Thursday, 27th of July, 2006
Lewis says there are two main symptoms of a problem. First, fewer students of places of Harvard and Wash U are able to describe their undergraduate experience as one filled with profound discovery. Second, it is becoming evident that the Universities are doing a increasingly worse job of turning 18-year-olds into adults by the time they graduate. Being on the student-side of things, I have seen these problems translate into an interesting effect - many employers don't hire fresh college graduates.
Lewis goes on to describe two main causes of this problem. First, it is the growing idea that in undergraduate education, the student (and their parents) are the consumer. Along with that is the notion that the customer is always right (which is also wrong in many other contexts, but I can save that for a different discussion). Second, there is this new fanaticism with perfection as the means to become successful.
These two ideas seriously plague Wash U, as well as Harvard, and naturally trickle their way down into high class secondary education systems (high schools) as well. Basically, what we're describing here is the common scenario of Johnny making the first C+ in his life at Harvard and his parents calling up the professor and dean and asking them what is wrong with the education system. What Johnny and his parents don't realize is that he is learning at a higher level than he ever has up to that point in his life - discovering what he is truly good at, and undergoing the process of doubt about what he is good at, what he wants to do with the rest of his life, and making stronger discoveries about what he wants to do with the rest of his life.
The most troublesome part is that before tonight, I thought this phenomena didn't plague the very-top institutions at Harvard. I would have thought that Harvard, with its seemingly infinite pool of students to pick from and pretty much almost as inifite pool of monetary resources would be able to fight back against the consumerism of undergraduate education, and truly teach students what is important, instead of buying into what the student or parents think is important. Alas, this is not so - we have reached a point at which schools and teachers have seemingly lost control of the education system.
So the pressure is now on the student. As a student, you have to shape your own education experience. Places like Wash U are staffed to the brim with professors with such profound insight. You have to evaluate your goals - is it to get a 4.0, or is it to learn something truly unique? If you learn something truly unique, it will show in the grades, and its effect on them will last for many semesters, not just one. I attended too many classes at Wash U where the professor was excellent, and only half of the class ever showed up to his lectures. If you just want to follow one piece of concrete advice, take this - Go to class! That is what you're really paying for!
In spite of what the Harvard admissions office keeps telling everyone, there is a myth that places like Harvard look for students with 1600 SAT scores, a 4.0, and a long laundry list of extracurricular activities. What places like Harvard and Wash U attempt to do is discover those with a extraordinary ability to learn and embrace profound thoughts and ideas. It just so happens that most of these people have good test scores and are passionate about their activities.
But playing three instruments in high school won't make you smarter by default. As a student you have to let these experiences you book your schedule to the brim with mold and shape you into a more intelligent and discerning person, and set aside any me-first attitude and whining about not having achieved perfection.
Monday, 24th of July, 2006
Friday, 21st of July, 2006
Thursday, 20th of July, 2006
Fortunately, I had already planned on leaving town. Took off on a camping trip to Wisconsin for the weekend. Arrived to pleasant weather and lots of mosquitos.
Wednesday, 19th of July, 2006
Picture - Not sure exactly what this was flying over my hood but it was probably something among other interesting objects like umbrellas and trashcan lids.
Sunday, 16th of July, 2006
Some items of interest here.
- Ford continues its lead over Chevy in the truck department, but that's where the good news for Ford ends.
- All the SUVs have dropped off the list. The Explorer was 6th in 2004. Ford now sells more Focuses than Explorers. And the Trailblazer has been outselling the Explorer for a while now.
- The status of the Impala as the choice American sedan is sealed, the Taurus fell from 8th in 2004, to 17th, and has recovered a little but not enough. Ford is really in trouble now.
- I'm continuing to ignore those who hate on GM cars. They are excellent packages and it shows - with not just one, but two cars on the top 10 list, and brings hope the overall brand trophy for the list. Sure it sits below the Camry and the Accord, but there are still many reasons to buy one over a Camry. And the Cobalt isn't even new for 2006.
