Cracking the SAT

The title to Princeton Reviews book is pretty straight forward... use the book to study and do well on the SAT. But after an article in the Wall Street Journal a few weeks ago, it makes me wonder if maybe it means something more... Is Princeton Review subliminally sending messages to kids to take crack before taking the SAT test? Probably not on purpose... but who knows?

Apparently, people have been taking to the prescription drug adderal to do better on the SAT, and apparently its been working. This is supposed to be a drug given to kids with ADHD so they can sit still and not screw around in class, but it also seems to give a pretty good kick for people taking "tests of reasoning." Then again, isn't it more a test of how well you feel that morning anyway? Aren't the top pieces of advice given by those shady SAT prep classes and books to get a good nights sleep and to eat a good breakfast? If this is all you need to do then why did we waste the past 12 years of our lives in school? This seems to be a good routine for finding out how well kids take care of themselves.. but aren't these tests supposed to find out how well we can reason?

According to the article, College Board doesn't know that people are taking drugs to improve test scores and they don't have any rules prohibiting such behavior... Come on College Board! give me a break. I wouldn't be surprised if some College Board hotshots were bigtime investors in Pfizer or whoever makes the drug, because you'd have to be pretty blind to realize how ridiculous the SAT has become.

College Board has successfully monopolized the college admission market (if such a thing exists) and they're continuing to bulldoze through. They run the entire AP program and the SAT. Of course I know you're thinking that the IB program and ACT exists... but come on... how many people actually take them? Isn't the point of education to learn enough to make it in the complex world that we have created? Isn't the reason we have classes like history so that we don't repeat the mistakes of the past? Isn't the reason we have drivers ed so that people don't drive like maniacs and kill everyone on the road? Whats amazing is that kids now spend up to hundreds of dollars going to night classes so they can learn how to crack the test and get more questions right than the next guy.

How can this type of elitist system truly measure the qualification of a candidate for college? Sure most would say there are other considerations from the SAT, but College Board has done a pretty good job of burning this idea into everyone's brain that SAT scores determine who you are as a person. And this has inevitably led to people doing anything, regardless of their physical or mental health, to ensure that they do well. Of course, I hate the think of the day when people have to pee in a cup before they're allowed to take the SAT on a Saturday morning, but maybe thats what we've come to? Without some type of change the elites will continue to use their shysty tactics to succeed on these tests and take the scholarship money away from those truly qualified, while the more blue collar student will continue to struggle, until everyone starts popping pills and they all equal out again.

Al Qaeda Recruiting Missions

Say what you might about the war on terror, but its hard to see how this strategy is actually solving the root problems of terrorism. Sure it might be temporarily repressing terrorist attacks in America, but how long can we do this? forever? The war on terror surely hasn't been very effective in capturing Bin-laden or Al-Zarqawi or increasing our Middle-eastern credibility...

When you consider the reasons why terrorism exists, it starts to make sense how ridiculous our current policy is. America's support of Isreal and our utter disrepect toward Muslim people in the Middle East seems to be incentive for them to want to attack the US and Isreal. Our actions in the Iraq war seem to have done nothing but exacerbate these problems. There are images on Middle-Eastern television showing Americans forcing Iraqis to strip and then completely humiliating them. Then there is video of an American cursing and blowing away an innocent Iraqi in a mosque. The civilian death toll is estimated to be anywhere from 15,000 to 30,000, but no one will ever really know since the US military doesn't keep track of "collateral damage."

Despite the fact that these figures aren't released in America doesn't mean that nobody cares. Bin-laden must be gracious that the US military is ignorant enough to do its dirty work in Mosques and disobey Muslim religion as much as possible in this war. All we need now is video of the US military hurting an innocent Muslim woman and the recruitment rate for Al-Quida will be through the roof. Unlike in the west, where society is mostly secular, religion seems to be a major factor in a lot of peoples lives, and having outsiders come and shit on it would probably be pretty offensive.

What would Americans think if we saw a Middle-Eastern person come into our country, wrap innocent civilians in American flags and then burn them to death? Can we assume there would be absolutely no backlash? What would we think if an outside country came in to overthrow out president because they "knew" he was stockpiling WMDs, and then shot at every moving target in Washington, DC, blew up their homes, and left them to deal with it themselves? Can we assume then that there would be no backlash?

This is a problem bigger than boming random countries and taking out opressive dictators. This is a game where all anyone wants is respect, and yet where more disrespect is happening than ever.

So Much Hypocrisy

Being the moral, Christian guy that George Bush is... it seems like he's doing a good job of fighting to keep Senator Arlen Spector from becoming head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, since Spector is openly pro-choice and will ensure Roe v. Wade stays in place. But its making me ask... what the hell?

Both Bush and Pennsylvania's other Republican Senator, Rick Santorum, endorsed Spector for re-election, even though they knew he was running as a pro-choice candidate, and that he openly opposed Bush on other issues like stem cell research. They pretty much snubbed Rep. Toomey, who Paul Begala calls "a much better peson." The whole thing makes you wonder what the actual motive of this thing was? Did they want to ensure Roe v. Wade didn't get overturned but at the same time wanted to use it as a campaign centerpiece to appease the evangelicals? And then did they want to put up a fight with Spector to make sure their image as anti-abortionists was upheld? Obviously they didn't care a whole lot when they endorsed Spector over the openly pro-life Pat Toomey in the primaries. I know if I were relying on these guys to come through on these 'moral issues' I'd have some big questions right now. Then again, I think its all mindgames anway.

