Matt's opinion

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Busy week

Man, so far this week has been very very busy. Monday I was in the field collecting GPR data for a talk being given by my thesis advisor. I should say that the field sites were two Gulf of Mexico beaches, and although that sounds fun it wasn't. It was so un-Godly hot and humid it alsmost made working outside unbearable. In spite of the heat a colleague, myself and our advisor draged around the equipment, collected the data and decided to call it a day after lunch. I spent the rest of Monday working on a powerpoint presentation for my advisor to give, in my abscence, at a meeting with a rep from NSF (the org funding my research).

Tuesday I had my first day of substitute teacher training. You'd think a substitute teacher wouldn't need much training at all, and you're right, but apparently my county thinks they do. I spent the day listening to the same old corporate BS shpeel about diversity, discrimination, and the code of ethics. Don't get me wrong, all of those things are important, but I don't think anyone should have to spend an entire day getting lectured about them.

Today I did a job shadowing day at the high school just up the street from my apartment. This was fun and I actually learned a few things. The odd thing is that I sat in on 3 foriegn language classes and one art class. I didn't sign up to sub for those subjects, I signed up to math, science, and those sorts of subjects. It would have been more helpfull for me to sit in on classes that involve a lab, or at least are in the subjects I want to teach. Oh well, I'd feel comfortable in those subjects anyway. I felt useless today in the foriegn language classes, I don't know latin or french, and I haven't had a spanish class since my sophmore year in high school. All I did was sit in the class and stare at the teacher and how he/she interacted with students. That wasn't very usefull, I already do that. What I didn't learn enough about was the school procedures: hall passes, what to do with tardy students, how to discipline unruly students, etc. I know these things differ from school to school, but at least an idea would be nice.

Tomorrow I'm back at training. It promises to be an equally boring day as the first on Tuesday, but I hope it isn't.

I have one last comment on something that just delighted me. This week Christian Coalition founder Pat Roberts said, on an episode of the "700 club", that the US should assassinate the President of Venezuela because he is another evil dictaor that suspects the US is trying to kill him anyway. I just love it when people who claim to be Christians outright disregard the teaching of the church when it suits them, especially when those people are leaders of the conservative evangelical political groups. HYPOCRITES!! He wouldn't be such a hypocrite if he didn't put himself on such a high pedistal of piety. Pat Roberts, you are a douche and I'm glad people are again realizing it.

Friday, August 19, 2005


Random thoughts:
I think that if I were to go back in time and start out college again studying something other than geology I would probably study history and political science. That should come as a gigantic shock to those of you who read this. I've always liked both of those subjects but haven't been able to make time to study them. I've been getting a lot more involved in politics in the last few years than I ever thought I would (being old enough to vote sure helped out). I'm still not quite sure why politics is deemed a science. Anybody? Science is pretty black and white, you either prove something is wrong or you don't. On the other hand politics is very back and forth, full of arguements and compromises. Even though I like to talk about and think about compromises between ideas, it's often much harder to accept compromises in my own life than to promote compromising in the life's of others. That's enough of the philosophical ramblings for now, it was fun though.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Chewbacca what?

Justin that's the perfect solution to the evolution vs creationism debate. The Chewbacca defense. I mean, it's perfect......flawless even. Wookies can not live on endor, they come from a completely different planet, so a Wookie living on endor just dosen't make sense, therefore, creationism does not make sense! IT DOES NOT MAKE SENSE!
-refering to the leaf covering adam and eve's naughty bits, but you knew that.

For those of you who are reading and saying to yourselves 'what the hell is he talking about?' you must do two things:
  1. Watch more South Park
  2. Read the comments on my last post

The only other thing I want to comment about is on a show that premired last night where Tommy Lee (drummer from Montley Crue) goes attends college at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln. As you might guess, I'm not too keen on Tommy going and making a mockery of higher learning and would quite enjoy seeing him fail out simply because all he did was party. To spite my thoughts, U of N actually took it seriously and gave him a heavy courseload of real classes (chemistry, english, horticulture, and of course marching band). To my surprise he actually got into it and throughout the 2 episodes that were on last night Tommy was studying for and participating in his classes, and doing fairly well. I think the show, so far, is doing a decent job of portraying how difficult it is to get ahead in college and actually get the most out of all the classes you take. We'll just see how long that continues though, I really doubt the TV show producers and Tommy can really hold out on failure for very long. Only time will tell.

