Saturday, January 03, 2009

Moving Day!

I finally did it. After seeing many of my friends do the same, I gave into the peer pressure and moved my blog to WordPress. I also completely redesigned the blog to mark the occassion, including giving it a new name, The Ambitious Paradox.

So mosey on over to and keep in touch. You'll be glad you did... I think.;)

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2009 New Year Resolutions

What do I hope to accomplish in 2009?

In no particular order:

  1. Publish at least one article from my dissertation data, which I haven't touched in 2 years.
  2. Participate in and successfully complete NaNoWriMo this November (with maybe a trial month earlier in the year for a short story?)
  3. Do more laundry.
Now, keep me accountable, people!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Going to Bed?

Kari got me a Kodak Zi6 Pocket Video Camera for Christmas. I use it all the time, as evidenced by the video below. There will probably be more of these coming soon.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The Relevance of the Palin Pregnancy

I realize that it's been a while since I posted anything of substance. (BTW, if you really want to keep up with what's going on with me, you 'd do better to follow my Twitter feed, which I update obsessively.) I'm actually working on a post now that sums up a lot of things that have happened since my last post, such as The Music Man, our new puppy, Daisy, and Aidan's first day of Kindergarden. I hope to post that update as soon as I have a chance to finish it, but lately a topic has been in the news that I thought merited some attention, but perhaps not for the reason most people think.

Most people have probably heard by now that John McCain has selected Sarah Palin, governor of Alaska, as his presidential running mate. Most people have probably also heard about the fact that her unwed, 17-year-old daughter is pregnant. This has been all over the media since Monday, and it has evoked a whirlwind of pontification and speculation by the public and media alike, but for the wrong reasons. Most of the conversation centers around the role of women in the workplace, the fact that the girl didn't want to have an abortion (Come on. She's from a conservative, Christian family with a Republican politician parent; that was never going to happen anyway), or the fact that the young mom- and dad-to-be are getting married (potentially disastrous mistake!).

But I think the real problem brought to light in this story is one that I believe is much more relevant to Sarah Palin's potential as the President of the United States. (I know she is running for VP, but you always have to think of the VP as if he/she was president when evaluating his/her fitness for the office.) Palin is a strong advocate of abstinence-only sex education, which is "a form of sex education that emphasizes abstinence from sex to the exclusion of all other types of sexual and reproductive health education, particularly regarding birth control and safe sex."1 This is a policy position that she has taken and would wholly advocate if she were to take office. That is the part that disturbs me, and that is the only aspect of this story that I believe is even remotely relevant to the election.

Abstinence-only sex education is a flawed method of sex ed. All empirical evidence consistently points to the fact that not only is it ineffective, but it is actually harmful. Rates of teen pregnancy have been found to be even higher among abstinence-only students than that of the general population because it spreads ignorance regarding sexually transmitted diseases and the proper use of contraceptives to prevent both infections and pregnancy.2 As evidence, contrast teen pregnancy rates in Texas and California, two states with diametrically opposed approaches to sex education: 
Texas' policy is to deny contraceptives without parental consent wherever possible and to push an abstinence-only sex education program in public schools.

Experts, though, are questioning that approach. They note that from 1991 to 2004, the state's teen birth rate dropped by 19 percent, while the U.S. rate dipped by one-third.

By contrast, California, which has seen its teen birth rate drop by 47 percent in the same period, teaches abstinence but also explains contraception at school and has gone to dispensing birth control to teenage boys and girls – for free, no parental consent required – in community clinics and doctors' offices.

-- The Dallas Morning News, November 5, 20073
Teens who participate in abstinence-only education also have greater trouble understand the role of sex in their marriage relationships later in life. All considered, it is a dangerous policy that has the opposite effect than it intends. That's not to say that I don't appreciate the intentions behind the policy. Saving sex for marriage is a great thing. I advocate that whole-heartedly, as it can be an incredibly powerful experience for the couple if done properly. But abstinence-only sex education does nothing to promote that end.

So now, Bristol Palin, the daughter of a prominent abstinence-only advocate, is pregnant. She epitomizes the failure of this policy. Yet, her mother refuses to acknowledge it as a failed strategy, despite the evidence in her own home, much less the scientific and empirical evidence. That is the most problematic aspect of this affair. If she dogmatically sticks to a failed sex ed. policy in light of glaring evidence, she almost certainly will do so with other national and international matters. We've had eight years of dogmatic stubbornness. We don't need any more.

Friday, July 11, 2008

I got my iPhone!... but not without problems...

I got up at 5AM this morning, and was at the Apple store by 5:45. I waited in line up through the store opening at 8AM. I waited to talk to an Apple employee for another 45 minutes. That was when the real waiting began. Through a combination of wacky iTunes servers being down and Kari's AT&T corporate discount causing havoc, it definitely was not a smooth process for me to get this phone. But get it, I did, and the first thing I did was make a video of my unboxing experience.

Everything is fully operational now, and I absolutely LOVE IT!!! Check out this video to hear the full story, though.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Currently Listening: Beck's "Modern Guilt"

As I anxiously await the arrive of my new best gadget, I've had to find something to occupy my mind until 8AM Friday (40 hours, 53 minutes away, as I write this). Thankfully, I've been ├╝ber-busy at work. All of my clients have actually been coming in, which is very rare for this time of year. Also, rehearsals for The Music Man have really picked up, as it should less than 2 weeks from Opening Night. Also, this is one of Kari's 2 really busy times of the year at work, so I've had to pick up quite a bit of slack at home (not that I've really succeeded in that area... oops). Nevertheless, my mind still frequently wanders to the Gadget of my Dreams. How can I obsess over something else to prevent my certain descent into impatience-induced insanity?

