It’s a little strange when you think about it: Just about every American ninth-grader has never lived a moment without astronauts soaring overhead, living in space. But chances are, most ninth-graders don’t know the name of a single active astronaut—many don’t even know that Americans are up there. We’ve got a permanent space colony, inaugurated a year before the setting of the iconic movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. It’s a stunning achievement, and it’s completely ignored.
I’ve been seeing a lot of excitement about Obama’s announcement last night of his proposal to make community college free for as many students as possible. And yes, in many ways, the excitement is warranted. Higher education is a great thing, and absolutely should be made more accessible to as many people who are interested in it as it can be. So on that level, I entirely approve of his proposals.
Unfortunately, I’m highly skeptical that it is likely to do much good for people here in Washington State.
The part of Obama’s plan that stands out to me is the requirement for states to share the burden of picking up the tuition costs for students (emphasis in the following quotes is mine):
This proposal will require everyone to do their part: community colleges must strengthen their programs and increase the number of students who graduate, states must invest more in higher education and training, and students must take responsibility for their education, earn good grades, and stay on track to graduate.
Ensuring Shared Responsibility with States: Federal funding will cover three-quarters of the average cost of community college. States that choose to participate will be expected to contribute the remaining funds necessary to eliminate community college tuition for eligible students. States that already invest more and charge students less can make smaller contributions, though all participating states will be required to put up some matching funds. States must also commit to continue existing investments in higher education; coordinate high schools, community colleges, and four-year institutions to reduce the need for remediation and repeated courses; and allocate a significant portion of funding based on performance, not enrollment alone. States will have flexibility to use some resources to expand quality community college offerings, improve affordability at four-year public universities, and improve college readiness, through outreach and early intervention.
It’s perfectly reasonable, really. But here in Washington, higher education is not a current funding priority, and is constantly facing more cuts:
Double-digit tuition increases. Class cuts that would make it harder to finish a degree in four years. Enrollment cutbacks that would make it more difficult to get admitted to a state university.
Washington’s public college and university presidents, warning that a hypothetical 15 percent cut to higher education would be devastating to public colleges and universities, are in a standoff with the state Office of Financial Management (OFM) over fiscal planning for the next two years.
About two-thirds of the state’s budget is protected by constitutional and federal requirements — categories such as K-12 education, pensions and mandatory Medicaid. Budget cuts must come from the remaining one-third of the budget, which includes higher education, state prisons and social services. And some of those categories — prisons, for example — are very difficult to trim.
Since the beginning of the recession in 2008, one of the hardest-hit segments of the state budget has been higher education. It’s the principal reason why state college tuition has increased so fast.
In this financial climate, I’m extremely skeptical that Washington will be participating in this program, should it move forward. We simply don’t have the money, and won’t until the voters realize that we actually need to be willing to pay for all these services that we think we should have.
I think Obama’s general idea is a good one, and I support it and the thinking behind it. I just wish I could be more optimistic that students in Washington would actually have a chance to take advantage of it.
There has been a tendency to mock people that want to buy products simply because a certain company makes them. Some will say this type of buyer is being guided by marketing, or is just a follower, but in reality it comes down to trust. Many people trust Apple. It is this very important connection with users that will likely get people to at least try the Apple Watch, and for Apple that is the best outcome they can wish for.
There is a better than 50% chance that I’ll be ordering an Watch on the day they’re added to the Apple Store.
From Sociological Images: Why do the Japanese draw themselves as white?
Why do the Japanese draw themselves as white? You see that especially in manga and anime.
As it turns out, that is an American opinion, not a Japanese one. The Japanese see anime characters as being Japanese. It is Americans who think they are white. Why? Because to them white is the Default Human Being.
If I draw a stick figure, most Americans will assume that it is a white man. Because to them that is the Default Human Being. For them to think it is a woman I have to add a dress or long hair; for Asian, I have to add slanted eyes; for black, I add kinky hair or brown skin. Etc.
The Other has to be marked. If there are no stereotyped markings of otherness, then white is assumed.
I came across this in the context of people not understanding the dissatisfaction with the whitewashing of Ghost in the Shell with Scarlett Johanssen being cast as Major Motoko Kusanagi, but I believe it’s important in a lot of other contexts as well: we need to realize that our concept of the “default human being” is highly dependent upon our own culture and ingrained biases.
