Archive for August, 2010

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Why Not Band Together?

On many fronts I disagree with a certain brand of liberal; but the more I look into motivations and views, the more I see that they’re not ALL so dissimilar from my own. We just happen to push for different resources in our efforts to achieve and discuss these ideals.

It’s true that some useful egalitarian activism over the past 150 years has consisted of trying to get the state to take affirmative steps to help people—social insurance, the welfare state, infrastructure, schools—but dismantling efforts to use the state to help the privileged has always been on the agenda. — Mathew Yglesias

And that to me is what we’re all after, “dismantling efforts to use the state to help the privileged.” But, that is probably the limit for most modern liberals in our similarities–and this view is likely to be interpreted as a rather broad similarity if anything.

I seem to recall many an effort to not only “[dismantle] efforts to use the state to help the privileged,’ but to in fact punish the privileged in order to help the less privileged–so we exchange one class for another as if it is a moral necessity to use the power of the state to meet these ends. No. That’s not right.

Well, I suppose I can go on the record as a supporter of some regulation of economic activity, but I’ll never know what limit is too far or not far enough–though, the danger is likely to come from the former.

Death of an Ideal

You can look to the stars or you can look to the dirt, but in each you see the enormity of the variety of worthless choices and ideas you face. Yet, the stars are as lifeless as the dirt is plentiful; and if you look deep into the dirt you’ll find it is full of life.

So, why aren’t we constantly reminded of our own shortcomings? The inequality that exists within us all is as evident as any blemish on the skin, but we are gifted the illusion of a capability we do not possess and never will; our hard work be damned, because in reality we are a limited people with various roles to fill based solely on our skillfulness. No amount of want or desire will bring about what you most wish for–don’t count on effort either.

Fear not the thing that offends you most; being told you are not good enough is a shot to the face of rationality and is to be desired above all else. The dirt brings health, life, and self-worth; the rational man takes these things with a joyous heart and rejoices in his limitations. As it were, not all people are all capable of much greatness.

So instead of dreaming big, in terms of unreachable heights, why not think of the attainable blackness that is topsoil? These are things that make sense beyond the ridiculous, “shot for the moon” that we are all told to grab at, because if we miss we’ll be lost for an eternity in utter despair.

Know your limits, as I now know mine.

Western Michigan University: A Case Study

Western Michigan University was established as a teachers college in 1903. Over the course of 54 years the college expanded its offering as an institution of higher learning, and what was once Western Michigan College officially became Western Michigan University in 1957 1. The college is locally and internationally recognized as one of the best public colleges in the state of Michigan, offering a wide array of undergraduate and graduate programs.

Having been born and raised within 40 miles of the University, I am certainly familiar with the impact the University has in our region. It has become one of the primary destinations of students, due to its proximity and quality as an institution; because of its size and importance, access to information concerning a given program, tuition, or college should be readily available to prospective and current students, but it appears that information is prohibitively difficult to find on their current website.

Initial Impressions

You can take a look at a quick run down of this case study in my portfolio.

The organization of information is par for the course when it comes to university websites, but it could be improved. In terms of the user interface, it can be a little difficult to navigate the site easily (that is to say that the front page offers little in the way of jumping to certain actions that would be expected of prospective or current students), however it works quite well and is very simple in some regards; since you don’t want all options available all the time and in all possible combinations on the front page, this isn’t so bad.

The current Western Michigan University website.

The design is just about right for a site that was probably launched sometime around 2001 or so. It doesn’t look bad, just dated, and probably gives the impression of an organization that is not focused on technology–an impression that is neither true nor warranted.

My goal with this self-directed case-study is to see if I can improve the perception of the University on the web as a Top 100 university through the use of more modern design and typography to give the site some visual appeal and a more functional UI.

One Possible Solution

This is merely one possible solution among many. The color choices here may not appeal to many folks, but I am limited by the University’s colors, and chose one route that is unlikely to be selected; instead I hope that it would spur the appropriate people in a direction that would help to improve a site that needs a slight update.

The proposed Western Michigan University website.

Since colleges and universities are notorious for including a banner of various photographs of scenes in and around campus, I wanted to expand on that device and integrate that kind of imagery into a header that would highlight some aspect of the University. The photo and information would then rotate through a progression of different photos and text automatically, but could be navigated by a user if desired.

Below this section I wanted to ensure that certain areas were highlighted and organized in such a way as enable users to find these important sections quickly and easily. I specifically chose a few profiles to design for.

  1. For the prospective student researching institutions to attend; they may wish to know what undergraduate or graduate programs are offer, how much it will cost, and how to apply. Additionally, they may be interested in athletics or other extra-curriculars.
  2. For the prospective student interested in research opportunities at the university
  3. And then for the combined profiles of current students and alumni.

Using these profiles, I organized the homepage in a way that might cater to each one of them.

Perhaps the decisions here won’t work, but it is a good place to get started. WMU, take a look and consider the possibilities.

  1. Profile of Western Michigan University. Accessed 8/5/2010.


82 votes is all it took for me to become the precinct delegate for the Republican Party in the 3rd precinct of Benton Charter Township. And that was a mouthful.

There are 1043 registered voters in my precinct, and of that number 154 came out to vote last night; an extremely low turnout, but par for the course in primary elections in this area. So, almost 15% of voters came out, and of that number just a little over 50% cast a ballot with my name selected1. Which doesn’t mean much, when you think about it. It was a partisan primary, I was the only one in the position. The result is pretty inevitable.

Now the real work begins. On August 12 there will be a county convention to select delegates to head to the state convention where a number of candidates will be chosen for various statewide positions. After that, it’s time to campaign for those candidates. Can’t wait to get working.

Except…I’m having surgery on September 8th, which will undoubtedly cut into some of that work.

  1. For complete data, check out the Berrien County website.