Archive for May, 2011


The deal of the century!

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I once referred to Penny Arcade as the ‘one true comic.’ I still feel this way.

Lately, I’ve become addicted to PATV. I’m pretty sure ‘addicted’ is the wrong word, actually. I don’t binge. I’ll watch, sometimes, two episodes at a time.

My restraint is not a symptom of apathy toward the product. It is only possible through iron self-control. For PATV is an extremely limited commodity. There are only so many episodes glistening in their neat rows, waiting to be harvested at my leisure. Once I watch the last there will be no more, until the gods dole them singly out at a shameful pace. So I limit myself.

My fascination with the victories and secret shames of the .jpg business has been a puzzle to me. I’ve finally decided, though, that the show is a glimpse of the promised land. I’m like the fisher boy peering past the City of Enoch as it passes through the fiery portal far above my head.

I’ve worked in cubicle farms. I work in one now. To work and get paid in an environment such as is portrayed in each episode of PATV… Joy.

Of course, I have no relevant skills. I sketch. I can run five miles in forty minutes. I do monkey work in InDesign and Photoshop. I know how to find and kill bad men up close and from afar. None of these skills or their corollaries would be useful…there. They would likely be handicaps.

Yet I can’t stop watching.

 

 

Or not. Do what you think is best. It’s a free country after all.

CreatingLiteracy-RichShoolsforAdolescentsJust read a very interesting rant by one Gayle Forman.  I have opinions on the same subject, Public Education in the United States, but I don’t pretend to be particularly well-informed.

My children are currently being homeschooled by my wife, which situation I am very happy with. They have attended public schools and charter schools in the past. So we are familiar with at least a narrow cross-section of education in our very tiny portion of the world. We chose home school for a variety of reasons.

I myself am a product of public education, as is my wife. I too had some good teachers and some bad. I would go so far as to say very bad and very good. It’s a mixed bag out there, which Ms. Forman is careful to point out.

One of the points that Ms. Forman makes so entertainingly is that standardized testing is bad and that No Child Left Behind is awful. Standardized testing stifles creative teachers by forcing them to ‘teach to the test,’ she says.  And frankly, I agree that teaching to a test is a bad idea. Mostly because it’s cheating if you’re teaching children to pass a test rather than master the skills that are tested therein. Such a teacher is lazily missing the point of their profession.

Ms. Forman cites a wonderful example of teachers who threw such practices into the trash and instead used their creativity and ingenuity to try and teach the actual skills their students needed in innovative and interesting ways. They even wrote a book about it: Creating Literacy-Rich Schools for Adolescents.

Of course, saying that such methods work better than whatever the other teachers are doing is one thing, proving it is quite another. Ms. Forman rose to the task, however, when she crowed about the success of this program.

She proved it by citing standardized test scores which rose in response to the innovative teacher’s methods.

Now why would she do that after castigating standardized testing as harshly as she does? I think it’s because she arrived at the same conclusion the politicians did. If you want to know how well education is being accomplished you must test the recipients. And those tests must be comparable from student to student, so they must be standardized. How else would one do it?

She actually, perhaps inadvertently, illustrates an argument against her position that, generally, teachers are not at fault for the sad state of our public education. As her example so clearly illustrates, teachers with drive passion and creativity can produce students who blow those heinous standardized tests out of the water.

So why don’t they then?

 

 

I know Howard Tayler, the creator, author, and artist of the web comic “Schlock Mercenary.” He’s a great guy, smart and fun to talk to. A few years ago a mutual friend recommended that I read the comic as I’d probably get a kick out of it, I being in the military and the strip being about mercenaries and all.

I looked up the site, went to the beginning of the strip, and did not read it. Aside from being an arrogant typer of words I fancy myself an artist. Strictly part-time and amateur, but I do draw. The art in Schlock Mercenary was terrible. So terrible that I didn’t like looking at it. I feel guilty saying this now because, for heavens sake, here was a guy drawing a comic strip day-in-day-out and making money at it and all I’d ever done with my drawing was sketch in my little sketch books that I never show to anyone. But it was bad.

First Strip

 

So, jump to March of last year. I’d finally met Howard and we got on famously. I decided to try again on the strip, just jump into the middle as it were and start with the current strip and keep reading every day until I had a handle on the story line. Joy of joys the art was no longer bad. It was, in fact, fantastic. And the story, which I hadn’t really given a chance on my first attempt, was fun and smart too.

Strip I Read Last Year

Which brings us to today. I still read the current strip everyday. Howard is apparently famous, and rightly so, for posting a new strip everyday without fail since day one (12 June 2000).

