Thursday, June 30, 2011

Good Reads/Random Cool Sites (6/30/2011)

Arrests of top banksters finally begin... in Afghanistan.

Richard Dawkins on vivisection: But can they suffer?

The history and current state of online dating.

The Great Wall of Vagina (possibly NSFW/C/P, if you can't tell from the title).

Wealthy, handsome, strong, and with endless hard-ons: Is it an article about me? No, I'm not wealthy. It's about the unattainable cultural ideals of masculinity.

The Cthulhu Chick Tract.

When snails attack!

"A girl is a girl, because she is power. Power is power because it's a girl." Vag Magazine!

Bashing a Transformers movie is picking low hanging fruit, but this guy really bashes the hell out of it.

Quoth the raven, "Waka-waka-waka."

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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Good Reads/Random Cool Sites (6/22/2011)

My life as an undocumented immigrant.

"Michele Bachmann is almost certainly the funniest thing that has ever happened to American presidential politics..." but don't laugh.

If we evolved from apes, why are there still apes? A really good cartoon primer on evolution.

How we fail to notice things when we're looking at something else.

I've noticed this too: one of the really weird things about homophobes is that they can't think about homosexuality without thinking about sex, sex, and more sex.

A TARDIS observatory.

A Neuromancer movie, coming eventually to a theater near you?

Fox News: The New England Patriots of lying (Jon Stewart video).

The Jackass guy who killed himself and a friend in a car crash was going over 130 mph and had a blood alcohol concentration of almost 0.2 percent (i.e., barely able to walk, much less safely operate a car at any speed).

xkcd said something about "500 still frames of Joe Biden eating a sandwich," so of course that's become a website.

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Phone conversation of the week

I got this phone call from what apparently was some kind of process server yesterday morning. For a second, I thought I must be getting sued for unknown reasons, but that turned out not to be the case.

The conversation went like this. Imagine this really aggressive "I'm gonna serve some papers on your ass" tone on the part of the guy who called. My tone, meanwhile, was just as dry as my words.

(I answer the phone) Me: Hello?

Caller: Will someone be available to serve legal papers to?

Me: What? Who is this?

Caller: We need to serve legal papers to Sheila [redacted] today. Will somebody be available to be served legal papers?

Me: Who?

Caller: Sheila [redacted]. Do you know her?

Me: Never heard of her.

Caller: We have this contact information for her.

Me: Are you sure you're calling the right number?

Caller (indignant): 'Course I'm calling the right number. [Pause] Oh. [Click]

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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Good Reads/Random Cool Sites (6/21/2011)

Republican efforts to combat imaginary voter fraud conveniently suppress Democratic votes.

Further proof that America has the best healthcare system in the world.

Christopher Hitchens reviews David Mamet. (He doesn't like the book.)

How drugs took over psychiatry.

You, too, can't have a body like this.

World's oceans in shocking decline.

What Mother Nature thinks of us.

An actual LDS ward Relief Society (women's group in a local congregation, for those of you who don't speak Mormon) activity: an Eternal Princess Tea Party. ISYN.

Today's little known fact from the world of science: "...only Christians make good scientists, and ... any other faith, including those with no faith at all, make worse scientists."

I really like Henry Rollins, and this is a pretty good rant, but this response (featuring the Techno Viking!) pwns him (videos; language NSFW/C/P).

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Monday, June 20, 2011

Five things I like to say but don't get to often enough

1. When I'm about to make a phone call and someone says "Who are you going to call?" I like to say "Ghostbusters!"

2. When I tell someone to go left or look to their left but they go right or look right, I like to say "Your other left!" (Note that this doesn't work as well with "Your other right!" because then whoever you say it to might say "You mean like Free Speech?") I got to use this on my daughter not long ago. She's only 7, though, so it wasn't as fun as humiliating a grownup.

3. When I ask someone a lot of questions, and they say "I wasn't expecting some sort of Spanish Inquisition!" I like to say "No one! Expects the Spanish Inquisition!"

