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One year more. It's going fast. Am I taking advantage of every opportunity? You betcha.

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Archive: January 2013

Studying on Studying on Studying

Standardized Tests? More like…Stupidized. Yeah. No coming back from that, is there.

Talking to seniors anywhere, and they’ll probably express anger at having to put up with standardized tests. For high school seniors it’s the SAT or ACT. For college seniors, it can be the LSAT, GRE, GMAT, MCAT, or more. For senior seniors, it’s usually eye exams. I mean COME ON!YouTube Preview Image

And what are these tests anyway? Are they indicators of IQ? Are they objective measures of how much a person has learned during their studies? I’ll loudly and proudly proclaim, “No sir!” For the most part, they are simply measures of how well a person can take a bit of contrived material, commit it to memory, and then regurgitate it on test day. It’s also a good opportunity to spend money on textbooks that would otherwise be worthless.

But we must do them anyway. The achievement of a certain score may be the only thing standing between a person and their dream of two, three, or four more years of school.

Movie Style Basketball

There’s a point in everyone’s life where they are watching a sports movie, and the clock is running down and they make the final point or goal or basket necessary to win the game. At this point usually you’ll roll your eyes and think, well this is absolutely ridiculous. That would never happen in real life. Right?

That’s what I keep thinking, but the Butler Basketball Program has succeeded three times in proving that this sort of thing isn’t only possible once every fifty years, but three times in the same season.

After watching Butler basketball excel in Hawaii, against IU, and now against Gonzaga, I find myself giddy at the thought of what March may hold. At the same time, I’m nervous. Have we ever gone into a tournament with this much energy, this much momentum? The Butler way seems to be as an underdog. Speaking of which, Trip is soon to replace Blue II. This may just be the end of an era.

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Applied Thesis Part 2

Chuck Klosterman is a fantastic writer in that he brings an intelligent eye to the world of pop culture, a field that interests most everybody alive today to some extent. You try and tell me that you haven’t felt some sort of visceral reaction towards the TV show “Honey Boo Boo.” Whether adoration or revulsion, you are officially affected by popular culture (No one said popular equaled quality).

I have experienced a “Chuck Klosterman moment” recently, a moment where my field of study overlapped with a major news event. My Honors Thesis focuses on the role that advanced technology has on blurring the lines between organic and synthetic material, human and non-human, virtual and material.

The “hacktivist” group called Anonymous attacked a United States Government Website over the controversial sentencing and subsequent suicide of hacker Aaron Schwartz. They created this video to transmit their message:

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The video creates a unique blur between the real-time events of this hacktivist group and the narrative drive of such vigilante movie heroes such as Batman or the protagonist of “V for Vendetta.” Is the work of these hackers built on bluster? Can they back up their threats and demands? In either case they are proving that dangers to the US Government can come from new realms that were before non-existent or believed to be secure.

Applied Thesis

In general, public opinion looks down upon the academic world for living in something of a vacuum. At first glance, their work generally seems very stuffy and esoteric. Academic essays often exist within a conversation that is only well known by the scholars of that particular strain of thought or literature.

Picking up an academic article is a daunting task. Words will crop up that you weren’t even aware existed. Obscure references are made. Above all, the article drags on for pages and pages and pages. Following the train of thought is difficult in each paragraph, and tracing the line of thought from opening to closing paragraphs is a feat in and of itself.

For this reason I was wildly pleased to discover about a visiting writer to Butler’s campus by the name of Chuck Klosterman. He brings the acuity of academic writing to the world of pop culture. In the opening chapter of his book “Sex, Drugs, and Cocoa Puffs” he recounts the development of cold cereal from its original design as a puritanical sexual-suppressant  into the sugary, cartoon-marketed product we know today.

Chuck Klosterman will be reading at the Reilly Room on Thursday, January 31st at 7:30 PM.

An Italian Feast

I get back from class and I am exhausted. The last thing I want to do is stare at more words, and exercise my brain after the three hours of mind-numbing lecture I just went through. What to do? Nap? I’m trying to break the habit. Eat? I just ate lunch. And then I knew what had to be done.

Whip up some homemade bread, that’s what. Retrieving my copy of Marcella Hazan’s “Essentials of Italian Cooking” I found the recipe for Foccaccia, a traditional type of bread. So, in a break between classes I was kneading flour, yeast, water, and a touch of olive oil into a ball. I let it rise while I was in class, and when I returned it was ready to throw in the oven.

The bread was pretty tasty in my opinioin, and it will supply some great sandwich bread for the next week, but more than anything it was a wonderful catharsis. For a few minutes I could take my mind of the responsibilities of my final semester at Butler University and slap a wad of dough against a table (it’s part of the kneading process, fer serial).


