Archive for May, 2007

Thursday Morning Riddle

Thursday, May 31st, 2007

I’m where songs on a CD can each find their groove;
I’m an effort to follow prey from a remove;
Where runners and drivers have something to prove;
And unless I’m there first, then the train cannot move.

Who am I?

UPDATE: Riddle solved by Brian. See comments for answer.

Is Birth Control a War on Babies?

Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

I don’t know. Let’s ask Fox News.

Seriously, I don’t know why I bother with Fox News. Every time I think I can walk away, I just keep getting sucked right back in. Maybe it’s because I’m concerned that so many people watch it uncritically that it’s actually doing great damage to our country.

The best we can do is to teach information literacy skills to our students. Are we doing that well?

Conundrum: King Vennry the Eighth

Tuesday, May 29th, 2007

In a Venn Diagram puzzle, there are three overlapping circles, marked A, B, and C. Each circle has a different rule about who or what can go inside. The challenge is to guess the rule for each circle. You can find a more detailed explanation of Venn Diagram puzzles, along with an example, here.

Since The Tudors wasn’t on this week, I offer you this Tudor-related puzzle to hold you over until Sunday. Each of the eight people below was a member of the court of King Henry VIII.

Have you figured out one of the rules? Two? All three? Feel free to post whatever you’ve got in the comments below. Just tell us which circle you’re solving, and what the rule is.


UPDATE: Circles A and B solved by Annalisa. See comments for all answers.

Question of the Week

Monday, May 28th, 2007

This is the day when we remember those who gave their lives in military service for our country.

It’s also a good opportunity to mention the sacrifices being made right now by our active service members. Whatever we may think of a particular policy, the men and women who serve in the military are truly what make our way of life possible.

We should also remember the family members of those who have already fallen, as well as of those who are still in harm’s way.

So with that in mind…

What do we do now in Iraq?

The Tudors: Episode 9

Sunday, May 27th, 2007

The ninth episode of The Tudors airs tonight on Showtime and will be replayed throughout the week. You can also view the episode On Demand.

Use the comments section of this post to discuss the episode. Any comments I may have will be posted in the comments section as well.

WARNING: Comments may contain further discussion of the show, including potential spoilers. Click through only after viewing the episode. Commenters may discuss this episode as freely as they like, but are asked not to spoil future episodes.

By the way, did you know that after all of Henry’s attempts to bar Mary from succession, he returned her place in the succession in his will, and she later became Queen? ┬áThat’s hot.


Saturday, May 26th, 2007

Have a good weekend!

Six Degrees of Sir Francis Bacon: August Wilson

Friday, May 25th, 2007

First, read the rules of the game.

This week’s challenge is Pulizer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson.

I was able to link August Wilson to Sir Francis Bacon in six degrees or fewer, though that shouldn’t stop you from posting a longer response, or looking for a shorter one. Entries will be accepted until midnight on Thursday, May 31.

Good luck!

And congratulations to DeLisa for winning last week’s challenge by linking Paul Wolfowitz to Sir Francis Bacon in three degrees:

Paul Wolfowitz > Richard Nixon > William Shakespeare > Sir Francis Bacon

Paul Wolfowitz worked for the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency under President Richard Nixon, who in high school showed a penchant for the writings of William Shakespeare, who is believed by some to be Sir Francis Bacon.

Thursday Morning Riddle

Thursday, May 24th, 2007

I was co-star to Tom when he floated ashore;
Talked to Tim through a fence; and penned Fences, what’s more;
I distinctly disputed the yellowcake lore;
And I made fourteen points that concluded a war.

Who am I?

UPDATE: Riddle solved by Brian. See comments for answer.

More Gore

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007

Al Gore has written a new book. Go buy it.

What do you mean, “What’s it about”? Go buy it.

Okay, if you insist. He describes it himself on his blog:

When George Bush launched his preemptive war in Iraq, more than 70% of Americans believed Saddam Hussein was linked to the terrorists who caused 9-11. After the 2004 election, when asked what stuck in their minds about the campaign, voters in Ohio named two ads playing to the fears of terrorism paid for by the Bush Campaign. One pattern that has held true since 2001 is that this White House is less interested in openness and truth than any previous administration.

We are facing so many long-term challenges, from the climate crisis and the war in Iraq to health care and social welfare. To solve these problems and move forward we need to reverse the damage done to our democracy. We have little time to waste.

My goal in The Assault on Reason is to explore why our public forum now welcomes the enemies of reason. More importantly, the book focuses on what we can do together, individually and collectively, to restore the rule of reason to our democracy.

Is that enough? Okay, now go buy it.

By the way, how cool is it that Al Gore has a blog? From all appearances, it’s really his blog, and not written by staff members.

While we’re here, I’m going to throw in a prediction: Al Gore will eventually throw his hat in the ring for President in the 2008 election. I still think he’d have a good chance of winning, and he’d almost certainly have the endorsement of I think he’ll do it.

If he really wants to fight for the causes that are so important to him, how can he possibly walk away from a chance at the position where he’d have the most power to enact the changes he wants to see in the world?

Conundrum: The Digits of Pi

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007

How do they calculate the digits of pi?

I mean, they’ve calculated the number out to billions of places. When they get a billion digits out, how do they know they’re right? Just think about how incredibly precise that is. A quark’s diameter can be described in 18 decimal places, so surely a billion places is far beyond the realm of any practical scientific purpose or authentic human experience.

From a purely mathematical standpoint, pi is defined as the ratio between a circle’s circumference and its diameter. But the only way we have of measuring such things mathematically is by using pi.

Wikipedia has this article on the subject, but I doubt you’ll be surprised when I tell you it is not helpful to me. We could ask Daniel Tammet but he’d probably just tell us what the algorithm tastes like.

Anyway, if all this math stuff is boring to you, check out this discussion thread putting a more philosophical spin on the digits of pi:

“Somewhere inside the digits of pi is a representation for all of us — the atomic coordinates of all our atoms, our genetic code, all our thoughts, all our memories. Given this fact, all of us are alive, and hopefully happy, in pi. Pi makes us live forever. We all lead virtual lives in pi. We are immortal.” – Cliff Pickover

This means that we exist in pi, as if in a Matrix. This means that romance is never dead. Somewhere you are running through fields of wheat, holding hands with someone you love, as the sun sets — all in the digits of pi. You are happy. You will live forever.

Silly, perhaps, but technically true. And somewhere in the digits of pi, there’s a version of the Shakespeare Teacher who understands how they calculate the digits of pi.