- The Dodge Caravan has hovered below the list in the low teens for at least a couple years now, and is currently back on the Top 10. Considering that the Carvan hasn't had a redesign since 2001, there are very few reasons to support this sudden lift in sales other than sabotaged SUV sales. A whole lot of them. Kudos to Dodge for hanging in there and continuing to make a solid, affordable minivan. (Another loss for Ford.)
- It's not that Ford hasn't been producing good cars with the technology to back it up, but I feel like their marketing is a bit wrong. I think it took a turn in the wrong direction when they decided they wanted all their cars to start with the letter F. Add to that some pretty uninspiring engines.
- The Nissan Altima's "cool new car" effect might be wearing off, but it hasn't disappeared yet - it's just sitting at 11th place.
Saturday, 15th of July, 2006
The first problem was the uppipe gaskets - Ron pulled them off last Thursday and they had definitely disintegrated. Of course, immdiately after we fixed that exhaust leak and all the exhaust is now flowing into the rest of the system, we were able to experience new sulphur smell - the catalytic converters were going out. So today we swapped out the downpipe, and put in new gaskets.
Thursday I bought a slightly rusty downpipe that someone was selling close to where I live. As soon as I saw it I knew it wasn't stock, but I knew it would work, and the deal was made without me really knowing what exactly it was. I pulled it out this morning at Ron's shop and he took one look at it and said - "That's an HKS downpipe." No complaints there - a very reputable aftermarket parts company. It was a nice surprise.
Anyway, with the new downpipe installed, something is still leaking into the rear foot compartment area, because I get a small dose of exhaust on the highway. That's why I poked my head in there and remembered that the new seats I installed in February left one extra hole in the chassis that isn't occupied with a bolt - and opens straight into the pavement below. Plugging that hole tonight seemed to have a little effect on something, though staring at the muffler this afternoon brought back memories of exhaust rising out of the rear quarter panels over the winter, which is giving me new theories about some leaking going on in the hatch area.
Took some more people who haven't seen the new Pixar Cars movie to a showing tonight - this would make it the third time I've seen it. I'm still picking up on things that I missed the first time around. After staring at bolts all day I was able to pick up on the four prominent bolts at the bottom of the tractors that are supposed to parallel a cow's utters.
Thursday, 13th of July, 2006
Wednesday, 12th of July, 2006
Tuesday, 11th of July, 2006
Monday, 10th of July, 2006
The white/black two-tone leather interior is nice - I agree with Joe's preference if leather is required. The adjustable-level fog lights is an interesting toy. Other electronic tricks that give it some German-car feel include the ability to roll down windows with the remote keyless entry, and roll up all the windows at the turn of the key to lock the car. We also treat back seat passengers well, with rear dome lights.
The way the drivetrain and chassis feels (and some of the interior's feelings) interestingly reminds me of a certain GM car that weighs slightly more and also has a nice, notchy 6-speed. Take it around a corner at speed and you're reminded that you're in a Mazda 6 again, which is not the worst thing in the world.
Base price with just cloth seats and the basics is $28,555, a little less than the $29,420 Subaru Legacy GT Limited that comes with all the sunroof and leather goodies that Mazda charges $2600 extra for. Depending on what you're looking for in a car, the winner of the best price award is too close to call. Both of those cars are a solid premium over the WRX, and you do get more car for what you pay for. However, these cars do not by any means make the WRX obsolete - they just relegate it to a space lower in the price table.
The fact that there's no Mazdaspeed wagon allows me to comfortably say I prefer Subaru. And if you start loading the Mazdaspeed 6 with options to make it a fun living room on wheels, it starts to creep up towards the price of a Mitsubishi EVO IX - a car that I find hard to turn down next to any other car near that price.
Sunday, 9th of July, 2006
Friday, 7th of July, 2006
Wednesday, 5th of July, 2006