. I sincerely hope that this system stays in place.

For those in Georgia, please write to the Department of Education. Let them know how vital this program is.

Rock on.

29 May 2007

The HotList

This just in from Facebook: You can now use brand names and icons to let people figure you out.

"Help people know you better by showing logos of the brands you identify with. Compare what you like with your friends....Show people what you are all about. Better than Facebook's info section because this uses logos, and no one reads your profile anyways ;)"

Facebook: Taking sign-exchange value to a new level. Reinforcing the trend that all Greeks love Abercrombie, all black people listen to rap, and every man, woman, and child in the south loves their Ford truck.

Seriously, though, what the crap? Have we gotten that lazy, that we now reduce our entire self-image down to corporate icons? I can just see the next wave of college applications: Please, describe yourself in twenty brand-names or less.

There is also the new Lamefactor function: "Anonymously judge your Facebook friends."
And Rendezbook, self-described "Speed-dating for Facebook." A simulation of simulated relationships! Brilliant! This even saves you the awkwardness of having to tell someone how you feel, because if both people are interested in the same option (out of Friendship, Relationship, or Random Fling) they are emailed confirming the "feeling".
Not to mention the Compass, which uses ten questions to tell you where you are in the detailed political spectrum of Liberal, Moderate, or Conservative.
And last, but not least, we arrive at the Causes feature. You can give a crap about the rest of the world without ever lifting a finger!

Some of the new features are great. I love the Extended Info section. It gives me a place to list some things I think are important about me: Favorite authors, places, philosophers, foods, artists, you name it. But then again, with the HotList, why should I even bother? Brand names can do all of the talking. I could use the Info area to discuss my politics. Or I could answer ten questions and they'd make a picture of a compass for that, too. Now I'm really desperate. I should just list my favorite friends and girls that I'm attracted to. No, wait. There are features for those. I can just vote on my friends and women, and if I'm lucky, things will work out that way.

Facebook: Eliminating the need for words and human interaction since May 2007. It can all be simulated anyway.

Rock on.

27 May 2007


Today is Pentecost, the day the Holy Ghost came to believers.

Originally a Jewish festival celebrating the first fruits of the harvest, Jews came to view Pentecost as the day Moses received the law (supposedly fifty days after the first Passover). Pentecost was made all the more important by the events recorded in Acts 2, in which the Holy Spirit descended upon men.

And they thought we were drunk...ha.

Rock on.

26 May 2007

Mass Graves in Sudan

This article from the Associated Press is too important to not post.

24 May 2007


My parents got me a car!

Now if only I could find a job so I can afford to put gas in it...so I can drive to work...so I can afford to put gas in it...so I can drive to work...oh, and food. Being able to afford food is nice, too.

22 May 2007

On the Minuteman Project

The Minutemen claim to be many things, taking "Civil Defense Corps" as their official title. The one thing that they flat out deny is being a racist organization. It is quite obvious that they are not the KKK or the Aryan Nation. For this, I am very thankful (the last thing we need is another of those groups). I would even doubt that they are racist. Their stance seems to have very little to do with race itself, but instead with nationalism (think patriotism on speed).

This was posted on their official website. They, in a very arrogant and sarcastic tone, boast about how they fed a group of immigrants during a cookout. They call the four people "guests" (in a very sarcastic tone denoted by quotation marks) and "illegal aliens", but never people. The only time they come close to describing the group as anything remotely hinting at humanity is using the words "men", "mother" and "daughter" in the most literal sense to describe who they found. Through out the article, the author jokes about arranging "ground transportation" through the Federal government. The article concludes with a very sarcastic invitation to future other aliens to join them at their next cook-out in October.

While the Minutemen may have no ties to white-power groups, they are engaging in a verbal campaign to strip illegal immigrants of their humanity, a very dangerous endeavor.

The Minuteman photo gallery raises more questions. For a group that claims to instruct its members not to confront groups of illegal immigrants or to leave their posts, why do we see Minutemen marching a group of immigrants here with no Border Patrol in sight(Perhaps a more disturbing question is why three out of the four Minutemen, who always work in pairs of two or more, in this picture are visibly carrying side-arms, which, according to their regulations, are to be always holstered and used only for self-defense. The math just doesn't quite add up.)? And why do we see a photo of a group of immigrants being sneaked up upon here? Both of these photos seem to violate their third and fourth SOPs. And why do they find this concept along the Canadian border so disturbing?

While the Minutemen claim to be a civil defense project, they are, in reality, vigilantes. They may not be racists, but they are nationalists. In their minds, illegal immigrants aren't human (the word "disgusting" is often used by them to describe Mexican immigrants, illegal or not). This video of a Minuteman march in LA shows the true mentality, depicting the baseless accusations that members of the Minuteman movement make against all immigrants.

While I think immigration should be done legally, taking the law into your own hands is dangerous. Making such accusations as members of the movement do is uncalled for. The Minuteman movement needs to be dissolved to make way for a better end to the immigration debate.

Rock on.

17 May 2007

Another News Round-Up...

The last time I did this, I had the misfortune of reporting the news of the Virginia Tech massacre. I am pleased to say that this time, I don't have anything nearly as gruesome to report on.

In the presidential debate, Giuliani and Edwards both hold stock in companies doing business in Sudan. Both claim they were unaware of the investments, both worth thousands of dollars. While both candidates say they are shocked and will quickly sell the stock, this raises the question of why aren't our politicians looking at where there money is going? And if they don't know what they aren't on top of their own investments, will they show similar care with the nation's finances?

