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Monthly Archives: June 2008

My son and I were on our way to his last baseball game of the season and we were listening to 107.7 FM (St. Louis, MO).  The host, Ryan Seacrest, was “running down” America’s top 40 songs.  During commercial breaks, you often hear a ‘roll call’ of performers.  For instance, you will hear something like this, “Hey, America this is Jessica Simpson” or “Hey, this is Beyonce.”  I was struck when I heard Christina Aguilera (CA) say this, “This is Christina Aguilera  and ‘everything on my body is real'”.  Wow!  I know what she is referring to but isn’t it telling of our culture that some people like CA have to defend their God given anatomy or physique because of the many counterfeits on the scene?

I just completed teaching a 12 week business stats course!  Whew.  We covered normal distribution curves in the class.  Normal distribution curves are vitally important when analyzing a portion of the whole or population; a portion of the whole is called a sample.  Analyzing a sample is less expensive and takes less time; however, one must make sure he or she has a good sample to infer things about or make decisions regarding the whole or population.  Companies such as Coca-Cola rely on this type of data analysis; just think of those taste tests you have participated in (you are one of many samples).  After going through this course, I now realize what is meant by “grading on a curve” and I am no spring chicken (this means at least two things: 1) one is never too old to learn something and 2) one is never too old to have ‘aha’ moments.  I was often the beneficiary of a teacher’s kindness when he or she graded on a curve.  “Grading on a curve” simply means that the teacher leveled the playing field.  For example, those who scored low on a test; no worries because their score was given a little boost.  Those who scored high on the test; no worries because they still had a high score.  I did not grade on a curve in this class.  And on the last day of class, a student commended me for not grading on a curve.  Again, one pro of grading on a curve is that all scores are normalized or ‘equalized’ so that every one is playing on the same field.  However, one con of grading on a curve as this student and I discussed is this: we give students a false sense of confidence that they are doing okay; when actually they are not.  If these students who have benefited from teachers that grade on a curve go to college, what if college teachers don’t grade on a curve?  College bound students are in store for a rude reality check!  I wonder if those countries that typically and historically out score the United States in math grade on a curve?

  1. I heard an interview that featured the former prolific basketball great, Micheal Jordan, talking about how influential his dad was in his life.  Jordan’s dad was murdered.  Prior to his tragic death, Jordan’s dad was a regular at every Bulls’ game.  Because of his death, Jordan’s dad missed the big one: a NBA championship game.  However, Jordan said this about his dad, “I know my father was there.”  We hear this statement often and it brings comfort to many but is it true?
  2. When you get close to a person who is admired by so many from afar, you wish you did not know the person so well because you see the good, the bad, and the ugly.  This situation is exacerbated when you know that just as much as the person who is admired.

Check this out:  http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=91371629.  It is hard to believe in the 21st century that this was ever a pending decision but I am glad it was affirmative.

Like most or many Americans, I am a little skeptical of the war in Iraq.  Did we go to war because of 911 and/or the threat of weapons of mass destruction (WMD)?  I suppose the answer to this question resides with President Bush and his inner circle.  However, I am a little baffled by bumper stickers that say things like, “War is unnecessary” or “Peace not war.”  Those who proudly and prominently display such stickers are apparently not married.  Before I continue, I am not making light of war; on the contrary, one simply has to look at the first few minutes of the movie, Saving Private Ryan, to see that war is no joke.  And I hate it when people say there is a lot of “collateral damage.”  Those who use such language mean that human lives have been lost; but in their effort to lessen the ugliness and tragedies of war, they instead appear to be dehumanizing people who are crowned with dignity and worth.

Now back to the statement, “Those who proudly and prominently display such stickers are apparently not married.”  For most married couples, “engaging in war” with each other is a precursor before peace or calm.   Failure to clear the air is a landmine waiting to explode.  I do know one lady who said she now regrets not fighting with her husband; she gave no resistance.  She believed if she had fought with our husband it might have saved her marriage.  I do know couples who say they never ‘fight or duke it out.’  (I say “wow”; and my cynical side says, “that is hard to believe.”)  For most fallen and broken husbands and wives, we must ‘go to blows’ to resolve conflicts.  After the gloves have been rested, peace ensues.

I heard this on NPR (National Public Radio) this morning, “It’s not unusual to find women in leading roles in Karachi’s development. At the city’s public universities, female students vastly outnumber the men in key fields like architecture.”  (see full length article, “Female Workers Break Stereotypes in Karachi” at http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=91181163).  Before continuing, I am not a male chauvinist and I have a great appreciation for the accomplishments of women.  In fact, I get angry when I hear that women with the same credentials get paid less than men who may have the same credentials but less experience.  However, I use the opening statement to ask, “where are the men?” in the United States?  At nearly every turn, I see women in leadership positions.  Here’s a sampling:

  1. In many marriages ruined by divorce, men have not only abdicated their parental role but have also abandoned their former wife.
  2. In many black families started by an out-of-wedlock pregnancy, fathers who did the impregnation are no where to be found.
  3. In many colleges, women are in key leadership roles like dean positions.  And many colleges and/or universities are headed by women.
  4. In several of my adult ed classrooms, women outnumber the men students.
  5. In many churches of all denominations, women are stepping up and men are stepping back.
  6. In many corporations, women are in key leadership positions.
  7. And Hillary Clinton, an articulate and intelligent woman, made a serious bid for the White House.

Where are the men?

On the way to work today, I saw not one but two stranded vehicles.  Both had flat tires.  The driver was still in one of the vehicles.  Now, there are at least three reasons why the flats were not repaired: 1) the driver was unable to remove the tire; 2) the driver did not know how to remove the tire; and 3) the driver did not have all the proper tools to remove the flat and replace it with the spare tire.  I would venture to say, it was probably the third reason.  Not having all the proper tools (jack, a good spare tire, etc.) is a metaphor for life in this way: we often do not make time for what is important but rather we procrastinate.  And procrastination will bite you/us in the rear.  Some busy people put off going to the doctor for illnesses that sometimes worsen.  Some busy people work later and later and miss out on those spontaneous and unannounced special moments at home.  Some busy people put off getting the proper tools to change a flat tire.  As I witnessed this morning, procrastination is costly.

I am an insider and an outsider.  Let me explain because often people say they are one or the other.  In several circles, I belong (an insider) but I don’t belong (an outsider).  It is important to say that ‘belonging’ is not always about race or socio-economic status.  Let me give a generic illustration to protect the circles’ identity.  I may know the ‘sacred’ tradition of this circle, but not believe that that tradition is still valid today.  In other words, I don’t believe that some traditions should be practiced.   Or I may have all the credentials of some members of a particular circle but not really be considered credentialed enough for full membership/acceptance.  Or I may belong to a circle but I may disagree with the thinking/reasoning of some of the key members who belong to his circle.  My options? Bite my tongue (=stay quiet) or quietly leave.  Being an insider and an outsider is tricky business; one must be on his guard at all times.   As a self-confessed insider and outsider, I look for others in the same camp and thank goodness I have found some for mutual support.