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Odd Lots

  • In one of my rambles around the Web looking for interestering perspectives on education, I ran across this very insightful (if possibly misnamed) blog post. My take: We are teaching an entire generation that their own blathery opinions are unassailable. Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.
  • From Frank Glover comes a link to recent research suggesting that too much artificial light at night correlates with higher risk of breast and prostate cancer. More research is needed, but if the answer is to go to bed early and sleep in a dark room, Carol and I have it covered.
  • Rocky Jones’s Silvercup Rocket is well along on its restoration, and this page has both period and recent photos, as well as the best history of the Rocky Jones TV show that I’ve seen anywhere. (Ok, I’m biased–two of the photos are mine!)
  • Many people who have read my Hi-Flier Kites article have asked me what sort of paper was used to make the dime-store paper kites of the 1960s. I’ve asked around and tried any number of papers, but now I think I’ve come fairly close with a type of paper made in Germany and called–sunuvugun–“kite paper.” For some reason it’s popular with the Waldorf school crowd, though not for making kites. You can get it in 19 1/2″ X 27 1/2″ sheets, albeit only in 100-sheet lots, from A Toy Garden. That’s a little smaller than the Hi-Flier 30″ kite, but it’ll work. As spring gets a little closer, I’ll make one and report back here.
  • What the Waldorf schools do with kite paper is in fact impressive; this Flickr album scrolls through a good many photos of Waldorf traditional origami stars made with kite paper.
  • From Bill Higgins comes a link to Low End Mac, a site devoted to older Mac machines, especially pre-OS/X.
  • Pete Albrecht sends hope that Maurice Lenell may not be out of business, though their suburban Chicago plant will be razed to make way for yet another damned shopping mall.
  • I have several reasons for opposing contact team sports in schools (as opposed to careful weight training and aerobics). This is another one.
  • The three things I was afraid of as a six-year-old were robots, mummies, and volcanoes. I’ve made my peace with robots and mummies, but volcanoes still give me the willies, and our Alaskan citizens are watching another one nervously.
  • In case I don’t remember to mention it tomorrow or Sunday, Puppy Bowl V on Animal Planet kicks off at 3 PM EST Sunday, 2 PM central, 1 PM Mountain. When you get good and tired of watching spoiled-brat millionaires get the crap beat out of them by other spoiled-brat millionaires, the puppies may be a blessed relief. We never miss it anymore.


  1. Rich, N8UX says:

    As a radio amateur (and part time space cadet), I would be remiss to not take note of the Hallicrafters S-53, as well as what looks like a military tg-34 code tape unit and j-36 straight key at the “communication console” of cmdr Jones’ ship. How well did HF work above the ionosphere? A top secret propagation study, I assume.

    I bought an original Mac at a thrift store several years back for $10… ten bucks! Played with it a while, then sold it on ebay for $10… ten bucks! (argh.)


    1. Well, if there was nothing (even air) between sender and receiver, propagation becomes dirt-simple. I assume the ship drags a longwire behind it, although there is that little VHF dipole over the nose, and that at least has a little directional gain. CW beats other modes when you’re working a long path, so the J-36 makes perfect sense. I’m a little surprised that they have real gear in there, and not something just faked up for the cameras!

  2. Scott Carson says:

    Just by way of clarification–I titled my essay at An Examined Life “The Flynn Effect” as an ironic reference to the phenomenon, noted by many social scientists, that scores on IQ tests have a tendency to rise over the generations without any corresponding change in educational content, methodology, or other possible influencing factors. Consequently, IQ scores are regularly “standardized”, that is, adjusted so that the average IQ is still 100, rather than 120, 130, or what have you. I made the reference because, of course, the point I was trying to make in my essay was that some students certainly *believe* that they are much smarter than all previous generations, and they act that way when addressing the arguments and opinions of earlier writers. And yet, they often fail to understand what they’ve read.

    All of this is not to say that you’re not right to say the essay was possibly misnamed: obviously the point of being ironic is lost if either (a) nobody understands your reference or (b) you have not really found a good parallel to what you’re talking about. I suspect (b) is the more likely explanation, since my readers tend to be on top of such things (it is rather easy to Google “Flynn Effect”, after all), and I’m rather a klutz at making any sort of witty, ironic, or even amusing remarks! At any rate, I just thought I would thank you for the link, and also try to offer some sort of excuse for my title.

    1. You’re right. Once I learned a little more about the Flynn Effect, I “got” it, and my comment on the unaptness of the title was off the mark. The post itself is brilliant, if scary. I think you should write more about this; in fact, even in these days of disaster for the publishing industry (about which I know much) I think you could sell a popular treatment on the negative consequences of the “self-esteem” fetish in primary and secondary education. I’m pretty sure that that’s what you’re being hit in the face with in your classes.

      Complete change of topic here: My WordPress version of this blog is only a month old (the blog used to be standalone HTML) and I’m still learning all the kinks and twiddles. What mechanism alerted you to my post this quickly?

  3. Tom R. says:

    I am very sorry that Rocky Jones was never able to make it as far south as the Atlanta area in the 1950’s! I was a huge fan of Tom Corbett ( and I am sure that Rocky would have been right up there with my favorites.

    Great link Jeff, thanks.

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