Now, however, I’ve started over at strip one and kept going.  I’m watching his art evolve as I do. I’m talking both story and line art here. It just gets better and better.

Nicely done Howard. Nicely done.

 

Dog in the Road

I hope you’ll forgive me for another post on an animal killed in the road.

My wife and I were returning from date night when we crested a hill and almost crashed into the back ends of about a dozen cars. They were all stopped in the three westbound lanes of Pioneer Crossing, Lehi Utah.

Moving erratically in the glaring beams of their headlights was a golden lab trailing a length of twine from his leather collar. The dog had a wide banner of blood painting his right shoulder and a leg he couldn’t use. By the time I made my way to him between the stationary cars he had collapsed.

I called to him from a few feet away. He looked up at me then tried and failed to rise. It was strangely silent there on the road. The rumbling of all those car engines seemed to emphasize the still of the  night, the harsh beams from their headlights the dark all around.

When I stood up with the dog in my arms I could hear him breathing, a bubbly sound. The stench of skunk rose from him. I carried him to the side of the road and the flow of traffic picked up and streamed off into the night. My wife pulled over and I put the dog in the back of our mini-van.

I started searching and calling on my phone, trying to find a vet that was open. The only place seemed to be in Orem, a good twenty minutes away. Before I could get hold of the hospital a mother and her son came walking up the road, the mother on her cell phone. They had been in the car that hit the dog and had come looking for him. The mother was calling the police dispatch. I told her I was taking the dog to an animal hospital and she asked me to call her to let her know how things turned out. She was obviously bothered by what had happened to the poor dog.

My wife and I were a good ten minutes on our way to Orem when I finally managed to contact the animal hospital. They were open but the woman told me they couldn’t treat any animals unless their owner’s were present. I assured her that I would pay for the dog’s treatment and sign papers to that effect if they wanted. Still no dice. She said, regret in her voice, that they legally could not treat an animal without its owner’s consent. My only choice was to call the police and have them send an animal control unit out to bring the dog to a shelter.

I was furious. I still can’t think of a good reason for such a law. But I had no choice at that point. They already knew who I was and that I was not the owner of the dog. So I called the cops.

They met us back where I’d originally picked up the dog. I went back to sit with the dog and found that it was no longer breathing. When the cops arrived they were unable or unwilling to put the dog in one of their trunks. So we followed the officers to the police station where they put the dog into the bed of the Animal Control vehicle where it sat in the parking lot. They thanked me for my trouble and my wife and I went home to clean blood out of my clothes and out of the back of the van.

The dog had been tied up with twine, presumably because it had gotten too close to a skunk. Stupid thing to tie a dog up with. There was no ID on the collar so no way to contact the owners.

It feels better having written about it. Thanks for listening.

Things like this interest me.

CelebratingOsama'sDeath-LOLObviously the author is comparing this crowd, cheering outside the Whitehouse after the announcement of OBL’s death, to the crowds of middle-easterners cheering in the street after 9/11.

And yes, one crowd of people celebrating looks very much like another.  But there the similarity ends. Crowds of middle-easterners behaving thus over the death of 3000 innocent civilians is not, in fact, “like” this crowd celebrating the death of a mass-murdering sociopath who killed 3000 of their fellow-citizens.

Continue reading

Funniest LOL I’ve seen on the subject so far. Sprayed my drink all over my lap when I saw it.

binladen-xGlad to finally be able to put UBL into the ‘good’ category.

As wigg1es so aptly put it on Boing Boing, “If only this actually meant anything……”

What does it mean?

That the vast majority of Americans will now be able to tell themselves that all is right with the world, the boogey man is no more, and that this actually does change something.

I hope and I pray that they are right, that it will change something. I doubt that UBL’s fellow travelers will now shrug their shoulders and walk away into obscurity, but I hope they do.

I also hope and pray that the believers in Democracy and the Rule of Law around the world who depend on American might will not now be abandoned in an orgy of political expediency among our politicians.

Edit: Buried at sea? Really?  – No pictures yet? Really? – Is our government TRYING to minimize the positive effects of this action?

Edit 2: So we’ve had two years of the left telling birthers that insisting on proof, documentation, of an event is stupid, in order to defend Obama’s failure to produce an official birth certificate. This thought pattern is so ingrained that now we must laugh to scorn those who ask for proof, like a high-res photo, of UBL’s dead body? Folks, as a friend of mine said, “There are people who still believe Elvis is alive, and we’re not producing a picture of UBL dead? WTF?”

Bonus links:

Fareed Zakaria on the death of Bin Laden