Church goers less likely to believe in ET

I read the poll "Do Americans Actually Believe Life Exists in a Galaxy Far, Far Away?" with a bit of fear on what "regular churchgoers" would believe in. Fortunately, it was 46% vs non-churchgoers at 70%. College educated is at 67%!

The more interesting breakdown would have been asking evolutionists vs. others.


Older innovators

/. (slashdot) folks are discussing "Age and Great Invention" on how innovators are getting older.

I can vouch for it, sort of. My first patent I've ever applied for was when I was in my mid-30's. At my current job, I'm in the process of applying for 3 patents over the past 10 months. So, total of 4 patents in the past 5 years.

I personally think it takes more effort to come up with new ideas, especially if the innovation is not some trivial extension of existing ideas (which many companies like to do). So much innovation has taken place in computers and related fields over the 40 years such that new ideas are harder to come by without repeating some previously invented ideas.


Why public funded police is a problem # 125

Austin American-Statesman had a great article yesterday called "A call for police about a possible suicide, then a murder: Police left ex-boyfriend to watch apartment before he ambushed and killed man, then himself".

The story goes like this: August 1, 2004, Shawn Barnard makes a 911 call and tells the operator that he broke up with Staci Bovill who was depressed and suicidal and she had tried to call herself before. Two officers arrived on the scene and kicked open the door, didn't find anyone. Barnard stays behind pretending to fix the door and then hides inside when the officers leave. When Bovill comes home with her new boyfriend Alex Hopgood, she is about to go into her apartment (even though the door was unlocked) and then Barnard pops out, who confronts Hopgood. Barnard then shoots Hopgood and then kills himself.

[Your friendly, duty-bound tax dollars at work -- in this case, "for whom?" is a good question.]

So here's Austin police policy (according to the paper):
Austin: Officers must first try to make contact with the person whose welfare is in question. If they have a reasonable belief that a person's life is in danger, they may make a forced entry with a supervisor's approval. Assistant Police Chief Robert Dahlstrom said officers generally try to find an alternative means for entering, such as an unlocked door or window. They may then leave the property in the care of a neighbor, friend or family member.
(How many security holes can you find in this paragraph? I see at least one in every sentence.)

[Updated 2006-Mar-30 the facts based on Staci's comment: thanks for your response! Also note my SCOTUS comment on 2005-Jun-27.]


M$FT Windows XP Home is almost usable

I found "Windows rapidly approaching desktop usability" by Robin 'Roblimo' Miller was just too funny!

Why State shouldn't be involved in marriage #319

I read the article because I was curious of the title "Divorced Wiccans Fight Judge's Order" (the title is from AP but the link is to indystar with different title).

A court order prohibiting a Marion County father and his ex-wife from exposing their son to "non-mainstream religious beliefs"

So if Christianity becomes non-mainstream (as if it wasn't already, at least the "hard-core, extremist" kind), court can order it not be taught after divorce? (Or even during marriage?)


Waiting for a heart change

I've read Raising Godly Tomato's Separation article and I am painfully aware of raising children to be "in the Lord" after 18. However, I don't think it is a matter of separating from the world.

I think the key is to pray for and wait for a heart change to take hold of the child in question. Just as passion for an academic topic will carry through a child for a long time, a passion for Christ is needed for the child to carry through for a life time. This heart change cannot be induced by parents, no matter how hard one tries. It can only come when the child opens up to God and the influence of the Holy Spirit. Parents can set examples and pray for this change but waiting is the only thing left for the parents, I believe.

I'm sure less distraction of the world would help but complete isolation won't solve this problem of heart change.


Testing is meaningless

Linda Schrock Taylor had a great article May 23 on problems with today's public schools: Education's Dunces and Whipping Boys. And I love the following:

For those who believe that testing will accurately assess competency, let me explain that I passed the stockbroker examinations on my first try, sitting among people taking the tests for the 3rd, 4th, 5th times. I readily admit that I am a totally incompetent stockbroker so all those tests proved was that I am a good student and a good test taker.

Like I've written before, testing is meaningless!

Public Schools vs Public Parks

I enjoy reading jkOnTheRun and I like how he sees the disconnect between school spending and park spending in his "I love Houston but..." Unfortunately, no amount of money will fix public schools: teachers have no incentives to compete (do a better job of teaching), testing only proves test taking ability and, worst of all, parents aren't engaged in their children's education.

So, I'd say: get rid of public schools and hopefully, the parents will become more concerned.

Comment changes!

I've finally installed the beloved haloscan for comments and trackbacks. I've lost all the previous comments. Sorry.


Building Men: from boys to men

Last night I attended with my two boys a talk by Joe Ehrmann on turning boys into men.