Enter Mr. Beck Hanson. One of my favorite recording artists, Beck consistently gives me some of my favorite music, such as his songs "Devil's Haircut", "Sexx Laws", "Paper Tiger", "Rental Car", and "Strange Apparition". His new album dropped on Tuesday, and I immediately pounced on it. Produced by Danger Mouse of Gnarls Barkley and The Grey Album fame (and who coincidentally produced one of my favorite albums of 2007, The Good, the Bad, and the Queen), Modern Guilt is an album that doesn't present any shockingly revolutionary material, as Beck has become known for. Rather, it feels like a Beck album. I think that's a good thing. I like the sound of his last two albums, and I don't mind having those themes explored more. Others, however, tend to disagree. I realize that this album has received less-than-stellar reviews. One reviewer wrote that Beck is "dropping down a rabbit hole of psychedelic noisemakers." Another wrote that the album "sounds like an obligation. It sounds like Beck has disengaged from his music." I could not disagree more. If anything, he seems to be delving deeper into his own music. There is undoubtedly a darker tone to the music, but unlike the very dark Sea Change, Modern Guilt has a dark, paranoid quality that makes for very interesting and exciting music for me.

My only complain is that it is WAY too short. 10 tracks, 34 minutes. Granted, it's an awesome and trippy 34 minutes, but just as you are grooving and "dropping down the rabbit hole", it's over. Whatever. I'll just put it on repeat and keep listening. I wonder how it will sound on Friday on my new iPhone?

Favorite tracks: Gamma Rays, Chemtrails (which VERY appropriately has been compared to Caribou), Volcano

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The new iPhone is REAL!! (but not here yet)

Anyone who reads my blog, even in passing, has to notice that I am a big fan of Apple's iPhone. Over the last 6 months or so, I have become absolutely obsessed with it. I decided in March that when the next generation iPhone came out, I would do whatever I could to get one. Since then, I've been putting away my nickels and dimes to cover not only the cost of the new phone and a few needed accessories, but also the Early Termination Fee (ETF) that I'll have to fork over to Verizon. I have saved what I thought would be enough, but I couldn't know for sure until they announced the new details.

So it should come as no surprised that I followed yesterday's announcement of the updated iPhone by Apple VERY closely. Needless to say, I was blown away. Not as much by the specs, most of which were pretty well-known by the rumor mill (3G wireless technology, GPS, Exchange/MobileMe integration, etc.), and not by the form factor, which while appealing does not seem to be quite as cool as the first iPhone. Rather, I was blown away by the price: $199 for the 8GB model, and $299 for the 16GB model. That is MUCH less that I thought it would be. I couldn't believe this when I heard it. I knew there had to be a catch... and there was.

The new iPhone will not be available until JULY 11. That's right. July. Not June. July.

That really bummed me out. Did I mention that my obsession had been going on for months now? When I found this out, I emailed Kari:
Good news: $299 for the top model (16GB)
Bad News: Release date July 11
My Calendar is marked.
Her reply:
What about all those boxes being shipped?
What about Father's day presents!
I have to hear you pine and lust for another MONTH?
So, yeah. It's going to be a rough month to come.

But I guess I might enjoy learning more about it, feeding my obsession with a fervor never expressed before. To start, I could list all of the things I love about the device, but I think it would be easier and faster to list all of the things I DON'T like about it. Here is the comprehensive list:
  1. No cut-and-paste: Why is this so difficult? While I can't imagine this being a big deal to me overall in the long run, I could certainly see how it might be an inconvenience at times. DEALBREAKER? NOT REALLY
  2. No video recording: Granted, I know next to nothing about what it takes to turn a camera phone into a video phone, but my thinking is that if my LG VX9900 can do video, why can't the iPhone? Potentially, this could be fixed by a third-party application to come, but it really should be integrated into the firmware by Apple. Again, though, I don't use video-on-the-go very often, so I might not miss it. DEALBREAKER? NOPE
  3. No document editing: Although Apple announced full ability to view iWork and Microsoft Office documents, it did not allow users to be able to edit those documents on the iPhone. Nor did they provide an easy way to port Keynote or PowerPoint presentations to a projector or monitor. This would have been a much bigger deal for me 2+ years ago when I was still working on my doctorate and needed to edit documents on the go. Now? It would be nice, but DEALBREAKER? NOT EVEN CLOSE
  4. Storage max out at 16GB: This is definitely the hardest one to swallow. I really thought they would come out with a 32GB model, which would have been perfect for me. My current iPod is a 30GB 5G iPod with video. For me to completely replace my iPod with the iPhone, I will need to find a way to cut the amount of media I have on me by more than half. (I'll need to save some room for apps and available storage for on-the-go downloads.) This will be difficult, especially considering that my music collection alone is around 18GB. Although this comes the closest to giving me pause about a purchase, ultimately DEALBREAKER? *gulp*... no...
As you can see, that's a relatively short list, and I cannot find a true dealbreaker in the bunch. Although other bloggers and fans have found a number of other flaws with the World's Most Complete Phone/Gadget, none of the other criticisms are in the least bit relevant to me.

As iDay (July 11) approaches, you can expect to see more iPhone related posts to help me feed my obsession.

[Update]: I can't believe that I forgot this, but I actually have one other problem with the iPhone.
  1. No voice dialing: This is a feature that I never used on my phone until a year ago. That's when I started commuting 1 hour away once a week. Voice dialing became important for me to use in the car, and given the iPhone's UI, I would think it would be even more important. The only reason I can think of not including this is that the voice recognition technology for phones is not at the level that Apple expects for its products, and I can understand that. The voice dialing on my LG VX9900 only works about 50% of the time, and is VERY frustrating the other 50%. Although I will miss this feature, I'm sure I can learn to live without it. DEALBREAKER? I don't think so.