1268 Dragon Age.

I debated the transition between this page and the last for a while but eventually landed on not letting the last line from the previous page linger, by way of Jo moving on before Jess could get too embarrassed. I felt like it was too much of a Thomas/Carol interaction and although these two have some similarities to them their relationship is not the same. Jo certainly does have a sense of romanticism, and wonder, but there is a timid aspect to her personality that manifest in a different way than in Thomas. In any event I got up early to make a slight change to this page because I felt like Jo wasn’t properly transitioning. I thought about it a long time last night after I got the page ready for tonight and finally made a choice on the matter in time to set it up before I get on the road.

I can’t remember for sure if any character has actually stated their age in the comic itself. I know that I have given various answers to the question at different times. Early on Jo was going to be 19 at the start of the comic, but I never really set any of that in stone. The ratio of ages has been pretty consistent in my mind. Jo is the youngest by a bit, then the twins and Reggie, Mike and Carol, and then Thomas and Nina as the oldest cast members. About a 7 year age range from youngest to oldest. I’ve fiddled with some of the timing as things have gone on to fit more or less with this, but not bothered to make a big deal about it. I expect there will always be someone around to call me on it anyway. I can George Lucas it as I see fit.

The Teen has entered return to school depression times. We are not allowed to speak the words, as it is scarcely two weeks until next term. In this I am sympathetic. I hated school as a kid. In spite of being someone who loves to learn I hated going to school for many reasons. Crippling shyness was high on the list, but also the modern schools system’s failure to make learning seem like something worthwhile. It makes no sense that something as innate to humans as learning can be so expertly disincentivized. Other people have inspiring stories about teachers who made a difference in their lives. I can barely remember most of mine. Most of what I do recall is not stellar. I liked my high school art teachers as people, and my journalism coach was a good guy. That’s about all I can say. I did a lot of learning on my own in most classes and failed at math because math isn’t something that I’ve ever been able to teach myself. Unfortunately no other human has had much luck, or inclination, either.
As far as the Teen goes, I’m not sure. She certainly has the same bad attitude that has plagued my mother’s side of the family for a generation. What engenders this is beyond my ability to speculate, but most of the grandkids seem to have it to one degree or another.

Possible spoilers for Trans4mers

I took the Teen to Trans4mers on Sunday. She and her friend liked it a lot. I liked it more than I liked Transformers 3 AND 2… and 1 if I’m honest. It’s not much better of a movie, but the cast was more tolerable than the first 3. Marky Mark can make pretty much any turd watchable. Pain And Gain is a notable exception. That movie is a desiccated pile. Yet I did watch it to the end… Anyway, the movie is held up by compelling actors somehow making a terrible script tolerable. Evil Fraisher is a believable bad guy in as much as any character in a transformer film is believable. There was more robot interaction, which was good, unfortunately the robots are unlikable on average and, in keeping with Bayformer tradition, a little racist. The Dinobots are barely characters at all, in spite of them being a major seeling point of the film. Strangely, however, they were the most true to the source feeling characters in any of the films. I’m not sure if that’s good or bad because it was their unbelievable and cartoonish animation that made me feel that way. Their robot modes were barely visible at any point and they don’t look even a bit like their Technicolor toy counterparts. My biggest animation complaint was the faux transformers “flying blocks” maneuver. Whoever okayed that shit needs a sharp slap to the botty.
Anyway, I went in to the film hopeful but left ultimately disappointed that I didn’t use my money for something better. As I said before, the Teen enjoyed herself and Teen 2 thought the movie was fan-effing-tastic. Which made me a little envious of the average. Being too smart for your own good has its down sides sometimes.


My cousin and I both agreed that if it weren’t for the effects, a lot of people would have left halfway through the movie.

Yeah, I was disappointed in the dinobots (autocorrect almost had me spell out dingbats there) as well. They were barely any use in a fight and it was mostly looking forward to their distinctive “me dinobot, smash puny glavatron” manner of speaking.

I’ve been hearing this Transformers movie was the best (not saying much). I was wondering though, where does John fall on the age meter?

He’s in the Mike and Carol range. So is Alex, by the way. The 3 officially unnamed kids are younger than Jolene, but not so much that she wasn’t aware of them in school.

Reasons why school can be anti-learning:
1) No play
2) Artificial incentives
3) Bad teachers
4) Lack of relevance
5) Antique methods
6) Bad test structure
7) Bad traditions

I could write a paragraph about each of these. I’ll just touch on a few:
If you give a monkey a puzzle, it will solve it over and over for fun. If you then reward it with a banana for solving the puzzle, it will stop solving it unless it’s paid.

Schools were at one point explicitly designed to create good assembly line workers.

Given the importance of their position, teachers usually have _far_ too much job security. There are some teacher’s unions that should simply be bulldozed.