4. When someone says somebody lacks faith, I like to say "I find your lack of faith disturbing." I got to say that one a couple of days ago.

5. I wish I knew a guy whose last name was Anderson, because then every time I saw him I could say "Mr. Anderson!" in Agent Smith's voice. That would be fun. Come to think of it, I do know a guy named Anderson, but he doesn't come around any more. Not sure why. Maybe it was that whole "Tell me, Mr. Anderson, what good is a phone call when you are unable to speak?" incident.

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Saturday, June 18, 2011

Good Reads/Random Cool Sites (6/18/2011)

How the Republican Party became anti-expert, anti-science, and anti-reality.

The 100 greatest non-fiction books. I've only read about 20 of these. I feel illiterate.

Fukushima: much worse than you think.

What is Pottermore?

Playing tennis at San Quentin State Prison.

I see misogynists.... They don't know they're misogynistic.

Kissers explain famous riot photo.

Dave Chappelle's comeback.

"Just downloaded the beta version of English V3.31."

How to kill time when you're Stuck in an airport overnight (video).

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Friday, June 17, 2011

Thursday haiku: Checkout girl 4

No haiku muse she,
"medical receptionist"
calls for longer forms
Is it two muses now, or
is this goodbye, Checkout Girl?

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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Good Reads/Random Cool Sites (6/16/2011)

K, this is just bizarre. We just found out that "A Gay Girl in Damascus" is really some American guy. Now it turns out that "her" sometime online "girlfriend" is another American guy. And neither of them knew this about the other.

Pictures of Japan three months after the quake (lots of before-and-afters).

Tales from the uncanny valley: Mitt Romney attempts to interact with human beings, fails.

For those of you who've heard nothing about Michele Bachman except that she's sort of a smart Sarah Palin, she's a nut.

Traumatic brain injuries in the Asterix comics.

How to have faith in God.

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Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Findings of the Task Force on the Education of Hodad Students

(I was going through some old files and I came across an important educational document, which I reproduce here in its entirety.)

La Jolla Unified School District

of the Task Force on
the Education of Hodad Students

  • Ninety-seven percent of the total La Jolla Unified School District's enrollment of 51,706 speaks Surphonics (i.e., "Surfer English").
  • Only 44 percent of students, however, can actually surf. Fifty-three percent of students, therefore, are total Hodads. (A Hodad is someone who attempts to talk like and look like a Surfer without actually being able to surf.)
  • Seventy-one percent of the students enrolled in Special Education were Hodads.
  • Thirty-seven percent of the students enrolled in GATE classes were Hodads.
  • Sixty-four percent of students retained were Hodads.
  • Sixty-seven percent of students classified as truant were Hodads.
  • Seventy-one percent of Hodad males attend school on a regular basis.
  • Nineteen percent of the 12th grade Hodad students did not graduate.
  • Eighty percent of all suspended students were Hodads.
  • 1.80 average GPA of Hodad students represents the lowest GPA in the district.

Synopsis of the Adopted Policy on Surfing Skills Development

    On December 18, 2006 the La Jolla Unified School District Board of Education approved a policy affirming Surfing skills development for all students. This policy mandates that effective instructional strategies must be utilized in order to ensure that every child has the opportunity to achieve Surfing proficiency. Surfing skills development for Hodad students, who comprise 53 percent of the students in the La Jolla schools, will be enhanced with the recognition and understanding of the language structures unique to Surfer-American students. This language has been studied for several decades and is variously referred to as Surphonics (literally "Surfer sounds"), or "Pan-Oceanic Communication Behaviors," or "Surfer Language Systems."

    This policy is based on the work of a broad-based Task Force, convened six months ago to review the district-wide achievement data (see "Findings") and to make recommendations regarding effective practices that would enhance the opportunity for all students to successfully achieve the standards of the core curriculum (see "Core Curriculum Standards"). The data show low levels of student performance, disproportionately high representation in special education, and under-representation in Advanced Placement courses and in the Gifted and Talented Education Program. The recommendations (see "Recommendations"), based on academic research, focus on the unique language stature of Surfer American pupils, the direct connection of Surfing proficiency to student achievement, and the education of parents and the community to support Surfing achievement (see "Bibliography").

