How the Mighty Are Falling-Is our IQ really falling?

Seriously…are we getting dumber? Our kid’s IQ is worse?!

Just thought about something, our IQ’s and education…

The Roman Empire survived well over a thousand years by reinventing themselves as the center of civilization, and in it’s venerable years, the center of control for the Catholic Church, which in its later years was actually for more powerful than the empire itself. I mean we’re talking like 1700 years. that’s 3 times longer than almost every other government in history (that we have real documentation of). They were among the most educated people on the planet for their time. Many many great thinkers were a part of the empire and contributed to it’s success. The idea

Now the U.S., we’re just a little over 200 years in and barely cohesive. UK isn’t much further and isn’t much better off. I see countries that invested heavily in their education system may have lived a little poorer, but are now completely showing us up. What’s worse is I feel like we’re ignoring it. We have these half-assed programs that are supposed to have a huge impact on our educational system when we’re completely ignoring the fact that we haven’t been adequately educating for decades.

What does it take to get people to see the problem here?


The article above is saying that for the first time in our existence, the average IQ of next generation in the US will not be smarter than the previous generation. How the hell does that happen? Is our education system so poor or entrenched that we cant reverse this trend? How is it that people in charge of our education system didn’t see this coming?

TonyTown - Hold No Virtue - IQ - Education in Finland might be getting it rightThis scares me. I mean, what happens in 20 years when it’s our kids in charge? I mean personally I haven’t actually seen examples of this per se, but wow how does this pan out?

By the same token, I’ve been reading about the “Flynn Effect” where our IQ’s are showing an increase, but because the generation gap is statistically affected by relative age this notion is less severe than the media it portraying. The problem in this is that most of the statistics are showing that we are not keeping up with systems in play throughout the rest of the world. However this same idea would also depict our great grandparents as being mentally retarded by today’s standards of intellectualism. So is the beauty of the increase is in the eye of the beholder? Do we have to stay competitive with other nations or continue on our path to creating a huge division in our population intellectually?

On that note, I REALLY love what has been done in Finland. They have made education a positive part of their society rather than a problematic half successful tax on their population. I put some links below if you’re interested in reading them.

/rant over.

LINKS
Great Article on where we are educationally from the ETC blog.
Article about the Flynn Effect and details on this from Smithsonian.com
Why are Finland’s schools so successful?
Heavy Details on why Finland’s education system works so well.
Another article on differences in Finland’s Education System



What Social Media can’t do…

I’ve been reflecting on Social Media’s role in our personal relationships most of the night.

It’s an oddity that LinkedIn is even more adept than Facebook at suggesting people I never want to have anything to do with again as friends. But it’s even more disheartening when I am on the receiving end of the same apprehension there. Sometimes, you simply can’t make up for past mistakes, and I get that – there are limits to forgiveness.

We all make mistakes, we all develop bad habits and sometimes…sometimes we even unlearn them, and anyone that says they’ve never lost a friend out of neglect or disrespect is a liar, or too stupid or stubborn to admit it.

So a couple weeks ago, I removed over 300 people from my friends lists on Facebook as a first run of cleaning house. There were a few mistakes in there, and luckily they let me know and it’s been pretty copacetic since..except for one thing that bugs me. Why would I dump all those friends? Well, mainly because most of them weren’t friends..they were mainly acquaintances or people that I interacted with at some point or another…but friends? Not really.

After I was done it was pretty nice, I could post on my FB feed with a clear opinion and purpose and not be worried that the words would be taken out of context or reflect upon my business or work ethic. You see that is what it’s come down to. Social Media has limits. The boundaries that people have in associating themselves publicly may not in fact be the same boundaries they have with friends, loved ones, or other personal interests. But these same familial associations are of great value to Social Media, and so we have a thousand different methods of sharing out lives with the world, and thus presenting this user with a small social dilemma…

What do I do with all the people I feel obligated to keep on my friends list that might have “time-served” as a friend at some point but aren’t actually the friends I value? No, that sounds incredibly selfish. What about those friends and loved ones of mine, and what of those who still care for me? Worse still, those friends and acquaintances I still have that are “on the fence” about our friendship for some reason…I simply don’t know what to do with them. They don’t care for me so much that they aren’t given to speak to me unless cornered into it, but they like keeping tabs on what I do or talk about…

Yeah those guys. I guess that sort of makes them more fans and general interest than friends, eh?

