September 11, 2008

Love is like poker. Inevitably, there’s one person in the relationship that loves the other just a little less. That person has all the chips.

– Dr. Volkmer

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The Election of 2004

September 11, 2008

Another creative writing assignment. We were told to write about a time that we wanted something we didn’t get. Since I (would like to think that I) don’t have a melodramatic bone in my body. I went with the 2004 election. With election season here again, I felt this would be appropriate.

I wasn’t even eighteen.

I wasn’t even eighteen, and yet the only thing on my mind was the election. During the fall of 2004, I became politically aware. Of course, I had voted before. I mean, I voted in my middle school’s mock election in 2000. When voting involved pushing a button on a computer and going about my day. When voting didn’t matter. When Gore won.

Politics and high school do not mix. Or perhaps they mix too well, like fire and gasoline, inevitably causing a spark. Because really, high school is ‘politics.’ I lost a friend or two because I forgot the trope that one should never discuss religion and politics in the cafeteria. With all the self-righteousness a seventeen year old could muster, I proselytized for Kerry. Even when friends reminded me, “You’re not even old enough to vote!” I still didn’t stop. And so the friends left the lunch table.

When the election finally came, and the next day I learned that Bush had won with a ‘mandate,’ for some reason, the jokes about ‘man dates’ didn’t quite cut it. I had put my faith in the American people. I couldn’t imagine how they could vote a man into office a second time, a man that had completely ruined our standing in the world and our conditions at home.

Which is why this year scares me. Because I care again. And this time, I am old enough to vote. This time, I believe that the American people couldn’t possibly vote in another term of ‘the guy (or gal) next door.’ I have not learned my lesson. But I suppose this never-ending string of Greek comedies and tragedies, this four year cycle of hope and loss, will teach me soon enough.

In my high school election, Kerry won.

The High School on a Swamp

September 11, 2008

Here we have another creative writing assignment. The assignment was to focus on setting, picking something from our home towns that represents a certain truth about the place.

My high school was built on a swamp. Not a ‘swampy’ swamp. Not the sort of swamp where you might find the creature from the Black Lagoon. No, just the sort of swamp that sinks a half inch every year when it has to bear the load of of a thousand teenagers.

A forest once surrounded my high school. Any direction you looked, there was a grove of trees between you and the ‘real’ world. In a way, that protected the high school from all the roads and highways surrounding it. Now all those trees are gone. Which doesn’t do a thing for the flooding around my high school. The flooding from being built on a swamp.

The forest of trees has been replaced by a forest of security cameras. They stare down with their unblinking eye, passing judgement on those who walk beneath them. The principal, in his office, has a giant, hi-tech monitor where he watches all the video feeds at once. I could have sworn when I walked by that office I heard cackling.

My high school, Chichester, was almost named Sun Valley, after nearby Sunoco Oil. If the board of trustees has decided to sell out to the oil companies, the school would not have been built on a swamp. But the town decided to keep our name. I have to remind myself of this. Remind myself every time I pass through a field where trees once grew. Every time I note a new crack in the wall, where the ceiling is now a half-inch lower. Every time I look up, expecting a blank ceiling to rest my gaze, and instead meet the stare of an eye in the sky. I remind myself that the school and I have more in common than sinking half an inch every year. Once, a long time ago, we both had a purpose.

September 10, 2008

When killing wolves on foot just isn’t enough

Sigh.

Obama Talks Science

September 7, 2008

Here you can read Obama’s response to 14 science-related questions posed by Science Debate 2008. I’m sure he didn’t actually write all of the responses himself, but their clarity and concreteness clearly show that either he or someone he gets his advice from has a strong understanding of the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (or STEM, as he calls them).

Though, I guess I lose my ‘partiality’ (did I ever have partiality?) when I read something like this snippet:

As president, I will increase funding for basic research in physical and life sciences, mathematics, and engineering at a rate that would double basic research budgets over the next decade.

AKA: Yay, that means I’ll have a job in 10 years! :P

I look forward to McCain’s answers. Though with the ‘choice’ (more like acquiescence to fundamentalist bullies) of a pro-creationism VP, I don’t know how much we can expect from his administration in terms of science. Now, I’m sure we’ll get plenty of ‘science’ from him. Of the sort that George Walker Bush supports.

November 4th can’t come soon enough. But before it comes, make sure you register to vote! Because, honestly, within our lifetime, this could be one of the most important ballets we ever cast. And remember: if you don’t vote, you don’t get to complain! So vote (Obama) in 2008!

September 6, 2008

Americans have an unhealthy desire to see average people promoted to positions of great authority. No one wants an average neurosurgeon or even an average carpenter, but when it comes time to vest a man or woman with more power and responsibility than any person has held in human history, Americans say they want a regular guy, someone just like themselves. President Bush kept his edge on the “Who would you like to have a beer with?” poll question in 2004, and won reelection.

This is one of the many points at which narcissism becomes indistinguishable from masochism. Let me put it plainly: If you want someone just like you to be president of the United States, or even vice president, you deserve whatever dysfunctional society you get. You deserve to be poor, to see the environment despoiled, to watch your children receive a fourth-rate education and to suffer as this country wages — and loses — both necessary and unnecessary wars.

McCain has so little respect for the presidency of the United States that he is willing to put the girl next door (soon, too, to be a grandma) into office beside him. He has so little respect for the average American voter that he thinks this reckless and cynical ploy will work.

– Sam Harris, from Palin: Average Isn’t Good Enough

September 2, 2008

Nothing quite like a pro-life, pro-abstinence education candidate w/ a pregnant teen daughter to make this election SUPER awkward.

– Jason S.

Physics as Life

September 2, 2008

Simon Dedeo’s Nine “Physical Theories as Women.”
Maybe there’s a woman out there who inspires you to add a tenth theory of your own!

0. Newtonian gravity is your high-school girlfriend. As your first encounter with physics, she’s amazing. You will never forget Newtonian gravity, even if you’re not in touch very much anymore.

1. Electrodynamics is your college girlfriend. Pretty complex, you probably won’t date long enough to really understand her.

2. Special relativity is the girl you meet at the dorm party while you’re dating electrodynamics. You make out. It’s not really cheating because it’s not like you call her back. But you have a sneaking suspicion she knows electrodynamics and told her everything.

3. Quantum mechanics is the girl you meet at the poetry reading. Everyone thinks she’s really interesting and people you don’t know are obsessed about her. You go out. It turns out that she’s pretty complicated and has some issues. Later, after you’ve broken up, you wonder if her aura of mystery is actually just confusion.

4. General relativity is your high-school girlfriend all grown up. Man, she is amazing. You sort of regret not keeping in touch. She hates quantum mechanics for obscure reasons.

5. Quantum field theory is from overseas, but she doesn’t really have an accent. You fall deeply in love, but she treats you horribly. You are pretty sure she’s fooling around with half of your friends, but you don’t care. You know it will end badly.

6. Cosmology is the girl that doesn’t really date, but has lots of hot friends. Some people date cosmology just to hang out with her friends.

7. Analytical classical mechanics is a bit older, and knows stuff you don’t.

8. String theory is off in her own little world. She is either profound or insane. If you start dating, you never see your friends anymore. It’s just string theory, 24/7.