"Students ought to be given the opportunity to hear both sides," said Angel Dillard, the mother of two Wichita girls.
"Both sides" implies that there are two possibilities, both of which are likely to be correct. Which is hard to reconcile when the two contenders are a scientifically valid theory supported by more than 99% of biologists and life scientists, on one hand, and an "alternative" constructed and advocated primarily by non-scientists who feel evolution isn't compatible with their religious beliefs. This is equivalent to demanding students be taught "both sides" of plate tectonics or Einstein's general relativity (both "only theories"). This is an issue only because people don't understand evolutionary theory.
Due to a minor bit of miscommunication, Laura was indisposed at the time of The Vagina Monologues on Sunday ("indisposed" in this case meaning "in Missouri"). I almost went by myself (after listening to four different answering machines), but at the last moment Jennifer answered her phone, so she showed up ten minutes before it started. The performance itself was good, although not as good as the national performance I saw a couple of years ago. One actress in particular bugged the hell out of me. But it was still enjoyable. Men were only outnumbered 11-1 this time (instead of 15-1 the last time I saw it), which is an improvement.
After the play, Laura (fresh from Missouri) and I spent the afternoon at Heartland Park (yeah, I know: me and sunlight, risky combination). If you go, watch for the fish (including the gigantic mutant goldfish), and if you're really thirsty you can bob for the half-full beer bottles (very charming). You can also check out the benches-turned-bulletin boards and muse (as I did) about whether or not Steve and Tina or Erika and Chris are still together now, let alone "4 ever." I also thought this was rather comical. Laura and I amused ourselves by sitting on the grass and making fun of the people walking by in between idle chatting. Much fun was had.
Sunday night I remembered why I'm not supposed to run my dishwasher and my washing machine at the same time (something along the lines of "large puddles of water on the basement floor"). Whoops. That'll learn me.
(Yes, I completely geeked out at the store when I spotted them. And then I went back later to buy three more bags. 'Cause, I mean, come on, they're dark chocolate! And they have lightsabers on the package!)
I have a hell of a privacy screen along the north side of my property (which is amusing, since I have *no* privacy screen at all between my back porch and my neighbor's house). Jennifer told me what these are, but of course I don't remember. They smell good, though.
I came across several new words at work today, but unfortunately I had the mental fortitude to retain only one of them. So your word for the day is "turbidity." Yes, that was in a legal document. Those wacky lawyers.
I'd ramble profusely along some random line of semi-consciousness, but, after 3 hours of overtime after work, in addition to the hour-and-a-half before work (for yet another mind-numbingly boring computer class, this time for a program for which I'd already proofed the manual), and in preparation for my triumphant return to the office later today (back to the same project I just left), I'm off to bed for about six hours of semi-fitful dreaming. :)
Hope everyone is having a great Saturday. Enjoy the beautiful weather. ;)
This made me think that maybe I should go see The Vagina Monologues again. Oh, wait, I already had tickets for this weekend. That works out well. :)
A more in-depth article presents the conflict. There is real merit in the discussion about free speech versus maintaining order in a learning environment, so it's not easy to simply dismiss it out of hand either way. A classroom requires order to function, after all. But there are serious issues involved when censoring speech for any purpose and those purposes need to be examined closely. The Supreme Court has traditionally favored the First Amendment in all but the most specific and limited circumstances (such as when the behavior "has a tendency to provoke others to acts of violence") when applied to adults in public settings. In a school setting, the Court has ruled that schools can censor content which "is inconsistent with its basic educational mission," insofar as school facilities (i.e., a student newspaper) are used. Which is this? I don't know. In Tinker v. Des Moines, the Supreme Court rejected the censorship of protest armbands in schools; this seems to be a similar case.
I do know that the reasons the principal has given fall far short of convincing. Those reasons have centered entirely on not offending other people, which (a) displays a lack of understanding of the purpose of this particular message (it's intended to be educational, not combative) and (b) has been ruled repeatedly by the Supreme Court to be an insufficient reason to censor speech (you simply don't have a Constitutional right *not* to be offended; that's what political speech is about). To add to that, I'm honestly puzzled why this is offensive (I understand why people have a visceral reaction to it, but I don't think it can be defended rationally); most of the criticism I've read has centered around the "vulgar" term, despite the fact that it's the actual medical (i.e., non-slang) term. It's linguistically the same as saying "I Love My Ear." The fact that many people assign taboo status to medical terminology is a reflection of a culture uncomfortable talking about sex and not a requirement for those who feel no such taboo. And this particular message involves only the person wearing the button; she's not saying anyone else has to love her vagina, or that she wants to cut off someone else's penis. It's non-threatening.
