Thursday, September 30, 2004

A warm and fuzzy post on this day of debate:

So I'm on this listserve for people interested in the social implications of physics education research. Basically it is a place where a few people who began their careers in physics and/or astronomy, now complain loudly (largely to themselves) about how the dominant socioeconomic paradigm is a secret conspiracy laid upon us by the crypto-fascist buisiness roundtable and that the only way we can ever hope to teach physics or anything else is by having a bloody revoloution that subverts this paradigm. I tend to wonder what these people do during their day jobs. They seem to all be professors of some sort, so someone is paying them to pass on all of this wisdom. (Must be nice, says the unemployed guy.)

Given the debates that start tonight, I get two emails today from the luminaries of this field. Let's call them S1 and S2. S1 has this to say:

"I don't have time to put my position forth in full (oh - but I will), but
I strongly come down on the side of not supporting any of the candidates
this time around. This is not a rejection of participating in elections
for all times in the future, but right now - any of the major candidates
will divert the struggle from authentic working class movements and
independence- which I see as the only way forward."

S1 is a professor at a major university in NYC. He gets paid a living wage. He has health insurance. He most likely has a pension. He will take the subway home this evening and probably go to sleep in a modest apartment. S1 is not a member of the working class. Although I believe that those of us who do not wear blue collars have every right to think of what might be best for those people and act on it, at some point you have to show a bit of deference. As S1 is travelling home, 1000's of poeple will be sleeping on the streets above him. 1000's more parents and children will not be able to stop at the chinese take-out on the way home for dinner. In fact, they won't be having dinner at all. No, John Kerry isn't going to cook all these people a nice dinner on January 21st if he's elected, and nor will he make their bed. But, goddamn it if W will. Because I care in a real way about people who are less fortunate than me, I am required to think about what will be best for them in the short term, even if I might like a "Nader of the 1980's" as president. Because they can't wait for the revolution, neither can I. I vote for John Kerry.

S2 who teaches at a major Brittish University had this to say:

"Long ago barons and other pirates fomented civil war to get their way.
The baron with the biggest army survived the bloodbath. Such a
decision-making system is wasteful. Eventually the barons invented a
cleaner system, called democracy, whereby the fight became
counterfactual: "If we organized a civil war, with of us hiring a mob to
fight the other, whose mob would survive? To find the likely winner,
let's count heads by asking the mob to count themselves. Then we don't
kill most of our slaves in fighting a bloody civil war." The unspoken
thought is that each powerful entity wishes to abide by the result of
the election: Going against it would mean a bloodbath that ends with the
same result. So the government, a creature of the powerful, is happy to
organize elections. As a side benefit, the method of rule clothes power
with a mask of popular participation, the better to pacify the slaves.

Although the violence is indirect and latent, voting is therefore still
a violent method of social change. And violent methods, even for
allegedly progressive ends, return us to where we are: a society built
upon jails, prisoners, prison wardens, police, armies, and weapons labs.

So I shall not vote, neither in Britain nor in America."

Now, far be it from me to laugh at anyone else's intellectual accomplishments, but I'm all chuckles right now. Thanks for playing son. I wasn't planning on commenting on S2's offering, but I suddenly noticed the testosterone in his language. Contrast this with his pacifist stance on elections and voting. A contradiction? Perhaps an hypocracy that S2 hasn't noticed yet.

Revolutions take time and hard work. Niether of these two fools feel like doing the real work that causes change. Thus they are destined to be posting on a stupid listserves for the rest of their natural lives without ever seeing anything happen. Have a nice life guys.


Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Back on the internet, my computer is officially fixed. It is so refreshing to have a computer that doesn't pop up error messages and constantly scream at me any more. I feel like doing work again.

I guess that's the main point of this post. Since I have nothing much better to do with myself during normal working hours, I'll be blogging regularly again. I think one of my main foci will be to write down my thoughts on the important bits of some of the books I've been reading. I've been using the library alot more, so I can't just access these books so easily anymore. Of course, if someone wants to buy me a whole lot of books. . .

I've also decided to give myself a challenge. I'm going to spend the next weeks (months. . . decades) reading the Feynman lectures. Do you know anyone who's actually read them? I certainly don't, even though every physicist/astronomer has them on their shelves. I think it will be very interesting to view Feynman in an educational sense as opposed to the brilliant scientist. I was reading his preface to the book, and it's a marvel of sexist, elitist thinking. But it was written in 1961 at Caltech, so what can you do?

