Alternate Universes Skeptic

I am a fan  of Michio Kaku, in  the same way  that I am a fan of Neil deGrasse Tyson, Phil  Plait, Michelle Thaller and  many others of that  type.  Once upon  a time there  was Carl Sagan, and people pointed to him as a rare phenomenon, a scientist who could actually talk to people normally, but now  that is rather a common breed.
But, tonight’s blog is  about Michio Kaku.  He seems a bit more broad based than  some of the others, and speaks  of  robotics as easily  as  of astrophysics but, to tell you the  truth, I have no  way  of knowing which of these guys are really  ground breaking scientists, which are flakes, and  which are considered flakes by  the scientific community but will turn out to be the  true cutting edge scientists in the end, because  I don’t really know that much about  science.  I’m just a fan.

Anyway,  I was watching Kaku’s show the other day, I believe it’s called “Science of the Impossible” and he talks about some interesting stuff, but I kind of hate the format.  He’ll take some impossible task, like say time travel, or building a faster than light ship, and  spend the hour explaining the physics of  it and then come out to a studio audience of whom have are  dressed like Darth Vader or some shit, and say “Today, I invented Time Travel” and give  like  a 5 minute explanation and then they’ll interview audience members who all say “Wow, dude, that was like so awesome.”  Really, they should leave the audience out of it.  I  don’t watch those shows to hear what a bunch of goobers, who aren’t any smarter than I am, think.
Anyway, the topic the  other day was portals into alternate universes.  Both Michio Kaku and the audience members said the same bullshit thing, which strikes me as indicative of  not knowing what the word ‘alternative’ means.  “Maybe in an alternate universe I would be a huge rock star, or married to Miss Universe, or  have billions of dollars.”  Well, no, because  the you in an alternate universe isn’t you.  You are the you who is right here in  this  universe, reading this blog, right now.  There might  be somebody who sort of looks  like you, has similar parents and  siblings and back  story, but it is still someone different.  You don’t feel  what’s going on inside them, you don’t share  their emotions, because  you just  don’t.  You’d know it if  you did.

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The Crazy Class

The phrase that keeps running through my mind, the phrase that best describes my day, the  cliche that best fits the moment is “I’m getting too old for this shit.”

I started 3 classes today, and  it was a very last minute deal, like I did not know when I woke up this morning that this would  happen.  That’s life in the fast paced world of teaching English in Prague.  It was at an elementary school in Chodov, and the first class was pretty  good.  Cute kids for the most part, but as I was trying to introduce myself to the kids on one side of the room, the chatter was rising on the other.  I tried to keep it pretty fast paced, not to freeze the class out while talking to any one individual, but then you always have the one kid who freezes up on a question like “how old are you?” and you tell him it’s O.K. to answer in Czech and he’s still silent and the other kids are coming over and telling him what  to say and he’s completely gone catatonic so you have to just move on.
The  hardest part was between classes, though.  The school has this insane system that I have to go classroom to classroom looking for the kids that  are in the English group and then shepherd them through the hallways to ‘my’ classroom.  A teacher went with me today, but this  is going  to be confusing as hell for a few weeks until I get all my students memorized.
The second class was older, and also for the most part well behaved, except for one little boy who seemed to take great pride in  ignoring all my questions and getting the rest of the class to laugh about it.
It was the 3rd class where all hell broke loose.  They just came in determined to raise hell, a bunch of crazed 8 and 9 year olds, putting tape on my back, lying to me about their names, refusing to sit down or be quiet, fighting with each other, pleading to go to the bathroom, I know all those damned kids didn’t need to pee at once.
By the end of it I was whacked, drained emotionally and physically.  But I’m looking forward to next week.

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An Accidental Discovery

Sometimes you screw up and sometimes it’s O.K., and I don’t feel bad because it wasn’t my screw up and we erred on the positive side, at least.
I was at home, it  was about 4 o’clock and, as Sam left for  football practice, he asked “What about Isabel?”  I thought ‘Yeah, that’s right, she should  be home by now but, whatever, she’s always got some after school activity or another or might be over at a friend’s house, it’s at least an hour, maybe two, before I start worrying,’ but I said “What about Isabel?” and he said “Aren’t you supposed to go with her to dance lessons today?”

Well, nobody’s said anything to me and, to be sure, I’m not clear yet on what her permanent dance schedule is going to be (its’ street dance), she’s only been to two lessons and one  was introductory.  But, I called Helena to check and she  said yes, you’re supposed to meet her in front of school at 5.  No problem, it’s only about a half hour to the school.  Isabel called me just as I was on my way out  the door, very good of her (I’m being sarcastic).

Anyway, on the  way there she told me she wasn’t sure if the lesson started at 5:30 or 6:30.  We got there about  5:15 and 6:30 proved to be correct.  So, we went out and  walked around the neighborhood a bit and discovered an absolutely delightful park.  Lots of  little  fountains which were like science projects, water wheels and screws and stuff; a windmill; lots of  adult  exercise equipment and some traditional kids stuff, too.  Plenty  of benches and a very high roofed, like 4 or 5 meters, light brown, wooden shelter.
From now on, I’ll probably wait there during her lessons, weather permitting, but we would not have discovered it if we hadn’t screwed up on the schedule.