Back to work.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Admitting your wrong is the first step

You might have been asking yourself, hey why hasn't Matt been posting his angry tirades lately? Well turns out I haven't had many, but I'll try to share a few with you this evening. First, the exciting stuff.
  • Yesterday marked 2 weeks until the start of the fall semester, and I can hardly contain myself. I don't think I've ever been this excited to go to school. Why, might you ask? I get to teach my normal two sections of physical geology lab in a brand new classroom in a newly refurbished building. I'm taking two cool classes: Ecohydrology and Geology of S. Florida and the Florida Keys. For one of those classes there is a mandatory trip to the Keys, I'll let you guess which one. I'm also preparing to write an abstract to submit for the fall AGU meeting (American Geophysical Union) which I will attend in San Francisco. Add on to that the opportunity I've gotten to re-vitalize the Geology Graduate Student Org and it's going to be one busy, but fun semester.

Now for the tirade, I have to make it quick because I'm running out of time to waste

  1. This past Sunday morning while I was waiting for Meet the Press to come on TV, I happened to pass by this church show (seriously, there was a church program on Sunday morning, I couldn't believe it either) that was talking about creationism vs. evolution. Ever intrigued by the debate, or more importantly why there is any debate, I paused my channel surfing and watched. The program talked about unveiling the "myths" and "false idols" of Evolution by using the same science that said creationism isn't true. The unveiling consisted of two people: A) a PhD in biology who did not poke holes in evolution itself, but talked about how natural selection of a specific moth in England is not due to evolution, B) An author who claimed to be an atheist before writing a book about how Evolution can't possibly scientifically exist, without citeing one specific study or disputing one fact. The show proceeded to flash some fancy graphics including the charts depicting various embryos at early stages of development (including humans, birds, and reptiles, meant to display how similar everything is in early life) and how humans evolved from the great apes and then claimed they were false and could not scientifically exist and then called it a show. I CALL BULLSHIT!!!! Here's how it is in the real world: EVOLUTION IS A FACT, creationism IS JUST NOT TRUE. I'm sorry to say it, being a Christian myself, but that's the way it is. The last thing I want is some religious douche bag trying to preach creationism or "intelligent design" or whatever the hell you want to call it in schools, and I'll be damned if I let my kid be taught that crap.

Well there I go again, ranting so much I ranted myself out of time. Until next time friends and remember: admitting creationism is wrong is the first step on the road to reality.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

a whole lot of boring

Not a whole heck of a lot is going on as of late. Thankfully this week hasn't been exciting, it's given us a chance to get back to normal. I've recently made some progress on my thesis. I have been successfull in writing Matlab scripts that will manipulate and convert data into formats that it can be used and analyzed in, but then again reading about that is probably more boring than staring at a blank screen so I won't talk about it anymore. Really the only reason I'm posting is to paste a link to my Webshots page where I have posted some really funny pictures I recieved in an email earlier today. I've got about 100 pages to go in Bill Clinton's book "My Life", so I think I'm gonna go try and finish that in the next couple of days.

Enjoy the pictures, leave comments.

Till next time

Monday, August 08, 2005

political beer garden

I actually did read the story about beer money on earlier today while I was bored. For those of you who don't know about the story here it is: In South Carolina the Anheuser Busch beer company set out to write the Republican party a check for $5,000. Because of a few "administrative errors" the check was mailed to the state Democratic party, who deposited the check. Now the Republicans are upset, and resonably so, and want their money. As a result Anheuser had to ask the Democrats to give the money back, which they are, and are going to give the money to the Republican party.

