Thursday, September 30, 2004

One of the first arguments I saw that Fox News was biased was a survey I saw on a website from some time in late 2003. It made an interesting argument: it compared beliefs held by Fox news viewers about concrete facts to beliefs held by NPR/CNN viewers about those same facts. The survey showed that people whose main source of news was Fox were more likely to believe incorrect statements that were flattering to the Republican party than viewers of NPR or CNN. For example, the survey asked something like "Does world opinion support the war in Iraq?", "Have WMDs been found in Iraq?", and (I think) "Is there a connection between Iraq and 9/11?" The correct answer to all those questions, backed up by evidence as strong as pretty much any historical record, is "No." But Fox news viewers were more likely, sometimes twice as likely, to answer "yes," which in every case makes the Republican party look better than a "No". (I won't bother to quote it all here, but for details, watch "Outfoxed". I can lend it to you if you want.)

A couple weeks ago, a right-wing friend of mine was skeptical when I told him that Fox was biased. When I told him about the survey, he said that he's never seen anyone on Fox say any of those things. So I asked, "Well, there's a relationship, there has to be some reason. Do you think [it's because] stupid people watch Fox News?" At which point he pushed me, of course, because he watches it.

Of course, I don't really think that people on the right are stupid. Or at least I didn't until I saw this. Just now I was reading and found this article. The details of this new survey can be found here. To summarize: the majority of Bush supporters hold incorrect beliefs about his positions on several issues, like banning land mines and the Kyoto treaty and many others, and the proportion of Bush supporters misinformed about him is much higher than the proportion of Kerry supporters misinformed about Kerry.

Dammit, I want to be fair. I want to believe that people are basically good and the only serious sticking point in this country is when differing values. No I still believe it, I know plenty of admirable right-wingers. So why do I keep on finding surveys proving mathematically that people who support Bush are less likely to be well-informed about concrete, provable, relevant facts than people who support Kerry?

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Well, the A-Sock-sination game (Tiernan's unique version of Assassins) has been going on for almost two days now (it'll be 48 hours at 1 a.m.) and I'm still alive. It's pretty funny, really, just how much I'm getting into this. Looking over my shoulder at every turn, taking alternate routes to my room, waiting half an hour for my victim... Finally, a game that revolves around one skill I'm great at - stalking people! :) (Don't worry, it's completely a joke.)

Homework has, true to form, been put off until the last minute. I had two things due today and, though I had looked them over before to make sure they weren't hard, I didn't actually put pencil to paper or keys to keyboard until well after dark last night. But on the positive side, I am catching up on the CT a bit. I have a ways to go before I'm on top of things enough, but I'm closer now than I was a week ago.

Sandeep said today that he's not going to work with the CT anymore after his term is up in December. He's easy to work with, so I'll miss him next semester, whether I'm an editor again (if I get Take Five, and remind me to write about that soon too) or if I'm just a writer. But what he said, combined with how I had been working on some stuff for this week's mini-paper, reminded me of something: I'm not much of an editor either. I mean, I don't know if it's leadership jobs in general or maybe it's details about this specific one. But I have to drag myself through all the section editor stuff - telling writers to write being the biggest one - but it's not due to run-of-the-mill laziness, because I'll jump on any chance to work on stories instead of that stuff.

Sunday, September 26, 2004

For once, I'm looking forward to a relaxing week. The Campus Times this week is taking a halfway vacation. Fall break is normally at the beginning of October, so the CT is giving ourselves some time off for the first paper of October, even though fall break is later this year. We're still working, but it's going to be a shorter-than-usual paper and, wonder of wonders, all online. Which makes the editing and everything several times easier. Hopefully Sandeep and I will use this week to get caught up.

The Tiernan Bubbles volleyball team just got back from a game. I don't remember the exact score, but we got creamed. Background on the intramural rules: first team to 30 wins, every serve is a point (not like some games where you only get a point on your own serve) and the winner of a matchup is the team that wins two out of three games. Well, I don't remember the exact scores of the games today, but Tiernan's team didn't break 15 in either of them. But to be fair, I think that says more about our opponents than us. I don't think we had one single serve go wrong, so we're getting better - but none of them were really incompetent, and two or three were actually good enough to spike and overhand serve and stuff.

