Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Where did ebay get its name from?

This could be a possible source!!!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Blackboard Laws Violated

Among the prerequisites for being a successful teacher is successfully mastering the various codes of conduct that students consider acceptable teaching practices. One of these most basic codes is the following of the blackboard rules. I assume these rules are taught in your general Ph.D. program, and I would hope that teachers in a Ph.D. program would be well versed enough not to actually violate some of the most basic blackboard laws themselves. However, today I witnessed the 2nd blackboard law being violated twice. I am left wondering how many professors in the world are actually trained appropriately for blackboard use.

Because you may not be familiar with the blackboard laws, I have taken the liberty to provide the first two for your edification. The first law is simple and straight forward: Use the blackboard. As in every other subject, the first law is kind of obvious. However, I have been to a class in which the professor used nothing but a projector with illegible slides. Add to this the fact that she was just mumbling a few formulas and stories to herself, and I had for myself an unofficial self-study program. Most good professors adhere strictly to the first blackboard law, and I don't think any more emphasis is necessary.

The second law of blackboard states the maximum length for any given equation that can be written on one line. Although the formal statement of the law is beyond the scope of this essay, a concise explanation goes as follows: Don't write an equation on the board that can't be easily copied into the notes. The logic is simple. Anyone using a four by twenty foot blackboard has a large advantage over someone using a foot long piece of paper. Today, one of my professors violated the second law by writing an equation that stretched all the way across the top of the blackboard. What took him one line took me about three, and it will not be as easy for me to see the connection from one line to the next as it was for him to write such a monstrosity. I am hoping that there won't be a repeat performance of this practice in the future.

Although this was a serious violation, it pales in comparison to the violation that happened earlier in the day with the very same blackboard law. This violation was the worst such violation I had ever seen in my entire life. The following equation actually appeared on the blackboard in a real university classroom today.
If you are shocked by the size of this thing, please continue to be. I was more shocked to find out that this wasn't a joke. It took me a few minutes just to copy this one equation, and it took me another five minutes to figure out how to get a copy of it onto the blog. This equation is a clear violation of the second blackboard law. However, one of my fellow students was quick to defend the professor by claiming that this was not a very long equation. It was just a little tall. Although this is technically correct, it falls in the category of following the letter of the law and not the spirit of the law. The bottom line is (not sure which line I'm referring to), this equation is hard to write, and therefore it should not appear on a blackboard. I hope further violations will not occur in the future, and schools will be much safer for people that are scared of fractions.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

So did you vote?

Apparently there was a primary election today which I came very close to completely missing. I didn't realize there would be an election until I saw the signs instructing me to vote. When I came home my parents told me to vote for some Jewish guy because his automated phone call advertisements wished everyone a happy new year. I figured since there was probably such a low showing for these "secret" elections, now was my chance to put my candidate into office. When I asked my mother for any other tips, she instructed me to vote for such and such on the first column and the top one on the second column. As I walked to vote I focused on remembering those instructions.

When I arrived I was greeted with some surprises. The first thing I noticed was the lacking of those mechanical ballot boxes with big handle bars that were impossible to operate. After all these years of technological advancement, the ballot was finally ready to be electronicly converted. Alas the skill that took me years to master was now completely worthless. I couldn't think of another venue for utilizing my ballot box talents. The complicated ballot box would become nothing more than good stories to tell over to my future grandchildren.

The new voting process involves filling the bubbles of your favorite candidates, and watching your paper being eaten by a computer. Aside from the fact that the assistant can see who you voted for, I think this system is much better because it allows for people to vote faster. It's also nice to have a computer thank you for voting even if you didn't pick the correct answers. This actually brings me to the famous question: What are the correct answers? Who do you vote for?

The second surprise was closely related to this conundrum. When I received my ballot, I noticed that I had different choices than those of my parents. I was given the republican choices and my parents had been given the democrat choices. When I was younger I was brainwashed by some republican talk shows, and this caused me to fill in their bubble when registering to vote. However, I didn't realize the long-term consequences of that decision. Now I had no idea who to vote for. I began to have those feelings similar to the time when I had to take a Hebrew test, and I had to translate the English phrases into Hebrew words. I saw lots of names, but I had no real information.

Since the names were all I had, that was what I had to use. First I thought of choosing the names that sounded familiar, and in the event that none sounded familiar I would choose the name that sounded most American. But then I realized that the familiar names were familiar for a reason. Either I received way to many pieces of junk mail from them, or they manipulated my mind in some way that was not understood to me. Also, voting for the American name sounds like a very lame thing to do. I don't have an American name. Why should an American name decide anything? Instead I voted for those candidates without American names, and I specifically voted for those whose names I had never heard. I left feeling like I had actually voted (thanks to the "thank you" on the computer screen), but I was not sure if I had picked the correct answers. Fortunately, I was only voting for the Republican nominees, and in New York it is quite rare for a Republican to win anything.

Today's experience taught me how to vote properly. The process is quite simple. If you happen to know something about the candidates (if one happens to be your best friend) just vote for that magic one. But if you have no idea, try to vote in the most creative way possible. At least this way the results will be completely random, and all the candidates will get their equal share.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Wants and Needs

Back in my undergraduate years I remember writing an essay on the topic of wants and needs. The essay was a term paper for an English Comp II class, and it required many sources some of which were provided by the college. The basic idea was to discuss the differences between wants and needs, and bring support from various Authors. My essay involved a discussion of the economic revolution during the 18th century, and I discussed whether or not the world is better off with the modern market systems. I use Robert Heilbronner's book, The Worldly Philosophers, as my main source. I wrote a nice essay that involved this topic, but I did not answer a fundamental question: What is the difference between wants and needs?

After giving the topic of wants and needs some thought today, the answer popped into my head. The difference between a want and a need involves the difference between first person and third person perspectives. In the world of the first person there is no difference between a want and a need. If I want something, my soul needs it. In the realm of third person, however, there is a distinction between wants and needs. If I were to look at another individual and try to decide what he wants, I could easily say that his wants are whatever he says he wants. However, if I were to try to figure out what he needs, I would make a judgment call about what I believe this individual should or should not have. In a sense, I can decide what other people need, and they can decide what they want.

A good example can be brought from some simple wants and needs. If I said I wanted food, I would need food as well. You may say that I need food as well. A person cannot live without food. However, implicit in this argument is the judgment that life is a need. If you were dealing with a murderer that was being given a lethal injection in a few hours you may not be inclined to consider food to be this person's need. After a judgment is made regarding an individuals need for life, a need for food must follow. However, I would need food whether you would value my life or not.