25 February 2008

Where did education go wrong?

Errors Plague Letters from APS Students

Student protest letters full of errors

The assault on the English language has been a thing going on since long before the internet and instant messengers and text messaging taught teenagers and younger children the very fine art that is shorthand. It started for me in elementary school, something I don't really remember myself, but my mother told me. She told me she was alarmed when my teachers said that it was okay to misspell things in a way of "it's how they feel" or "don't want to hurt the children's feelings". I am not totally certain how things went, but I remember that spelling was one of my most challenging subjects when I was in elementary school. But I worked hard. Throughout my years in school, if I had written as badly as these students did in their letters, I would've failed.

And the schools wonder why they're not meeting the testing standards.

I'm not really a big fan of standardized tests, but I am a big fan of actually teaching students what they need to know. Writing clearly is a very important thing that everyone needs to do in order to get good jobs and even get into good colleges. It baffles me that even at middle school, students are writing so poorly.

If these students are indicative of what is plaguing our public schools, I will not be enrolling any of my offspring in any public school. I remember how hard it was to go through school and get English grammar correct and spelling correct, especially when we really weren't taught proper grammar in grade school. I didn't get a proper grammar class until my final year in college as an elective! But I would never have passed middle school if I wrote like that. If they really want their electives, they need to take those remedial classes. And if that keeps them from going to school, sure it could be the school's fault for not teaching properly, but it's really the student's fault for not really trying.

Thanks to Ahab linking this in his blog

15 February 2008

Knitting Pattern Review: Knucks

The first in my knitting posts, I am exploring how I wish to contribute to the realm of knitting blogs or for that matter, blog about my own work with knitting. I am going to probably post up a good bit of my work, to start out review a pattern I have tried and periodically post up other items I have made with that pattern.

The first in the series is a pattern I discovered through Facebook's Stitchbook application (I have actually found a good amount of patterns I like this way, and the first three patterns I review including this one was found through this means).

pattern found here

I first had been trying to make fingerless gloves from a pattern in
the book " Naughty Needles". I wanted to make a pair of these gloves for Philip, but the gloves were far too feminine and they actually didn't really work out the way that the pattern said. So when I found this particular pattern, I was excited because there was an actual "male sized" pattern that I could use to make him some gloves. So I tried it out. I got some sport weight merino wool from Nature's Yarns in Fairfax near my work and borrowed mom's and got my own size 4 double pointed needles (DPNs). They took a bit of time, like it always does with a new pattern and they worked out great. He loved them! These were a part of a bunch of things I put together for his Christmas present. He usually wears his Harley Davidson Leather fingerless gloves, but these I made were more for warmth than for heavy lifting like the others. This is fine by me.

When I bought the yarn for Philip's gloves, I also purchased some cotton-wool mix DK weight yarn in a light teal color thinking of making the Naughty Needle's gloves for Joyce for her birthday, but after trying it out, they didn't turn out the way I wanted so I changed my mind and made her a set of these gloves as well. This was the first time I made a female pair (although as of now I have only made one set of these gloves for a guy). I had to redo it once after accidentally making the pointer finger too big and therefore throwing off the entire glove (and this was the second glove), but through trial and error, they were finished.

I enjoyed working this pattern so much, I made two sets of gloves for myself. I played around with colors for one of them, trying out the idea of having the fingers different colors. For the red and yellow gloves I used KnitPicks Swish DK (Superwash Merino Wool) in Hollyberry and Pale Lemon.

Because I enjoy this pattern so much, I intend to use it again in the future. I will post up pictures of new ones when I do finish them. It's pretty simple for a beginner knitter. I consider myself fairly beginner with hands in a select few intermediate stuff. This was just simple stockinette in the round with k1, pl ribbing for the cuffs. I also recommend Knitpicks's Swish DK. It's extremely soft and comfortable to use and very warm to wear.

12 February 2008

The Lesser of Two Evils

Most of the time when it comes to elections I hear people saying "I'm choosing the lesser of two evils." Why is it that we have to decide between two evils? Why can't we actually have someone who is not evil at all to choose?

