Sunday, September 26, 2010

Pinball Design - Physics

Grade 12 Practical Physics Project
Pinball Machine Design

Objective: Design a Pinball machine using springs, metal, plastic or wooden barriers and various cushioning devices. A scoring apparatus is needed. The game board should be no larger than 1m by 1m in size (can have adjuncts for scoring and a base that are not included in the board size). Outline all the physics principles involved in the game, provide a schematic for the structure of the game board, illustrate and describe all regions of significant energy transfer and design the game so that it has visual appeal.

Significant Due Dates:

2nd Monday in October: Provide a rough schematic of the design to the teacher.
3rd Monday in October: Sign up for group discussions with teacher
3rd Monday in November: Provide teacher with two page progress report.
7th January 2011: Game Testing Day and Submission of Report Documents.

Final Report Document must include:
Work Log (who did, what, when)
Description of Physics Principles Involved
Neat drawing of game schematic (preferably AUTOCAD)
Outline of all regions of energy loss. Must include one sample calculation based on reasonable assumptions.

Group Size:
No more than three people per group. No singlet groups.

Marks:

The project will count for 10% of your final grades. Even though the students will work as a team – each student will be evaluated individually (therefore it is critical that the work log reflect accurately the levels of effort).


Sample Sites to look at:

http://www.marvin3m.com/fix.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pinball

http://familyfun.go.com/crafts/design-your-own-pinball-machine-919500/


Marking Checklist

Game

Movability of Barriers……………………. /5
Smoothness of Impacts…………………… /3
Effectiveness of Cushioning……………….../2
Spring Release Method…………………….../2
Number of Barriers…………………………. /5
(less than 1=1, 2=3, 3=4, 5 or more = 5)
Sound Effects………………………………../3
Light Effects…………………………………/4
Scoring Mechanism Accuracy………………./5
Originality and Creativity of Design…………/6

Total: /35


Documentation:

Lead Abstract…………………………………….../2
Quality of Worklog………………………………../5
Visual Schematic…………………………………. /3
Sample Energy Calculation………………………. /3
Outline of all Physics Principles Involved
Factors to consider……………………………….. /7
Individual Reflections…………………………….../2
Overall Report (Language, grammar etc)…………../2
Bibliography………………………………………../1

Total: /25


For #4 – Please be concise. Any physics principles missed will result in mark deduction from the 8.

TOTAL MARKS: 35 + 25 = 60

Teaching Physics - A Philosophy

Its been a while since I last blogged (I seem to be saying this more often than not) so I thought I would bounce back with a few quick update. The school year is underway and I am more focused than ever in honing my teaching skills. I have three great classes this semester (all in Physics), in what can only be described as a dream timetable. However all great opportunities come with great responsibility (a twist on the Spiderman theme). My self accepted mission is to work on my student’s cognitive skills and critical thinking attributes. I wish to hone for them a deeper understanding of the physics. Physics is a philosophy but too often it is taught as a type of Applied Mathematics. Many students can’t see beyond the mathematics (which is vital tool but by no means the defining entity of the discipline) which is a shame. Fortunately there are several pedagogical instruments that can assist a teacher in this realm. These include

Building Projects – Over the years my students have built mousetraps, balloon cars, egg drop protection devices, rollercoasters, robots, Rube Goldberg machines. This year I plan to have them build either pinball machines or safe lock devices. Each of these projects has been selected for their adherence to principles of physics – conservation of energy, momentum, Newton’s laws of motion, electric fields etc. A detailed report submitted in accordance with the physical build will further expound on the physics learnt.

Self Design Labs – These are open ended labs based on student directed procedure that are undertaken to discover the relationship between a series of entities, optimize a system or study the ramifications of cause and effect

Physics Essays – Yes one can write and speculate in physics with the same enthusiasm as that shown in the humanities. The discussion of the Big Ideas especially as it relates to the historical evolution of the subject or the topics of modern physics

Friday, September 03, 2010

Some good advice.....

These are some oldies but they hold me in good stead

1. Treat others as you would want them to treat you.
2. Look for the positives before the negatives
3. Try not to take things personally
4. Act with conviction
5. Perform with best capacity
6. Expand one's sense of self
7. Appreciate the challenge
8. Don't sell yourself short
9. Think before speaking
10. Be on the alert for meaning

Monday, August 30, 2010

New from New Scientist...for Now

I have been catching up on a stack of New Scientist Magazines. Here are some cool ideas that worth noting

1. Life Simulation program - The Game of Life program may one day tell us about our beginnings.
2. Himalayan Glaciers are not melting as fast as expected
3. Right handed molecules may dominate life on Mars.
4. Sea snail venom could be a possible pain reliever
5. Male voice strength related to muscular build...
6. On and Off switch could be the guide to the emergence of complex life.
7. Plastic may decay quicker than we think
8. Sterile neutrinos may be the source of Dark Matter
9. Stem Cells restore sight to blind people
10 Female Viagra a no-go
11. Modest solar activity can cause chaos with terrestrial technology (so may be it could be more responsible for global warming than conventional wisdom seems to believe)
12. Frozen tissue (from a dead animal) may be reprogrammed to bring endangered species back to life.
13. Einstein's Equivalence Principle - will be put to the test using atoms from Bose-Einstein condensate.
14. Chimpanzees kill to win New territory (sounds like another primate we know too well).
15. Quantum Machines will explore the boundary between the quantum and everyday worlds.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Some Great Events in the History of Western Civilization prior to 1000 AD

Some brainstorming - Here is a list of some key events in the history of Western Civilization prior to 1000AD. There is obviously room for more detail but each one of these has been vital to the evolution of the culture.


1. The Agricultural Revolution in Mesopotamia and Egypt
2. Birth of Irrigation Science
3. Coming of the Bronze Age
4. The Early Development of the City (Akkad, Ur, Erich, Lagesh etc)
5. Hebrews introduce Ethical Monotheism
6. Iron Age championed by the Hittites. Age of Glory for Asia Minor Civilizations.
7. Egyptians and Babylonians inspire numerical revolution
8 Code of Hammurabi and the Ten Commandments
9. Phoenicians explore, settle and trade across much of the Mediterranean. Minoans dominate Crete.
10. Homer writes the Iliad and Odyssey. Growth of Mycenean Civilization.
11. Milesians kick start the scientific revolution by looking for a non-divine explanation for the nature of things.
12. System of Greek City States (Polis). Greek colonies spread throughout Eastern Mediterranean and Italy.
13. Athenian Democracy is born.
14. The Era of the Athenian Trio (Plato, Socrates, Aristotle). Birth of formal logic and reason as well as academic classification and systems of questioning

15. Greeks drive disciplines of Math and Science forward building on contribution from Near East.
16. The Persian Wars
17. Rome becomes a Republic (decline of the Etruscans)
18. Celts dominate Western Europe
19. Rise of Macedonia. Empire of Alexander the Great.
20. The post Alexander Hellenic Era - Spread of Greek culture
21. Rome dominates the Italian Peninsula
22. Rome defeats Carthage in the Punic Wars (three altogether)
23. Rome eclipses Greece as Principal Western Power
24. Roman contribution to Western Civilization: Roads, Sewers, Baths, Galley Ships, System of Law etc.
25. Transition of Rome from Republic to Empire. The Rise of the Julian Dynasty.
26. Writing of Christian gospels. Spread of Pauline version of Christianity. Decline of Paganism.
27 . Roman culture permeates much of Europe.
28. Roman Empire splits and then reforms before finally splitting into East and West.
29. Religious toleration in Rome Empire promised by Edict of Milan.
30. Council of Nicea sets ground rules for Christianity.
31. Rome adopts Christianity as State Religion.
32. Rome is sacked by the Visigoths, Vandals and Ostrogoths. Decline of the Western Empire.
33. Atilla the Hun is defeated but not before laying waste to much of the Western Empire
34. Fall of Western Empire in 476 AD. Vandals driven from Spain spread to North Africa.
35. Arianism rivals Catholicism as chief religious force in early Dark Ages Europe. Arianism will however lose out to Catholicism in the long run.
36. Franks dominate France and Germany. Lombards powerful in Italy.
37. Justinian builds up Byzantine Empire in the East but it will decline in strength after his death.
38. Saxons invade Britain.
39. Merovingian Dynasty in France converts to Christianity (under Clovis).
40. Christianity spreads throughout Western Europe driven by Order of Irish Monks.
41. Arab invasions threaten the integrity of Western and Eastern Europe.
42. Charles Martel prevents the Arab take over of France by defeating Muslim forces at Poitiers.
43. Muslim influence in Spain grows.
44. Feudal system dominates Western Europe
45. Vikings attack and set up colonies in Britain, Normandy and Sicily - amongst others.
46. Byzantine Empire undergoes revival under Basil II but will gradually shrink under Arab and Persian pressure.
47. Christian Power in North Africa in decline.
48. Charlemagne declared Holy Roman Emperor after saving the Pope from the Lombards.
49. Charlemagne's court develops into a central portal of learning.
50. Scholasticism dominates Western philosophy.
51. Charlemagne's great Empire divides into three portions after his death roughly resembling the modern areas of France, West Germany and Northern Italy
51. Alfred the Great consolidates Saxon Power in England.
52. Great Monasteries (and Monastic Orders) dominate religious cultural milieu of France.
53. German King Otto the Great establishes himself as Holy Roman Emperor.

