Tuesday, May 27, 2008

An Ogg and a half

Ogg v.1

Ogg v.2

Friday, May 23, 2008

The gender card

Hillary Clinton's campaign is almost over. A year ago she was considered a shoo-in, but an incompetent campaign and enthusiastic grassroots support for Obama has done her in. Helping her downfall was an aggressively hostile press. When she was winning news stories focused on possible chinks in her armour, when losing the press crows that she was supposed to be the favourite and wonders aloud and in print if this setback marks the beginning of the end. In contrast, stories about Obama's setbacks focus on the glimmers of hope, the silver linings - or the cheapest ploy in the modern liberal's playbook: racism as a explanation for Obama's stumbles.

Many years ago liberals sold out womankind by omitting women's suffrage from the 15th amendment. Now liberals have once again chosen black maleness over a pair of x chromosomes. Liberals in the media played no small part in this betrayal.

I recall Garrison Keiler, lamenting the loss of John Kerry (or was it Al Gore?), saying that liberals had had a good run, and had much to be proud of including the fact that it was no longer acceptable to use racist language in polite conversation. Women's oppression was never as violent as that of blacks, but the victory over that oppression has not been as complete. No national network, or major cable news outfit would tolerate the use of racist language: an N-bomb would almost certainly guarantee that a guest would never be invited back. But sexist language is acceptable. From Chris Matthews, do David Schuster (MSNBC has been especially egregious in it's anti-Hillary stance) making disgustingly offensive remarks, to subtler forms of disrespect such as debates over Clinton's wrinkles, cleavage, and pantsuits. Equivalent, racist comments on Obama would be condemned sans debate. But the media portrays sexism as a two-sided matter of opinion that's open to debate. The very fact that Wolf Blitzer thinks this is debatable betrays the inherent sexism of his (and many others') coverage.

Ok, I kind of got off track there... the reason I was making this post in the first place was actually to criticize Clinton supporters for taking their sexism complaints too far. A recent New York Times story features a myriad of complaints about perceived sexism. This one in particular stood out:
Nancy Wait, 55, a social worker in Columbia City, Ind., said Mr. Obama was far less qualified than Mrs. Clinton and described as condescending his recent assurances that Mrs. Clinton should stay in the race as long as she liked. Ms. Wait said she would “absolutely, positively not” vote for him come fall.

I get the feeling that this same woman would have been equally offended had Obama acted in the opposite way ("who is he to tell her to drop out! blah blah blah...").

There's much to be angry about, but it won't help women's rights to cry wolf when there are so many real threats.

I was going to write a bunch more stuff and was planning on tying this into some recent math department drama, but I'll do that later.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Graduation day.

Today, was graduation for most undergrads at UW-Madison. Five of my neighbours graduated (maybe more... I only know 7 of the 11 people in my building), and a whole bunch of my former students also finished. All day long I saw families all over the city; at the farmer's market, on campus, and in the various neighbourhoods where students reside. Since I'm finishing soon, this will be my last time seeing this until my own kids graduate from college - and to be honest, it felt strangely bittersweet. I'm of course really happy for these kids, but at the same time, I kind of envy them. Graduating from college was one of the greatest moments in my life, and I'm a bit jealous that these younger kids get to experience that today. It makes me realize that I'm not as young as I used to be.

It was especially nice to see one of my favourite students at the farmer's market today; this loud (almost obnoxiously loud) kid was probably the best student I ever had - he wasn't the smartest (although he was certainly quite bright), and he wasn't the hardest working... but he was always willing to ask questions and never took anything too seriously, which made teaching that class so much easier.


Sunday, May 11, 2008

Farmer's market + car show

Here's some photos from the yesterday.

State street was packed partly because it's the last farmer's market of the semester, and partly (mostly?) because there was a car show with lots of cool vehicles:

Here's a Delorean;

Here's 2 photos of a 1934 Brewster Town Car;

And here's a bunch of other cool cars;

This last photo shows two adjacent tables at the King Street corner of the farmer's market. This juxtaposition is classic Madison; on the left you have the Southern Wisconsin Butterfly Association, on the right you have a conspiracy theory pushing 9/11 Truth supporter. This is the most succinct description of Madison's non-student population that I can think of;

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Friday, May 02, 2008

Police Competence

On a more positive police/911 note: it only took 4 minutes for a cop to show up when we called 9-11 an hour ago. Some drunks tossed a construction marker thing into the construction hole, and somehow a pipe has been spewing water out ever since... Presumably someone will eventually show up to turn that off.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Police Incompetence

The killer of a college student is still at large one month after the murder. Madison's police have already made a number of publicly known mistakes... given their penchant for secrecy, there's probably more bungling taking place.

First, they waited eight days before deciding that it was in the public interest to warn people that the student's home showed signs of forced entry. This should have been made public right away. There's no excuse for sitting on that for so long, especially when the murder took place in the middle of the day in a highly populated student neighbourhood. If people aren't safe in their own homes, they need to know that right away.

Now someone has leaked more damning information about police handling of the case. It turns out that the victim called 9-11, but the 9-11 dispatcher hung up on her, and neither returned the call (as required by their own policies), nor sent police to investigate.

Just as infuriating as the incompetence is the sense that the police had been hoping to sweep this under the carpet. For a liberal town, the MPD is awfully secretive and unresponsive to community concerns.
The best ever episode of Thundercats

From season 4; episode "Malcar".

Plot summary: Mumm-Ra summons Malcar, an ancient alchemist, to return from the dead. The alchemist returns old and weak, as he was when he died. Mumm-Ra takes him to the canyons of youth to restore his youth and power. Malcar regains his powers, and uses them against the Thundercats. He transforms all the Thunderillium on the planet into Thundrainium.