The one part that left me pondering the most was when he talked about what he asks the coaches he trains (on turning boys into men) -- not a direct quote but paraphrase of what I recall:
On your piece of paper, draw a circle and then think back to your adolescent years and recall who gave you the most encouraging words (the most positive memory of those years) and write down his initials inside the circle. Now, draw a square and go back to those same years and recall who gave you the most discouraging, negative words and write down his initials inside the square. And then he side tracks something about how he meets with other men up to their 80's and even they remember 70 some years back of who gave such negative words. Finally, he asks the coaches, now imagine 20 years from now when your students/players are taking this training from Joe and they are writing down the initials for the circle and the square: where will you find your name in?
Ouch! So, will my name be in the circle or the square? Or both? (Interesting that in Japanese culture, circle is "goodness" while square is "badness.") My wife thinks both since we spend a lot of time together with them (for her, she spends all day with them, while I try to spend some time with them each day, some fun/play time and at least some form of devotional every night and we also drag them to all kinds of meetings like last night's talk (grin)) and they experience all the ranges of our emotions from joy to anger, from praise to disappointments!



This E3 related article made my day!


Public Schools: Get rid of them

Today's Austin American-Statesman has a column by Gelernter originally published in LA Times "A plan for public schools: Get rid of them"

Some juicy quotes:
Global rankings place our seniors 19th among 21 surveyed countries.
What gives public schools the right to exist? After all, they are no part of the nation's constitutional framework.
I don't complete agree with the following but does point out how things have changed over the past few decades:
Public schools used to invite students to take their places in a shared American culture. They didn't allow a left- or right-wing slant, only a pro-American slant: Their mission, after all, was to produce students who were sufficiently proud of this country to take care of it.

I may not agree with all the reasons but we can agree on the following:

Today's public schools have forfeited their right to exist. Let's get rid of them. Let's do it carefully and humanely, but let's do it. Let's offer every child a choice of private schools instead.

Just make sure no more taxes are taken as well!


School vs VC

Here's a company founder who groks what's wrong with current schooling system:

Why Smart People Have Bad Ideas

Here's where he gets it:

I think the problem with many, as with people in their early twenties generally, is that they've been trained their whole lives to jump through predefined hoops. They've spent 15-20 years solving problems other people have set for them. And how much time deciding what problems would be good to solve? Two or three course projects? They're good at solving problems, but bad choosing them.
But that, I'm convinced, is just the effect of training. Or more precisely, the effect of grading. To make grading efficient, everyone has to solve the same problem, and that means it has to be decided in advance. It would be great if schools taught students how to choose problems as well as how to solve them, but I don't know how you'd run such a class in practice.
However, he misses the mark with:
And compared to the sort of problems hackers are used to solving, giving customers what they want is easy.
Unfortunately, if it was so easy, they would all be minting money.

When I bought my parents a Macintosh for Christmas 2002, I was hoping they would catch on to GUI and we can start sharing email and maybe even show our children's pictures and videos via the web. They had not really used any computers all their lives (their last job before retirement, they had to use a PC for accounting but it was DOS based). I've been using a Macintosh off and on since it first came out in 1984 and have owned 3 other Mac's since 1986 (MacPlus, Duo 230 and Quadra 605). (I only use Windows at home, at work mainly Linux and Windows -- some AIX.)

How wrong I was! I spent hours trying to teach them mouse and stuff but they never got the hang of it. Every time I visit them I try to teach them a little but no progress at all. On the other hand, my boys 10 and 12 have no problem picking up the mouse and using so called educational programs on a Windows box.

So, it takes more than just giving the customers what they want. If I knew the answer, I would be minting the money, instead (grin).


job is obsolete

I've been thinking about my career move as my current job is about to wind down. /. has a pointer to Paul Graham's "Hiring is Obsolete" which I haven't read completely yet but skimmed enough to tell me that it's going on the right track.


Kansas and evolution debate

Kansas is the current focus of evolution and its opponents.

But this is only a big deal because of tax funded schooling. If there was no tax money involved in schools, this circus wouldn't exist. Get rid of the public schools and this debate will become a non-issue (and be left alone as an academic debate where it belongs, not political or religious ones).

Laugh for today: nuke football

I had a good laugh today reading "Aides Carry President's Nuclear 'Football'" where it mentions:

The football's constant presence near presidents has created plenty of odd juxtapositions; Reagan, for example, standing in Moscow's Red Square with a military aide and black suitcase at the ready.


New direction: Kyoiku Papa

I've started Japanese blog "kyoikupapa" (dad with passion for children's education) and will focus more of my time there rather than here....