Those people that can’t grow a pair and sever ties when it is blatantly obvious they should…those ones. I recently offered to throw a little work to someone I had heard lost his job in passing. Not because he was a friend but because it was the right thing to do, and even though he declined, I still honestly felt like the dude simply had no interest.

Yep…you guessed it. Removed him tonight….and others. Not because he declined my help, but because I had the impression that he’d have said no on principle even if he needed the hell out of it. I get it…you don’t have any respect for me. You certainly aren’t alone. At this point his actual perspective on this doesn’t matter anymore because my first impression on this is always going to make me not want to actually put forth the effort, when it isn’t going to prove I’ve changed. There are others, some that I still care for quite a bit, but unfortunately have become complacent with never speaking to me and rely on my newsfeed…which is specifically opposite of what I want from Facebook (family and friends).

So I come to the real reason for this post.

We’ve become so reliant on social media for our relationships that it’s bleeding into our social needs. Social Media doesn’t augment relationships, it exposes them, leaving us to make assumptions and decisions on relationships that unfortunately deserve a far more personal touch. I think that a number of these relationships are salvageable in person, but not so much via IM or Twitter or Facebook messages and posts.

I don’t know, I just seem to think there are better things to do than allow myself to dedicate so much time in my life to maintaining friendships online that should obviously be handled off the offline, because Social Media doesn’t replace a good heart-to-heart talk with your friends.

-T



Black Ink Revenge

by Automatic Loveletter

When I heard this it was a start reminder of how far I could let my imagination ruin great relationships, great friends, and promising futures. A gazillion years later, I wonder if I can stay humble and pray I never have to live in those moments again. -Tony

I wanted this
I wanted you
I wanted it to last but you fell through
Now east coast boys, don’t you see
That here on the west we follow our dreams,
Why don’t I know you anymore
The color of your lips are red and I swear I never wear lipstick
Ohh my god I drank too much,
Laughing while I’m crying, don’t you let them know your dying,

Dying, dying to break out dying to get that skin out,
Through the window of the upstairs, click my heels but I am stuck here,
I’m pledging and this is how, I’m swearing to you now,
The whole world will hear me shout out,

This is the last time, this is the last line,
Sunset to sunrise morning to midnight
This is my goodbye
Blow out the candle, The bottle is dry
And if pages learned to think
You’re not even worth my black ink revenge
I guarantee guarantee you’ll miss me
I can’t stomach this
I think I’m going to be sick
My heart’s made of wick, and you put the fire out of it
With the kerosene, shocked my feet
She smiled at me and closed the door
But not to sleep

This isn’t making any sense
I was worse the night before it
The smell of your sheets is the remnants of the
Breaking of my heart
You’re breaking it so hard
The whole world will hear me shout out

This is the last time, this is the last fight,
Sunset to sunrise morning to midnight
This is my goodbye
Blow out the candle
The bottle is dry
And if pages learned to think
You’re not even worth my black ink revenge

I guarantee guarantee you’ll miss me
And so I’m writing you out of my dreams
You’ll miss me I swear when I leave
Yeah I’m writing you out of my dreams
You’ll miss me I swear
Cuz I’m writing you out, I’m crossing my T’s
I want back the necklace I said you could keep
You miscomprehended and I scorn you till death
My words are as strong as my last gasp of breath
Leave nothing behind not a trace or a crumb
No clues to unlock, how painful this was

So I’m writing you out of my dreams,
You’ll miss me I swear when I
This is the last time, this is the last line,
Sunset to sunrise morning to midnight
This is my goodbye
Blow out the candle
The bottle is dry
And if pages learned to think
And if pages learned to think
You’re not even worth my black ink revenge



Everything in extremes…

Everything was awesome today…but extreme acts in other places make much it harder to feel good about.

