Saturday, April 30, 2005

Inertia... peaking.

I really wish I was better at setting deadlines for myself. That way, maybe I'd have been farther on my lit review than I currently am. Mind you, having a prof who's incredibly flexible on deadlines doesn't help, either.

In other news, how about those god damn Tigers?!? Break 'em up!!!

Sorry. Five-game winning streaks do that to a feller, especially when said feller follows perenially bad teams.

Beck's new album is good... but, I dunno, it's just not grabbing me right away like I thought it would. Some albums take a long time to warm up to, and I think this might be one of them.

I believe there's a baseball game on this afternoon. That'll take care of my pesky productivity problem, post-haste.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Aren't they cute?


George W. Bush with Saudi Arabia's Prince Abdullah, basking in the afterglow of hours of hot, hot, oilman-on-oilman fuckin'. No word yet on whether Abdullah gave Dubya the "royal reach-around," but inside sources say Bush's iPod now contains seven hours of Arabic-language ululating.

Spring? Sprung.


These little flowers are all over my front yard. There's a ton of 'em around these days... blue like these, or purple, or white, or a mix of colours. I think they're awesome, and am dreading the onset of the lawnmowers... so, admire them while you can.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Minutiae.

1. Reelin' In The Years
Not just a great song by Steely Dan anymore, it's what my brother's doing these days. We had a little get-together for him on Friday night in honour of his 30th, with good times aplenty. Bull was shot, laughs were abundant, and at the end of it all I got to sleep yet again in the World's Most Comfortable Bed. Oh, and I got to see how gigantic his 8-month-pregnant wife is getting... they're thinking "Trevor" if it's a boy, and "Mallory" if it's a girl. I have no objections.

2. Raining and showering
Amongst the abundant raindrops of Saturday afternoon, my sister-in-law's older sister threw her a baby shower. Being a guy, I wasn't in attendance, but I did help decorate a bit beforehand. (It's been a while since I've curled ribbons using the scissors trick.) And, of course, with the few helium balloons left over from my bro's 30th the night before, we made our voices sound all funny.

3. J is a car thief
At said shower on Saturday, my sis-in-law's younger sister had her husband's car parked in the driveway with the engine running as she shuttled some things back and forth between it and the house. Of course, she locked the keys inside the idling Honda... so my brother and I used the standard "coat hangar" trick to pop the lock and rescue the keys. It took about 10-15 minutes, so we're clearly not going into car-thievery as a full-time gig.

4. Bloc Party rocs my socs.
I'm not usually one to get all caught up in media buzz about a hot new band, but I picked up BP's Silent Alarm recently, and it's just really scratching me right where I musically itch these days. Angular and jittery guitars (just how I like 'em), inventive bass work that first had me questioning and then had me admiring, and a drummer with the fastest hands this side of Neil Peart. Oh, and I'm abandoning all silent K's from my written work forthwith.

Friday, April 22, 2005

Thirsty?

So are the people in Halabja, Iraq, the town in which Saddam Hussein used poison gas in '88 to kill 5,000 people (with western knowledge and encouragement, mind you).

Because the U.S. government is a bunch of pricks, they shifted $3.4 billion from water, electricity and oil projects to pay for the training and arming of Iraqi police forces and their new army. This includes $10 million to pay for clean water in Halabja, which is one of the 68 (of the 81 total) water projects that were supposed to have been paid for by the Ministry of Public Works in AmerIraq that have been wiped off the board.

Read the whole NY Times article here. (It's the Paper of Record, just sign up for the damn site, it's free already, and quit yer whinin'.)

(I was made aware of this by GYWO. Funny, sad, funny stuff.)

Thursday, April 21, 2005

"By request..."

You know how some/most/all radio stations will let you call in a request for a song? (Seems a bit antiquated in this day of P2P file sharing, but meh, whatever, it still happens.) Anyway, here's what I don't get:

Let's say the band The Bloody Mittens have a song called "I Shot Colonel Sanders Just To Watch Him Die" which is getting the shit played out of it, every hour on the hour. You know songs like that — I swear K-Rock was going to wear out their Killers CD by playing "Mr. Brightside" over and over... but I digress.

