Monday, June 30, 2008

Manny Being Retarded

First off, as an avid Yankees fan, I have a distinct dislike for the Red Sox. Babe Ruth and 26 World Series titles aside, my dislike has turned to outright hatred that last few seasons thanks to Manny Ramirez. Not because he is one of the best hitters in the game. Not because he kills the Yanks. And not because (seemingly) everyone in "Red Sox Nation" adores him. It's because he is a complete idiot with no accountability which has been dubbed "Manny being Manny". Sure, it's not uncommon for players to ask for trades, have a melancholy outlook of the team's performance, or getting into fights with teammates. But shoving a Red Sox employee to the ground (and a 60 year-old man at that) for not being able to score free tickets? Just saying "my bad" is good enough for the Boston brass; I'll bet Shawn Chacon would love to have had that kind of leeway. If I shoved one of my co-workers to the ground and said "just do your job", would I be able to makes things right with just an apology? No; I would be occupying a spot in the unemployment line. But so long as the Sox are winning and Manny can still hit a baseball (since he fields like a blind midget 90% of the time), his antics will continue to be tolerated. Mark my words, though: one of these days, he will cost Boston in the playoffs, and will more than likely be indifferent about it. Maybe, just maybe we will be lucky enough that he will have a Bill Buckner-esque moment, and Boston will see him for just what he is: a spoiled brat not worth the trouble.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

It's Joba Time!

Amongst the gloom and doom that has become our flailing economy (that is somehow not in a recession?), there is a shining beacon of hope to lift us up: Joba Chamberlain's first win as a starter. This calls for a national holiday. Scratch that, a whole week of national holidays is in order. Joba will use his 100 mph fastball to raise the value of the dollar. He will buckle the knees of oil speculators with his changeup. And he will leave anti-American sentiments in a crumpled heap with the deftness of his curveball. (Note: I saw him pitch while in New York last year, and can attest to the Jesus-like healing powers of his pitching.) Give Joba two weeks of starts and he will have this country back where it was in the 90's; with a booming economy, a surplus in the federal reserve, and a democrat in office leading us to prosperity. All this while leading the 27th World Series parade through the Bronx. Every good superhero has a good side-kick, and the Yankees lineup is certainly not lacking: take your pick of the Sandman, the Kid, or my personal favorite, Jason Giambi's 'stache. Good times will be here again, unless of course the Evil Empire somehow ruins everything.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Standardized Tests: The Downfall of Education

Any person who has set foot in an American classroom within the last few decades has been subjected to one of the greatest scourges of the education system: standardized tests. On the surface, standardized tests appear to offer tremendous value to academic institutions by providing a quantitative analysis of a student's threshold for learning for a given subject. With the ever-increasing competition to get into the best schools (re: brand name) in order to get the best jobs, more and more emphasis is being placed on SATs, ACTs, and the like than ever. While some would argue this help will bring education to a higher plane, I think it will have a much more damaging effect. Why is this? Because we are creating a generation of test takers rather than educated individuals. (I will leave the No Child Left Behind Act for another special rant.)

Say you want to get into school X (insert any brand name here). That means you will more than likely take the PSAT, SAT, maybe the ACT, and some AP courses (assuming your high school offers them). Since you are competing against thousands of other kids like yourself (assuming you are at least upper-middle class), you will probably take prep courses for each of those tests to help ensure you get a good score. Will these tests show an over-arching knowledge commiserate with one's education? Maybe, but there is a good chance they will not. Case in point: I have a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering, and was one class short of a minor in Mathematics (I was too lazy to take Linear Algebra). Guess which part of the ACT I performed the poorest on (the one time I took the test)? The math portion. Draw your own conclusions from that.

The purpose of institutions of higher education is preciously that: to provide a means through which an individual can attain an education. Not just a means to and end. Not just another bullet point on a resume. And certainly not as a social-class status symbol. Education and knowledge are supposed to help blur the social lines we have created, not reinforce them. Maybe I have an overly optimistic view of the power of education to help facilitate social change; or maybe the education system just has it's head up it's ass.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Quote of the year

"Soccer is the metric system of sports."

Talk about conveying immense complexity with such a simple statement.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Hybrid Vehicles: The Anti-Green

With the price of oil spiraling out of control, newly developing nations putting an increasing strain on natural resources, and the effects of our past environmental indiscretions yielding the results of their physical trauma, going "green" has become the new trend. And in a country that created the car culture, the ethos of eco-friendly has spread to the automotive industry in the form of hybrid vehicles. In theory, a hybrid approach sounds great. By using a regenerative electrical drive system coupled with a traditional gasoline engine, cars can have much higher fuel efficiency while producing less emissions. This sounds like the answer to all our problems! Or does it?

Here are the problems with current hybrid technology. (I'm going to single out the Toyota Prius for this discussion.) First, unless you drive exclusively in a city setting, you will not reap the benefits of the electric motor. That is because once the vehicle reaches speeds above roughly 20 mph, the electric motor shuts off and the gasoline engine takes over. This means my Honda Civic is just as (if not more) fuel efficient roughly 60% of the time as a higher priced Prius. Second, by relying solely on the regenerative braking system to charge both the electric drive battery (which powers the electric motor) and the 12V battery (which runs everything else), a person must drive for sometimes up to 10 hours in order to recharge the 12V battery. What are the consequences? If you have ever dealt with a dead battery in heavy traffic, then you know how dangerous and frustrating such an event can be. And last (but certainly not least), what do we do with all those 100 pound batteries when they eventually fail? Better yet, what is their life expectancy and how much will they cost to replace? Nothing like thousands of pounds of good ol' e-waste sitting around adding to our pollution problem.

In short, hybrid vehicles provide at best a stop-gap to try and help wean us from our insatiable petroleum fix. However, there many potential pitfalls that make them nothing more than yet another hollow status symbol in a country obsessed with one-upsmanship.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Intial post...sort of

Testing one, two, three...
It is amazing how technology has given us a vehicle where upon we can elucidate our opinions and beliefs from behind the shroud of anonymity, all in an effort to help humanity as a whole coalesce and move forward. Of course, that is a nice way of saying everyone has a chance to chime in with their two cents, no matter how unmerited or undignified (along with several other words that have the prefix un-).

What do I aim to accomplish from adding yet another blog to the already clogged tubes of the internet? To help distill the crap we are fed on a daily basis from large corporate media outlets? To try and find some small sliver of hope in a country that has lost it's way? To find out why everything tastes like chicken? Maybe my goals are not quite so lofty. My hope is that there are other people out there who share my concerns, and that they too can make a difference - no matter how small - that can have a lasting effect on us all. And if all else fails, at least I have a means to bitch and complain like everyone else.