Thursday, February 10, 2011

I forgot to add a title but this new title isn't really any better.

In this thread, we attack strawmen. Sort of. This post contains a lot of references to physical attractiveness, so I want to preface it by saying that beauty is subjective, and what one person finds attractive another finds repulsive. So when I say "an attractive person" I really mean "a person whose physical appearance closely matches those qualities I or the viewer in question would find attractive," it's just easier to say it the first way. Nobody is truly ugly, and everyone is beautiful to someone. I was actually going to make a post about that alone, but I couldn't think of anything more to say than what I just did.

Anyway! Moving on:

I've heard a few people say it's "shallow" to consider looks when choosing a romantic partner. I would posit that it's only shallow when looks are the only thing that matters. Nobody would be happy waking up next to someone they thought was hideous. Anyone who says "looks don't matter" is lying or blind. The reason this becomes an issue, I think, is the perception that "cute" people are more likely to be approached (or have their approaches accepted) by members of their gender of preference, which, naturally, is a source of consternation for us non-super hot folks. For the next few paragraphs, I'm going to take a page from last post's book and copy and paste something I wrote on Reddit. (Woo, efficiency.)

I doubt very many people judge based on looks alone, but looks are the fastest and easiest way to determine whether or not you're interested in talking to someone. Let's say you're in a bar and deciding who to talk to: There's an extremely attractive person, a kind of attractive one and an unattractive one. So which one do you approach? Some people seem to have this perception that pretty people are more stuck up and ugly people are more likely to be nice, but I haven't found that to be the case. I know plenty of awesome gorgeous people and obnoxious ugly people. (I don't like saying that because physical beauty is subjective and I don't think anyone is truly "ugly" but for the sake of this post I'm going to run with it since it's easier.)

So, in the above example, it's quite possible the very attractive person is a horrible jerkface and the average one is kinda ok but not that great and the unattractive one is nicest, smartest, funniest person you'll ever meet, but it's equally possible that the inverse is true. You simply cannot know their personalities, so assuming it's equally likely any given one will be an ass or awesome, there's no reason to not approach the one you find most physically attractive first.

So it's not like society thinks ugly people have no worth (well ok some people act like that but they're idiots), just that it's the "pretty" people who always get talked to first.

I'm not sure I had a point there, really. This is just a topic I've been encountering a bit lately, and I needed something to ramble about, so this happened.

tl;dr Beauty is subjective

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Edumaction: Learn me a book

So earlier today on reddit someone started a thread asking "What do you feel is wrong with our schools?" I went on sort of a mini rant and decided to post it here as well.

Schools teach children facts but not how to learn. Look at math class for example. Ask a 1st grader what 5 x 6 is, and they can probably tell you. Ask them why that is and I bet they'll tell you "Because the times tables say so." We have children memorize the things thought to be important, but don't equip them to go out and learn things on their own.

Also, the school system is living in the past. I can't count the number of times I was assigned a research paper in high school (and even in college a few times) and told "You must use 5 sources for this and 4 of them must be non-internet sources." So, we have the most powerful tool for communication and information exchange in the history of our species quite literally at our fingertips, and we are denied its use so we "learn how to research." I can safely say that in my adult life I have never once gone to a library to research. Anything I need to learn I find online. (Also my "non-internet" sources invariably came from an internet database that archives them anyway.)

The justification is always "Well there's so much bad information" on the internet, which is true, but that's the point! Instead of telling kids to steer clear of Wikipedia and go to the library instead, we should be teaching them how to tell legitimate internet resources from some random angry guy's Tripod page.

Also, tests, bleargh. 9 times in 10, tests/exams test nothing except for a student's ability to regurgitate information on demand. Multiple choice tests only tell you how well a student takes multiple choice tests. For example, I'm in software development, and thankfully most of the classes I had in college were more project oriented, so more like an actual development environment, but I still had a few that were the typical "Put your books and notes away and answer these questions." That is nothing like how it is in real life. When I program now I have a stack of reference books on my desk and a dozen reference pages bookmarked or open in tabs, as do all the professional and undergrad developers I know. Cutting students off from books doesn't test anything except their memorization abilities and limits their ability to solve problems in an environment like the one they'll find in the professional world.