In any case, I guess the controversy will be good for stirring up discussion. And there's still time to get tickets to the weekend performance. ;)
Those of you who don't read online comics can skip this post. Those of you who do can post suitably scathing comments about my particular reads. It's all good.
I'm updating my list of daily comic reads. Real Life and Ctrl+Alt+Delete are staying, of course, as is Penny Arcade. Mac Hall is great, although updated very sporadically. PvP is on probation. Goats, I'm afraid, is getting cut from the team. It was funny when it was about geeks and jobs and dating. Now it's about robotic goldfish and Hitler movies (and if that's your thing, more power to you, but it's not for me).
New recruits! It's not Avalon (which I'm still annoyed ended), but Misfile is pretty damn good. In a nutshell: serial comic about a boy who is turned into a girl and a girl who was a senior but is now a sophomore due to the bumbling of a slacker angel (he "misfiles" them in Heaven) who is then kicked out of Heaven and how the three of them are trying to adjust/fix it/kill each other. A little too much emphasis on specific car models and racing, but the character interaction is good and the whole "gender switch" thing is thought-provoking.
Also, its run is finished, but Mom's Cancer is an interesting read for those who aren't looking for humor. It's a comic about a family's real-life struggle with cancer and how it affects everyone.
I await suggestions for new comics and scathing commentary on mine. :)
After much procrastination and protestation, I spent 3 or 4 hours on my yard on Saturday (doing homeownerish things). First up was raking all the leaves that really should have been collected last fall; by this point they'd became less of a collective of independent units and more of a homogeneous mass with vague leaf coloring. Ick. I also collected all of the big sticks I could find, and picked up all the garbage that had somehow settled upon my property. Again with the ick. I bought five yard bags, thinking I'd use one or two. Um, nope.
Raking finished, and short visits across fences with various neighbors complete (wow, it's just like in the movies), I trotted out the new mower for the first time. Not one to short others the wonderful opportunity to tease me in various forms, I will confirm that yes, indeed, I bought a non-powered reel mower. Yes, it works. No, it doesn't work as well as a regular mower, but it works. It's not nearly as uniform as a powered mower because the spinning blades that do the cutting are vertical to the ground (in contrast to the parallel sweep of the blade on a powered mower), so any time the back wheels bounced or one of the four wheels hit a bump or depression the depth of the cut changed, leaving the lawn with various patches. But they aren't noticeable unless you're specifically looking for them, and to be honest I'm not that vain about my lawn. Yes, it's a *tremendous* workout (I had to take a break after mowing the slope on the front lawn). To add more insult, as one of my neighbors actually came over to where I was mowing and asked if I wanted to use his powered mower . . .
The back yard was much easier than the front, mostly because it's horribly patchy and shaded enough that the grass doesn't grow (unlike my neighbors' lawns, which are professionally maintained). It does, however, have the remnants of the flowers that the previous owners planted. I have no idea what any of these are, but they're pretty and they smell good. Laura told me what this one was, but I've forgotten already ("hostess" or "hostage" or something like that). I'm also discovering that I have some kick-ass privacy bushes along the north side . . . which are going to require pruning in the very near future (Laura found it ironic that I have a huge privacy screen along the street and nothing at all between my back porch and my neighbors' windows).
Whilst people watching from the top of the parking garage at work today I noticed that the intersection of 16th and Farnam (which has a really cool pattern embedded in it) has a *lot* of manholes. At least six are visible in the picture, and I think I counted ten while I was there. Nothing really noteworthy. I just thought it odd.
The Taco Bell on Dodge Street (conveniently on my way home) has some interesting lamp shade thingies ringing the outside of the building. Until I was stuck in line with 11 other cars on Saturday night I hadn't really paid them much attention, but upon closer examination they appear to depict a jalapeno pepper and perhaps an onion (or some other item represented with a spiral and some radiating lines). Which makes a lot more sense than my first impression, which was a snail on fire.
"To show you how radical I am, I want carjackers dead . . . I want burglars dead . . . No court case. No parole."
