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Sunday, February 26, 2006

Speaking of Which 

On this week's SynCast, we feature a talk by Arundhati Roy delivered in New Mexico in September 2003. Background tunes provided by yours truly. Thanks to DLF for helping me get the mix right.

(Check it out -- Arundhati's looking at my recent posts!)

March 8: Mark Yer Calendar

Speaking of DLF, she's been instrumental in organizing to bring Afghan parliamentarian and noted human rights activist Malalai Joya to Madison on March 8. If you're in town, you gots to check this out. The BBC didn't call her "the most famous woman in Afghanistan" for nothing!

Et Cetera

Thanks also to DLF for linking us to this interview with Boots Riley of The Coup. New album under construction -- woo! (TPCQ: "Woo! Rumaki!")

Why on Earth do I have giant plush microbes playing chess against Newcastle bottles bookmarked? Am I on drugs or something?

For some reason I have a review of The Vagrant bookmarked. (Probably because someone who shall remain nameless who is a bigEjerk sent me a copy of that turd of a film.) But the review is spot-on: "It's far better to give a dollar to a real vagrant than spending it on this crapola." Amen, brother.

It's All About the Words

One of my favorite phrases of late is "on drugs". It's so terribly vague and amorphous, referring to anything from Rogaine™ to crack cocaine™. You can besmirch and ridicule anyone's argument, position, or opinion by simply asking "Are you on drugs or something?" It immediately stations the recipient on the other side of sanity and worth-listening-to-ness. "What is wrong with you?" works in a similarly fun way.

I also like the word "besmirch".


Check out the Word Disassociation video. Kind of a dumb song, but it's a neat approach for a video. You can tell they kinda ran out of ideas toward the end.

Today I'm listening to: Me!

Thursday, February 23, 2006

CW Bloggers: The Next Generation 

Today I'm taking my second-semester Creative Writing students into the computer lab so they can set up their blogs. I figure I should have something new up here so they believe that I blog at least twice a week. (Those who know better can leave comments where you call me a liar.)

Why the picture from the Coalition of Immokalee Workers? Because they rock, and they give me inspiration. And I was looking through some old posts and I found that MegaMeme I did a while back which people may want to go look at again. Ah, good times.

Kohl Like That (or: Like That, Kohl?)

Check it out -- Anti-War Activists Storm Kohl Event:
Calling themselves members of the National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance, seven anti-war protesters interrupted Kohl as he was about to speak to supporters at the Orpheum Theatre Wednesday evening.

"We all now know that the war in Iraq was based on lies," protester Jim Murphy, a Catholic priest from Portage, read from a script. "Too many innocent lives have been lost and too many dollars have been spent. We are here tonight to appeal to your conscience and ask you to sign a pledge."
While I myself would probably not have the guts to jump up on stage, I think it's appropriate to put pressure on Kohl, who has been supremely wishy-washy on Iraq (among other issues). This part amused me:
Kohl was preparing to make brief remarks before debuting a 10-minute campaign video to a crowd of about 150 supporters in the theater's lobby.
I didn't realize Kohl had 150 supporters. I figured people just voted for him because he was barely the lesser of two evils.


Here, for some reason, is a series of photos showing Russians shooting a pig from a cannon. (Yes, the pig makes it through okay.) Via MonkeyFilter.

Today I'm listening to: Alex Cortiz!

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Beers, Steers, and a Meme 

Make sure'n you check out this week's SynCast, featuring lots of great stuff from all your favorite artists (provided your favorites include obscure not-really-hip-hop from the 1980s like George Kranz).

Oh, you didn't know Eileen's wearing a cowboy hat now? Yeah. She's also wearing glasses. (TPCQ: "Probably misses his old glasses.")

A Meme

No, Iron Monkey didn't pass this to me -- I'm taking it!

Four jobs I've had:
  1. Bookstore clerk (Paperback Booksmith: Sarasota, FL)
  2. Bookstore clerk (Book Gallery West: Gainesville, FL)
  3. Bookstore clerk (Borders Books & Music: Madison, WI)
  4. Fast-food clerk (Checkers Food-like Abominations: Gainesville, FL)
Four movies I can watch over and over:
  1. Primer
  2. Happy Gilmore
  3. Slam
  4. Pretty much any movie I enjoy
Four places I've lived
  1. Gainesville, Florida
  2. Sarasota, Florida
  3. Watsonville, California (I lost my bowling ball in Watsonville.)
  4. Madison, Wisconsin
Four TV shows I love:
  1. The Simpsons
  2. The Daily Show
  3. Futurama
  4. Oz
Four places I've vacationed:
  1. São Paulo, Brazil
  2. Paris, France
  3. Dili, East Timor (sort of a vacation)
  4. Las Vegas, Nevada
Four of my favorite dishes:
  1. Pad thai
  2. Cheese enchiladas
  3. Matzo ball soup
  4. The Divine Casserole™
Four sites I visit daily:
  1. WorldNews
  2. Wikipedia
  3. MonkeyFilter
  4. PR Watch: Spin of the Day (try to)
Four places I would rather be right now:
  1. On the couch playing PS2
  2. At a warmer latitude
  3. I'm pretty satisfied with my life and location, actually
  4. There's nowhere else I'd rather be, to be honest
Four bloggers I am tagging:
  1. Christie
  2. Garrett
  3. Jesse
  4. ARoot

C'est magnifique, les gens sur la nourriture! (Just click on the word when it's done loading, then use the menu in the lower right.)

