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Month: April 2008

Stories came in a box

I finally got my package in the mail of eight science fiction short story collection books from the “Writers of the Future” series. A lot of reading to do over the summer! I look forward to checking out what sort of stories have won, and may enter the contest myself if I can ever finish anything.

I was reading stories from the 2007 Nebula Award Showcase book, and… well… wasn’t particularly pleased. The winners seemed a bit “artsy” to me. I did like some of the stories in there, though, and sometimes I’ll really like an author’s style but hate his or her sense of story or characterization (or vice-versa). So… I doubt I’ll ever feel bad if I never win a Nebula… (first I gotta actually write something anyway).

Today was the last Tuesday of classes this semester, the end is near! (Though the semester isn’t over when classes end… there’s always those dreaded exams…)

The Stuff of Blog

My parents bought a Wii over the weekend. Hmmmm, not much else to say about that.

I’m continuing to read Pinker’s The Stuff of Thought which is great, very engaging. There are some moments when he is over my head though. In the chapter I just finished, he spent some time arguing against the theories of some other linguist, and left me completely confused. Something about the meanings of words being innate or not. Anyway, I think I might just buy the book in paperback sometime, it’d be worth keeping on the bookshelf I think, worth owning…

Well, I just finished the second-to-last Monday of university education. I’ve got two more programming projects to do for my degree. And then finals. Hope it will all go well. Oops, I should stay away from saying anything about the future… it’s boring for a blog, never looks good in retrospect.

That’s all for now.

Encourage != Nag

I overheard a parent say that he was tired of encouraging his son to do homework. He kept reminding his son over and over to do it, but his son just won’t listen, and he’s tired of it.

Well, duh! No one likes to be nagged about anything. There’s a difference between encouraging and nagging. To simply keep reminding someone to do something is nagging, and it’s extremely annoying. Imagine if the Catholic Church nagged people to go to confession, of if Jesus himself nagged everyone about their sinfulness.

Encouraging means to inspire with courage or confidence. This can rarely be achieved by simply constantly reminding someone of something.

This is probably something that’s too obvious to really need to be said, but there are some dunderheads in the world who don’t realize it… I’ve had teachers who think they encourage creativity by simply repeating “be creative!” before handing out each boring assignment. That’s not the way it works…

So if you really want to encourage students to do their homework, reward them with something (and, no, knowledge is not its own reward).

In other news, I’ve got about a week and a half left of college classes. I’ve got a lot of homework due this Friday and next Monday, so I’ll probably be busy all week. Then I have to study for exams. That won’t be fun.

Pretending to Lead

I was watching 20/20 last night and John Stossel was saying something about government programs meant to help the poverty in America. He mentioned that the nation’s poverty had been declining steadily even before the government programs existed, and that it was like the programs were “jumping in front of the parade and pretending to lead.”

Now I don’t really care to argue about poverty levels and government programs. The phrase “jumping in front of the parade and pretending to lead” just stuck out at me. It seems applicable to… I don’t know… gifted education programs?

Not that I’m against all gifted education programs, of course, but I think one has to be careful in trying to analyze how much good they’re doing. In a way, they might just be “pretending to lead.” I can just imagine some creative children drawing great drawings and writing interesting stories (or whatever creative children do these days), impressing adults, only to have some teachers jump in front of them and say “We’ll be their mentor, their guide!” when they might not really be doing much of anything, maybe even just getting in the way. But an onlooker might say “wow, those teachers have a bunch of creative children; they must be great teachers!” when in fact it’s the students that are great.

In the real world, however, I’m sure there’s much more of a balance. Gifted education programs can certainly provide students with more opportunities, and that’s definitely important. But I think it can be quite telling to look at the requirements to get into these programs. Students are usually tested and analyzed before receiving these opportunities; what would happen if the opportunities were just given to everyone? What if we just called every student “gifted”? Sometimes it seems like some education programs can just pluck out the students with the qualities desired, then pretend to instill those qualities.

Kind of annoying, aren’t they, people who are pretending to lead?

Stupid Copyright

This is a sham… you get your senior portrait taken for the high school yearbook (and for family) and the photographer copyrights the photos so you can only buy copies from them?! That’s the way it seems to work around here. That’s pretty darn stupid! How hard is it for a photographer to turn on the lights and click the camera? Most senior portraits look pretty much the same, it’s not much of an art form! So I think some one could make a pretty decent amount of money selling both the picture-taking services and the copyrights to the pictures, so the person who owns the face that’s being pictured can get them copied. Photographers of people’s faces must be making a lot more money than they should be. Sham, sham, sham!!

But perhaps a good business opportunity? Are there photographer unions that make everyone unable to sell copyrights along with the photos? Unions can be pretty stupid sometimes, ya know…

In other news, I got a book out of the library called The Stuff of Thought by Steven Pinker. (By the way, like the new Amazon ferris wheel on the side with all the books I’m reading or have recently read? Isn’t that nifty?) So far it’s a very thought provoking book and written interestingly… it’s easy to follow yet not boring. It’s the first Steven Pinker book I’ve started reading, but I’ve been hearing about him for a while.

Ok, I can’t think of much else. And I’ve got homework to do.

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Here’s what I’ve been up to…

Most of the month has been taken up by school work. 🙁

Music wise, I’m not sure what I’ll call the piece I’m working on, but it’s nice and orchestral and has many melodies.

Writing wise, I was working on a novellette or novella called Simmion’s Show, but school got busy and I’ve been slacking off on it.

Reading wise, I’m reading an excellent book by Ken Robinson called Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative. I posted a video featuring Ken Robinson here in my Stuff I Found blog. It’s always great to find people who agree with my opinions on the matters of education and creativity.

I should also mention, Twitter has been discouraging me from posting to this blog as it somewhat replaces the journal-like purpose of this blog, which is probably why I’ve been posting less. But the advantage of posting here is that I can go more in depth into whatever I’m blathering about, which may or may not be a good thing.

College classes end not this coming Monday, but the Monday following, and then, if I don’t fail anything, I’ll be done! Unfortunately there is still homework to be done, so I can’t quite bask in any glory any time soon.

Light at the end?

Is that a light at the end of the tunnel, or just a candle at a turning point?

Wow, that was poetic.

Anyway, I’ve been pretty busy with too much homework, so my Internet activity is way down. And I really don’t have anything interesting to post… so why am I doing this?

Just to clutter up the Internet!

I have an exam tomorrow, a midterm… well, really a “triterm” I guess. Wish me luck, and wish me skill. If I don’t fail any classes this semester, which I hopefully won’t, it will be my last midterm!

After that, I’ve got a project due this Friday, and project due next Friday, a project due the Friday after that, and two projects due on the last Friday of the semester. With some various smaller homeworks in between. BLAGH. Then finals.

Then something better. Hopefully something having to do with game programming, as that’s the entire reason I’m interested in computer science. But we’ll see.

Oh, I thought this was funny… even though I think I’ve mentioned it before… my old high school English teacher is having a booksigning at a local bookstore and had an article in the paper about him. His book was published by… PublishAmerica. Now, despite whatever they say on their website, PublishAmerica will publish just about any lame old thing you write, and will make you do all the marketing, so they really don’t count as being a “professional” publisher. (Might as well use Lulu… at least they’re honest.) It’s somewhat amusing that he seems very proud of himself, but it’s also kind of annoying that others might be too stupid to realize that he wasn’t really published.

Ok, bye.