Thursday, October 16, 2008

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

It must be sunspots...

No, you morons, it's not sunspots.  I've been ranting to dumb people for weeks about the impossibility of sunspots to have caused communication interruption via satellites.  

Story #1:  Listening to a phone bridge where an installer was claiming that his Internet connection via satellite (not Hughesnet) was problematic across multiple days and at the same time of the day.  He felt like he was a victim of sunspots.

Story #2: Sitting at Sobo 151 during the Bronco game when Fox lost their HD feed (nice work Fox).  The bartender said the dumbest s#@! ever.  He said that it must be sunspot related because he said DirecTV put a similar message on the screen (I don't buy that).  So of course all of the drunken idiots bought into that, but I quickly said, "That's impossible this time of year, on top of the fact that this is the quietest year we have had in a long time for sunspots!"  No one listened.  

Well, now you must listen since it's been written down on a fancy news website -and- been thoroughly ranted about on slashdot.


Honestly some VERY amazing photos.  For geeks and the Hercules Rockefeller's alike:

Link


Quote: "The Sun is now in the quietest phase of its 11-year activity cycle, the solar minimum - in fact, it has been unusually quiet this year - with over 200 days so far with no observed sunspots. The solar wind has also dropped to its lowest levels in 50 years. Scientists are unsure of the significance of this unusual calm, but are continually monitoring our closest star with an array of telescopes and satellites. Seen below are some recent images of the Sun in more active times."

Friday, October 03, 2008

Banned Books-The Chocolate War

Hello all...sorry about the lack of contact this week. Being in the field leaves me with no energy to blab endlessly in the evenings.

As you may, or may not know, we are in the midst of Banned Books Week. I decided to celebrate my freedom to read whatever I damn well please by picking up a copy of The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier.

Now, this is decidedly a young adult novel and I think that young boys would particularly enjoy it. Cormier crafts relatable complex characters with ease. The book is particularly easy to read in wonderful and engaging ways.

I dont want to get into complicated plot discussions because i am sure wikipedia up there has a better synopsis than i could come up with. I do want to discuss why this book is number three on the banned book list from 2000-2007.

At first, i thought the book was challenged because the main character "dared to disturb the universe" by refusing to participate in a traditional chocolate sale at his catholic prep high school. I should have known that people who are interested in banning books aren't clever enough to actually get the message of this book.

While Jerry is defying a secret group at school, as well as a cruel teacher, he and the other characters are occupied bullying or being bullied. They are cursing and smoking, ignoring their parents and starting at girls, "Tight sweater, clinging, low-slung jeans. Jesus."

That's the reason these people think the book shouldn't be read. What if a boy reads about bullying and smoking and girls? Well, i hate to break it to these people, but boys already know about bullying. They have probably been bullied for a couple years. If they haven't been bullied then chances are their friends have. Smoking isnt something they learn from books it is something they see on the street and in movies and on tv and possibly at home. And girls? Well, from the stories I have heard from Q and others...it is all they can think about at this age whether or not they read about tight sweaters.

A teen reading this book isnt going to get any crazy ideas. However, he may actually be inspired to stand up to bullies, to stand by his friends in hard times, to think for himself, and to challenge those who choose to do the wrong thing.

We dont give kids enough credit. Now, this may seem strange coming from me...what with my lack of children and poor understanding of the littlest of people...but what i have learned in the last three years is that kids are much smarter, well adjusted, thoughtful, and understanding then most adults give them credit for.

In the struggle to protect children from all the harm in the world, we do the opposite. We teach children that something unsettling should be pushed from our minds and replaced with, oh i dont know-ice cream and pinwheels . We teach children, that everything is wonderful and safe and you are a unique snowflake who will never be harmed ever!

Sadly, life is never that black and white. People die, friends move, kids are mean, and life is hard and complicated. Seems to me that it has been that way for a long long time. Why would a parent want to take away a tool,like Cormier's book, that could give kids hope. A tool that would show them that all these "horrible" things that happen as you grow up have been going on for a while and you can learn from them. You can learn and grow and understand. The world isnt as scary as it may seem when you have people, stories, and characters you can relate to.

"But you don't have to take my word for it..."

~~Bird