Kara Babcock

I read, write, code, and knit.

5 Articles from January 2009

  1. Think This, Say That, Wear Your Flag

    I woke up this morning to the following headline in my RSS feeds, courtesy of CBC News: N.B. school silences O Canada. It already had 249 comments then; it's up to 658 comments as I'm writing this. CBC News has since updated the article to expand its content and provide a more detailed story; the original article was less informative, which didn't stop people from commenting on it.

    In case I haven't been clear in the past, let me first establish that I don't believe in being "politically correct". What's the point in living in a free country if you have to walk on eggshells just to avoid offending anyone? To that end, it's Merry Christmas and not Happy Holidays. You can say BCE or BC; I don't care--it's still inherently based on Christianity, so it isn't "politically correct"--just annoying.

    But I digress.

    My initial reaction to the article was, "Well, this is stupid." This was just another example of the politically correct movement going too far! There's nothing wrong with singing the national anthem! Back in my day (I can't believe it's been two years already), I sang the national anthem aloud every morning at school--and I

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  2. How NOT to microwave butter

    Note to self: when melting butter in the microwave to use over popcorn, do NOT set microwave to high.

    Butter all over the microwave.

    Luckily, our microwave is from 1987 and thus built like a tank. In order to destroy it, you'd actually have to stick a smaller microwave inside it and activate the two simultaneously. This would, of course, tear a hole in the space-time continuum, destroying the universe as well as the microwave. So don't try it.

    Here's a close-up of the carnage:

    A closeup of the butter apocalypse

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  3. More narcissism and a little about you

    Sometime between November and ... now ... it became now. I'm not quite sure when this happened, or how it happened((If you know, please do explain it to me.)) ... but it happened. Now that it's now and no longer then, that which was must become what was going to be when then became now--which is now.

    In that same spirit, the university felt it right and proper to commence a second term of classes following on the heels of the first term. I have six courses this term, three math courses, two philosophy courses, and an English course masquerading under the horribly ambiguous name of "Advanced Rhetoric."

    Two of my math courses, Linear Algebra II and Group Theory, are continuations of two of the courses I took last term. Linear Algebra II is, unsurprisingly, the conclusion to Linear Algebra I. We're learning about eigenvalues, eigenvectors, and diagonalization. I'm finding this course easier than the first part, in which I struggled somewhat. Group Theory and Ring Theory are related areas of abstract algebra. "Group theory" always sounds to me like some sort of bizarre sociological phenomenon, but I assure you, it's a math course--complete with dusty chalkboard, incomprehensible symbols, and…

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  4. Further evidence that I lack common sense

    The hooks on the back of my door We all have humbling experiences that remind us we aren't as smart as we think we are. And even if we are that smart, sometimes we still lack common sense, and other times we just plain don't think.

    A couple of days ago, I woke up to the a slow but inexorable cracking noise coming from the vicinity of my bedroom door. Sometimes my cat scratches at my door in order to gain entry, oblivious as to my current state of consciousness. This sound wasn't like a cat scratching, however, which was why I had trouble placing it at first. Unlike the frantic scrabbling noise of claw on wood, this had the deliberate sound of something going horribly, horribly wrong.

    Several seconds later, the sight of the hooks on the back of my door falling out, taking my coat with them, confirmed this fear.

    My library book bag I had stupidly placed my library book bag on these hooks. When the bag is empty, this isn't a problem. Yet as I gradually fill up the bag with each book I read, it becomes heavier, adding strain to the hooks.

    My brother originally installed the hooks; he was also the one who affixed them to…

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  5. Top 10 best and worst books I read in 2008

    I had originally intended to eschew the "best of 2008" and "worst of 2008" trend that always appears at the end of the year.((I still intend to avoid resolutions.)) However, one of the best websites I discovered in 2008 was Goodreads. Since joining in May, I can't recommend it enough. A self-proclaimed bibliophile, much of my leisure time goes toward reading. Thanks to a terrible memory, I have trouble recalling the particulars of books I've read; my reviews usually emerge as hazy generalizations that make me feel like I didn't read the book at all. Continuing my trend of using technology to replace my memory, Goodreads helps me organize my books; I can keep track not only of books I've read, but I also add books I want to read. It's pretty much awesome.

    So I thought, since I can actually remember what books I read this year, why not post a top 10 list of the best and worst books I read in 2008? Technically, this is "best and worst since May 2008", since that's when I started using Goodreads. Even so, I had trouble paring down each list to only ten books--I can only imagine it'll be…

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