Archive for September, 2007

Civic Literacy in America

September 28, 2007

I just read an interested essay on civic literary in America by Joseph M. Knippenberg. Click here for the essay.

The essay discusses the results of an exam administered by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute’s American Civic Literacy Program to 14,000 college freshmen and seniors. The range of freshmen mean scores was between 29.75% to 68.94%. Harvard’s seniors earned the highest average mark for any institution: 69.6%. Not very impressive.

Want to give it a try? The exam can be found here. Just click on the “Take the Quiz” button. You might not be smarter than a 5th grader, but are you smarter than a Harvard senior?


Ask a Stupid Question Day–September 28th

September 28, 2007

Today is Ask a Stupid Question Day.

So what is the stupidest question you have heard?

For some ideas, go here , here, or here.

Which Way to Go

September 28, 2007

Every get confused as to which way to go? This red slider turtle (more accurately, “these red slider turtles”–they are conjoined twins) will have that problem.

A Better Mousetrap–Square Watermelons

September 27, 2007


Normal watermelons roll around in the refrigerator. These will stay put, thanks to some Japanese growers who place the watermelons in a cube while they are growing on the vine.

World Tourism Day

September 27, 2007

Today is World Tourism Day. Where would you go if you could visit anyplace in the world? Why?

  • The photo is a sculpture by Stefana McClure, Map of the World, 2005-06, cut paper, 22 inches circumference

How to Tell When You Have Too Much Money

September 24, 2007

It is the moment you order a $14,500 ‘The Fortress Stilt Fisherman Indulgence’ dessert.  Or maybe it is when you are anywhere near a place that offers a $14,500 dessert.

Happy Autumnal Equinox!

September 23, 2007

Or in other words, Happy Fall.

Today at 2:51 PDT, the Sun will cross the Equator and day and night will be about equal. At home in Simi Valley, CA, today the Sun rises at 6:42 and sets at 6:47. The Sun will also set due west, meaning it will be right in my eyes on the drive home.

From Wikipedia, “Because the Sun is a sphere and not a point source of light, the actual crossing of the Sun over the equator takes approximately 2 and 1/2 days. The equinox occurs halfway through the transit when the center of the Sun is directly over the equator.”

What is really means is that the daylight before and after work is quickly disappearing and the temperatures are starting to cool off.  Less time to play or work outside, but more comfortable afternoons and evening.

Why the egg?  There is an often repeated myth that you can stand an egg on end during an equinox.  Actually, if you are careful, you can stand an egg on egg any day of the year.  See this site and this site for more information.

Your Final Lecture

September 21, 2007

I watched an impressive video today. It was of the final lecture of Randy Pausch, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University. Some universities have a lecture series titled “Final Lectures” where their faculty deliver their “last lecture” on subjects that they think would be worthy of this series. In this case, this is really Randy’s final lecture. He has terminal pancreatic cancer. While he looks like he is in great health, he will probably be dead by the end of the year. While he has fought hard against the cancer, cancer will take his life, but it did not beat him. He has a great attitude and says in the video that he is going to have fun until the last day of his life.

To see the video, go here. The video is long (about 2 hours), but it worth your time. Randy’s attitude is great. There is no pity here. He is living his life to the fullest. For the Wall Street Journal story on the lecture (and a Reader’s Digest version of it), click here. Randy’s website is He seems to be a great teacher, and more importantly, a great husband and father.

I learned of this video from the Dennis Prager show today. His “Happiness Hour” was on living your life as if you knew you only had 6 months to live. Dennis said that we all have a terminal disease anyway–it’s called life. We are all going to die. Most of us just don’t know when. If we lived our lives as if we only had 6 month left, we would focus our attention on the things that really matter most.

If you were to deliver your “final lecture,” what would you say?

If you knew you only had a few months to live, how would you change your life? What would you eliminate? What would you add?

Since none of us knows how much time we have left, why not start making the changes today?

From a Chinese proverb: “When a child is born, the child cries and the world rejoices. Live your life so when you die, the world cries and you rejoice.”

A Mobile Home?

September 21, 2007

While driving to a doctor’s appointment Wednesday, I saw this on the side of the road, right near Universal Studios. I was talking to Wendy and said, “I just drove by a house, sitting on the side of the freeway—just sitting there, no wheels, no trailer.

Apparently, the guy moving the house had a permit, but didn’t take the approved route. The house didn’t fit through the route he took. Check the entire story here.

Another Lie

September 19, 2007

AP–NEW YORK — Former CBS news anchor Dan Rather has filed a $70 million lawsuit Wednesday against the CBS network, its parent company Viacom Inc., and three of his former bosses, claiming he was made a “scapegoat” for a discredited story about President Bush’s military service.

Remember the story.  Dan Rather and CBS reported that when President Bush’s was in the National Guard, his commanding officer had written memos that were critical of him.  The problem was that the memos were clearly fakes and were announced as fakes within minutes of their release.  For an explanation, go here and here.  Even though it was clear the memos were fake, Dan Rather wouldn’t back down.  The story behind the original story quickly became the story.  And it had a name:  Rathergate.  The speed of the story was driven the the blogosphere.    This story examines how the blogosphere lead to Rather’s sad end.

Dan Rather was clearly in the wrong.  His reporting was biased and when he was confronted with the truth, it took him way too long to back off.  He lost credibility with his audience and that was the beginning of the end.

Instead of going quietly, Rather is now filing a lawsuit against this former employer.  First lie to the public about President Bush.  Now lie again about lying.  What a joke!