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January 19, 2000

So Regis has another millionaire. How can so many people keep watching that, now that the novelty has worn off? I get no pleasure out of seeing people struggle over general knowledge that everyone should know, and showbiz trivia that nobody should know. And it's all multiple choice, the great leveler when it comes to testing. I speak from bitter experience, in the Photoshop class I took last semester.

Here's my problem with multiple choice tests: They give morons and slackers the just as good a chance of coming up with the right answer to a trick question as those of us who spend a whole semester studying the material. And make no mistake, on a multiple choice test there will be trick questions. In fact, the whole point of this kind of exam is to lure the innocent student into marking the wrong answer.

Well, there is one more point.

It also keeps the teacher from having to judge whether or not the student actually knows the material. If all you have to do is feed a sheet of paper filled with number two pencil markings into a machine, you're relieved of any duty to assess whether you've taught this person anything based on how that knowledge is expressed in words and sentences.

It's the same principle that applies to social promotion, or zero-tolerance policies. If subjectivity is absolutely prohibited, it's the innocent bystander who stands to suffer far more than the wary perpetrator who knows from experience how to beat the system. Like the mandated curriculum that is so popular these days, it takes away the humanity of the individual student and the individual teacher.

So. This doesn't really have much to do with Regis, does it? It's just that you should know it's 93 million miles from the earth to the sun, without the luxury of picking it from among the bogus choices. Everyone who went to fifth grade learned that. Everyone on Jeopardy knows it, even the losers (although possibly not the ones on Rock and Roll Jeopardy). The quiz show contestants from the fifties wouldn't even need to cheat. In fact, the quiz show hosts would have been ashamed to ask. Regis, have you no pride?

Now there's a question for the ages.

Maybe I should learn a little more HTML before I try to do an entry like yesterday's. I don't know what I was thinking by using so many font colors and trying to arrange the text in a visually interesting way. I had it looking the way I wanted in MSIE 5, then tried it in Netscape 4.6 and had to start over (almost). Netscape always is the raspberry seed in the wisdom tooth when it comes to this cross-platform stuff. I do my surfing in Internet Explorer and keep a copy of the other browser around just to be sure I've done my best in both.

So while I proudly proclaim that I write all of these pages "by hand" in a text editor, it's painfully obvious how inadequate my skills are to create an attractive design. Guess what. (a) I don't care. (b) It's going to get better, because I really do care. I've taken one beginning course in HTML, and I start an intermediate class in March. One of the reasons I started this site is to try things out and refine my knowledge. I wish I had more time to improve things right away, but it's going to be a gradual process. The only promise I'm making is to keep trying.

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