Friday, May 05, 2006

Oh, snarky . . .

Hanny Hindi got a little snarky at the end of Jurisprudence today: "Prisoners may very well suffer needlessly excruciating deaths, but the witnesses won't feel a thing." An excellent point. After all, that is how our execution system is designed--don't disturb the witnesses and executioners unduly. But why not? If, as a society, we are willing to kill people in the name of justice, we should have to collective balls to do it in the most humane way possible, despite witness discomfort. Don't prosecutors use the argument that a condemned individual's crimes were "inhumane" and "barbaric." Doesn't letting them needlessly suffer put us on their level? We should be above that and we should be prepared to face the consequences of our decisions. Death isn't pretty, it isn't clean; killing makes it even less so. If you're going to kill someone, blow the poor bastard's head off; if I ever end up on death row, that's how I'd want to go.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

A true citizen

Reading about all the fuss surrounding singing the national anthem in Spanish, got me thinking. First off, I you can sing the US national anthem in any language, you're 20 steps ahead of me. I don't know the words, and the few words I do know are painful to sing. Literally--our anthem it one of the harder ones out there. Sing the damn thing in Farsi or Swahili, it won't make you more or less American; singing it in English doesn't make Bush British.
I remember taking American History and Gov't my junior year in high school, and the teacher (a lovely lady named Ms. Scott) showed us some of the questions they ask on a naturalization test. Yeah, the whole class would have been deported. So I looked the test up again. I'm a still a very bad citizen. (Oh, did you know the Constitution and Bill of Rights protects the rights of both citizens and non-citizens living in the US, according to Citizen and Immigration Services, because the way things are going around here, I wasn't too sure.)

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

I'm 12, I'm going to be . . .

For as long as I can remember, I was going to be a vet, when I was 10 or 11 I decided to become an equine vet. My junior year of high school I realized I couldn't be a vet. All this without ever doing a single day of career exploration. I think most kids have some idea of what interests them, and if those interests suit them. I figured out that equine medicine was very interesting to me, but wouldn't suit me--there was no way I could cut into a horse (a person, sure).
The best way to help kids? Give them more classes to choose from--art, music, various sciences, philosophy, math, languages, social sciences, et cetera.
My junior year I got into history and had a great teacher, I thought about going into history and eventually law. But I really struck gold my senior year when I took a semester each of archaeology and anthropology. I hated my high school, but I give them credit for offering courses like that. I found my niche in anthropology. It's something that lets me combine science with people, and that's always interesting. I probably wouldn't have discovered anthro if I hadn't had the opportunity to take an introductory course in high school.
The government is too concerned with testing and numbers; kids are curious, let them explore and find there own way. Encourage curiosity, or in 20 years we'll have a large number of very unhappy accountants (not that accounting is a bad thing, if you like it). Expand the course selection in high schools, let middle schoolers get their feet under them, stop trying to overwhelm them. At 12, you're already taking in a hell of a lot of information about your world. Bound and determined to make a 12 year-old take a look at a career? What happened to career day? Or if they're really curious about a specific job, have them shadow. Don't take-up class time on it. Really, and you want them to pass all those standardized tests, too? Psht.
Worst advice I ever received in high school (from a career counselor, no less): go into accounting or nursing, they're fast growing fields. Yippee. Go into a fast growing field, burn-out in 10 years because you hate your job.

Laptops in Class

Gotta say, I don't really see a laptop as being any more distracting than a PowerPoint presentation--you pay more attention to the PowerPoint than to whatever the professor is babbling. If someone wants to play on the web during lecture, let them; it's rude, but it doesn't hurt the rest of the class. As for missing out on social interaction, what social interaction? I'm in a chemistry lecture with 250 students, the most we interact is when I ask someone a question before class; my upper level anthropology classes aren't any better--30 students in a room being talked to by a professor or TA. Nope, no interaction. Large universities aren't made for interaction; small colleges, now those are different. I went to a (very) small college my freshman year. At Wilson, your professor was going to know your name, they were going to know what your weaknesses and strengths were; most professors wanted you to interact and add to the class, sometimes it was required. Yeah, at Wilson a laptop would have been distracting. But at big public schools, not so much.
God, there are days I can't describe how much I miss Wilson.