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Educational quality and spin

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007

Yesterday, I was searching around for the results from the BBQ competition last weekend when I happened across this article about Tennessee students:

http://www.commercialappeal.com/mca/education/article/0,2673,MCA_22897_5547147,00.html

I was surprised and dismayed that my newly adopted state performed so poorly with regard to education (not that Oklahoma was particularly great). I thought “at least they are being honest about it.” A local paper actually covering such news is important.

Well, today, I’m searching around for other local news to find out where a rather scary “random” park shooting was, and I came across this article:

http://www.commercialappeal.com/mca/local/article/0,2845,MCA_25340_5549461,00.html

I thought that those articles were somewhat contradictory.  It’s certainly possible for, say, the best school in the nation to be located in the worst district in the nation, it’s just not likely.  So, I decided to find out a big more about the study mentioned in the article and I found the results posted here:

http://projects.washingtonpost.com/challengeindex/

It was good to see exactly what the study was supposed to show.  Well, for one, it’s a “challenge” index and they state pretty clearly that they don’t include magnet schools, or charter schools with high (I’m paraphrasing here) composite ACT and/or SAT scores.  I have plenty authority on the matter to tell you that magnet schools can certainly challenge their pupils.  The mini Commercial Appeal article doesn’t mention this.  They also include a nice disclaimer at the end, so maybe they expect more astute readers to catch them, but I’m sure the schools they mentioned will be touting this as “proof” of the quality education they provide, just as the article implies.

Well, I decided to take a look at the list a bit and see who is where, etc.  Didn’t I just read that they leave out magnet and charter schools?  Then why is the #1 school on the list named Talented and Gifted?  Why is the #2 school named Science/Engineering Magnet?  I start scrolling down the list and find a school I’m a bit more familiar with — Classen School of Advanced Studies.  I know that’s a magnet/charter school.  There are a bunch more just like that.  Something seems a bit fishy to me.  At the minimum, there needs to be some clarification, but I’m wondering if there was some funny business going on here to make somebody look good.

Update on the Zumbo affair

Monday, February 26th, 2007

It was very interesting to see how this Zumbo affair worked itself out this week.  Surprisingly, it even made mention in the general media.  Apparently, the Washington Post had something that was sindicated to MSNBC here.  Naturally, it misses the point, but at least it was mentioned.  In summary, Zumbo has lost every major (and maybe not just major) sponsorship he has.  Also, he lost his job, has been distanced from the NRA, and basically disavowed by anyone and everyone that could get hurt by association with his comment.  His multiple apologies he has put out completely miss the point.  He still doesn’t get the outrage.  Sadly, he probably never will.  The only real positive I’ve seen come out of this, though, is a new grass roots coalition is forming among the firearms enthusiasts to try and organize for the coming 2008 elections.  I’m not talking about something that will be another NRA or GOA, no, nothing like that, but a concerned and dedicated group that will try and pool their vast collective resources to push back on the misconceptions and common false beliefs about our sport.  We’ll see how it works out.  People all too quickly become complacent.

Think before you speak

Monday, February 19th, 2007

At some point in everyone’s life you have one of those foot-in-mouth episodes that could have very easily been avoided if one thought before speaking. Well, Mr. Jim Zumbo has just had the SHTF for a comment he made in his blog, because of not thinking. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a firestorm like this online. It’s amazing the level of fuss this has caused. Remington has even already put out several statements from several levels of management (including the CEO) to get some CYA going. It’s a shame, but I’m certain their business will take a little hit from this despite their quick response. Hopefully this all gets worked out, but I’m actually glad the topic is bubbled to the surface. This is something that is a fundamental difference between 2 sets of gun owners that needs to be resolved before we can put forth a united effort to fight for our rights in the face of those like the Brady campaign. I only hope that those sportsmen that don’t understand our evil black rifles take the time to hear what we have to say. It’s bad enough when the general population (that seems to get it’s point of view and “understanding” of our hobby from Hollywood) misunderstands what our hobby even is. Let the dialog begin. Read what started the storm:

http://outdoorlife.blogs.com/zumbo/2007/02/assault_rifles_.html

For those that don’t wish to read from the link. Mr. Zumbo basically called people that have AR-15s (and AKs) terrorists.

KFC Protester

Wednesday, September 6th, 2006

I saw one of those KFC protesters this weekend.  It surprised me.  I knew they existed, but never imagined I’d see one in “my” part of the country.  It’s not like I live in California or New England.  Anyway, it was just a brief glance while driving by at 40mph.  I didn’t even notice him until he was literally right next to me.  It’s sad people have the time to do such things with a passion and don’t really do anything constructive about it.

