Friday, March 30

Spring Break Sign Out

Finally, this week draws to a close. This final week before spring break has been one of the busiest weeks I've had here at college. Through procrastination, somewhat I did do it to myself and that's what really hurts. There are a few topics I want to mention before I sign off for break.

Britain/Iran thing

You're full of shit and we all know it, government of Iran. You're not fooling anyone. They have nothing to confess. In short, we should offer the British our assistance, but let them take charge. They are our brothers. It's like they're asking for a war. Thanks, Carter. Tharter.

Electioneering

I voted today via absentee in front of Walgreen's on State and RotS signed my envelope. Don't vote the wrong way, vote Ray!

Communism

It's a nice thought, but...no. It's definitely food for thought, though. Besides, now I know their arguments. Saying this as a quasi-libertarian, I'm willing to trade some market controls to keep people from thinking communism is better. Capitalism needs all kinds of different ideas to work (communism tries to stifle all others out), then it picks off the best parts of other things so it's here to stay.

Videos!

Here are some clips to keep you tied over for a week:

-From SNL last week: Maraka, Payton Manning-United Way
but the best character of all time is this guy
-Midlake, a band I found a few weeks ago: Roscoe, Young Bride
(any of you heard any good new music lately?)
-There's a British show called "Look Around You", they've got 8 episodes (1. Maths, 2. Water, etc. )and then a computer episode (in 3 parts) so Czech that out, it made me laugh really hard
-Oh, and then there's this:


Happy spring break!

Tuesday, March 27

Procrastinate, v

Guess what I'm doing!

From the Oxford English Dictionary (the big one):

from Latin, procrastinare to put off till the morrow, to defer, pro + crastin-us belonging to tomorrow, (from cras to-morrow)

Evidently even those Romans put things off.

1. postpone till another day, put off
first used in 1588 by J. Harvey "The significations of this Coniunction happening in the watrie Trigon, are procrastinated or prolonged untill after sixe Coniunctions immediately insuing"

2. to defer action, delay, be dilatory
first used in 1638 by a Sir T. Herbert "Bacherchan having commission to persecute Curroon, procrastinates not."

I'll finish this post later, I'm feeling really dilatory right now...

Monday, March 26

the Mendota Beacon

New Beacon out tomorrow! It's number five of the semester.


You may have noticed something funny about the Beacon website. The fact is that there is no website, for the time. 'Tis a pity; we miss not the old website. A certain person (without the blogosphere) didn't tell us how or when the hosting ended.

The Beacon in pdf format can be accessed here.

One might say that the wind is wailing in a different pitch as it whips around the mast of the lighthouse. The sea is high and undulating as the sun sets in the west amid a pink sky.

Spring has sprung

Spring finally arrived and it's hit hard with its springy warmness the past two days. Though it's been above freezing for more than the past week, there's still some ice loitering out on Lake Mendota.


Talking about all this changing weather reminds me, last night "The Day After Tomorrow" was on tv. Having recently seen Al Gore's movie, I just had to see the other half of the cinematic works of our time. It's technically 'science-fiction', though to say the least, it's overwhelmingly fiction.

A basic knowledge of fluid mechanics and thermodynamics easily debunks most of the movie. For starters, it's impossible for a hurricane to form over land, or be cold, for that matter. Secondly, in the eye of the hurricane, people couldn't be flash frozen because as the air would be sucked down, unless its pressure was close to a vacuum at sea level (which wouldn't happen), the air would heat up as it pressurized. Also, its gravitational potential energy has to go somewhere as it descends to the earth (it gets converted to heat). Thirdly, a bunch of cold air couldn't freeze hundreds of feet of ocean water covering NY in a few hours. The specific heat of air is simply too low to do that. However, another several ice ages will happen in the future, but they will take thousands of years, not a week, to happen.

Also, did you notice that while the sea had risen hundreds of feet over NY, the president was still in the White House at about 10 feet above sea level in Washington about 200 miles away?

Thursday, March 22

Oh Crap!

