Monthly Archives: October 2003


Canon recently released the EOS Digital Rebel camera, a digital SLR camera targetted at the amateur market. (The previous digital SLR cameras released by Canon have been aimed at the professionals or high-end amateurs.) I own a Canon EOS Rebel G, which was my pride and joy until I went to graduate school and couldn’t afford the film processing required to improve my photography. Now, digital is so much more convenient that I can’t go back, but my point-and-shoot digital camera doesn’t really meet my needs.

The camera, listed at $899, is significantly cheaper than the professional bodies. It’s still quite a bit more than I can drop on a whim, but I just got some late graduation money, so I’m going to start saving my pennies. I doubt if I can get it by Christmas, but maybe by early next year.

Here’s the Digital Photography Review and the Canon site on the Digital Rebel.

Good Grief

Some people still don’t understand the web. I went to our health insurance website this evening and tried to log on. I received the following message:

The online self-service feature you have requested is unavailable at this time. Our regular system operating hours are Monday through Friday from 4:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., Saturday from 6:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., and Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.


Virginia Tech undergraduates are the worst drivers that I have ever seen in my life. Perhaps undergraduate drivers everywhere are terrible and I just haven’t noticed. After all, at Vanderbilt parking is extremely limited, and the undergraduate drivers are dilluted by drivers in the city of Nashville. At Cornell, parking was again limited, and the parking that does exist is mostly on the periphery of campus. Since I usually rode the bus, I didn’t have to do battle with students in cars too often. Here, though, I encounter students on the roadways every day, and I am afraid. They pull out in front of me, speed through parking lots, and generally make driving on or near campus a terror.

This is especially troubling as I’m riding my bike to school until we get a second car. We’re going to have to get one soon, though, before I die at the hand of a VT undergrad behind the wheel. I seem to have a terrifying experience on my bike at least once a week. The most popular offensive manuever is passing me and then cutting me off by making a right turn. Yesterday, I saw a new one as a guy almost pulled out into the side of my bike. It seems that he was looking down the street for other cars, but as a bicycle I was invisible. I swerved and shouted, and he looked at me like I had just materialized out of the ether. No road rash yet, but I fear it is only a matter of time. At least in a car there is a ton of steel between me and my undergraduate nemeses; on a bike, all I’ve got is a helmet.

I’m all for helping the environment with alternative transportation, but I’d rather not risk my life in order to do so…

More on The Atlantic Monthly

I bought the Atlantic Monthly and am making my way through the college section. I am fairly impressed with the articles. They really give a good overview of the college admissions process as it exists in America today. I would recommend the articles to anyone who is going to college soon. I still think that the issue was greatly cheapened by the addition of a ranking, but alas, perhaps it was necessary to sell magazines.

The Fall of Democracy

Dave Farber sent this quote to his listserv yesterday. It’s been on my mind ever since:

“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they can vote themselves money (generous gifts) from the public treasury. From that moment on the majority always votes for the candidates promising the most money from the public treasury, with the result that a democracy always collapses over loose fiscal policy, (which is) always followed by a dictatorship.” – Alexander Tyler, circa 1787

More College Rankings

The NY Times reports that The Atlantic Monthly has just released their first college ranking, ranking the “50 most selective colleges in the nation.” It sounds like a very schizophrenic piece, in that it contains both a ranking of colleges and a number of articles questioning the validity of any such ranking. While I’ll reserve final judgement until I’ve read the issue, I’ve got to say that this strikes me as disingenuous. The addiction of the consumers of American education to these college rankings is well known. To offer such a ranking along with articles questioning its worth sounds like a drug pusher who also hands out pamphlets about the dangers of marijuana…