Dumb Bans

Monday, August 14th, 2006

The activists are doing it, they are advancing their cause to impose their values on us.  I came across this article today and it just makes my blood boil.  I’ve never even tried foie gras, but I know where it comes from and if someone else wants to eat it I sure as heck won’t stop them.  Check it out:

http://www.cnn.com/2006/US/08/14/foie.gras.ap/index.html

Political idiots on the street

Sunday, August 6th, 2006

So, elections were just held this past week here in Memphis (I guess it’s probably state wide).  So, leading up to election day I’d see tons of people standing on the street corners holding up campaign signs.  It’s a minor annoyance.  But that was last week.  Today, we’re driving home from the movie and what do we see?  A bunch of idiots (and I mean a bunch, probably 75 of them) holding signs and shouting condemning the Israelis.  I mean, come on, this is Memphis.  I bet half the people driving by (on a Sunday evening, no less) don’t even know or care about the situation over there right now.  And to top it off, they are protesting against Israel?  Look, I’m one to believe that Israel is not a close American ally.  Israel is looking out for Israel.  They appreciate our support, and in exchange, they give us chunks of intelligence.  They are not, however, looking out for our interests any further than what also benefits Israel.  That said, I truely respect the Israeli position.  Those people have the balls to go out and do what’s gotta be done.  It’s not pretty.  It’s not clean.  I don’t even think Israel is doing as much as they could do to limit collateral damage, but what else can they do?  Honestly, what else could they do?  What would we do if a the drug cartels in Mexico started lobbing missles/rockets over the border into American towns and the Mexican government couldn’t or wouldn’t do anything about it?  You bet we’d be hitting back pretty hard.  People just don’t get that.  I’d love to have that ideal world where we can work out perfect solutions where nobody ever gets hurt, but this is reality.  This is real life and real life isn’t pretty.

The President is following me

Friday, June 30th, 2006

It seems the president is following me around. I kidd…I kidd… Still, President Bush and Japanese Prime Minister Koizumi are here (or very nearly here) now. Airspace has been shut down over the city, which I’m sure FedEx is quite unhappy about. There isn’t a time during the day you look up and don’t see a FedEx plane.

Here’s the TFR for the President’s flight: http://www.aopa.org/whatsnew/notams.html#6/1294

Here’s a news story about the visit: http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,201683,00.html

Interesting Stats

Monday, June 19th, 2006

I found a link to this article a few days back discussing education vs median income rates for the USA.  It’s quite interesting.  I’m particularly horrified at how low median income levels are everywhere, but it’s feels funny to move from Oklahoma to Tennessee and see that the rate right next to eachother.

http://encarta.msn.com/encnet/departments/elearning/?article=mosteducatedstates

catch-up

Monday, May 29th, 2006

Okay, it’s been a while since my last post. A lot has happened, but my web presence has been pretty limited. Two words: Moving sucks.

Let’s see what all has happened…

Well, I graduated. I really wondered about my grade in my Theoretical Foundations of Computing class, but I did manage to pull it off. It was a little stressful waiting for the grades to get posted, but all was well.

Graduation Day was interesting. We got lucky in that the weather was cloudy and cool. I’ve been to plenty of graduations out in the sun and that sucks. Heck, it even rained on us, but they gave us rain ponchos as we walked out onto the field. President Bush made quite an entrance with the helicopters flying over the stadium. They (“they” being the President and his entourage, filling 4 or 5 helicopters) landed on the practice football field just east of Gallagher-Iba. President Bush’s speech was a good one. It was short at about 20 minutes, but that’s not such a bad thing. Many keynote speakers drone on forever. It was pretty much non-partisan and very much a graduation speech; not a political speech. It really made those protesters seem stupid. In effect, despite what many of them claimed, they were protesting our graduation and not the government’s policies. I didn’t walk down to the protesting area, but from the signs I read, and the stuff I heard from their PA system, they were pretty pathetic. They assumed the speech would be political and wound up making fools of themselves. The media gave them a heck of a lot of coverage, though.

After the preliminary speeches were done, everyone left for lunch and got ready for the 2 graduation walk ceremonies in the afternoon. We went to Pat’s apartment for a little gathering Pat and Mom put together. They did a real good job. Pat’s apartment is pretty small, but we managed to just fit.