So, some doofus, some ultra-maroon, some ignoramus, let's say he calls up the station because his Intar-Web machine is down and he can't get the music he wants. He has the ability to request any song from the station's archives: "London Calling" by the Clash, "Wave Of Mutilation" by the Pixies, maybe even a little "Rock And Roll Singer" by AC/DC. But what does he inevitably request?

Can you, duh, play, duh, "I Shot Colonel Sanders Just To Watch Him Die" by the Bloody Mittens? I haven't heard you, duh, play it since, duh, forty minutes ago!

You need proof? Look what people requested on The Nooner in recent days. Makes a music geek want to punch something, or at least put on something nerdy like early-'70s Genesis real loud-like.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Complete games.

For those not interested in baseball, go back to your goat-porn-surfing.

. . .

For the rest of you who stayed, congratulations.

We're seeing a mild phenomenon in Florida this year with pitchers going the distance — AJ Burnett and Dontrelle Willis each have two so far, and Josh Beckett has another. That's five on the Marlins alone; the rest of the National League has four. (The entire AL has six.)

Now, the Fish have certainly done well on the mound this year — their team ERA is 1.86, and I don't care if it's only 14 games into the season, that's still damn impressive. It makes sense that if a pitcher is doing well, the manager will let him go longer, right?

Wrong.

Players cost so much money that organizations baby them right from when they draft them, and pitchers are especially fragile. "Don't let them throw more than 150 or so innings in the minors, don't let them toss 100 pitches in a start, and for god's sakes, don't let them complete a game unless they have a no-hitter going." All this would make sense if pitchers didn't still get hurt all the time, even after all these precautions.

This article brings up an interesting bunch of statistics, but something that jumped out at me recently was something from Roger Clemens' late-1980s stats:
     Year   G   GS   CG   SHO   IP     Age
---- - -- -- --- --- ---
1984 21 20 5 1 133.1 22
1985 15 15 3 1 98.1 23
1986 33 33 10 1 254.0 24
1987 36 36 18(!) 7 281.2 25
1988 35 35 14 8 264.0 26
1989 35 35 8 3 253.1 27
And how many CGs has this strapping (6' 4", 235), veteran pitcher thrown in the last six full seasons combined? Two.

Seriously, like, c'mon. Warren Spahn was 42 and completed 22 games in 1962. Where have all the gamers gone? 'Cause they sure as hell ain't pitching in the big leagues anymore.

Monday, April 18, 2005

My ears were ringing Saturday night.

...and the WCO show was Friday.

The band consisted of a singer, four guitarists, a bassist, a keyboardist/smoke machine wrangler, a drummer, and a cowbell/grinder/chainsaw player. Also appearing onstage at various points during the show:
  • an MC and sometime band photographer
  • a shotgun-toting, sunglasses-sporting, handlebar-moustache-wearing sheriff
  • two strippers (apparently lead singer Sgt. Rock's lawyers)
  • a magically-resurrected stripper-loving Pope John Paul II
  • a magically-resurrected Terri Schaivo (in a permanent vegetative state)
Perhaps the craziest part was when lead guitarist Hollis shucked off every stitch of his clothing, adorned his unit with a shot glass from the bar, and played the slide guitar part of "Freebird" as two audience members (no pun intended?) held his instrument (no pun intended?).

Anyway, with song titles like "Put The South In Your Mouth," you really can't go wrong when these guys come to town. Best eleven bucks I've spent in recent memory. Especially when, during the encore, girls from the crowd are invited onstage and paid to take their shirts off. (Man, why didn't we think of that when we had a band?!?)

Friday, April 15, 2005

The Washington Nationals.

"Oh, it's so great to have baseball back in DC," the people gush.

"It's nice to have knowledgeable fans filling the stands," the players muse.

Well, if the Commissioner and his Band of Merry Bunglers, not to mention Jeff "Alright, I killed the Expos, can I have the Marlins now, Mr. Selig?" Loria, hadn't completely poisoned Montreal's baseball environment, Youppi! would still have a job.

