Tag Archives: Rant

Music Is Funny That Way

by Richard

So, with the little dudes off on various little-dude trips and me with a whole 49 hours of adult-only time, I met the in-laws and friends for a little birthday celebration at a nice local restaurant, 131 Main.

Great food. Nice staff. A good time had by all. But that’s not the strange bit.

You know how most restaurants have music playing softly in the background, just in case you’re out with someone you thought was hot and you really wanted to get with her, but, when you sit down, you quickly discover you’ve got nothing in common with her other than the fact that you’re both descended from the same proto-mammalian ancestor (and you’re not even sure of that with her) so you just sit there staring at each other, nervously shuffling a fork or two, starting to say something, stopping, having her ask what and then you ask her if she said something and you both say no and then lapse into silence again until you hear a song you recognize from when you were young and then you have something you can say? No? Maybe it was just me.

Anyway, restaurants do have music playing softly in the background. When I was out over the weekend, I was sort of zoning out of the table talk and listening to the music. It wasn’t some horrible, badly orchestrated all-strings rendition of a classic Pearl Jam song.

No, it was an actual recording of a current, alternative-rock song. Now that was strange. I was expecting something horrible and then got something current and good.

I thought Muzak was supposed to be horrible. When did they start playing songs I hear on alt-rock stations out in public? This just shouldn’t be happening.

How else am I going to feel cool (notice I didn’t say be cool) if I can’t feel superior to people because I know about music that they’ve never heard of? I mean, that was my last remaining ray of hope. Nobody really thinks it’s cool that I can explain the history of Hydro-Man or know why the Mule is important to the future of psychohistory. And if you understand those, we need to have some long talks about how you’re wasting your life.

Guess it’s time to start listening to and forcing myself to like post-punk music. Anyone know a good piercing parlor?

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Cheating: A Rant

by Richard

Remember way back when Dennis Miller used to be funny? Yeah, I know. Hard to reach back that far. Still, he was at his funniest when he was at his angriest, when he was on a rant.

I’m not that funny, but I’m about to go on a rant. And I do mean to go off on it.

Back on Valentine’s Day, we got a comment entered in an post that was so old we had to blow the spiderwebs off it so we could actually read what we wrote. Which means, usually, we got spammed by some kind of robot. And not the fun kind. This robot-installed spam was hawking academic papers that you could buy.

Yeah, that’s right. The place, which I will not dignify with a link, is a cheating factory.

There’s an argument that buying papers off the internet isn’t cheating. That those papers only serve as a guideline to the — ha! — students who buy them. A way for them to help focus their thoughts.

Yeah, right. And I’m the Queen of Iceland. Admittedly, I do look good in a nice mauve prom dress and a tiara, but Iceland doesn’t actually have a queen. I think you get my point.

The purpose of an essay is not to punish the students. Well, most of the time. Seriously, it’s so that the professor can make sure the students have actually grasped the point of a section of knowledge and are able to synthesize ideas, resolve contradictions and form coherent opinions about that knowledge. These are all important skills. And buying papers off the internet doesn’t help achieve that goal.

I know I’m speaking as a very old person here. There’s no student who likes writing an essay. I know I didn’t when I was that age. But, now that I’m old, I can appreciate what it’s trying to accomplish. It’s a worthwhile goal. That and it’s fun to watch little dudes suffer like that.

I still remember the two all-nighters in a row I pulled in trying to write a coherent paper about Kurt Vonnegut’s Jailbird. That thing, like most of Vonnegut’s books, is a mass of twisting narrative that can confound the most agile mind. Of which mine was not. Still, I managed to get the paper done on time and turn it in. I got a “B” and counted myself lucky. I later found out I got that high a grade because the professor felt sorry for me when he saw how I looked when I turned it in. I know, how could he tell the difference? Har, har.

Still, even though it’s hard, people need to learn how to write coherent bits of narrative. You will be judged on how well you write. No one’s going to demand that anyone write as well as Christopher Moore or anything, but you have to be able to get your ideas across in print, or pixel as the case may be.

I just do not like these kinds of services. I think they cheat the professor and the student. And that’s not good.

Okay. I’m done. End of rant. Go about your business.

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by Richard

From the department of the completely, patently, obviously obvious: Computers, while an occasional boon to mankind, can really ruin your day. The more important the information, the more likely it is that you’ll have some sort of major mess on your hands.

Case in point (which allows me to use some more colons. Whee!): my Blackberry.

Here’s the deal. (Almost went with colon there, but I decided to let ya’ll off the hook.) I bought a Blackberry because I probably couldn’t remember something without help if my life depended on it. It’s so nice to have a calendar attached to my hips at all times and to have it bleep and blatt when I’m supposed to be doing something. It helps me to know just exactly it is that I’m in the process of missing. (A famous author, Douglas Adams, once said, “I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.” Hey, steal from the best.)

Anyway. Not to get off the point here. (Too late!) The reason for this rant is that I just tried to back up the Blackberry with the first version of the Blackberry desktop manager for Mac. It did not go well.

I lost the internet browser on the phone, a number of contacts and who knows how many actual appointments in the process. FSM only knows where I’m going to be the next time Zippy the Monkey Boy has a follow-up orthodontist appointment.

Even as I type, I’m still trying to set things right. I’ve got the stupid phone hooked up to the stupid computer and they’re trying to talk to each other, each convinced they’re right and the other is wrong. I wonder who’s the real stupid? Hmmm. I are thinking it could be me.

So, yeah, make sure you’ve got your important data saved before you try something like this. Now I’ve go to go to the little dudes and ask them if they had anything coming up. You know that’s not going to finish well.

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