Friday, March 25, 2016

update on truth blog: 4th neutrino calls standard model into question

For my 25th college anniversary, I wrote this rather long document about my lifelong search for "truth:"

original truth blog

I think I was the only one who, in response to a question of what I had been doing since college, gave an intellectual history of myself, rather than an exclusively personal history.  Aspects of my personal life came into it, but the focus was intellect.

It was one of about 3 essays in the 25th reunion book that was as long as it was.  Most people confined themselves to a few paragraphs. I've often described myself as having diarrhea of the keyboard.  Still a couple of my friends read it and liked it.

I noticed, though, that I was also the only one who ever wrote in to our college newsletter with a review of a book that I was excited about that I thought my classmates might like, because the author was a late, well-known professor from our college.

Granted it's nice to learn about weddings, kids, job changes, and moves -- but didn't we meet by going to college together?  Wasn't that an intellectual endeavor? Didn't that make us feel like exchanging intellectual ideas?

Ok, nevermind.

Anyway, the truth essay was brought to mind to my mind today, because I read that a 4th neutrino had been tentatively identified, and that it was outside the Standard Model.  The Standard Model is a family of sub-sub-atomic particles that replaced the earlier neutron/proton/electron atomic model of the elements -- to oversimplify.

The Standard Model was just starting to coalesce when I was in college and it was only just fully confirmed in 2009 with a believable study of the Top Quark, aka "god particle."

But, now, back to the drawing board, apparently, only five years later.

One aspect of my truth essay was the concept that science was violating Occam's razor.  Science keeps getting more and more complex and elaborate.  It has to have more and more theories. Exceptions to those theories keep getting found.  It's never like we can get to a final theory and stop.  Just when the Standard Model seemed like the definitive answer, something that doesn't fit into it is found.

This was one of the things that caused me to lose faith in physics and not pursue it professionally as an adult.


Here's another one of those -- physics is not complete issues 

Why is the universe expanding? At least, astronomers believe it is expanding.  Studying astronomy was part of what made me lose faith in physics.  Trying to grasp the enormity of the universe, helped me see how very small we are in comparison.  The idea that we could really understand it seemed absurd.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Lady Sketch Lab 2016

I have been participating in the 2016 Lady Sketch Lab at the Magnet Theater.  This lab started out with 84 women.  By the end we were down to 50, which is still a huge group.  Most of us submitted sketches, with several drafts.  Then some sketches were selected for the show.

I was cast as Narrator in "Extraordinary Woman" and Passenger (an improv role) in "Love Train."

This show is scheduled to run March 14, 21, and 28 at 9pm at The Magnet Theater, 254 W 29th St (near 8th ave), NYC

List of sketches

Love Train Part 1
Man Springs
Vous Tube
Vicki & Sue
The Art of Social Media
Love Train Part 2
You've Got Mail
Extraordinary Woman
Defense Dress
Baby Fat
Yoga Farts
Love Train Part 3

Here's a cast photo of the Extraordinary Woman sketch

And here was the entire cast

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Program for Murder on the Nile 3/10/16-3/12/16

I was in an Alpha NYC production of Murder on the Nile 3/10-12 -- team A.  Here is a copy of the program:

Monday, March 7, 2016

updates 160307

I have the following performances upcoming:

3/10, 11 &12 I will be playing Miss Ffoliot-ffoulkes at an AlphaNYC production of “Murder on the Nile” by Agatha Christie at the Producer’s Club
3/13 I will be again participating in the Cabaret showdown
3/14, 21 & 28 I will be participating in sketch shows at The Magnet Theater with the Lady Sketch Lab
3/18 Acting in sitcom The Cobblestone Corridor with Connecticut Public Broadcasting
3/22 I will again be participating in a charity fundraiser sponsored by The SetNYC at the Lovecraft Bar

I particularly want to tell you about these fundraisers.  Pim Shih has been doing a series .  Performers donate their times and some of the proceeds go to benefit deserving charities, especially to help the homeless.  Each show doesn’t generate all that much money, but it adds up over time, as Pim keeps doing more events.  March 22 is the third time I’m going to be doing a monologue.  

I think it would be nice if some casting directors and agents were to participate at these events, because it would raise the stakes and increase the amount that is raised.

Here’s a new voiceover demo:

Curriculum for a life skills course

This is a list of topics to be dealt with in high school curricula.  I originally wrote this back in 2007 or 2008, but I don't think I posted it publicly anywhere.  Some of these things may be taught in health classes, but not all of them.

·                        Personal & business ethics;
·                        Developmental psychology, so future citizens know how to raise our children without abusing them [e.g. we're constantly reading stories of parents who murder small children over toilet training issues or by shaking them when they're babies -- likely all due to ignorance of child development; and it would be good to learn to recognize learning and emotional issues such as those exhibited Asperger's Syndrome, dyslexia, ADD, mood disorders and the like and know how to address them proactively from the start;
·                        Relationship and negotiating skills, so future citizens know how to deal with spouses, other family members, co-workers (including supervisors, colleagues, and subordinates), competitors, neighbors, and friends;
·                        Time & money management;
·                        Career planning;
·                        What to expect physically and psychologically as you age;
·                        Basic first aid and recognizing dangerous health symptoms;
·                        Dealing with personal crises: family and personal illness, loss of job, loss or illness of family members; and

·                        Personal physical fitness and nutrition programs, for lifelong health in an aging body.