Before I left my room around 5:15 I put up the Away message, "Studying all too briefly before the volleyball game." All too briefly indeed. I'm sweaty now so I don't feel like going back to Wilson Commons, my room has all the usual distractions, and anyways I have three meetings planned for the rest of the night. I'm sure I'll get to some after those meetings, but still - I should have started trying to work earlier.
Saturday was fun.

I started the day a few minutes after noon with a trip to the gym. I'm not in quite as good shape as I was at the end of spring, but I'm getting there. After that I had a chicken finger sub for lunch. The cricket club was meeting on the academic quad at 3:30 and Sandeep had badgered me into joining, so I got there at 3:40 and enough people got together to start playing by a little after 4. So I played cricket for the first time, and it was pretty fun. It's like baseball on a playing field shaped very differently. It's more interesting and engaging than baseball (at least, the very small and improvised version we played was) and less exhausting than most other sports.

After that a friend of Sandeep's met us and we went to Wegman's, and I bought some liquor for them at the store nearby. This is the second time in two (three?) weeks I've done something like that. I'm so terrible.

I had sushi for dinner. At 11, about 10 people from the hall went to see the move "Saved". It was great. It's about a very Christian girl who learns that her boyfriend might be gay. She tries to save him from that and winds up pregnant. Touching, intelligent, and hilarious in parts. And later, I realized something: I've changed quite a lot in the past year or two. Because, a movie about a single teenage mother who's fucked up in a few ways, and the guy who pursues her - at certain points in my life I would have become miserably depressed because of all the reminders of me and Carissa. But now, I didn't even think of her until the movie was over.

Me, Brian, Katye, and Seth hung out in Seth's room for a little while after that, talking about the movie and religion in general. And... that was Saturday. Dammit... I was supposed to work. Oh well, there's always Monday. :)

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Fucking incredible.

This is shaping up to be our worst CT night ever. Several stories didn't come in for various reasons both good and bad, inevitable and stupidly preventable. The printer has got progressively worse every week since the start of the semester, to the point where right now it needs to be shut off after printing a page to prevent it from overheating, or something. And there's a new writer who is driven, dedicated, helpful to a fault--and completely incapable of being serious. Of course, I shouldn't blame him for the blow-up at 6 a.m. and last minute change of layout, just because his article was the trigger. If I had been doing my job, his article about a ferry would not have had four different jokes about Canadian prostitutes.

Monday, September 20, 2004

I'm not claiming that this has any deep meaning at all, but I found it hilarious. What follows is the complete text of an e-mail to me from someone who is an English professor and assistant director of the College Writing Program:

Hi Cyrus, I think you're looking for the winner of the social sciences category in our Writign Cetner Colloquium contest. I've forwarded your message to the Writign Center Coordinator so she can forward it to that student.


An English professor, people.

"The best laid plans of mice and men..."

Last week, I took my dad's advice and finally started writing stuff I needed to do down in a daily planner, to help with my procrastination and study habits and stuff. Today, I finally started following it. So, of the three items I wrote down - see the CT's faculty advisor about getting course credit for it, get a poli-sci advisor to sign off on my major form, and find someone to give me details on the Take Five program - how many did I actually accomplish?

... one. I got up around 11 this morning, 2 hours before my first class. I skipped my second class of the day to go to a Take Five information session. But Memmott, the CT's advisor, doesn't have office hours today, so I just e-mailed him to ask when we could meet. And by the time I had filled out a major form, I didn't have time to take it to a professor before that Take Five meeting.

But then, I shouldn't complain too much. I made a good start on all those items, I have several hours of productivity left in me today, and it's not like I didn't get around to them because I was playing games - it was the CT, as always. I should have got up earlier, but other than that, I've spent about half an hour of today doing anything you could call unproductive. So who cares, really, if I don't have stuff done two months in advance instead of just one?

Sunday, September 19, 2004

I woke up with a hangover this morning. Big surprise, considering what was going on last night. I'm told I was acting very funny once I got drunk. And get drunk I did - I made an extremely strong gin and tonic - roughly half and half - preceded with two beers right before, but almost no food. Either Sandeep had pregamed before he came over, or he just really can't hold his liquor. Because after a while we went downstairs to say hi to Kim, and, well, I admit I wouldn't be the best judge, but still, I think he was acting a lot more drunk than me.

