September 21, 2005

Moron Mail

     Welcome everyone! Welcome, to the world of poorly written work. This, is an email that was sent to everyone, to the best of my knowledge, who tried out for the school play or who joined our tech crew (running crew, the ones who build the sets, for those of you who don't know). Then it was forwarded to the entire English department. It reads as follows:
Dear Teachers, Parents, and Students,
     I believe that Whitmanís English system is not teaching students enough to be successful in the future. Students are being taught how to write Brief Constructed Responses (BCR) and Extended Constructed Responses (ECR), but the only time we will ever use these is for school. The school is teaching kids how to do better in school, and wasting a class period.
     What happens to the people that know how to write proper answers to questions? They can move into honors English, where they will learn how to write better answers. It is right that the school teaches how to write BCRs and ECRs in maybe seventh or eighth grade, but five years of learning the same thing over and over again is overkill (note: unless he stayed in Honors English in his Junior year, then they only taught him this for four years). There are still kids who do not know how to write BCRs and ECRs, but they are the ones who do not do homework but instead got to some web site like sparknotes.com and simply copy an essay and use that (turnitin.com, which many teachers use now, makes this impossible, and most students at Whitman don't do this anyway. He's just whining because there are people who are willing to do the homework when he isn't). This is not fare (note for the slow, this should be fair, not fare) to the people who did actually learn the material, but are overshadowed by the otherís (unless he only knows one other person who does this, it should be others'). copied work.
     I have realized that in English class you do not learn so much about English as you do about character development and plot. You never actually learn how to put character development into your stories, if you write them. You never learn how to make a correct plot in a story. Instead, learning about character development is just another way for the teachers to give you more assignments for improving your BCR and ECR skills (note: there is a creative writing class moron. If you want to learn how to put it into your stories, take it). I see redundancy.
     In order to make an English credit actually show you improved in your skills in English, you need to change the class. Learning how to use the English language is currently only about ten percent of the English curriculum, and that ten percent is the homework, according to the new Grading Policy. And guess what, you donít even have to do the work completely! You can just guess randomly, and itís checked for completion, not correctness. The in class work and tests are all BCRs, ECRs, and maybe a few questions about what you read in a book, just to make sure you actually did the reading (what would you rather see?).
     You can keep your normal English classes. Keep your constant studying about the BCRs and ECRs that you will only use up through college, and forget everything about them after that. But, there needs to be a class for kids who do believe that they have mastered or at least memorized the Constructed Response format (oh really? like AP ENGLISH? IT EXISTS! DON'T BITCH!). A class that instead of teaching students how to find character development, teaches them how to make character development of their own (oh no wait! He wants creative writing! I think this guy deserves an award for not knowing about the classes his own school offers). And maybe review how to write a BCR and ECR at the beginning of the year, in the same way you review Order of Operations or how to find out the value of X every year in math.
     This new class needs to teach students how to write papers that they will actually use for their jobs. It should also teach students how to write short stories, or even maybe write full stories (The formal essay and the short story are two completely totally different things, you can't make them one class). Have them read a book, and write a sequel to it. Or at least have the students read a book and write what the next chapter might be if there was ("to be" should be here) one (oh look now! Now he's telling them how to do their job! Because I'm sure your shitty writing should be what everyone writes like!). Iím not talking about an ECR about what you think will happen to the main character afterwards, I am talking about writing an actual chapter that you believe would go after the last one.
     Onto my next subject (Look kids! A transition! I think we learned something about this in English class!), which doesnít only have to do with classes, as it does to do with books in those classes. The students in Whitman, and probably in all of the other schools, are given books that are uninteresting (This isn't an opinion at all! This is what everyone thinks!), and are forced (almost like you had to read them to prove you're not a good-for-nothing jackass) to read them. This goes especially for two summer reading books, which were both very confusing (Almost as if you were too stupid to understand them!), and very boring: A Solitary Blue, and Ordinary People. On the topic of the summer reading books, bring back Speaker of the Dead.
     If students were given books to read that were exciting (Because everyone agrees on what exciting books are and thinks they're great! Moron), not about every day things like buying a new car, then they would actually read the books more closely, making grades go up (Do I even need to point out what a stupid line of logic that was?). The students of Whitman are tired of these books. I understand that once, Enderís Game was used for a classí book (note: this should be "Ender's Game was once used as a class book"), and everyone in the class was happy. That one time was the only time I had ever heard of a science fiction novel ever being used in school for school work (I wonder how many sci-fi books this person has read, and if he realizes how many of them are trash. This entire paragraph is just him saying: My opinion is better than yours, everyone loves what I love).
