Saturday, April 02, 2005

Full-contact Education

Saw a link to this article on Holly's Guestbook. Ahhhh, the memories that brings back! I had several thought about this article.

First, it shows that academics are human. While they may enjoy a somewhat elevated persepctive on some aspects of life, they also unfortunately suffer from some of the worst human faults: jealousy, territoriality, and fear. I have always thought that most academics act like this because of their own insecurity. They fear the bright young minds, because they know that they are not as flexible and acute as they used to be. Being upstaged by a student is probably the worst fear that a hide-bound academic could have. So they take steps to insure that their students stay insecure about their own knowledge and opinions and afraid toventure outside the limits of their professor's philosophy.

Second, this is a graphic illustration of the major fault in our educational system. Innovation and free thought are not just discouraged, but actively persecuted. This begins almost at birth, in many instances, and continues all the way through doctoral programs. When I was studying for my BA in English (I always thought is should actually be a BS :-) ), I was lucky enough to encounter a professor who followed a different path. She encouraged students in her class to form and express their own opinions. She would actually mark down essays and papers that just parroted her own views. Her only requirement was that we were required to justify our opinions logically using primary and secondary sources and our own thinking ability. In one quarter, taking "Women in Literature", I think I got as much real education as in the rest of my academic careers combined. Until Graduate School, that is. Librarianship is different in many ways from other disciplines, first among them being the necessity for being able to think, reason, and learn independently.

Third, this essay shows graphically the "herd mentality" that governs most humans. We are far too prone to believe and follow whatever an authority figure says. This leads to such things as Naziism, Jonestown, Heaven's Gate, Bhagwan Sri Rajneesh (remember him?), corporate tax cuts coupled with a $400 billion annual deficit, and an intense belief that our leaders have our best interests at heart. This may be the worst danger facing freedom and real democracy in the world today.

Cynical? You damn betcha! I've spent 48 years in this world, so far, most of them with my eyes and ears open and my mouth shut. Everyone should try this periodically. It can be quite illuminating.

There! In spite of my best intentions, I've managed to piss even more people off.

Brain Jetsam

Lots of random thoughts to dump. I figured I'd go ahead and piss some people off early in the day and get it over with. :-)

* She's dead. It's over. You can go back to acting like adults now. For people who claim to have loved her, you sure are showing some massive disrespect for her now. I went through this with my wife's family after my mother-in-law died a few months back. I get very angry when someone uses a loved one's death to further their personal agenda and get attention. For Terry's sake, climb down off your crosses and grow up!

* Birds are singing, Sun is shining, the smell of Spring is in the air. No, wait. That's pine pollen and mold. Ah-choo! Sniffle. In Central Georgia, it's the time of year when the world turns yellow and my eyes turn red. Hell, who needs to be depressed when just breathing makes me cry?

* The sleeping pills are finally working. I slept throught the night last night with only a brief bladder interruption--the price of having a 48-year-old prostate. The dreams are still bad, but at least I am sleeping in between instead of lying awake. That helps my attitude a lot.

* Got all the seed I need to finish my summer garden. Now is the time to start planning for fall. Preliminary thoughts are: more broccoli (love it!), Sugar Snap peas (love them, too!), collards, turnips, bok choi again, probably some kohlrabi, cauliflower (?). This afternoon will be corn-planting time.

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Get Ready For April

Joined April Fools this year. Pretty cool. Kinda like NanoWriMo, except you set your own goals and count anything you write. I'm going for 10k for the month. That's a lot for me, but I need goal and a good stretch right now. This will give me an incentive to get going again.

Check 'em out.


Which OS are you?

You are Larry Koffi.  You are director in charge auditing and collecting Union Togolaise De Banque Lome, Togo West Africa.  You came across $44.5 million of a dead person in your bank. You will give me 25% to be his NEXT OF KIN.  You like red jelly beans.
Which Nigerian spammer are You?

You are .swf  You are flashy, but lack substance.  You like playing, but often you are annoying. Grow up.
Which File Extension are You?

Writing? What's that?

I haven't been able to get much writing done for a few days. A sudden confluence of left turns has left me shaken and confused in the middle of life's highway. The worst thing is that the dreams have gotten bad. Really bad. Really, really bad. So bad, I had to get my sleep medication refilled. Anyone who knows how desperately I hate taking sleep medication will know just how bad these dreams are. I'm just holding on right now. It will clear up. Soon, I hope.

