Sunday, May 15, 2022

USA Privilege

 The word "privilege" has been coopted by the complainers in the USA to be always negative. I have enjoyed much privilege throughout my life and much of it comes from being wise enough to be born in the USA, as that song by Bruce Springsteen says it.

One of my privileges is to travel the world. What I have observed in many countries, is a desire to be in the USA. Even some folks who are outwardly hostile to the US would immigrate in a heartbeat, though they won't admit it.

Someone several years back said, "You can observe the quality of a country by how many people want in versus how many want out." There is a lot of truth there.

I find it odd that many of the most vocal critics of the USA choose NOT to emigrate.  Even some who promised to leave if some certain thing didn't happen politically are still here--much to my chagrin.

What is USA Privilege? It is the freedom to come and go. It is the opportunity to go to school, to learn a trade or get (not earn) a degree. It is the freedom to create a business (e.g. Microsoft), to escape caste and history. It is the opportunity to worship freely, speak freely, and protest freely. And, it is the opportunity to leave.

Is everybody the same in the USA?  No, we are a melting pot, a conglomeration of peoples from around the world. We do not all have the exact same opportunities--I will never play in the NFL, the NBA, the NHL, or do lots of other things. I am smarter than some, but less talented than others. But I do get the chance to fail, I do get the chance to explore, I do get to enjoy the fruits of others' labors.

The USA has plenty of problems, but so does every country. Those of us who live here ought to recognize our privilege and make the most of it--not apologize for it.

And, for those who desire to move elsewhere, the late Lewis Grizzard, columnist for the Atlanta Journal quoted, "Delta is ready when you are!"

Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Roe v. Wade

 Wow, things they are achangin'. Apparently the Supremes are poised to overturn Roe v. Wade which has, to some extent, enabled the killing of 60 million babies (not feti) since 1973. And a lot of folks are NOT going to be happy that these lives will be changed.

"But a woman has the right to control her own body doesn't she?"

Yes, up to the point wherein another life is at stake--her unborn child.

"Yes, but how about that young gal who is impregnated by rape?"

I will concede that abortion assuming that rape charges have been filed in court. I think one of the early mistakes of us anti-abortion folks was demanding NO abortions regardless of circumstances. Our obstinance has resulted in the loss of millions of babies, since rape contributes only a tiny fraction of the abortions.

Clearly leaving this to the states will not end all late-term abortions, but will certainly reduce the number.

I truly feel sorrow for women who have abortions at any stage for any reason. It would seem that the guilt many women would feel would follow them as long as they lived. I can imagine the second-guessing that could ensue.

I do have compassion for women who are pregnant with unwanted children. That is a sad state of affairs. but, I feel even more compassion for those little girls in utero who never will get the chance to experience life.

I understand that there are many women who cannot even discuss this rationally. That is no surprise. But regardless, I rejoice at the many children who will get the chance at life, even in tough circumstances, because of this new ruling.

May G^d have mercy on us all.

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Some STEM Advantages

 After thinking about higher education for a long time, I am ready to conclude that STEM majors are really the key ones to pursue. And it is not only about jobs, it's about worldview.

In STEM (Science, Tech, Engineering and Math) courses, we must deal with reality, and not with the lofty world of "ideas". Not to say that STEM folks don't have ideas, and plenty of them, rather it's whether you spend most all your time just in that world of ideas.

In STEM subjects things have to work. The postmodern worldview doesn't work if there is no truth in statics and dynamics, in strength of materials, in statistics and accounting and life sciences. We can't talk about what "should be" or what is "just" or what is "fair". We must talk about what the data show, and what this means to our tested hypothesis.

I am sure we need the arts, and language and history and geography. I encourage you to read books on these topics, visit museums, enjoy music and other art. Likewise, students I encourage you to major in STEM topics. Your personal philosophy will be better for it.

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Learning from a Baby Bird

 I recently watched a survival show wherein the two contestants found a baby bird. After two days of attempting to feed and nurture the little bird the baby died and they survivalists ate it. The response to their act has been mostly negative. People care about baby birds very much, apparently.

I have NO way of knowing for sure, but I would bet that many of the baby bird defenders are perfectly happy if a baby person is killed in utero. Now before you object to the comparison, I do recognize differences between oviparous and viviparous birthing. I also recognize the difference between baby birds and baby people.

That said, I do support abortion IF the mother's life is highly threatened by birthing the baby. And, before you go crazy on me, I have given money to support adoption and do support caring for mothers and children after birth as well as before. And I support my beliefs with money, not just talk.