I think the best part of the story was when the reported quoted the leader of the state Democratic part when he said "You can't honestly expect us to write a check to the Republicans"

I think that in this day in age, with all the partisan bickering in Washington, it's good to see that at least the political parties can be civil when beer is involved.

I sounds to me like that Democratic party chair is a real Man of Genious:
Bud Light presents: Real Men of Genious
real men of genious!!
Here's to you: Mr. Beer money snatcher
mr. beer money sna-cher!!
You took someone else's beer money and tried to use it for your own political shin-dig
Even though the check was made out to someone else, then refused to give it back
incredibly not co-ol!!
Just because you can't win elections, dosen't mean you can steal your opponents beer and get away with it. But as long as you don't get involved with trying to make an "Oval Office" brand cigar, you're still OK
Not the cigars!!!
mr. beer money sna-cher!!!

Thank you, and goodnight

one other thing

There is a recent story in the news concerning reporter Robert Novak, who is a columnist for the Chicago Sun Times and frequent guest on CNN, and his use of fowl languages while debating democratic strategist James Carville on CNN's Inside Politics. There are several reasons I brought this up.

The first reason is to comment on the fowl language itself. Novak is an extremely conservative Republican, and has for years beat the Republican drum about how this society is immoral and indecent and that we need to clean it up. For him to declare on CNN that he hates what someone else is saying and says it's bullshit on the air is laughable.

The second reason, and I think the most important, is to ask a simple question. Since Novak was the first to disclose the secret identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame, why haven't any charges been brought against him in public? This question is especially meaningful to the other reporter, who's name I can't remenber, who didn't write a word about the operative and is sitting in jail right now because she wouldn't say who her source was. Why is she in jail and not Novak, who broke the story? The curious thing I just learned when doing some research on this that this is not the first time Novak has been leaked information from the White House. The other case was in 1992 involving the re-election of Bush Sr. Guess who leaked the information to Novak? Well none other than Karl Rove. Ring any bells? The only difference in this case was that Rove was fired for the leak from Bush Sr.'s re-election campaign in Texas. The link for what I'm basing this on is below.

The third and final reason I brought up this incident is because of what Novak and Carville were arguing about before Novak cursed. They were talking about the 2006 senate race in Florida and the prospective candidates for the Republican nomination to oppose Democrat Bill Nelson. They started talking about Katherine Harris, currently a Congresswoman from Sarasota, and her desire to run for the GOP nomination (which she supposedly will announce this week). The conversation soon turned into discussion of Harris' apperence on Fox News or MSNBC, I can't remember which, where she discussed how pictures of her from her days as Florida's Sec of State in the 2000 Presidential recount were doctored by the media to make her make-up look like she was a clown. First, if you have seen a picture of Katherine Harris lately she does look like a clown, who needs to tone down the make-up a notch or ten. Second, if you want to be a senator you had better be ready to take much more harsh criticism than exagerated make-up. On the program, when Sean Hannity asked her about it, Harris said that she took those kind of attacks very personally. Get over it!!

I think the best part is that Harris has virtually no chance to get elected to replace a widely liked moderate like Bill Nelson. Republicans from all over the country have asked anyone under the sun to go up against Harris in the primary, but there were no takers.

That's all I have to say about that. Here's the link to info on Robert Novak:

day at the beach

This was the first weekend in a long while where we were able to relax. OK, maybe it hasn't been that long of a while since we had a relaxing weekend, it's my blog and I'll tell it like I want to. Saturday Melissa and I got motivated to go to the beach. Oh but wait, this wasn't just any beach, it was Venice beach. Now for those of you who aren't familiar with Venice beach, I wasn't excited about going there because it's famous for nude ladies or anything of that nature, I was excited to go there because of what washes ashore. Turns out that there is a particular rock formation offshore that is full of fossilized shark teeth of about 20 different species. As this rock formation gets eroded the teeth come loose and wash ashore for people to collect. I think we got about 10-15 on Saturday in about 3-4 hours looking. Unfortunetly during the time we spent digging in the sand and watching the waves come up on shore both of us got sunburn, although Melissa's was worse than mine. Overall it was a fun time and now we have some cool, and free, soveiners for people who come down and visit. Oh yeah, before I forget, on the way home from the beach we saw this really fierce line of thunderstorms moving across the sky and I managed to get a couple of picture of the clouds. Here is the link to those pics and some others that we took:

Yesterday (Sunday) was nice. I helped Melissa with her presentation at a freshman orientation by being the powerpoint slide forwarder while she spoke around noon. After that we had lunch, we grocery shopping and came home to an afternoon and evening of reading the newpaper, my book, and watching Family Guy and American Dad. I love those shows, they never seem to get old. I especially like the way that Family Guy ended and how they mimicked that ceremony at the end of Star Wars episode IV perfectly, mocking it just so.

Today is rather uneventfull at best. I still can't get this program I wrote to run without an error message stopping it, and the worst part is I have no idea what the error message means. Add this to the fact that the program takes a day to run and you can see how troubleshooting is not the easiest thing. Stupid Matlab, how I loath you.

Friday, August 05, 2005

I love a good mustache

Justin I think you and I should go to the cable news networks and propose a Crossfire type show in which we submit witty banter back and forth about politics and mustaches. That was absolutely hilarious. I think we might have a shot too because they let almost any yokle do commentary on subjects they are not experts on. What ever happened to your blog anyway?

I still have only gotten blog addresses from one or two people who read this website and to my surprise there may be more people that read it, so leave comments and tell me where I can read about you guys cause this is probably the easiest way for everyone to keep in touch. Not everyone has to talk about politics either, I do simply because it satisfies my urges to voice my opinion about issues I really have no control over. Kind of like yelling at the TV...... wait a minute, I do that too.

As far as regular life goes things have definetly slowed down as I mentioned in the post from a few days ago. We are just going to wait out the guy who is trying to sell the townhouse we want for way more than its worth and hoping he has no other buyers, which he pretty much told me he didn't. The last week of August I start my 3 day substitute teacher training. I never knew substitutes had to go through any training, all the ones in schools I've been a student at just looked like they were parents or security guards with almost no education. I guess I'll have to be something more than just an "adult figure" in the classroom, which is scary to say the least. The scariest thing is that this whole substitute teacher thing I'm doing fufills an old proffecy that was given to me by the Elk Grove Jr. High School newspaper in the last issue before 8th grade graduation. In the paper, the "shadow" (it was a feature to run gossip around the school, "the shadow knows ....") outlined what it thought all of the graduating 8th graders would be when they grew up. Guess what mine was? A substitute chemistry teacher. So alas my fate had been set from that point on. At least I can tell the kids I teach that I am fufilling my destiny. The question is whether or not to use the Darth Vader voice when I say it?

I'm such a geek. Till next time.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Good point

A good point was made in the response from Justin to my last post, that most of the Iraqi violence is due to foriegn fighters and not regular Iraqi citizens. This is true. Which is why I would advocate the last of my three options presented below as the best means for a successfull Iraq. While regular citizens are working hard to improve their country, US and Iraqi forces would be free to not only better police the streets of Iraq, but control its borders as well. I don't think enough is being done to control anything in Iraq, much less the borders. If you wanted to use the Southern US as an example of how America is able to provide border control I think there will be enough foriegn fighters coming into Iraq to sustain the insurgency indefinetly. I just wanted to make the point that something new needs to be done in Iraq and the current strategy is not working.

The other news that just plain makes me sad is the new energy bill that was passed by the House this week. The energy bill, which Bush has been pushing unsuccessfully since he was handed the Presidency in 2000, gives huge tax breaks and subsidies to the current energy powerhouses. These companies develope energy from, take a wild guess, oil and gas, coal, and nuclear power plants. Supposedly this will help America in its energy independence and I have to say if you believe that investing in the same old technology that we've been using for decades will benefit the economy or is safer than it was years ago then I'd like to sell you some prime real estate I've been holding down here in Florida just for this occasion. You've got to be kidding me!! Even the staunchest conservative has to admit that not investing in new technologies, in fact, not investing in the future of the country is the stupidest policy an administration can have.