Today I'm listening to: Groove Salad!

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Love and Irk 

Hurray for snow days! I take back everything bad I ever said about snow. Sliding across intersections and shoveling snow may suck eggs, but in Florida, you will never wake up to the news that you get to go back to bed unexpectedly because of the weather (or, if you do, your house has been blown apart and missing school is a tiny consolation).

I love snow days! Huzzah! I think we teachers love them even more than the students do. I mean, I like being at school, reaching young minds and all; but it's so very nice to have a sudden arbitrary day to lay around and watch Creature Comforts and play Gun and drink hot cocoa. And blog. Of course we blog.

Pic from here.

Irk City

The following things have been bugging the crap out of me lately:
  • Bands whose name doesn't fit. Once upon a time I bought a CD from Plastic Noise Experience, which was decidedly un-noisy. It was toned-down trance techno, which is fine -- but I couldn't listen to it because I felt so betrayed by the name. Yesterday at the CD shop I saw a disc in the techno section (oops, we don't call it that anymore.. it's electronica) by a group called "Brazilian Ladies" or some such. I go to check it out thinking "Cool! Maybe this won't be some 18-year-old Playboy-look-alike who gets to have her CDs distributed solely on how she looks, given the rampant sexism and juvenility of so much of the modern techno industry!" But then I see it's just three doofy guys. Morons! Pick a name that fits! (Although I suppose no one would buy a CD by "Three Doofy Guys". I certainly wouldn't.)

  • 18-year-old Playboy-look-alikes who get to have their CDs distributed solely on how they look, given the rampant sexism and juvenility of so much of the modern techno industry. DJ Baby Anne is a fine DJ -- but I can't bring myself to buy her stuff because I know there are 27 female DJs who are every bit as skilled, but can't get their stuff out because they're not rail-thin supermodelettes. DJ Irene is cool, but I'm so bloody sick of trance I can't stand it.

  • Trance, trance, trance. Go to a used shop (or even a new one) and all you'll see in the te.. electronica section is trance and more trance. And three or four drum 'n' bass comps. For Jove's sake, what happened to breaks? I'm from Florida, dammit! I need something more than just thump thump thump thump x ∞. (Actually, this is about more than just geography. I think those of us weaned on hip hop have a stronger love for breaks than anything else.) Are you asking "What's the difference?"
I'm sure there's more, but those are the ones that come to mind at present. Besides, I've got video games to play.


Please to enjoy BrokeBack to the Future. Via ABS.

Today I'm listening to: Breaks! Thank you, DI! (Would you believe they're playing Baby Anne right now? Aiiieee!)

Sunday, February 12, 2006

A Few Good Songs 

Because I am today filled with some sort of amorphous fatigue/yuckiness, I've kinda just slopped together this week's SynCast, but I've included some dandy music which you should enjoy. (If I hadn't said anything about being in a yuck-mood, would anyone notice anything different about the show?)

Image from (I hope you recognize it) Toothpaste for Dinner.

Why Acknowledge Facile Criticism?

Because I can't help it is why. A couple of posts ago, someone called him/herself only "dudefly" wrote: "Actually, what you are is a pathetic, slackjawed loser. Thank god I got out of Madison Public Schools before you got there...." Insofar as this individual doesn't realize that I teach in the Sun Prairie Area School District and not the Madison public schools, I must assume s/he doesn't know very much about me. So it doesn't make any sense for me to feel this comment at any significant depth.

Alas, it's who I am. I can take criticism -- indeed, I seek it out. So when someone makes a claim like this, I want to know more. In the unlikely event you are reading, then, "dudefly," please tell me:
  1. What is your real name?
  2. How did you come to visit my website?
  3. What makes you say I am a "pathetic, slackjawed loser"?
  4. Did you mean your comment as anything other than a meaningless annoyance? If so, what?
As I say, I should probably just ignore it. But what can I say? I care about what everyone has to say -- even flaming trolls.


Waste some time with BubbleGeorge. I'm not sure why it's GWB; but the effect is fairly mesmerizing. If he gets stuck, you can click and drag him through.

Today I'm listening to: Teh Cheat!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

A Word on Evil 

Well, look who got published in The Capital Times. As I was walking my dog today, I wondered if there were anything in the piece that might elicit a negative backlash from the community. (You know, aside from my defiant leftist rhetoric in defense of Ralph Nader.)

