Archive for ◊ September, 2007 ◊

Memory, Beliefs, and Facts
Sunday, September 30th, 2007 | Author:

This is a very interesting story in the Washington Post on the impact of the human brain’s tendency to think that easily recalled things are true.    The story observes that “conventional response to myths and urban legends is to counter bad information with accurate information. But the new psychological studies show that denials and clarifications, for all their intuitive appeal, can paradoxically contribute to the resiliency of popular myths.”

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Leftist Israelis Turning Right
Saturday, September 29th, 2007 | Author:

Left wing Israelis were famous for espousing “there is no military solution to terrorism”.  In fact, many an Israeli citizen was formerly willing to do anything in the hopes for “peace”… you want more land, take my back yard;  you need guns to control security, take my M-16; you want your murderers out of jail, here you go…

Over the last five years, Israel has taken an aggressive approach to reduce the impact of Moslem death-desires.   As a result, the annual Israeli fatalities from Moslem terrorism has dropped from 450 in 2002 to a low of 8 in 2006.  The article in the Jerusalem Post notes: “The formula that produced this achievement is known: aggressive intelligence gathering, the security fence and the IDF’s complete freedom of action in West Bank cities.” 

Now some of the leftist media in Israel are coming out and acknowledging the benefits of this “get tough” approach.   It brings to mind the old cliche: “A conservative is a liberal that’s been mugged.”

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Technology Meets the Hockey Skate
Friday, September 28th, 2007 | Author:

I recall when hockey skates changed from stamped steel supports to impact-resistant plastic.  This really didn’t change the performance of skating.  It only made skates look high-tech, and frankly that’s been the only advancement in the hockey skate in the last 30 years… until now.

Evidently there is a Canadian company (naturally) called Therm Blade that is introducing a skating blade with a battery-operated heater that warms the blade to reduce the friction.  Supposedly Wayne Gretzky endorses them, so there must be a pony in there somewhere…

thermablade.jpg

I now have a reason to come out of retirement.  I can exchange my black Tuuk blades on my CCM Super Tacks for a pair of Therma Blades…

A Dirty Little Secret about English Class
Thursday, September 27th, 2007 | Author:

My son Leonard is taking Honors English as a sophomore at Vandalia-Butler High School.   Based on his subtle hints, I have discovered that this course has him particularly frustrated (he sent me 5 separate emails on the topic last night)…

I’ve asked my sons the same question at the dinner table for the last fifteen years: “What did you learn new today?” Since Leonard’s response has been relatively consistent for the past 30 days (“The analysis of literature in my English class is crazy”), I’m convinced that we have an example of a rampant problem that happens to be a dirty little secret – namely, comparative literature is a bunch of horse manure.

I remember arguing with my High School English teacher about the story, “The Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka. If you recall, this is the story where the protagonist becomes a cockroach… After spending an hour in class reviewing all the symbolism and finer nuances of the story, I remarked: “Perhaps Kafka didn’t believe in symbolism at all and he was just writing a science fiction novel about the transformation of a human into an insect.” Obviously, this didn’t go over very well with my teacher, but represented my way of communicating my exasperation with the emphasis on finding symbolism from minutiae.

Ironically, my first cousin, Nancy, graduated from the University of Michigan [Ugh!] with a PhD in Comparative Literature!  Over the years, I’ve often assumed that this is probably the core reason why she lacks a relatively rational viewpoint in understanding mankind (you guessed it, she has a lefty viewpoint).

After 20 years of working in industry and performing scientific research, I’ve discovered the difference between an “a priori solution” and “post facto serendipity”. For example, I’ve been leading an engineering development project over the past 18 months that didn’t have a specifically defined answer (i.e., no up-front solution). After a year of hard work, we experimented with many alternatives that – when presented to the rookie – appear that we had a grand plan from the beginning… In many ways authors and their stories follow the same path. They start out with a vision and want to tell a story, but they are rarely that shrewd to be able to accommodate all of the nuances that English teachers lead you to believe.

After a little research, we’ve discovered that English teachers and the over-analysis of literature is a wide-spread problem (I’ll give credit to Leonard who took the time to research other people’s opinions about this subject).

For example, Ben Evans writes on a blog about the difficulties he encountered analyzing literature according to the expectations of his English teacher, “I would write what I thought about the book that I read instead of agreeing with the teachers own view of the book. The teacher would hold me after class and say that I didn’t understand what I was reading… In the ensuing years, I learned how to listen to what the teacher was saying and to write papers that agreed with what they thought.”

Meanwhile, Rebecca Levy remarks on a blog about the issue of over-analyzing literature, “I’m talking about people like Hemingway, Faulkner, Twain, Steinbeck, or even Shakespeare. Could we maybe be overanalyzing what they had to say? After all, how do we KNOW what they REALLY meant?”

Could all of this over-analysis in our English classes be one of the great inhibitors that’s turning our children away from reading literature?

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The Birds and the Bees
Thursday, September 27th, 2007 | Author:

youngman.jpg

A father asked his 10-year old son if he knew about the birds and the bees.

“I don’t want to know,” the child said, bursting into tears. “Promise me you won’t tell me.”

Confused, the father asked what was wrong.

The boy sobbed, “When I was six, I got the ‘There’s no Easter Bunny’ speech.
At seven, I got the ‘There’s no Tooth Fairy’ speech.
When I was eight, you hit me with the ‘There’s no Santa’ speech.
If you’re going to tell me that grown-ups don’t really get laid, I’ll have nothing left to live for.”

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Hockey Brawl in a Preseason Game
Thursday, September 27th, 2007 | Author:

It’s still the NHL preseason, but there is some great action in watching a fight between the two New York teams (thank god, I couldn’t bear to watch any more boring baseball highlights).

[youtube]NFcMtIHD-Gw[/youtube]

2 min 6 sec

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Iranian Despot in New York
Wednesday, September 26th, 2007 | Author:

Since my mother was a graduate of Columbia University with a Masters Degree in Sociology, I feel compelled to weigh-in with an opinion on the recent visit from Iranian Presiden,  Had-My-Jihad… The comment that sums it up best came from Pearl Atkins, 74, a Manhattan resident who lost relatives in the Holocaust:

“Let him speak–let him open his mouth.  This is America; people get their say here, not like in Iran. He only makes himself sound more stupid with every word anyway.”

Then we should put a bullet in his head…

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Is the United States Already at War with Iran?
Tuesday, September 25th, 2007 | Author:

The United States is already at war with Iran… If you’re not aware, the Iranian approach to war is to manipulate western freedoms, such as free speech, and fight proxy wars through terrorists (don’t forget, it was the Iranians — also known as Persians — that got their asses handed to them by 300 Spartans).  Here a few comments from General Petraeus’s during his recent congressional testimony was his description of the role of Iran:

It is increasingly apparent to both Coalition and Iraqi leaders that Iran, through the use of the Qods Force, seeks to turn the Iraqi Special Groups into a Hezbollah-like force to serve its interests and fight a proxy war against the Iraqi state and coalition forces in Iraq.

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F-35 Lightning
Tuesday, September 25th, 2007 | Author:

If you’re interested in seeing the new F-35 fighter in operation, take a look at the embedded video:

[youtube]R8ZyNm0aadE[/youtube]

5 min 6 sec

10 Easy Arithmetic Tricks
Monday, September 24th, 2007 | Author:

For those of you interested in mathematics, an interesting list of short-cuts on the listverse site

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