    One of the programs recommended is the Surfing Proficiency Program (S.P.P.), a State of California model program, which promotes Surfing development for Hodad students. The S.P.P. training enables teachers and administrators to respect and acknowledge the history and culture, such as they are, as well as the language that the Hodad student brings to school. Recently a "Supersurfing" component was added to ensure the development of high levels of Swimming, Bodyboarding, and Surfing skills. The policy further requires strengthening pre-school education and parent and community participation in the educational processes of the District.

    The recommendations of the Task Force establish Surfing proficiency as the foundation for competency in all academic areas. Passage of this policy is a clear demonstration that the La Jolla Unified School District is committed to take significant actions to turn around the Surfing attainment of its Hodad students.

Legislative Intent
La Jolla's Standard: Surfing!

    The Board of Education adopted a policy on teaching Surfing, not Surphonics. Unfortunately, because of misconceptions in the resulting press stories, the actions of the Board of Education have been publicly misunderstood.

    Misconceptions include:

    • La Jolla School District has decided to teach Surphonics in place of English.
    • The District is trying to classify Surphonics (i.e., "Surfer English") speaking students as Bilingual.
    • LJUSD is only attempting to pilfer federal and state funds.
    • LJUSD is trying to create a system of perverse incentives that reward failure to surf and lower standards.
    • La Jolla is condoning the use of Slang.
    • La Jolla has gone too far.
    • Surphonics further segregates a school district already divided between Surfers and non-Surfers.
    • There is no statistical evidence to support this approach or the idea that this approach will improve student achievement.

    Some of that is not exactly true.

    • The La Jolla Unified School District is not replacing the teaching of Standard American English with any other language. The District is not teaching Surphonics. The District emphasizes teaching Surfing and has set a high standard of excellence for all its students.
    • La Jolla Unified School District is providing its teachers and parents with the tools to address the diverse water skills the children bring into the classroom.
    • The District's objective is to build on the ocean skills that Hodad students bring to the classroom without devaluing students and their pitiful inability to surf. We have directly connected Surfing proficiency to student achievement.

Core Curriculum Standards
at Benchmark Grade Levels

    Grade 1:
      All students will be able to swim 25 yards.

    Grade 3:

      All students will swim 50 yards, tread water for 10 minutes, and hold their breath underwater for two minutes.

    Grade 5:

      All students will meet or exceed the fifth grade standards for bodyboarding as set out by the National Bodyboarding Association.

    Grade 8:

      All students will be able to stand and ride a longboard in surf of up to 3 feet.

    Grade 10:

      All students will successfully complete coursework in Board Shaping, Marine Biology, and Wave Mechanics, and will enroll in a Surfing academy or program.

    Grade 12:

      All students will successfully ride both long and short boards in surf of 6 feet or higher, and develop and defend a senior Surfing project.

Overview of Recommendations

    The recommendations, based on identified conditions and outcomes, are aligned with the Content Standards adopted by LJUSD, pre-kindergarten - 12th grades, 2006 - 2007.

    It is the consensus of the Hodad Task Force that the Hodad students' Surfing needs have not been fully addressed.

    This report addresses the Surfing needs of Hodad students as one of the nine major areas of recommendations to be implemented by LJUSD.

    1. Hodad students shall develop Surfing proficiency as the foundation for their achievements in all core competency areas.
    2. All existing programs shall be implemented fully to enhance the achievements of Hodad students.
    3. The Task Force on the Education of Hodad Students shall be retained in order to assist LJUSD in developing work plans and implementation strategies.
    4. Financial commitments shall be made to implement the Task Force on the Education of Hodad Students recommendations during the current fiscal year.
    5. The district's identification and assessment criteria for GATE and Special Education Programs shall be reviewed.
    6. The community shall be mobilized to partner with LJUSD to achieve recommended outcomes.
    7. LJUSD shall develop a policy which requires all categorical and general program funding to be used to ensure access to surfboards and wetsuits.
    8. All resources of the district shall be applied and used to ensure that these recommendations be implemented.
    9. LJUSD shall develop recruitment procedures that facilitate the hiring of administrators, teachers, counselors and support staff who are skillful surfers.