Today I haven't done much. Caught up on some reading, sent out some CT e-mails, and went to the two meetings. Tomorrow should be a busy day, considering some things I've put off. Namely seeing someone about Take Five, someone else about making my poli-sci major official, and seeing the journalism professor (the one journalism professor in this entire school...) about getting a few extra credit hours for my time at the CT. Plus the usual classes and CT work. Now, let's hope I get to at least the first two of those. Anything else, like exercise or something, would be a pleasant bonus.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

On Wednesday the iPod case I had ordered came in the mail. So most of that day I was walking around with my cell phone clipped to the left side of my belt, my iPod clipped to the right, my earphones in my breast pocket and the cord connecting them to the iPod dangling down to my hip, and a pen and notepad in my cargo pocket. Call me dumb, but it felt so cool. Boys with toys and all that.

Today I was waked up a little before noon to go to a community service event I had signed up for - cleaning the basement at this nearby halfway house. Cutting up a rug with box cutters and tearing it up was sort of tough, especially the rug burns, and there were a couple things that you had to hold your nose for, but other than that the job was easy and/or fun.

After getting back from that, I debated going to the cricket club meeting like I'd promised, but the decision was made for me when some people needed the assistance of someone of my age.

After going shopping about 8 or 10 of us went to dinner at the Pit. I debated having a ridiculously unhealthy Philly steak & cheese and fries, but the only thing I had had earlier today was a bowl of cereal, so I splurged.

A Saturday night party is imminent.

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Grrr... still sitting in the CT office.

At 6 p.m. Tuesday night, things looked fucking desperate. We had assigned nine stories. And I had turned down my story about Alpha Del so they could write a column Features needed. It was better suited to Features (although letting their representative write it himself threw honesty and objectivity out the window) and it seemed Features needed it more than us, although that quickly changed. Out of the eight left, one wasn't coming in because the only writer qualified for it was too busy, and three more weren't coming in because various administrators required for it couldn't be reached in time or were on vacation or whatever. Basically, it seemed we had nothing. Four articles when we need at least six.

But all that turned around very well by Wednesday afternoon. I wrote a different story almost out of the blue, which was relatively easy and yet complex enough to be long. So by midnight, it looked like the news section just might be out of here by 6 a.m. Things were on track, except for a few known quantities. We had a whole bunch of stuff that needed to be put in its place, but there was nothing we were still missing (at least, not our section).

And then... the printer got fucked up. I mean, it always slows down in the wee hours of the morning when there are long lines and stuff printing out with all the pictures, but... well, for example, as I've written this, Chad (the editor-in-chief) and Jason (the tech guy) have hit the print button two or three times, maybe more. And all it's produced, after more than five minutes of sending data or whatever for each time, is two completely blank pages and one test page.

I am sooo glad my first class of the day was cancelled.

Some time around midnight Kim said that if I would let her use my computer for 10 minutes, I could stop by her room and make out later. I missed the time she suggested, but who knows about later...

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

AARGH! Politics keeps getting brought up in my classes. I hate it!

It's so damn annoying! I mean, I'm taking only two classes slightly related to politics and two not related at all. Yet somehow, I think Bush, the Iraq war, or voting fraud (or a combination) have been brought up in better than 3/4 of all my class periods so far.

And it's not because of what the speakers are saying - I agree with them. I think this country is headed in the wrong direction and it's mostly the fault of Bush and other egomaniacal neo-conservatives. But do we really need to hear about that in a class on Renaissance poetry? Do some people hate this or that politician so much that they can't even go an hour without venting about him? Can't Nathaniel Hawthorn be discussed on his own merits rather than being used to drive home a point about Bush?

I had to think a bit about just why politics in unrelated classes feel so annoying, and this is what I finally came up with. I realize that in some ways, I live in a bubble. Almost everyone around me agrees with me on the basic political issues, and I follow left-wing blogs and commentators a lot more than right-wing ones. But even so, I realize that there are valid disagreements. There are lots of people on the other side of any issue who aren't motivated by greed, stupidity, or malice.

So the way politics keeps getting brought up in class is also off-pissing because it makes the speakers seem so... I don't want to say close-minded, but something like that. Complacent maybe. It's like the speaker just takes for granted that their opinion of Bush is correct, AND that everyone around agrees with them. As if no Bush supporter could possibly be in the same room without them knowing about it. I live in a bubble, but at least I try to do something about it once in a while. So it's frustrating when people act like they don't even know there is a bubble.

