Thursday, February 23, 2006

The Somewhat Special Olympics

Sorry...That's the way I view the Winter Olympics.

It's always seemed like a knockoff of the original--the athletic equivalent of CSI Miami.

Nevertheless, I'm following the Turin Olympiad closer than I'd like to admit. For all of its flaws, it's still fairly captivating, mostly due to the potential for high-velocity tragedy. There isn't anything comparable in the summer olympics to someone careening off an ice-covered cement tube at 80 miles an hour.

In order to keep my hours in front of the t.v. at a minimum, I've developed some criteria to restrict my viewing hours:

1. If there isn't a venue for anyone to participate in any given olympic sport within a 500 mile radius, I don't watch the event.

2. If the sport requires judges, it isn't really a sport, and therefore, I won't watch it.

3. Priority must be given to women's speed skating: It's sort of like a convention of multiethnic J-Lo body doubles in tight-fitting spandex.

As for the results, the majority of Canada's medal winners have been women, and those avatars of Canadian machisimo, the men's hockey team led by "the great one", couldn't even pull off a bronze. The big-money, big-hype stars didn't come through, which makes this a very special olympics indeed.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Now Anyone Can Go To M.I.T.

For the past four years, The Massachussets Institute of Technology, one of the world's foremost universities, has been at the forefront of an educational revolution.

In 2002, they began publishing every jot and tittle of their course information on the web. Provided you have internet access, it's possible for you to study the same materials as MIT students while in a hut in Timbuktu.

According to the school's website, the OCW project has a dual mission:

"* To provide free access to virtually all MIT course materials for educators and learners around the world.
* to extend the reach and impact of MIT OCW and the “opencourseware” concept."

They've done pretty damn well on both accounts. I've consulted the higher minds of MIT when designing my own syllabi, and the open courseware project has been embraced in China, Japan, and France as well as the United States.

Read About MIT Open Courseware Here

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Spit Happens

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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Was Cheney Drunk?

Here's an interesting tidbit scrubbed from the initial MSNBC story via

Katherine Armstrong:

"There may be a beer or two in there," she said, "but remember not everyone in the party was shooting.".

Hmmm...A vice-president twice convicted of drunk driving goes hunting, has a few beers, and shoots a guy in the face.

What is the reaction of the American press corps? They scrub the quote.

Move along, folks. Nothing to see here.

Why aren't they asking "Mr Vice-President, do you have a drinking problem"?

I'm just asking. Don't tap my phone line, please.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Smart Dog

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How I know Mali is one smart pup...

1. Applied Knowledge: On Saturday afternoon, she watched the agility trials on "Top Dogs", a popular dog show on OLN. Later that afternoon, she could be seen weaving in and out of our cedar hedge.

2. Problem Solving: She wanted to sit on the couch, but Laurie and I were sprawled out on top of it. What does she do? She pretends that she needs to be let out, and then when mommy rises from the couch to let her out the door, she steals her spot.

3. Mechanical Ability: She has actually learned how to turn on and off a mechanical device--Sophie's mobile mat. She's actually discovered how to turn on the music and flashing lights with her nose.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Pens, Pencils, and Top-down Morality

Yesterday my co-worker, George Clooney*, held up a blue ballpoint and asked me, "Is this your pen?"

"I have no idea George**."

"Well, I didn't want to use it if it wasn't mine."

"It's just a pen. Take it. It's yours."


"No need to thank me...After all, I'm not even sure if it's mine and I said you could have it...If that's generosity, I have a condo in Toronto I want you to have".

"Say, this is a pretty nice pen. If this were the pen you were using, wouldn't you remember it?"


"Why not?"

"Well, we have to go back a bit to answer that one. My father taught in a large high school in the Twin Cities for over 35 years. Throughout his career, he compulsively picked up pencils and pens his students left behind. As he walked down the halls, he often stoop to pick up any writing utensils between class as well. At the end of the day, he'd come home with pockets bulging. All the pens ended up in a box on his dresser. As a result, I never had to buy a pen or pencil during my school years. I've always assumed that pens and pencils magically appear whenever you need them, and you know what? They always do.".

"But what if that pen or pencil you--found--was someone's favourite? Shouldn't you try to get it back to them?"

"Well, sure, if it were some gold-plated Parker pen that would be a different case...Of course I'd bring that to the lost and found but for the most part, pens and pencils fall outside my moral universe. If you're careless enough to leave it behind, you deserve to lose it, if you're upset to find that it's been taken after you left it behind, you're a petty person who just hasn't faced enough hardship during your lifetime. I'd like to think my pen theiving is sort of a one-man crusade against pettiness."

"That's an interesting take on things...Could I borrow your calculator?"

"...Will you give it back?"


*No, not the Hollywood Hunk George Clooney--the Accounts Receivable George Clooney.

**Actually, her name is Suzanne, and she's a teacher, and I pulled most of this conversation out of my butt. George Clooney the bookkeeper made for a better story...Please don't tell Oprah!
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