What Now?

So the election is over and it looks like the Republicans somehow did an amazing job of completely playing America. The poll numbers and statistics are so bizarre that the whole thing just boggles my mind. Wasn't terrorism supposed to be a big issue in this election? Whats interesting is that all of the states and communities that have been, or are likely to be victims of terrorist attacks overwhelmingly voted for Kerry. New York, New Jersery, Connecticut, Marlyland, and DC all went to Kerry, despite being the biggest victims of terrorist attacks. The East Coast and California are the most likely to be attacked by terrorists again, and still... no support for Bush there. Back at home, Cleveland is the biggest and most likely target in Ohio, but in Cuyahoga county, Kerry won by a landslide.

Whats especially mind-boggling is that more Americans indicated they voted for president based on 'moral values' more than any other issue, including the war and the economy. How the hell did this happen? I Don't remember this country every being an especially religious, nor would I ever imagine a lot of religious people voting on so-called 'moral values'. The sad part is, apparently Americans are somehow able to fathom the thought of our soldiers invading a sovereign nation, going in an slaughtering thousands and thousands of civilians, abusing prisoners, watching our own troops getting regularly attacked by insurgents, and seeing a dark, dim, gloomy future in that war; and yet, they are not able to fathom the thought of two men or two women living together, just trying to be happy.

Speaking of which, the margin by which the gay marriage ban passed in Ohio and other states is ridiculous. I think its really saying something when your two republican senators, republican governor, and republican attourney general all disapprove of the issue. But then again, who cares about the economy when we can oppress homosexuals? Maybe I just don't want to admit it, but maybe a lot of people just didn't understand the issue at hand. This wasn't just about banning gay marriage, it was about banning homosexual and heterosexual civil unions too. Take this example: you're a homosexual who works for the Microsoft office in Seattle, and they give you and your legal partner health coverage. Microsoft decides they need you to work in their Westerville, Ohio office, but... oops you can't get health coverage there. So either one of two things happens: companies start moving their offices to states where they can give their employees fair benefits, or that person won't work in Ohio since he/she is being legally discriminated against. Whichever the case, it can't be good for Ohio.

When it comes to the war, its amazing that young people can support such a crazy endevour. I can't even believe how many people around school still support the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Four years ago Bush promised not to pursue nation-building or an agressive foreign policy like that... and then 9/11 happened. This time Bush indicated that we wouldn't have a draft, despite reports from military generals indicating our military is incredibly overstretched. The Heritage Institute has probably written a dozen or more articles about how we can't pusue any more foreign policy initiatives because we're too overstretched. These aren't just the hippies talking here... these are the right-wing hawks who support using the military, but support using it correctly. Right now the only thing I feel like I can do it sit back and pray that nothing happens to our country. Given the fact that Bush wants to extend the 'war on terror' into other countries, and that we need to retaliate to terrorism by attacking a country, and that our allies pretty much hate the bush administration, it looks like its going to be us, going in alone.

And how soon is this actually going to happen? Its like someone told me today, consider Iran... their parliment just approved a measure for them to start developing weapons grade plutonium. Now that Bush is in office, it seems like their strategy is going to be, build up nuclear weapons and attack them before he has the chance to send the military and take over my country. Theres without a doubt that a handful of countries and rougue states have nuclear weapons, its just a matter of time before America tries to do something again.

I think everyone should read the BBC talking points from today if you really want to get a good idea of what the rest of the world thinks about this election and this administration. I think that they're right to say that Americans are incredibly arrogant re-elect a leader who is a proven failure. The economy is in the shitter, the war is a disaster, Kerry won all three debates and yet Bush still comfortably won. What is wrong with the everyday voter?

Jobs in Ohio have been continuously flying out the window, and blue collar workers are voting for the administration that is likely to cost them their jobs. The first initiative Bush is going to persue is making the upper-class tax cuts permanent, then he's going to ask congress for another couple of billions of dollars for Iraq. Talk about fiscal responsibility... then I'm sure ANWR will eventually pass, destroying one of the few beautiful environmental areas in our country and completely disrespecting indigineous people up there. CAFTA will probably pass and FTAA will be on the table so we can start outsourcing our jobs to more Central and South American countries and buying steel and manufactured products from them too. No Child Left behind will probably still be floating around, almost completely unfunded, and there will probably be more Social Security and Healthcare reforms, none of them possibly for the better.

The difference between what the president does in this term will probably be minimal from what he did in the first term, only last time we started from the top and worked our way down; this time we're starting from the bottom, and god knows where we'll end up. I think Evan said it best today... he's a pretty moderate guy, from a blue-collar, working class family, but the current administration just has not done anything positive for him or other similar families. To answer the question of 'do you feel safe today,' i would answer: no. But I'm not afraid of terrorism or homeland security, I'm afraid of whats going to happen to this country in the next four years. I'm disgusted in the choices Americans and specifically Ohioans made in this election, and hopefully things will change. Then again, Roger Solt once told me that the only way people really understand problems is through some type of disaster. There weren't a lot of people concerned about the Cuyahoga River in the 70s, until it caught on fire and burned... Maybe Americans will start to realize whats happening when America starts to burn like Rome did under Nero. Until then... all we can do is brace ourselves and hope Rome doesn't implode.