Saturday, January 27, 2007

Thriller on YouTube

The wife and I stumbled across some funny stuff on YouTube a little bit ago. So here they are, three versions of Michael Jackson's "Thriller." First, the original:

I had to post that one because Brianne had actually never seen the video. Of course, considering how young she was when it came out, I guess that's understandable. However, the real reasons for this post are these two funny versions. First, someone recreated it (including the big dance scene), with Legos!!

The one that really made us laugh, though, was this last video. It's not the music to Thriller, but it is someone from India doing a variation on the dance. This had us rolling!

OK, time to end this. It's almost midnight on a Saturday night and we're both on our laptops. But at least I'm not reading about acrocentric chromosomes and centromeres!! :-)

Thursday, January 25, 2007

First Letter to the Purdue Paper

I picked up the Purdue Exponent for the first time the other day and found some of the typical hot-button topics on the opinion page. In particular, there was a letter that stated (among other things):

Marriage is a religious institution first. Every major religion has some variant of it. It just so happens that for reasons of inheritance, taxes and custody, the government keeps a tab on it. Let's just keep in mind that real marriage is a religious thing.

The "marriage" found in government hardly rises above the level of other government controlled entities. For instance, to get a driver's license you must meet a certain set of criteria[...] Few would call their license a "right." To call the legal status of "marriage" provided by the government a human right is probably giving it a little too much credit.

Here is my response:

Steven O'Keefe's letter regarding the gay marriage debate was perhaps the most arrogant and flawed argument regarding the topic that I have read. In Mr. O'Keefe's words, “real marriage is a religious thing.” According to his letter, since every major religion has a form of marriage, then every marriage must be religious. This argument assumes the converse of the original statement, which is logically unsound.

Mr. O'Keefe also inaptly compares civil marriage to a driver's license, which requires demonstration of ability and knowledge concerning driving. What unique skills must one show to get a marriage license? None.

Even more to the point, why does Mr. O'Keefe think he can be the arbiter regarding what qualifies as a “real marriage?” I have friends who were married by a justice of the peace in a secular ceremony. Would Mr. O'Keefe argue for denying them civil recognition since their marriage is not religious and, therefore, not real? I consider my own marriage to be an emotional, moral, and loving union, not a religious one. Mr. O'Keefe has absolutely no right to speak about what my marriage is and is not.

The point is that marriage means different things to different people. My Unitarian Universalist church performs religious marriage for gays and lesbians. The fact that federal and state governments decide which of these marriages qualify as authentic seems to be an encroachment of our right to freely exercise our religion.

Civil marriage offers many protections that help to strengthen a couple's bond. Denying these benefits to same-sex couples implies that their relationships are not worth preserving. Mr. O'Keefe needs to realize that his edict that all real marriages must be religious is inaccurate, arrogant, and very insulting to this married, spiritual person.

As a side note, I have to say I'm a little disappointed with the quality of writing in the Purdue paper. From what I've seen, both IU's and Michigan State's papers were better.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Hiatus and an Update

So, my lovely wife pointed out that I need to update my blog because I haven't done so in almost two months. Considering I've gone through a week of finals, a move from MI to Ft. Wayne, a move from Ft. Wayne to Zionsville, a minor surgery (with some pretty nasty recovery time), a lot of work to get the house settled, settling into a new school (with an hour commute), and a ton of reading for wireless mesh networks, OS, algorithms, C, and data structures, I think the hiatus was rather called for. :-) That was a lot of work just listing all of those things.

Now that I'm here and looking at my class load, I must admit that I do feel slightly overwhelmed. There is a definite difference between grad classes here than at my old school. Prereqs for MSU grad courses were essentially optional. The grad material was either completely different (e.g., the advanced OS course focused on algorithms for distributed systems instead of actually OS material), or the grad class covered the undergrad and grad material (e.g., my hellish AI class that had about a 1200 page reading assignment). At Purdue, the profs assume that you have actually taken the prereqs or are comfortable with the material. So my algorithms professor is not covering basic algorithms material (e.g., sorting, data structures, basic analysis, etc.), and my OS professor expects that we have a solid foundation of C and assembly language to start writing low-level constructs right away. It's fun and exciting, but it's going to be damn challenging.

In addition to those classes, I'm a TA for the undergrad course in data structures. That was one of the courses at IU that I definitely liked due to the mathematical nature of the material. I'm also working with my advisor on a research project. To get started, I'm looking into something called wireless mesh networks. It's pretty new stuff, so there's a lot of work to do.

Having said all that, I need to get on the road since my office hour is over. I'm not sure when I'll have a chance to post again, but now you understand why!