Friday, August 20, 2010

What makes Life Interesting?

41 Areas of study that have interested me over the years and the period (in brackets) when I was most focused on them.

(1996- ) means that I have been most interested in the topic from 1996 to the present

IQ Testing (1984-1987, 1998)
Myers Briggs Personality Testing (2001, 2010-)
Global Warming Debate (2006-2009)
Human Genetics (1988-1991)
Neuroroscience (1988, 1989)
Astronomy (1985-1986, 2009-)
Cosmology (1997-)
Religion and Science Debate (2006-)
British History (1976-1985, 1989, 1997-2004)
Education Philosophy (2007-)
Eastern Philosophies (2000-2003, 2010-)
French History (1984,1985, 1998. 2008) – particularly Napoleon and the French Revolution
American History (1992-)
Leftist mindset (2001-)
Jewish Philosophy (2005-)
Telecommunications (1995-2001)
Conservatism (1994-)
Macroeconomics (2008-2009)
Science Fiction Alternative Worlds (1992-2000)
World War II (1982-1986, 1989, 1994, 2005-2007)
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (1994-1997)
Modern Physics (1984-1987, 2001-)
Classic Physics ((1984-1987, 2001-)
Chemistry (1986, 1988-1992, 2002-2003)
Evolutionary Theory (1989, 2005-)
British Football (1976-1986, 1994-)
Ancient Rome (1977,1978, 2002-2006)
James Bond Universe (1977-1986)
International Tennis (1978-1987, 2003-2008)
Cricket (1980-1984)
Boxing (1977-1987)
Batman (1975-1979, 2005-2008)
Judge Dredd (1980-)
British Comics (1977-1985, 2003-)
South African History (1984-1986, 1994)
Cold War (1982-1989, 1994-1996)
Endocrinology (1989-1991)
Kabbalah (2010-)
Baseball (1988-1994)
International Politics (1976-)
Mathematics (1984-1986)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

50 Things I don't like about the US

Excessive Materialism
US military support for Saudi Arabia
Culture of Litigation
Affirmative Action overload
Fred Phelps and his wack jobs
Very insular reporting of news by local media
Way too many elections
The Hype on College Sport
The over use of Standardized testing
Us vs Them politics – pick your team Democrat or Republican
Corrupt local governments: Detroit, Washington, Chicago
High per capita energy use
Movement to introduce intelligent design into the Science curriculum
West Coast Drug Culture
Race merchants – Jackson, Sharpton and co.
Sensationalist Driven News Media
Military Industrial Complex
Hollywood value system
Crassness of the nouveau riche
Extremely arrogant superstars
American Idol
Oprah Winfrey and her gang of hangers on.
The ACLU sabotaging the fight against international Jihadism
The bias of the All-powerful NY Times
Ward Churchill, Norman Finkelstein and Noam Chomsky
Overly lax pollution laws
Society of Have and Have not
Government bailout of car companies
Obese epidemic
New York snootiness
Activist Court Judges who walk over the constitution
Anti-Semitic haven: Rense, Stormfront, Aryan Nation etc.
Culture of Self Promotion
Lack of discipline in school system
Disparity in the school system
Gangsta culture
Jimmy Carter, Pat Buchanan, Helen Thomas
Adoration of the Kennedys
Proliferation of unhealthy foods in the supermarket
Cavalier banking system
Ridiculously short allowable maternity leaves
Inflated prison system resulting from misguided war on drugs
Professional sporting system ruled too a fault by the all-mighty dollar
Monsanto
Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae
Weak federal policy in preventing illegal immigration
Exaggerated understanding of success in the War of 1812
Urban sprawl
US history of co-operation with Nazi Germany
Ineptness of the CIA and US military Intelligence

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

50 Things I like about the US

Spirit of Small Government
The US Constitution, Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independence
Cities like Boston, San Francisco, Seattle, New Orleans and New York
The US Open Tennis
Ronald Reagan
Civil War History
The Grand Canyon
Cape Kennedy
US action in WWI and WWII in defeating the Central and Axis Powers respectively
Sci-Fi authors such as Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Ben Bova
Spiderman and Batman
Hawaii
Victor Davis Hanson
Bill Buckley
Encyclopedia Britannica
History of the American Revolution
Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright
Harry Truman
Disneyworld
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland
Finger Lakes Region
Greenwich Village
Emphasis on Freedom of Speech
Mount Palomar Observatory
Edgar Allen Poe
HP Lovecraft
Universal Studios
Library of Congress
Colorado Physics – PHET
Redwood Trees of California
Oregon Coast
History of the Wild West
Small villages of New England
Alan Dershowitz
Cooperstown
Mad Magazine
Utah Desert
Gone with the Wind
All in the Family
Alaska
Family Ties
The rich Jewish culture of New York
Cape Cod
Wyoming Country – Yellowstone National Park
Judeo-Christian heritage
California beachfront
Napa Valley
US Contribution to Aerospace Engineering
Free Enterprise
Nation built by Immigrants

Coming soon next Thursday: 50 Things I don't like

Friday, August 06, 2010

Key Ingredients for Success

As civilizations progress positively they become more likely to encapsulate these characteristics.

Democratic Institutions
Freedom of Press
Freedom of Action
Freedom of Religion
Appreciation for the Vital role of Science and Technology
Rule of Law
Private Ownership of Property
Personal Responsibility – Recognizable Free Will
Accountability of Political Office
Social Service Institutions
Prison Reform
Necessary Dissent
High Levels of Education
Low levels of bribery and corruption


If a state fails it is normally missing several of these ingredients.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Inception

I encourage anyone who has (as I do) a love for physics, the examination of human consciousness, dream theory and/0r science fiction to see this excellent movie. It was far superior to the Matrix and was truly worth the cost of admission and then some more. Leonardo di Caprio was once again superb in the lead role but what was most capitivating was the originality of the script, the flow of the plot and the captivating style of directing.
As a physics teacher I especially loved the exploration of the Equivalence Principle as well as the use of the construct of time dilation.

Ranking: 9/10

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

On Afghanistan

I have always been of two minds concerning Western Intervention in Afghanistan. Part of me sees the whole exercise as futile and cries out for withdrawal while on the other hand my inner conscious balks at any form of capitulation in the struggle against what can only be described as a barbarism. To better look at the issue it is necessary to state the givens. This is the reality:

a. Afghanistan is a backwater of a nation with a limited industrial basis, a high level of illiteracy and a largely agricultural based economy.
b. Although it sits on great mineral wealth (some say in the trillions of dollars) its resources are largely untapped.
c. Opium production is a key ingredient of the GNP.
d. The population is fragmented, tribalized and driven by clan loyalties. Ethnic differences (Pushtans, Uzbeks, Tajiks, Persians) are pervasive across the country.
e. Corruption is a way of life.
f. Islam is very much molded into the collective psyche of the population.
g. Consistent war and conflict since the 70's have defined the nation.
h. Due to high birth rates the average age of the population is very young.
i. Its difficult to find trustworthy allies as the historical tendency is for the people is to put aside their difference and take arms against foreigners (the British Empire and the Soviets can attest to this).
j. The terrain favours guerrilla warfare tactics.
k. NATO's so-called ally in this region, Pakistan, appears to be playing both sides of the fence.
l. Hamid Karzai the West's s0-called front man in Kabul is the political equivalent of a snake in the grass.
m. Iran has been gaining momentum in the region as of late

If NATO withdraws unconditionally within the next year this is the most likely scenario

a. Karzai's government in Kabul falls to the Taliban after holding out for several months. Karzai flees Afghanistan and is given asylum in the West. (The Taliban are better motivated and more organized than the Afghan regulars).
b. Warlord controlled region's resist Taliban intrusion.
c. Country returns to its 2002 makeup although the Taliban are less likely to be as dominant as they prior to 2002.
d. Taliban reopens its links with radical Islamists who will see the withdrawal of NATO as a great victory for their cause.
e. The Suppression of Women and the collapse of human rights begins anew.

What does the West gain from such a move?