I did manage to get "Though Your Sins Be As Scarlet" submitted to Blood Rose this morning. Vampire stories are a tough sell in pro markets. I may have to sell it for a token payment. I can understand why so few markets will take vampire stories. They have been done to death (so to speak :) ) in the past few years. Mostly very badly. That great mass of really bad horror fiction gets in my way when I have what I think is a really good and unique vampire story. Tarred with the same brush, as they say.

If you've ever hit a deer in your driveway... might live in the country. I didn't actually hit it, but there were tail hairs in my headlight frame. Whew! A warning about deer: if one crosses in front of your car, stop! There's another one close behind. The one that almost got me was the 3rd in the series, which is unusual.

Planting Season

Finally got the garden spaded up. Over the past weekend, I set out 6 tomato plants, 7 row-feet of pole beans, 3 squash plants, and 5 bush cucumber plants. Next up are peppers (current plans are 1 cayenne, 3 jalapeno, and 4 bell), bush lima beans (about 25 row-feet), okra (about 20 row-feet), and possibly corn (20 row-feet). I'm looking for a small corn plant that I can space closer together to get more yield per square foot.

Gardening is my "chop wood, carry water" practice. It's mainly physical activity, and I can let my mind wander to some extent and have long conversations with myself. I get the benefit of mental and physical exercise and really fresh vegetables and flowers as a bonus. It really helps when I'm having a series of bad days.

Truth, Justice and the American Way

Over the past 5 years, Bob and Mary Schindler have been given an in-depth course in the workings of the American judicial system. I don't know how much they have retained, but the rest of us should be paying very close attention. In the end, the lesson is very simple: truth and justice are completely irrelevant.

The Schindlers' appeals have been routinely denied for one and only one reason: the trial judge did not make any egregious errors in procedure. Once a trial judge renders a decision, the case is essentially closed. Facts, evidence, and arguments will not even be considered by another court. The apparent assumption is that a trial judge will never make a bad decision. Having read Judge Greer's decision, I can confidently state that this assumption is incorrect. Read it for yourself. If you can get through all the errors in language, see if you can pick out the underlying flaws in logic and leaps of faith in this document (link fro Abstract Appeal). It's frightening.

Anyone who has had the privilege of serving on a jury (I have sat on 3 so far), can attest that trials are not about searching for truth or seeing that justice is done. A trial is basically a game to see which lawyer or team of lawyers is better. Truth? The jury decides what the truth is based on whatever limited testimony and evidence they are allowed to hear and see. Justice? There are no shades of gray. Guilty or not guilty. That's it. Guilty verdicts often lead to absurdly harsh sentences because of strict sentencing guidelines. Judges who try to use common sense and compassion and refer some lawbreakers to treatment instead of prison are castigated for being "soft on crime".

If you ever expect to get justice in a courtroom, you have a rude awakening coming. Our legal system is a joke and an absurdity. How else could a person be awarded millions of dollars in damages because they didn't expect their coffee to be hot? How else could Michael Schiavo be awarded hundreds of thousands of dollars because he could no longer have sex with his wife? What, his girlfriend wasn't enough for him? Was he ordered to use this money to pay hookers to provide these services for him?

Gah! This whole business has me so upset I can't think straight.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Attack of the Infernal Editor

My internal editor has been very active this weekend, throwing up all kinds of barriers. He even brought up incidents that happened when I worked at the prison, which I left nearly a year ago. Fortunately, I'm on to his tricks now and on guard for distractions. In spite of all his best efforts, I got another 300 words on "Wolf Moon". Finished Scenes 2 and 3 and started Scene 4. Scene 3 is very short and may not survive the recision. Out of 7 projected scenes, I have finished 4 (the ending is already written) and started on another. The Finish Line is in sight!

In Other News

Cemetery Dance rejected TYSBAS without comment. Score: 27-8, Avg.: .296

Rejections still bother me. I hope they always do. Even though a rejection may not mean a story is flawed in some serious way, it does mean that this story did not knock this editor's socks off. That means I still have room for improvement. Rejection = incentive to work harder and learn more.

Now I have to find my marketing notes and see who's next on the list.