torquill: The devourer of worlds is not impressed. (devourer)
I have been told I'm far too sensitive about... well, pick your topic.

When everybody has an opinion on the color of your bike shed )
torquill: The devourer of worlds is not impressed. (devourer)
This has been bugging me on a low level for a long time, and it finally hit the "dammit" point. Because DAMMIT.

Want a marginalized group that's not cool to champion in SJW (Social Justice Warrior) circles? How about convicts?

No, really. )
torquill: The devourer of worlds is not impressed. (devourer)
As someone with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity who has training in organic chemistry and biochemistry, may I just say that there are enough dangerous chemicals in our lives without resorting to hysterical hyperbole?

Today, I got a Seed Savers Exchange email which called the herbicide 2,4-D "one of the elements in Agent Orange". I have seen people hyperventilate about the possibility of encountering acetone as a denaturing agent in non-potable alcohol. Someone thought their dentist was trying to poison them by putting antifreeze in the therapeutic paste they were given; I had to point out that propylene glycol is a rather different critter from antifreeze (ethylene glycol). And that's just the episodes that come to mind.

The public knows just enough about chemicals to be scared about the wrong things, without having an awareness of what might be actually toxic in their environment. That's bad enough, but when someone "reports" on a thing like 2,4-D in a sensationalistic way, either out of ignorance or agenda, it makes reasoned discussion impossible. This is also why I can't talk to anyone about genetically engineered plants outside of academia. Without reasoned discussion, we can't do anything to make sure the public is not put at risk.

People may be ignorant, but that's not a reason to take advantage of them. STOP STAMPEDING THE MOB.
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (brooding)
I heard somebody on the radio talking about this a half a year ago or so, and not since. I wonder why.

Doing good and feeling bad )
torquill: The devourer of worlds is not impressed. (devourer)
My primary IM account is Yahoo. I'm wishing this weren't the case right now, but that's where most of my friends congregate.

This is a problem because I can't find decent IM clients that will connect reliably to Y!IM. Trillian seems to do the job in Windows (especially since I figured out a way to turn off the moronic auto-match thingie that comes up with totally irrelevant webpages based on words in my messages). Pidgin was working (mostly) in linux, but I have to do frequent updates to keep it that way, and it has once again decided it can't connect. I'm fed up.

Empathy (the Gnome client) wedges when trying to sign on, or repeatedly complains of network errors when connecting to GTalk and Y!IM. (Everybody can get on AIM, apparently.) Most other linux clients I've tried have had half-baked UIs or can't connect at all. Meebo works as a stopgap -- except that when I tried it today, I discovered that pressing the "log in" button at meebo.com does absolutely nothing in Chrome. I have to run Firefox to log in. Gaaaaaah....

Why is it that we're still having issues like this with 12 and 14 year old protocols? All I want is to log in and send/receive messages, dammit!

Hey, open source community! Where's my IM client?
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (dark)
I'm not quite caught up on LJ, but I had to stop, because I'm getting too depressed and frustrated reading it.

Posts about people going to social events, having dinner with friends, seeing movies, reading books, working on hobbies... goddammit I want to have a life again.

Even just reading LJ has to be quick because I have a late homework assignment (due this morning), another hundred pages of history reading (behind on that too), and a journal article to hack out an analysis on... plus I have to research the project list of the plant path professors and email them requests for lab tours/introductions before my app hits the department's table. And that's just the stuff for school; I have a bunch of deferred tasks under the "Life" category that are waiting too. And that's before I can feel comfortable relaxing for a bit of recreation.

I used to have enough time to read a fiction book. Or see a movie. Or, y'know, do laundry. I used to be able to pretend I could have a social life.

I hate this fucking unpaid job indentured labor academic year.

This post is turning out rather more bitter than I intended, but honest to god, I'm hesitating at going to my (local) friend's friggin' birthday party because I have no time. If I've managed to clear away my homework (like that happens) I'm trying to grab at a few moments of precious freedom to try to preserve my remaining sanity.

It doesn't help that the history reading is a great example of why people tend to dislike the subject; most history profs can't write worth dick. Dry? Not really -- just disorganized, has trouble finding his point and making it, tends to put the cart before the horse (don't define a term thirty pages after you first used it, please), and enamored of polysyllabic and technical words. Good thing my TA was willing to explain what positivism is.

Not relaxing, not restful, and robbing me of the time I could use to read a real book.

I guess I'm done now. As you were.
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (wave)
I'm feeling the urge to hunt down the biggest proponents of artistic and literary criticism and bludgeon them with the collected analyses of Caravaggio's "The Calling of Saint Michael". Assuming I could lift a stack that heavy.

We're doing structuralism in Russian Folklore, analyzing the parts of a folktale. Gay Cuban Nation has forced me to read analyses of midcentury Cuban literature and poetry. I think the only thing that comes close to the nauseating frustration of being required to pick apart great works of Art and Literachure is having to watch someone else dissect it in exhausting detail and cherry-pick the tiniest bits in order to prove a pet theory. (I respect the professor, but his book has a revolting level of mental masturbation at its heart.)

I complained to my Russian teacher at the end of class, because (though it isn't her fault) I'm getting heartily sick of literary analysis. Russian isn't the worst class I've had for that, but between the literally stomach-turning quantity I had to read for Gay Cuban Nation over the last 24 hours, and the fact that we're taking folktales down to their component atoms now, I'm really losing patience with all of it.