Bones is one of the better shows on TV right now, but this short little clip from S10E08 made me quite literally laugh out loud. Just a wonderful bit of silliness.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve started trying to pay more attention to my general health. Part of that process last year was starting to track my exercise and eating habits–and in the case of exercise, forming some habits to be tracked. Historically, I tended to think of myself as someone who didn’t really exercise much, but when I think back on how I used to spend my time–clubbing around three nights a week (which, for me, involves much more actual dancing than sitting/standing around and drinking), walking a lot (I didn’t have a car while living in Seattle, and walked up and down hill between downtown and Capitol Hill daily), and working for print shops (which, while not strictly “physical labor” jobs, did involve a lot of moving cases of paper around and being on my feet most of my time)–it’s pretty obvious that I was getting a fair amount of regular exercise just through my normal routine. Certainly much more than I tend to now, when my daily routine involves driving back and forth to work and spending my day sitting at a desk.
While tracking my eating habits didn’t carry on terribly long, I was better about keeping up a semi-regular mild exercise routine for most of the year. Unfortunately, that ended up falling apart mid-November, right about midway through my first quarter pulling double duty as a full-time employee and full-time master’s student.
Last January, I weighed a little above 170 lbs., and set an arbitrary goal of just dropping down to 165. This was more to just have something to put into the app I was using than an actual goal, as I didn’t really feel I needed to lose weight, I just wanted to start paying more attention to actively exercising and taking care of myself (and hey, if I ended up toning up a bit in the process, so much the better). Over the course of the year, I actually ended up dropping down to 158 before starting to come back up again (which I believe is a combination of putting on some muscle mass and having to switch to a new scale which seems to read a bit higher than the last one did…too bad the last one broke when I got on it one morning).
Right now, I’m right about back where I was at the beginning of last year, sitting at 172.2. So as I get the process going again, I’m keeping that “goal” of 165, but once again, that’s more just to have a value in that field in the app. My only real plan is to get back into the habit of exercising regularly.
To that end, I’m using three apps to help track my stats (and as is pretty normal in these days of social everything, two of them allow me to connect with friends, so I suppose, if I know you and you want to be a long-distance, social-media pseudo-exercise buddy, feel free to add me as a friend). I’m set up with LoseIt! to track food and weight, RunKeeper to track my exercise (walking, riding, elliptical, etc.–in the words of Chris Knight, I only run when chased), and I’m using the Gorilla Workout app as a simple home-based exercise regimen. I actually started the Gorilla workouts in October, but didn’t quite make it through all of Level 1 before my mid-November slump hit, so I’ve just started that over from the beginning again.
So, that’s it for now. Just tossing this out there to give myself a little more accountability as I get going on this project again. As I’m about to start another quarter of school, I’m hoping I’ll be able to get through to spring break without letting the exercise fall by the wayside again.
- 640×1136 (iPhone 5s)
- 2,048×1,536 (iPad Air 2)
- 5120×2880 (iMac with Retina Display)
Yes, I make this joke somewhat annually. But…it amuses me, so I’ll probably continue to do so. One of these days I should dig back through prior years to figure out where I’ve posted this (blog, Facebook, Twitter) and see how my resolutions have changed over time.
(This was originally published on Facebook a few days ago in a slightly shorter form.)
Thanks to the world’s weirdest advertising campaign, we watched a dumb comedy that we’d otherwise have had no interest in. And in the end? Yes, dumb, but we’ve definitely seen far worse, and there were some laughs to be had (bracketed by moments of pushing gags too far, but then, we were expecting that). It was an acceptably amusing way to spend an hour and a half, leaving us neither enriched nor regretting the experience. It didn’t suck.
One of my favorite gags was one of the more subtle ones (which is likely why this genre of comedy isn’t my usual thing, as subtlety doesn’t seem to be a major concern most of the time): the titular interview being watched by a North Korean guard on a PC running Windows 3.1.
I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action”; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a “more convenient season.” Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection.
This just floated across my Facebook feed, and seemed appropriate for the season. Happymerry Holidayschristmaskwanzaasolsticenewyear!