I'm not at all opposed to self-defense, but it sounds like he's advocating killing people who are simply on your property, all threats to your person aside (and it almost sounds like he'd enjoy it). This is pretty militant, even for the NRA. I wonder if the NRA will distance itself from him ('cause this is not the direction the NRA has been going; some of its members, sure, but not the organization itself, which has been trying to find a "friendly" image - they even have a mascot). I hope his admirers exercise some sort of common sense because the courts aren't going to find "Well, your honor, he was stealing my birdfeeder, so I shot him three times" a viable defense in voluntary manslaughter cases (most U.S. courts require that deadly force only be used in cases where the person is in "reasonable fear of serious physical injury or death").
Prodded, in large part, by the incessant frustrations inherent in the phenomena known colloquially as "Internet outage," I finally overcame what, to me, are prominent (if, admittedly, irrational) objections to the use of the telephone and spent the better part of an hour spread across three phone calls to the glorious Mecca of understanding and knowledge that is the tech support line for my ISP.
I almost throttled the third one.
I've been having Internet outages for awhile and they've been getting worse. It looks like (at this point, anyway) it was the cable modem failing. I bought a new one this week and then had to go through the arduous task of initializing it. The first woman to whom I talked (after an appropriate 10-minute wait) couldn't find my account (because it was under my old phone number), so she updated it. Then she took the info for the modem and said "Okay, we're all set. But our computers are down for maintenance for the next 6 hours, so you'll have to call back after that to finish the set-up." So I called back the next night to finish the initialization and talked (after a 10-minute wait) to a second woman who also could not find my account (either under the old number or the new number; apparently the first woman deleted the old number and forgot to add the new one or it hadn't gone into effect yet - I dunno). So I had to go rummage through my pile of billing statements to find a statement from them so I could give her my actual account number. Then she said "Okay, it's all set. But our computers are down for maintenance, so it might take a couple of hours for it to go into effect." Eventually (3 hours later) it started to go through, except it shuffled me into some "FastConnect" page that wanted me to validate the account before it would let me do anything else, and of course it couldn't find my account (with my old number, my new number *or* my street address). So a third call was in order, this time (after a 10-minute wait) to a woman who managed to find my account right away (?). The following conversation occurred:
Her: Okay, Mr. Cooper, what seems to be the trouble? Me: I'm trying to validate the account on a new cable modem and it won't let me- Her: Okay, I can help you with that, Mr. Cooper. Let me just bring up your account. Is this a new account? Me: No, it's just a new modem. It's all installed. I just need to validate the- Her: Okay, I can help you with that. I have your account. Oh, it looks like someone has been trying to access the account. Did you know that? Me: . . . Yes, that would be me. Her: Okay, we'll just ignore that, then. Now, what seems to be the trouble? Me: . . . I've been trying to validate the account and it won't let me. Her: Okay, I can help you with that.
But it seems to be working now, and I haven't had any outages since then (hopefully that doesn't jinx it). Hopefully it was the modem.
I also finally figured out why the Riven DVD I bought wouldn't run (even though the Myst and Myst III DVDs that came in the same package would). Turns out that, uniquely to that game among the three, you have to select to run it in Windows 98 compatibility mode (even though the 10th Anniversary DVD Collection is advertised as being redesigned for XP). You'd think they'd mention this in the installation instructions . . .
Oh, look, the genius across the street who set off the fire alarm is now smoking a bong with 4 of his friends. I wonder if that's what set the fire alarm off before. Maybe that's why he met the firemen in the lobby instead of in his apartment . . .
Posted at 11:33:00 PM. |
to this post.
(Disclaimer: I'm not making any commentary either pro- or anti-Union. I'm simply making fun of the language.)
Seen in a document tonight:
1. The following are the major warning signs that a union organizing drive may have begun at the facility: . . . m. Employees begin using a strange vocabulary, using words like "justice," "respect," or "dignity."
I know I'm always concerned when I hear people using strange and uncommon words like that. "Honesty" is pretty frightening, too, and there was this time I heard the word "integrity" while walking around a Borders and almost called 911.
You can see the apartments across the street from the windows to my office. It's bad, I know, but it's hard to resist people-watching now and then to see what the occupants are up to. Last night was a bit more exciting than usual:
Me: Um, why does that guy have a strobe light going in his apartment? Lisa: Beats me. What's he doing? Me: Wandering around in his boxers. Wow, his apartment is bigger than I thought it would be. Lisa: Those are pretty big apartments. It looks like he's getting ready to go out. Me: He's getting dressed in an awful hurry. He must be late. Lisa: Did he just leave? Me: Yeah, he left with all the lights on and the strobe light still going. Very odd. Oh, there he is. With that group of people standing just outside the front door to the building. In the rain . . .
