Sites to Bookmark for Introductory Web Design

It probably goes without saying that this is an assignment for my web-design class, but we were asked to link to a few sites and discuss why we liked them. I decided to go on-theme and stick to ones that would actually be relevant to this class.

WC3 – HTML5
Given that the WC3 is currently the most widely accepted authority on web design and mark-up standards, their HTML5 page is probably a solid go-to to settle various conflicts and mark-up snarls that might come up in the process of designing a website. I am personally very fond of the hierarchal list of links used as a Table of Contents near the top of the page. I wouldn’t call this a good web-design decision, as many people find this kind of list overwhelming. But for my own personal use, I quite like seeing everything there is, and where they belong in relation to each other.

HTML5 Rocks
Their variety of tutorials and slideshow presentations look like they will be helpful down the road, and show me roughly what to look forward to right now. It’s a very simple site on the surface, with a few links to the most important sections of the site that in turn contain the real value of this website. I’m not too fond of the excessive whitespace between the elements of the site, but I can see why it was used here – namely, trying to offer a very low-text, graphical counterpart to the high-text, line-by-line topic the site’s content centers on.

W3Schools
I greatly appreciate that along with the color-coded, clickable graphics/tiles that make up the bulk of the page leading to various sections of the site, there is also a handy and well-organized list of links in the sidebar that lead to the sections as well, and the predominant sub-sections/lessons worth nothing. A very simple design, yet can appeal to image-oriented and structure-oriented people at once. Given the breadth and depth of their mark-up language lessons, how can I not keep this site bookmarked and on hand at all times? Funny you should ask that, actually, because…

W3Fools
According to the Front-end Dev community, W3Schools has no actual affiliations with the WC3, despite the name, and the information it provides is inaccurate and possibly harmful to the web. I don’t know enough about web-design to confirm or refute this, beyond the fact I’ve found W3Schools to be helpful and accurate thus far. But I will be sure to keep an eye on it, and I will keep this particular site on hand if W3Schools ever fails me in the future. That said, the amount of whitespace between elements is excessive, as is the scrolling necessary to get to different portions of the homepage alone, even accounting for the floating naviation bar that takes you to the parts without taking you to another page. I do commend them on the smooth navigation, though, as many sites attempt such a feature but only get clumsy sub-link jumping instead of the sleek movement through the page that they want.

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A Very Brief Primer on Religion in the World of Tengarsa

In the Tengarsa world, magic has long been a contemporary of our world. The Old Religion (named Tencreda, though rarely called that in English) is like an extremely institutionalized and much more formal version of Paganistic faiths, one that has existed alongside and in the shadow of Catholicism. Indeed, where “the Church” is metonymically used to refer to Christianity/Catholicism, “the Temple” usually refers to the Old Religion. The Tengarsa culture is very matriarchal, and as such priestesses generally run the Temple. There is, however, no single institution like the Vatican, as most Pagan faiths, while seen as denominations of each other in this world (i.e. the overlaps in the Greek and Norse pantheons are usually seen as minor variations in names and stories of the same gods), are too different to really fall under a single institution. Rather, there a network of centralized institutions that is the closest parallel to the Vatican.

While the Temple and the Church have always been at odds with each other, for most of history that was just at the institutional level, while the individual priests and priestess got along just fine. The culture-deep animosity that leaves even individual members of these religions/institutions at odds with each other is very recent, and mostly due to some recent historical events.

The Matter of Britain (aka the legends of Camelot) are, in-universe, an old ideal for how these two religions can balance. Arthur and Morgana start out as adversaries but neither one is an antagonist – Merlin acts as a mentor to them both (though in different ways), and together, this pair of half-siblings, Arthur representing Christianity and Morgana representing the Old Religion, came together to rule Camelot and bring the kingdom into a Golden Age, with Merlin seen as being a bit of both worlds.

While this institutional friendship dissolved, throughout the Dark Ages, Christian Priests and Old Religion Priestess got along just fine. Often they shared duties of acting as community moral support, coordinating resources and education, assisting in basic healthcare, and generally acting as a basic and rudimentary social structure in this extremely chaotic time period. That said, this kind of shared responsibility and friendship was dangerous – while rarely used for its own sake to attack someone, both institutions are rife with politics, and being “caught” in any kind of friendship or partnership with someone of the “opposing” religion could get one excommunicated/cut-off or even executed. But that obviously never stopped anyone for long. There was even a century or two during the Middle Ages where it was common for the extremely narrow level of middle-class families, regardless of their central/true faith, to send their sons off to the Christian priesthood and their daughters off to the covenant. (Higher and lower class families never had this kind of split faith – either they were entirely Christian or entirely Old Religion).

