Saturday, October 23, 2010

Not defending your own turf (hooray!)

We always expect people to be evangelists for their own professions. So it was really refreshing to read this article by a University of Chicago Math professor about how, for 95% of the population, math is basically useless after 9th grade or so.

Here's an excerpt:

Those who do love math and science have been doing very well. Our graduate schools are the best in the world. This "nation at risk" has produced about 140 Nobel laureates since 1983 (about as many as before 1983).

As for the rest, there is no obligation to love math any more than grammar, composition, curfew or washing up after dinner. Why create a need to make it palatable to all and spend taxpayers' money on pointless endeavors without demonstrable results or accountability?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Saturday, October 16, 2010

When liberals hate religious people

This piece has two sources.

Part 1: A friend and coworker put this as his Facebook Status:

FRIEND: In honor of coming out day, let's start ridiculing all the kids who choose to believe in god. The brainwashed religious zealots are the ones who are psychologically defective.

ANOTHER PERSON: I'm not sure that intolerance is the right answer to intolerance...

FRIEND'S RESPONSE: Well people are born gay but chose to blindly believe in an entity that doesn't exist.

YET ANOTHER PERSON: My faith is profoundly important to me. I'd appreciate it if you'd respect my faith / beliefs just as I respect yours. I have dear friends who are gay/lesbian. I don't judge them. That's not my place. But I would expect that they would not judge me for my beliefs / faith as well. Isn't this about mutual respect?

ME: Agreed. Blanket statements and judgments are bad when anyone does them, left or right...

FRIEND: I actually don't respect religious beliefs because religion is totally lacking in veracity. Religion is by its nature not falsifiable, is a constant moving target and should therefore have no place in the public sphere. The whole premise of religion is passing judgment on one group of people by another. That is in fact the history of just about every organized religion on the planet!

This friend is like me in many ways - Jewish, educated, intellectual - but he seems to pretty much be a bigot as well. How can the "enlightened left" be as prejudiced as the right-wingers they vilify? Isn't this just base intolerance? You can't pick and choose people you hate baselessly and then call the Tea Party racist. You've gotta walk the walk.


Part 2: Someone I know from school sadly passed away. Her family kept her Facebook page active so people could post condolences on it. One friend wrote:

Dear XXXX, I am so sad to hear that you have left us in this world. I know that you are in heaven know and am thankful that you were here with us blessing us with your light while you were here. You have been in my heart for a long time, and you will be so missed by so many who love you so much. I still remember all the beautiful music you brought me to at school and knew that I enjoyed so much. Thank you for blessing us with your presence. Lord have Mercy and Grace over XXXX and her family.

In response, her mother wrote:

XXXX was a courageous atheist who held to her freedom of heart and mind through years of terrible suffering. Her grace under fire was a personal and human gift, and its memory is all that is left to me, her mother. I know you mean no harm, but my heart breaks as your bootless prayers trivialize her travail.

This is going to sound cold, but her mom sounds like a bitch. Or maybe just someone who casts dispersions / judgments for a living. I suppose I cannot understand what it's like to lose a child, but I also can't understand responding in anger to a person's genuine well-wishes, no matter how hurting you are.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Consistently the worst opening sequence of any TV show

I respect Gordon Ramsey. He's got the anger, and the cooking chops, to be a great reality show host. But his producers and marketing folks are so inept or drunk on themselves that they create a cringeworthy opening sequence EVERY SINGLE SEASON.


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

How to check the social media activity on your shitty blog

If you're like me, you:

a. Have a sub-par blog
b. Have about 5 readers
c. Obsess for some reason about traffic to your sub-par blog

Maybe I am really a narcissist like Dianna says. Or maybe I just love data... especially about me. In any case, you probably know about Google Analytics and Google Trends, but you might not be aware of how to find out how many people are Tweeting or talking about your blog in their equally shitty blogs.

Well, now you can, with Backtype.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Fake-sounding org of the day

It's important to respect the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, given their important role in the Federal government and financial oversight of our economy.

Except that's not what they do at all. They're actually the world's LARGEST lobby - a pro-business special interest group.

There should be a law preventing people for creating names that can be confused with ACTUAL governmental orgs.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Two music quiz questions

1. Who are the top five most commercially successful bands / musicians of all time? (Leave your answer in the comments section)

2. Which band was the first to offer their album on CD? (Same deal)

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Warning: You might like Glenn Beck after watching this

Glenn Beck may be able to rally the Tea Party, but he's not really one of them. Watch this...

And read this. You can see there is actually a normal person in there.

I've always said that, while I hate Glenn Beck, I don't think he's evil or crazy. I think he's a brilliant performer and is incredibly media and propaganda savvy. I just with he used his talents for something productive....