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LSU main square, Baton Rouge
23rd Apr 2008
Baton Rouge, LSU, physics is too easy here

Baton Rouge is the home of Lousiana State University.  I spent the morning looking around the campus, which is enormous, about 5 blocks square, and is fully self-contained.  Dressed like a traveller with a rucksack on I blended in perfectly (in New Orleans I was asked by the museum teller if I was 19 or 20 year old).  The only difference between my fresher/freshman days and today is that everyone has a mobile phone and a laptop.  There were still the tables of organisations outside the union (where I ate two pork chops for $4), such as Nation of Islam (or at least angry looking black men in bow ties, NoI was my guess).

I went to the physics building and met with the head of the department, who allowed me to attend a couple of lectures, in which I sat at the back.  The lecture hall was small, around 100 capacity, which is a far cry from the 300 I was used to.  Size aside, it must be noted that these classes were TOO EASY.  I attended "sophomore" (2nd year) physics, but the material was more like A-level (high school).  For example, angles of refraction and the classic "should the hunter aim above or below the fish's aparent position?" problem.  That is high school physics, not 2nd year degree level.  It goes on - the next lecture was on ideal gases.   This was first year material for me, and today's lecture was not too much higher than high-school (it featured degrees of freedom of mono-, di- and poly-atomic ideal gases, its only grace saving it from being soley high-school). My point is that today confirmed my suspicions that many American university courses, even the so-called hard ones like physics and engineering (as opposed to the crappy courses advertised on TV like "criminal justice" and "international fast food management" ) are not even close to the equivalent course in Europe.  It makes me think that every uni here (with the exception of the ivy leaguers, Emory and those on the west coast) is like Dr Nick Riviera's "upstairs Hollywood medical college."  If you can find the ceremonial hall, you get to graduate.

OK. Rant over.

I then went to the State Capitol building, which is the tallest in the country.  It's more like a tower block than the typical gold-domed St Paul's-esque capitols of Georgia and Florida.  I fought through the protestors to the door, fought the hired goons in security, fought the school children for the elevator, and made it up to the observation platform.  Great views of the Mississippi, which was overflowing.  In one of my pics you can see a riverside parking lot half submurged.  A quick stop at the governor's mansion (desinged as an exact replica of the White House, so that when governor Huey Long makes it to there he will know where the light switches are).

Then I drove the back roads to Lake Charles, a one-horse town.  I had my first brush with the law on this stretch, a copper scolded me for rubber-necking as I drove through road works. That pissed me off.  He should not have even been hanging around at the road works - my tax dollars should have had him out catching criminals.



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Diary Photos

LSU main square, Baton Rouge

LSU stadium, Baton Rouge

Physics lecture, LSU, Baton Rouge

Student union, LSU, Baton Rouge

Imposing looking law school, LSU, Baton Rouge

State Capitol, Baton Rouge

Protestors at State Capitol, Baton Rouge

State Capitol steps, Baton Rouge

Baton Rouge, LA

Mississippi river, Baton Rouge

Flooded Mississippi river, Baton Rouge

DC, Baton Rouge

Hillbilly Flea Market, Lousiana

Old house, Lake Charles

Fountains, Lake Charles

Pavement painting, Lake Charles

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