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Archive for February, 2011

Today I felt like listening to some songs and posting a few more lyrics:
Sunshine On My Shoulders – This is a song from my teens / early adulthood.  When I first heard it, I thought it was one of the sappiest songs I’d ever heard.  As I’ve grown older and seen a few sunrises and sunsets, it’s come to mean more and more to me.  Now, whenever I hear it, I think of pristine lakes and evergreen forests and glorious sunrises.
You’re Gonna Miss This – Every dad can relate to this song.  It’s as simple as that.  The funny (ironic) thing is that at every point in the song – it’s true – so in the end, every minute needs to be cherished because they will all be missed.
Nobody Knows It But Me – This is another in a long line of “lonely” songs which I always favor.  Love is always bitter-sweet when lost.  This version, performed by The Tony Rich Project is my favorite of the many covers because at the end he goes to find her (his lost love).  Some of the other versions don’t do this verse.
My Wish – This is one of two Rascal Flatts songs I can listen to a million times.  I haven’t (nearly), but I could.  It’s another of those songs you’d always want your kids to live up to or keep in their heart.
Bless The Broken Road – Like Robert Frost’s poem (The Road Not Taken), you never know what road will lead you to where you need to be.  Hopefully, it actually does lead you to someone to love…
Enjoy the words, go listen to the music online somewhere and then, if they touch you as they’ve touched me, don’t forget to buy them!!
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Like any writer, a translator has to have a target audience clearly in mind.
    —    Donald E. Knuth
From his book:  “Things A Computer Scientist Rarely Talks About
[I would argue the same is true for teachers – as well as writers and translators – because these are all similar functions – communicating ideas to a target audience.  In fact, I would make the case that teaching is translating.    —    KMAB]
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Well, if there was much doubt about my review the other day about “The King’s Speech“, it was laid to rest tonight when the movie won Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Screenplay at the 83rd Academy Awards.  Bravo Colin Firth!  Well done, lad!
I must admit, “Inception” did not do as well as I thought it was going to when I first saw it.  I felt it was a brilliant movie and would have a long term impact on the industry and society – much like “Matrix” did.  But it (“Inception“) never has.  It also won several awards tonight, but they were technical awards mostly about sound.
Friday night, I re-watched “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen“.  I must admit it was much better on the smaller screen and I was able to follow the fight action much better with the limited view of having everything directly in front of me instead of having to shift my eyes or head as I would have to do at a theater.   I’m going to watch T:I and T:II again before T:III comes out later this year.  I think, so far, the first was better than the sequel because the first had more (and better) humor, but T:II had some pretty good moments too.  I particularly like the action shot of the carrier being destroyed by the Transformer bad-guy “meteors”.  That was a very well done action sequence.
Last night (Saturday), I re-watched “The Guardian” with Kevin Cosner and Ashton Kutcher.  It’s a cross between “An Officer And A Gentleman” and “The Karate Kid“, but it really works for me.  They both worked individually (for me) so there is no reason to think a combo wouldn’t.  The movie is about the US Coast Guard elite jump-swimmers (they jump from helicopters) who save lives at sea.  Of the two, I’d rate Guardian over T:II if only because it was less comic bookish.  All in all, a good weekend for watching movies and relaxing.
Non-Movie Notes:
Friday I got a permanent crown put in.  I got the temp a couple of weeks ago.
Yesterday, Hil and I went out for another meal with Donnie (my son’s god father).  He’s going away on vacation for a couple of months, so it was kind of a farewell dinner.
