My Musical Knowledge Ranked

When Rolling Stone released their 500 greatest albums list I knew a vast majority of them having grown up listening to a mix of classic rock and country. Spin on the other hand ranked the 300 greatest albums1 of the last thirty years and I was familiar with slightly fewer. So here’s my musical knowledge of my life as ranked by a magazine I’ve never read. (List excludes album I have a general knowledge of)

  1. This takes forever to load thanks to all the crap they threw on the list.

I Should've Stayed Away

I had read enough about MOOCs (or Massive Open Online Courses) over the years to know I didn’t want to get within spitting distance of one. That’s not to say online education could have some benefits, but as of today I haven’t seen any even mildly beneficial to come out of a MOOC. And yet I’ve ended up enrolled in one. I’ll save the institutions and people involved the shame of naming them personally but it’s been less than a week since the course officially started and I’m already feeling super slimy about the whole experience. Here are some random thoughts on a few days in a MOOC:

The West, the Wild West, and California

Monday’s freshman American history survey ended with the students having to write about what the defined as the west and what would fall into the “wild west.” Most of the students tended to favor a geographic approach to the west with the general concensus being anything from roughly Oklahoma to the Pacific was “the west.” The bigger debate came when they had to define the mythic or “wild west.” A lot of students took the view that the wild west was something out of Tombstone: sparsely populated deserts. Others focused on Texas and Oklahoma (naturally) because of cowboys and Indians. Oddly far fewer went with a Deadwood-esque west. But the one thing everyone agreed on was that California was not wild and some only put it on the paper because it was on the west coast. The few who justified their answers said California doesn’t qualify because it’s highly populated with the unstated point being it’s too sosphisicated to be the wild west.

Myth, Memory, & the Vietnam War 

New York Times:

Now the Pentagon — run by a Vietnam veteran, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel — is planning a 50th anniversary commemoration of the Vietnam War. The effort, which is expected to cost taxpayers nearly $15 million by the end of this fiscal year, is intended to honor veterans and, its website says, “provide the American public with historically accurate materials” suitable for use in schools.

But the extensive website, which has been up for months, largely describes a war of valor and honor that would be unrecognizable to many of the Americans who fought in and against it.

Leading Vietnam historians complain that it focuses on dozens of medal-winning soldiers while giving scant mention to mistakes by generals and the years of violent protests and anguished debate at home.

The article links to a TomDispatch post by Nick Turse that provides more details and the inaccuracies and the Pentagon’s response to questions. The big question I have is who’s writing the history for the website and is it being officially reviewed by independent historians. The answer seems to be no, which is a shame.

Does Baseball Have a Foul Ball Problem? 

A few points in response to the Bloomberg story:

  1. When the Tulsa Drillers opened their ballpark in 2010 the team originally planned to start games before 7PM. They ended up moving the start of games back because a kid sitting on the third base line ended up in the hospital after getting hit by a foul ball the family couldn’t see with the sun in their eyes.
  2. The ballpark has one level of bowl seating and a lot of them are prone to foul balls getting sharply hit into the stands. Yet there’s lots of seats that families with small kids can sit in and be generally safe from fouls, but many chose to sit closer in the hopes of getting a ball. In turn many parents don’t pay even attention to the game or sit their kids closer to the plate instead of shielding them.

It’s All About the Fans 

WSJ:

The growing number of empty seats in student sections across the U.S. is a sign of soaring ticket prices, more lopsided games and fewer matchups against longtime rivals, and the proliferation of televised games that make it easier than ever for students to keep tailgating long after kickoff

So college tuition is soaring through the roof and students can’t afford to attend games and when they do they’re stuck with match-ups that are nowhere near as good as ten years ago. Awesome.

Markwayne Mullin Will Only Defend Parts of the Constitution He Likes 

Oklahoma’s version of Joe the Plumber doesn’t care for the first amendment and the ban on state sanctioned religion unless it means more Christianity:

The next caller, a woman from Antlers, said she was worried about “the way they’ve taken prayer out of school and the direction this country is headed with this one-religion ideal.”

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the early 1960s that schools could not impose mandatory prayers in public schools. Subsequent decisions have allowed “moments of silence” and student-organized voluntary prayer. Mullin said that isn’t good enough.

“How can we ask our kids to do something we’re not willing to do ourselves?” he asked. “We’re saying to our kids, ‘We’re not willing to take a stand; our teachers are not willing to take a stand; our superintendents are not willing to take a stand.’

“That is hypocritical,” Mullin said. “If we want to put prayer back in our schools, our communities have to stand up; the churches have to stand up; the parents have to stand up. They have got to say, ‘No, we want it in our schools.’ We’re going to do what we want to do because it’s our schools. It’s our public schools.

“Prayer is the root of this country.”

Mullin said his own children attend a rural public school in which “the superintendent stands up and prays every morning.”

Hopefully someone knows the district Mullin’s kids attend and file a complaint against the Superintendent (if it’s true). Or in the very least get Mullin rejecting led Islamic, Jewish, Pagan, or any other prayer in school.