Forty-five seconds later the firetrucks arrived. That strobe light? Yeah, that was a fire alarm. The firemen entered the building with fire axes and everything, and then came back out 5 minutes later and left. Apparently the guy set the alarm off accidentally and couldn't shut it off (unlike the cheap smoke detectors my old apartment gave me that I could shut off by pulling out the battery). I'd bet he's pretty unpopular with his neighbors now. They didn't seem that happy standing in their pajamas in the rain.
So my mom called last night and wanted to know how much snow I had.
Me: Snow? You're kidding, right? It's 65 degrees here. My mom: Really? Well, it's 31 degrees and snowing here. The ground is covered.
Turns out they caught the edge of the blizzard that went through Colorado. I didn't hear anything about it (mostly because my frelling Internet was out all week). It wasn't all sunshine here, though. In addition to thunder showers, we had a tornado watch for a good part of the day, and it hailed on my car for part of the 45 minutes I was at the Red Cross donating blood (sure, I buy a house with a garage and drive to a job with a garage, and it chooses to hail during the small window I'm between them . . .). No damage, but it was enough to make it *look* like it had snowed for about 15 minutes. Now it's just raining. Which means I won't be mowing my lawn tonight. Or probably tomorrow night. Of course, I have to put the lawnmower together first . . .
New music in my iTunes folder (if you're interested in recommendations):
Missy Higgins (kind of an Aussie Jewel) Shivaree (if you like moody jazz-type stuff) Ellie Lawson (more lyrical ballads, but this time from London) Kasabian (actually, I only bought "Club Foot"; I swore they were U2 when I first heard them) Le Tigre (I'm not entirely certain why I bought those; it's kind of an 80's flashback band, I guess) "Writing To Reach You" from Travis (whom I'd never heard until a piece of this song showed up in the "Greenday vs. Oasis" song) "Walking With a Ghost" from Tegan and Sara (heard on 89.7)
I actually did have some things to write about tonight, but my ISP was on the blink, again. So I rewatched Gladiator instead. This weekend I need to rake leaves and buy a lawnmower (as well as finish sealing the windows I didn't finish last weekend). Anyone want to place bets on how much I actually end up accomplishing? ;)
A rumination on the lifeblood of the nation, presented in novella form . . .
The local primary lasted 12 hours on Tuesday. During that time, we had a 16% voter turnout, or (accounting for the money spent on equipment, salaries for draftees and miscellaneous expenses), just under $6 per vote. Ouch. My polling place had a grand total of 61 votes, for the entire day (less than we had in the first hour last November). Not that anyone was expecting a large turnout on a local election with no contentious issues. It made it a good training day for me.
The day dawned bright and early at 6 a.m. (actually, since I didn't go to bed when I got off work but rather baked some cookies with which to bribe my poll workers, "early" is kind of subjective). I was assigned to run the polling station at the church that used to be my polling place (before I moved), and I showed up almost 20 minutes before anyone else (shades of nervousness and overpreparedness were a continual theme throughout the day). I eventually met my poll workers (four draftees, none of whom were particularly enthused about being there) and we set up for the day. We had everything ready to go right at 8 a.m., which was good because we were immediately inundated with voters.
Okay, so maybe the first voter didn't show up until 9:06. "Inundated" is subjective.
It gave us lots of time to chat and read. At least they liked the cookies. One of them made a donut run at 9:30 and I periodically checked to make sure no one was violating the electioneering laws by campaigning near the polling place.
We had a continuing problem throughout the day with a group of voters who traditionally voted at that location but who were actually not part of the city (their block has yet to be annexed) and thus were not eligible to vote in the city election; my poll workers gave me the honor of dealing with the first half-dozen of those until they figured out how I was explaining it. Most of the turned-away voters were polite about it, but I did have a couple who were distinctly unhappy (and let me know about it). I'm oh-so-good at conflict management, let me tell you (is there a "sarcasm" color for text?).