Hil and I went for an afternoon walk around Lafayette Reservoir this afternoon, after church.  It was beautiful – sunny but with a nice cool breeze.  It felt good to spend some time out with Hil – just walking and enjoying the air, view and each other’s company.
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Worldly wisdom teaches that it is better for reputations to fail conventionally than to succeed unconventionally.
    —    John Maynard Keynes
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Derivatives are financial instruments that have no value of their own.  That may sound weird, but it is the secret of what they are all about.  They are called derivatives because they derive their value from the value of some other asset, which is precisely why they serve so well to hedge the risk of unexpected price fluctuations.  They hedge the risk of owning things … in short any asset whose price is volatile.
… Derivatives cannot reduce the risks that go with owning volatile assets, but they can determine who takes on the speculation and who avoids it.
   —   Peter L. Bernstein
From his book:  “Against The Gods
[And this is the problem with the current housing crisis.  Bad loans have been mixed (“bundled”) with good loans in an unspecified (unregulated by the government) mishmash which devalues the good loans and the derivatives from the associated bundles.  The risk has been “socialized” by passing on these bundles of undetermined value to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac (essentially, us the U.S. taxpayer).  Without the ability to “un-bundle” the good from the bad, anyone holding derivatives from the last ten years has no way to determine value or risk.  The financial structure (banks and other private holders of bundles) cannot do it without the real risk of being forced into bankruptcy by having to acknowledge how much is bad;  the government cannot do it (in a timely manner) without acknowledging much of the financial structure is bankrupt and therefore forcing a great depression…  The only hope is a slow, moderated unwinding of the process while simultaneously ensuring it is not still happening.  But time is against you, because the emperor has no clothes!    —    KMAB]
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You believe in a God who plays with dice, and I in complete law and order in a world which objectively exists.
  —  Albert Einstein
(In a letter to Max Born)
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But there is one thing government cannot provide: the individual’s sense of achievement.
Yet this is the essential element of development.  What is needed in this world today is not primarily wealth.  It is vision.  It is the individual’s conviction that there is opportunity, energy, purpose to his society, rather than problems, inertia, and hopelessness.
  —  Peter F. Drucker
From his book:  “The Age Of Discontinuity
[It always comes back to HOPE and PRIDE.  —  KMAB]
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The real trouble with this world of ours is not that it is an unreasonable world, not even that it is a reasonable one.  The commonest kind of trouble is that it is nearly reasonable, but not quite.  Life is not an illogicality; yet it is a trap for logicians.  It looks just a little more mathematical and regular than it is, its exactitude is obvious, but its inexactitude is hidden; its wildness lies in wait.
  —  G. K. Chesterton
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Got home from work and went out back to help my daughter Sarah practice her bench presses.  She’s taking a class in weight lifting in high school PE and she needs to increase her lifts to get a decent grade.  Her max is 70 lbs X 5 reps.  Today she was able to do 60 lbs about five times and 50 lbs ten times.  She’s making very good progress.  I also had her doing some crunches and back strengthening.  I’m hoping to have her up to 90 lbs X 5 reps by the end of March.
After helping Sarah, I went across the street to the schoolyard for a slow jog.  I did my normal 70 minutes; about 4 miles.  It wasn’t hard, but it wasn’t easy either.  Today was my first day back since my trip to the ER on Valentine’s Day.  Eight days ago…  Anyway, no vertigo and it helped my confidence to get through a jog.  As I so fondly say – slowly, slowly…
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Likeness to truth is not the same as truth.
 