For a while, many Catholics even saw pagan deities as merely grossly misinterpreted early prophets of God, and conversely many pagans saw Christianity/Catholicism as a misinterpreted/extremely-hierarchal pantheon, with God taking on the role of a central creator and king of gods, and angels, saints, and prophets just being misinterpretations of existing deities. In modern parlance, many Christians who still have some respect for the Old Religion will refer to pagan gods as “the stone saints” (a reference to a time when Renaissance artists would be commissioned by the church to make statues of Pagan gods, but instead of long-lasting marble or oil paints, it would be done in cheap and weathered stone or watered paints, commissioned by the church to make a statement that these were old misinterpretations of gods and the Christian church was now the correct interpretation, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t once have SOME value long ago – later religious crusades saw these artworks mostly destroyed). Meanwhile, in Tengarsa, “the Young Son God” (not sun god, son god) means the Christian god, and is basically a reference to how the Christian god is basically seen as the rebellious teenage son of “real” gods – but still a real god, just one better off ignored than indulged.

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Two Worlds in One Room

In a high school dance class I had, along with the actual teachers was the “official” teacher who was basically the class administrator.

Now school policy, officially, was that if a student was sick, they needed a doctor’s note of some kind. In practice, they just took a parents’ phone call as well, seeing as they accepted a phone call to the parents for every other kind of justified absence, anyway. This teacher, though, said if someone missed a class because they were sick, they needed a doctor’s note. (Again, causes absence other than illness still passed muster with a phone call to the parents and a note from the admin office confirming it). If not – a single detention. Small punishment, but still a penalization.

So of course I one day got sick, and when I got better one of the first things I did upon walking into the class after the one I missed was go up to the teacher and effectively ask for my detention. While filling out the slip, my teacher asked how I could be so prepared yet not have a doctor’s note.

I responded that I didn’t feel like spending $50 just to avoid a detention. Though she didn’t say anything, the teacher looked confused.

To this day, I still don’t know why she was confused. $50 was the cost of the co-pay and transportation/parking. Didn’t everybody have to pay to go see a doctor? And detention at this school just meant sitting quietly in the gym during lunch, and unless you got too much they didn’t really impact your record or anything. It was such a small “punishment” – wasn’t it reasonable that I would prefer that to spending money just to satisfy some stupid bureaucratic requirement?

What was so confusing?

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What motive COULD there be to kill elementary school children like that?

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2013/11/25/247219204/no-motive-in-newtown-report-but-many-details-about-lanza

No, I’m serious about this question – what motive could there possibly be to take a machine gun to kill your mother and a bunch of elementary school students? Did anyone expect any kind of logic, here?

This is why people want guns banned. Because they are desperate to keeps guns away from people can’t be trusted with them. Trying to go for the “if everyone is armed, no one will shoot” mentality is great, until you deal with this one crazy person who will shoot – and if everyone is armed, then when one person shoots, everyone shoots.

People never looked upon the concept of Mutually Assured Destruction very fondly. That principle applies, once extrapolated, to gun control.

Little kids safely tucked away in school end up dying, either way.

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Gender Bias in the Media

New York Film Academy takes a look at gender inequality in film

Media informs us, informs what we do and how we think. Our worldview is built on what we see and hear, and more and more often what we see and hear is the media.

And the media is a racist, sexist institution that is still catering to the racist, sexist audience of decades ago instead of the audience of the 21st century.

Is it any wonder so many people still hold subtle signs of sexism and racism in their worldviews? Is it any other people are still surprised to hear women are leaders in politics and business when they’ve grown up seeing women as nothing but sex toys or props to male narratives?

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Why Shouldn’t Students Cheat?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/stuart-muszynski/are-we-teaching-our-child_b_4080368.html

After all, the most valuable skill in American society is to pull yourself up and get to the top by whatever means necessary. You can hardly blame kids for doing exactly that, right?

In all honesty, the reason why kids cheat is because education is currently about memorizing and applying, not about critical thinking and learning to think outside the box.

Perhaps, instead of trying to stop kids from cheating, we should enshrine it. After all, kids are growing up in a world where they can Google any fact they want. They don’t have to remember what date two historical events happened because they can look up any time they want for the rest of their lives – the important part is learning why Event A is related to Event B, and that’s not something you can just Google and plop down, at least not if you want a good grade.

We are educating kids to not think and still get to the top – why is anyone surprised when they do exactly that?

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Factory Education

http://www.salon.com/2013/10/13/what_we_talk_about_when_we_talk_about_public_education_partner/

“What is the point of school?” Can tell you a lot about the values of a community and a country – and more importantly, can explain why schools are failing.

Because here’s the thing – we can all agree that schools are meant to prepare us for the modern economy, the ‘real world’. Schools are meant to prepare students to make a life for themselves once they duck away from the support of their parents. School is meant to train kids for the job market.

So why are students failing so much? Easy – no matter how many reforms we try, the current structure of our schools are still very much what they were when universal public education became mandatory…over a century ago.

See, back then the jobs students needed to be prepared for? Those were industrial era jobs. Mostly factory jobs. The point of schools wasn’t to teach so much as to train. And that core structure training kids for a factory is still around – but the factories themselves are not.

The “reforms” everyone touts don’t matter. Until we make our education technological, flexible, and individualized – just like our job market – then schools will continue to train students for jobs and needs that just aren’t there, anymore.

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