     Books like A Raisin in the Sun, Miracle Worker, A Farrell to Arms (I could be wrong, but I'm fairly certain that he meant "A Farewell to Arms"), and This Boyís Life are not appealing to the students. They are all the same, someone has a problem, and they fix it by learning things along the way. Nothing more than that. You donít learn anything from reading the same exact thing in different wording and different characters over and over again. You just have wasted time by having to read the book.
     This is why the school needs more interesting books introduced. Hitchhikerís Guide to the Galaxy, Lord of the Rings, and Red Dragon are all good ones (He seems to enjoy it much more when people solve a problem through force rather than learning new things... that sounds rather familiar). They are interesting, people know them, and they are different (Stop me if I'm wrong, but a lot of what English classes have you read is either exceptionally well written, or is the basis for many thousands of other works. Somehow I doubt that the Hitchhikers' Guide to the Galaxy has really inspired more than just Good Omens and the HHGTTG movie). You can still learn things from them (Like what? I bet if I asked him to describe what appealed to him in these novels he'd be hard pressed to say much more than "they're interesting and different!!" Maybe he needs to spend more time learning how to identify "character development and plot"?). And, if you wish, you can still assign the occasional BCR/ECR on them. These are books that students will read. And if students actually read them, they get better grades on the questions on the tests (including the BCR/ECR), making the grades go up.
     The last topic I wish to talk about, is that students are being poorly graded. Smarter kids naturally are lazy (So you assume that you are not only smart, but lazy because you're smart? Wow, what a fucker!). I can not scientifically prove this, because that would take a longer time than I have (First of all, you couldn't scientifically prove it because it's not a scientific premise. Secondly you couldn't prove this because you're a moron who wouldn't know how to go about it in the first place, and thirdly, if you have enough free time to write a shitty piece of mail to the entire English Department, you probably have enough time to try something as retarded as prove that smart kids are lazy, and fail.). But I can explain. When someone is smarter, they are able to do things a lot faster. If they can do things a lot faster, then they have more time to sit around and do nothing. They get used to this doing nothing, and they become lazy (This has nothing to do with smart people being lazy, it has to do with the fact that he's lazy, and he's making excuses because he doesn't want to do work).
     The current grading policy did fix a lot of this problem, considering that now homework is only about ten percent of the grade, but teachers will still judge someone on whether or not they turn in homework (Oh no! How sensible!). A student may be smarter than his teacher (well that's just bullshit, but we'll let him fantisize about being smarter than his math teacher), and still be held back in the lowest math class (how did you get there in the first place moron?) for his grade because the teacher doesnít believe he participates enough, and that he doesnít turn in his homework enough.
     On the other side, the less intelligent students will find one smart kid that does his homework (Because apparently all smart people aren't identical like he said!), and copy off of him/her (Name more than one smart kid who does their homework who actually lets other people copy). They do not get anything out of the homework, but the teacher sees them turning in their homework complete and on time, so he gets the idea that they did do it.
     The later (I think the word he's looking for is "latter") students are also the students that will cram for tests. They are the students that turn around to the person behind them a minute before the test, and ask ďwhat is the quadratic formula?Ē They memorize everything just long enough to pass the test, then forget it.
     Pop quizzes solve this, but the teachers never give them. Pop quizzes have to be the lost (I think he meant last, but it works this way as well, it should be altered to "Pop quizzes are the lost...") effective way to see if a student knows the material, but they are never given.
     Putting together everything above, you can see that the school isnít doing what it is supposed to (Yeah! They're testing my intelligence rather than keeping me entertained! What bastards!), and making students that werenít good enough graduate, and students that were smart get left behind (How many kids who are ACTUALLY intelligent don't learn to get off their asses instead of bitching?). There are exceptions, of course, as there are to any rule. Some of the less intelligent students donít even bother to copy off of homework to get the grade, and just take the bad grade. I actually look at these students as smarter, they donít cheat, they take the hits. They are the ones who are getting held back for the right reasons. But along with them, are the smart, lazy students (We now know that you respect lazy, unmotivated, stupid students... where is your credibility?). And if this goes on, the person who is taking your order at McDonalds in ten years may be smarter than the person who is running big businesses (Obviously the person running the business was intelligent enough to get off his ass and do some work). Do you want that to happen?

