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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.

Gun Free Zones Protect the Children

Friday, October 20th, 2006

Okay, sarcasm mode off. I just saw this on the news.

http://www.wmctv.com/Global/story.asp?S=5569718

Didn’t the bad guy know that schools are gun free zones. Or maybe he knew that made for a place law abiding citizens wouldn’t be able to protect themselves.

I got a job!

Wednesday, June 28th, 2006

I got a job!  One month and three weeks after graduation I got my first post-degree job.  We’ll see how it goes in the coming weeks.

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.

They’re here (cue creepy music)

Thursday, May 4th, 2006

Well, the government has been out and about preparing for the President’s arrival.  I was starting the think that the USSS was *really* good, as I hadn’t seen anything odd or out of place (except for that bicycle cop that kept staring at me as I walked to dinner).  Well, yesterday we had a flight of 3 or 4 (I think just caught a fleeting glimpse through my window)  Sikorsky Sea Kings.  Then, today, I heard some noise and looked out the window to see 2 Chinooks up about 250 feet AGL making turns to head over campus (in the direction of the stadium).  At dinner Pat told me she saw them landing on the football practice field.  So, I guess we have the general route for the President worked out.  Air Force One will fly into Vance Air Force Base about 08:30 and then the President will board a helicopter and head toward Stillwater.  He’ll land on the practice football field and be ushered into a secure location somewhere in Gallagher-Iba where he’ll probably meet with a few of the local big wigs and get prepared for his speech.  I bet his exit will be pretty much the reverse.  Bush doesn’t seem to be the type that will stick around for something like Eskimo Joes (like his dad), but maybe I’m wrong.

Here’s a link to the FAA TFR (no idea how long this link will last):

http://www.aopa.org/whatsnew/notams.html#6/6677

George W. Bush is coming to my graduation

Friday, April 14th, 2006

I just heard it on the radio this morning.  President George W. Bush is going to be the keynote speaker at my graduation.  This is going to rock.  First General Tommy Franks is the speaker at Shinta’s graduation and now President Bush for mine.  I guess I have a good reason to attend the ceremony instead of ducking out.

The crazies are on campus

Thursday, March 30th, 2006

I just went to the Student Union to grab lunch and go to the bank.  As I’m flying down the big bicycle way next to the SU I see large signs, fences and small crowds of people.  I tried to figure out what the signs said, but stopped when I saw they were equating something Hitler and his SS.  It seemed to be abortion related, but I’m not sure which side.  I think it was the pro-life side.  It doesn’t matter, it’s stupid.  Then I noticed 2 police officers posted (they weren’t just standing around) back a bit, but certainly there to keep order.  You know you’re probably going about things wrong when they post 2 police officers.  This is OSU.  We’re mellow.  Preacher Bob is our version of free speech vs religious advocacy controversy and he didn’t get police officer protection.  Anyway, times are a changing…

Eminent Domain Abuse Affects Someone I Know

Saturday, March 25th, 2006

So, it’s late and I’ve got Fox News going as background noise and I see a little preview for a Hannity and Colmes segment on eminent domain. I try not to watch that show as Hannity really gets on my nerves. Anyway, the preview included a little clip of a woman that looked an aweful lot like my Mandarin professor. It even sounded like her, but they mention it being in Kansas. Well, I was curious to find out if it really was her, so I watched the episode to see what it was all about. Sure enough it is my old Mandarin professor. Apparently she owns a store up in Manhattan Kansas that is being taken under eminent domain. Well, it turns out she is still in Stillwater too (and still teaches here), so I don’t know the logistics of how she has a store almost 300 miles away. Looks like she’s fighting a losing battle, but I wish her the best. Here’s some quick things I found about it through Google.

http://www.kstatecollegian.com/article.php?a=9337

http://manhattanfreepress.com/freepressissues/2006/March-06/March-9-06.pdf

http://www.ci.manhattan.ks.us/documents/Agendas/…/EminentDomain%7DDowntown.pdf

Homework Break and Rant

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2006

So, I’m sitting here taking a break from my killer night of homework.  I decided I needed some icrecream to make me more hyper (not that I get that hyper with it).  I walked over to Twenty Something to get a pint of cookies and cream.  It’s snowing.  The weather people said that it’d come after midnight, but it’s already coming down now.  I hope it isn’t too bad.  I want the moisture, but it would suck to get just enough to cause us traffic headaches tommorrow.  Of course it would be nice if we got enough snow to get school cancelled tommorrow.  I could go for that.

Another thing.  So, I was driving earlier today.  I was on the highway going the the speed limit in the right lane.  The roads were rather crowded.  A semi was in the left lane also going the speed limit, about a car length behind me.  I believe that the truck would have moved over into the right lane behind me, but was waiting for a bit more clearance.  Depending on the grade of the road, I would inch away from the the truck and it would inch back up on me.  We’re talking 1mph differences here.  Well, I check my rear-view mirror frequently to keep a heads up on the traffic all around me.  I see this Acura coming up on me pretty fast, weaving back and forth between cars.  Then the idiot uses that barely-a-car-length space between me and the semi to whip around and between us at least 20mph over the speed limit.  I’m sitting there silently wishing ill-will on that driver when not a minute later, somebody else, in a much larger and older car goes and does the same thing.  Had there not been such a gap between when those cars went by I would have thought that they were racing.  I hope they don’t take anybody else in their future fiery demises.  It might be nice if I could see it happen on TV.  I know, I’m evil.