All Now Mysterious...

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

A Party of Physicists

One day, a number of the world’s most famous physicists decided to get together for a party.  Fortunately, the doorman was a graduate student, and made some very interesting observations:

Everyone gravitated toward Newton, but he just kept moving around at constant velocity and showed no reaction.

Einstein thought it was a relatively good time.

Coulomb got a real charge out of the whole thing.

Cauchy, being the only mathematician there, still managed to integrate well with everyone.

Cavendish wasn’t actually invited, but had the balls to show up anyway.

Thomson enjoyed the plum pudding.

Pauli arrived late and was mostly excluded from things, so he split.

Pascal was under too much pressure to really enjoy himself.

Ohm spent most of the evening resisting Ampere’s opinions on current events.

Hamilton went to the buffet tables exactly once.

Volt thought the evening had a lot of potential.

Hilbert was pretty spaced out for most of it.

Heisenberg may or may not have been there.

The Curies were there and just glowed the whole time.

van der Waals forced himself to mingle.

Wein radiated a colorful personality.

Millikan dropped his oil and vinegar dressing.

de Broglie mostly just stood in the corner and waved.

Hollerith liked the hole idea.

Stefan and Boltzman got into a heated argument.

Everyone was attracted to Tesla’s magnetic personality.

Compton seemed a little scattered.

Bohr ate too much and got atomic ache.

Watt turned out to be a powerful speaker.

Hertz went back to the buffet table at regular intervals.

Faraday demonstrated an outstanding capacity for liquor.

Oppenheimer got bombed.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Not Really All My Fault

One of the graduation requirements at my alma mater is successful completion of a Diversity course--unless your field is Education, in which case it's two Diversity courses.
My Diversity in Education course was taught by an older, rather bitter Latina woman. Her lectures taught us in detail about the history of progress in American education, from schools for rich white males in New England to the one-room country schoolhouse to Plessy v. Ferguson to Brown v. Board of Education to IDEA. She made the information clear and easily accessible.
Her lectures, rather predictably, were also liberally seasoned with righteous indignation about the state of minorities in the nation, leftist political diatribes, and thinly-veiled race-baiting, all in the name of making sure we (primarily white) students knew just how good we had it.
The class ended not with a final exam, but with a final paper, in which we were to summarize in 10-15 pages all the key ideas, events, and developments we had learned about that semester. In essence, she wanted us to parrot back to her everything she'd said in the previous 15 weeks.
So that's what I did. I typed and turned in a twelve page paper explaining, in historical and educational terms, what was wrong with our society and why I, as a middle-class straight white Christian male, was responsible for most of it.
I got good grades on the paper and in the class, so I can only assume the professor agreed with my assessment. And that's the problem.
I recognize that we need to have a serious, heartfelt, and effectual conversation about race in America.
But if you're going to start that conversation by saying, "You're white, therefore you're the problem," as so many media outlets and Internet pundits have done in the past several days*, then count me out.
Not all white people are vile oppressors, and not all people of color are innocent, helpless victims. And if we start the conversation with these stereotypes, we're never going to accomplish anything.
So carry on with all the racially-charged assumptions, if you'd like--or if you can't come up with anything better to say. And once you've exhausted all that nonsense, then let's have a serious conversation.
--
*Until yesterday's Supreme Court decision changed the subject du jour from race to sexuality, that is. But never fear. I'm sure the racemongers will be back in force in a week or two.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Rebirthday

Thirty-three years ago today, I became a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

It was the most important, most influential decision I ever made.  It was also the best.

Membership in the Church has changed everything.  A knowledge of the restored Gospel of the Savior has transformed me.  It has made my life better.  It has made me better.

I still have a long, long way to go, but I am eternally grateful for the journey so far.  Thank you to all of those who have helped me along my voyage of discovery for the past thirty-three years.  Here's looking forward to another thirty-three--and beyond!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Fortune Cookie Wisdom

After the AP Celebration Party last Monday, I ended up with five fortune cookies. I opened one each day last week. Here's what they said.

Monday: "Declare peace every day."

Tuesday: "You [sic] adventure could lead to happiness."

Wednesday: "Great works are performed not by strength, but by perseverance."

Thursday: "Your way of doing what other people do their way is what makes you special."

Friday: "Be smart, but never show it."

So there you go.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Memories of Pugilism

I was introduced to Champions my freshman year in college.  One player in that group loved to challenge other players in single combat: Danger Room scenarios, training missions, sparring, whatever.  That player’s character was named Ronin.  He was a stereotypical fast martial artist: 30 DEX, 8 (or 9?) SPD, HTH Skill Levels, extra Running, low defenses, damage topped out at about 9-10 dice.  He loved to quote Mr. Miyagi: “Best defense, no be there.”

The character he ended up fighting most of the time, for whatever reason, was Monolith.  He was a prototype slow brick: 18 DEX, 4 SPD, 65-ish STR, high PD, high ED, high STUN, high REC.

