My avatar across the web: a photo of my feet in grey-white socks and brown sandals.

Ben Babcock

10 Articles in April 2007

  1. Math rocks!

    I got to miss the entire day of school for a math competition at the university. ^_^

    The individual competition was in the morning, so I sat in the lecture theatre with a hundred or so other kids and answered 15 multiple choice and 5 full solution questions (or attempted to answer, I guess). It was pretty hard, but not as bad as last year. I did well on the multiple choice, I think, although not so well on the full solution.

    Then we got a free lunch, which is always a nice break. :D Pasta, chicken wings. Nanaimo bars for dessert. Mmm. After lunch those of us from Westgate tossed a Frisbee around for a little, since it was so nice outside. They gave away free Frisbees, coffee mugs, and of course, the annual t-shirt.

    Then there was the team competition. That went better than the individual one. I was partnered with two other fairly smart kids, so we did fine.

    I'm not sure why I love this math competition so much, except that I do. Well, it was cool to get a day off school and a free lunch just for doing math. And the t-shirt is nice.…

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  2. I know what Stephen Harper is reading. Do you?

    Now you know.

    For you see, Stephen Harper failed to learn a critical lesson of statecraft: never tick off an artist. The problem with annoying an artist, especially someone as influential as Yann Martel, is that artists are, by definition, creative people. And they find very creative, sometimes unexpected ways to get back at those who slight them.

    Of course, since the purpose of an artist is to create, and not destroy, Yann Martel came up with a form of ingenious constructive revenge against Mr. Harper. I won't go into all the details, for they are explained on the site. Suffice it to say that the Canadian government did not pay enough attention to the Canada Council of the Arts' 50th anniversary, and that made a lot of people very angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move.

    So now Yann Martel has pledged to send Harper a book every two weeks, along with a letter. The books he chooses, he hopes, will offer Harper in his moments of "stillness" suggestions, opportunities, if you will.

    I for one think that this is an interesting idea. Certainly superior to publishing a roasting rant about Harper's policies on someone's…

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  3. Disturbia

    Orson Scott Card once said that dread is a much stronger, much more effective emotion than horror. The dread of anticipation, the suspense created by not knowing precisely what's out there, is much better than the shock value of pure gore and violence.

    And that's why Disturbia was an excellent movie. It's the best execution of dread I've seen in a while. Unlike the typical horror movie, which nowadays consists of the main (unkillable) villain taking everyone out with a weapon of choice, one by one, in a fairly predictable fashion, this movie combined mystery, murder, and yes, romance (sorry, couldn't think of another 'M' word...).

    The best parts are the parts right before something happens, when you know that something is going to go wrong, but you aren't quite sure what. You know the old man's hiding something, but how? The movie keeps you guessing in the most suspenseful manner. Then at the climax, most of the mystery gets revealed and the movie changes pace, slipping into a last-ditch attempt by the main character, Kael, to save his mom.

    It was extremely well done. I particularly like how the killer did not have any supernatural elements associated with him.…

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  4. My love-hate relationship with Disney

    Disney and I have a sort of love-hate relationship going on when it comes to its television.

    I'm from the mid-nineties generation of children. I grew up on the after-school and Saturday-morning Disney cartoons like Disney's Recess and The Weekenders. To this day, I proudly admit that I watch those whenever I can. I've got less opportunity to watch The Weekenders, but Recess comes on every day after school, so I watch it if I'm not working. Old school Disney rock on!

    Lately I've been less and less impressed with the average after-school shows they've been producing. Maybe I'm just losing touch with today's "cool" brand of pre-adolescents. Maybe I've become too cerebral. But some shows I just can't stand, like Jake Long: American Dragon. Then there are some shows like The Suite Life of Zack & Cody or That's So Raven which I can't help watching while simultaneously loathing and despising myself for watching them. The acting and writing's just so terrible; the gags are just so ... juvenile. I understand that this is children's programming; maybe I'm being too judgemental. But then when I compare these shows to what I watched as a kid (and…

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  5. I guess Facebook is good for something after all

    Turns that like the Dark Side has a Light Side, so too does Facebook have a cream filling at the centre. (Tune in for more mixed metaphors at 11!)

    Through our mutual friend--the Oracle of English herself--Ms. Sukalo, I've reconnected with two friends who I knew way back before I moved to this side of town, back when I went to Algonquin, back in kindergarten and grade 1! Now, I have a terrible memory, especially when it comes to names and faces, but I certainly remember the twins Cassie and Carly. ^_^ On the cool scale from 0 ("heat-death of the universe") to 1000 ("The Colbert Report"), this is a solid 923 (about the same as "being John Cleese")! And if you have no clue what that means, don't worry.