1. Western military lives will be saved. On the other hand Afghani population deaths will most likely increase as the Taliban will attempt to purge all opposition.
2. A cost saving for the various NATO governments that can then use the savings to pay down their respective debts (yeah right!!!).
3. Money can then be redirected into fighting the more threatening stealth jihad on western shores.

What does the West lose with such a move?

1. Credibility in the War against Radical Islam.
2. Military personnel who have died (or have been wounded) will appear to have done so in vain.
3. With the Western threat removed in Afghanistan Islamists can funnel more of their own finances towards attacking to the US and its allies directly.
4.The NATO initiative of attacking as a way of defending will be lost.
5. Taliban reprisals against the population that opposed them (especially women) will weigh against the Western conscious.

What should the West do?

1. The US needs to be tougher on Pakistan. Weapon supplies to the Taliban must be eliminated.
Obama and co. have to convince Pakistan to come clean with their double talk.
2. The Taliban must be isolated. A divide and conquer strategy could be employed here.
3. The targeting of Taliban leaders for assassination should be given greater consideration.
4. Possibly pay poppy producers not to produce (alliteration aside...) the crop that seems to be directly feeding the Taliban's War Effort.
5. Back a better candidate than Karzai for the Afghani leadership.
6. Bring the more moderate Taliban elements into a government coalition.
7. Step up the process of making the Afghani army more self sufficient.
8. Withdraw in 2014 - Hopefully by then the key regional areas of Afghanistan will be strengthened with anti-Jihadist elements. Afghanistan is not a post World War II Japan (that can be rebuilt in a Western image) one may have to settle with the best of a number of poor options. In short it is an exercise in damage control - and should be treated as such.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

World Cup Review

The 2010 World Cup Ended Two weeks ago. Here is my overall assessment.

1. It was a better World Cup than 1990 and 2002 but not as great as 1982, 1986, 1994, 1998 or 2006.

2. 10 Best player in the tournament:
a. Inietsa - Spain
b. Snjeider- Netherlands
c. Forlan - Uruguay
d. Villa - Spain
e. Muller - Germany
f. Xavi - Spain
g. Puyol - Spain
h. Pique - Spain
i. Donovan - US
j. Kuyt - Netherlands

3. Five teams that impressed:
a. Spain
b. The Dutch (except in the final)
c. Germany
d. The US
e. Japan

4. The Choker Award goes to Argentina

5. Biggest wastes of space: France, Italy, Cameroon.

6. Surprise packages: Uruguay, New Zealand and South Africa.

7. Really Bland Teams: England, France, Italy, Switzerland, Paraguay and North Korea

8. To watch out for in the Future: Germany and Brazil.

9. Critical Items missing from the World Cup (but don't hold your breadth for 2014)
a. Goal Line Technology
b. Professional Referees

10. Weakness of 2010 World Cup - Really poor set plays

John Polkinghorne

John Polkinghorne, the renowned theoretical physicis/anglican priest, is fast becoming one of my favourite thinkers, in the science/religion nexus. Polkinghorne talks about theism, atheism, pantheism, process theology, determinism and other vital constructs in this excellent interview.

See http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-625904119099996720#

Although I am not a Christian (and consequently deviate from Polkinghorne on the issue of the precise nature of the personal G-d) I find his treatment of science and theology to be in strong agreement with my current conceptualization of the relationship of G-d and Science.

Kudos to him.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

More reasons to ditch the box

I was flipping through the channels on the tube - while exercising on the elliptical- and quickly reached the conclusion that I couldn't care less about what passes for mainstream entertainment these days.
Included in this array of forgettables is the following

1. Mel Gibson's rants
2. Lindsey Lohan's addiction problems
3. American Idol
4. Tea Party vs NAACP mudslinging
5. WWF
6. Oprah and her spin offs
7. Lady Gaga
8. The Le Bron James Decision
9. The Bachelor/Bachelorette
10. Bradgelina
11. Almost everything else on Entertainment Tonight
12. Post G20 whining (Toronto only)
13. Endless hours of economic analysis that doesn't appear to go anywhere
14. Nancy Grace
15. Poker

Friday, July 16, 2010

Big Questions on History

How does history unfold? Is it really driven by the struggle of ideas and movements? Does it have direction? Is it cyclical? Are the patterns real or imagined? These are the questions that intrigue me of late...........more to follow.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Some of My Faves.....

Areas of Science: 1. Modern Physics 2. Classical Physics 3. Cosmology 4. Evolutionary Theory 5. Psychometrics

Chemists (Top Five): 1. Le Chatelier 2. Mendeleev 3. Dalton 4. Lavoisier 5. Kekule

Physicists (Top Ten): 1. Einstein 2. Newton 3. Schroedinger 4. de Broglie 5. Galileo

6. Bohr 7. Planck 8. Feynman 9. Gell-Mann 10. Maxwell

Biologists: (Top Five): 1. Wallace 2. Hunt Morgan 3. Darwin 4. Harvey 5. Semelweiss

Philosophers: (Top Five): 1. Kierkegaard 2. Spinoza 3. Descartes 4. Kant 5. Mills

Economists: (Top Five): 1. Smith 2. Ricardo 3. Friedman 4. Hayek 5. Nash

US Presidents: 1. Lincoln 2. Reagan 3. Truman 4. Jefferson 5. Kennedy

British Prime Ministers: 1. Churchill 2. Disraeli 3. Gladstone 4. Thatcher 5. Lloyd George

Canadian Prime Ministers: 1. Borden 2. Pearson 3. Laurier

Cricketers 1. Bradman 2. Pollock 3. Truman 4. Richards 5. Sobers

Boxers (Heavyweights): 1. Marciano 2. Ali 3. Louis 4. Behr 5. Lewis

Boxers (Non-Heavyweight): 1. Leonard 2. Hagler 3. Mitchell 4. Conteh 5. Robinson

Tennis Players: 1. McEnroe 2. Federer 3. Becker 4. Edberg 5. Kriek

Athletes 1. Sebastian Coe 2. Daley Thompson 3. Ed Moses 4. Usain Bolt 5. Steve Cramm

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

An update

School is over for the summer and I am comforted by the fact that 2009/2010 was both a meaningful and growth filled year in my teaching career. Kudos to my colleagues and students for setting such a high standard.

I have been reading a bit as of late (when am I ever not?) and would recommend to all those who share a spiritual yearning, as I do, to read David Aaron's Secret Life of God. Aaron's follows a rational approach that builds constructively while speaking to the soul. I intend to read one or two more of his books as his approach to the Kabbalah is the most honest I have seen in a long time.

The World Cup has had its shares of emotional highs and lows. I was disappointed (although I partly expected it) to see England's early exit (they were awful) but I am heartened by the success of my no.2 and 3 team's in the competition, the Netherlands and Spain. A Dutch triumph on this great stage would be fitting. Come on Oranjie!!

The ridiculous waste of money, known as the G-20 summit, was held in Toronto and more than created the expected chaos. From anarchists running wild, to poor police intelligence to the crocodile tears of leftist radicals, to a waste of tax payer money and business revenue this was definitely one for the disaster file. Memo to World leaders: Meet on a Remote Island next time you feel like a photo op.

I saw the movie 'Shutter Island' recently. Once again Leonardo DiCaprio was at his acting best and while the story had the required twists and turns it falls short at the end in rising to meet the high point of this genre, as set in " A Beautiful Mind". Nevertheless its worth seeing (spoiler alert aside).

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The World Cup Round Down

England are stinking out the joint but will probably come right against Slovenia.
The Argentinians are the class act and the Spaniards, Brazilians and Italians need to step up to the plate. It hasn't been a great tournament so far but I expect more in the knockout round.

Stand by for a team by team synposis later on in the tournament.

