Friday, September 25, 2009

Cruciferous Vegetables

I just need to get this off my chest: What's with broccoflower? And more to the point, why is it that Japanese restaurants insist on hiding it in their vegetable tempura? I bite into something that looks like a nice, tasty piece of tempura broccoli, and it turns out to be a disgusting, green cauliflower.

Is broccoflower just some sort of attempt to woo people who won't eat disgusting cauliflower by making it look like some kind of tasty green vegetable?

Yuck. I know cauliflower is supposed to be good for you, so I assume broccoflower is, too. But really: yuck.

My broken State, Part V

We used to educate our children. Now, not so much:

And all of this was going to be free for Californians. It was an investment in the future, and it paid off, big-time. The quality graduates that came out of this public education system helped to grow the California economy at a pace far outstripping the rest of the nation. Some like to call the 20th Century the American Century, well, if that was true, the last half of the 20th Century was the California Century.

But like all good centuries, they come to an end. And with the election of Ronald Reagan, and later Deukmejian and Wilson, and to an extent, even Brown's son Jerry, the Master Plan has been gradually chipped away. As we stand right now, of the approximately $18 Billion UC budget, around $3 Billion now comes from the state.

In other words, the state university system is merely a somewhat-state-subsidized system, and barely that.

Great quote at the end of the piece from George Lakoff:

Lakoff, UC Distinguished Professor of Linguistics and author of several popular and scholarly books on the language of politics, said in a letter to UCB's Townsend Center that "the privatization issue goes well beyond public education. It is about whether we have a democracy that works for the common good, or a plutocracy that privileges the wealthy and powerful. Privatizing the world's greatest public university is a giant step away from democracy."(Berkeley Daily Planet 9/17/09)

As a product of California's public-education heyday, all the way from kindergarten through college, I have a great appreciation for what we used to have. And I'm appalled that the state (both the people and their elected government) no longer seems to value public education.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Journalism

Sorry for not writing much of late. Not that I don't have a lot to say; just don't have time to write it down here.

Stumbled across this piece, though, which I thought did a good job of explaining why you have to be very dubious of everything you read and hear. The people we grew up trusting to tell us what was going on in the world don't do their job very well. It's much less an issue of bias (although some exists) and more a case of laziness mixed with incompetence.

Excellent stuff at the end of the piece:

At the beginning of his article, Von Drehle referred to a recent poll that found "record-low levels of public trust of the mainstream media." Guess what? Articles like this are why nobody trusts the media. When you pretend that obviously false claims about crowd sizes are valid, people won't trust you. When you pretend that only liberals say 70,000 people actually attended last week's protest, people won't trust you. They shouldn't trust you. You aren't trustworthy. You are doing your job dishonestly and incompetently.

And that dishonesty, that incompetence, is what enables Glenn Beck. When Glenn Beck says 1.7 million people were at the protest, and the Washington, D.C., Fire Department says 70,000, and Time runs an article saying conservatives and liberals disagree about the crowd size, that enables Glenn Beck's lies.

Being a mouthpiece for liars of any political stripe is not journalism. Reporting the lies without saying whether they are, objectively speaking, true, is not journalism, either. *sigh*

Apparently some people (including people who are supposed to be journalists) really believe that everything is just a matter of opinion, that there are no objective facts. They are wrong.