Overall I agree with your list and I assume the order was not necessarily in order of greatest to least impact. I’d add some factors to it though. If I were to rank them from highest to lowest in terms of most common to least common it would be:

1) Politician interference – they all think they know how to teach but none of them have been teachers – which results in…
2) Antique methods – I read a masterful analysis of this recently. Shortly after WW II an American engineer/statistician/management consultant went to Japan to teach them how to do better quality control. Using his methods the Japanese transformed “made in Japan” from a derogatory term to a mark of quality. In the meantime American manufacturers stuck to the old ways and suffered declining market share. The same has happened in education. Some great methods of teaching have been developed, tested, and proven in the USA and exported to other countries where they are used with great success, but are used only sporadically here in the USA. Instead its a constant shift from one fad to the next, usually just going back to the antique methods … which leads to…
3) Lack of relevance – we still need good assembly line workers, but most people need to be grounded in high tech – even the assembly line workers. We also need skilled – I repeat SKILLED – mechanics, technicians, machinists, welders, engineers, computer technicians, engineers, entrepreneurs, etc. We need people who know the key information by rote – yes – memorizing times table is still a good skill – but we also need people to understand WHY math works the way it does and WHY good technical writing is good writing and so on. As much furor as Common Core has created, it’s actually a step in the right direction, but it’s a change and people seem to hate change and people start to politicize it and try to push for a return to antique methods that just don’t work so well.
4) Constantly changing directives (yeah – this is not on Phoenix’s list but I think it should be added) I pity the poor teachers who walk into the classroom every year with a brand new change of direction coming down from the district or state or whatever. How on earth are they ever supposed to get good at a method if it’s thrown out the next year and they have to start a new method with a couple of weeks (or often a couple of hours) of vague, confusing training? How are parents supposed to keep up with what’s going on so they can help out their students? This is one of the reasons for…
5) Abdication of responsibility for education. There are plenty of “helicopter parents” who are over-involved in what is going in with their child’s education, but for every one of those there are 10 who shove their kids out the door and figure it is up to the schools to educate and motivate their kids. It’s rather common when a kid gets into trouble or does poorly at school to immediately and adamantly blame someone else instead of considering that maybe it’s the kid’s fault, or maybe, *gasp* the parent’s. Great teachers can make a huge difference, but even ordinary, good teachers can have a big impact when supported by the parents at home who show up to parent/teacher conferences, follow what the kids are doing in school, encourage the kids to do their homework, and hold the KIDS accountable. It also makes a difference when parents and the community actively support the idea that it is critical to get educated. The best example of this I can find the anomaly of the state of Utah which spends less per pupil than most of the US and yet has one of the highest levels of academic achievement in the US. They don’t have better teachers. They don’t have better facilities. They don’t have inherently better kids. They aren’t more affluent. They don’t have better teaching methods. What they DO have is higher expectations for the kids and more in-family accountability. They also have one of the lowest drop-out rates – possibly because it is less socially acceptable there to drop out. Perhaps “bad traditions” could be lumped in with this category.
6) Bad test structure. This has been a problem forever. I once associated closely with a guy who got his Ph.D in education (not Ed.D. – Ph.D. – gotta use SCIENCE to get that one) working on effective testing. He taught me about how poorly most tests are designed when it comes to testing what they are supposed to be testing. I utilized what he taught me to make the tests I wrote for college students better – and wound up getting an award from the students for my teaching. Weird how actually getting tested on what you are supposed to be learning will make you feel better about the work you are doing in a class, eh? In some ways this could be lumped together with “artificial incentives”. If tests effectively demonstrate what you’ve learned, you feel more incentive to learn it, with confidence that the effort you put into it will show up when you take the test and that the score you see is not just “luck”.
7) The last one I would put is “bad teachers”. There are certainly some out there. I taught grad school, undergraduate, high school, and middle school. I was a good college teacher. I was a poor high school and middle school teacher (I don’t teach middle school or high school any more). Interestingly, the principal at the high school had no clue when I told him that teaching high school was different from teaching college – but then he’d only spent two years as a teacher in a middle school. Most teachers are actually quite good and stick around because they care. Poor teachers usually quit because they are miserable. That said, some good teachers burn out or get so overloaded with the extraneous demands placed on them that their teaching suffers. Given the importance of their positions and difficulty of their job, most teachers are grossly underpaid. Most teachers I know work 50-60 hours per week just to keep up with the demands of their job; time to hone their skills has to come on top of that. Their job security is a poor substitute for decent compensation. I suppose it might be a result of people assuming that ANYONE can teach. It would be a rude awakening for most of those pointing fingers at the teachers for academic failures if they had to step into the shoes of the teachers and deal with the massive bureaucracy, ridiculous politics, undisciplined students, unmotivated students, emotional baggage of students coming from dysfunctional homes, lack of appreciation, constant criticism and second guessing of everything they do, oh – and then also do lesson plans, coordinate with other teachers, teach, and grade in the time they have left over.

