Category Archives: Education

The Power of the Press


My in-laws are getting ready to move, and as they were packing—reaching into the far corners of the attic, they came across a vintage 1905 typewriter and a printing press. Based on e-mailed pictures I thought it was a mimeograph or spirits duplicator, which were mainstays of my grade school days. The mimeograph was better quality and was reserved for the school newspaper. The spirits duplicator was used for tests, and printed in purple; it also had a distinctive aroma of the solvent used to transfer the stencil to the papers.

When I actually saw it, though, it turned out to be an actual printing press, complete with type from the last printing job still in place. This wasn’t some toy with individual rubber letters; each line of type was cast in metal, and I believe it may have used some type of offset process. I have more research to do on it.

Today, we take it for granted that any thought, feeling, or whim can be shared with the world by Twitter, e-mail, blog or whatever. Here’s a selfie. Now here’s a picture of my spaghetti.

However, there was a time, not so long ago that the process was more time consuming. The sieve was more selective, and only those thoughts that made it through several critiques were shared with the world. That was not necessarily a bad thing.

About 90 percent of the e-mails, social media posts, and other messages I receive electronically is spam. Many news articles are followed by a nasty trail of anonymous troll droppings. So maybe the hassles of getting into print in days past was not so bad a thing.

Why My Mechanic Is More Trusted Than My Doctor

I swear that this is not associated with yesterday’s Jobsxtaposition topic.

I love science. I love thinking, questioning and learning. I love Edison’s I didn’t fail, I found a thousand ways NOT to make a lightbulb. Think. Hypothesize. Experiment. Compare results to expectations. Think some more. Question why things turned out the way they did.

I love logic. I love the steps to prove that something is true; I’m challenged by, but accept that you cannot prove something is false.

However, the practice of science today is be very different than my expectations of science. Today, at least according to the media and the politicians, we rely on consensus rather than experimentation, opr God forbid, fact.

How did this happen? Maybe it started with global warming. If we cannot prove that man did not cause it (because you cannot prove a negative) therefore, it is a manmade problem. Why? Because we have a consensus!

There was once another proud science – medicine. While I was doing some research I came across an interesting issue; doctors are expected to treat patients according to universal standards. If the majority of doctors prescribes medicine A or surgery B, and your doctor prescribes therapy C he or she can find themselves in big trouble if they don’t follow the consensus. They could be censured or lose their license. A handful of states have written laws to protect doctors who dare to think, but in most states the medical profession has the clout to keep the state legislature in line.

So, after four years of college; medical school; internship/residency; and several years of fellowship, doctors are expected not to question or think. They are expected to follow the consensus; order the consensus driven tests, prescribe the consensus driven treatment and not vary from the consensus.


My doctor is a wonderful guy. He orders various tests and based on the outcome of the tests he prescribes certain treatments and medication. There are guidelines he is expected to follow. If he varies from the universally accepted (i.e. consensus) he faces consequences.

My auto mechanic is a wonderful guy. He connects my car to the diagnostic computer and based on what the computer says, he makes certain repairs. There is a book that tells him what to do and what to charge. He’s a smart guy, but doesn’t have the education of my doctor.

The difference is, that if my mechanic wants to try something out of the ordinary, he can, and does, and it often fixes the problem, thank you.


Band Geeks

And if you've never seen it before

And if you’ve never seen it before

I marched in the band in high school and college, and enjoyed every second of it. (Well, there probably was a second here and there when I didn’t, but I don’t remember them.)

I can understand the old joke that football stadiums’ primary purpose is for the marching band. (For a great perspective listen to Jack Stamp

I won’t belabor you with my opinionated comments. I’ll let these statements speak for themselves.

  • The morning news said that the national college championship game yesterday was attended by eighty thousand with the average ticket price being nine hundred dollars.
  • Members of the marching bands had transportation and lodging provided. They had great seats and paid nothing.
  • Marching band counts as a class with credit toward graduation.
  • Marching band members do not have to deal with 250 pound guys from the other school repeatedly grabbing and tackling them!

Almost Christmas

It’s almost Christmas.

How does one express in words what this time of year means?

Christmas marks the promise of God fulfilled by Himself – in person.

A promise He made to his chosen people, the Jews.

A time when His chosen people, even today, celebrate Hanukkah, the Feast of Lights. Celebrating the re-consecration of the Temple, when the lamp stayed lit for eight days on one day’s supply of oil, giving the Jews enough time to make more kosher oil for the lamp.

It’s the winter solstice, when we have the longest night. Starting tomorrow each day the lighted portion of the day will be longer.