So here's my upcoming projects (makigirl, you can advise and consent as you like):

1. The book on graduate school in the physical sciences (no, I haven't forgotten). I'm going to examine trends among the programs and then get to some interviews.

2. A study of the professional development experiences of new astronomy and physics faculty (you'll be getting a call about that one, makigirl).

3. A paper based on Makigirl's astronomy class, something to the effect of "Development of a deeper understanding of astronomy through the use of high level literacy skills".

4. Developing my ideas about teaching physics from big to small.

5. A proposal regarding, "Community based organizations as a solution to inner city science education improvement".

6. Becoming a teacher???? Who would have thought that?

I guess for an unemployed guy, I actually have alot to do.

Bust most importantly, my main goal for the next day is to root for John Kerry in tomorrow night's debate. He must, and he will wipe the floor with that repugnant idiot.

More tomorrow.


Sunday, September 12, 2004

Wow -- I had no idea the stupidity and misinformation regarding appropriate protein intake had percolated all the way down to the little coupon printer at the supermarket. I sure am glad that Tyson foods is so concerned about your protein intake that they would inform you on a little slip of paper. (That was sarcasm in case it went undetected.) I would be happier if Tyson foods was more concerned about the conditions on their chicken farms or the REAL health problems of Americans. Our society is completely brainwashed in terms of what you need and don't need in your diet. Of course, part of that is because of the strength of the Meat Board and the Milk Board and the Pork Producers of America and so on. Well, the recommended protein intake (for Americans) is up to double what is really nutrionally needed. And do you know what happens when you consume too much protein? It leaches the calcium right out of you. And then you get yucky things happening like osteoporosis. But people never wonder why so many people in Western countries have really terrible bones when they're old, and the Japanese, for example, are moving around just fine. Well hoagie boy, I'm proud of you for bravely going forward in your non-meat diet. It is frustrating when people (or coupon printers) try to tell you you won't be healthy. But you know better and your body knows better. Just make sure you're eating enough calories and a balanced diet and you're all set :) Or so I think. I WAS supposed to keel over a few years ago and I still seem to be kicking around!

- maki girl

Saturday, September 11, 2004

As makigirl knows, I've been practicing as a non-meat eater for the last week (I broke down on Thursday night and had meat at the Chinese buffet. I felt awful sick afterwards. The great cow-spirit was punishing me.)

So, why does this little factoid appear in the blog . . . Well, I was at the supermarket this evening, looking around for dinner. I managed to find a frozen vegetarian Indian dish. It was a little difficult to find, but I know what I'm looking for now. I bought some other staples like juice, fruit, and etc. Nothing was a meat product. In fact, I even bought a soy milkshake, because I was interested.

I go to check out with a basketful of non-meat products, and you ask once again why this is interesting. It's interesting, because normally, when you check out, the register prints out one of those little cupons for a product similar to one that you just purchased. I tend to throw them out, but at least I learn about another product, perhaps.

This time, however, they didn't print out a cupon. They printed out a little slip that asked me if I was getting enough protein. It continued, that if I wasn't, I should purchase any one of the numerous Tyson's Stuffed Chicken Breast Products (Cordon Blue, Brocoli and Cheese, or Kiev).

What, so now that I'm a vegetarian (excuse me, non-meat eater), I'm going to die? That sounds vaguely familiar. But this time it's not just random people around the astronomy department saying this, it's the goddang supermarket. And further, as if I'd want to get my meat based protien from processed and stuffed chicken breasts. I think I'd rather die from the lack of protien than the chemicals and fat in these products.

You know, it's tough enough trying to change my lifestyle without Ma Giant harping on me about my protein intake. I haven't told my parents yet for this very reason.

I'm astounded at how the corporate culture tries to control my life. At least they could have given me a stupid coupon.

Thanks but no thanks, Mr. Tyson. Suprisingly, my soy milkshake is tasting a bit better than Kiev chicken right now.


Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Hi. The dragon is officially back on the air/net, whatever. I know that there are thousands out there who were missing us. Both makigirl and I have successfully relocated, unfortunately to separate states :( . But lives are moving forward, and the election is upon us.

I signed up to volunteer with the DNC today. I'm excited. I want to do anything to help the Johns win.

Nothing to write about today. I haven't really seen the news in about a month. More soon.