Monthly Archives: November 2002

Erroneous Mathematical Calculations

I have recently detected a pattern of sloppy mathematics in today’s society. For years news reports have decried the slipping education of our children, and I think it is having an effect.

Case One: Do Over

Do Over is a television show that premeired in the Fall on the WB network. It’s premise is a simple one; the fantasy daydream of many people: “What if I could go back in time and relive my high school days…what would I do differently?” The main character is 34 years old in 2002, and wakes up 22 years earlier in 1980 age 14. So, therefore, 34-22=14. Must be new math. The WB website tries to gloss over the mistake by saying the main character goes back “20 years” to the “early 80s”…which would be fine…but an early show concerned the opening of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back, and a recent show featured the Winter Olympics where the US beat the USSR….both 1980.

Case Two: Italian Scientist

This Italian scientist says a human clone will be due in January. Back in April he said the embryos had been implanted, and the pregnancies were in the 6th-9th weeks – approximately 2 months, so the pregnancies began in February. Feb is the second month. 2+9=11. November is the 11th month. Feb-Jan would be an 11 month term. Kinda long.

Case Three: The Six Commandments; or Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbors Calculator

Beliefnet Columnist (and supposed religious expert) Gregg Easterbrook discusses the “Six Commandments”. Apparently Jesus was asked which of the commandments needed to be followed, and he responded:

“And Jesus said, ëYou shall not murder; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness. Honor your father and mother. Also, you shall love your neighbor as yourself.í” (Matthew 19:17-19, New Revised Standard Version. A parallel telling of the Six Commandments exchange is found at Mark 10:17-23.)

Easterbrook suggests these Six Commandments should be posted in public places instead of the Ten since the problem with the Ten is the four commandments based on Faith as opposed to general moral precepts everyone agrees with. Easterbrook lists these four:

These are the Commandments that Jesus leaves off his inventory: “You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make yourself an idol. You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God. Remember the Sabbath Day, and keep it holy.”

10-6 does equal 4. There is only one problem. One of Jesus’s Six commandments is not in the Ten. The Ten Commandments are handed down on Mt. Sinai, and this occurs in the Book of Exodus. The Book of Leviticus is stuffed with hundreds of more commandments – Including, “Thou Shalt Love Thy Neighbor As Thyself.” So there is one commandment in the Ten this “expert” forgets completely in his article: Thou Shalt Not Covet Thy Neighbors Calculator. (Or slightly similar wording)

NJ Rabbi found guilty of murder on circumstantial evidence

A NJ Rabbi has been found guilty of hiring someone to murder his wife. He pleaded he was innocent. It was his word against the word of the one who claimed he was hired.

“The state had no murder weapon, fingerprints, blood analysis or other physical evidence to help prove Mr. Jenoff’s story that the rabbi had hired him. So the trial became a verbal duel between prosecution and defense to build a negative image of each man for the jury.”

Personally, I have no idea whether the guy did it or not. Just because one is a spiritual leader doesn’t make one immune from committing evil deeds. (The Rabbi admits to having committed adultery, for example.) However, there appears to be a definite lack of evidence in this case. And Murder-for-Hire carries the possibility of the death penalty in NJ. The possibility that someone might be exectued based on the little evidence that appears to exist in this case is troubling.

Homeland Security

The Homeland Security Bill has passed. (Link is to the complete text of the bill at All that’s left is for Bush to sign it. Here’s what the Christian Science Monitor has to say. (They’re generally considered objective.)

How Will the New Homeland Security Bill Affect You? | Security Act to Pervade Daily Lives.

The idea of forced vaccinations hits me personally. In 1976 hundreds of people, after receiving the Swine Flu vaccine, contracted Guillain Barre Syndrome. This was not a one-time event. – people still get GBS from flu shots. There are other causes too – I hadn’t had a flu shot when I contracted the disease in 1986.

While forced vaccinations might seem like a good idea to protect people from biological terrorism – there will be some who will not be inclined to want the vaccine. People who when comparing the odds of “Adverse Reactions” to the odds of biological terrorism decide to take their chances with the latter.

Other aspects of the bill are also disturbing.

