Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sunday Funnies

- NEW COMIC! Lawn Darts, the adventures of some Army hellaflopper types in the Sandbox.
- Girl Genius has woken something in the ancient city of the Heterodynes ...
- Two Lumps: how low IQ and fireflies can make an interesting toy
- I really wish Gone with the Blastwave would update, and the artist of Dresden Codak had an unfortunate bicycle accident. The nerve of these people, to think of their own lives instead of entertaining me!

Friday, July 25, 2008

It's amazing what happens if you actually teach them

As I have been saying for years, you will rarely do well in a subject if you don't take classes in it. The new results of math abilities for girls vs. boys is right up there with "Water is Wet, Film at 11". I don't care how big your brain is, if you have never seen the symbol for closed curve contour integration you will NOT figure it out intuitively. Math is the most abstract subject taught. Thus, it is like a language. You need to start early, and *keep* taking classes to stretch the brain. It really doesn't help that our current methods of math instruction are boring and pathetic right when they need to be interesting -- grade school and junior high. You have to be familiar with calculus as a freshman in college to succeed in technical subjects such as physics, and it is extremely difficult to catch up at that point.

Math pedagogy needs improvement, more math earlier in the curriculum, and basic math skills (especially statistics) should be required for a high school diploma. Even if the kid will never go to college, they *are* citizens of this country and need to be able to make informed decisions when they vote. That's what schools should concern themselves with. Do that first, and then worry about (sorry) art and music. No dessert until vegetables have been finished.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Silly Season observations

- Here in the soggy corner of the map the liberals are out, loud, and proud. So why am I seeing so few signs for Obama, Hope of the Nation? Hardly any bumperstickers either. Maybe my memory is going, but I recall a lot more Kerry/Edwards ephemera last presidential election. Plus some rather extreme vandalism of Bush signs. McCain supporters have cleverly avoided that by not putting up any signs at all. Ron Paul, on the other hand, is supported by people who aren't aware he dropped out of the race, and we all appreciate knowing who they are so we can avoid them.
-The Washington State governor's race is a rematch, and apparently grudges are held on both sides since the last election was won (by Gregoire, Democrat) by a wafer-thin margin of 129 votes after two recounts. Rossi, the challenger, is understandably peeved about the last election, but Gregoire seems to be supported by people who think it is rude for Rossi to even think about running. There is a radio ad in heavy rotation here that, if I were prone to conspiracy theories, would think was a false-flag operation by the Rossi campaign--it is that bad. Not only does it manage to be stuffed full of factual errors, the chorus is "just like George Bush". You know, evil incarnate? On the other hand if grade-school taunts are the best argument Gregoire's supporters can come up with, Rossi should win easily.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Sunday Funnies (and Movie Review!)

-Further adventures of Lackadaisy's rum-running cats
-Dresden Codak has robot flowers
-Two Lumps reveals the plot for kittens to take over the world
-Schlock Mercenary encounters a pompous reporter
-Girl Genius discovers architecture with mental issues


Spoilers ahead! Run away if you don't want to know.

There's been a great deal of pontificating on how Wall-E is all eco-freaky and gloomy and otherwise the usual Hollywood pablum. I have no use for the crunchy granolas myself, and I really enjoyed this movie. First off, I am a writer in my spare time. There is this concept in FICTION called a premise. It does not have to make sense. Good fiction does make consistent use of this initial premise, but it could be absolutely asinine. For example, falling down a rabbit hole which leads to promiscuous mushroom eating, conversing with decks of cards, and singing walruses. We all know that given the size of your standard English little girl and your standard English rabbit hole, the premise is a bunch of hooey, but look what you get if you pretend it isn't!

The premise leading up to the world of Wall-E is also hooey. I am over forty years old and I vividly recall all kinds of gloomy, we-are-polluting-the-world-to-death propaganda in grade school, back in the Precambrian (remember the weeping Indian of Italian ancestry?). There was a great deal of hot air about "stewardship" of the planet before then. Currently, Al Gore can't shut up about how everything bad that happens is caused by humans and their private jets and their giant heated pools (oops, that's *him*. Those are fine. But you with your ordinary car and your penchant for not freezing in winter? Gaia-raper!) Ergo, I can't believe, even if force-fed gallons of mind-altering substances, that the planet surrounded by and infested with garbage would happen. Unless there was a tragic accident in a bio-lab and the busybody gene was eradicated from the human race ...

Now there was a bit with the corporate president speaking from a podium and background that looked remarkably like the Presidential seal, but it was clear (to me, anyway) that it was corporate. If this movie had come out later I would have taken it as a dig at the Obama-seal controversy. Yes the people had turned into blobs, but that makes their willingness to change even more remarkable. Clearly, the evil auto-pilot is related to the MSM -- don't think for yourself, just believe what I tell you, let's stay out here in the Oort cloud where I am in control instead of going back to Earth. You might fail! It's hard! It involves work! Stay here and be a blob and let the government provide All!

Anyway, enough politics. I loved the mob of rogue robots, and the indestructible cockroach buddy, the kamikaze floor-scrubber, and especially the short comic before the movie started. Maybe if Pixar continues the trend, we'll get back to newsreels and serial episodes too!

Saturday, July 05, 2008

An Economic Observation

I know the media claims we are all making stone soup and wrapping rags around our feet because of the 'orrible economy, but could they please explain why my starving and penniless neighbors expended enough fireworks last night to light up the night sky for hours and hours? And these weren't cheap little sparkler fountains, either. I'm talking big sparkly sky chrysanthemums. BIG. Lots of 'em. I have a hard time crediting things are that desperate when this much cheerful discretionary spending goes on.

Or maybe they were trying to scare away the Demons of Recession??

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Mysterious incidents

This is a foxglove plant in my yard. ONE foxglove plant. Looks like the minions forgot to close the shielding on the reactor in the basement again. Look, guys, if the cats develop thumbs all damage is coming out of your pay, okay?

Next item. I went to two different hardware stores, one a "big box" chain, in search of 80 grit 3"x21" sanding belts. Guess what was the *only* size sanding belt that was sold out, both places? Why? (I know why *I* needed that kind ...)

And lastly ... we had a thunderstorm. It started roughly around 3am this morning, and continued THROUGH NOON. We hardly ever get thunderstorms here, at all. This was an epic, pack-a-lunch storm. My question is, whose weather did we get by mistake and can we switch now?