Monday, February 27, 2006

Yeah, but calculus is beyond me.

You Passed 8th Grade Math

Congratulations, you got 10/10 correct!

I've been preoccupied off and on with how well I'll be able to help my children with their school work. Of course, I think that regardless of what they're studying, I should be able to pick up the text and answer any question after a quick read, but what I'd really like is to be able to do all their homework without any review. I suspect my best shot at this may be in math.

Thanks to this post at Raging Red for pointing me to this reassuring test.

There's no shame in having forgotten all the boring and useless things from the old concrete and tile classrooms, but in addition to learning about isosceles triangles, food pyramids, and social circles, I'd like my children to learn that these subjects are supposed to stay with them until they're as old and square as their father.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Not less safe.

We are not "less safe" now than we were on September 11. I say that not because I think we are safer but because I think the state of diminished safety is not best described by the words "less safe."

If the attacks of September 11 demonstrated our vulnerability, and we consider that situation to have deteriorated since, then the way to say that is to refer to us as "more vulnerable." Saying instead that we are "less safe" implies that we are safe, just not as much. Were we safe on September 11? If so, then maybe we really are still safe, but not as much. If not, I don't see a good way to describe a more vulnerable state with the word "safe" in it anywhere.

This is blatant Newspeak. Someone saying "less safe" is unwilling to admit vulnerability. The word has been eliminated. They could do almost as well saying "more unsafe" (or "plusunsafe"), but "less safe" is more misleading. It has the word we want to hear—safe—unfettered by prefixes and the idea that our safety is anything other than pure.

I'm not sure how this came be such a pet peeve that I'm now writing what amounts to a grammar flame—unprovoked, even. Nevertheless it grates on me even more than when people misspell "millennium" (a pet peeve with an actual story behind it).

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Ultimate Blogger to the rescue!

Forgive me reader, for I have neglected. It's been two weeks since my last post.

I'm in a slump. I could blame the newborn or the depression brought on by our leadership destroying our country. I could blame space aliens. The aliens could be fascist anarchists, and it still wouldn't change the fact that I don't have a post.

Well, gentle reader, The Ultimate Blogger 2 is here to help. Last year, I applied and was rejected, but I played anyway, from the sidelines, and it resulted in some of my finest work.

Who do I have to thank for bringing this salvation to my attention? Nobody. With the kind of devotion only found in brainless machinery or zombies, my computer has been anonymously hammering at the old Ultimate Blogger RSS feed ever since the last competition ended. Their new season announcement popped up as if the thing had been active all along.

It turned out last year that the competition didn't fit my expectations (and didn't play to my strengths), so I'm going to save time by not applying, but I'd still like to do my little side show.

That is, if the fascist anarchist newborn space alien national leadership allows it.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Christ and Caesar sitting in a tree!

On an earlier post, my sister had this to say:
One of my current Sociology instructors has already covered with us that religion was created as a result of a need of the upper class to explain why they are more privledged than the rest of society and to institutionalize/perpetuate their status in society.
I would hope that religion predates the aristocracy bending it to their ends, but that's still a good segue to "Let There Be Markets: The Evangelical Roots of Economics", an article I read a while back and have been wanting to work into a post ever since. Read the whole thing, of course, but here's a pretty good quote:
The group that bridled most against these pessimistic elements of Smith and Ricardo was the evangelicals. These were middle-class reformers who wanted to reshape Protestant doctrine. For them it was unthinkable that capitalism led to class conflict, for that would mean that God had created a world at war with itself. The evangelicals believed in a providential God, one who built a logical and orderly universe, and they saw the new industrial economy as a fulfillment of God's plan. The free market, they believed, was a perfectly designed instrument to reward good Christian behavior and to punish and humiliate the unrepentant.
The article also discusses the question of whether most economists today are spinning theories that apply only to a fantasy land. In this, I guess they'd be kind of like mathematicians except less aware of how abstract their work is.

As long as I'm phoning it in with a dazzling array of quotes and hardly any original thoughts, I'll leave you with a couple of others.
If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to. — Dorothy Parker

God shows his contempt for wealth by the kind of person he selects to receive it. — Austin O'Malley

This is an impressive crowd: the Have's and Have-more's. Some people call you the elites. I call you my base. — President George W. Bush