Election Day Thoughts

Arriving back from the voting pew, I thought I would jot down my thoughts.

Yeah, pew. Due to some redistricting, I have been moved to a new district and a new voting place. No longer am I at the neighborhood community center which I can walk to, I am forced to vote in a church several blocks away.

It’s not a long distance. I’m not upset about that. I am upset that I have to vote in a church. It doesn’t seem right.

I’ve been inside churches before. Mostly for weddings and funerals. But the commingling of Church and State doesn’t appeal to me. The Lutherans say it quite well. Funny thing is, it was a Lutheran church I was voting at today. It appears they don’t follow their own doctrine.

Voting is sometimes a chore here in Missouri. It seems we have to vote on every small detail of running the government. We elect our representatives, but still have to vote ourselves when it comes time to do something that might cost the state some money.

In addition, we have to vote whether or not to retain our judges. This is silly. It is said originally this was to make the judges answerable to the people. I have my doubts. I think it was the brainstorm of a really clever judge, and he or she convinced everybody that it would make them answerable. But nobody knows who the judges are so they do one of three things:

1) Skip those pages of the ballot
2) Vote Yes on all the judges
3) Vote No on all the judges

Since there are rarely enough disgruntled voters to pick the third choice, the judges get a lifeterm. I believe before we got to vote on this, the state Bar Association made the decisions. They were qualified to do so. The People aren’t.

The other cute ballot issue this time around was whether or not there should be a State Constitutional Convention. Apparently this has to be voted on once every ten years or something. Hopefully there aren’t enough people insane enough to vote “yes.” One wonders if a new state constitution could be worse than the current one. It’s a terrifying thought.


A strange title for an entry of mine…I agree.

But we could find out…

A 1st Centutry burial box has been found. Aramaic inscription: James, Son of Joseph, Brother of Jesus. Bone chips inside box.

Two questions face the scientists:
1) How many James’s were there in the 1st century with a father and brother of said names?
2) Whose bone chips? The remains of family members were known to occasionally wind up in the same burial box.

And you thought the idea of dinosaur DNA preserved in amber presented some scary possibilities?

Method Writing

Winona Ryder is on trial for shoplifting.. It has been said that part of her defense is she was doing research for a role as a shoplifter. The concept of the Method Actor is well-known. The actor who “becomes” the character in order to best portray the character.

It’s not much different for many writers. We have to portray our characters with words, and in order to do this, we need to know how our characters would think, feel, and act in the given situation.

This doesn’t mean if we are going to write about a character who murders someone, we need to go out and murder someone too. But….there is a question of where to draw the line…I am sure there are authors out there who might wonder what goes on inside the mind of a shoplifter. And how else are we going to find out?

Oh sure, we could interview a shoplifter, but that’s no fun. We all need excuses sometimes to do things we wouldn’t normally go do….

For example, I’m writing a book right now involving some 15 and 16 year olds, and I haven’t been that age for a few years. Okay, more than a few. The last time I was 16, today’s 16 year olds weren’t born yet. So I have been watching a lot of the WB lineup lately. It’s mostly 20-something year olds pretending to be teens, but still, it’s a start. I’m learning the lingo, refreshing my memory on how high school kids talk.

But that’s just the first step. I discovered recently that there was an “issue” that was creeping up on me. Watching the TV shows, and reading some young adult fiction, I am beginning to remember what it felt like to be a teenage boy. But not all of my characters are teenage boys. I have no recollection of what it feels like to be a teenage girl. I don’t know how to put on a bra. I don’t know how one gets measured for one. I don’t know what it feels like to wear panties. I do know a little about makeup as I did a little acting in High School, but I realize what the male actor puts on his face doesn’t really compare.

So I am beginning to wonder if I should adopt the “Method Writing” approach. Take a trip to Victoria’s Secret and ask to try some stuff on. In some of my strangest moments, I’ve thought about doing it before, but never had a reason. Here’s my excuse, will I take it?

I may have to go to a different city though….If I do this where I live, there’s no telling who will walk in…

(Oh, Hi there Mom, How are you today?) At least it would be something I could definitely write about….