I became interested in this topic, partly because I served as a volunteer in my school district on the committees where decisions were made regarding programs for special needs kids.  I learned that life skills were taught to students with intellectual disabilities, but not to kids without disabilities.  Why?  I don't think kids normally absorb all the life skills they need, especially now that they're always glued to the computer.

Later, I got interested in these topics as a possible curriculum for a course to be taught in college.  I certainly didn't have a good grasp on these topics by the time I graduated.  I probably still don't.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Implications of free college

College affordability is getting to be a hot button political issue. President Obama addressed this in the state of the union speech 1/12/16.  Addressing this issue is a good thing, but it needs to be examined more closely

Right now, too many people are going to college, more than the economy can support.  

Not enough people are going into skilled trades. Entry procedures into lucrative trades such as plumbing and electrical are corrupt. Entry is dependent on knowing someone who will take one on as a journeyman or apprentice. The old boy network is resulting in incompetent practitioners who break things in my house. Entry into these professions needs to be more transparent like entry into law or medicine.

We need to stop regarding traditional college as the solution to employment problems. We need to educate people in how to run and start a business.  We shouldnt necessarily be encouraging so many people to go to college.

We have to reverse the process that has eliminated vocational courses from high schools, focusing them exclusively on college prep. We are raising a generation of people who are helpless to do ordinary things.

A couple of anecdotes:

This year, I attended a symposium at the University of Wisconsin in memory of my father, Heinz Barschall, and celebrating his colleague, Willy Haeberli. This occasion was timed to approximately coincide with my late father's 100th birthday and Willys 90th.

My father was a professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. For most of his career, he focused on nuclear physics. At this symposium, I learned that in seeking graduate students to study in his experimental physics lab, he preferred students who had been raised on farms, because these students knew how to build things, especially experimental equipment.

I remember my father saying that American students were always better than foreign students.

My kids went to a high school that had eliminated shop classes. I would say that they were effectively educated to be helpless.

I was an exchange student in France back in the 1970s.

The French educational system has always prided itself on being free; however, my impression was that the system was more focused on weeding students out than on educating them. There were exams at the ends of middle and high school -- intended to force most students to flunk. At the university, amongst students who had already been through the first two exams, only 50% got through the first degree, which was called "license."  The whole system was designed with the idea that it was free, but study beyond the teen years was generally only available to those who could pass these exams.

I feel that this process damaged the self-esteem of most French people and has resulted in that country having generally more unemployment and less entrepreneurship than here. The "free" education system in France, at least back then, had a horrific human cost, in terms of pressure on and damage to children. I saw rather alarming and obvious mental illness amongst members of my high school class there that I never saw in my American high school. 

I would submit that that human cost ultimately damages their economy as well.

Our system has been based on the hope of making everyone successful with easy, empowering courses. This is better for students. This results in increased creativity, confidence, and problem solving ability. We should not be rushing to imitate foreign educational systems.  The pressure I've seen on students in the NYC metro area, where my kids grew up, is very damaging, especially to boys, who develop more slowly than girls and can't cope with that pressure.

Comparisons between our high schools and foreign high schools are also very misleading, because in foreign countries a large percentage of students, perhaps a even a majority, arent necessarily finishing high school and are therefore not part of these tests.

Saying we are going to make college free is not necessarily a good solution.  It will encourage even more students to go to college, when too many people are already going to college.  It also will put many students into higher pressure academic environments that are not necessarily good for them. 

Monday, January 11, 2016

travel report 1/10/16

I went to a family wedding in Richmond, VA.  I wrote some notes on my experience

Travel reports
1) traffic problems in NJ and Fredericksburg due to accidents on the way down
2) D.C. Beltway Friday evening at rush hour wasn't all that bad. We only started getting problems after we left it. 
3) Google maps gets confused if you take the express lane on i-95 south of D.C. 
4) some highways in VA have a speed limit of 70 mph
5) gas in VA is even cheaper than NJ. Saw some at $1.59/gal
6) the distance between the last rest stop in VA and the first in MD, if you take the Baltimore/Washington parkway, is inhuman
7) wearing a polyester velvet jacket over a polyester velvet dress is like wearing a python. They walk against each other, using static electricity, until they crush you. I had to pull over to escape.
8) I told my sons that it isn't o.k. to wear black to a wedding, but lots of people did
9) with an older couple, who have requested no presents, a case of toilet paper can still be useful
10) Baptist churches are independent and can affiliate with several Baptist conferences at once, even tho there are big political differences between the conferences.
11) unlike most service plazas, the Maryland House actually has some decent vegan options at the Mexican place, but the Wi-Fi is lousy. The Mexican place reminds me a bit of Chipotle. I hope I don't get food poisoning
12) it's really hard to go from the Vince Lombardi service area to the 46 East exit at the end of the NJ Turnpike
13) my new velvet accessory jacket is the same color as church cushions and carpets.