In the mean time here are some of my takes on the history of the World Cup

8 Greatest Winning Teams (in order) since 1950

1. Brazil 1970
2. Italy 1982
3. Argentina 1986
4. W. Germany 1974
5. Brazil 2002
6. England 1966
7. France 1998
8. Brazil 1958

8 Greatest teams never to have won the World Cup

1. Netherlands 1974 (in my opinion the second greatest World cup team ever)
2. Hungary 1954
3. Brazil 1982
4. England 1970
5. Brazil 1998
6. Brazil 1950
7.Italy 1970
8. Netherlands 1998

3 Weakest teams ever to win the World Cup

1. West Germany 1954
2. Argentina 1978
3. Brazil 1994


5 Weakest teams ever to reach the World Cup Final (Weakest first)

1. Argentina 1990
2. Germany 2002
3. West Germany 1986
4. Netherlands 1978
5. Italy 1994

5 Most Exciting World Cup Competitions

1. Mexico 1970
2. England 1966
3. Switzerland 1954
4. Spain 1982
5. France 1998

5 Most boring World Cups

1. Italy 1990 (by a mile)
2. Chile 1962
3. Brazil 1950
4. Japan/South Korea 2002
5. South Africa 2010 (possibly)

Ten Greatest Matches

1. Italy 4 West Germany 3 - 1970
2. Italy 3 Brazil 2 - 1982
3. Portugal 5 North Korea 3 - 1966
4. England 4 West Germany 2 - 1966
5. Netherlands 2 Argentina 1 - 1998
6. West Germany 3 England 2 - 1970
7. Italy 3 Argentina 1 - 1982
8. Argentina 2 England 2 - 1998 (Argentina won on penalties)
9. Scotland 3 Netherlands 2 - 1978
10. Brazil 4 Italy 1 - 1970

2 Most Boring Finals

1. West Germany 1 Argentina 0 - 1990
2. Brazil 0 Italy 0 - 1994 (Brazil won on penalties)

Ten Greatest performances by a player at a World Cup

1. Mardonna - 1986
2. Garrincha - 1958
3. Garrincha - 1962
4. Zidane - 1998
5. Rossi - 1982
6. Cruyff - 1974
7. Ronaldo - 2002
8. Muller - 1970
9. Lato - 1974
10. Kocsic - 1954

10 Most Disappointing Teams

1. Italy - 1966
2. France - 2002
3. England - 1950
4. Brazil - 1966
5. England - 1958
6. Argentina - 1994
7. Spain - 1998
8. Italy 2002
9. Portugal 2002
10. Sweden 1990

6 Best Cinderella Teams

1. Bulgaria - 1994
2. Croatia - 1998
3. Belgium - 1986
4. South Korea - 2002
5. Chile - 1962
6. Turkey - 2002

Thursday, June 10, 2010

World Cup Predictions

Argentina to win the whole tournament. I am backing England but the South Americans have far and away the greatest attacking force in the tournament (although there are questions about the defense which may leave me with egg on my face).

Here are my predictions for Friday and Saturdays matches. A few on the edge

SA vs Mexico - A draw. Possibly 1-1.
Uruguay vs France. 1-0 to the French.

England vs USA. 2-0 England.

Lets see...I may have to rethink my strategy.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

On World Hypocrisy

An Excellent Article from Front Page Magazine by Pilar Rahola

Why don’t we see demonstrations in London, Paris and Barcelona against Islamic dictatorships? Or demonstrations against the Burmese dictatorship?

Why aren’t there demonstrations against the enslavement of millions of women who live without any legal protection?

Why aren’t there demonstrations against the use of children as human bombs where there is conflict with Islam?

Why has there been no leadership in support of the victims of the Islamic dictatorship in Sudan?

Why is there never any outrage against the acts of terrorism committed against Israel?

Why is there no outcry by the European Left against Islamic fanaticism? Why doesn’t it defend Israel’s right to exist?

Why confuse support of the Palestinian cause with the defense of Palestinian terrorism?

Finally, the million dollar question: Why is the Left in Europe and around the world obsessed with the two most solid democracies, the United States and Israel, and not with the worst dictatorships on the planet? The two most solid democracies, who have suffered the bloodiest attacks of terrorism, and the Left doesn’t care.

For the rest go to: Front Page

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Playing God...You be the Judge

In a recent issue of Science magazine, the genome pioneer Craig Venter announced that he and scientists at the J. Craig Venter Institute had created a “synthetic cell.” Mr. Venter heralded it as “the first self-replicating species we’ve had on the planet whose parent is a computer” and said it could allow humans to create new vaccines and biofuels using artificial microbes.

Mr. Venter’s claim to have created a synthetic species is likely overstated. But there is no denying that he has brought us an important step closer to the possibility of artificial life. President Obama has asked the White House bioethics commission to report back to him on the significance of this development.

“Synthetic cell” makes it sound as though Mr. Venter had constructed the entire cell, molecule by molecule. What he has done is create a synthetic genome — the longest string of DNA to be assembled in a laboratory — and place it in a bacterium. There, the synthetic DNA takes over the cell’s DNA, causing the bacterium to synthesize the proteins specified by the new DNA.

For the rest go to: New York Times

A Real Inconvenient Truth

New research from Harvard Business School shows that federal spending in states causes local businesses to cut back rather than grow. In other words, when government spending grows the private sector shrinks. Key findings in the study:

For the rest go to the Source: National Review

What I am reading

I am in a philosophical frame of mind (not a New York...apologies to Billy Joel) and I am currently reading some of the select works of Henti Poincare (on the philosophy of science...always an issue that is dear to me) and Lou Marinoff. Marinoff uses philosophy as a psychology tool. He has been criticized for his approach but I personally find his take refreshing.

Footer Season in Review

9 Positives

1. Manchester United failed to win the EPL and more importantly the Champion's League.
2. Liverpool did the double over Everton.
3. Twente Enschede won the Dutch Eredivisie proving that their is still a sliver of hope for the small market clubs.
4. Real Madrid came away empty handing even after their big buck spendings on Ronaldo, Kaka and Benzema.
5. Superb individual performances by Lionel Messi in particular....as he makes a strong case to possibly be the game's greatest.
6. The fantastic run of Fulham in the Europa Cup...too bad they came up short.
7. World Cup Anticipation....there are at least seven candidates who can win in South Africa.
8. Barcelona's pure footer that verged on the poetic.
9. Pepe Reina solidifies his credentials as one of the best goalies in the world.

9 Negatives

1. The crisis that is Liverpool and their disastrous 90/10 season.
2. United win another League Cup
3. More boredom in the FA Cup as Chelsea triumph again.
4. Jose Mourinho wins a treble with Inter Milan...another boost for his ego.
5. English teams perform poorly in Champion's League.
6. Rangers top Celtic in winning the SPL.
7. Egypt win the African Nations Cup.
8. England suffer key injuries and look increasingly anaemic as World Cup 2010 rolls closer.
9. Diego Forlan axes Liverpool then Fulham in Europa League.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Rational Mysticism

As mentioned earlier I was disappointed with John Horgan's End of Science (he seems to have completely underestimated Thomas Kuhn's work on the Paradigm Shift) but I decided to give his book Rational Mysticism a chance (after all the material greatly interests me). Rational Mysticism is a survey work that starts with the Perennial insights of Huston Smith, the Post-Modernist critique of Steven Katz and the writings of Ken Wilber before addressing the arguments of Susan Blackmore, Andrew Newberg, Alexander Shulgin and others.
I enjoyed the first half of the book but was disappointed by the latter portion's emphasis on drug induced mystical sensations.

I tend to be critical of the whole Timothy Leary school of accessing deeper consciousness through drugs as a cop out and an unnecessary one at that. I am not convinced that the findings of this approach have any merit at all and would have liked Horgan to focus on more legitimate avenues of understanding consciousness that bridge the gap between science and theology. In short Horgan's work steps off the rational train and doesn't seem to return..its a pity as this book opened up with much promise but at the end did not deliver much.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Something to think about

"Absolute certainty is the privilege of uneducated men and fanatics.” -- C.J. Keyser

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The British Elections - 2010

I have yet to warm up to David Cameron and his Fuzzy Conservatives but he certainly seems to be a better choice than Labour's Gordon Brown and the Lib-Dem Nick Clegg.
The Conservatives fell twenty seats short of a majority and will have to rely on the Whigs to govern. Many of Clegg's supporters claim that he has failed them by forming an alliance with a party that seems to be at odds with the Lib-Dems on many issues (election reform, immigration, welfare state etc) but Clegg's move was one of his expediency that may serve to prevent him from being another David Steele or Paddy Ashdown (ie. a perennial occupant of the political wilderness). Only time will tell. Nevertheless Cameron's biggest challenge is clear: the anemic British Economy uber alles. I wish him luck.

On the Synthesis

Despite the lack of time I have managed to sneak in a few good reads. Lawrence Kelmen's permission to believe was a useful diversion. Kelmen puts forth the rationalist argument for G-d under the sub texts of absolute morality and cosmological/teleological principles. As a rabbi he further extends his reasoning into the Judaic universe. While I have heard these arguments before (including the case for atheist irrationality) Kelmen's succinct approach is commendable.

I am now reading James Horgan's, Rational Mysticism, which seems to have some early promise. I was disappointed by Horgan's early work, the End of Science, so it is worthwhile to see if he can redeem himself with this newer work.