The results were predictable: Ronin would use half his Phases to strike and the other half to Dodge.  He’d hit Monolith four or five times a Turn and inflict a little STUN each time, all of which Monolith would get back after Phase 12.  Then, five or six Turns in, Monolith would roll really, really well on his attack roll and hit Ronin, and the damage from the punch plus the damage from the Knockback would put Ronin at GM’s option.

All in all, it would go something like this:

“Aha! We meet again!” *whack* *whack*

“Not interested. Leave me alone.” *whoosh*

“Ah, you’ll have to be quicker than that, my friend.” *whack* *whack*

“Tell me again why we’re doing this.” *whoosh*

“Because you clearly need the practice!” *whack* *whack*

“This is boring.  Go away.” *whoosh*

“Come on, have a little fun!” *whack* *whack*

“Ow! I actually felt that! Knock it off, ya little *$^#!”

“Well well, now the battle is well and truly joined! Have at thee!” *whack* *whack*

“Stop it! You’re really starting to tick me off!” *whoosh*

“Oooh, close, but not close enough!”  *whack* *whack*

*SMACK!*

*CRASH!*

“Finally!”

“Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz….”

Great times.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Thoughts from the Daily Walk

I am a Christian. I believe that Jesus Christ is the divine, resurrected Son of God and the Savior of the world. I accept the necessity of His infinite and eternal Atonement. I have accepted the invitation to enter a covenant relationship with Him and to live His teachings the best I can each day.

But I am not always a good Christian. I stumble. I falter and fall. I backslide. I don't always live all the truth I know. Nobody does--not that I'm trying to use that as an excuse, but it reinforces, at least in my own mind, the absolute and inescapable need for a Savior.

I know many people who are better Christians than I am, my wife first and foremost among them. I try to surround myself with good people, and I find in my circle of associates many people more faithful, more dedicated, and more knowledgeable about spiritual things than myself. I try to learn from them whenever I can.

I readily acknowledge that there are good people among all faiths--and good people of no faith at all. I appreciate their commitment to the community and to the betterment of humanity. I seek to follow their example.

But I have to say this one thing: If you are not a Christian--if you do not believe that Jesus was the Son of God, if you do not read, ponder, and pray over the words of Christ, if you have not committed yourself to walk daily in His footsteps--then please do not presume to tell me how to live my own religion.

Specifically, please do not try to tell me that I'd be a better Christian if I supported your particular political and/or social agenda.  Don’t try to tell me, “A good Christian would do {whatever}.”

Unless you are a Christian, you don’t really know what it means to be one, nor what “a good Christian would” really do.  It isn’t something you learn from observation.  It’s something you learn by doing.  I know this from experience.

Walk the daily walk, and then you can talk the talk.  Otherwise, you have no credibility and no qualifications to try to counsel me in my daily walk.

Why would I want advice from someone who doesn’t know as much as I do?

Above all, don't tell me what Jesus would do.  Learning what Jesus would do, and then learning to do it, is the whole point of the daily walk.  The way to know what Jesus would do: “If any man will do his [the Father's] will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.”  (John 7:17)  Jesus Himself said that.

If you're not a Christian, how can you claim to know what Jesus would do?  Or, in the words of Jesus Himself, “[H]ow knoweth a man the master whom he has not served, and who is a stranger unto him, and is far from the thoughts and intents of his heart?”  (Mosiah 5:2)

At the heart of it all, Christianity isn’t about social justice or libertarianism or ‘tolerance’ or gun rights or race or gender or immigration or any of that.  It’s not about politics.  Christianity isn’t essentially about rules and regulations, nor even about codes of conduct.

At the heart of it all, Christianity is about developing a personal covenant relationship with Christ.

And if you don’t have a relationship like that, why would I want advice from you about mine?

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Today's Awesome Mix(es)

When we do labs in my classes, I put on some music in the background. I have what I call the Big Classic Rock Lab Mix on my hard drive.  It’s got 175 songs or so.  I fire up WinAmp (yes, I still use it) and hit random play.

Here are the songs from today’s classes.

1st period:
Carry On Wayward Son (Kansas)
Dirty Laundry (Don Henley)
Don’t Look Back (Boston)
Fantasy (Aldo Nova)
Gimme All Your Lovin’ (ZZ Top)
Heartbreak Hotel (Elvis)
Hotel California (The Eagles)
Invisible Touch (Genesis)
Just What I Needed (The Cars)
Make Me Smile (Chicago)
More Than A Feeling (Boston)
Mrs. Robinson (Simon & Garfunkel)
Only Time Will Tell (Asia)
Ooby Dooby (Roy Orbison)

3rd Period:
Subdivisions (Rush)
Sultans of Swing (Dire Straits)
Sweet Caroline (Neil Diamond)
The Heart of Rock and Roll (Huey Lewis & the News)
Tom Sawyer (Rush)
Unchained Melody (Righteous Brothers)
We Will Rock You (Queen)
What About Love (Heart)
When The Heart Rules The Mind (GTR)
Who Can It Be Now (Men at Work)
You Got It (Roy Orbison)
25 or 6 to 4 (Chicago)
Africa (Toto)
All I Need Is A Miracle (Mike + the Mechanics)

I’d say that’s a pretty decent playlist, wouldn’t you?