My mother is an English teacher, and she effectively has to be the parent some of her students never had because of poor family life, and even some of those students almost made her quit because they were so terrible. She cannot afford teacher union rates because the rates are effectively extortion, her department is run by a skeleton crew because no one thinks the English department needs money, and her head is on the chopping block for being fired, not because she is a bad teacher (she is a wonderful teacher) but because of some really ugly and backhanded politics (said politics are also why half my town is screaming for the superintendent to get fired, but never will). Also, they are keeping certain science teachers who NEED to be thrown back to college for being absolutely TERRIBLE teachers, but because they do their paperwork flawlessly and give easy passing grades they have more job security than if they had tenure (I say this because they fired three people who HAD tenure in two years for stepping on toes privately).

It is because of this I unashamedly HATE the current school system and just how destructive it is. The fact that there is an extreme greater emphasis on politics 90% of the people don’t know about rather than 100% of the children currently in the school system is both disgusting and saddening.

Sorry for the flame, schools are a touchy subject for me now.

I have only been working in the public school system for 3 years, and this is the PERFECT explanation of what the key problems are and how they are linked together. Try as I might, all I can do is keep to myself and teach how I think is more effective whilst ignoring my principal who has less teaching experience than me and has no leadership qualities. That being said, I nominate you to represent us teachers to enact change!

Hoe that Jo is only drinking soda there if she’s only 20. If memory serves legal drinking age in the US is 21 (I live in the UK where it’s 18)

Yeah, the LEGAL drinking age. But there aren’t any cops around, are there…

Besides the beer’s better in the UK, so of course the drinking age is lower.

By “better” you mean “stronger and doesn’t taste like bland piss”.

Also, did you intentionally choose your username to be a Deadpool villain?

Hey, I didn’t chime in on the last comic to say how awesome the art is, but I want to add to the “great job on the background” and also say “even the shade thrown by the floppy hat is very well done.” Nice work, man!

Yeah, I had a hard time in high school. Wasn’t popular, didn’t take well to the “sit down and shut up for eight hours” method of teaching, and didn’t see any use for much of what I was learning. And what I was interested in, there wasn’t time to explore. I graduated a solid “C” student.

Now, college, where I can take what courses I like and actually want to learn about? College, where they offer online, condensed classes where you can learn how YOU learn, in your own time? I’ve been on the dean’s list my entire track, and I’m currently taking honours courses.

So it got better. Though I should have waited a few years out of High School to go back. I’m now 30 and finally know what I want to study.

“My biggest animation complaint was the faux transformers “flying blocks” maneuver. Whoever okayed that shit needs a sharp slap to the botty.”

Absolutely agree. And they fly like that, somehow. So why don’t they just fly around is weird, morphic lego mode?

I’m really hoping they drop it for the Decepticons in the next movie.

“Which made me a little envious of the average. Being too smart for your own good has its down sides sometimes.”

Nah. You just have to lower your expectations.

I wanted to see a flame breathing, giant, robot dragon/T-Rex. I got what I wanted, (though I had to wait through a long, long movie for it).

I also got to see Frank Welker FINALLY get to voice Galvatron/Megatron in the big films.

I’m sure he’ll be very glad to take the money Hugo Weaving gave up when Mr. Weaving voiced his displeasure with the role.

Yet Hugo Weaving was okay with reprising his Mr. Smith role for a General Electric commercial. I bet no one remembers that short-lived gem of a sellout!

If Jolene just shaved her sideburns, which is what everyone with sideburns should do, she would look even more youthful. When I shaved my mustache in college, I received innumerable comments on how much younger I looked, even with my then thinning hair.

When I was younger – oh – around 18-21, a mustache made me look younger because it was so pathetic. Kind of odd because I nearly won the beard growing contest in high school. Some time around 25 I hit my peak and could grow one like Grizzly Adams with hair so stiff you could use it for leaf springs on a car. At that point the beard added 10 years to my appearance. Now I stay clean shaven because of the dominance of grey in my beard. It adds about 50 years to my appearance now. If grow it out I look like I should be sitting on top of a mountain dispensing the wisdom of eternity – or maybe just dumped in an old-folks home… :-)

So Trans4mers was decent as an action movie in my opinion, and as far as Bay deciding to cast explosions and his newest girl toy as the side cars in the Funky Bunch wasn’t Unbearable. My Real problem was that it got a game prequel as well that revived the D-listers of the Insecticons. Also they decided Grimlock shouldn’t have his energon sword or Cavebot speak.

Game does redeem a little bit with a curbstomp achievement called “Cybertronian History X”

I’ve come to dislike the Bayverse Transformers so much that I haven’t tried a single game to come from it since the first one on the DS. It was actually an okay game, but I felt like things weren’t going to get better from there and wrote off all the rest.

That was probably Well worth it, the first too were fun games and the stories not to bad. But as all things they ended up worse and then just bad.

Perfect choice of hat for each lady.

I have a friend who is allergic to sunlight. We’re talking break out in hives allergic. She has a collection of hats similar to the one Jess wears here… to complement her long sleeves.

Also: several webcomics artists have been complaining about issues with PhotoShop. I wonder if Adobe poisoned the latest updates to force you to upgrade to their latest and bloatest product.

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