Sunday, July 03, 2005


Originally uploaded by tommyyork.
I have some work to do before any kind of get-together.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

A Detailed Look at the GGR

As the newly elected mayor of JSA's GGR (Golden Gate Region), I decided I would look at the numbers pertaining to convention attendance in a very analytical way. I noticed a trend - though we are the largest region in NorCal, and this was NorCal's biggest year, by Spring State this year we were actually losing schools and people. Taking this into account, I graphed/sorted some things in excel, the first of which is the following:
School Name             FS      Cong        SS      avg. retention
Santa Cruz 0 2 0 0 0
Bellarmine Prep. 0 5 0 1 0
Aptos 6 0 0 2 0
Oceana 6 0 0 2 0
Cupertino 0 7 0 2 0
York 7 0 0 2 0
Archbishop Mitty 2 6 0 2 0
Branham 9 6 0 5 0
Gunderson 15 0 0 5 0
Saint Iganatius 24 0 2 8 8
Castilleja 16 11 3 10 18
Monte Vista 10 0 6 5 60
Silver Creek 10 0 6 5 60
Crystal Springs Uplands 16 0 10 8 62
Notre Dame 18 12 12 14 66
Mercy 31 13 24 22 77
Palo Alto 14 15 11 13 78
Lowell 67 19 53 46 79
Pacific Collegiate 25 20 20 21 80
San Mateo 32 27 29 29 90
Soquel 11 0 11 7 100
Harker 63 41 75 59 119
Gunn 4 7 5 5 125
Lincoln 6 5 8 6 133
Archbishop Riordan 10 19 16 15 160
School of the Arts 4 9 7 6 175
San Jose Academy 1 2 10 4 1000
Cornerstone College Prep.0 0 8 2 infinity

This of course raises the question: What happened to all the schools with 0% retention? The following graph answers it quite aptly. (Click for full size.)

Meg Cabot - The Princess Diaries

Yes, I read it. Why? Connie Chung wanted me to do it so I could understand girls better. She wanted a critique and some notes, so here they are: an analysis of the main characters of the book and their role in the little story.

Warning: plot spoilers abound.

Mia Thermopolis: She's your average immature prepubescent girl, I assume. She's quite upset that she's flat chested. She's also in love with Josh Richter (more on this awesome guy later), the popular guy in school. After she learns that she a princess she's upset. How many girls do you know would find out that they are royalty and be upset? To me, it's just completely ridiculous. I think girls want to think they're this self-focused and not swayed easily by money and wealth.

But that brings up a completely seperate issue. Mia Thermopolis was born rich. Greenwich village? Please. I can barely listen to her stupid problems and not think to myself: "you already have money, wtf is your problem now?" She doesn't understand the value of money either (tipping the doorman a dollar, because she only gets $20 a month or whatever), which always annoys me.

Lilly Moscovitz: She's the liberal-hippie-type who is also really immature. She has some public access crap where she wants to tell people not to buy from a racist Chinese deli. She also annoys the hell out of me.

Josh Richter: Now, this guy is cool. Not only is he the captain of the crew team, but he's Ivy League material. He's also damn manipulative. He dates the cheerleading captain, then dumps her, then takes Mia out when he finds out she's worth $300 mil. When he goes up to take Mia to the dance thing, he's suave and charming. He's the most enjoyable character in the book.

Overall: I think it's quite an unrealistic interpretation of girls our age. She doesn't seem 14, she seems 12. The author doesn't seem to understand girls in puberty and beyond, but Meg Cabot holds a deep understanding of the prepubescent 12 year old girl.

And Connie: I don't want to date any of those.

If they're anything I have learned, is that even if the shy and nice guy gets the girl in the book, it doesn't happen in real life. From what I've seen, it takes the arrogant crew captain. And she doesn't break up with him for getting kissed. She appreciates the media attention.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

A little article of mine

Students must prepare to face elitism in real world (4/05)
Written by T. Riley York
Monday, 09 May 2005

The perfect transcript is, without a doubt, the holy grail of Lowell.

To achieve it, a student would have to be an officer in as many clubs as possible and enroll in the most prestigious courses offered. The final transcript item that places a student on the pedestal of perfection is Shield and Scroll.