After what was nothing short of an extremely awesome day for me today, I was so busy that I didn’t pay attention to the news…and then once I did, I obviously found it drastically disheartening to hear about the tragedy in Aurora last night.

Of course every political machine on the continent is now using this tragedy as a platform, and it makes me think.

It’s as if we’re given the impression that our sense of security is an illusion.
It’s as if we’re given the clear means with which to feel secure.
We hear about upcoming laws and acts that will take these away.
We’re pummeled with the idea that our rights can and will be taken away.

But when it comes down do it…it just seems like everyone has been programmed to react to this instead of actually choosing.

I would like to point something out…the minute you allow another person to determine your rights, you’ve forfeited them already. With the uncertainty and revelation of having such a level of self-autonomy, the real effects of social responsibility and accountability shines clearly.

Every living being knows the difference between right and wrong. Every single one. Unfortunately, the power of the human mind is such that it can muddy moral waters so much that convincing ourselves to commit horrible acts is only one violent movie away from tragedy.

Do I think the movie was involved with it? Hell yes.
Do I think the movie caused it? Hell no.

To hold blameless the obvious relationship is definitely ignoring part of the problem, but not in the context that “the movie did it”. That’s just stupid.

But then how do we “fix” the problem? The deranged lunatic could have just as easily used a far more insidious and indefensible means…so regulating the weapons isn’t going to work. Regulating the movies will not work, as the movie companies will simply make the ratings even less useful, and the theaters will not enforce them anyhow.

I honestly think that the only method in reacting to this type of problem proactively is in education. Where we not only teach but believe in them, an idea or value prevails. We already have all the laws in place we need, I think now it’s time people we taught to value those boundaries. If we’re going to be a society of gun-toting self-autonomy fanatics…we must impress upon ourselves values that will give us the mental fortitude not to walk into a building full of defenseless people and take life indiscriminately.

Why do I phrase it like that?…because not clarifying that there are situations where defending one’s self and loved ones is entirely appropriate.

We praise an industry that glamorizes the violent and immoral.
…and place blame on the individual that succumbs to it.
We render judgement on the mind that no longer knows better.
…and hold blameless the society that fostered the mind.
We dispute the tools of war we all now lovingly bear…
…pray continually that we all are lucky enough to never have to use them.

To me, this is living in fear. I do honestly uphold everyone’s right to keep and bear arms, but do not feel that everyone has the moral and mental fortitude to keep and bear them responsibly. In their gambit to glamorize violence, the film industry now teaches children the basics of stealing cars, the basic rules of stealing without getting caught, the idea that what happens in those movies is not only possible, but probable or certain.

We’re talking about a guy that planned all this. His apartment was wired with so much explosives that the news implied it could have taken out several of the apartment buildings. Why did he chose that venue? More importantly…what happened that he felt this was necessary?

This tragedy makes me wish I knew more about and had greater faith in people, because then I might be aware of and maybe stop whatever it was that caused that guy to feel this was necessary…

-T



Yearning for Learning…

We all have those points we reach where we re-evaluate where we are and what we want. I honestly think that it’s part of the process by which we make sure we’re not repeating mistakes and are on the path we want to be on.

As you all know, I started my own consulting business about a year ago, and it’s been a learning experience to say the least. I’ve learned more about the business world and finance and taxes in the last year than I had in decades prior.

It occurred to me that one thing I truly love to do is learn…be it people…trees…the wind…math…okay…maybe not math much anymore, but you know what I mean? My spark is still there…in scenarios where I have to immerse myself into an environments where I have no bearing, and no experience. While I am hardly getting rich by becoming my own boss, but I am enjoying a level of freedom that I didn’t even know when I was a kid. Part of that freedom has been having the time to take on learning TONS of subject matter I didn’t have time for beforehand, and recently, I’ve even started inquiring about tuition costs for school because unfortunately, some of the world I want to know lays buried in the books and lectures of professors I normally wouldn’t have access to otherwise.

The bottom line, I miss learning, I miss that feeling where I’m entering a completely new arena and have to soak in absolutely everything. It keeps my mind from getting too bored, which unfortunately is very easy for me if I don’t have a conversation going on…or a book to read…or the internet to soak in and learn about…well…everything. Well, as I’ve learned recently, an undergraduate degree acquired online costs over $70k. Yup.