I’m going to take a bit of time out of my busy schedule to praise the band Guster. I attended a concert of theirs in Bloomington, IN, and I was astounded by the performance. They aren’t just phenomenal musicians, but also truly entertaining performers. They joked with the crowd, and they also joked with themselves. The singer, for example, went through a bit of travel problems when he landed in the Bloomington Airport, only to learn that it was Bloomington, Illinois. Wrong state. It was the theme of the night.

Here’s an example of how they found humor in the drummer, and his complete lack of singing ability (I sympathize with this).

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This band doesn’t have the fame of, say, PSY, and yet they have been around since the early 90’s.  such extended if moderate success is truly an incredible feat compared to the brief explosions of fame that many artists come and go with every year.

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They also embody how bands operate in the 21st century. Tweets were sent out when the airport mix-up was realized. Ahead of time, they had asked that if anyone wanted to suggest a song, they would have to bring an interesting object for the band. “The Colonel Sanders Christmas” LP was particularly popular.

Language Learning Online

How do you learn a language? Do you buy a book? Do you need to find native speakers? Or do you need to travel to another country? All of these are viable options, but some are very expensive, and require a lot of work that may be unnecessary.

It’s incredible all of the websites that have been created with the sole purpose of teaching languages to others. A website that I utilize is called Duo Lingo. It offers a number of languages, with focuses in the romantic languages (no, not like sparkling vampire romance, but languages derived from Latin, such as Spanish, French, and Italian.) It is a free service and offers a simple means of getting the basics of language without the hefty cost of Rosetta Stone.

Then you have other websites that can lead you to more language learning opportunities. Openculture and the Khan Academy would be other examples. This kind of exposure to other languages would have, once upon a time, been very difficult to encounter. Now it’s available and free for anyone with access to the internet.

If all goes well, you may be able to sing along to this song. Good luck, explorer. YouTube Preview Image

January Showers Bring February Icicles

I feel like I’m in the twilight zone. It’s the middle of January, and it’s pouring down rain like it’s monsoon season. All of my traditional winter clothes are proving ineffective. Thick wool doesn’t repel rain, it only soaks it up and becomes heavy and chilled!

Two days ago, I kid you not, I heard thunder. That’s right. We had a mid-winter thunderstorm. The Nile River was forming outside of my house from the torrential downpour. Today is blessedly dry, but other problems have developed. For example, a high of 28 degrees Fahrenheit is forecasted. It is currently…well you take a look.

My roommate’s car was frozen shut this morning!!! What is going on with our weather? Just like January last year, this year we are struck with bouts of incredibly warm weather. I’m never sure when I wake up these days whether to put on shorts, pants, a rain slicker, or scarf and hat. But hey, as the saying goes, if you don’t like Indiana’s weather, wait five minutes.

Book Purchasing Through The Years

Freshman Year: Golly jeepers am I glad to be going off to college! I’ll need books won’t I? Well thank goodness there’s a campus bookstore. How convenient! Oh…they cost how much? I suppose I can’t get them anywhere else so…

Sophomore Year: NEVER. AGAIN. Never again will I be fooled by the bookstore’s prices! I’ll scour the internet for the best prices! First I’ll go to, then, then…And through the power of Excel spreadsheets I will be victorious!

Junior Year: Okay, maybe I was jumping the gun last year. Half the books I bought weren’t on the syllabus, and often there were other books I had to acquire throughout the year. Thank goodness for generous friends. I’ll play a waiting game this year.

Senior Year: School soon, right? Whatever. Books? Amazon. They’ll get here when the get here. What’s that Amazon Customer Service? This copy of the book is out of stock? I suppose I could just find another copy, buuuuuut I didn’t really want that one anyway.

Movie Review: Lincoln

When the movie opens, the camera focuses on the back of a head. The voice coming from this unclad head was high, neither intimidating nor filled with the power that myth that has been bestowed upon this historic figure in my mind. That is the defining characteristic of this presentation of Abraham Lincoln in Steven Spielberg’s movie, “Lincoln.”

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He is a man weighed upon by the burden of a broken, fighting nation while never fully present in the moment. When pressed to make a tough decision or give a direct answer, his mind always seems wandering towards a funny anecdote that is humorous yet relevant. My personal favorite was the story about American diplomats in England who saw a portrait of George Washington in an outhouse.

Even how he walks is unique. It was a wonderful opportunity to see the power of Daniel Day Lewis’s acting. At no point did I compare Lincoln to other characters that Lewis has played. I give this movie seven of seven top hats.

My one complaint: there was not nearly enough vampire slaying in this movie. If only someone had seen the opportunities there…