Monday, April 28, 2008

are you fucking kidding me?

and I'm not about to apologize for the profanity. not for this.

there's an article today in the NY Times about the Khalil Gibran International Academy and its ex principal. you should read it, because I am not about to present an unbiased opinion right now. grr.

so: the goal of the school: Children of Arab descent would join students of other ethnicities, learning Arabic together. By graduation, they would be fluent in the language and groomed for the country’s elite colleges. They would be ready, in Ms. Almontaser’s [the founding principal] words, to become “ambassadors of peace and hope.”

sounds great. also sounds like the first few years are going to be rough. a) it's high school. high school = melting point of hormones, personal definition, stress- c'mon. you've got to remember what it was like- high schoolers are not sane by any stretch of the imagination, and now you're going to add both politics (international and domestic) and religion as a major fuse? and that's not in terms of subject matter, that's in terms of simply hearing the name of the school, or hearing that half the classes would be taught in Arabic.

Who was Khalil Gibran? a militant cleric, perhaps, or an incendiary prophet? no? oh, that's right, he was a poet. a Christian poet. who wrote words like this:

An eye for an eye, and the whole world would be blind.

When we turn to one another for counsel we reduce the number of our enemies.

And forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.

I love you when you bow in your mosque, kneel in your temple, pray in your church. For you and I are sons of one religion, and it is the spirit.

and when the McCarthian fur started flying, how many of the people who painted Almontaser as "a “radical,” a “jihadist” and a “9/11 denier.” She stood accused of harboring unpatriotic leanings and of secretly planning to proselytize her students." do you think actually knew anything about Khalil Gibran? or read anything by him? cared?

But wait! there's more!

In the aftermath of Sept. 11, critics of radical Islam focused largely on terrorism, scrutinizing Muslim-American charities or asserting links between Muslim organizations and violent groups like Hamas. But as the authorities have stepped up the war on terror, those critics have shifted their gaze to a new frontier, what they describe as law-abiding Muslim-Americans who are imposing their religious values in the public domain.

here's their idea of 'imposing their religious values in the public domain:'

  • Muslim cabdrivers in Minneapolis refusing to take passengers carrying liquour.
  • City pools and gyms with female-only hours for Muslim women.
  • Banks offering financial products that comply with sharia.
wow, yeah, I feel pressed to convert. can we talk about living in Salt Lake City? please? it'll be so much fun.
and I'm curious about the cabdrivers- is this an 'I've got a sixpack with my groceries' or an 'I'm ridiculously stinking drunk with an open 40 in each hand? and I'll admit, I don't really understand the bank thing, but...I don't understand much about banks, period, and my knowledge of sharia is incredibly rusty. Still. this sounds like the English Firsties whining about loan applications and things being offered in Spanish.

and then there's an editorial written about the school- by Mr Daniel Pipes, who founded the Middle East Forum, and who started this mess- which states:
“Arabic-language instruction is inevitably laden with Pan-Arabist and Islamist baggage,” he wrote, referring to the school as a madrassa, which means school in Arabic but, in the West, carries the implication of Islamic teaching.
and now, of course, that his goal has been reached, he can say the word was “a bit of a stretch,”
but that's ok because he needed it to gain attention for his cause. like, say...communist, not so many years ago? can we talk about Campus Watch? and how it screams back to McCarthy's blacklisting?

and can we talk about how the school follows the same global studies curriculum as the rest of the NY public schools- i.e. not jesus with your orange juice or torah with your civics or koran with your algebra?

And how one of the breaking points for the media was that the cafeteria might serve Halal food? because clearly, eating Halal makes you into a violent jihadist. and eating Kosher makes you a violent haradim. and not eating red meat on Fridays makes you a member of the Inquisition. and since I eat a lot of Thai food, I must be Buddhist. yep.

don't get me started on PETA's ideas on kosher/halal meat.

and how about the fact that understanding and trust and cooperation and coexistence and any hope of ever living in this world without fear of mutually assured destruction by Crusades 2.0 is going to require exactly what this school is trying to do. and what concordia language villages' al-waha is doing.