For reference, here's how the 'Spos drew fans when competent people were running the franchise:
     Year        Total Att.   League Rank in Att.
1979 2,102,173 4th
1980 2,208,175 4th
1981 1,534,564* 3rd
1982 2,318,292 3rd
1983 2,320,651 2nd
* strike-shortened season
It's not that fans in Montreal hated baseball of their own volition... but when the owner decides it's just not worth his time to bother anymore, that's when fans get turned off.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

I loves the rock and roll.

And not just because Joan Jett loves the rock and roll, either.

Tomorrow night I will be in attendance at the Horseshoe when one White Cowbell Oklahoma will be playing. Now, I've never seen them before... but I've heard. Oh, lordy, I've heard. There's gonna be strippers, there's gonna be flames shooting out everywhere, and there's gonna be, like, EIGHT MILLION GUITARS onstage at the same time.

It may even top the Nashville Pussy show I saw back in Calgary. The guitarist shucked her shirt off before the second song, the statuesque bass player (sister of a former NBA player) took pulls off a 40 of vodka and breathed fire into the crowd, and the capper was when they made out during the last song for, like, five minutes. Let's see the Starland Vocal Band top that.

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

International "standardized tests."

Well, the latest PISA results just came out, and I didn't even bother looking where Canada placed in the "standings."

But J, you ask, aren't you an educator? Don't you care to see how well our country did?

Nope. And here's a good editorial explaining why.

It's like the whole thing in the late '90s in Ontario here, where the TIMSS (Third Int'l Math and Science Study) results from 1996 were supposed to show how badly we were doing when compared to BC and Alberta. "We're falling behind, we have to 'raise the bar'." (That epithet still sends shivers up my spine; rememer the commercial with the kid high-jumping? Chriiiiiiiiiist.)

Anyway, so there you had it, a licence for the Harrisites to sweep out the old curriculum and sneak in the new, and by "new" I mean, "incredibly pro-business, anti-union, poorly-implemented, standards-based, secretive, and ill-thought-out." (If you actually looked at the results, (a.) we were still well above the international average, and (b.) the gap between BC/Alberta and us was very small.)

But what was this TIMSS, anyway? How old were the kids? What did the test cover? And why the hell were we so far behind Korea, anyway?

I'm glad you asked.

The kids chosen for the test were in Grade Eight. In Ontario, that means you're in elementary school, and likely don't have a subject specialist in Math or Science teaching you those subjects. (My hats go off to the jacks-of-all-trades elementary folk.) In Alberta you're in junior high, and have subject-specialists; in BC high school starts in Grade Eight, and you've got specialists there, too. So already we have an uneven playing field.

If that wasn't bad enough, many Asian countries picked-and-chose what schools and what students wrote the tests. Here, if a school was chosen (which they were at random), every Grade Eight kid in that school wrote it, often with little or no preparation. (Contrast that with those Asian schools, who prepared for weeks for it, and celebrated like mad when the results came back. Here... meh, no one really cared; it was just a day like any other.)

And we haven't even gotten to what the test was about — was it drill-'em-and-fill-'em rote information regurgitation? Or was it an authentic, holistic picture of how well students can apply what they've learned to complex, realistic situations? Standardized tests, by and large, tend towards the former... and I don't care how well my accountant can recite elements 1 through 118 or the formula for the volume of a cone if he can't do my taxes right.

So, in conclusion, don't buy the National Post when it does its annual "let's give the Fraser Institute a rim-job and print its 'School Rankings' yet again." Actually... don't ever buy the National Post.

...unless they go back to 25 cents a copy, and you're running low on things with which to wipe your ass.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Elephantisis of the crouton.



I'm sorry, but this is just way out of line.

Don't get me wrong — I love croutons. Shoot, I was a fan of them even before I was a fan of salad. (I was a late convert.) But when a single crouton begins to rival the size of some of the larger coins your country has in circulation, that's when you know things are getting right out of hand.

From now on, I'm only going to buy them in bulk, out of clear plastic bins, where I can see 'em beforehand. Caveat emptor, I say.