That is what I said. HOLY CHRIST ON A POGO STICK…SEVENTY THOUSAND DOLLARS…

…and that is 100% do it yourself computer based training.

Unfortunately, as I stated above, I have time – but money like that – not readily available, especially considering my health problems and trying to buy a house this year…I know it’s simply not an option at rates like that.

So here comes that spark…

I’ve been a TED subscriber for quite some time, and the messages you hear on it are incredible…there are soooooo many people out there trying to broaden our horizons and make this world a far better place, it’s pretty inspiring. So much that I’ve tried to make sure I watch at least a few TED video’s every week or two so that I know what they know, or at the very lest can draw some ideas or inspiration.

And earlier today I saw this article on free courses offered online…

TED Blog – Completely free online classes? Coursera.org now offering courses from 16 top colleges

TED.com - Ideas Worth Spreading

And after that I checked out Coursera.org and found that t wasn’t the degree I longed for…it was the education, thee information, and the opportunity to soak more of the world or turn my brain to jello trying.

I went on to find a number of other organizations that offer free education and courses. I realized that some people and organization were finally trying to improve the world, by allowing the mind to grow. In a society that puts a price on access to virtually any information, there are finally a number of organization that are trying to share that wealth instead of profiteering from it.

Again. Me. Inspired!

So where did all that take me?

I have the time, I am going to take it and learn as much as I can while I still have it. There are already more courses out there than I could finish in the next decade, and I think that within the next few years the amount of curricula available will grow exponentially.

You’re probably reading this and thinking Jeez Tony you could have just said, “I’m going back to school.”

True, I could have, but then I wouldn’t have shared all these nifty links to all these places online that provide free education.

The Khan Academy – TONS of video and stuff…LOADS…I also found these guys from TED.

OpenLearn- I haven’t tried these guys yet but they have a huge course selection.

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health – Open Coursework from a great Medical School. Prize material for med students!

Tufts University – More Med school offerings


Stanford University
– That’s right, Stanford has buku lectures free via iTunes!!!!

UC Berkeley – More from UC Berkeley, available via iTunes!

OpenCulture – Has a FEKTON of courses listed available online.

Education Portal – Good information regarding online coursework.

What did I find for myself? A sustainability class, some newer Philosophy classes, loads of history classes I might actually like learning from…bottom line…enough for me to really enjoy regardless of where I learn it.

;)

-Tony



Dear Facebook (by Michael Aguilar)

Michael Aguilar - From PoorlyPlannedSafari.com

Guys, this is a letter one of my friends wrote in Facebook (to Facebook) that really needs to be more public than the silly public settings on Facebook itself. While this letter doesnt touch on some of the more questionable actions by Facebook we’ve learned of in the past, it does address a common dissatisfaction within the environment that most people do find in their experience with the service.

Michael is very much like me, he’s very savvy in the tech arena and often cracking some awesome one-liners that sometimes you’ll even find me quoting on the blog. He’s currently forgone the tech arena, and is currently taking a journey camping from Texas all the way to Alaska..no really, he’s actually doing it. I am featuring him here mainly because he’s a pretty cool cat and he posts rants like these that just make people want to hug him.



You can find him and his campy camping experiences at PoorlyPlannedSafari.com

Dear Facebook,

I think it’s time I explained something to you. It’s about what you are. Yes, I’m sure you’ve drunk enough of your own Kool-Aid to believe you are something new, cool, and different.

You’re not.

What you are is blogging for the masses. Nothing more. There isn’t anything happening here that hasn’t happened for years on other platforms. You just made it easy enough for anyone to get into it.

That’s great! Setting up and filling a blog used to be really hard. If you wanted to say something to the world, you had to jump through a lot of high hoops. HTML & CSS was enough to scare people away. If you wanted to manage access in any way, you had to convince people to sign up for it. You had to give out your URL, or urge people to subscribe to your RSS feed. You had to pester them to read the thing.

It was part tech, part marketing, and then only what you had to say.