I had so much more ranting. I was gonna use citations and everything.

but now I'm not even mad anymore. I feel drained and disillusioned and depressed and a bunch of other negative words that start with d.

and sickened. how can we progress as a society- or even stay alive as a society- when even now, one person, with one well-placed, poisonously written editorial- can start in motion a series of events that end with smeared careers, damaged reputations, ruined prospects, yet another wedge between arab and non-arab and jew and american and conservative and and muslim and moderate and liberal?

what the hell are we teaching our kids? it's not what they're learning in school that's dangerous, but what they're learning outside of school, in the 'real world.'
(ok, that might be a slight hyperbole. you can definitely learn bad shit in school. I know, and I'm glad that I have little memory of my experiences with 'history' class.)

Why doesn't it ever go the other way? why can't someone write an editorial that snowballs into more funding? or a satellite school in Chicago, or Minneapolis, or San Francisco?

Why are we so damn afraid?

here's a last quote by Khalil Gibran:

Would that I were a dry well, and that the people tossed stones into me, for that would be easier than to be a spring of flowing water that the thirsty pass by, and from which they avoid drinking.


...and on a completely unrelated (hah, not really) note, I want to know how much using the words "incendiary" "arab" "militant" and "jihadist" in the same blog has increased my FBI/NSA file.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

portable explosion-proof lights.

chalk one up for "things I didn't know existed but clearly must have*," don't you think?

also: in the "things I didn't know existed but now wish I still didn't" category: um, ew.

and: the newest winner of the "worst idea ever" award is Monovision.

about to head out for bike ride. cleaned out the fishtanks. Seneca and Cicero 2.0 and Aurelius and the ENTs are doing well, although I'm starting to think that Cicero is a bad name for a fish, because he's got a funky growth eating his face, probably from chewing on the sad little gimpy fish that had fin rot before I got him into a hospital tank. although the other two don't seem to be having troubles, so maybe it's just the Curse of the Name.
and yes, it is 'fishes' and not 'fish' because two different species are involved in that paragraph. take that, o ex-college-advisor, you!

writing your own lace pattern = brain go ouch.
I have a fuzzy glittery soft yarn that is screaming a friend's name and another yarn that is also shrieking that same friend's name, but is a thread-type yarn, and the fuzzy yarn is more like a handspun or thick worsted, and sufficiently fuzzy to totally consume the other when knit together. this has foiled my plans considerably. any ideas?
I'm not going to get into '-er' vs 're.' Fibre looks better. So does theatre. and....uh...Look! Shiny!

Boo. Time to leave for Physics, since I have to drop my bike off at Missing Link to get my warranty started. woo. hoo.

*that's have as in 'possess', not have as in 'must have (known existed)'. it's the imperative, not the pluperfect. or is that a subjunctive? ...okay, so maaaybe using Cicero's De Natura Deorum to combat physics is not the wisest of ideas. hush.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Jim Butcher for the win!

you know what totally rocks?

Jim Butcher.
(well, more of a who than a what, but shush.)
To make things more grammatically correct, let's say Jim Butcher's newest Dresden book, Small Favor- although it's not my favorite so far in the series. I plan on rereading, since it was my treat after a) physics midterm OF DOOM and b) taxes OF DOOM and I sort of fell upon it like a drunken moose on a grocery store, and may have missed some of the awesomeness. go read it anyway.
(...I keep trying to type Favors, and I have checked the book reflexively at least three times now in a very small space of time. aaaand we're...moving on.)

anyway. even if it were nothing but Dresden/Thomas slashfic (...shudder...ok, maybe not that far), I would still sing the praises of Jim Butcher, because of this paragraph:

"You don't do oceanography for the money," I said. "And you sure as hell don't take up working with dolphins and whales for the vast paycheck and the company car." I shook my head. "They love them. Someone's gone in every day. They'll at least have broken a foot trail."

Uh huh. That's right.