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An O.K. Sunday

Today was a pretty good day.  Of course, I spent  a  bit of time arguing  politics  with  people on Facebook, because  it is a day which ends in Y, but then about 10:30 I got drafted to take Isabel and  her two friends to a toy store.  Not just any toy store, they weren’t actually shopping.
Since I have been in Prague, nearly two decades, the biggest toy store has been Sparky’s, but this place puts it  in the shade, makes it look like  just a store (which, of course, it is)  Henleys, or Hemleys, or something like that, is  more like  a funfair that happens to sell toys.  There is a big slide from the second floor down  to the first, a full sized merry-go-round, a rally pit for remote controlled cars, drones flying around, and a huge statue, like two stories tall,  of some  comic book superhero I didn’t recognize, that’s how old  and out of  the loop I  am.
As soon as we got into the  shop, Isabel gave me directions to the  cafe, in away that made it  clear she  didn’t want me hovering over them, after all, she’s no longer 8 years old (she’s 9),  so I went to the cafe and had a seat and started a book I’d borrowed from Helena.  Really, we do not have the same taste in books at all, but at least it  wasn’t  Nicolas Sparks.  It  was John Green, Paper Towns.
Well, after about an  hour we went home, had burritos for lunch, I read a bit more, did a bit more Facebooking, and then went to Sam’s football game.  It was a bright, sunny day so I was very glad they played on the field where the bleachers are.  Kept half an eye on the game and got a bit further in the book.  No loss, I mean no loss for me not seeing every second of action in the game, the game was a loss, 7-1.
Came home, a friend was over for  dinner, and after he left I finished the book but it is now after midnight.  So, I guess that’s a sign of a good book, and although maybe it’s not actually intended for adults, I enjoyed it.

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The Dumbness of Gary Johnson

If people are right wingers, I’d prefer that they vote for Gary Johnson over Donald Trump, just as I’d prefer everybody on the left to vote for Jill Stein over Hillary Clinton.  In fact, I’d love it  if everybody would suddenly realize that the media is lying to them, that they do have four candidates to choose between and not just the two who constitute America’s current nightmare, the one in which America is being chased by a monster but still can only run in slow motion, and millions of people would suddenly change their minds and Clinton and Trump would come in 3rd and 4th, which is which wouldn’t matter and democracy would be saved.
But, good grief, Gary Johnson is a moron.  He does agree with the legalization of marijuana, so he’s better than Clinton or Trump on that score, but I know lots and lots of not very bright people who are in favor of legalizing marijuana.  I love the stuff, truly, but it does not require intelligence to smoke it.
First, there’s the not knowing where Aleppo is.  That may be no worse than George W. Bush not knowing the difference between Sunni and Shi’ite, but it’s no better.  It shows basic ignorance of an  area where serious shit is going on.
But then  the  statement that global warming doesn’t matter because we’re all going to die when the Sun expands and swallows the Earth anyway – that is bizarre.  It means he doesn’t understand the difference between a disaster which may affect us next week -say, in the event of a major hurricane, or flooding – and will certainly affect us dramatically in the near future – and something that’s going to happen 3 or 4 billion years from now.  If somebody doesn’t understand  that difference, then they don’t understand much of anything at all.

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A Strategic Suggestion for the Democrats

Dear Hillary Supporters: If this argument between us is just over who’s to blame for the increasingly likely Democratic defeat in November, go ahead. Blame us. We’re certainly going to blame you and I wouldn’t expect anything different.
But if it’s actually about how to defeat Donald Trump, I have a suggestion. Remove Hillary Clinton from the ticket. It’s not just that we Berners find her repugnant, although that’s a factor you might take into consideration; we feel about her as a victim of theft feels about thieves which, if you are paying any attention to the class action lawsuit by Sanders supporters against the DNC, you will have noted that they admit to being.
It’s that she’s just not physically capable of campaigning on the level it might take to win this thing. Videoconferencing isn’t going to do it, and she sounded absolutely terrible in that one she did with some union the other day. A few carefully scripted talk show interviews may help her a bit, I hear she did O.K. with Zach Galafanaikos (sp?), but they’re not going to put her over the top. A stellar debate performance might do it, but it doesn’t look like too many people are going to be watching the debates, unless Stein and Johnson are in them. Getting thousands of avid Hillary supporters going door to door encouraging independents to vote for her would be a reasonable tactic, if she had thousands of avid supporters willing to do that, or if she had support among independents.
Basically, though, she’s going to have to talk to large crowds at some point, she’s going to have to answer questions and not stay hidden from the press and the public, and I doubt she has the physical stamina to do that.

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Lesson Plan

Today’s lesson plan was the  order of adjectives – you know, the reason why we say a beautiful, green lawn and not a green, beautiful lawn; why we say a small, Japanese car and not a Japanese, small car – because I find it fascinating how all native speakers adhere to this  rule automatically without even knowing there was a rule.  (the rule is opinion/size/shape/age/color/pattern/origin/material/purpose)
It went fairly well.  In my first class, which is the largest, I wound up just talking about it so much that as we got to the exercise portion, the bell rang and that was that.

In the second class, my most argumentative group (which is a good thing) I discovered that the problem is not so much that there are exceptions to the rule (there are almost always exceptions to the rule – it’s English), but that it very often is difficult to decide which of these categories an adjective falls into.  Is ‘fat’ a matter of opinion, size, shape, or condition?
The beautiful, shiny, metallic starship, however, led to a good discussion about the greatest TV show of all time, and, as I reflect on it now, it’s impressive that my trekkie student is a lover of the original series, as it was off the air decades before she was born.
By the 3rd class, I was getting a bit bored with  the lesson myself, but I’d still say the lesson was a success.  We talked about Moby Dick, and  how ‘interesting’ is definitely a matter of opinion.
In the last group, more than half the class was missing.  I’m not sure why, but I think this school is just way too lax on attendance.  So, I ditched the lesson entirely and just read Tarot Cards for everybody instead, which is always popular, and they learn a little bit of English vocabulary, but they’re an advanced group to start with  so I’m not too worried.
It was a successful enough lesson that  I’ll probably do it again some day, just not this year at that school.  Once is enough.

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