    "Hodad children are the proxy for what ails American education in general. And so, as we fashion solutions which help Hodad children, we fashion solutions which help all children."

    -- The Honorable Corky Dewd


    Ban, Ray (1998). "The Silenced Surf: Power and Pedagogy in Educating Other People's Children." Harvard Surf Review, Vol. 58, No. 3.

    California Department of Education (1997). California Surfing Arts Framework.

    Dewd, Corky (2000). Wet Like Me. La Jolla: Tourmaline Books.

    Dewd, Corky (2005). Like, Totally Makes Me Wanna Surf: A Young Surfer in America. La Jolla: Tourmaline Books.

    Gluv, Bo D. (1984). Surphonics: The True Language of Surfers. Pacific Palisades: Ritchboye Press.

    Grababord, I. (2004). The Historical Development of Surfer American Language. Los Angeles: Santa Monica College Press.

    Greenbord. J. (1976). Essays in Surfing. San Diego: University of California, San Diego Press.

    Kahuna, B.I.G. (1985). The Souls of Surfer Folk. Carlsbad: Institute of Surfer Studies.

    Longueborde, Lawrence (1981). "Linguistic Continuity of Surfers in the Pacific." In B. A. Serpher (Ed), Topics in Surfer-American Studies (pp. 119 - 134). Malibu: Surf Academy Press.

    Longueborde, Lawrence. (1983). Surfer English: Its History and Usage in the United States. San Diego: OB Books.

    Moraybugi, J. (1988) Minority Education and Surfing. San Clemente: Big Wednesday Press.

    O'Bordy, W., M. Waildserf, and M. Kachawave (2003). Contemporary Surfing: An Introduction. Los Angeles: Doheny Press.

    Pozer, Yura (1997). Testing Surfing Students: A Question of Waves. A Special Issue of The Surf Education Review.

    Ripkerl, Victoria and Dennis Bordman (1988). An Introduction to Surfing. Honolulu: Pipeline, Waimea and Northshore.

    Scaree-Riptyde, A. (2005). The Surfer within Us. Huntington Beach: Surfers Group West.

    Serferbayb, Wendy (2004). "Coming to Cultural and Linguistic Awakening: A Surfing Vision." In Brian Wilson (Ed) Reclaiming Our Boards: Surfer Education Critical Pedagogy and Praxis. Santa Barbara: California Association for Surfing Education.

    Sunset, G. (2004). Surfer Talk. Santa Cruz: Hunton Wayves.

    Surfsky, Noam (1982). Language and Surfing. New York: Harcourt Brace, Janovich.

    Waipout, Janice (2004). The Surfing Heritage of the United States. Santa Barbara: Pollo Del Mar Press.

    Watergurl, Ima (1983). Surfer Language Structures. Berkeley: University of California Press.

    Wettsoote, I. N. (2000). Successful Surfer Schools. San Onofre California: Glow in the Dark Publications.

(Just FYI, I wrote this 10 or 12 years ago for my first website. It's a parody based on the "Oakland Ebonics controversy" of the 1990s. Although I generally leaned towards supporting the district's side -- some of what they were trying to do was just common sense -- I found the resulting political uproar and the district's subsequent backpedaling quite amusing.

So I thought it would be fun to write a parody, riffing off the turgid bureaucratic language of this document [the web version was slightly different] and using surfing, hodads,* and the imaginary "La Jolla Union School District." I especially enjoyed doing the bibliography. Anyway, except for adding 10 years to every date so it wouldn't seem so ancient, this is just how I originally published it.

