Friday, March 31, 2006
Monday, March 27, 2006
Thursday, March 23, 2006
The book cover pictured at left, My Childhood Under Fire by Nadja Halilbegovich is a wonderful, if at times heart wrenching, story of a then 12 year old Nadja's experience living in Sarajevo during the Bosnian War. The book published by Kids Can Press of Canada is written for children, say 9 or 10 years and older, but is a good read for teens or adults as well.
Nadja was a classmate of my older son at Butler University in Indianapolis. I am certain that he was initially totally smitten by her, but they evolved into great friends. We came to know her as well. Nadja is a great singer, musician. actress, writer and public speaker. She has toured over both the US and Canada to promote peace. She is a Muslim.
A few years ago, Nadja was one of 74 people featured in a book by one Michael Collopy called Architects of Peace published by New World Library in 2000. She shares space with as varied a sampling of folks as you could imagine including Maya Angelou, Nelson Mandela to Jane Goodall, Margaret Thatcher, Bella Abzug and Bianca Jagger. It, too, is a good read.
Nadja's book is short, only about a 120 pages or so. It is available on Amazon. I know I should link it, but I just can't seem to master that skill. I believe that Architects of Peace is also available on Amazon. Remember: RIF (Reading is Fun.)
Friday, March 17, 2006
Thursday, March 16, 2006
Below is a response by Gregg100 regarding your "why something rather than nothing" question. It does not precisely answer the question, but does deal with it somewhat obliquely.
"People who engage in this type of discussion have (1) rejected the primacy of existence, (2) have mentally required the need for some sort of "beginning" that can only result in an infinite regression of beginnings and (3) ignored the rational conclusion of starting with a universe that we know to exist. Discussions with such people can't come to any useful conclusion. Existence is the reality we deal with on a day-to-day basis. It is the reality that our sensory capability interfaces with and thus provides information on the effects of that reality and ultimately forms the basis of our knowledge. We currently have no way of knowing any information about events that occured beyond what we have estimated to be the earliest phases of the universe."
Again, I don't think that there is a definitive answer to your question. But Gregg does delineate a different perspective on the issue.
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
Agnostic Mom has been putting out a call for greater support of the sciences. Gregg100 laid out a great challenge to her and others detailing what he believes it will take. The task is formidable. Gregg also sets out a rather daunting scenario as regards the difficult future anyone looking to engineering or other sciences is likely to face. It can be a hard and uncertain road. I certainly don't dispute his assertions.
However, I think it should be said that it's tough all over. The only areas of study which seem to pretty much always promise a bright future are business management and marketing. MBAs seem to generally write their own ticket. Otherwise, finding good and steady work is generally difficult for about everyone. It's even tough for graduating doctors, dentists and attorneys.
I have a nephew who has a PhD in English Literature. Over the last 3 years or so he has sent out several hundred resumes in response to available teaching positions at colleges and universities all over the country. He has taken dozens of interviews. He can't get arrested. He is hardly alone.
Things do change. Who knows, maybe someday there will be an administration more friendly to the sciences. Perhaps there will be a shift in attitudes. Maybe astronomers will detect an asteroid on a collision course with earth, and there will be a call for scientists of all kinds to figure out how to save our bacon.
As I note above, business seems to be the only area which consistently offers a rosy future. Of course, business at any level is competitive, even cut throat. But it is consumerism that rules the roost in this country and much of the west. A few months ago I was perusing a rack of novelties at a truck stop on the way to Chicago. Prominently displayed at the top of the rack were several packages of plastic vomit. Yeah, plastic vomit! A closer look at the brightly printed package revealed to me that it wasn't just plastic vomit. It was "New and Improved" plastic vomit. New and improved? Who improved it? How? Why? How good does plastic vomit have to be?
