Thomas Edison said that genius is 5% inspiration and 95% perspiration. Anders Ericsson, a psychology professor at Florida State University, would agree. His studies of what makes someone really good at something are discussed in the May 7, 2006 New York Times column, A Star Is Made, by Freakonomics authors Stephen J. Dubner and Steven D. Levitt. (The New York Times requires registration before you can read their content, but it's free and worth the effort.) (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, May 16, 2006 at 1:21 pm | Edit
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When I was in high school, a semester course in economics was required for graduation. I managed to convince the school to accept an advanced physics course instead, so I can't claim to know much economics. Yet being married to a guy who majored in that field in college helps, and in any case the following scenario not only makes no economic sense, it makes no sense at all. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, May 12, 2006 at 1:05 pm | Edit
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I hear it's officially TV-Turnoff Week. Those who know me know I'm more likely to respond negatively to social pressure like that. Still, I'm not about to turn on the television just to be different.

But if TV is a regular part of your life, do yourself a huge favor and turn it off. Start with a week, but don't stop there. What would you give for an extra four hours in your day? More than 20 more hours in your week? Even if you are one of the very rare folks who watches only half an hour a day, think about what you could do in that time. With just half an hour each day you could learn to play a musical instrument, learn a foreign language, read many books, keep in touch with far away friends and family, create your own weblog, spend time in serious, concentrated prayer, get some much-needed sleep, learn to juggle, create a garden, get in shape...and accomplish at least one if not many of those things you say you'd love to do, "but I don't have time." Go for it! You have nothing to lose but your chains.

Here are some more interesting links:

The TV-Turnoff Network

Excerpts from Marie Winn's The Plug-In Drug

Ruben Bolling's fabulous comic, Flowers for Trinitron.
Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, April 24, 2006 at 7:28 am | Edit
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Our local newspaper includes Parade Magazine in its Sunday edition. I find it generally to be a waste of paper. (A judgment almost equally true of the whole paper, now that it has gone to a format that emphasizes pictures over words, but that's another blog post.) However, I ususally find Marilyn vos Savant's column interesting, and this week it was especially so. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Thursday, March 9, 2006 at 5:36 pm | Edit
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This Orlando Sentinel column by Leonore Waldrip needs a wider audience. So for the dozen or so of my non-robotic readers, here it is.
Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, January 21, 2006 at 10:59 am | Edit
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While browsing the USPS website for international postage rates, I found it amusing to note some of the items one cannot mail to certain places. Most countries prohibit money and weapons; some countries also have more interesting restrictions: (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, December 12, 2005 at 9:54 am | Edit
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Thank you, veterans.
Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, November 11, 2005 at 9:05 am | Edit
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I'm reading an extraordinarily important and fascinating book: What's Going on in There: How the Brain and Mind Develop in the First Five Years of Life (Lise Eliot, 1999, Bantam Books). I'll probably end up making several blog posts out of quotations from this book, so here's a start. I always wondered why deliberate smiles, such as those manufactured for photographs or in an attempt to look more cheerful than one actually is, usually look so false:

[S]miling is not voluntary. Although you can willfully concoct your face into a smile, this kind of “polite” smile uses only the muscles of your mouth. Genuine smiles, by contrast, also involve a specific muscle that surrounds the eye, the orbicularis oculi, and movement of this muscle is entirely involuntary.
Posted by sursumcorda on Friday, August 12, 2005 at 8:00 am | Edit
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This afternoon, searching for a birthday gift for my nephew, I ventured into long-forgotten territory: a Toys R Us store. Just as a child's growth is more noticeable to one who has been away for a while, so did I find the cultural changes represented by the toys and games to be startling. While there were a few of what I might call generic games, most were branded with characters from television shows and movies. Even the old standby, Candyland, now comes in Dora the Explorer and Winnie the Pooh (Disney version, of course) flavors. Back when I was a more regular visitor of toy stores, there were already a few media-inspired toys, but now the genre has exploded. I did not linger, but left with the impression that I would find more of reality at Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes.
Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, July 25, 2005 at 6:58 pm | Edit
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Like many Americans, we plan to spend this Memorial Day relaxing with friends. As good and proper an activity as that is, we would be wrong not to recognize the true purpose of this holiday. Those who have given the last full measure of devotion to our country died for more substantial freedoms than a three-day weekend.

Here is some information on Memorial Day by the Department of Veterans' Affairs.

And here is a link to our Veterans' Day tribute to all who have laid their lives on the line for our country, including two family members who died in World War I.
Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, May 30, 2005 at 7:26 am | Edit
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Hard, painstaking work is the toll an independent spirit charges itself for self-respect.

John Taylor Gatto

Posted by sursumcorda on Monday, May 2, 2005 at 7:33 am | Edit
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Better yet, who proofreads them?

I was curious to compare the ingredients and nutritional value of the two varieties of soy milk in my refrigerator: Organic Valley Soy Vanilla, and Silk Unsweetened Soymilk. Staring at the nutritional labelling, I couldn't get past the beginning. Two half-gallon containers. Both say "Serving size: 1 cup." The Organic Valley carton says the expected, "Servings per container: 8," whereas the Silk Unsweetened says, "Servings per container: 4."

When kids would come to me for tutoring in mathematics, I would often feed them cookies, claiming this would help their "math brains." I offer the above as evidence that sugar is, indeed, important for correct mathematical thinking.
Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, April 27, 2005 at 1:44 pm | Edit
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When Terri Schiavo dies, there's going to be cheering, and I don't understand why. I know there will be cries of exultation because of the commentary I've heard, and the rude jesting, even from as mainstream a production as National Public Radio's Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me. Perhaps people make light of tragedy in self-defense; I know my family was able to find humor even as our father lay dying. There was, however, an enormous difference: our humor was suffused with an undeniable love for the man and a determination to do all we could for him. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, March 30, 2005 at 8:21 am | Edit
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As part of our constant dialogue on worship and music styles, Jon send me this SheepComics link. I was actually more intrigued by the commentary than the comic, in particular this part:

 

What I mean is that by and large there really is only one "worship style" and the vast majority of churches consider it a certain kind of meeting that goes like this:

 

  1. Opening prayer.
  2. Sing music or listen to performed music.
  3. Listen to a speech.
  4. Closing prayer.

I find that interesting because I disagree strongly. It is certainly true of some churches, but I wouldn't say majority—at least it would not characterize most of the churches I've been to. And certainly not what I would consider a more ideal "script" if you want one, which would be simply...

  1. The Word (Scripture and sermon)
  2. The Eucharist
...with prayers and singing liberally interwoven in all parts. (More)
Posted by sursumcorda on Wednesday, March 23, 2005 at 4:26 pm | Edit
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A friend sent me the following Frazz comic and I was immediately hooked. The setting is an elementary school, and the main characters are Frazz (school janitor and Renaissance Man), Caulfield (a genius who hates school because it bores him; he hangs out with Frazz a lot), Mrs. Olsen (Caulfield's teacher), Mr. Burke (the school's best teacher, and Frazz's best friend), Mr. Spaetzle (the principal), Miss Plainwell (first grade teacher).
alt
I've never been much of a Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. fan, but his short story, Harrison Bergeron, has haunted me since I first read it, long before frustrations with our chidren's schools brought us head to head with its stunning reality. Written in 1961, Vonnegut's warning is yet more accurate and more frightening today. (More)

Posted by sursumcorda on Tuesday, March 15, 2005 at 8:44 am | Edit
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