I've been short on blog this week. Been working on a little commission job for the publisher that sells my anatomy software. Nothing creative about this piece of work; it's just compiling and organizing the graphics for a book in a related field. Caused me to realize that the pure authorly life isn't entirely fun. Every now and then, plain old work for immediate pay feels good! (There's a pleasant sense of being 'in harness' that doesn't come with open-ended work.)
Frugality and generic brands supposedly go together. Though I'm a full-fledged miser, I've found that store brands are usually not worth the few saved pennies. Good example of that rule last night. My living-room "night light" burned out as I was getting ready for bed, so I replaced the bulb with a store-brand. The new bulb immediately fizzled; I unscrewed it and noticed it was cracked. Placed it very
gently in the wastebasket, and it shattered as soon as it touched the old bulb.
What if it had broken while I was unscrewing it? Would have been pure disaster. From now on I'll stick with the non-reject brands, and I'll also wear a glove when changing bulbs, even if it makes me look like the King of Pop for a few seconds.
Speaking of whom, I have to wonder why he's called the King of Pop. Does anyone in this country actually listen to his songs? The last time I heard his voice coming from a car radio or a house stereo was in 1970, when he was still part of the Jackson Five.
And on a related subject, an update on Spokane's Gayor West: he's still, um, gutting it out, as more and more of the establishment turns against him. The Chamber of Commerce and the Convention Bureau have publicly asked him to quit.
I simply don't understand the mind of a power-seeker. Strange mix of innocence and megalomania ... perhaps Freud would explain it as a failure to form ego boundaries, failure to realize that those other moving objects out there are separate humans, not simply extensions of The Universal Me. The power-seeker goes around saying "I am the Best Thing On Earth. You know you want me; if you don't know it yet, you will sooner or later."
Did I ever
think that way? Not within memory. I've always been a cynical melancholic, fully cognizant that those other moving objects want nothing to do with me. This may not be strictly accurate, but long experience shows it to be pretty close.
Newt's latest crusade is distinctly interesting. He acknowledges that he's more or less running for '08, but he's also doing something deeper: trying to plow the political ground at a different angle. The usual tug-of-war approach to politics leaves many important questions outside the realm of discussion.
This has been obvious in any Internet forum for many years. Whether the subject is Mac vs PC, Windows vs Linux, Jesus vs Darwin, Universal Health Care vs Free Choice ... you name it, you'll find exactly two teams, and each team has a standard playbook of permitted opinions. As long as you stick to the playbook, you'll get cheers from your side and jeers from the other. But if you ask a deeper question, or (worst of all) favor side A for the wrong reasons, you'll be thrown out with remarkable alacrity and consonance.
By linking hands with Hillary, Newt is trying to bring some non-teamed questions into better focus.
Today on C-Span, Newt was answering questions from a high-school class in a wealthy DC suburb. The students were prepared, had read some of his books. One predictable Gotcha question: You obviously believe education is important. What do you think about evolution vs creationism?
Newt's answer was fairly mild, and not really off the playing field. He said that he would prefer to keep creationism out of the public schools, but we really need to put our effort into the basics instead of worrying about one particular theory.
I'll take that ball several yards farther beyond the chalk lines.
(1) Having spent most of my career in various aspects of science education, I've seen what works: starting with daily experience, formalizing it into experiments, and then offering theories for background. This is the reverse of most American science and math classes. If you start with the notion that theories are foundations, of course you're going to worry about which theories are taught. But this is not the way science works, nor the way life works.
(2) Scientists who actually and directly work
on the origins of life and matter are so rare you can just about name them in one breath. Such prodigies never get near a public school, and even if they were forced by dumb parents to attend public school, they would have been reading and thinking far beyond their schoolwork by the age of 9. Whatever happens in the schoolroom is just a waste of time for such folks. (In fact, when I tried to name some of them mentally, I realized that none of them grew up in America anyway, which says that our stern reliance on teaching evolution hasn't helped us to produce such prodigies!)
For any kind of practical application, the origin question is simply irrelevant. You can catalog comets or synthesize genes with equal skill, and even with equal awe, if you believe they came from God or from unknown and undefined sources.
If you're using math or science for any practical application, from auto mechanics to genetics, you know that a vanishingly small percentage of your knowledge was acquired in public school anyway. As Newt says, THIS is the problem, not whether we offer ONE or TWO alternative theories in one particular subdiscipline.