    Although that reminds me of an interesting sidebar. Yesterday in English we were discussing the end of The Shipping News, which is seemingly a "happy ending". Our teacher put a quotation from E. Annie Proulx, the author, on the overhead and bid us to discuss it in groups. One of my friends, Andrew, quantified Quoyle's happiness on an interesting graph that he put on the board, concluding…

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  6. RIP Kurt Vonnegut

    We'll miss you. :bye:

    What? You expected more? Perhaps some sort of heartfelt testament to my love of his work? I enjoyed Breakfast of Champions and Player Piano. But frankly I'm just too tired at this point in the night to even consider delving into praise of Vonnegut's vast oeuvre. I'm going to sleep.

    Congratulations to Cortney and Vivike for getting into Guelph and Brock, and Guelph and OCAD, respectively! :w00t: Unlike yours truly, who simply had to poke Lakehead with a pointed stick (I don't think they even bothered to check if I was any good at math... they just let me in), these two actually had to send work to get accepted--Viv in particular had to assemble a portfolio, and in the case of OCAD, fly down for an interview.

  7. I surrender. Now stop sending me emails.

    Great Bird of the Galaxy, forgive me.

    It was just a matter of time, of course. My willpower is far from legendary or anything, and I knew that I was going to "cave", as Cortney so eloquently puts it, sometime or another--I fully intended to, since once I'm done high school I'd like to preserve my connections with my friends through whatever means available. And, as much as I hate to admit it, social networking sites help.

    So I joined Facebook.

    That's right. I'm tired of those snarky little "I've added you as a friend on Facebook..." emails finding their way into my inbox, begging me to get an account. -_- Fine. I surrender. Now stop sending me emails. (I have a feeling I'm going to continue getting them anyway, since that's the nature of the beast).

    However, an interestingly paranoid Orwellian thought occurred to me. As our technology increases, the government institutes increasingly complex methods of keeping track of us. The day is not far off when some sort of "national ID" system will be implemented. We already have several numbers associated with us--driver's licence, SIN, health card, etc. Naturally people start to get paranoid about the…

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  8. OpenOffice.org just made my day

    Navigator is your friend.

    Word processors are more than electronic typewriters. They are massively useful programs designed not only to help you write a document, but to help you organise your document. If you use your word processor just to write things in a linear fashion, good for you--but you're totally missing out on this whole other world, this whole facet of word processing that makes a computer superior to an ordinary manual typewriter.

    Anyway, so I've got this 511 page manuscript lying around on my hard drive (and in pieces on my desk--ouch, paper cuts). I was feeling rather grim because chapter 10, in retrospect, needs some work. In fact, the earlier chapters could use more zing. That is neither here nor there.

    While formatting my manuscript (Courier 12, double spaced, all that jazz), I took the time to designate each chapter as a "heading". This automatically assigns it importance in the hierarchy of the document. I knew that it would come in handy later, but now I've just come across something that makes me tingle: promotion and demotion. Yes indeed. ^_^ With the click of a button, I can move an entire chapter up or down the document…

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  9. Shopping logic

    I must say, I seem to lack a lot of the basic social knowledge required to survive in the modern world. One must wonder why the Sierra Club hasn't blacklisted me yet.

    My former English teacher, Ms. Sukalo, is in town for Easter this week (she now teaches in New York, so I don't get to see her often). Myself and a bunch of friends finally got to see her today; we met for coffee (well, I had iced lemonade) and caught up, talked, etc. 'Twas quite fun. Afterward, I had to drive my friend Cortney home. She lives in Kakabeka, so this basically entails driving along a single road until we got to Kakabeka, dropping her off, then turning around and going back home.

    Driving in the dark is scary because it's so hard to see. Driving on the highway is scary because you're moving at speeds humans aren't, technically, supposed to be using. So, combine driving in the dark on the highway and you'll get an activity that I don't like very much. :D Suffice it to say, I think that it's crazy to hurtle around in a large metal object at dangerous speeds while similar large metal…

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  10. The invisible dotted wavy brown line

    Shortened weeks are killer. Yes, four-day weekends are awesome. But right now, right before midterm, at a critical juncture? :/ The thesis for my history ISU is due this Thursday. I've sort of got a thesis down, but I'd really feel more comfortable handing it in if I had some solid research to support it before I get in too deep. Unfortunately, I worked tonight and I'm working tomorrow. On the days that I work, I get home at about 8, and I'm too tired for serious work (like research). Methinks I'll just word my thesis very convincingly and then do as much research as I can on the weekend. I'm blogging instead of reading about Locke and Hobbes right now. :D

    On the up side, the first six of the books I ordered from Chapters came in--The Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher. I've been watching the Sci-Fi Channel series based on the novels, so I want to read the novels, since they sound pretty interesting.

    Anyway, back to history. Thanks for taking the time to read about my laziness! :)

About Me

I’m a 26-year-old math and English teacher back in Canada after two years teaching in England. In my free time, I read books! When I’m not reading, I’m writing, coding, or knitting.

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About this site

I started coding websites, in bad HTML on Geocities, in 2004 in a fit of whimsy. Since then I’ve learned PHP/MySQL, coded my own blog software, and rebuilt this site several times. With the exception of the blog, it’s currently running on the exquisite Symphony CMS. This website is hosted by HawkHost

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