Today was doubly rough for Rudy, who was rejected by James Dobson. Whether or not the founder of Focus on the Family should have a say in who the Republican candidate will be is still up for debate, but for Dobson's many supporters, the former mayor is on his way out. Giuliani, who attempted to defend his stance on abortion at a Baptist college in Texas, is having trouble courting the religious right. Despite leading in some polls, this may cost him the election (the same way it won the election for Reagan and George W).

As far as the religious right is concerned, they are mourning the loss of one of the prominent members, Jerry Falwell, who died yesterday. While I disagree with Mr. Falwell on many issues, I pray for comfort for his family and friends.

In other political news, a bipartisan group of politicians have agreed on an immigration reform plan. Official debate begins on Monday, though many congressman from both sides have criticized it as either too harsh or not harsh enough (generally a good sign that it's a moderate proposal).

In Hollywood today, Paris Hilton (I want to cry for actually putting her in my blog) dropped her appeal for her less than two month prison term. What gets me is the one-liner near the end, "She could have a cellmate." On the other side of the legal spectrum, Lindsay Lohan will not be charged with grand theft after it was ruled that there is not enough evidence to move forward with allegations of her stealing a shirt. I'm sure that somewhere, a preteen girl is excited over this.

Again, I do this to take a look at what our media tells us is important. If I'm reading this correctly, the only things in politics is the presidential election, illegal immigration, and a congressional stalemate over Iraq. Meanwhile, an important preacher died and two of America's royalty are having some legal troubles. Never mind that the presidential election is more than a year away. Never mind that while immigration is an important issue, the country has some other major issues to deal with (whatever happened to the concern over Social Security?). Never mind that the use of war as a means for political gain (on both sides) is disgusting. Never mind that many Republicans have changed their opinions on Mr. Falwell to court his followers. And never mind that the people young Americans care about the most are over-privileged and over-paid and yet under-talented. Never mind that there is actually more in the world than the US, its border with Mexico, and Iraq.

It is said that the media shapes the minds of the people. But it is also said that the people tell the media what to play. So where did this all begin? Which came first, the chicken or the egg? And where will it end? When will we finally decide to wake up and realize that our culture is nothing more than a simulation, a copy, and a poor one of that, of the ancient Romans, with our bread and circuses (bread replaced with fast food and chariots replaced with bad movies), fed to us in thirty second sound bites? And we thought that the Matrix was just a movie...

Rock on.

14 May 2007

Reflections of the Student Formerly Known as a Freshman

First and foremost, I'm out of the dorms! That's the best news I've gotten since I was admitted to UGA. Though this is a happy moment, I am a little sad to be done with it. While I no longer have to put up with people loudly tromping through the hallway at all hours of the morning, I can no longer be one of those people. My days of running around Payne Hall in an all-out Lysol-spray war are over. Really, it's hard to imagine another place where such an act is allowable. And, at least over the summer, I'll miss my late night (ok, it was actually early morning) philsolphy conversations at my favorite coffee shop (the great thing about discussing ontology at three in the morning is that the coffee keeps you just awake enough to speak, so everything you say makes sense in some way).

Time has no meaning in college, except in philosophy and physics classes, and even then, it's debatable. As I said at the end of last semester, it feels like I haven't been here but a week, but at the same time, it seems like my friends have been my friends since childhood. Though the lectures seem to drag on forever, the free time flies by. Some of the friends I've made have already moved on (I hope Krista's enjoying the Peace Corps and that Amy likes working of Coca-Cola). Others are finishing up their time (Brian and Beth! Don't leave us!!!!) Still others are going to have to put up with me a little while longer (Kelly and Becca, Jason and Mike, and of course, my fellow Fres...erm...Sophmore group, and Jon (w00t for Philosophy and coffee!)).

While I can not and will not share everything I've learned in class (wait...I actually learned stuff in class???), most people have said, and now I can't help but agree, that classes are really not even half of what college is all about. Learning is no longer confined to the lecture hall.

Now, to all my pre-college readers (I actually have readers?), some advice:
  • Get to know your roommate. I regret how little time I spent talking to Alex.
  • It only takes a small question to spark a great conversation. Everything from God to grass is up for discussion. Enjoy this openness. And as I said, your education is not all about class.
  • Community is essential. You're just a number to the university itself, but to your friends, you are more than can be expressed in words.
  • Class may be optional. So is bathing. Nobody will notice skipping either occasionally, but do not make a habit out of it.
  • Get a laptop. From taking notes in class to writing a paper outside on a nice day, it is well worth the investment.
  • Dell hates you. So does Microsoft. Get used to it.
  • Textbooks are horrible monetary investments. Therefore, use them in class. Otherwise, what's the point?
  • YouTube is fun, but dangerous. Before you know it, it'll be 3 am and you'll have a test in five hours.
  • Extracurricular events are great. Concerts, recitals, lectures, and conferences - again, learning is no longer limited to class.
  • It saves nearly an hour of sleep to shower at night and go to bed in your shorts. This way, you just roll out of bed, grab a (clean?) t-shirt, sandals, and a granola bar and head to class.
  • Sleep in on Saturday mornings. Nobody else is awake anyways.
I now have thirty-five credit hours under my belt, with thirteen more this summer. Life comes quickly and won't let up. This is why college is so important. Classes and maybe a job...to my fellow students, I remind us that we'll never be this free again. Let's make the most of it.

Rock on.

08 May 2007

Almost There...

Finals are done (no longer a freshman!!!) and I'm moved into my new place. However, I'm still unpacking and finishing up in the dorm (hour and a half till I check out!). I don't have internet yet, so it'll be a little longer before my post-freshman year reflection (which I know everybody is looking forward to).


02 May 2007


Tis Finals week and all through the campus
The students were freaking, even the...what rhymes with campus?

Anywhose, I'm two down, the two hardest to go. Then I've gotta move into my new place and get settled in. I'll be back next week.