Making cookies or other special dishes we never make at any other time of the year.

Even the mercenary portions of the holidays has its own blessing; it’s the time of year when we worry about what other people like and want; what would someone we love find special?

It’s almost Christmas.


Spam I Am – A Tribute*

Imagine what Sam or the Cat in the Hat could do today!

Imagine what Sam or the Cat in the Hat could do today!

I do not like to get this spam;

I do not like it, Sam-I-am!

I don’t want money from a prince,

Nor my [BLANK] to grow an inch.

I do not want spam on my phone,

I want my email left alone.

I bought my computer to be for me,

But spam is all I seem to see.

I will not stand for all this spam,

I will take action Sam-I-am.

While others may say I’m a nut,

My Internet cable I have cut.


* With apologies and fondness to Theodor Suess Geisel – “Dr. Suess”

Does Watson Keep Getting Smarter?

Original illustration by Sidney Paget.  Dr. Watson (left) listens as Holmes explains what he has deduced from a pipe.

Original illustration by Sidney Paget. Dr. Watson (left) listens as Holmes explains what he has deduced from a pipe.

It seems like everybody is doing an update on Sherlock Holmes.

Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman are doing an excellent British version. Then there’s Robert Downey, Jr. switching back and forth between Iron Man and Sherlock, and, of course Johnny Lee Miller on Elementary whose Watson is female and now working as a peer, so he’s added a second sidekick—also female. Then there are the thinly disguised versions, including House, MD (House instead of Holmes; Dr. Wilson instead of Dr. Watson; both House and Holmes were opiate users and only took cases that intrigued them.)

Modern versions all seem to be intent on reinventing Watson. Of course, if you base your impression on the old Basil Rathbone movies in which Nigel Bruce portrayed Watson as generally befuddled with intermittent periods of amazement, you’d agree that Watson needed some improvement. (No reflection on Bruce–I blame the writers and the director.) However, in the original stories, Watson was a physician who had been wounded in Afghanistan and returned home (my, how history repeats itself). He was an intelligent, educated man who was outshone by Holmes’ genius.

I admit that the stories needed to be updated. I read them about fifty years after they were written, and I had to look up (in a book, not on the Internet) what a hansom cab was, and was fascinated that the mail was delivered several times each day. Even the media—well in those days, the press—was interesting in the books. The paper published more than one edition each day, and in the event of “Breaking News!!!” an Extra edition was run.

Besides, Holmes opium use and habit of firing his pistol at the wall in his flat might have been outrageous in his day, but would have dire consequences today.

So, I agree with updating the stories, but I stand by John Watson, MD (although after he marries, his wife refers to him as “James.” Mysterious.) Wounded in the shoulder by a Jezail bullet followed by enteric fever (typhoid) he was packed onto a ship and sent home with a modest pension for nine months. (“Thank you for your service to King and Country. All right. Now off with you!”) I mentioned that he was intelligent and educated, but he also had courage, accompanying Holmes and even being asked to bring his service revolver at times.

He was also just a touch Avant-garde, given the tattoo on his wrist. No Abby Sciuto, but not generally a mark of gentry.

Watson may not have been the one to deduce the solution, but Arthur Conan Doyle created his character as the one who observed, understood and explained the events.

Ladies and gentlemen, I say ye, Dr. John H. Watson. Hear, Hear!

Exercise Your Right to a Free Press!

If there are issues in the news that elicit an emotional response from you, here is a handy template to assist you in writing a letter to your local newspaper.

To the editor:

I heard about the article that you printed concerning [FILL IN THE BLANK]. I don’t personally subscribe to or read the newspaper, but when I hear about things like [FILL IN THE BLANK], I feel it is my duty to make my voice heard.

I’ve never met [FILL IN THE BLANK], nor have I ever been to the city of [FILL IN THE BLANK], but it makes my blood boil when [FILL IN THE BLANK] treat [FILL IN THE BLANK] with such disrespect.

I am not interested in intellectual evaluations. Instead, you must accept that my feelings and the feelings of my fellow [FILL IN THE BLANK] is what is important. Thank goodness the media no longer clutters up these important issues with facts and figures. Facts are unimportant. What is important is how these things make us feel.

I demand action! I demand justice! I demand retribution!

Please contact me personally to inform me as to how this issue is resolved, because as I mentioned earlier, I do not subscribe to the newspaper.



If you don’t have a particular issue in mind, here are some suggestions: securing the border, immigration reform, taxes, tax evading big business, the one percent, the ninety-nine percent, Democrats, Republicans, gun rights, gun control, global warming, the Area 51 Conspiracy, or the use of semicolons.