That sucked, and you fixed it. Thank you.

So why even bring this up? Well, it seems that you’ve gotten a little too big-headed lately. You’re so fixated on being cool that you haven’t figured out that you’re not. You were just the next step in something that has been going on for almost 20 years.

So, now you’re running around buying and building things that nobody even asked for. Timeline? Really? Show me a successful blog laid out that way, I dare you. Nobody reads like that.

Instagram? Face.com? Sure, lots of people were using them, and I’m sure they will make fine additions. They’re cool, right?

What about the basics, though? Instead of listening to what your closed circle of people are telling you, why don’t you just look at the things WordPress does, and make it even simpler?

How about nested groups, or at least permitting more than one group access to a post, picture, or album? Managing access is still a complete pain. This is something that Google+ does much better.

What about (you knew I was going to say it) better photo management? Moving a picture from one album to another should be a no-brainer. It isn’t possible at all. Instead of automatically tagging faces, an automatic watermark would be nice.

And wow – these long-form posts really hammer the browser. I didn’t know that until just now. Take a look at it, would you?

Most importantly, quit trying to be so sneaky. This is our stuff. We want to talk to each other, not you. I’m sure most people understand that we’re giving away data to advertisers, and that’s not so bad. You gotta make a buck or two. That’s fine. Setting things so that we’re unknowingly sharing has got to stop. Take us more seriously.

“Cool”, by it’s nature, only lasts so long. You’re not lame, yet. You sure are working on it, though.

I’m not going anywhere just yet. This is where the people are. For now. I’ll go back to posting pictures of my cats.

Sincerely,

Michael Aguilar (but you already knew that)



How I met your mother…

Before you finish that thought. Yes…off the top of my head…this could have been a great big “your mama” joke.

But it isn’t…well…not exactly.

Because how I met your mother is irrelevant. I’m talking about the tv show. You see…I watched that tv show for the first time tonight and realized something.
I realized that for the past few years, I have been alluded to so many times about this tv show that it’s almost comical.

…and I never knew.

But see now I’ve seen the show. And I am continuing to watch, because I now know WHY so many people have said the oddest things to me. I’ll know why one of my best friends duct-taped two 40oz Mickeys to my hands at the beginning of my birthday party last year.

It’s all become sooooo clear. And now I have to watch all these episodes so that I will actually know what you all know about me.

You my friends are evil, but I love the hell out of you all.

Have a great night everyone!

-T

p5rn7vb


Listen to yourselves sometimes…

Dear Close-Minded Woman that pissed me off this week,

Perception is reality. 22% of the worlds population believes in Islam. It’s the worship of a single deity, with that deity’s word outlined in the Qur’an, and the teachings of a prophet named Mohammed. I could just as easily compare it to the Bible, God, and Moses just like my buddy did, and be quite satisfied in being correct…at least until we get into a more detailed description of the religion.

SO…maybe…just maybe…the next time someone greets you with a blessing you should be gracious enough not to act like someone just put a hex on you.

There is this knee-jerk reaction people have when engaging religions not their own that is usually uninformed, uneducated, and almost purely instinctual…almost fight or flight. That is explainable. The possibility that one may be right and the other wrong triggers a fight or flight reaction, most of the time verbally where a person spouts off whatever they can come up with in a few seconds and hide behind their faith in the argument…or worse. When in reality (personally I think religion is a horrible burden on spirituality, being now a tool for business and politic), they are both mutually destructive to one another and will continue to teach at least a small portion of their congregation that the other is the evil one.

The only end to this was to remove religious rule, and we did it.

What scares me most is that some people actually think that adapting the US government into any degree of Christian theocracy would actually protect us.

Separation of Church and State protects us. It has allowed our country to flourish where many other nations have fallen or been turned over in civil war nightmares. The First Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof ….” and Article VI specifies that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

I completely understand feeling threatened by belief systems other than your own. I actually understand the feeling more than most. I just don’t understand the need to attack others beliefs to justify your own. Disproving someone else’s religion doesn’t make you right, it makes you a judge where none is necessary.

-Tony

NO…I am NOT a Muslim. I just cant stand religious bullies.



