Through The Static

September 8, 2008

Getting High on High Fructose Corn Syrup

Filed under: Food,Health,Idiots,Love,There's way too many categories,WTF — bobbleheadedbob @ 7:08 am

BOBBLEBOT IS BACK… erhm… miss me?

So has anyone been paying attention to those pro-High Fructose Corn Syrup ads?  Buh… I mean, the liquid sweetness comes from corn, so ain’t it all-natural?

Mmmmm, liquid sweetness…

::drools::

Looks, MA!  It’s fruit DRINK!  ALL NATURAL!!!

1st question: why is the popsicle nots alls meLticated???!

2nd question: don’t you love me???

3rd question: where did they get this pleasantly acoustic soundtrack from?  They must be hitting up the same person who wrote the tracks for yogurt commercials and kitchen products.

Now, the thrust of the argument for PRO-HFCS is that, “Whoa… I don’t know why it’s bad for me… so it must be good.  After all, it’s NATURAL.”  <- but not really.

Okay, if they’re going to launch a non-informative video campaign, here’s a more nutritionally informative video response – buh… cuz I’s too lazy to write a full-blown article at this time.  LAZY!!!

THERE.  HFCS is still honey-sweet smack for the masses.  SMACK I’S TELLS YOOZE!!!  And if you don’t believes ze bobbLebots, feels free to do yer OWN RESEARCH!!!

::ga-DUNK!::

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August 12, 2008

INTELLIGENCE! What Is It? Being Educated Out of Our Creativity

‘pologies for lack of witty title.  bobblebot is slogging away at ze moment.

::whirs::

Here’s a segment from the Ted conference they hold every year in Monterey, California.  Sir Ken Robinson (yeh, yeh, SIR!) is charming and funny in that witty, British-but-not-pretentious sort of way and talks about a lot of key issues that so many of us with a bachelors degree find post-undergrad.  He goes off on a lot of tangents but entertainingly so.

Okie dokes — I found his little CATS choreographer chestnut at the end a little too lofty and idealistic.  That isn’t always the case, her life story is the EXCEPTION and not the rule.

BUT he does bring up interesting points:

* intelligence is diverse, dynamic and interactive
* creativity comes through the interaction between multiple intelligences
* we need a new concept for an educational system.  our brains are mined for very specific kinds of intelligences while others are devalued, ironic, since even technological innovation is bread by imagination and creativity.

BobbLebot’s gonna get a little personal here, but when ze robot looks back upon the 2 years it spent in education, there was something about the job that kept it there: it was dynamic, interactive, emotionally engaging and it felt like it was helping people.  Helping students.

But not in the ways in which its helping was valued.

Emotionally abused, isolated, bullied and undervalued kids often hung around the robot’s purple table.  The bobblebot learned something: even privileged kids have problems! In any case, it took a lot of work, a lot of trust and a lot of patience, but what kept the BobbLebot there was the sense that it was helping these kids gain some kind of sense of value for being different, odd or living inside their own BRAINS.  BRAINS!!!

The thing that killed the robot’s spirit was the shift.  Beyond giving tykes the skills to read and write and basic math, the bot was sometimes pressured to help them with their homework or help train them for standardized testing.  And all of this was just so incredibly USELESS!

Basically, if a student can’t pass a standardized test, he or she can’t move onto the next grade — which is a problem in and of itself because the new grade is increasingly geared toward training them for more standardized testing.  TRAINING.  Not educating.  Making sure they MEMORIZE, not learn to think for themselves.  They’re being trained to learn not to think at all.

What was the bot being paid to teach them?  To learn the skills so that they’ll succeed in an educational system that teaches them that if they don’t learn a certain skill set, if they can’t find the answer in an allotted amount of time, if they need more than a single scratch piece of paper or get confused when filling in bubbles, they’re essentially worthless.  They’re gearing them to learn (mostly) arbitrary skills or sets of knowledge (beyond reading, comprehension and basic math) that aren’t really applicable in undergrad anyway.

