Wednesday, March 2, 2011

My School, Cousin Love, Anthems, and Tears

1. Had vague dream about South Australia.  It was something about shark warnings. Three people say it's safe to go back into the water; but it's really not.  

2.  Read article about Qantas self check-in.  It's causing some frustrations, and customers are taking out their frustrations on airport workers.  I rarely have a good time with self check-in.  We have it at our grocery store, and at the library.  It often doesn't work for me, and I end up needing someone to come by to help.  I don't really like it, which is kind of surprising.  I often prefer to avoid face-to-face interaction.

3. Read post on Julia Gillard's website about the My School thing.  This is a website where principals can check on the finances of their school, and see achievement results of the students.  And how are they going to measure achievement?  

I just consulted Lord Wiki.  It seems My School is all about standardized testing.  Kids are tested; and schools get a good reputation if the average test scores are high.  Some principals are saying that kids have been asked to leave schools because it was believed they would bring down test scores.

There was an episode of The Simpsons like that. They sent away all the low-achieving kids on testing day.  

Why don't we create a standardized test for the Prime Minister?  I mean really. Isn't that the only way to figure out if someone is doing an okay job?   It's not like we can figure that out by examining her policies, listening to her speeches, having a discussion with her, etc.

4. Learned that one of my Facebook friends has been nominated for a photography award.  Here's Fiona Lumsdaine's photography site.   She works in Sydney if anyone over there is looking for a photographer.   

The wedding page of her site plays music, but I initially thought it was coming from Pandora.  It was mixing with Simon and Garfunkel's "Sound of Silence".  I thought it was a version of the song I hadn't heard before. 

5. Took a Traveler IQ quiz.   This one was about Australia history.  I didn't do so well.  I actually did worse than the last time I took the quiz.  I got 65, 539 points. The last time I got 75, 812 points.

6. Enjoyed listening to Kate Miller Heidke's "The One Thing I know".  I really like that song.  

7. Looked at an article my friend sent me.  It has a list of some of Sydney's best patisseries.  I got all excited looking at it, and then remembered I'm avoiding eggs.  I probably won't eat a lot of stuff at these places; but maybe I'll have a small bite of what Tim and Jack get.

This morning, Tim made muffins without eggs.  They were quite delicious.  

8. Looked at photos of yummy desserts on Adriano Zumbo's website.  They're VERY interesting.   They have wasabi and pickled ginger macarons. Jack will probably love this place. He loves foods with exotic flavors.

9. Read article that I don't fully understand. It's about Julia Gillard and the gay marriage thing.   Oh, and it also involves euthanasia.  What I'm getting is after Gillard said maybe to a law that might make it easier for gay people to get married, and sick people to die the way they want to die; people in the Labor Party tried to talk her out of it.  These people are unhappy because they feel Gillard is bending too much to meet the desires of The Green Party.   So, is it better that she bend to satisfy the desires of the Liberal Party?  I guess some would think so.  

10.  Read article about the My School thing.  It says that the website program is expected to show that wealthy families are more likely to send their children to government schools than private schools.  I gotta admit.  That surprises me.   Geoffe Newcombe the executive director of the Association of Independent Schools says, This is going to raise the issue as to how long as a community can we continue to offer free education to those who can afford to contribute to the education of their children.

It sounds like this guy is unhappy that people are choosing government schools over private ones.   Is he really concerned about the community being able to afford paying for education, or is he being competitive against government schools?  I really don't know.   I'm still surprised by the idea that wealthy families are choosing government schools over private ones.  I'm slightly skeptical.  I'd like to see some statistics. I'm not sure if that's available yet.

11. Read Gillard's quotes about My School in the article.  

She says,

A. I think we'll see some schools with very similar resources, very similar kids, and very different results, and that's going to be about the quality of practice in that school.

B. I think we'll also see some schools [with] similar kids, very different resourcing levels, very different results, and that's going to tell us something about the power of the money.

On the surface, those sound like profound and wise quotes.  But what is she referring to with results?  If it's more than standardized test scores, I might be impressed.  If it's just test scores, then that's shameful.  Learning, intelligence, talent, and success can NOT be measured with a test alone.   Some kids are very smart, but not very good at taking tests. And maybe they don't have a large amount of the type of intelligence that's being measured on the test. Then some kids are good at taking tests, but are awful at applying test answers to real life.

Also, what is meant by similar kids?   I'm confused by that.  