Ranty McCrankypants here, up on my soapbox again )

Prof. Stuchebrukhov said that perhaps I should try writing my assigned fairy tale off the cuff, if I feel like I can get the essential characteristics of it in an organic way (as opposed to using the structuralist approach). At least she's flexible about it.

I'll get through the rest of the quarter, hopefully without succumbing to my urge to break something, or say anything uncharitable in one of the essays. If the graduation requirements say that I have to spend four hours a week stripping the wings off of gorgeous butterfly collections and pulverizing them to analyze their components, I'll do it. Just don't expect me to be grateful or enthusiastic.
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (teh mad)
State cuts off Delta pumps

This whole situation pisses me off to no end.

The most recent victims in the water wars are the fish. )
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (wave)
My mother just reminded me of an issue that makes my blood pressure rise. I tend to forget about it most of the time, until I hear some chance mention of it and I have to take a deep breath before I snap at something.

West Nile Virus. )

Buh??

Jul. 30th, 2006 18:57
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (teh mad)
The Weasel saw this and could only sputter.

Me, I've run out of things to say about the kind of people who have made it into higher office in this country. This one leaves me just about where the Weasel was, just gaping at the screen. I would ask, "What are they thinking?" except that if they are thinking at all, I'm not sure I want to know their thought processes in any detail.
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (dark)
I've been skipping most of the recent thread on the sfbay-poly list, because I knew as soon as I read the initial post that the same old flamewar was going to start up again. And it has, with predictable results. I'm going to cut this for those who would rather skip the gory details. )

Sigh.

Drama. It's not just on LJ.
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (teh mad)
Ex-head of FDA under criminal investigation by a grand jury over the "Plan B" contraceptive pill snafu.

Normally I wouldn't post something like this, as it's just one step in an investigation... but it got me to thinking.

cut to spare your friends list )
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (teh mad)
Okay, it is going a little far to break out the quotes from "1984", but this is disturbing. )
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (dark)
Everyone's heard about the Supreme Court case which allowed New London, CT to seize private property under eminent domain if it was done to battle "blight". Now I discover that there's icing on the cake.

New London is claiming that the affected homeowners were living on city land for the duration of the lawsuit and owe back rent.

Gosh darn it, taking these people's houses away isn't good enough. Okay, we'll buy the property at market value as law requires; we only have to pay market rates from 2000, since that's when the lawsuit started. But look, we can claim rent for those five years, at the going rate, and make back all that money we're using to buy the houses! That leaves these nasty obstructionist homeowners without houses and without money to buy any, what a shame...
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (dark)
Hackett lost to Schmidt in Ohio today. I've been following this mostly through Nick -- he's been very interested -- and I heard the verdict when I got home tonight.

Read more... )
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (Default)
I usually take information from the Pesticide Action Network with a grain of salt; even though I've been chemically injured and deal poorly with many of the pesticides they campaign against, their tone has always struck me as overly hysterical. That said, they sometimes do a good job of aggregating other news reports and summarizing studies, and this one seems like a good read.

Carbaryl: One Poison for Another in Urban Creeks

Read more... )
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (Default)
Kudos to This Is True:

A school spelling bee in Rhode Island was cancelled because the district believed that the competition conflicted with the standards set by the No Child Left Behind Act. (It was later reinstated by the new superintendent, who seemed to feel a little differently.)

Their argument: "a spelling bee does not meet the criteria of all children reaching high standards." It creates "winners" and "losers", you see, which is to be avoided; this is one of the main points of the No Child Left Behind Act, which seeks to make sure all children succeed. I note that the same reasoning has eliminated team sports in many elementary schools.

I recall one of the biggest disappointments of my grade-school years... I participated in our school district's Young Authors Project for two years, submitting hand-bound books in sixth and seventh grade. The first year I netted an award -- tied for second, I seem to recall. The prize that year was a little certificate, and the choice of any two books I wanted from the book bins, which were stuffed full of new young adult fiction. I had taken home "The Dark Is Rising" and another one the previous year, and was looking forward to rummaging through the bins again.

The second year my book was considerably better (as I had learned quite a bit about making one), and I expected to do well. I was quite dismayed at the awards ceremony, when they announced that there were no individual awards: we would all be given little medals for our participation, because our hard work had made us all winners.

It wasn't that I hadn't gotten a ribbon or anything to hold up as proof that I was better than anyone else... it was that, by lumping all of us together, they had done just the opposite of what they set out to do. Instead of making us all feel like winners, they made me feel like I was just another generic kid. All that effort to make the best book I could, and the only acknowledgement I got was a pat on the head and a platitude.

This is why, when I come across items like this, I know exactly how the kids feel. It's not just the bright ones, who feel like they're being lumped in with the average ones -- it's the average ones too, who feel like they're never given a chance to show that they're anything other than average. And when kids lose that chance to shine, everybody loses.
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (Default)
I called in this morning to say I wouldn't be coming to work. My stated reason was that I couldn't put my shoes on because my feet hurt too much, which is true enough. It had more to do with the fact that all it would take would be one cranky driver and I'd walk off the four-way, find a quiet corner, and cry hysterically for the next hour. I thought that would be a bad thing.

Long rant about work. )
torquill: Art-deco cougar face (Default)
Skip it if you don't feel like reading the smallish rant. )

Maybe I'll retreat into a cave and read "If This Goes On..." until it all goes away again. Heinlein didn't get it right very often, but that story is looking more like the real world every day.

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Torquill

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