The overlap between religion, science and by extension reason is a topic that continues to intrigue me. For those with a similar fascination I would urge you to read Harold Morowitz's ' The Emergence of Everything'. Morowitz is systematic in his outlook but broad in his scope. His understanding of complexity is constructed along a logical narrative that opens the door between Cartesian Reductionism and Holistic Emergence.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

50 Myths about Psychology

Taken from: 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology: Shattering Widespread Misconceptions About Human Behavior (Paperback)

Introduction: The Wide World of Psychomythology

1 Most People Use Only 10% of Their Brain Power
2 Some People Are Left–Brained, Others Are Right–Brained
3 Extrasensory Perception Is a Well–Established Scientific Phenomenon
4 Visual Perceptions Are Accompanied by Tiny Emissions from the Eyes
5 Subliminal Messages Can Persuade People to Purchase Products
6 Playing Mozart’s Music to Infants Boosts Their Intelligence
7 Adolescence Is Inevitably a Time of Psychological Turmoil
8 Most People Experience a Midlife Crisis in Their 40s or Early 50s
9 Old Age Is Typically Associated with increased dissatisfaction and Senility
10 When Dying, People Pass through a Universal Series of Psychological Stages
11 Human Memory Works like a Tape Recorder or Video Camera, and Accurately Records the
Events we have Experienced.
12 Hypnosis is Useful for Retrieving Memories of Forgotten Events
13 Individuals Commonly Repress the Memories of Traumatic Experiences
14 Most People with Amnesia Forget All Details of Their Earlier Lives
15 Intelligence Tests Are Biased against Certain Groups of People
16 If You’re Unsure of Your Answer When Taking a Test, It’s Best to Stick with Your Initial Hunch
17 The Defining Feature of Dyslexia Is Reversing Letters
18 Students Learn Best When Teaching Styles Are Matched to Their Learning Styles
19 Hypnosis Is a Unique "Trance" State that Differs in Kind from Wakefulness
20 Researchers Have Demonstrated that Dreams Possess Symbolic Meaning
21 Individuals Can Learn Information, like New Languages, while Asleep
22 During "Out–of–Body" Experiences, People’s Consciousness Leaves Their Bodies
23 The Polygraph ("Lie Detector") Test Is an Accurate Means of Detecting Dishonesty
24 Happiness Is Determined Mostly by Our External Circumstances
25 Ulcers Are Caused Primarily or Entirely by Stress
26 A Positive Attitude Can Stave off Cancer
27 Opposites Attract: We Are Most Romantically Attracted to People Who Differ from Us
28 There’s Safety in Numbers: The More People Present at an Emergency, the Greater the
29 Men and Women Communicate in Completely Different Ways
30 It’s Better to Express Anger Openly to Others than to Hold It in
31 Raising Children Similarly Leads to Similarities in Their Adult Personalities
32 The Fact that a Trait Is Heritable Means We Can’t Change It
33 Low Self–Esteem Is a Major Cause of Psychological Problems
34 Most People Who Were Sexually Abused in Childhood Develop Severe Personality Disturbances in Adulthood
35 People’s Responses to Inkblots Tell Us a Great Deal about Their Personalities
36 Our Handwriting Reveals Our Personality Traits
37 Psychiatric Labels Cause Harm by Stigmatizing People
38 Only Deeply Depressed People Commit Suicide
39 People with Schizophrenia Have Multiple Personalities
40 Adult Children of Alcoholics Display a Distinct Profile of Symptoms
41 There’s Recently Been a Massive Epidemic of Infantile Autism
42 Psychiatric Hospital Admissions and Crimes Increase during Full Moons
43 Most Mentally Ill People Are Violent
44 Criminal Profiling Is Helpful in Solving Cases
45 A Large Proportion Of Criminals Successfully Use the Insanity Defense
46 Virtually All People Who Confess to a Crime Are Guilty of It
47 Expert Judgment and Intuition Are the Best Means of Making Clinical Decisions
48 Abstinence Is the Only Realistic Treatment Goal for Alcoholics
49 All Effective Psychotherapies Force People to Confront the "Root" Causes of Their Problems in Childhood
50 Electroconvulsive ("Shock" Therapy Is a Physically Dangerous and Brutal Treatment

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Looking Inward

It has been a while since I last posted but I have been immersed in the everyday activities of real life. I use this blog as a type of escapism so its always great when I can post with a meaningful input. My biggest struggle over the last few weeks is my ongoing attempt to crystallize a better understanding of the world. I have tried to qualify this in purely scientific terms based on the cold steel of reason but the inner tug of spiritualism (and a belief in a higher power) clouds such an approach, at least from a broader philosophical perspective.

Its not that this ultimately bothers me - but I can't help but wonder how this struggle would be simplified, if one of these two variables were more easily reducible. That they are not could be a blessing, in that it forces me to contemplate with greater intensity, and through this mechanism I am forced to grow.

But I still stare over hills and past valleys, wondering if the ark of truth lies over the horizon. It is both frustrating and motivating...but if I had the answer I doubt whether I would appreciate the apparent nirvana. So maybe I should just let it go, scuttle the inquiry. Yeah right...who am I trying to kid?... I know for myself that this is impossible..

Sunday, April 11, 2010

In the News LXVIII

Polish President dies in Plane Crash

Lech Kaczynski seemed like a man of reason. His loss will be mourned.

Bishop Abel Muzorewa passes away at 85

Muzorewa was a moderate who (if given the chance) may have saved the country from the turmoil that is Mugabe

More delusion from Obama and co.
- Hamid Karzai is a reliable partner .......more like a reliable charlatan

The Plot thickens in the Eugene Terre'blanche killing
- Terre'blanche was a thug of the highest order and a despicable human being but now it appears as though the motives for his murder are more complicated than originally believed.

UK Elections - Tories draw first blood

The Conservatives will win but not in a landslide....This is more a case of labour running out of ideas than anything else.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Wrestling with G-d...

1. I don’t think that a day goes by without me contemplating my relationship with G-d. This cuts to the very core of who I am as a being and without such personal discourse I would certainly be much poorer. However in a way I am envious of the soul who has no doubt about their faith as they appear to have a contentment that has escaped me so far.

2. My faith is one of struggle, a tug-o-war complicated by the rivulets of thought that colour my essence. I constantly joust with my belief and have throughout my life gravitated from one locale of inner comfort to another.

3. My earliest image of G-d is one of an isolated being removed, all-powerful and aloof.
In Hebrew School I learnt that G-d acts directly and intervenes in one’s life often using the mechanism of angels. This was my first introduction to theism. That it differed from my early deistic view is now more a source of irony than anything else.

4. Free Will is a tougher concept for a child to grasp – After all… Doesn’t it make sense that an all-powerful entity should be in control of everything? Why would he give this up? It simply made no sense at the time. I had to internalize the concept. Free Will, is of course, imperative to meaningful G-d belief.

5. I feared G-d as a child especially on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) – Scrupulosity got the better of me as I contemplated the dire meaning of the Book of Life and Death. In my study of organized religions (and I have read a bit on the vast topic) its really disturbing how often fear is used to coax the population into belief. Whether the device is Purgatory, Hell, Continuous rebirth or Bad Karma the overriding philosophy is the same……..do this or else. Surely G-d is not this petty?

6. I realized earlier on as well that religion serves as a mechanism of explaining injustice but it does so by expanding the frame of the world of tangible material to intangible metaphysics. One cannot help but feel at first glance that this is a ‘cop out’ and as someone schooled in the sciences it is my most imminent challenge.

7. The Bible has always intrigued me. I was introduced to its stories at a young age and have found much meaning in its words. While there may be a historical truth that loosely coincides with the context provided I tend to see the scripture on a mythological/allegorical level which I don’t believe detracts from its significance. Myths, as Jung noted, defines the collective conscious and is a vital component of the cultural heritage.

8. G-d though is very real for me and even in my most critical periods (when I almost turned my back on Judaism) I have never stopped believing in G-d.

9. I cannot prove conclusively that G-d exists but from what I have seen the evidence for G-d’s footprint seems overwhelming. The fact that something as opposed to nothing is present is the first such evidence. I have yet to see a plausible argument to the contrary.

10. A sound mind is free to choose but one must realize that there will be consequences to your decisions. This is the definition of adulthood.

11. In a sense I combine my belief in G-d with an emphasis of freedom of choice…It is therefore not surprising that I sympathize with the G-d- believing existentialist Soren Kierkegaard.

12. The creation myth speaks of the chaos that existed before G-d created light. It is not much of a leap of faith to compare this chaos to the Quantum Foam from which the original singularity of our proto-universe was born.

13. The fact that the events of creation don’t correspond to our scientific model is not as important as the attempt by the ancients to articulate a progressive dynamic of formation.

14. The Sabbath is key to the creation story as it symbolizes the beginning of a time of self-sufficiency, the period when G-d allowed Science to be Science.