—   Peter L. Bernstein
Against The Gods

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Last night Hil, Sarah and I went to see “The King’s Speech“.  The movie is made by the British, stars (mostly) British actors, and is about the British monarchy. How could we not go see it at the theater?
It’s about a prince of England who has a fairly terrible childhood and becomes a stutterer.  The movie only shows him as an adult and uses the prince’s musings about his childhood to draw out our sympathy.  The interplay between the two main characters – the prince and his tutor – is both poignantly touching and humorous.  The dialogue is superb and the cinematography is excellent.  Of course, there is the predictable successful ending, but when a movie is great, who cares if it is somewhat predictable.  All three of us thoroughly enjoyed the movie and – rarity of rarities – Hilary said she couldn’t believe it ended so quickly and could we stay and see it again.  We could have, but we didn’t. I had work the next day (today) and we had still to eat dinner.  I cannot recommend this movie too highly – simply brilliant!  I can hardly wait for it to come out on DVD so I can watch it several times.
Tonight I went to the theater with my daughter Sarah (no Hil this time).  Our second movie choice was a reversion back to my favorite genre – Sci-Fi, lots of fights, lots of explosions, and just enough decent acting and plot to get from one action sequence to the next – “I Am Number Four.”  The movie is a mostly young adults (playing high school teens), alien with super powers, coming of age movie with the classic good versus evil plot thrown in to get you between the action scenes.  Here’s a partial quote from Christianity Today’s review of the movie – “A dreary, explosion-saturated cross between Terminator, Twilight, and The Matrix…”  They gave it a one star.  Their reader’s gave it a 4 out of five stars.  I’d say 4 out of 5 is just about right.  Not a MUST see movie, but a very enjoyable way to while away a couple of hours with your daughter in harmless entertainment.  I’m looking forward to the DVD and the sequel.  And before I forget, there’s a great beagle in the movie.  Love me them floppy ears!!
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Rational Probability

The importance of probability can only be derived from the judgement that it is rational to be guided by it in action; and a practical dependence on it can only be justified by a judgment that in action we ought to act to take some account of it.
    —    John Maynard Keynes
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Saturday, Donnie and I went up to spend the day with my brother Sean and his son.  We went out to lunch and then hung out to watch some boxing in the evening before heading home.  I had a real enjoyable day just hanging out.
While there at Sean’s, Donnie and Sean were discussing a movie titled: “Mississippi Burning“.  They both thought it was a terrific movie and both recommended it.  My brother owns the DVD, so I borrowed it and watched it last night.
The 1988 film is loosely based on an actual multiple homicide which happened in 1964.  The triple murder is racially based and is committed by members of the Ku Klux Klan.  The movie is a powerful indictment of America as it was just 50 years ago but watching TV (FAUX News) from today, one is left wondering if it’s changed much in many parts of this country.
I am not into “horror/slasher” films anymore.  I guess I’ve out-grown the genre of pointless scares and brutal murders.  After watching the horror depicted in “Mississippi Burning“, it’s hard to even imagine the real terror in the hearts of those Americans who had to endure generations of such treatment.   One scene in particular was particularly troubling – probably from the sense of “deja vu” it engendered.  The Grand Dragon of the the KKK was giving a speech to the “faithful” and he was blaming all non-protestant, non-anglo saxon, liberal people for threatening their “American” way of life in small town Mississippi – and I swear I could hear Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck spewing their poison about “them” and “those people” and taking back “our” country.
Well, I’m mighty sorry Michele, Sarah and Glenn – this is MY country and I’m not giving it back!  I gave four years of my life in the Army in service to MY country.  Two years in Germany as the first line of defense protecting NATO from the WARSAW Pact.  I’ve also spent the last 30-plus years in the middle class working and paying my taxes.  I’m not going back to the way it was – this IS my country.  If YOU hate the way it is NOW, you leave – because I love America and I see better days ahead if we keep moving forward.
Mississippi Burning” is an excellent movie and I highly recommend it.  I recommend it as a reminder of where we’ve come from and where we can slip back to if we are not careful.  If you haven’t seen it – or haven’t seen it recently, I highly recommend you check it out.  (Did I mention I recommend this film?)
Other Thoughts:
Today I went out for a walk with Hil.  We were out for about an hour and I never got dizzy.  My ear was throbbing a bit and is still not 100%, but I’m getting better.  After that, I took my son James out for a driving lesson.  He’s making progress.  Sarah is off at school practicing for her band competitions coming up soon.  Later this evening, Hil, Sarah and I are going to see “The Kings Speech“, so I’ll have another review to do soon…
Happy President’s Day to everyone!  God bless America!
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Fear of harm ought to be proportional not merely to the gravity of the harm, but also to the probability of the event.
    —    Antoine Arnauld
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Expected Value

The value of our expectation always signifies something in the middle between the best we can hope for and the worst we can fear.
   —    Jacob Bernoulli
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