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When one is trying to determine whether an alternative learning/teaching paradigm is better than the standard paradigm, an appropriate control is not to simply switch teachers in the control lecture class while switching teachers and trying out the new paradigm in the other lecture class, but to have two classes: one taught the old way, one taught the new way, then switch each to the other paradigm!

Especially when your school has classes being taught with both paradigms.  Because then there simply isn't any excuse.


I was thinking about the distinction between belief and faith today.  The two concepts seem like they get mixed up in discussion and argument.

Belief is fundamentally a statement of existence.  Faith is a statement of expectation.

Someone could believe there's a God who created the Universe and then just left, paying no mind whatsoever to the creation.  Such a person would believe in said God, but likely wouldn't have any faith in said God, as they don't/can't expect the God to do anything.

Likewise someone could disbelieve in any Gods, but trust that the universe is benevolent and won't let them down.  They could even trust that the information that was them won't be destroyed after they die, or that their descendants would be well off.  Such a person would have no belief in God, but at least in a spiritual sense would have faith in something greater.

Faith and belief are obviously interconnected to a large degree for most people, but they are not synonyms.

In terms of belief I'm an agnostic/ignostic.  In terms of faith, I waver between optimism and cynicism, but am fundamentally an atheist.  Even should I somehow know (believe) a God to exist, I don't know that I'd expect or want anything from said God other than to be allowed to pursue what I want to pursue (left alone).

Another source of argument is the rationality of various forms of expectation.

Diagnosed with Asperger's.  Gifted in Math.  Interested in Astronomy and physics.

Nice to know some people aren't messed over by the system.

"We have told him that after this semester . . . enough of the book work. You are here to do some science," said IUPUI physics Professor John Ross, who vows to help find some grant funding to support Jake and his work.

"If we can get all of those creative juices in a certain direction, we might be able to see some really amazing stuff down the road."



"A federal employee in California is suing the Obama administration to force it to provide health benefits to her same-sex spouse.

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management told Karen Golinski that it was refusing to extend benefits to her wife because federal law prohibits the government from recognizing gay marriage."

Annoying. What gives, some federal employees get to provide benefits for an additional person while the unmarried don't? Either provide benefits only for the worker, or give all workers an option to provide additional benefits to a designated additional adult beneficiary of their choice.

The first option will increase the number of uninsured in this nation and hopefully lead to some sort of health care reform that's a hell of a lot better than what we have currently. The second option would seriously decrease the number of uninsured people as spouses who each have a job that provides benefits can sign their adult children or others up as their additional beneficiaries.
After many, many years I recently (within the past couple of months) thought of what may be the only acceptable answer to this loaded question:

P: Have you stopped beating your wife?
D: Sir, I haven't even begun to beat my wife!

Another Semester of School starts today. Yee haw!


Calling a Senator "Ma'am"


It happened in June, but I first heard about it today.

"During a hearing last June, Boxer interrupted Brig. Gen. Michael Walsh of the Army Corps of Engineers in mid-sentence: "Do me a favor?" she said. "Could you say 'senator' instead of 'ma'am?' It's just a thing. I worked so hard to get that title, so I'd appreciate it. Yes, thank you.""

The word "ma'am" is a term of address for people in the military hierarchy, and more generally members of the executive branch. Does it seem wrong to anyone else that a member of the executive branch (a General) would refer to a member of the legislative branch by such a title? She's not his superior, and addressing her as his superior seems to me like an unconstitutional bending of the separation of powers. Neither the Judicial branch (who seem universally to be called "judge" or "your honor") nor the Legislative branch should be addressed as if they were a higher ranking member of the Executive branch.


Odd atheists

"What we're celebrating this year is the promise of the sun returning. That's S-U-N, not S-O-N," said Bill Weir, a retired marketing executive from Plymouth.

"Then the Christians stole it," added Marie Alena Castle of Minneapolis, the 82-year-old founder of Atheists for Human Rights and an atheist activist for two decades. It's a season of celebration for the Jewish faith as well, with Hanukkah.

Still, none of the atheists interviewed for this story expressed a wish to be left out of Christmas entirely.

"Food, we like. Presents, we like. Seeing family, we like," said Val Woelfel of St. Paul, an aspiring archaeologist. Woelfel, 47, and her boyfriend, Bjorn Larsen, 32, planned to erect a tree in their living room: "Sacred trees are an ancient custom. It's pretty, it smells nice and it's pagan," Woelfel said.

I don't think I can call myself an atheist if practicing the traditions of ancient, defunct religions & cultures is considered atheistic. I really wonder how the interviewer located these people, and why some of them consider themselves atheists. I guess it's possible to be atheistic without being areligious, and vice versa, but it still seems very weird to me.


The current state of School

Had some unusual experiences this semester.

1) Earlier, I occasionally felt pissed at some of the instructors and the academic situation vis-a-vis tests and test prep and the like. Now I'm ok with it. I signed up for this, knowing full well I was taking a 15 credit course load while working 35+ hours almost every week. It's ok, and the blame surely doesn't rest with the Instructors.

2) Coming to grips with the 7 in me. Yeah, it's a waste of time better spent studying, but it helps disengage from the tension, and hell, a few times I have been able to really take that energy and channel it to what I needed to do.

3) I've burned out about three times now, each one harder to bounce back from, and the last two times blurring together.

There's a very real, though still unlikely chance I'll fail a course or two.

I couldn't concentrate on studying for the last three tests. I went into the last Physical Chem test with zero studying, and having failed to complete the last two homework assignments. I think I probably did well enough for a score somewhere in the 60%'s, which added to the homework I did do and my first test will likely give me a solid B on the runup to finals week. If I blow it on the final, this is one of the courses I could fail. It's a prereq for things later on too.

Studied less than 15 minutes (and that was scattered) for the second Biochem exam. People usually do poorly on his exams, so he ends up curving well, but this is one of the highest scoring classes he's had. I guessed on about 70% of the multiple choice questions, though most of those guesses were at least educated guesses. We'll see. This is another course which is a prereq for 2 classes I'm taking next semester. If I get less than a C in it, it will necessitate some extreme revamping of my next two years of school.

But the best part of all of this is that I've hit my absolute limits and found that, this time, I'm psychologically robust enough to bend with it instead of breaking. I'm still in it, and will stay in it, no matter what. That's a pleasant attitude.

I'll need to study Linear Algebra over Winter break to test past it in the Spring or Summer. It, too, is a prereq for classes I wish to take, and isn't available schedule wise for me in the Spring or Summer terms (unless I fail Biochem, that is :P ).

C'est le vie. And I love life. :D


Thomas Midgley Jr.

Inventor of Leaded Gasoline and discoverer of Chlorofluorocarbons as refrigerants, killed at the age of 55 by one of his own inventions.


I like this guy


"If you're working on a problem you can solve in your own lifetime, you're not thinking big enough."