Talk about politics all you want. In fact, do it more. People should pay more attention to it. But talk about it in a way that admits the issue isn't already decided.

Edited to make me look smarter on 9-15-04.

Monday, September 13, 2004

Okay, two of the new news writers are freaking me out. Well, maybe I shouldn't say "freaking me out", but they're definitely confusing me. They look entirely too similar. They're both tall, skinny, white, have short dark hair, and wear glasses similar in shape (though one wears frameless glasses and the other doesn't). They aren't related, as far as I know, and they aren't even identical - there's the glasses difference, and Andrew has slightly curlier hair and more freckles. They're just very, very similar. Sunday night or so I realized there was something odd going on when I checked my e-mail, and found one from Brian -- timestamped at 8:41, when I had been in the CT office with someone I thought was named Brian. It turned out later thatthe person at the CT meeting and later at the Tiernan meeting was Andrew.

I'm not sure, but this might mean that on Wednesday night I talked to both of them in one night and didn't realize it was two different people, just because I never talked to them both at once.

In other news, it's been a pretty good day. Only a little class work done but quite a bit of CT work done. Today had nothing unusually frustrating, other than trying to stay awake in American Literature. FYI, registrars: try not to schedule literature survey classes for 3:15 in the afternoon. And I'm almost into the necessary school year work habits.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

We got out of the CT office at like 7:45 this morning. Considering the handicaps we were working with - good writers graduated or just didn't have time this semester, not having a week in advance to plan - I don't think that's bad at all.

Well, the section isn't. My article, however, sucked. I guess that's just a consequence of the fact that I was still in vacation mode, as I said in my previous post. I got comments from entirely too few people "in the know" for no good reason at all other than a belief that I could do it later or find someone else or whatever. Oh well, I'll do better next time.

And actually, I think I will do better. I have effectively a three-day weekend (my one class tomorrow is cancelled due to Convocation); that's more than enough time to catch up on CT stuff and keep up on class stuff, or maybe, possibly even get ahead.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

OK, that's it. I can't goof off as much. Over the past few days I may have been as school, but I hadn't had any work, I'd only had four class periods spread out over three days, and I got a 3-day weekend. But that has to change. I have reading assignments for classes, I have CT stories to write and edit and pages to lay out. It's time to go from my vacation, do-nothing-but-goof-off-all-day mode to my school, on-top-of-things mode.

I just wish there was more of a difference.

Seriously, though. Tomorrow, either before class or after, I'll stop by the bookstore and get some kind of daytimer, which I think (hope) should help a lot. And just getting back into the habit of it is half the battle. And really, things aren't going that badly. In some ways we're dangerously behind at the CT - I only have one page mockup done, out of four I should have done by now - but there are two stories in and maybe even more I don't know about, and that's a damn good start.

Speaking of which - thank you, Yosuke and Brielle, thank you, thank you, thank you. The CT is a lot of work for very little reward. There are exactly three things that make this worthwhile. First, there's the staff itself - hanging out with people with similar interests as myself, helping each other out and all that fun stuff. Second, there's the people I've met involved with the paper - students, faculty, and alumni from almost every single group on this college. And finally, there's writers like Brielle, Yosuke, and Jeff, who will on short notice write almost any story, do it well without any prompting or specific guidelines, and sometimes even surprise us by getting it in well ahead of the deadline.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Earlier today, Jo asked me why I don't talk about people much on this blog. I was just reminded of one reason: rumors. A lot of my life here at school revolves around the CT, and between office politics and campus life stuff, there's a lot I can't talk about for various reasons. The right to privacy of a student I know, a source who isn't supposed to be telling me something, a rumor about trouble at the office... (If you think that might have to do with you, don't worry; all those examples are from last semester and are irrelevant by now.) Between that and the fact that I don't post any really personal, revealing stuff where people who know the people I'm talking about could read it, there's very little that can go here about my friends. Some, yes, but not much. Suffice it to say that the past 18 hours has been very interesting and eventful, and it has nothing at all to do with my first classes.
For all those people who have expressed interest of one kind or another in my "Republicans for Voldemort" t-shirt, here is a link to an entry about it. The website it's on is where that t-shirt came from.