15. I believe that G-d is not definable and is essentially unknowable in essence. The Kabbalistic concept of Ein Sof makes much sense.

16. However the light that comes from G-d is within our reach but one has to open one’s eyes and mind to realize this.

17. Unfortunately we have a tendency to close both these faculties. This is our tragedy.
Sometimes I have to remind myself to see the G-d light. Like others I am blinded by the physicality of life.

18. The G-d light represents a goodness. We can learn techniques of seeing the G-d light through positive religion but ultimately the onus is on us to see what is out there.

Champion's League Final Four

Barcelona destroyed Arsenal, Bayern edged out Man U while Inter and Lyon emerged victorious. I was .500 in my picks....Nothing special but at least the equation has simplified...This is Barca's tournament to lose and Messi is clearly the World's #1 player.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Soccer Roundup

The Spanish League is much more of a two horse race this year than it normally is. Real Madrid and Barcelona are both locked in with 71 points, 18 points ahead of 3rd place Valencia. Atletico Madrid (Fernando Torres' old team) are light years behind the leaders with a mere 37 points but are still in contention (like Liverpool) for the Europa League.

Inter Milan will probably win the snooze fest known as Serie A for the fifth year running. Derby rivals AC Milan and Roma are keeping up the pressure but Jose Mourinho's team are unlikely to crack. The big disappointment this year are Juventus - who are 18 points behind Inter in 7th spot - and have no European fortunes to look at having been scuttled out of the Europa League by the 'powerhouse' of Fulham.

In the training league of France Bordeaux will be hard pressed to beat off the challenge of the pack - consisting of Montpelier, Auxerre, Marseille, Lille and Lyon. If I were betting on the outcome I would put my money on Laurent Blanc's team but the drama should be played out on the last day of competition.

As expected Bayern Munich have surged into top spot in the Bundesliga. Schalke will fight them to the finish as will Leverkusen but the Red Machine will prevail - they have too much quality not to succeed. The big dud for this season is the well supported Hertha Berlin who currently foot the table.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Fifty Areas thay have seen conflict in the last 20 Years

1. Afghanistan
2. Sierre Leone
3. Burundi
4. Rwanda
5. Western Sahara
6. Liberia
7. Basque Territory in Spain
8. Iraq
9. Kurdish Regions of Turkey
10. Algeria
11. Mexico-Chiapas Region
12. West Bank and Gaza Strip
13. Algeria
14. Peru15. Columbia16. Guatemala
17. Fiji
18. Solomon Islands
19. Congo
20. Honduras
21. Zimbabwe
22. Bosnia
23. Kosovo
24. Nagarno-Karabash Region in Azerbaijan
25. Somalia
26. Ethiopia/Eritrea
27. Sudan
28. Yemen - North vs South Tension
29. Burma - Karen insurrection
30. India/Pakistan/Kashmir
31. India/Assam
32. India/Punjab
33. Sri Lanka
34. Papua New Guinea
35. Indonesia/Aceh Region
36. Moluccas
37. Egypt
38. Western China - Muslim uprising
39. Tibet
40. Angola
41. Russia/Chechnya/Dagestan
42. Georgia - South Ossetia and Azaria
43. Moldavia - TransDniester conflict
44. Serbia-Montenegro
45. Greece/Macedonia border
46. China/Taiwan
47. Nepal
48. Philipines
49. East Timor
50. South Korea/North Korea border

Champion's League Draw

Bordeaux vs Lyon - French teams are generally not a threat in Champions League Football (except for Marseilles in 1993). Nevertheless a French team has to emerge victorious from this one and my pick is Lyon (they beat Real Madrid after all).

Man U vs Bayern - The Germans have Schweinsteiger, Ribery and Robben but United have Rooney and Van Der Saar. I expect that the Mancs will persevere.

Bacelona vs Arsenal - Arsenal are a smoke and mirrors team with a great manager. Barcelona are pure class regardless of management. Expect the Gunners CL run to end here.

CSKA Moscow vs Inter Milan - Jose Mourinho is a crafty devil but the Russians have a dodgy pitch and a younger squad acting in their favour. Samuel Eto'o will be key. This will be a close one but I am going out on a limb and calling for a Muscovite win.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Big Bang Super Quiz

1. According to the Big Bang Theory the universe emerged from a ………
2. This scientist coined the term Big Bang who was he?
3. What is expanding as a result of the Big Bang?
4. What is the best estimate for the Age of the Universe?
5. Which force was the first to separate from the other fundamental forces?
6. With what is Alan Guth most associated?
7. Which Catholic Priest developed an early version of the Big Bang where matter emerges from a primordial ‘atom’?
8. What is meant by the term CBR?
9. What does the inverse of Hubble’s constant give one?
10. How did Edwin Hubble determine that the Universe is expanding?
11. Which observatory was Hubble’s laboratory?
12. What sub-atomic particles joined to form nucleons during the nucleosynthesis era?
13. What role did Cepheid Variables play in the development of the Big Bang Theory?
14. Which of the Three Cosmological Principles was shattered by the Big Bang Theory?
15. Which two Cosmological Principles still remain intact (for now)?
16. This modern day popularizer of science (scourge of the chiropractor society) and author of Fermat’s Last Theorem wrote a book on the History of the Big Bang. Who is he?
17. Which Russian mathematician is associated with the early development of the Big Bang Model from its theoretical foundations in General Relativity?
18. What did Einstein call his greatest mistake?
19. Who was Ralph Alpher’s chief partner in the early theoretical modelling of the Big Bang?
20. What entity seems to be causing the universe to expand at an accelerating rate?
21. Whether the universe expands or collapses in a Big Crunch is ultimately dependent on this factor associated with its mass and volume. What is the factor?
22. What is the earliest time from the origin of the universe that the laws of physics can be reasonably applied?
23. What are Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson most noted for?
24. What theory was the leading competitor to the Big Bang at the time of the latter’s introduction?
25.This physicist wrote about the Big Bang in his celebrated work – ‘The First Three Minutes’. Who is he?
26. What is the shape of the universe spatially?
27. The imbalance between matter and anti-matter in the universe is also known as ?
28. What was the name of the spacecraft launched on 30th June 2001 to study radiant heat from the Big Bang?
29. In M-Theory this term is short for a membrane. What is it?
30. An omega cosmological parameter that is less than 1 indicates a …………….. universe.

Big Bang Answers

1. Singularity
2. Fred Hoyle – as a term of derision. Hoyle was a Steady Stater.
3. Space (not matter)
4. 13.7 billion years old
5. Gravity
6. Inflationary Expansion Theory
7. Georges LemaƮtre
8. Cosmic Background Radiation – The Echo of the Big Bang
9. The Age of the Universe
10. By analyzing the Red Shift on the spectra of Light coming from distant galaxy
11. Mount Wilson
12. Quarks
13. These standard candle stars allow for an accurate estimate of galactic distances
14. The non-changing nature of the Universe
15. Isotropy and Homogeneity
16. Simon Singh
17. Alexander Friedmann
18. The Cosmological Constant (as it turned out it wasn’t a mistake at all)
19. George Gamow (One of the Greatest minds in modern physics)
20. Dark Energy (makes up 73% of the mass of the universe)
21. Critical Density
22. 10E-43sec
23. They both one Nobel Prizes for discovering evidence of the Cosmic Background Radiation
24. Steady State Theory
25. Steven Weinberg
26. It is flat
27. Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe
28. Baryon asymmetry
29. Branes (there is a theory that the universe was born from the collision of two branes)

30. Closed

Sunday, March 14, 2010







I am on this real astronomy kick thanks in part to the Grade 12 Course I am teaching but mainly to my new found love of the heavens...





Albert Einstein's Birthday -14th March

..........Happy birthday Al from an appreciative Physics teacher

Precious: Based on the Novel by Sapphire

This movie wasn't bad but it was not earth shattering (as several liberal critics would have you believe). I would classify it under the disturbing-but-better than average category. Full credit to Mo'Nique for her role as the hateful Mary and Gabrourey Sidibe showed potential in her debut as the lead character. Several head-in-the sand conservatives (who often decry any negative depiction of America) have bashed this movie, despite the fact that its anti-welfare pro-education message was very much evident. I urge them to give it a second try.
Rating: 6.5/10

So much for Higher Education

David Frum Dishes it to York University...
Well done David. Score one for sanity.

Here is the excerpt

Two weeks ago, I published a National Post column about York University in Toronto, and its policy on student speech about the Middle East. The column included this line: “Since the anti-Israel people might use violence, the speech of the pro-Israel people must be limited. On the other hand, since the pro-Israel. On the other hand, since the pro-Israel people do not use violence, the speech of the anti-Israel people can proceed without restraint

That column has elicited more reaction — from Canadians, as well as correspondents in other countries — than anything I have published in the National Post in many years. Let me share some of that reaction with you today. I have withheld names and identifying details.

