long time, no see

It has been sometime since I’ve been able to post a Random Musing. A quick recap of the reasoning: First, Cyberstation deleted the website again. They’re still billing me (got one today) but still has yet to reactivate my account. Never use Cyberstation of Wichita Falls. I give them two thumbs down. Anyhow, after a couple of weeks of waiting for them, I opened an account elsewhere. So far, they haven’t deleted my account- a good sign. Between the domain transfer and reconfiguring what I had setup, this is the first chance I’ve had to update this site.

With the completion of old business, new business comes up. Remember my parking ticket- well, I appealed it saying that half my car was legally parked and there were no other spaces open. The Appeals Officer decided that I deserved some slack and reduced my ticket- by half. So, half my car was parked illegally so I get fined half the usual amount. Last night, when I was driving home from The Pines, I was pulled over and given a citation for speeding. Going 82 in a 65. One ticket down, one to go.

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Diversity Part II

First, If you sent me any e-mail to a @brandonkraft.com e-mail address during the last month, I didn’t get them! Damn ISP! If you did, please forward to a working address. Secondly, some mindless images to help you all through the day.

chem1.gifchem2.gif
If you suck at chemistry, you may end up dying.

Also, I wanted to throw in this picture I think you will like. UT’s PTS gave this to me on the 24th around 1:30.

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Next up, do you remember the diversity column I wrote? Remember the little rant I had at the top of the page a week or so after that? Adam from Grinnell, IA sure does. He wrote me a reply, like I asked any of my viewers who disagreed to do, telling me that in fact, I am wrong. On the rant, I mentioned an event at a UT fraternity about how one of the members dressed up as a black person for a costume party of some sort. There were complaints filed to the University because of the incident. I said that getting all pissed off and trying to fix college students is not the best way to stop the problem. Here is Adam’s e-mail in it’s full glory:

I must respond to your comment on the comments you made about the racial situation at college. While I am not a student at UT and I don’t know about the “events” you mentioned I have a problem with your analysis of the students. I know it is not your intention but you are making excuses for the racist ideas of the students. You say that they are beyond change and teaching and if this is true then why do we bother educating them if they cannot change their ideas on a subject. Your statement:
“For everyone calling out for racial respect after the fraternity incident, realize that these people came probably from “white” suburban areas. They do not understand the culture nor the complexities of trivializing it. It is not a good thing but that is just how it is.”

You are excusing their behavior because of where they are from. College above any other place should be concerned with and able to change the perceptions of people and to educate them not only academically but also socially. Don’t you dare say such a narrow minded comment as “that is just how it is.” THAT excuse is one that has allowed such racist and bigoted ideals to continue. Just because they have held the idea for years and are at college doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be expected to change. Also don’t discount the accomplishments of the civil rights movement. I don’t know if you intended it, but know that there are serious negative connotations to the word “tolerance”. I was largely disappointed by the comments and I hope that you don’t truly feel the way that you came across. Also might I suggest the following link: http://www.edchange.org/multicultural/initial.html
p.s.: I have no hard feelings against you…I am just writing a letter to the editor.

First off, I must thank Adam for voicing out. One of the goals of this site is for people to be able to exchange ideas in some form. Not the greatest but, eh I’m also only a first-year college student with no time.

In response to the letter, I never meant to imply that bigotry was acceptable or that we shouldn’t try at all to change people’s opinions and thoughts at this point in the game. At college age, however, many people are set in their ways. The ability to transform someone of an adult age is much more difficult unless he or she wants to be transformed. I am not saying let the racists be racist but I am saying people should put more effort to stop the root of the problem rather then just the result of the problem. Teach about diversity and being colorblind in elementary, junior high and high school. It is along the same lines as the premise of the D.A.R.E. program- for those who do not know, D.A.R.E. is designed to teach elementary-aged students to stay away from drugs before they really get into the situation where they will be faced with that option. Focusing on college students would not be the best time to deter drug use as most kids start/try drugs at an earlier age. It’s the same thing with racism- yes, try to get college students aware of the issues but focus your time on a younger group. Teach kids before they get set in a mindset that the mindset of racism is wrong. The civil rights movement did accomplish goals. Black people attend class with me, vote with me, do whatever they want to with me. Yes, the civil rights movement accomplished a lot. The mission still is not complete, I agree. I disagree with college students getting pissed off at other college students without trying to figure out why they are that way. I know black people who are incredibly racist towards white people. Am I upset with them because of this? At first yes, after talking to one of their friends, I realized that they grew up in a mostly black neighborhood and the only real interaction they had with most white people fell along racial lines. They didn’t like me because most of the other white people they have seen were racist towards them in some fashion.