(It was delicious, if you're wondering.)

A surprisingly tough job.

Thinking a name for your band, I mean. (The best we could come up with was Mod Primates.)

That being said, here's a great one: Dogs Die in Hot Cars

It's sad but true, and is a pretty good public service announcement. Plus, they make catchy music; you can download a tune here. (Plenty of other great songs are available on the SXSW site... I grabbed a couple dozen and made a bitchin' mix-CD today, and that was only after going partway down this page. Artists with a song available for download have the little cassette icon beside them. You're welcome.)

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Ow, my insides.

This is what I was saying to myself the Saturday morning after Cresting. Fortunately, though, I was able to sleep through a part of it, wake up at a ridiculously late hour, and feel pretty tip-top at the end of it all. Minimal permanent damage done to the internal organs, as far as I can tell.

Actually managed to get a bit of work done today (yeah, I know, I'm shocked too). I like being able to submit course assignments for 813 in PowerPoint. It's a nice medium that forces you to cut the flowery crap and just get to the point already.

Two big, big things left to go this month — the lit review, and the stats project. The latter should be alright, but the former is going to involve sloggin' 'er out in the library for quite a while. Oh, and it'll be right when those darling B.Eds are back on campus. (No offense, Kelly, but when they're not around, our lives are a lot easier.)

My Palm Pilot has been quite helpful lately. I downloaded a star chart program, and whadda ya know, that bright thing in the southern sky these days is actually Jupiter. But I think its main advantage is that it's neat to play with, and that keeps me using it, and that keeps me on top of things. I have a feeling it's going to be fairly integral in my life. Any thoughts from any Palm devotees out there?

Friday, April 08, 2005

Killin' time.

Do I have stuff to do? Yes.
Are you doing it? Heck-no.



From Kelly:

1. YOUR PORN STAR NAME:
Freddie Queen (creepy, eh?)
(Name of first pet / Street where you grew-up)

2. YOUR MOVIE STAR NAME:
Pistachio Thomas
(Name of your favorite snack food / Grandfather's first name)

3. YOUR FASHION DESIGNER NAME:
Laserjet Great West Steakhouse
(First word you see on your left / Favorite restaurant)

4. EXOTIC FOREIGNER ALIAS:
Basil Germany
(Favorite Spice / Last Foreign Vacation Spot)

5. SOCIALITE ALIAS:
Jasonface Alvinston
(Silliest Childhood Nickname / Town Where You First Partied):

6. "FLY GIRL/BOY" ALIAS:
J. La / J. Law (not too much of a stretch)
(First Initial / First Two or Three Letters of your Last Name)

7. ICON ALIAS:
Pencil Fruit Punch
(Something Within Sight / Any Liquid in Your Kitchen)

8. DETECTIVE ALIAS:
Chick Watford (am I not the wrong gender for this?)
(Favorite Baby Animal / Where You Went to High School)

9. BARFLY ALIAS:
Popcorn Singapore Sling
(Last Snack Food You Ate / Your Favorite Alcoholic Drink)

10. SOAP OPERA ALIAS:
T. Park (I ain't givin' that away)
(Middle Name / Street Where You Live presently)

11. ROCK STAR ALIAS:
Swedish Berry Davis
(Favorite Candy / Last Name Of Favorite Musician)

12. YOUR STAR WARS NAME:
Jalaw Thpet
( First 2 letters of your first name and the first 3 Letters from your last name makes your first name. Take the first 2 letters of your mother's maiden name and the first 3 letters of the city you were born in for your last name)

A Culture of Death.

Florida Law Expands Right to Kill in Self-Defense

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Reuters) — People in Florida will be allowed to kill in self-defense on the street without trying to flee under a new law passed by state politicians on Tuesday that critics say will bring a Wild West mentality and innocent deaths.

The Florida House of Representatives, citing the need to allow people to "stand their ground," voted 94-20 to codify and expand court rulings that already allow people to use deadly force to protect themselves in their homes without first trying to escape.