“I attended York briefly, from September to December 2000, when I was trying to complete a one-year Master’s degree in English Literature. What I found on that campus disgusted me. Closed-minded professors; ignorant, bigoted students, and an overall atmosphere antagonistic to any form of free speech or thought. Fortunately for me, my year was cut short by that famous labour dispute which began in October and ended in February 2001. That was the end of my university days and I’ve not looked back. Over time, I have come to see the labour dispute as a blessing and consider myself fortunate that I do not hold a degree from York University. Since then I have counselled many prospective university students to stay clear away from that place. I would never step a foot back on that campus … My decision to attend York University was the only regret I have.”

“I worked for security there during undergrad and TA strikes. The administration is only the tip of the iceberg. I would argue the faculty/TAs are the worst of the bunch by facilitating a culture of ‘open discussion’ — as long as the open discussion doesn’t extend to pro-Israel views."

For more go to Frum

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Its a week late but so what.....

Congrads to my home country for Winning the 2010 Men's Olympic Hockey Title.
Also to be proud of Canada won more gold medals than any other country in the 2010 Olympics . Considering that Canada failed to win a single Gold at Calgary 88 this is one remarkable improvement.

Final Olympic Standing

United States 9G, 15S, 13B = 37
Germany 10G, 13S, 7B = 30
Canada 14G, 7S, 5B = 26
Norway 9G, 8S, 6B = 23
Austria 4G, 6S, 6B = 16
Russia 3G, 5S, 7B = 15

The Book of Eli

I saw this on Saturday night...Although there are a few oversights dealing with the prowess of the main character in combat the movie itself is worth seeing.
Rating: 7.5/10

Horowitz on Progressives and Conservatives

I agree about 75% of the time with the crowd at Front Page Magazine. However in this piece by David Horowitz, the former Radical Son, is 98% on the ball (he misses out on the full 100% as I would not classify leftism as progressive to begin with).

I have reproduced part of the post....

Conservatives look to the past as a guide to the future. The past tells them who human beings are, and how they behave, and what is possible. In their approach to the future, conservatives are pragmatic and ground their hopes in experience. When the Founders were drawing up plans for the Republic they looked at the history of past republics and concluded that democracy was the least problematic form of government but that it posed the danger of a populist tyranny. So they instituted a system of checks and balances to guard against tyrannies of the majority and to provide the public with a cooling off period in which their emotion driven agendas could be corrected by reflection.

Progressives, by contrast, look to an imaginary future as a guide to the present and regard the experience of the past as “reactionary” and “backward.” Progressives have in their heads an image of what the future should look like based on emotion (hope and change), and they discount the experience of past and present as products of ignorance, prejudice and selfish interests, which they are determined to overcome.

Their agendas are actually much worse than this would suggest, since progressives imagine a future that is perfect, a new world in which there is no poverty, no bigotry, no irreconcilable conflict — where there is “social justice.” Against this imaginary ideal world nothing that exists can be justified or defended, or in the words of the arch rebel “everything that exists deserves to perish.” These were words were spoken by Goethe’s Mephistopheles, and quoted approvingly by Karl Marx.

Progressives are focused on destroying what is in the name of an impossible what-can-be (“hope and change”) and it’s very hard for them – impossible for the truest believers — to correct course when they are on the march and their programs aren’t working. All contrary counsel is seen not as experience-based wisdom but as obstruction and reaction.

Some years ago there was a C-Span debate between the “Democratic Socialist” — an oxymoron if there ever was one — Barbara Ehrenreich and the bloviating Cornel West on the left side and two Heritage Foundation fellows on the right. The subject was socialism and its failure in the Soviet Union and China. The Heritage team pointed out very politely and circumspectly as though embarrassed for the socialists on the platform that progressives had encountered some problems in implementing social justice in these countries and there were some casualties along the way. Responding, Barbara Ehrenreich said (or words to this precise effect): We’ve only been trying socialism for 250 years and it’s not surprising that mistakes were made. Side note: This woman’s book attacking American capitalism and re-invigorating socialist delusions is assigned reading for students in virtually every university in the nation – at some schools required for all incoming freshmen with no countervailing text.

For the rest go to: Front Page Mag

Saturday, February 27, 2010

In the News LXVII

Obama appoints Washington Insider as Social Secretary
Wasn't this supposed to be the administration of change.

Don't look at Turkey as a source for moderate Islam
Its really a shame as the country now seems to be turning its back on its Kemalist past.

David Cameron turns up the rhetoric on Gordon Brown
The hope of course is that he doesn't blow it by going soft in the run in.
Although why is William Hague still the shadow Foreign Secretary? I thought he was a political has-been.

Could Israel be inviting an Israeli attack?
Seems ridiculous but then again.... look who is in power in Tehran.

California in an economic shambles....worse than Greece
Even the Terminator looks impotent here.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Forty Football players that I have enjoyed watching

...when of course they were not scoring goals against Liverpool...All are retired (not in any order). Although I didn't see all playing live I have enough info to reach this positive conclusion.

1. Gianfranco Zola
2. Kenny Dalglish
3, Bryan Robson
4. Alan Hansen
5. Eric Cantona
6. Matt Le Tissier
7. Frank Worthington
8. George Best
9. Jimmy Greaves
10. Diego Maradona
11. Andy Gray
12. Trevor Francis
13. Tony Woodcock
14. Kevin Keegan
15. Steve Heighway
16. Emlyn Hughes
17. Mark Hughes
18. Roy Keane
19. Liam Brady
20. Peter Beardsley
21. John Barnes - one of my all-time favourites
22. Stan Collymore
23. Denis Bergkamp
24. Franz Beckenbauer
25. Peter Osgood
26. Marc Overmars
27. Johan Cruyff
28. Zinedine Zidane
29. Marcel Desailly
30. Michel Platini
31. Roger Milla
32. George Weah
33. Gerd Muller
34. Graeme Souness
35. Ian Rush
36. Gary Lineker
37. Paul Gascoigne
38. Chris Woddle
38. Hristo Stoichkov
39. Karl-Heinz Rummenigge
40. Glen Hoddle

My England Squad - South Africa 2010

Goalkeepers: David James, Joe Hart, Robert Green

Defenders: John Terry, Rio Ferdinand, Ashley Cole (if fit else - Wayne Bridge), Wes Brown, Matthew Upson, Glen Johnson, Lleyton Baines

Midfield: Gareth Barry, Steven Gerrard (should be captain), Michael Carrick, Frank Lampard, Joe Cole, Jamie Milner, Aaron Lennon, Shaun Wright-Philips

Forwards: Wayne Rooney, Jermain Defoe, Peter Crouch, Theo Walcott, Gabriel Agbonlahor

On Standy: Ashley Young, Paul Robinson, Phil Neville, Stephen Warnock

Sunday, February 14, 2010

13 Hypocrites

1. Toronto TTC chief Adam Giambrone - As a hardcore NDPer Giambrone wore the Women's right sleeve on his jacket. Unfortunately this did not extend into the realm of cheating on his live-in girlfriend with a 20 year old student....Ethics courtesy of such other Women's rights champions as John Edwards/Ted Kennedy/Bill Clinton and others.

2. Toronto Mayor David Miller - Was vaunted into power as the NOW Magazine mayor. Miller championed transparency in contrast to the perceived Lastman era. After a disastrous tenure as the City's chief Poopah, what was left of Miller's self righteous pose (of clean government) dissolved in his uncritical backing of his buddy Giambrone.

3. The loathsome Paleo-conservative movement- as exemplified by Pat Buchanan and his cronies - who rally against immigration and the coming of a 'non-white' America but have no problem offering lip service to 'non-white' groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah in their killing of Jews.

4. Naomi Klein, Code Pink and other wackos on the far left - Claim to be a Women's right champion - but have no problem bashing Israel (which has an exemplary record on both women and gay right issues) while at the same time doing damage control for the various Islamist organizations that detest Western Civilization and would be the first to abolish both systems of right should they ever seize power.

5. Chris Matthews - Claims to be a serious journalist - but continues to act like a juvenile grade school reporter with comments of the following ilk:
'I forgot he was black.....' (after Obama's State of the Union Address)
'thrill in my leg'..........) referring to the sensation he felt after another Obama speech
Not to mention his comparison of Republicans to the Khymer Rouge with this moment of emptiness

What's going on out there in the Republican Party is kind of a frightening, almost Cambodia re-education camp going on in that party, where they're going around to people, sort of switching their minds around saying, if you're not far right, you're not right enough.