For the walk part, we were inside Gallagher-Iba. I was far from the last person to line up for the procession from the A&S gathering site to the arena, but lots of people pushed forward so as not to look like they were late and I wound up at basically the end of the entire walking process. It took so long I think I might have fallen asleep waiting for my name. I’m sure glad that is over.

The next day was a moving day for me. I intended to move out before noon, but it wound up taking until nearly 21:00 for me to get done. That was a long day. I then spent the week with Pat.

The next weekend was for moving my stuff out to Memphis. That was one heck of a drive. I hate driving. Have I mentioned that? I hate driving.

My next week consisted of me catching up on a season worth of TV shows. Except for Survivor and Grey’s Anatomy, I had Beyond TV recording everything I wanted to watch for the semester. Wow was that a lot of shows, but I did get caught up.

When Shinta got back to Memphis, we went to see Mission: Impossible III. It’s a fun action film. I don’t get all the negative press over it. I thought it was about as good as the second film. I particularly enjoyed the action. It was constantly moving forward. They had it cram packed with HK weapons too. I also noted that some of the mercs in the bridge scene were carrying Krinkovs. Gotta give props to the great AKS-74U.

The next day (Saturday) we caught Over the Hedge. It’s a really funny film. I enjoyed it. I didn’t exactly enjoy the little kids and the huge mess they made in the theater, but it was a good film. I recommend it. As intended, it’s good for all ages.
Then, Sunday, was Marrina’s graduation. So, I made the long drive back to OKC for that. While there I picked up the grandparents so that they could spend the week with us in Memphis. It was a wonderful week. It has been a long time since I’ve been around them for such a period of time and it was great. We took them to the Wat Buddhasamakeedham for the yearly memorial of my dad’s death and Uncle O took them back to OKC with him. I hope it wasn’t the last time they stay with us.

When we got back to Memphis, we went to see The Da Vinci Code. It’s a good thriller. I never read the book, but the story was really good. Most of the twists I didn’t expect and they were interesting. I don’t understand why the critics didn’t like this one either, but I did. Maybe it’s because I didn’t read the book, but it was good.
Last night we went to see X-Men: The Last Stand. That was a good film too. At least in the summer blockbuster sense. It thought it was about as good as the first film (the second was the best of the three). It was well done and I think well written. The special effects were mostly good. There were a few things that the special effects could have improved on, but for the most part it was fairly seemless. No spoilers here, but there were a couple of interesting twists I didn’t expect.

I think that catches things back up.

Inconsiderate clods to protest my graduation

Thursday, May 4th, 2006

I saw some new signs in the dorms today.  They say “Protest Bush” and have a couple of URL’s.  I think this one is the one to look at:

http://www.oklahomansfordemocracy.org/

Well, I have a problem with this.  I may be a conservative, but that doesn’t have anything to do with the problem I have.  The problem I have isn’t that they want to protest the President.  The problem I have is that they want to protest a graduation.  Now, their site says:

This is not an effort to disrupt or disturb the commencement or graduation (graduation is being held later in the day seperate from commencement). This is an effort to express our concerns in a peaceful fashion without causing a major disruption in the events. This is not an effort to affect the ceremony inside as that belong to the graduates. There is a group of concerned graduates that has formed which can be found here: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ostategradprotest. The graduate group is not associated with this protest.

Well, phooey on that.  They time they are doing it is from 8am to 12pm and on campus just across the way from the stadium.  It’s before during and after the commencement portion of the graduation.  That’s protesting a graduation.  I don’t care how they want to put it, that’s protesting a graduation.  That’s protesting my graduation.  If they want to protest a political event, fine.  If they want to protest a meet and greet, fine.  Protesting a graduation is not fine.  If the President was going to be at a wedding, would it be okay to protest the wedding?  NO!  Just because they can do something doesn’t mean they should.

I don’t know.  I just rubs me wrong that they’d protest a graduation.  If Hillary is elected in 2008 and she gives a speech at a graduation in my area.  I wouldn’t even think of protesting that.  If Carter were giving this speech (and were still a sitting President), I would be lining up to hear him speak.  It doesn’t matter to me that I don’t agree with their politics.  Being there and hearing what they say without having the media be the intermediary is a special thing.  We should all hope to be in the presense of our leaders at least once.  Not because they are better than us.  Not because they are powerful, but because what they do affects the world.  We need to evaluate them on personal experiences and not just what we read/hear/see in the media. Okay, rant mode off.  I’m just frustrated to see all this talk of protest on what should be a happy day.