-Pantsman (Also known as a lazy, unmotivated moron who'd rather hide behind an alias and bitch about how much he hates having to pretend like he cares than try)

     Now, don't think that all my edits about his spelling infer that I think my own spelling to be perfect (or even close to perfect), I'm just pointing out something that should have been removed before sending it to the WHOLE ENGLISH DEPARTMENT. This person is just an ass. I hate spam, especially when it's not so much spam, as much as poorly written rants.

Posted by Kickmyassman at 11:37 PM | Comments (17)

September 13, 2005

Naruto

     So, since I went to Otakon, I've been much more curious about Naruto, one of the most popular download-only anime out there. Right now, it's premiering here in America, with what I understand, the voice acting isn't quite terrible so much as it's not well done. Either way, I had the episodes lying around, and so I started watching them. I guess there is a pretty good reason why people watch it, it's a well done show. Certainly they could have worked harder to make the emotional moments not quite so blunt, but that's not really the focus of the show. The action is, as would be expected, well done, and the overall plot is pretty interesting. So far I like most of the characters, but I must say that Naruto's (the protagonist) tendency to show off is rather annoying... which although being intentional doesn't change the fact that it's annoying. I like the "inner voice" of our main female protagonist, but she seems to wear her emotions on her sleeve, and it's rather strange that she never seems to get many more lines during the action parts besides being frightened, or whining about her precious Sasuke-kun. As for Sasuke, I must say that I find him a rather shallow character (but, then again, I'd say the same for Naruto). He has much more of a past then any of the other characters (unless you consider Naruto acting out as a child history). But basically I've enjoyed it so far, but I'll need to "cleanse" myself afterward by watching an anime about bread, which I've heard is very good. Anyway, the one thing that I can't get over about this series is the awesomeness of the ending theme. It's called wind:

Posted by Kickmyassman at 10:04 PM | Comments (3)

September 07, 2005

Some music

     So school has kept me rather busy... That, and gaming. Anyway, I decided the other day that I was going to start backing up all my music CDs onto my computer because I realized that I can't find my "Strong Bad Sings" (Homestarrunner) Cd or my "No!" (They Might Be Giants) Cd, both of which I liked a lot. So I'm using Cdex which is a program I'd recommend, but I can't say that I've had very good luck with the latest version so I chose version 1.4 instead. In the other realm of things, I've realized it's quite dificult to name japanese files using english windows programs, making many mp3s ripped from anime soundtrack cds come with names like "Rasberry Heaven with ________?! _____" which makes it rather pointless to have names at all. I tried several application, but it seems without specific japanese language support, the program is incapable of writing the japanese names. So since I have it, here's something:

Posted by Kickmyassman at 11:24 PM | Comments (4)

September 05, 2005

Half-Life 2

     So, as previously stated, I upgraded my computer (okay, so I made it decent) and have been playing Half-Life 2. Actually, I just finished. All I can say is that I wish I had upgraded my computer more so that I could have seen the "real" glory behind this game. Here's what I thought:
Graphics:
     Well to say that this game is beautiful would be a pretty big understatement. It is, of course, limited depending on your system, and I can honestly say that as good as the graphics were for me, I was only really capable of playing at a medium level of complexity (due to the incredible cheapness of myself). Either way, the zombies looked evil, the people looked like they were angry when their voices were angry, and the combine looked just like eacho other. I appreciated it when you shot a combine soldier in the face that it would look like you'd blown a good chunk out of their heads (but this might have just been black marks on their faces from four or five bits of bullet being blasted into their face at point-blank range). They did really put a lot of effort into silly eye-candy like the hula-girl on Dr. Kliener's desk, and the occational teddy-bear strewn in a building infested with zombies. There were a million bottles of beer and gallons of milk and newspaper with cardboard boxes laid on the ground for some poor person to sleep on. All the frivolous details that I enjoy noticing were there. Downsides? Unless your computer is truly top of the line, you don't get to enjoy it the way it was meant to be enjoyed. A lot of the detail seems to have been lost in the transfer from the developer computers to our computers. I imagine a lot of the realism and detail was lost just simply in the name of saving space (the game was 5 discs even with the pains they took to chop the game down to a manageable size), and so the quality suffered from what we were told so much about in the years of waiting.