To be honest I didn't really care too much when the School of Business started a dialogue with the community (heh, I sound like a liberal) last semester about starting a differential tuition scheme. That's where in addition to the standard university-wide tuition, the S. of B. students pay an additional amount each semester. All those cushy chairs and lecture halls do cost quite a bit. I don't know how far it's been implemented so far.

Yesterday the headline story in the Badger Herald was about how the College of Engineering is looking to do the same. I had to take a double look at it. There was another article today. Whereas it was $500 per semester I believe for the business students, it's going to be $700 for us. There's about 3,500 of us so that makes an additional $4.9 million per year.

At first I was slightly upset and wondering why. Then I got to thinking about it and quite frankly it sucks, but hey, we get a great education. I can't decide; it's not apathy. Some of my engineering classmates today were angry and showing it.

Pro's:

  • All the other Big 10's engineering schools do it
  • An engineering degree costs more than a L&S one, we've got costly labs
  • Simple economics, we make more than 50k out of the gate and recruiters hunt us whereas other graduates have to hunt down jobs, also they can afford to turn potential students away
  • When we graduate we're "professionals like with the law school..."
  • Keep our competitiveness with top facilities and professors
  • Maintain the value of our degrees
Con's:
  • Tuition costs money; an additional $1400 per year!?!
  • With extra cost, we'll only take the minimum credits and not take other subjects outside our engineering, math, and science for interest or personal growth
  • They already laugh as they tell us that we can and will graduate in 4 years
  • We're not exactly "professionals" upon graduation, there's still licensing and work experience
  • It seems the dean got a rubber stamp group of students together to review it who would approve it anyway
  • The College seems to be a little "top-heavy" (if you catch my drift) with extra staff that doesn't seem to do much
  • UW-Milwaukee's Engineers currently pay $15 per credit per semester additionally, that'd be $240 for a typical 16 credits, not our proposed $700!
I don't really feel strongly either way, which bothers me because it's important. I see both sides. We, engineers, as a group, are probably the least likely to rally and protest so they've got us.

Tuesday, March 20

Pretty Cool

Last week, I was looking through the news and I came across an interesting article in the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. The math professor I had for differential equations and linear algebra (my last math class, ever) last semester and another math researcher have uncovered solutions to some very complicated math formulae, the mock theta functions. I say: good for her.

She'll stand out in my mind for giving a rather difficult and abstract math final that had the class laughing in despair upon first opening the booklets, but she is evidently very good at what she does. The neat thing about college is that the professors are experts in their subject.

Monday, March 19

My Comrades

So I'm reading the Communist Manifesto by Marx for my environmental studies class. I'm almost done with it. It's actually rather concise; the actual text is only 50 small pages in 4 parts. Big things with huge effects do come in little packages.

I went to the university bookstore to pick it up because it's probably the bookstore around here that endorses it the least. I couldn't find it on the shelves, so I asked the lady. When I first asked her, I could barely get it out louder than a whisper. I didn't even intend to do it that way, it's just such a dirty phrase to say in public.

I would say it's pretty "mind-melting", or perhaps "air-thefting". I'm definitely going to have to pour over it several times.

Don't worry though, having read Atlas Shrugged and Anthem over winter break (Adam Smith is sitting on my shelf, in case all else fails) and turned quasi-libertarian, I'm fortified against it. Yet it is food for thought.

He/they offer some nice promises. In particular, he says that you're worth more than just your labor value and you should have lots of time to reach your highest potential. Yet, in his 10 guidelines for creating a communist society, you don't get to own anything, or inherit anything, or leave the country, or disagree. (They've achieved 2 of their 10 goals: a progressive tax, and free education for children. Hmm)

It seems he favors replacing wealthy investors, entrepreneurs, and risk-takers with a monopoly of the majority. The majority is not a good way to run or judge anything. Everyone wants a say when the going's good, and everyone disappears when it gets tough. (Have you ever worked on a committee before?)

Capitalism is not the best system, but it's a hell of a lot better than communism or feudalism. I'll be getting back about this after reading and analyzing it some more.

Saturday, March 17

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Read my blog, I'm Irish!

I had the usual corned beef and cabbage. It was very good.

Also today is the one year anniversary of my first blog post. That makes this post #129 and I've had 2,977 visits and 4,456 page views so far.