6. Robert Kennedy, Jr for calling Rush Limbaugh an 'idiot' - for doing the same thing he did.
Read Hypocrite

7. Conservatives who champion family values but then rally against the notion that corporations should give more leave to their employees to spend time with their families.

8. Liberals who oppose discrimination but then have no problem championing injustice when it is crouched in the pc language of affirmative action.

9. Death Penalty advocates who claim to be Pro-Life.

10. Various Atheists - Who Claim that G-d doesn't exists as there is no scientific proof for G-d's existence...however any understanding of the true nature of science would realize that science does not extend into this region of philosophy as science is by its very nature materialistic.

11. Libertarians - Often Rally against government intervention in business to the point of championing anarcho-capitalism while negating the rule of law as exemplified by government that makes the platform for fair business possible in the first place.

12. Liberal such as Michael Moore - who castigate George Bush for not anticipating 911 but then rally against intelligent efforts (such as the Patriot Acts) that would allow for a mechanism that would thwart terrorist events in the first place.

13. The Canadian and Australian Governments in the 1980s - they opposed South Africa's apartheid policies despite the ongoing, less than satisfactory treatment of their respective native and aboriginal populations.

The Winter Olympics are off...

The Winter Olympics in Vancouver are up and running and despite the unfortunate death of Georgian luger, Nodar Kumaritashvili, the games are set to promise much. As always the Canadian media are gearing up for double medals in both the men and women's hockey event. Since women's hockey is generally a two-horse race this is entirely probable. On the Men's side the calculus is not as simple - I wouldn't write off the Yanks, Swedes or Russians, nor the Czechs, who proved the value of a hot goalie when they emerged with the gold in 1998.

American Hannah Kearney (who has a Canadian mother) edged out Canuck Jennifer Heil in the freestyle moguls, but it was still great to see a Canadian on the podium. Further congrats to South Korea for picking up a short track skating medal (they really have emerged as a powerhouse in this event).

The Olympics offer a much needed sanity break from the regular sporting calendar and despite the protest of some of my friends - who see it as all pomp and circumstance - I am looking forward to embracing this celebration of the human spirit.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Obama takes more heat from the once faithful

It had to come....but I suspect that if he heeded the advice of some of these critics he would most likely further worsen the situation

President Barack Obama is starting to look like the second coming of Jimmy Carter. If he's going to avoid that fate, the president had better take radical action -- and fast.

That means doing more than offering belated talk about jobs, or waging ineffectual on-again, off-again bank warfare. What, after all, is the point of bashing Wall Street only to then blow bonus kisses to JPMorgan Chase & Co. chief Jamie Dimon and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. head Lloyd Blankfein?

Obama needs to ditch his professorial, community-organizer mien and start cracking some heads. Unless, that is, he is intent on paving the way for a Palin presidency in 2013.

Supporters are crying out for Obama to pull out of his tailspin. In an article in Politico, Douglas Wilder, the nation's first African-American governor and an early Obama supporter, urged the president to get his act together.

"Getting elected and getting things done for the people are two different jobs," Wilder wrote

Source: Delaware Online

More Stupidity from Chavez

Chavez says U.S. occupying Haiti in name of aid

Chavez is the quintissential meddler himself - look at Colombia and Honduras. He also would be the first to make a comment if the US had not acted at all...like his supporters amongst Western Radicals the man is overflowing with BS.

"I read that 3,000 soldiers are arriving, Marines armed as if they were going to war. There is not a shortage of guns there, my God. Doctors, medicine, fuel, field hospitals, that's what the United States should send," Chavez said on his weekly television show. "They are occupying Haiti undercover."

"On top of that, you don't see them in the streets. Are they picking up bodies? ... Are they looking for the injured? You don't see them. I haven't seen them. Where are they?"

Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE60G2DW20100117

Saturday, February 06, 2010

40 Great Songs

Time – Pink Floyd
Ziggy Stardust – David Bowie or Bauhaus version
London Calling – The Clash
Sultans of Swing – Dire Straits
The Wall – Pink Floyd
Lust for Life – Iggy Pop
Electricity – OMD
Highway to hell – AC/DC
Satisfaction – Rolling Stones
Spanish Train – Chris De Burgh
Sunday Bloody Sunday – U2
Bohemian Rhapsody - Queen
True Faith – New Order
Bizzare Love Triangle – New Order
Suburbia – Pet Shop Boys
Boys Don’t Cry – The Cure
Bullet the Blue Sky – U2
People are Strange – The Doors
Lovecats – The Cure
Space Oddity – David Bowie
China Girl – David Bowie
Riders on the Storm – The Doors
We are the Champions – Queen
Our House – Madness
Goodnight Saigon – Billy Joel
Sometimes - Erasure
Angie – Rolling Stones
All Along the Watchtower – Jimi Hendrix
Stairway to Heaven – Led Zeppelin
Nena-99Luft Balons – Nina Hagen
One Night in Bangkok – Murray Head
Rock me Amadeus – Falco
Shout – Tears for Fear
A Little Respect – Erasure
Rebel Yell – Billy Idol
Me and the Farmer – Housemartins
Break on Through – Doors
Hotel California – Eagles
Eye in the Sky – Alan Parsons ProjectStarman – David Bowie

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Roger Federer wins Australian Open

As if there was any doubt that Roger Federer is the greatest tennis player of all-time the Swiss genius won his 16th Grand Slam title. He now has six Wimbledon's, five US Opens, Four Aussie Opens ans one French Open to his credit.

Tough luck for Scot Andy Murray as the hurt for British tennis conrtinues.

For more go to: Globe and Mail

Obama reaches out to small business

Not sure if this will morph into more hot air but I will give Barry O. the benefit of the doubt for the time being.

By Jennifer Heldt Powell

The small business community is thrilled that President Obama spent a good chunk of his State of the Union speech making proposals to help tinier companies thrive and grow

His words were a significant recognition of the crucial role small businesses will play in the ongoing economic recover. The actual proposals, however, have drawn mixed reviews. Some say anything is better than nothing, while others contend that the effect will be so minimal the money should be spent elsewhere.

The important thing is that something is done, said Ed Shapiro, a local business adviser.

“There are any number of ways that one could precede, but failing to try something isn’t going to work,” he said

Source: Boston Herald

Haitian Death Toll over 180,000

It has been difficult to obtain a reliable tally of the death from this tragedy but so far 180,000 seems reasonable.

Source: News 24

Port-au-Prince - Haitian President Rene Preval Saturday apologised for his long silence during the two and a half weeks since a mammoth earthquake destroyed the capital city of this Caribbean country

The death count had reached 180 000, a government spokesperson said, adding that new victims were being found every day. Haitian elections scheduled for the end of February were to be postponed for two years, officials said.

For the rest go to the souce above.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

An Introduction to Obama speak

Source: Townhall

Obama seems to use the same phrases over and over again...this is what they really mean

Failed policies of the past": Don't blame me! Blame Bush!

"Teachable moment": I screwed something up, now I'll brag about it.

"Tax cut": Redistribution of money from those who pay a disproportionate amount of taxes to those who pay none.

"Transparency": Deliberate opaqueness, hiding crucial facts from the American public.

"Accountability": Don't worry, I'll fire someone.

"Stimulus": Payoffs to friends.

"Shovel-ready jobs": Jobs that no one wants and that last for two months.

"Green jobs": Imaginary jobs.
"Saved or created": Old Obama language used to futz the numbers on jobs.

"Recovery": Continued economic stagnation.

"Jobs funded": Jobs Obama will take credit for, even though he has done nothing to either save or create.

"It won't happen overnight": It will never happen.

"Progress": Redistribution.

"Cynics": Anyone who doesn't believe in the Obama radical agenda. Obama uses this word to disparage his critics as angry and lacking in basic qualities of human kindness.

In the News LXVI

Judge Alito makes his views heard...apparently
Looks like the Judge seems to think that Barry O is full of hot air..he is not the only one

Scott Brown praises Obama...sort of
.....The calm before the storm perhaps...then again he could morph into a RINO like so many before him.

US Economy still has a long way to go
...it is possible that there may be an illusionary recovery but what will happen if Obama and co. raise taxes in the not to distant future?

More lies from Hamas
......they claimed to have targeted military sites...I guess nobody told them that the Israelis don't locate their military sites in hospitals/schools/civilian facilities as Hamas do....

Northern Ireland Deadlock
Northern Ireland was one of Tony Blair's successes.....Brown may have to play hardball on this one as well....not sure his up to it though.

Mugabe digs in his heels

The Zimbabwean despot has run the country into the ground but seems unlikely to lose power as the West and the Rest of Africa are not nearly as focused in bringing down his government as they were with the White Regime in South Africa. The people of this landlocked country will suffer as a result of such a selective bias.