Archive for September, 2007

Free Speech

Friday, September 21st, 2007

Well there is a big fuss going on about the President of Iran’s visit to New York. He wanted to lay a wreath at Ground Zero but that has been nixed citing “security and logistical problems.” I suspect this is completely because they are worried about people protesting him and what he has to say. The other big deal is that he has been invited to speak at Columbia University.

People, including the Jewish Defense Organization and some elected officials, object to his being treated as an “honored guest” anywhere in the City. Now granted the man is a font of evil and absurd statements (no Holocaust? Is he kidding?) And is very critical of the US, Israel, Jews in general and on and on. I can’t imagine he’s said much I agree with if anything. And does he really not understand that New Yorkers would be upset at him being at Ground Zero? I mean seriously look at how easily he and his countrymen take offense of stuff we do.

But all that being said, isn’t exposing people to other views a big part of the role of the university in society? And can we really claim to have free speech if we only like “the good guys” talk in public? And if you really didn’t want what he says to get broadcasted wouldn’t you more logically protest the news media for quoting him and repeating every ridiculous thing he says? I mean after all if the man speaks to a couple of hundred students is that really so bad? But the newspapers and TV/radio stations will repeat it all endlessly for millions upon millions to read and hear. Who is doing more to spread his lies? Columbia or the news media!
Yeah but we have freedom of the press. OK sure. But what about freedom of speech for Mr. Ahmadinejad?

Let me put it another way – how would the protesters feel if one of their own was treated the same way in Iran? Golden Rule anyone?

When Is It Time to Turn on the Heat

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

Like a lot of people we turn the thermostat way down when the weather gets warm. The house pretty much warms up naturally and in fact often gets hot enough for air conditioning. You hardly wants to see the air conditioning and heater fighting for dominance during the summer so the best thing is to turn the thermostat way down and out of the way. Our furnace is responsible for hot water or we’d probably turn it off completely.
Some time in the fall, as the weather gets cool, people start turning their furnaces back on or their thermostat back up. This can get complicated at times. How cold do you let the house get before you turn the heat up/on? How long do you just get dressed sooner or warmer? How long do you wait for nature to warm up the house? How concerned are you about saving money on the heating bill? This last question is really important as heating oil is 2-3 times as expensive as it was a few short years ago.

This used to be easy for me. We ran the heat so that the house never got below 69/70 degrees. Why? Well my mother in law lived with us and her health was poor and she just could not handle being cold. Anything much below 70 degrees would not be tolerable for her. In fact at times we supplemented the heat in her room with a space heater and warmed it up more. She passed away about a year and a half ago and that excuse is gone.

What a lot of people do is to turn the heat down during the night and during the day when people are out of the house. They just warm it up for the late afternoon and evening. Not an option for me as I work at home all day. If I get too cold my productivity suffers. The last few days the house have been between 62 and 64 degrees in the morning. For me that is cold. I get dressed right away and have been wearing long sleeve shirts and stuff. But I’d rather avoid jackets or sweatshirts if I can. The house warms up on its own to about 70 by the end of the work day and the evening which Mrs. T is home is comfortable. I’m not sure how long that will last.

There are several things keeping me from turning up the heat. One is cost of course. But perhaps the biggest thing is ego. Do I really want to admit that I am “weak” and that the chill is too much for me? And what about the environment? Shouldn’t I avoid burning oil as long as possible?

At some point I will give up. I have a chill in me today and my office, the warmest room in the house, is only 67 degrees. Well maybe I’ll just run the space heater in here. What would you do?

The Car For Me

Friday, September 14th, 2007

Generally I don’t care much about cars but I think I want one of these. Or maybe one of these. Dean Kamen is getting a Tesla BTW. Why am I not surprised? 🙂

Dating Pool, Stats, Graphs and Geeks

Monday, September 10th, 2007

Does this cartoon make you think of anyone here?

The Benefit of Being Messy

Saturday, September 8th, 2007

I belive it was A A Milne (of Winnie the Pooh fame) who said that “the benefit of being messy is that one is always making interesting discoveries.” Well I can get pretty messy. This is especially true when it comes to my desk and office. In fact my office got to be such a mess that I abandoned it and set up my laptops in other rooms in the house. Well that can only go on so long and today I started day tow of the great office clean up.

It’s not done yet. I’ll need at least another day but I am at least working in the office now. I made a few discoveries along the way. I found a couple of bills that needed to be paid – last month. Oops. I found a telephone credit card that had gone missing so long ago that I had actually gotten a replacement card. And it was somewhere I was sure I had looked before. I guess I didn’t look that well. I also found a $40 gift card to Best Buy. I got it last December while Christmas shopping and misplaced it.

I shred documents with identifing information on them these days so somethings I would have thrown away un opened I now open to see if they should go in the shredder. Opening one such piece of mail I found a refund check for $180 that I didn’t even know was coming. It came a couple of months ago but it is still good. Thank goodness I found it now.

I’ve thrown out a lot of papers and stuff that was just plain old. So much has gone into the shredder that I had to empty it twice. I still have to clean off the desk, a cabanet that I want to replace and there is this stack of things beside the bookcase still to go. But I can vacuum the rug at least and I can walk everywhere I want again. The foton is clear enough not only to sit on but to lay down on. Who knows I may even hook up the TV.

A Lot of Smart Teens Can Be Pretty Dumb

Thursday, September 6th, 2007

OK I like teenagers. The years I spent teaching teens at BG are some of the best in my life. And I met a lot of really smart teens there. But even the smartest of them can be pretty dumb some times. I found this interesting example of some students from Northeastern. They are freshmen so I assume they are teens still. Actually they were freshmen and they were students at Northeastern. They don’t go there anymore.

Long story short – a student hangs out his dorm room window yelling to a passerby that his roommate has weed for sale. A passing police officer overhears this and checks it out. Police find drugs, alchohol, money and drug related objects. Students go off to jail and the university decides that there are other students out there who can fill that dorm room and related classrooms.

What I have noticed is that a lot of high school and college students seem to think they are invisible. By that I mean they think they can do what ever they want and no one in position to punish them for wrong doing will see them. If they are caught they often blame the authority figures for violating their privacy. Apparently in their eyes adults are supposed to turn a blind eye to their activities.

Why is this I wonder? Is it just a matter of students being poor judges of risk or do schools somehow inadvertantly teach this attitude? Do schools let too much slide in high school? Or is it the kids fault? Hard to say but it makes interesting viewing as an outside observer.