Dresden's rocking the oceanography love. I may have indulged in a girly cry of glee. I may have refused to explain to The Boy why. I may disavow all knowledge of girly cries of glee in the future. I may reread the book tomorrow instead of studying for my organic chemistry quiz.

oh, shush. it's all NMR. (or as my class calls it, NMFR...Not More Freaking spectRoscopy.) not only have we had it drilled in our brains from first semester, but...I had Brad at Luther. the NMR penguins are permanently attached to the iceberg. I could have total long-term amnesia and I would still be able to do NMR problems. OChem + Luther = ouch.

besides. dresden. oceanography. love.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

ba da daaaaaaaa!

What can this mean?! oh, yes. I finally rearranged the disaster area formerly known as my desk AND hunted down the software CD bundle AND hunted down the drivers I needed to make my tablet happy with the mac and THUS was born the 0100 doodle.

be afraid. be very afraid.

Friday, April 04, 2008

she blinded me...with SCIENCE!

Science Badges. like girl scout badges, only...way, way, way cooler.

The “I may look like a scientist, but I’m actually also a pirate” badge.

Drinks rum. Into pillaging and stuff. Soft spot for evolutionary biology. (J)

The “I actually grew up AND became a marine biologist” badge.

Out of the millions of children who aspire to work with dolphins and their ilk, this recipient is actually someone who does precisely that.

The “I’ve set fire to stuff” badge (LEVEL I).

In which the recipient has set fire to stuff, all in the name of general scientific curiosity. (AB)

The “I’ve set fire to stuff” badge (LEVEL II).
In which the recipient has set fire to stuff, while fully aware of all combustion principles at play. (AB)

The “I’ve set fire to stuff” badge (LEVEL III).
In which the recipient has set fire to stuff, while fully aware of all thermodynamic principles at play. (AB)

The “I’ve touched human internal organs with my own hands” badge.

In which the recipient is “hopefully” doing something that is somehow related to human health. (JH)

The “inordinately fond of invertebrates” badge.

In which the recipient professes an arguably unhealthy affinity for things of this category.

The “totally digs highly exothermic reactions” badge.

Might be best to keep an eye on such recipients. (JM)

The “somewhat confused as to what scientific field I actually belong to” badge

Also known as the transdiscplinary, interdiscplinary, or intradisciplinary badge. (D)

The “I’m into telescopes astro” badge (LEVEL I)
In which the recipient has used a telescope to view celestial objects. (SS)

The “statistical linear regression” badge.

We figured that if you actually know what those three words together mean, then you deserve a badge. Statistics rock! (NG)

The “destroyer of quackery” badge.

In which the recipient never ever backs down from an argument that pits sound science over quackery.

The “has frozen stuff just to see what happens” badge (LEVEL I)

In which the recipient has frozen something in the freezer for the sake of scientific curiosity. (JL)

The “I know what a tadpole is” badge.

In which the recipient knows what a tadpole is. Basically, an easy way to get a badge that looks a little like the semen one above.

The “talking science” badge.
Required for all members. Assumes the recipient conducts himself/herself in such a manner as to talk science whenever he/she gets the chance. Not easily fazed by looks of disinterest from friends or the act of “zoning out” by well intentioned loved ones. (DN)

The “MacGyver” badge.
In which the recipient has demonstrated that his/her science communciation prowess was handy in simplifying a potentially challenging scenario. For example, was able to escape from unjustified prison term, with the clever use of a paper clip and WD-40. You know, that kind of thing. (Note that display of badge must be accompanied by explanation). (JN)

The “arts and crafts” badge.

Because you can’t have a bunch of badges without an arts and crafts badge. This one assumes the recipient has all manner of “craftiness” with a sciencegeek twist. (AC)

The “I’m pretty confident around an open flame” badge.

Recipients have demonstrated proficiency around open flames in laboratory settings.

The “inappropriate nocturnal use of lab equipment in the name of alternative science experimentation / communication” badge.
In which the recipient has “borrowed” scientific supplies for the sake of stealth scientific communication. (JG)

and for my eligibility for the MacGyver badge, I submit to you the entirety of my Turks and Caicos turtle research career; and if that doesn't qualify me, I think those who occupy the ranks of MacGyver-badge-holders are very few.