Oh For the Love of Chekhov

It sounds trite to say that teaching literature is a labor of love, but if you will bear with me for a moment, I can describe the anatomy of the process in good detail, and you will see the precise roles that love plays. Mystics say that all is love; maybe I can show a little bit of what they mean. Continue reading “Oh For the Love of Chekhov”

Some Advice About Young Men

I would like to give a word of caution to young women who are engaged in romantic relationships. Many such women (by no means all! but enough that it is an observable phenomenon) hook up with a guy who is highly compatible, except for one or two elements in his life, elements she thinks she can change. Continue reading “Some Advice About Young Men”

The Biblical Ending to First Blood

And they came to the place which the scriptwriters had told him of; and Rambo built an ambush there, and laid the wood in order, and bound Teasle the sheriff, and laid him on the altar upon the wood.

And Rambo stretched forth his hand, and took the M60 to slay Sheriff Teasle.

And the angel of the Lord, the Archangel Colonel Trautman, called unto him out of heaven, and said, Rambo, Rambo: and he said, Here am I.

And he said, Don’t do it! Listen to me, Rambo; you have no chance. Drop your weapon. I’ll order the chopper in to fly you back to Bragg.

Continue reading “The Biblical Ending to First Blood”

Circle the Earth, Then We’ll Rendezvous at the Moon

Despite what they say about necessity, sometimes the mother of invention is another invention. For example, look at the airplane. The airplane had three technological prerequisites, two of which were introduced by the Wright brothers: their creation of the wind tunnel enabled practical and replicable research, and differential lift (accomplished today by means of ailerons and back then by wing warping) made it possible to turn an aircraft.

Wind tunnels and wing warping could have been invented long before the Wright brothers came along; those were not breakthrough technologies, just stepping stones on the path to powered flight. The third technological prerequisite, however, could not have been invented very much sooner than it was, yet without it, airplanes would not be possible. Continue reading “Circle the Earth, Then We’ll Rendezvous at the Moon”

Understanding Calculus by Understanding Infinitesimals

Calculus started making a lot more sense for me once I started looking at it in terms of infinitesimals. An infinitesimal is a strange mathematical object, but once we get a good understanding of what they are, then integrals, differentials, and the Fundamental Theorem of Calculus all drop into place. Continue reading “Understanding Calculus by Understanding Infinitesimals”

If You Can Read This, Then Perhaps We Can Work Together

In my efforts to further develop their economy, I proposed to the elders a system by which rack space in the village’s grape drying house could be bought and sold among the residents. By doing it this way, various permutations would stabilize the economy. For example, if someone suffered a crop loss, then at least he could rent out his unneeded rack space to his more fortunate neighbors and get a little income. The elders saw merit in this idea, but there was one insurmountable problem to it, and that problem stopped us dead. Continue reading “If You Can Read This, Then Perhaps We Can Work Together”

Dogs in Heaven or the Human Trinity?

Descartes described man as a combination of body and soul, or body and spirit (the two words are used interchangeably)– we have a material part, and an immaterial part. The idea precedes Descartes, and goes way, way back in the history of Western thought. Body/ spirit duality has been around for a long time, and most of us are very comfortable with the idea.

I want to bounce a different idea off of you, because body/ spirit might be a bit too simple. A dualist body/ soul structure to man invites the question, do all dogs go to heaven? Continue reading “Dogs in Heaven or the Human Trinity?”

The Myth of Human Frailty

I sometimes hear it said that humans lack the natural defenses that other animals possess. We have no claws or fangs, no thick fur or armored skin, we are not particularly strong, and so on. Our senses are poor, compared to animals, and it is only our extreme intelligence and ability to communicate in sophisticated ways that has enabled us to survive.

I would like to demolish this myth. Continue reading “The Myth of Human Frailty”