This is something that I've been thinking about a lot when it comes to today's "Chesapeake Primary". Since Virginia has an open primary I have heard of multiple folk going to vote for various different reasons. Today I went to vote, but I did not like the choices that were left. So I voted my conscience. My conscience ended up being a candidate no longer in the race. I could not bring myself to vote in the Democratic primary, like other people I know have done or will do. I believe I know of a person who is going to vote "against Hillary", most likely for the reason that she is disliked and we don't want the Clintons in the White House again. I know another person who is going to vote for Hillary because she believes that she is the easiest for the Republicans to beat. I dislike both of the Democratic candidates on more of policy issues. I dislike who is left in the Republican ticket for similar reasons.

It is because of the primary system and coming out with candidates that are not preferred that the choice between "two evils" becomes the way things happen.

But then there are also a lot of people who dislike and/or distrust politicians altogether.

05 February 2008

Super Tuesday

I am not in a Super Tuesday state. My primary is next week in what has been dubbed either the "Potomac Primary" or the "Chesapeake Primary" for it consists of Virginia, DC, and Maryland.

To be honest, I don't know what to expect from Super Tuesday today and whether my primary next week will even be an issue after this one. I hope it will. I'd like to go out and vote and feel as if I can make some difference in the presidential primaries.

I follow the news and I look at all the polls. I don't know which polls are right. The news media was talking all of last week and some are still talking about how McCain is going to sweep and pull out on top. But just recently I heard that Romney is pulling ahead in California and may just have a chance in Georgia.

I was a Fred Thompson supporter. All of his positions were those that fit the conservative mold, but his campaign never really took hold of the party. He did things his own way and perhaps was too laid back for people to really take him seriously. And even then, he might not have even taken himself seriously either. But that is a non issue now.

I think the thing that annoys me most is all the bickering going back and forth within the Republican party. Sure I think McCain is no conservative, but to try to say that you're not going to even go to vote if he is the nominee is just, well, stupid. What about all your local politicians. If more conservatives stay home from voting just because of him, what will that do to our Congress? Instead of not voting, why not vote "write-in" (Ham Sandwich) or third party. You'd get your voice heard that way. But staying home I think is a cop-out and cowardice.

Sure there may be no solid conservative currently in the Republican race. We have a social conservative governor who raised taxes and destroyed the Arkansas Republican Party, we have a security conservative who has pissed off far too many Republicans by legislation that he has supported that go against what we believe in, we have a libertarian who has isolationist leanings, and we have a fiscal conservative who has flip-flopped more than once on his views.

Most of the time when it comes to elections I hear people saying "I'm choosing the lesser of two evils." Why is it that we have to decide between two evils? Why can't we actually have someone who is not evil at all to choose?

When I make a decision, I tend to go with who stands the closest to my ideals out of the available candidates. If the candidates aren't even close to that though, then I may write in or vote third party. I am not to that point yet.

Now if the person who wins the primary for the Republican side were to look at a conservative like Thompson for a running mate, then I would feel extremely strong about supporting them. Until then, I'm going to weigh my options and go for "who is less bad for our country."

I just hope that I will still be able to choose this next Tuesday.

02 February 2008

Always need an introductory post.

I had a hard time trying to figure out what I wanted to name my blog. I never was very good at titles. All the ideas in my head just didn't seem to work.

So I went with "Eleutheria".

Eleutheria is Attic Greek for "Freedom".

I fell in love with this word the moment I learned it. It sounded pretty and I have always had a strong desire for freedom. Freedom is very important when you're in college (when I took Greek) and just getting started out in the wide world. Freedom is very important to this country for the desire for freedom from the British rule began the country. So in essence, there is a lot about freedom that simply, fits.

There are few things that really put me at complete peace and feeling like I am free. I started a blog so I can feel free to discuss more hard hitting subjects that don't really fit a "journal", like trying to take a stab at political blogging. I also am interested to tackle hard question like those revolving around fantasy and what role can gamers actually play in a church setting. I may also talk about anime series as a whole that I have watched and do reviews of them. And then there's this other hobby that I enjoy, knitting. In the future I will post up pictures of work I have done and if I have ever broken into the creating of my own patterns I will post them here as well.

So in essence, I'm trying to break into the world of blogging where I will try my best to intellectually rant about things in the world going on. We'll see how this goes I suppose.