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Wednesday, March 04, 2015


Steve Cole ponders various thoughts that came to mind.
1. There was a flurry of news about those little plastic things that prevent the guy in the airplane seat in front of you from leaning back. Didn't you lean back? So you want to steal space from the guy behind you but expect the guy in front of you to do without you passing that space along?
2. It's comical to see the badly spelled or phrased words in spam from foreign countries. I as "invitated" dozens of times to click on some link, and that's just one example. Given what I do for a living, I am always tempted to reply with a proofreading guide, telling them "You meant 'invited' as there is no such word as 'invitated' just in case you didn't know" but do I really want to make their spam more effective? Worse, do I want to tell them that I actually READ their spam.
3. Confucius said: "You have two lives. The second begins when you realize there is only one." I like that. Once your perception shifts, everything starts over.
4. There is a 1909 penny attached to the Curiosity Rover on Mars to help calibrate the camera. Is this going to be proof a hundred years from now that the US owns Mars? Are there any more US coins even farther from Earth? I don't know.
5. When I was young (maybe 14) I went to a movie with my parents. Back then, you often got a short subject movie for free as part of the feature, and one of these was a National Geographic wildlife thing. It mentioned tropical penguins, those who do not live in ice and snow of Antarctica. At some later point, a teacher told the class that penguins only lived in Antarctica. I said that I had seen tropical penguins in a movie. The teacher was livid, insisting that I was making it up, and actually told the entire class not to believe anything I told them because I made up stuff like that. At the time, I was so humiliated and angry that it didn't really occur to me that a quick check of an encyclopedia might prove my case, so I suffered in silence and was mocked by my classmates for years. (I was a bookworm and spent all of my time reading everything I could get, which meant I had something to say on almost any subject, but my classmates had been warned not to believe me, making me something of a laughingstock.) I happened to think of this incident the other night and went to Google and sure enough, tropical penguins showed up (in South America and southern Africa) right away. These days if some teacher does that to some child, I hope that the child whips put a smart phone and proves the teacher to be a fool. (Of course, I hate it when I'm chatting with somebody, mention something, and they whip out a smart phone to look it up.) Proving the teacher is wrong sometimes backfires. A history teacher once told the class a couple of "facts" about World War II, one of which was even in our history book, but both were just flat wrong. I showed up the next day with a dozen history books to prove this, but was told to shut up. Arguing further, I got sent to the principal's office to be punished for insubordination. My parents were outraged, and the next day my father walked into my history class (uninvited and unexpected) wearing his Army uniform (he was a colonel) and proceeded to lecture the teacher on what was a fact and what was not, using those same history books I had brought to prove she was plain wrong. He then left. The teacher blew a fit and hauled me to the principal's office, only to find my father had gotten there first (with the history books). The principal warned the teacher not to argue with me without checking her facts, and that if I got any grade from her on any test or report card other than A+ he would want to see proof or she would face the school board's disciplinary committee. That teacher found other ways to make my life miserable, such as denying me a chance to compete in a national history contest with big cash prizes. I wouldn't have won anyway, but would have liked skipping school for a day to take the tests.