12. Looked at an article on the Save Our Schools website.  It has the statistics I wanted.   They say that 47% of wealthy families choose private schools.  So that would mean more wealthy families DO really choose government schools. It's not a big percentage, really.   Still though....I think I always imagined that the large majority of wealthy families would send their kids to private school.  I guess I was stereotyping.   It was kind of stupid of me.   My parents became wealthy when I was in middle school; my older sister and I continued to go to public school.  Why?   I don't know. In my case, I can imagine it was about me not wanting to endure the admissions process.   

 13. Read article that says if the Liberal Party becomes the government in New South Wales, they plan to support the gay/lesbian Mardi Gras party. That's good.  There's some indication that they might be supporting it for financial reasons.  The event brings a lot of money into Sydney.  But if people were extremely bigoted, I think they would forgo the money.  Well, if money was the only issue, all countries would have legalized gay marriage a long time ago. Aren't weddings good for the economy?

14. Looked at the government's page on marriage.   If you're a man, you can't marry a man.  If you're a woman you can't marry a woman.  But you CAN marry your aunt or uncle; and you can marry your first cousin.  I may be wrong, but I don't think that's allowed in America.

This website says that in most American states you can't marry close blood relatives, but some states do allow you to marry first cousins.  

This site has a map of which states allow marriages between first cousins.  It's illegal in Texas, but if I move to Illinois I can marry my cousin in Chicago. I love the guy, but I don't think he's my type.

There's actually twenty states that allow marriage between first cousins.  That really surprises me. I find it a bit disturbing.  I mean aren't there genetic risks to marrying a first cousin?   Personally,  I think it's better to marry someone completely out of your ethnic group. Then you can worry less about those recessive gene problems.  Anyway, I think it's sad that first cousins are allowed to marry, but homosexuals are not.

Wait....

Lord Wiki says that defendants of first cousin marriage declare the rate of birth defects/ mortality with first cousin breeders is similar to the birth defect/mortality rates of women having babies after the age of 41.  So they say if you're going to make cousin breeding illegal, then you might as well make it illegal for people to have kids after the age of 40. That makes sense.

Okay.

Maybe I'll support gay marriage AND cousin marriage.

We've always told Jack it's illegal to marry his first cousins. I guess I'll have to tell him that I now know differently.

15. Told Jack I was wrong; that he can legally marry his first cousins.  To my relief, he didn't seem too excited.  He said something like I think being cousins is enough.  

16. Learned from an Australian news page on Facebook that today is the anniversary of America's National Anthem.   Then they ask,  Which country has the best national anthem and why? The question makes me feel ethnocentric because I know only America's and Australia's anthem.  Jack used to listen to anthems on his electronic globe. Maybe I should have paid more attention.  

Wait. I might know the UK's anthem. Isn't it "God Save the Queen"?

17. Listened to New Zealand's national anthem.   It's very beautiful.  They have English verses, and Maori verses. That's really cool.  

18 Listened to Egypt's national anthem.   It definitely has a patriotic feel to it.  I like it.

19.  Listened to Israel's national anthem.  I've probably heard it before. I can't imagine being Jewish and not encountering it somewhere along the line. It does sound vaguely familiar.  

20. Listened to China's national anthem.    I like this one least so far, but it's probably just a matter of the type of singing that's used for that particular recording.

21.  Listened to the Swedish national anthem.  It's an instrumental version, but it's still lovely.  

22. Listened to Mexico's national anthem. It's lovely.

23. Felt sad for a stupid reason.  I won't go into detail. I'll just say that I saw something on my Statcounter; and it made me miss my friend.  

24. Thought maybe The Wiggles was mentioned on Modern Family tonight.   I may have misheard it.   It didn't really make sense in the context.  I don't know.  If they DID mention it, it's the third allusion to Aussie things I've noticed.   They had the backwards baby cheeses/Jesus joke awhile back.  Then last week they mentioned The Book Thief.  

This week's episode was a major tear-jerker for me.  Although I was already sad (about various things) before watching.  So you have to take that into account.    

Still....I thought it was a beautiful episode; one of my favorites. 

I wish more people would learn what Phil learned.  I think we'd have a much better world, and I'd feel happier.  They made it out to be a male problem. I disagree. I see it in men AND women.  

25. Sort of embarrassed to admit that this is my favorite song right now.   It's not Australian though.