I realized that I called Bush "evil" -- and when I saw the thing in print, I found that they had picked up on this for the headline. Well, as Shakespeare put it in Romeo & Juliet (Act II Scene III):
For nought so vile that on the earth doth live
But to the earth some special good doth give,
Nor aught so good but strain'd from that fair use
Revolts from true birth, stumbling on abuse.
I try to instill in my students an awareness that simplistic good/evil dichotomies are unhealthy for democracy, so I feel like I really goofed when I used such a binary phrase to describe our president. (TPCQ: "Only the Sith think in absolutes!")

I should have simply called him a liar, a spin doctor, and a war criminal, and left it at that. I apologize if my use of the word "evil" offends anyone.


The new Strong Bad Email is pretty funny.

Today I'm listening to: Alex Cortiz!

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

On Teaching: Part Three 

What The Teacher Is

The American public school teacher is a unique species in the social world. Nowhere else can be found a parallel set of directives, impulses, and objectives.

You are my student. What, then, am I?
  • I am not your friend. I want you to be happy, but I am not here to make you feel good. I want to help you make sense of the world, but I won't hold your hand when you're having trouble, and I won't always be there for you. I need to give you the tools you need to make me unnecessary; friends do not engineer their own obsolescence. Neither do friends enforce rules on one another, or perform interrogations.

  • I am not your parent. I spend a lot of time with you, and I have many life lessons to teach. But I've only known you for a short time, and I probably won't be in contact with you when you graduate. I have a duty to teach you right from wrong, but our limited time (and my limited resources, as well as requirements from the administration) mean that I have very little influence on you in this regard. Besides, at the end of the day I go home and have the luxury of forgetting all about you.

  • I am not your boss. Despite the most eager efforts of business leaders to recreate the school as a pre-work institution, you are not my employee. I evaluate you like a boss does, but no boss wants the employee to supercede him. Ours is a relationship not of production and/or mere service, but of mutual development and humanistic evolution.

  • I am not your comrade. While we need to support each other and strive together toward enlightened consciousness, we are not instrinsically linked by ideology. I have loyalties which must (once in a very scarce while) come before my devotion to you. For instance, I gots to get paid. Taking action which would benefit you but jeopardize my job is not an option (except in extremely rare circumstances).

  • I am not your coach. I want to bring the whole class into the End Zone of Knowledge, but there really is no team, and there is no way of winning the game. I have drills I can put you through, but when all is said and done, education is but a dance between you and the books; I'm just in the way. While I expect you to give 110% for our sport, I can't kick you off the team if you fail to meet my expectations.

  • I am not your warden. While many students think of school as a jail, I have much more to do than simply keep you from leaving the room. Lock and key won't work to open minds; a healthy democracy, indeed, requires the antithesis of imprisoned brains. Further, the repressive state apparatus is not in my toolbox (though it is of course ready at hand if I need it).

  • I am not your lawyer. I advocate for you, but there is no confidentiality assumption, nor is there a third party for me to mediate. I will approach you with respect and trust, but I do not represent you, nor do I try at all times to exploit small opportunities to achieve a shortcut positive result for you. (Indeed, quite the opposite, much of the time!)
Thus, I am None of the Above. I am a guide, a path, an elder -- lesser than the student, and greater. Not so happy, yet much happier. (Sound familiar, CompEng students?)

Et Cetera

Just for the record (since the newspapers and radio reports aren't saying this enough: It is considered a great insult in Islam to depict Mohammed's face in any form. Some people seem to think the recent brouhaha is centered around how He has been depicted.

In other news: Happy birthday, Mark! Here's your [expletive] Publix Sheet Cake!


Why have I suddenly become so enamored of Minesweeper? Well, enjoy the online Flash version (space=tag).

Today I'm listening to: David Cross!

Sunday, February 05, 2006

You're Locked On 103FM, WESP -- Goliath Radio! 

Hey there, fans and other listeners! Crazy Captain J here, welcoming you to yet another SUPER BROADCAST from Madison's BEST rock station, 103FM Goliath Radio: WESP!

We've got a great show for you this week, featuring CLASSIC HITS from:
  • A-Ha
  • Europe
  • Rob Base & DJ EZRock
  • Pet Shop Boys
and more! So start downloading and join the fun!

Don't forget, WESP 103FM is teaming up with RealRadio in Scotland to present the first annual RealRadio Cruise to Bruges. Get those entry forms mailed today so you don't miss any of the Caribbean/Scottish fun!

We also still have some WESP 103FM Goliath Radio T-shirts for sale here at the station. Sorry, sizes S and XXXXXL only.


I'm Sick of Being a Hungry Vegan! Well check out this ad!!

Today I'm listening to: WESP 103FM Goliath Radio!!!