Friday, March 9

Even liberals can't stand themselves

Take for example Wisconsin's very own representative from the 7th district, Dave Obey. He tried in vain, just recently, to explain how Congress works to anti-war people. It gets good about 90 seconds into it.

Isn't it ironic? Part Deux

Don't you think? I recently found out that the song "Walking on Sunshine" is by Katrina and the Waves.

Thursday, March 8

Completely Irrelevant

It's in the Capital Times that "George McGovern has a word for Vice President Dick Cheney: 'Resign'."

After reading the headline, memories come back. Ah, yes, McGovern, the democrat who ran against Nixon in '72. I then thought two things:

  1. He's still around, eh?
  2. Why is this important?
Not to be mean.

Of course, I wasn't around until the middle of Reagan's second term so I don't remember any of that. A few years ago, my mother was going through a box of old stuff, really old stuff, and there was a large manila envelope with "McGovern/Shriver '72" as the return address. I opened it and there was a letter and a large, signed photograph of George, himself.

With disbelief I asked her what was going on, knowing that she votes republican. Turns out, when she was in high school, she and grandma went to help out with that campaign for a day or two. Their task was to "open envelopes and collect the money that fell out". "People sent in piles and piles of envelopes."

I then said something about how successful that campaign was. She used the excuse that grandma is a democrat so she dragged her along, or something like that.

Mom and grandma have a lot of neat stories like that because my grandparents lived in Washington, D.C., or "D.C." as they call it, for most of their lives.

My mom told me about how the nuns told them to put their heads on their desks and pray for JFK when it happened in 1963. Or she'd be walking to her high school on Capitol Hill and she would see a 'young' Ted Kennedy walk by. (Seems he's as much of a Capitol fixture as the dome.) Also, she told me about how she had the Beatles' records "up until they got druggy and people stopped listening" and how high interest rates were "so high people stopped having kids" during Carter's time.

I first heard a lot of this stuff when I was in AP U.S. History in high school. I had an advantage over the other students by asking my family about recent events. In class the teacher was into modern history and I was the only student who knew who Spiro T. was, and who ran against Nixon, and who and what Mondale, Goldwater, Humphrey, and Ferraro were. Also how LBJ drove like a madman in Texas and picked up his dogs by their ears.

Grandma, born in the year the stock market crashed, is great for the random history bits. (Did you know that when it crashed it went from around 400 to around 100?) Grandma remembers when Pearl Harbor happened, and FDR's fireside chats. One thing in particular is that she told me it used to be a DC tradition to go to Arlington Cemetery on Memorial Day. One time she and her family were there and FDR rode by in a convertible and waved at them.

People who were around tell it like it was. None of this modern handwringing revisionism. She knows and would tell you we had to drop the bomb. Or that she was the first child in her family to be born in the U.S.; they were from Germany. And her mom refused to teach, even to speak German to them. "We're Americans now, act like it."

It's neat to hear about those random moments from people who were around, especially while they're still around.

Saturday, March 3

Walking like giant cranes

This is the view looking north out of one of my windows. Another crane went up today.


(click on it for the full sized image)

That's North Park Street on the left. My window is above the railroad. The tan building in the foreground is the New Ogg Hall which will replace the two Ogg towers, on the right side of the picture, when they're demolished in June. I think the architect must be going for some kind of competition because the New Ogg has a rather funky design.

Anyway, on Friday I noticed the bottom of a new crane tower between Grainger Hall and Park. Grainger is the building two blocks up on the left and they're building a large addition. As I suspected, today I woke up and the tower was put up and the cranes were starting to put on the horizontal part.


Piece by piece it went up and it was done by early afternoon. That makes for 4 cranes I can see out my window (there's a fifth behind a building): two at Grainger and the other two at the new University Square, which looks interesting.

e.c.: name the song

Friday, March 2

Whom I support for President

Ron Paul, the US Rep from Texas. He's a true Republican, supporting constitutionalism and small government. I think he's got a somewhat decent shot at it.
(campaign website, bio)

Exploratory committee kick-off video


Ron on CNN, Iraq seems to be the only thing with which we disagree