Back to the point, I do think that the college students who committed this acts could have a narrow mindset and that is not proper, not right and should not be allowed- however, while attempts should be made to open their minds, why are we not trying to keep their minds open while they are in a 99% white school in suburban Houston? They are racist probably not because they hate or dislike black people. I don’t think they’re anti-Black. I think it comes from a lack of understanding of the cultures. Now, don’t get me wrong with this next example- I’m trying to connect it to a general topic not so heated. Aggie jokes. We’ve all heard them at some point. When I was in elementary school, most of us shared them even though we did not have a grasp on what A&M and UT were really about. My experience through school was to keep an open mind about all colleges and so I applied to both UT and A&M with no preset determination where I wanted to go. After interactions with both schools, I did choose UT. Now, I play with my Aggie friends but I don’t really mean to punk on their school. How does this relate to race? Follow the metaphor a little farther, the students who committed this told these jokes throughout school and somewhere along the line, never learned that it was wrong and mostly unfounded. It’s time to decide where to go to school. Of course, Aggies are nothing but idiots so of course they’re going to want to go to UT instead. They don’t realize the error of their ways and knowing hardcore Aggies and hardcore Longhorns, it’s not an easy thing to change. With race, it’s not very different. The student never realized it was wrong and for the first time, it really being called on that. After having this mindset gel for 19 or 20 years, it’s really difficult to break the mold. It’s possible and it needs to be done- however, the student must want to think differently. If we have, for a lack of a better word, diversity education in these 99% white schools, the mold will have a less of a chance to be placed into effect and thus the lessen the likelihood of gelling.

It is the way it is. It’s not a good thing- I admitted to start with, but it is true. I am not saying that it can’t be corrected but you must solve the problem, not just the symptoms.

Am I still wrong? Did I piss you off for another reason? Let me know.
P.S. Adam, it’s all cool. I needed a topic for this week anyhow