Sound:
     The sound was good. The voices were well cast, but it was kind of annoying how if you turned around when someone was talking to you, you couldn't really hear what they were saying. This was especially annoying if you were trying to fight when they told you where to go. It didn't happen often, so it wasn't much of a problem at all. The guns all sounded good, and the effects for when people were far away or on a monitor were very nice. The ant-lion, strider, and gunship sound effects are all very distinct so you know when they're comming. As were the "voices" of each type of zombie. I guess there's no real complaints here. By far my favorite effect was getting hit by explosives, where you were defend or you ears started ringing depending on how close it was.

Gameplay:
     Great. Things that annoyed me: quite often I would get snagged between a moving object and a wall and would be forced to slowly drift forward until I blew off one of the edges, normally losing a little less than ten health. For something which made such a big fuss over how amazing the interaction between surfaces would be, it was surprising how many times a pole went right through my buggy, or a hand right through a wall. Once I actually missed one of the invisible "checkpoints" and ran into the "end of the world" (note: I never cheated in this copy of the game, wanting to enjoy one good play through before I went wild messing with the physics engine):

And another time I died in the water and flew infinitely into the air:

So while I can't expect the game to be perfect, I thought giant glaring errors like this wouldn't really be there. And while I don't have any screenshots of it, I also experienced several points in the game where I would reach weird ends to levels, and then suddenly the whole level would map out in front of me. While this isn't too surprising considering my computer's capabilities, I more than exceed the reccommended settings, so why did it happen? I guess it may have just been a lack of ram as compared to processing power. And I must say that the game play was often *loading...* imapared by lon *loading*g loading *loading...* times.

Story:
I won't give anything away except to say that it was good. I loved Dr. Breen's speeches, but I certainly felt through the first half of the game that the plot was just sort of: "Gordon! Thank god you made it, beating ridiculous odds which no one has ever seen beaten before. Oh right, we're being attacked, save us then get out because you're nowhere near where you need to get." It certainly does pick up towards the end, but I always wonder what end it was that Dr. Breen was moving towards, because he keeps saying "think of what you're giving up!" But never elaborates on that, besides that it is mankind's salvation.

Synopsis:
     If you can stand the long loading times (which you can expect even if you meet the recommended settings), then this game is certainly worth the buy. It is not the be-all end-all of gaming which we were looking for (not that we expected it), but it certainly met expectations for length of gameplay and a good old Half-life feel. Definitely scores in graphics and sound, and just to watch the warriors go at their thing with resistance members is pretty much worth the buy. I feel they could have worked a lot harder on making a more enticing storyline rather than just chucking you from base to base. I'd recommend it for all computer gamers.

Posted by Kickmyassman at 11:36 PM | Comments (2)

September 04, 2005

Okay, I guess I'll start getting back to it

     So now that I've made it over the general shock of school starting again, and I've managed to take a little break to catch up on my lost gaming time (mainly half-life 2 and Killer 7 with an occational dose of Riven), I guess it's time that I get back on to writing on the blog. It'll probably be on and off for a while, but at least it'll be here. Leading into next month I'll try and have it back up to last year's level, but I don't know what kind of pressure I'll be under from this years homework and my college class. So, onto current news!
     If you haven't heard (which isn't surprising considering all the chatter about Katrina and therefore a complete and total lack of any other possible media attention) William Rehnquist died, and now Bush has two open slots which he can easily fill with more conservative members thus moving the country in a direction I don't want to think about. Sigh, how can I (or anyone) get people to look at the bigger picture in life? How can I change it so that more people do look at that bigger picture without sacrificing my own life to it? Am I being greedy by not devoting my life to trying to change America? To move it in a less self-destructive and factionalizing direction? I don't know... I suppose I am in a way, but... it's such a burden to shoulder. Sigh... Besides that Google released yet another application which seems to be part of it's plans to take over most of the internet in a trustworthy and well-known monopoly. This time it's called "google talk", which I imagine will eventually become capable of replacing your phone service given a year or two. If you haven't already seen it you can check it out here. I hate this feeling that Google may turn out to be something like the "lovable monopoly" because they won't have done anything wrong, but they'll still control so much of what we do... The world is a scary place.

Posted by Kickmyassman at 11:59 PM | Comments (5)