They’re pressing families to invest money in SAT prep and educational centers for their kids who fall behind, because if they fall behind they can’t get into this private school or get into that AP class to get into this kind of university — AUUUGH!  RAT RACE!  RAT RACE!!

Their brains ARE being mined in a very specific way that is quite disturbing.  This isn’t to say that math sucks (though for the bot, numbers and figures don’t naturally mix – BLIP!) or that physics is without value, but they certainly are overvalued, especially for the many who really don’t have an interest or aptitude for them.  They are being conditioned to desire or work for these fields in ways that destroy creativity.  It’s all for pushing towards economic productivity.

It’s not even about technological innovation, the way education is framed.  It’s about thinking in a very linear fashion.  It’s about plugging in very specific formulas and equations — on a metaphoric as well as literal level.  When we’re taught Shakespeare (BLEH!  not to bash the bard, but MUST he be the standard of ALL Western literary achievement?) we’re taught to read his work in a very specific way, to perform it in a very specific way, to write essays on it in a very specific fashion.  You see, even in highschool English lit, there IS a right and wrong answer, apparently.  Or a right and wrong way to answer.  Fill in the blank.  Agree or disagree.  Thesis statement.  Support.  Quote.  “Analysis” — which isn’t real analysis anyway, but more of a translation of what you think the author’s already saying.

And it’s not even about educational reform anymore. Fixing leaks in an oxymoronic system will not fix the problem.  More teachers is not the answer.  More money is not the answer.  It’s the MATERIALS.  It’s about what is VALUED in an academic sense.  It’s about creative thinking and creative teaching.  But people keep telling us that there aren’t the resources for that.  (resources = funds in their brains)

::ga-DUNK!::

When has creativity ever needed dollars and cents?  Creative things CAN be MADE with materials that are PURCHASED with money, but money is not creativity.  Just like scoring high on a standardized test is not a sign of real intelligence.

The thing is, if the standards of standardized testing (bubbling in, memorization, sitting still, time management) become the authority for entry into higher education (which is getting increasingly static in what’s become standardized academic material – film studies, creative writing, etc) then what are the chances that the brilliant minds will be allowed to burn as bright as stars when these very minds are being mined for rote facts, compliance and mediocrity?

QUESTION: do you think THIS dude would have survived the very academic environment in which we are currently situated???

He’s brilliant, he’s excited, he can’t think while sitting still — can you IMAGINE being in class with this dude?  Most of all – beyond the performance, beyond the eccentricities, he’s HUMAN.  We’re not training humans in our schools.  We’re not training robots.  (robots are COOL!)  We’re training machines.

We need a NEW paradigm.  This sh*t has gone too far.

July 29, 2008

Report Faults Aides in Hiring at Justice Dept.

Filed under: Eeeeep!,Government,Politics,There's way too many categories — disciplepete @ 12:12 am

This is some pretty shady shit. NYT:

Senior aides to former Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales broke Civil Service laws by using politics to guide their hiring decisions, picking less-qualified applicants for important nonpolitical positions, slowing the hiring process at critical times and damaging the department’s credibility, an internal report concluded on Monday.

A longtime prosecutor who drew rave reviews from his supervisors was passed over for an important counterterrorism slot because his wife was active in Democratic politics, and a much-less-experienced lawyer with Republican leanings got the job, the report said.

Another prosecutor was rejected for a job in part because she was thought to be a lesbian. And a Republican lawyer received high marks at his job interview because he was found to be sufficiently conservative on the core issues of “god, guns + gays.”

The report, prepared by the Justice Department’s inspector general and its internal ethics office, centered on the misconduct of a small circle of aides to Mr. Gonzales, including Monica Goodling, a former top adviser to the attorney general, and Kyle Sampson, his former chief of staff. It also found that White House officials were actively involved in some hiring decisions.

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