orange pool table… nice

First- a little housecleaning: I know there was no edition of Sex or of Confessions this week. Feel free to contact Matt or Kari with comments on that :-).
On Wednesday, I went to the Erwin Center to hear President Clinton speak. I am not going to dive into the political message of the lecture but it was an amazing experience. I was able to score seats in the second row of the regular folks (floor level was for VIPs of some sort) and afterwards, I was almost able to shake his hand.
An important topic to discuss: the game of pool. This weekend, I spent the weekend with my brother and an old college friend of his (they met while they were completing their degrees in Mechanical Engineering at the University). In his house in Kyle, he has an amazing UT Sports room with signed baseballs from the National Championship Baseball team, signed mini-basketballs, signed footballs, signed baseball cards and who knows what else. What I really liked about the room was the orange-felt pool table complete with UT pool cues. It was excellent. Pool is one of the classic social games. You talk and converse around the table- it’s social. You have to think about the angles, ball approaches and strategy- it’s academic. You can go to the pool hall and play for a couple bucks an hour- it’s affordable. Currently, I’m horrible at it. Not good at all (So yes, Lambdas, if you need a self-esteem boost, play me Thursday night starting at 10 p.m. at the Lambda Social at Buffalo Billiards on Sixth Street. Ladies come out out!).
Next, I was reading an e-mail that I had received from one of the newsletters I’m subscribed to- it mentions a town who is “literally broke” and their method to get money is to build a tourist attraction. A theme park? A water park? Bats that live under the Congress Street bridge? No, a lava lamp. That’s right, they want to build a giant 60-foot lava lamp to attract tourists. Check it out.
A real quick thing- the new “UT Student Regent” box on the left is showing the status of two bills in the Texas Legslature, Senate Bill 211 and House Bill 719, designed to place a student regent with voting power on the board. It’s been something that has been talked about for a long time now and it has the most force behind it this session than it has had before. I’ll be updating it about weekly from information found at the Capitol Website.
Something I forgot to mention, this weekend I played Super Mario Brothers 3 and Super Brothers 8. The former may sound familiar, the latter probably does not. Reason? While Super Mario Brothers 3 was a fan favorite game of the Nintendo Entertainment Center (NES, ya know? the original… back from 1985… an 8 bit system… the control pad, start, select and the A & B buttons?), Americans never saw Super Brothers 8 because it was only released in Japan. While out in Kyle, my brother’s friend has a Japan NES-style system (I can’t read the characters on the device, the games or in gameplay so I really don’t know) with a handful of games. SMB 3 has the exact same game play except I couldn’t read any of what the text said. Super Brothers 8 felt much like the originial Super Mario Brothers but game play wasn’t as nice. There was Mario- except he carried around a hammer. He couldn’t jump on his enemies but had to hit them with the hammer. Or, you go could some sort of something (no idea what the icon was) which gave you a flame thrower. It reminded me of the fire flowers from the American series but it wasn’t a flower and I couldn’t tell what he was shooting it out of. It is also much harder than the SMB American games. Well, it is if you play it like an American SMB game- there was no turbo so you couldn’t hold down B and jump early. I leapt to my death many times. Anyhow, I’ll comment it on it more later when I play it a bit more. 🙂
I’m going to keep this week’s brief since I have plenty of homework I have before me. Key things to remember: homework is vital. Even if it’s stupid. It proves something- you have work ethic. If you can prove you have work ethic, you will be more attractive to businesses than someone with little work ethic but raw talent. Maybe this is where experience over education comes into play…..

marriage, delivery and the price

First off, I have a couple of friends getting married and like to throw a shout out to them and their beloved. The first is Andrea, a sophomore here with me at The University of Texas at Austin whom is getting married to Charlie this summer. The second is Brandie, a fellow alumnus of Hirschi whom is getting married to Billy this March. Isn’t it amazing how marriage works? Two people usually randomly find each other… no real intention of finding their partner for life. They date a little while, or a long while, and then they decide to never leave each other’s side. The couple, as now it is more politically correct to call them that, now if they haven’t already, subject themselves to the meeting of the families. Some families, this could be a generally easy process except remembering which one is Aunt Patricia and which one is Aunt Dolores. Other families, this could be a living hell. Through whatever that entails, they make it through the gauntlet of the family and after time, the gauntlet of planning the wedding. Then finally, all of the past experiences in their lives come together at the nexus that is the wedding. Before that, they are still two souls in two bodies trying to make it through this world. After the wedding, they emerge still as two bodies, but now with only one soul. Now some people may bark at me and what I just said. It may not be theologically sound in the thinking that each person is responsible for his or her soul, yadda yadda but that isn’t what I am referring to. I mean one soul in that from that day forward, whatever they do, affects each other in some way. They are bonded together for life. Through that life, each individual will change some. Sometimes for the good, sometimes for the bad. Even with whatever changes take place, in theory at least, they stick together. The ride the good times together and weather the bad times. Just amazing.
Even with that, it’s funny how differently marriages are put together. One couple may date for three years (or in cases longer), become engaged and remain in that state for another year. After four years, then they wed. During that time, they continue to learn more and more about each other so that once they become one, it will hopefully be a smooth transition. On the other hand, some people date for a couple of months, decide to get married and then wed within a year of meeting each other. I’m more old school and would rather spend four years being best friends with a girl and then marry her then just marry someone within a year. Of course, the downside with that is you must also find the same type of person. If you’re a “four-year” person and your future-partner is a “within-the-year” type of gal, then well, she’s probably not going to be your future partner. Anyhow, I wish nothing but the best for both couples.
Moving on from that serious subject to one that is even more serious: delivery. The concept of delivery is a great one- who can fault me on this. In the old west (or wherever it got started), that general store manager who said “Ya know, instead of having Miss Jeakens and her boys come down to pick up the feed when it arrives, let’s just go bring it to her. That’ll be a swell thing to do” knew what he was doing. Living in the dorms somewhat takes away from that- you have to go downstairs ::gasp:: to pick up delivery for security reasons. All in all though, it’s a great thing. Those nights you have a pile of homework and feel like something quick. A long day where cooking or going out just doesn’t sound like something to do. Delivery is amazing. “But, I don’t want just pizza or Chinese!” That is something that is horrible in our marketplace today. Who delivers? Depending on where you live, only pizza and Chinese places really deliver. However, in certain areas, like central Austin, you can get cookies, gourmet sandwiches, pizza, chicken, Chinese, Mexican, ice cream, Thai, American, et. al. all delivered. That is really awesome. Spoiling but awesome.
Last Wednesday, Matt mentioned how girls are crazy. While I agree, guys are still madly attracted to them. I think that makes guys crazy as well. Not as crazy but all the same.
Well boys and girls, I have a nice Latin book that is just begging for some attention right about now. I don’t want to give it any but that is the price you pay (beyond tuition, fees, housing and other costs) for being a student. I know it is for a purpose that is needed but I still laugh to think I’m paying someone to allow me to do work. Keep sending me any story ideas and whatnot. Have a good one.