How do you feel about keeping baby birds alive and keeping baby humans alive? It's not the same.

Sunday, May 1, 2022

Life Review: Teaching at U of AL

 I have written before about how much I loved my job at U of AL. Yesterday I was chatting with a young school teacher and we were talking about teaching. I told him that I was surprised at how much I had truly loved the students I taught--even the undergrads. One of the best things about Univ. teaching is, no matter how badly you screwed up, the next term you get a whole bunch of new undergrad students and you get to start anew. Your reputation may precede you, or it may not, but every term is a new attempt.

Undergrad students I typically taught only once, on a rare occasion I taught them twice. I once had a student, with whom I am still friends, who failed my class--then took it the next term. The grad students I typically had for two or three or even more classes.

Also I loved the rhythm of teaching. You start, have a mid-term and then low and behold, the term ends. Most jobs, as I have noted previously, are just one long non-ending stream. Academics, at all levels, starts and stops. We begin and from that moment, we know there will be an end. Got a bad student/teacher, this too shall pass.

I loved my job and all my students. I loved the extreme challenge of trying to learn to be an effective teacher. The guy yesterday who had heard me teach in church noted that I used atypical pronunciations for some words. I was happy he recalled that, as I think that is a useful way to help people recall things. 

I miss teaching, but count myself Blessed to have made that my profession. I truly believe i was called by G^d to this task, and I believe He created me for it. It brought me great joy, and the memories still give me joy.

Thanks be to G^d.

Wednesday, April 27, 2022

St. Augustine

 When I was a mere lad, back before the invention of knowledge, we learned that Jamestown was the first permanent British town in North America. As a kid, I didn't pay much attention to the words "British or English". Brenda and I have visited Jamestown, and it is an impressive historic site, and we recommend it plus the great history in the areas around it.

Several years ago, whilst working a space shuttle landing that was delayed, I drove by St. Augustine, FL on my way up to Jacksonville, FL. This past weekend we had a Cru Faculty Conference in Gainesville, FL on Friday and Saturday and left Saturday after the meeting for St. Augustine.

It was a pleasant and very rural drive over (yes much of Florida, away from the coast, is not heavily populated). Our first shock was paying $15 for the parking deck at %:15 PM only to discover later that street parking is free after 5 PM. The parking attendant didn't bother to fill us in, and mistakenly told us the St. Augustine Visitor Center was open another 1.5 hours instead of 15 min.

Our next big shock came when we tried to book a hotel for the evening. I had glanced at the prices the day before and was happy at the low cost. Not now! The price for a very low-end Econolodge-type minimalist hotel was almost $190 for the night. Wow! That caught me off guard.

We bit the bullet, paid for the hotel, learned that there was no free breakfast and toured the tourist walking


We truly love visiting historical museums and sites, and St. Augustine has plenty. We look forward to a return visit. If this is your first time there, consider buying tickets to the on-off tour train. It is a great way to learn a lot and see a lot very quickly. It is pricey, no surprise, but if you buy your tix the evening before you can get a $5 discount.


Sunday, April 24, 2022

Wordle Strategy

 At the behest of some Cru FC friends, I have begun to play Wordle. If you haven't yet played, it is a game wherein you try to guess a 5-letter word. As you make entries Wordle shows you if the letter is used in the target word, and if it is in the correct location. So far I have played about 50 or more of these and only had to make 6 guesses (the limit) one time.  Mostly I get it in 4 guesses, sometimes in 5, and occasionally in 3.

It is fun and I am guessing everyone follows a similar strategy.  I start with identifying the vowels. My first entry is some word like "audio" because it has 4 vowels. My next guess is a word with an e, and no other letters in common, like "entry" with an ey.  Or I could achieve the same with  "house=oue" and "daisy-aiy".

From here I try to test the unused letters whilst moving the identified vowel around. It is a to been total waste to used a letter that has already been eliminated or to reuse one in a space where you know it doesn't fit.

Sometimes the correct word is a variation on a theme, such as "sha_e". Here the letter could be a " d, m, p, k, l, r, or v". That's 7 possibilities and if you were lucky enough to start with "shame" you could run out of guesses before you ran out of possible letters.  In this case you need to check multiple possible letters in one word. Using "prank" would eliminate 4. That leaves d, l and v. trying "valid" would cover 3 more with 2 new ones. So, you can still win, but it takes a bit of strategy.

Anyway, it is fun and I have to fight becoming obsessive. I do note that if I get stuck, going to another task and then coming back is helpful.

I'd be curious to hear your strategies, if you are willing to share.

Regardless, Happy Wordling!