14 March 2010

Daylight Savings What????

Everyone who has sleeping disorders in the family is probably marching on Washington at this moment. Still zombie-like, still asleep. We hate Daylight Savings Time. It's not WW2 any more, guys!

  • Friday was spent in waiting rooms waiting for various results on the remoras' tender fins. Yesterday was spent listening to their complaints. Today is going to be spent listening to the older remora's whingeing about wearing an orthopedic boot.
  • For an example of what bar regulators do instead of either getting bad attorneys help (or, if necessary, out of the profession) or fixing the idiocy of bar admissions, consider the evils of attorney advertising. Keep in mind, too, that if the ethics rules were clearer, it would be obvious that part of actually signing a client up includes preventive statements — perhaps even crafted by the bar, if it wasn't too lazy — explaining the reality of representation in a way that no ad can really do... or undermine, if the ad is done properly.

    And in the meantime, take a look at this bar record and (admittedly, it's a different state) and ask yourself if maybe — just maybe — there are a few priority problems here... (Note: The Articles of Impeachment were enough to mandate opening a file; opening an action wouldn't have any effect on the pending federal action.)

  • I'm not picking on will.i.am or his "group"; I'm merely observing that the reporter in question has caught the default state of popular music performances (and I include "country" in that) all too accurately:

    Spend too much time alone with the Black Eyed Peas’ music and your frontal lobe would rot from neglect. This is music designed to be experienced en masse without a thought clouding your head, preferably over a kicking sound system in a club or an arena. And so it was at the sold-out United Center, lobotomy central Saturday night in Chicago. One of the biggest-selling pop bands of the new century strung together every hit from its last three albums and then some in a performance that was pitched visually and sonically somewhere between a shout and a scream.

    (fake paragraphing removed for clarity) Since my brain doesn't have an off switch, I think I'll pass. Forever.

  • So, they're raising — again — the cry for national school standards. There are three obvious, simple reasons that just imposing national standards can never have a discernable impact on American education. First, and most obvious, is that you don't advance the top end by chopping off the bottom and pretending it doesn't exist. A major difficulty with American education is that the students we expect to be well above the minimum — those going to college for four-year nonterminal bachelor's degrees — are already well above where those standards would be set... but their collective lack of preparation, resulting in more and more remedial work in college at the expense of what they're supposed to be learning, won't be addressed by basic-competency standards. Second, and equally obvious, standards are meaningless without teachers (and textbooks!) able and willing to teach to those standards, and too many aren't... thanks in large part to the "easy" B.S.E. that kept a lot of marginal college students from having to go to Vietnam and/or in the hunt for a spouse in the 1960s and later. Third, setting standards assumes that they're measurable and will be met... without any cheating, pencil-whipping, or funding impediments.

    So bravo, education gurus, for taking yet another cosmetic approach that won't actually make the Frankenstein monster of American education look (or act) any better... because you're refusing to accept that you put Abby Normal's brain into it, or that your century-out-of-date plans were implemented by Dr. Frankensteen (with the assistance of Frau Blücher).

  • However, the Public Editor at the NYT did a whole lot better in discussing shorthand labels... up to a point. The first, and most damaging, problem is that the piece silently assumes that the American-centric labels applied by the NYT — or, indeed, anyone else in American political discourse — bear any resemblance whatsoever to reality in the first place. For example, I'm a liberal. A European liberal. And on many, many issues, that places me so far to the left of the American polity that I can't see the center over my right shoulder... but in some others (such as national use-of-force imperatives, suspicion of unchecked law enforcement agendas and personnel, the proper role of government in the arts, etc.) I'm very much in the mainstream. I'm not a progressive; I'm a liberal.

    The second, and more disturbing if less damaging problem (because there's at least an implicit admission of it), is the whole Whorfian dilemma... or, perhaps, is that Frazer's Fallacy? In any event, the act of labelling an inchoate phenomenon is both enabling and limiting; it is both essential and dangerous; it is both rational and magical. I would like to see a little bit more acknowledgement of this; and you can try figuring out what genocide means, and why Rwanda wasn't genocide if you really want to hurt yourself.

  • Meanwhile, elsewhere in the NYT, the selection of books for review in the Sunday Book Review continues to misrepresent either the needs/desires of the reading public or the best of what is being published... but accurately indeed represent the preferences of the S&M gurus at the Big Six. In that sense, it's neither worse nor better than any of the other major sources of informations on books available to the general reader.
  • Jay Lake explains one reason that a public option is absolutely necessary in any reform of the healthcare system: Profit-motivated insurance executives have to pull their foreskins down over their ears to hear anything.

Yep, Daylight Savings Time sure puts me in a good mood, doesn't it?