birthday, fire, frats

This is an exciting week for the site. On Wednesday, it will be my website’s six-year anniversary. On February 5, 1997, I took a little personal site full of links and (tried) to make it a little more appealing to the outside world. I did learn something over the past six years- you must offer content. The site before never had anything of interest. Now it does, yay to that. To celebrate the anniversary, I’m going to put up the first graphic I had on my website that I stole from one of the old “Graphics for your webpage!” sites.
Moving on to the real musings, I went on the actives’ retreat with my fraternity, Lambda Omega Alpha this weekend. Fraternities are really a great concept. It’s really amazing the purpose they serve. I am not referring to the massive parties and the stereotypical functions of a fraternity. Well, the parties are cool too but that’s not the point. The brotherhood aspect is something that I have yet to experience anywhere else- even band. (For those who know, band can be a close-knit group…) For those who wonder about joining a fraternity, I wouldn’t say just join any one, but if you can find out you really can flow with- go for it. For me, it was the Lambdas but for Ricky it was Theta Chi. However, I don’t think I would flow with Theta Chi and I don’t think Ricky would flow with the Lambdas.
Fire. Men love to play with fire. I really don’t understand it- I love to play with a little fire too but I don’t know why. Maybe primal instincts of survival or just because fire is some cool stuff. Really though, have you ever really just looked at fire? Just glazed into it… thought you saw something in the flames… started reflecting about the passion you have for something in light… felt the heat of that passion.. all to realize that the passion you felt was your pant leg on fire? Lesson: Don’t go out into a daze while next to a fire.
The next topic was going to be teaching and my personal struggle with that. Then I got to thinking about it and I don’t feel like talking about it anymore. So if you really want to know more about it- that’s your problem. =)
I’ll keep this week’s article random and pointless by throwing in something else pointless. I wish I could experience a Groundhog Day effect for some point in time. Able just to repeat a day… or better yet, a week over and over again until I could figure out how to do things right. Not to mention, it would be a great stress reliever. You know what I mean- go Grand Theft Auto for a day… Oh yes… it would be classic. Best part… wake up… everything is back to normal and your ego is that much bigger. Wait… that might not be a good thing. Neither here nor there. That’s that for this week.
Next Week: The column is called RANDOM musings for a reason… just because Kari knows what she is going to write about people all expect me to…. gosh 🙂

diverse? we aren’t!

Another week has gone by in this Spring semester. I’ve skipped too much class already. I really need to stop doing that. If you hear about me skipping again, yell at me. I’m serious. Call me up and yell. If you don’t know my number, then IM me and tell me to get off the computer and go to class!

I’m going to start on a quick light note- my roommate Ricky has decided he is going to be the UT Superhero ending any and all crime on campus. However, the job position of superhero is not one you can just walk into so he needs your help. If you have any ideas for costumes, a name, a theme, any symbols, etc, please shoot me an e-mail.