Critics accuse Shield and Scroll of being an elitist organization. Instead of giving a knee-jerk reaction, students need to question the purpose of our four years here at Lowell. After graduation, we should have a basic knowledge of how to survive in the real world. As we all know, favoritism is rampant in the real world, where success is determined by luck, not by merit or achievement. Rather than acquiring knowledge, maintaining connections with the right people is what makes a person successful.

Many have accused Shield and Scroll of fostering an AP and honors elite, which allows smart students to take up all the “easy” class slots when they should be able to thrive with hard teachers. This, of course, often gives students who need the most help the short end of the stick. However, survival of the fittest is exactly what public education needs. If you can’t be as good as the rest, you don’t deserve the best classes. You don’t even deserve any classes.

As for Shield and Scroll members getting first pick, I’m sure we can all imagine a group of people who get “first pick” in real life. Look at the “Old Boys’ Network,” in which those who have wealth and power provide jobs and favors for fellow aristocrats. Look at Yale’s elite Skull and Bones society, the secret organization that fostered both presidential candidates in the most recent election.

Some have also accused Shield and Scroll of employing favoritism because Shield and Scroll members tend to elect their friends to join them. Even I have been told I’d be voted in by friends already in Shield and Scroll. However, the real world is full of that kind of favoritism. Any system that would protect students from the realities of real life would be a complete failure. If we churn out mediocre, pampered students, they’ll be at a disadvantage in the professional world when they don’t get that job at the law firm because they didn’t understand how to succeed.

Think of the possibilities if Shield and Scroll had no perks. People might simply join to do service hours for Lowell. They could join the ranks of the honorable simply by being dedicated and motivated. This would corrupt the very foundation of Shield and Scroll, something we cannot allow.

When you consider all that is available at Lowell, it’s time we look at what Shield and Scroll offers — the only real learning experience at Lowell. After all, geometry cannot help you snag that cushy job or get elected to public office; learning how make social connections and meet the right people will. We shouldn’t even have service hour requirements for Shield and Scroll. Shield and Scroll should simply be about getting first pick and joining the Lowell gentry.

It’s time we establish a realistic policy for education. The pampered elite exist in the real world; Lowell should honor them. Churning out unprepared students should never be part of the Lowell curriculum.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Lesson learned...

Nat. Quals Congress: Broke into semi's, not going to Philly this year.

Good speaking ability / articulation / eloquence can only get you so far.

The rest, it appears, is just awesome argumentation. Note Joshi in house semifinals, and myself in State Quals Congress semifinals. I was wondering how I could have pulled off 3rd regionally. Time to pull out my copy of Classical Rhetoric for the Classical Student.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Student Congress Secrets...

I think it's definitely a combination of things...

Notes: Don't rely on them. In my district, the top 10 speakers almost never rely on notes. Sure, you can bring them up with you, but not having them makes for awesome speeches, and brings you above the rest to a certain extent.

Knowledge: You've got to know the issue. You can't just stand up there and make a canned speech. You need to make concessions to other senators, address points raised, and maybe even defend your own points if you get to do a second speech. It helps to have statistics, but if you have a study, be prepared to defend it.

Statistics: I recently did a round where a statistic was bounced around by the negation a few times, only to be refuted when questions were raised to the applicability of the statistic. The statistic was something like "94% of Iris Scans are accurate." The problem inherit with that statistic is that it doesn't address the scanning method, the technology, or whatever. Simply repeating "6%" scan rate didn't help when the aff brought up the fact that an iris scanner could simply take 4 scans, thus negating the failure rate (94% of 94% of 94% of 94% and so on.)

Quotes: Quotes can be cute (this legislation is like a naked banana, it lacks appeal), but the top five guys in my district don't use them. Your judges will often hear the same Ben Franklin quote or whatever five times. Don't use generics like "To change and to change for the better are two different things," claiming that "this legislation is a change for the worse." People hear them way too much. Instead, use relevant information or maybe a relevant anecdote. An example: in a recent speech about a gasoline tax, I started saying "Last thursday, oil prices reach a record high of $57 per barrel. Coupled with the closure of 50 of 200 American Refineries, this has placed immense stress on the current gasoline and oil consumption economy in America."