*Definitions of "hodad" apparently vary somewhat by time and place, but when I was growing up in San Diego, it definitely meant a non-surfing "poser," so that's the definition I used.)

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Monday, June 13, 2011

Good Reads/Random Cool Sites (6/13/2011)

There is no free will. (I had to post that.)

I always take psychological profiles of Famous Dead People with several large grains of salt, but this one of Ernest Hemingway is still fascinating.

Bill Moyers: "democracy should be a break on unbridled greed and power."

Little known facts from the world of science: Science teaches that human beings have been alive for 3 billion years, and that when you drink water it's gone forever.

Reverse graffiti "is a method of creating temporary images on walls or other surfaces by removing dirt from a surface."

First Guy: "Why are you carrying a weasel?"
Second Guy: "It's not a weasel, it's a marten!" (POW! Punches First Guy's face.)

Where Ood come from?

Your Scene Sucks (click on the thumbnails in the sidebar).

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Sunday, June 12, 2011

"A Gay Girl in Damascus" is a hoax

Updated below.

So, the blog "A Gay Girl in Damascus" has turned out to be a hoax. Supposedly by a Syrian woman named Amina Abdalla, it was actually written by some American dude named Tom MacMaster.

He fooled lots of people (including me; I linked to one of "her" posts once). A lot of people cared about "Amina." About a week ago, a "cousin" on the blog reported that "Amina" had been kidnapped by security forces. The story got picked up by CNN and other media. The State Department made inquiries. A Facebook page, Free Amina Abdalla, grew to over 14,000 likes.

But it was all fake. None of it really happened. No such person. No such life. Well no, I take that back. Because some of it really happened. Real people worried about "Amina." Real people thought about her, prayed for her, tried to help her.

MacMaster says, "I do not believe that I have harmed anyone." He's wrong in two ways. PZ covered one of them: "You have undermined authentic voices. Lies never help."

And MacMaster did another kind of harm: he took things he didn't deserve. He didn't earn his readers by being honest with them, by indicating that his writing is fictional and letting readers decide how much to invest in it. He didn't earn the time, the feelings, the thoughts, the prayers, the efforts people believed they were giving to "Amina." He took them under false pretenses. He stole them. Tom MacMaster is a thief, a thief of human emotions. And that may be the most despicable kind of thief there is.

Update: Looks like MacMaster is starting to get just what it is he did.

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Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Good Reads/Random Cool Sites (6/8/2011)

Where'd LeBron James go during Game 4? And is he going to let DeShawn Effing Stevenson (FFS) call him out? I can tell you one thing: If Jordan got disrespected like that, he'd have dropped 50 points on the Mavs the next night. Game 5 is when we find out who LeBron really is.

The epidemic of mental illness: Why?

The joys of repressed voyeuristic titillation.

I'm not racist, but....

Also, I'm not sexist, but....

Also, too, "I don’t want to trivialize the inhumane horrors that African slaves endured on slave ships...", but flying economy class is pretty much the same thing.

This is some of the best Photoshopping I've ever seen. (And check out the portfolio on his website too.)

In the tradition of Paul Potts and Susan Boyle, a formerly homeless kid on Korea's Got Talent.

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Monday, June 06, 2011

Good Reads/Random Cool Sites (6/6/2011)

In praise of blasphemy.

A revolutionary new method of male birth control: simpler than a vasectomy and completely reversible.

How not to be an asshole: a guide for men.

"What grates is the idea that all men are passive slaves to our sex drives, lumps of meat attached to our penises like a little old lady being dragged along the pavement by a Doberman in heat, rather than capable adults making conscious choices."

Why is the G-spot such a mystery?

Today's little-known fact from the world of science: boys may grow up to be gay if nobody stops them from liking the color pink.

The Alice Illusion: "a fascinating study where participants felt they were the size of a doll or had expanded to giant proportions simply by using a headset, a camera and a bit of foot stroking."

How the elephant got its trunk.

How penguins keep warm.

A Super Special Program for the Young Women.

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Saturday, June 04, 2011