Now my second topic of the week is bound to upset some people. If you happen to be one of those people, feel free to contact me and voice your opinion. Okay, diversity rallies- I don’t like them. I am not saying I don’t like diversity. I just don’t like the rallies. For those of you who do not know of my high school background: My high school was diverse. We had a pretty even mix of white, black and Hispanic. It wasn’t a “white” school. We had a pretty open flow of culture between all the ethnic groups. Blacks were 26% of the school population, Hispanics were about 16%. About half were “white, non-Hispanic” and the remainder came from Native Americans, Asians, et al. We never made any big deal about being a diverse campus- we just were diverse. The district allowed all 8th graders to choose which high school he/she would like to go to and we ended up being a diverse school. I’m at UT now and I’ve heard stories from A&M about diversity rallies held at the two campuses. I just laugh when I heard about this. UT has only around 16% minorities total. A&M has a total of 14% minorities. Although I hate to admit this, our campuses are not that diverse. We hold diversity rallies to celebrate our diversity. What diversity? We aren’t diverse so we try to act like it. What the hell good is that? A rally will not change anything. It won’t magically add minority students on campus. I love black people, I love Hispanic people, but what I love most is when I’m around people of other races and it’s not a big deal. Instead of holding a rally to act like we’re diverse, let’s become diverse. I don’t want to parade around campus telling myself we are. We aren’t. It’s as simple as that.

This will upset people as well but that’s the kind of musings this will be this week. The MLK Statue on the East Mall was egged on the previous Monday causing an uproar (story 1, story 2) on campus. I do not think that it was proper to egg the MLK statue nor do I condone that action. However, everyone made such a big deal about this. Some students reported seeing flowers around a statue of Lee on campus. Well, two other buildings (ACE and GEO, the Daily Texan newspaper said RLM which is not what police reports state) were also egged the same night. It sounds like some kids were throwing eggs around campus. Were they trying to send out their political message of hate on campus? Maybe. Were they trying to get a cheap thrill? Possible. The MLK statue is the only one on campus guarded with video cameras. Adds a little to the thrill factor. I know many people will take this the wrong way and I’m prepared for that. I just don’t feel that a statue being egged is that big of a deal. If they hung a sign on it saying racial slurs- that’s a big deal. If they tried to destroy or deface the statue- that’s a big deal. Throwing some eggs at a statue and two other buildings. I just don’t see that as a clear racial hate issue. Some people will bring up that the statue of General Lee on campus had flowers around it. No one reported this to the police as vandalism and only the newspaper had a report of a student seeing this. The people who threw eggs could be connected to that, it could be someone else who has a racial issue or who knows. I really just don’t feel the eggs were that big of a deal. According to the Daily Texan, Student Government “voted unanimously Tuesday [Jan. 21, 2003] to pass a resolution condemning the statue’s defacement and urging the UT administration to adopt and implement a racial harassment policy.” Great for them. There is no reason why we should allow racial harassment on campus. When was the last reported harassment due to race on campus? I have no idea. There has been nothing in the police reports for this school year about it that I can recall. Take that for what you will, if you think I’m wrong.

On a much lighter note, Saturday the 25th was the first “Whose Date Is It Anyway?” date auction at the University Catholic Center. It was amazing. For all those members of STRONG (if any) who check out this site, you did a great job. I am impressed and that isn’t easy to do. All in all, from what I heard, around $4,000 was raised to help complete the new center.

Adam asked me this week why I had Matt’s weather online but not his since he was in fact colder. I checked it out and he’s right. Adam is colder at Grinnell College than Matt is at MIT. [as of when I wrote this on the night of January 26th. Weather does change.] Also, if you need to know any random facts about cars, Adam knows what you seek. I’ll mention some of his random facts in the weeks to come.

That is that for this week’s musings. Matt’s stats are below as they were last week. I’ll be setting up a page so you can track his progress towards 100% soon. Also, if you have any idea for RM232, shoot me an e-mail. I have some ideas in the works but any feedback would be great.