Masterpiece Theatre Part I

Masterpiece Theatre Part I
by Marianas Trench

When I was a kid you couldn’t get me to stop singing The Beatles and Queen. So much that I actually got in trouble a fair amount for singing in class, even on field trips…I just wouldn’t shut up ;) I think that maybe people had a clue then. Here I am decades later and still practicing songs when I know no one listens ;) Every time I hear this song play I get that same sly grin I had in those days long ago when I was about to start singing regardless of who was listening…or anyone who didn’t want to hear it ;)

It’s so funny because my best friend’s kid is just like that too and I’m not allowed to tell him I would get in loads of trouble for singing all the time.

First it comes on quiet creeping slow.
Clever words and phrases always stain,
I remain so lost and buried under everything
that i need when all i want is you.

I’ve been here so very long and every word
is calculated, never questioned or debated
All these practised poses, I could wreck it if i had
to but i’m the wreck so what would that do.
My masterpiece will fall apart;
it was over before the start

If I burn out and slip away.
If this is just a part I portray and
this is just a part I portray
You’re beautiful can I hide in you awhile.
but this is just a part I portray
and this is just a part I portray

They keep mostly to themselves;
don’t make a sound in case they hear you,
It only hurts me to be near you.
Keep those tired eyes closed careful follow my instruction
and i will show you self-destruction.
This Masterpiece is only mine, entirely guilty by design

If i burn out and slip away.
If this is just a part I portray and
this is just the part I portray
You’re beautiful can I hide in you awhile.
this is just a part I portray,
can I hide in you awhile.

I just can’t let, let it out
oh I just can’t let it out
I just can’t let, let it out
oh I just can’t let it out
I just can’t let, let it out
oh I just can’t let it out

if this is just a part I portray,
You’re beautiful can I hide in you awhile,
You’re beautiful, if this just a part I portray,
if this is just a part I portray,
I don’t know how it got this way



Little rant for the evening…

Good evening readers. (In this case “readers” is the term I casually use to act like I actually have “readers” when in fact…I am simply writing to myself a bit to vent.)

so.

It is absolutely amazing how loopy you can get when you’re tired, sick, and have taken a sizable shot of Nyquil to have an easier evening.

Well…when I say “you” I obviously mean “me”…unless…umm…nevermind.

So…in case you didn’t see my tweet, you should all google “askew” so you can see what its like for me every day.

Not the “askew” part per se, just the googling. I am asked to “google” things on a professional level so often that you might honestly wonder how I actually got into all this. Which was simple. A decade or so ago, I use to keep a journal. Shortly after a violent break up with the restaurant industry I started keeping my journals in electronic format. LiveJournal, then C2…at one time I was even using phpbb. Until finally after a gazillion hosts and many many blog platforms later…Wordpress won me over. Of course I am a great big dork. Mainly because every one in a while I have to say ‘Tony is a dork’ in my posts so that I come up on the search engines properly…that is…by searching for ‘Tony is a Dork’ you might still find me.

I did mention I am a little loopy. Mainly sleep deprivation of the “under-a-day” kind. We used to call that “wedging” – if you were awake for so long that you started feeling drunk…yeah thats wedging.

Luke the Cat - TonyTown.comAnyhow. I should probably introduce you to my assistant blogger, Luke.

Luke the cat is a little bundle of insane cat whoopass that you all know kittens to be.

He is lovable all the time. He plays with absolutely everything. His favorite toy is a straw, which you can use to make him climb up anything, including innocent roomies that dont realize that a spastic kitten is about to climb them like their life depended on it. He also feels my sandals are mice in disguise and attacks them regularly. And when he gets tired he gets absolutely adorable by climbing up my back without notice so he can curl up on my shoulder while I am typing. (Not joking…he really doesnt care what I am doing, when he wants to sleep he meows twice and if I havent picked him up he climbs on his own.

So yeah. I am really tired now, even the cat is passed out, and I just realized I wrote about nothing on my blog, so I’m fired and tired for the evening. You guys have a great one and hopefully my next post will have something remotely umm…relevant…in it eh?

Night!

-Tony (and his assistant Luke)