|Dispatches from Outland
A little song. A little dance. A little seltzer down your pants. Copyright © 2003 Roy M. Jacobsen.
Friday, August 22, 2003
Beyond Parody Department: A group of Egyptian legal scholars have just pegged my Dumb-O-Meter (TM): they want to sue the world's Jews for the gold (and all the other goods) they took when they left Egypt. No, I'm not making this up.
Of course, if we’re going to play this game, the Egyptians owe the Jews some shmundo too. After all, they held Jews in bondage for generations. The average, say, Jewish accountant or surgeon, makes a very nice living these days. Let’s say, for the sake of argument, $100,000 a year. Multiply that times the number of Hebrews forced to make bricks from straw, times the number of generations in bondage, including overtime and paid vacation – plus night work – compounded over 5,758 years and we’re not talking baklahvah either. Plus, what about the Jews cut of Egypt’s tourism industry? Since the Jews built a lot of that stuff – without compensation – shouldn’t they get a cut of all that too?posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 11:43 AM
Wednesday, August 20, 2003
Exquisite Design/Exquisite Designer Department: There's a sponge living in the deep ocean that creates glass fibers that are better than anything man can create. This creature (just in case you forgot, sponges are animals) is called the "Venus flower basket." The fibers in question can be tied in knots without breaking, and they conduct light better than our best stuff too.
The sponge grows in deep water in the tropics. It is about a foot and a half tall (45 centimeters tall) with an intricate silica mesh skeleton that also serves as a home for shrimp. The glass fibers form a crown at its base that appear to help anchor the sponge to the ocean floor. The fibers are about 2 to 7 inches (5 to 17 centimeters) long, and each is about the thickness of a human hair.Hmmmm. I always though that engineering, designing and building complex systems was something that took intelligence.
So many of these biologists would be quick to tell you that all these amazing things--like this sponge--are just the results of blind chance (a.k.a. evolution). At the same time, they can't help but use words like engineered and designed. posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 1:59 PM
Hello! McFly! Department: We've got a couple of nasty worms crawling around the internet. People on various blogs and websites (even the comic strips) are complaining about being deluged with virus-infected emails. (I'm not, at least so far.) It seems like some kind of bug makes the rounds every couple of months, and every year or so, there's a major outbreak that makes the nightly news headlines on the major networks. And I just can't figure out why these things keep happening. Well, I can, but I don't understand it.
Tuesday, August 19, 2003
Diamonds Are A Geek's Best Friend Department: It's taken a while, but the boys and girls in the labs have figured out how to make gem-quality diamonds--up to 3 carats--for a hundred dollars, or even less. De Beers doesn't like this. No, they don't like it one bit. People who play with semiconductors love it.
"If people really love each other, then they give each other the real stone," he says, during an interview at council headquarters on the Hoveniersstraat in Antwerp. "It is not a symbol of eternal love if it is something that was created last week." So goes the De Beers-backed line.Oh, yah, right. Eternal love, eh? Just like between Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor? He gave her plenty of diamonds, and some big ones too. They married, divorced, married again, and divorced again. That's eternal love, eh?
More telling were the comments of a jewler who saw some of the "cultured" diamonds at a Las Vegas lapidary show
Kevin Castro, a jeweler in Cedar City, Utah, comes to a surprised halt. "These are awfully pretty," he says.
That sounds right. posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 11:11 AM
Now THAT'S What I Call Teaching Department: Sgt. Mom remembers Mr. Terranova.posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 9:38 AM
Monday, August 18, 2003
OK, Now I'm Getting Cranky Department: Dopey me. For most all my life, I thought the teacher's job was to teach. Not if you ask John Dewey:
Every teacher should realize he is a social servant set apart for the maintenance of the proper social order and the securing of the right social growth.Excuse me?!?
All this time, I thought that our modern education system was broken, that it wasn't doing what it was designed to do. Turns out that I was wrong, that it is doing what it's designed to do. But what it's designed to do is not to educate; at least not in the sense that most of us understand.
You can order the book The Underground History of American Education from Barnes and Noble by clicking here:
The Underground History of American Education: A Schoolteacher's Intimate Investigation into the Problem of Modern Schooling
Thanks to theosebes for the pointer. posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 1:21 PM
Touchy Touchy Department: From the King County Journal:
KENT -- A woman shopping at Top Food and Drug took offense Tuesday when another customer looked past her to ask a Top Food employee when a new batch of Zingers snack cakes were going to be put on the shelf.
No comment. posted by Roy M. Jacobsen at 9:36 AM