January 28, 2007

The language of 'aging'.

Our perspective on mortality changes as we grow older, and unconsciously that reflects in our language!

Do you realize that the only time in our lives when we like to get old is when we're kids? If you're less than 10 years old, you're so excited about aging that you think in fractions.

"How old are you?" "I'm four and a half!" You're never thirty-six and a half. You're four and a half, going on five! That's the key.

You get into your teens, now they can't hold you back. You jump to the next number, or even a few ahead. "How old are you?" "I'm gonna be 16!" You could be 13, but hey, you're gonna be 16!

And then the greatest day of your life . . . you become 21. Even the words sound like a ceremony . . . YOU BECOME 21. YESSSS!!!

But then you turn 30. Oooohh, what happened there? Makes you sound like bad milk. He TURNED; we had to throw him out. There's no fun now, you're just a sour-dumpling. What's wrong? What's changed?

You BECOME 21, you TURN 30, then you're PUSHING 40. Whoa! Put on the brakes, it's all slipping away. Before you know it, you REACH 50 . . .. and your dreams are gone.

But wait!!! You MAKE it to 60. You didn't think you would! So you BECOME 21, TURN 30, PUSH 40, REACH 50 and MAKE it to 60.

You've built up so much speed that you HIT 70! After that it's a day-by-day thing; you HIT Wednesday! You get into your 80s and every day is a complete cycle; you HIT lunch; you TURN 4:30; you REACH bedtime. And it doesn't end there. Into the 90s, you start going backwards; "I Was JUST 92."

Then a strange thing happens. If you make it over 100, you become a little kid again. "I'm 100 and a half!"

May you all make it to a healthy 100 and a half!!

(email received Dec 15 2003, widely and wrongly attributed to George Carlin. Sounds like him but TruthOrFiction says nope )

January 16, 2007

Mapping Religions

Religion map

Click on the above link for a chronological perspective on the majority religions of the world created by "Maps -of- War".

It made for some interesting viewing, and listed below are some of my post-view observations, none of which may be misconstrued as biases for or against any religion.

1. After 1200AD, religions seemed to have spread at a faster rate and over larger land masses than ever before.

2. Judaism surfaced in spurts; it did not hold a land mass to call its own until the birth of Israel.

3. Hinduism is the world's oldest religion despite which it did not spread as much.

4. Christianity spans over the largest land mass and has seldom lost ground to another religion.

5. At inception, Islam spread more rapidly than did other religions.

6. Islam and Christianity grew in reactionary sequence for some three hundred years after the birth of Islam.

7. Both Christianity and Islam spread across three or more continents.

8. Islam is the youngest of the majority religions.

9. Buddhism, an offshoot of Hinduism, coexisted adjacent to its parent religion; both of them remained within the Asian continent.

January 14, 2007

US Soccer - A Graveyard for Dying Galaxies?

David Beckham is heading to the United States in June after signing some 200+ million dollar contract with the LA Galaxy.

US Soccer is looking for a face lift by having Beckham over, but this is a Beckham at the very end of his career, one that has very obviously been sagging the past few years! A marketeer's delight and a celebrity for reasons other than soccer, David Becham still has an unimaginably large (female) fan following, and all of these may well see him through his current contract.

Welcome to America, Beckham!

January 07, 2007

Ivy League Professors Undermining Education?

Should professors be good teachers? In Universities and colleges across the United States research always takes precedence over teaching so much that a well published professor does not really care about his performance as a teacher and simply concentrates on producing cutting edge research. Understandably so because cutting edge research brings in money and fame both to the academician and to his university, but at a cost. At the cost of permanently thwarting and stunting bright and fertile minds poised on the brink of academic and scientific breakthroughs.

A freshman in a college of some decent standing is but waiting for that slight prod, a nudge in the right direction, a word of encouragement from a renowned entity, to set off into a world of discovery and exploration, that if brought to fruition could impact humanity for centuries. Alas, that is not happening in many of our prestigious colleges and universities. Ivy League Universities for instance have Field Medalists and Nobel Laureates teaching undergraduate classes. These individuals are star attractions for a student wanting to study at that university; who wouldn't want a Toni Morrison, or an Andrew Wiles, or an Orhan Pamuk as a teacher! However, this euphoria is short lived; the starry-eyed student walks into his first lecture class to find another fifty students, like him, all agog to be taught by the eminent personality. That is but the first disappointment, and also the least painful. By the time this student is into the second lecture he figures out that the professor is really not interested in teaching, and is in the room going through the motions of presenting information, and would do the same if there were fifty empty chairs facing him instead of the fifty focused faces that eagerly await the words that are yet to come out of his mouth. Nonchalantly and with the ease of a maestro, he presents his piece as he sees fit and presumes you understand it because, after all, you did make the cut to get into an Ivy League, then you opted to be in his class, and finally there is always the option of switching to another class, another major, another university, or then dropping out for the semester.

The Professor of course is oblivious of the struggling students' predicament as also to the 'i + 1' teaching model. He does not care that the students coming out of high school come with a limited data base of knowledge ( i ), and as a good teacher he has to present his content using the ' i + 1' strategy so that the students start with what is familiar to them (the 'i') and then build upon it as they go along. They have some firm ground to stand on before they venture into the next/higher level of knowledge. In complete disregard of the needs of his students and in spite of his own displeasure, the 'star' professor proceeds to lecture the class, wincing at any interruptions. He has his Ph.D students conduct tutorial sessions apparently to offer help in doing the complex assignments he gives at the end of each lecture, but more likely to appease his own conscience that berates him for his neglect of duty as a teacher. Of course, he finally hands out the much dreaded exam at the end of the course for the few students, who out of sheer resilience, did not drop out of his course despite his apathy.

These killing 'Ivy' fields are sounding the death knell for academic excellence. What is the above but a slow and sure thwarting of a brilliant young mind unkindly reproached, obviously and repeatedly ignored by those in position of power. It is an intimidation and a consequent subduing of young scholarly minds by those deemed intellectually superior because of their publications and awards. In places such as Princeton and Harvard this is a common scenario, but one that is seldom talked about and almost never written about. It's a disgrace that renowned places of learning such as these are guilty of stunting and amputating minds for no other reason but that these minds are mere learners in an environment charged with academic brilliance and home to Nobel Laureates and Field Medalists who, unfortunately, believe that the benefits of research outweigh the benefits of educating the human mind.