The new bill goes further by allowing citizens to use deadly force in a public place if they have a reasonable belief they are in danger of death or great bodily harm. It applies to all means of force that may result in death, although the legislative debate focused on guns.

The "Stand Your Ground" bill passed the Senate last week on a 39-0 vote and now goes to Republican Gov. Jeb Bush, who indicated he will sign it.

And so on, and so forth. Basically, the needle on my Hypocrisometer broke clean off, and it's in now in the shop for repairs. Expect a bill in the mail, Republican Party.

In other news, TERRI SCHIAVO IS STILL FUCKING DEAD.

I just thought you may have forgotten, seeing as how the round-the-clock news channels are talking about some other dead person a lot lately. At least the new guy hadn't been on a feeding tube since the year that current university frosh were in junior kindergarten.

Busy days these days.

GSES yesterday went well. My presentation went alright, even if there weren't too many questions afterward (which I guess could be a good thing). And because the proceedings will eventually be published, that means my abstract will be published, which means I will be a published author. Freaky, eh? And totally backdoor.

Apparently I can type 84 words per minute.

What the shit is the deal with Blogger and Firefox? "Document contains no data," my ass. Even though it pains me to use IE, it seems that Blogger and Firefox get along about as well as Stephen Harper and "Buddy" from Kids In The Hall.

To do before the end of April:
  • website reviews for EDUC 813 (should do those up easily tomorrow)
  • my big-ass lit review for EDUC 813 (which will do double-duty for my thesis)
  • final paper for Quantitative Research on the designated-hitter rule

So yeah, if I manage my time well — and my new Palm m105 is helping quite nicely already — things should go fairly smoothly, with lots of time for drinking to spare.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Comings and goings.

A few noteworthy items to report...

GW PressniteTM
This past Sunday was the last PressniteTM of the year. It's been a blast hanging out in the EngSoc lounge for sometimes 15 hours laughing my ass off, writing articles, playing foosball, and bandying-about The Funny. On the other hand, I might actually start getting things done on Mondays instead of sleeping until 10:30 and feeling generally unproductive. Cresting/Wrap on Friday should be a fantabulous time.

Opening Day
The Tigers kicked the Royals pretty solidly around Comerica Park today, 11-2. Dmitri Young hit three home runs (third person ever to do that on Opening Day), Jeremy Bonderman hurled seven masterful innings (the kid's 22!), and a new attendance record was set at Comerica (besting a game I attended last year). Damn it feels good to be a gangsta.

Palm Pilot
My Palm m105 arrived in the mail today, and I've spent the better part of an hour and a half tinkering and playing and learning Graffiti. The guy was even nice enough to include a leather case type thing for it, although I'm not sure I'll need it, as I like to keep things small and efficient. (I went with the m105 because it uses regular AAA batteries; other models apparently have nonreplacable Li-ion ones that can go belly-up.)

Procrastination
I have a chapter summary to Powerpoint-up and two website reviews to start and finish for tomorrow, I'm presenting a paper at a symposium on Wednesday for which I have to put together another presentation, and I have a stats assignment due on Thursday. Yet, I'm blogging and PalmPiloting and reading up on the Tigers. Oh, and I'll probably go watch the Simpsons for good measure.

Friday, April 01, 2005

To a late, great funnyman.

Mitch Hedberg was found dead on Wednesday morning.

It's unfortunate that such a genuinely funny guy had his life cut short by... well, whatever it is that brought him down. (Authorities say it was a heart attack.) It takes guts to have a stand-up delivery as unique as his was; it takes really fantastic material to make audiences overcome the fact you're not doing the same slick schtick that every other hack is.

But at the same time, his uniqueness was refreshing. Yes, there are comparisons to Stephen Wright, and those would be valid, but Wright is just so wacked-out that he portrays a persona that you'd never encounter in real life. Hedberg, on the other hand, is that guy down the street who drives a beat-up Chrysler that you vaguely remember from high school, maybe he was in that shop class, or maybe that was some other shady-looking character you see around the neighbourhood now and again.

Anyway, the point is, a funny man has passed away. Read a ton of great, great jokes by him here. Laugh and remember; it's what he would've wanted.