The award for most colorful character went to a woman with a distinct lack of appreciation for the word "hygiene" and a can inside a foam insulator that I'm willing to wager was not soda. She wandered into the church looking for the pastor and ended up in our room. The exchange went something like this:
Woman: Where's the pastor? What are you doing here? Chris (one of my poll workers): We're here for Election Day. Woman: Oh, great, I'll vote while I'm here. Chris: Okay. Is this your precinct? Woman: My what? Chris (looking at me): Your precinct. You have to live in this precinct to vote here. Woman: Look here, I'll have you know I'm an American citizen! I can vote if I want to. Me: Let's take a look on the precinct map and see if this is your polling place. Woman: Alright. Where are we on the map? Me (trying to instantly locate a location on a city-wide map with no landmarks; all that's missing is the theme to Jeopardy): Okay, give me just a moment. Woman (laughing, with the sound of a person attempting to hack up half a lung): What, guy in charge and you don't know where you are? What are you, twelve? Me (smiling politely and pointing at the map): We're here. Woman (continuing to laugh while looking at my now-horrified-poll workers, in the manner of a shared inside joke): This guy can't read English! Ain't that a laugh! Me (continuing to smile through gritted teeth): This is our location. The precinct covers this area. Woman: Well, I don't live in that area. My boyfriend used to, but not no more. He's Jewish, you know. Me: Um, okay. Well, I'm afraid you'll have to find your proper precinct in order to vote. Woman (wandering out the door): Well, ain't that just a crock of @#$%.
A few minutes later the doorbell to the church got stuck and continued to ring. The pastor of the church and I both arrived at the front door and were trying to fix it when the woman wandered down the hall again (I have no idea where she was in the meantime).
Pastor: I think it's just stuck on the side. It should pop back out if . . . Woman (in a mocking tone): It's Jesus! Jesus is a'ringin', boys! Pastor (giving the woman a very disapproving look): There, that should fix it. Woman: I'm tellin' ya, it was Jesus! Better let him in!
So, yeah . . .
I had a brief visit with the District Inspector when he stopped in for a spot inspection (apparently I passed), took all 23 ballots to the regional collection center at 2:30 p.m. for the midday delivery, spent my lunch hour trying to stay awake at Chili's (the cajun chicken pasta helped), then tried to stay awake the rest of the evening. My staff started "picking up the things we're not using" at 7:15, which snowballed into "are we really using that?" and "do we still need that out?" in almost clockwork increments. By 7:45 they had all of the ballot booths except two disassembled, all of the chairs put away and all of the signs except the "Vote Here!" banners outside put away (I wouldn't let them take those down until right at 8), and were hungrily eyeing the remaining booths and the tables. I let three of them go at 8:03.
The fourth one accompanied me to the Election Commission headquarters (which is just south of 114th and Dodge; those of you who live in Omaha know what a disaster that intersection is). I'd never gone through this process before, so it was actually pretty interesting. The police had three of the four streets surrounding the headquarters blocked off and were only allowing cars with "Election Official" signs on the dash (like mine) through. Once inside the perimeter, two other police officers arranged us (using hand signals) into blocks of six cars (two across and three deep) and then moved all six of us forward in conveyor-belt fashion in spurts (as other blocks of six ahead of us moved forward). When we reached the street immediately in front of the headquarters, we were descended upon by packs of Boy Scouts in bright orange vests (it was dark by this time) and Election Officials. The Election Official took custody of my Inspector's Notebook and the books containing the names of all those who had voted (all 61 of them!) while the Boy Scouts took the ballot boxes from the backseat, and once all six cars had been relieved someone shouted "Clear!" and we were ushered out and back onto 114th Street by the police. All without getting out of the car.
By the time I arrived home and had a snack I'd been up for 34 hours, so I don't remember much after that.
So, one election down. It wasn't nearly as bad as I was anticipating. I'm still not all that enthused about dealing with unhappy voters, but I suppose it's actually therapeutic for the introvert in me. I have a month off now before the general election in May. Hopefully the voter turnout will be a little higher then.
I had a somewhat interesting day, but the intriguing tales of ballot casting will have to wait until tomorrow, 'cause I've been up for 32 hours.
Posted at 10:50:00 PM. |
to this post.
Friday, April 1
Warning: Maybe more info than some of you want ahead. Certainly more than I want.
So I got arrested tonight. @#$%! For soliciting prostitution, of all things. It was even my first attempt, and I just *happened* to pick an undercover cop. I should have went to Taco Bell instead. But no, I get a nice little visit with the Vice Squad (who were none-too-friendly) and then an oh-so-pleasant 2-hour stay in a holding cell until they released me on my own recognizance. (Jail cells smell *really* bad.) :P I had to go through all of this bloody paperwork just to get my car back, and now I'm going to have a court hearing and a bloody record (at least first offense is just a misdemeanor). I hope this doesn't raise my insurance rates. @#$%!