I immediately conjured an image of a group of r&d people spending months, perhaps years, of their professional lives researching how to improve plastic vomit. Imagine all their efforts. All the mis-steps, the disappointments, the blind alleys, the taking one step forward, only to wind up taking two steps back. Then, that eureka! moment. Perhaps, just as the young chemist is settling in for a long winter's nap, it comes to him in a flash. By jove, he's got it!!! He rips the covers off, and barely dressed, his shirt mis-buttoned, his pocket protector askew, he speeds off to his workplace in his '79 Plymouth Volare, excitedly calling his colleagues beseeching them to drop everything and make haste to the lab while repeatedly pushing his bottle lensed glasses back up the bridge of his nose. After they mull over hundreds of complicated mathematical equations and various chemical formulae, they mix the proper polywhatevers, and voila! THE PLASTIC VOMIT FOR THE 21ST CENTURY. Oh, the glory!!!
I often wonder how good many products we use have to be? Razors? Toothbrushes? Detergents? How much time, effort and money are going into continually improving these and other products? How many talented and well educated design engineers, chemists, geneticists, even physicists are involved? What more useful things could they be doing with their time, education and talents? Do we really need improved razors or toothbrushes or detergents? Or plastic vomit?
PS - To Agnostic Mom - You Arizonans got our splendid running back. The Edge is now a Cardinal. A Cardinal for crying out loud! Oh, Edgerrin, we hardly new ye! And Peyton? Watch your back!
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
Of course, what I have discovered is that there is a plethora of material to be had, and it's daunting. Unfortunately, I am not a fast reader. Nor am I able to devote much time on a day to day basis on reading; maybe a half hour or so. Consequently, it may take me a couple of weeks or more to read a single book. I spoke with a woman a few days ago who claimed to be a speed reader, and that she gets through 2 to 4 books every day. I could probably do that as well if I stuck to the likes of Benji's Dog House or Colby's Big Book of Horses. But, alas, I have moved on.
I have begun reading Richard Dawkin's Unweaving The Rainbow. His collective work alone is enough to keep me busy for months. I don't suppose I'll read all of his stuff, but, while his work seems to be very readable, it's not like reading John Grisham. I have also begun Michael Shermer's Science Friction which Noell, Agnostic Mom, had mentioned.
Concomitently, my wife has taken an interest in making Italian bread. She is of Italian heritage and her brother runs an Italian Restaurant. Her grandmother and great-grandmother made Italian bread which they sold in their small grocery in the old neighborhood back in the day. She is researching in an attempt to duplicate their efforts. I am doing some of the reading as well. Who of any of you all knows what a biga is?
Also, as my older son in Germany is attempting to get a singing career off the ground, I have wanted to begin reading Renee' Fleming's bio, The Inner Voice: The Making of a Singer. Supposedly, she went through many of the same experiences my son is now living through. And she details a number of the technical problems she dealt with as a developing singer.
My younger son is waiting for responses from the 14 or 15 graduate schools he applied to. He has been admitted to a couple, and I find myself going onto their web sites to scope them out. Hmmm. Should my son go to school in Boston, Rhode Island or Florida or ??? Of course, it's not my decision, but it's fun to think about the different places he may wind up.
I know, I am not any more busy or harried than most anyone else. But there is my inherent laziness to factor in. I am pretty adept at vegging. I have become numb watching Antiques Road Show and the History Channel. I think there actually may be more "Law and Order" on TV than there is in all of our courts.
And there is the walking thing. By the way, I came in 16th out of about 2500 participants in last Saturday's 10K. And I walked! (16th slowest, that is.) That makes 15 losers out there in my book. I passed a guy at about the 2 mile post. As I came even with him he started making lame excuses. (Torn ACL indeed!) In my efforts to look good during my walks, I must admit that hard leather soled wing tips were probably a poor choice. I think I'll go with Birkenstock sandels for the 15K. Now that would make a statement, don't you think?
Sunday, March 05, 2006
I'm gonna let this go for now. I got nothin'. I just want to thank Joan, my wife for putting up with me all these years, Nick and Chris, my sons for keeping me hard at work, and the 4 dogs I've had during my life for their remarkable achievement in shedding and piddling.
Thank you and good nite everybody.