One last thing that I'll mention today is something I'm realizing as I'm reading Bill Clinton's autobiography. Now granted this is from a somewhat biased source. When I read about the "trickle down" economics that persisted in the 80's and early 90's it sounds very familiar with what the current economic policy is reverting back to. In the 80's the federal government gave huge tax breaks to corporations and wealthy Americans and spent billions on defense, giving way to huge deficits and a stagnat overall economy with high interest rates. Now in the 2000's there are huge tax cuts for wealthy Americans, big subsidies to oil companies and other corporations and skyrocketing defense costs for the "war on terror" (which was recently renamed to the "global struggle against terrorism" because the poll numbers started to go down). All of this producing an economy that is growing slowly and ripe for diaster in markets like housing. Didn't we learn the first time that the middle class, and pretty much everyone else, dosen't prosper in these situations? I think that it's time to start campaigning for something better, because we deserve the opportunity to do better.

I'll put my soap box away for now, but I'm sure it'll be a short lived break.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Finally slowing down

I think things are finally going to start slowing down for us in the next few days/weeks. The most recent excitement was a visit from John and Carly returning from their honeymoon cruise and spending a couple of days with us here in Tampa. I have to say Melissa and I really had fun. We spent a day at Busch Gardens and although we've been there a couple of times now there is always something that's new and interesting, probably because it's a zoo/park all in one. Yesterday we went out to Clearwater and St. Pete beaches and got to go swimming and browse through all of the beach-side stores. Our guests brought up a very good point while we were walking around yesterday, that we should be out doing and seeing all there is while we live in Florida so we don't regret it when we eventually move back to Chicago. That's something I think we're going to make more of an effort to do in the next year. Watch out Orlando, the Keys, and maybe even the Bahamas, we're coming!

Other than that recent excitement we are slowing down in our quest for a house. As of right now we found the complex we like and can afford, but all of the owners are unwilling to sell because they think the units are worth far more than they are in reality. The situation itself is frustrating because I know that the property in question will be worth what they are saying in a few years, but not at this point in time. I guess we're just going to wait them out.

On another front I wanted to talk about a landmark that was set yesterday that I don't think got enough attention in the news. Yesterday, after yet another attack on US military forces in Iraq, the total US combat death total came to 1,802. The sad thing is that I don't think the death toll will be highly publicized again until it reaches 2,000. I think that everyone has been desensitized by hearing about the number of casualties every night on the news: 14 today, 5 yesterday, 7 the day before. We are forgetting that these numbers are REAL PEOPLE who have REAL FAMILIES. What are we doing to get the troops out of Iraq? A recently declassified report from the pentagon (which unfortunately was only reported, as far as I know, on the Daily Show) shows that only 3 of the 107 battalions of Iraqi troops are trained and ready to replace American forces. What the hell is going on?? It's been what, like 2 years into the occupation of Iraq and that's the best we can do? I think it's time for a new strategy.

Here's a couple of ideas:
1. Dramatically increase the number of American troops on the ground in Iraq to forcibly maintain the peace so reconstruction efforts can progress and the citizens of Iraq can see for themselves that we want to help them.
2. Start a "shoot to kill" policy of any suspected terrorist who is seen or suspected of planting these IED's. Admittedly this is going to look like we are being like terrorists, but sometimes you have to fight fire with fire.
3. Hire a massive number of local Iraqis to build infrastructure supervised by American and foreign contractors and while the good local citizens are working to improve the cities they live in have American armed forces conduct raids on those who do not work to support the community. I guess this looks a little bit like slavery but the difference is that these citizens would be paid and they are working to develop their community so actually this would be like a lot of FDR's New Deal programs from the Great Depression in America.

These are just some ideas that I though of in the last few minutes. Why isn't Bush having brainstorming sessions about policy? Why is he so narrow-minded and bull-headed to believe that if he just 'sticks it out' things will get better. People are dieing and it's just not necessary.