The Mystery of Solar Totality

The solar eclipse of 2017 has meaning far beyond the moon passing in front of the sun.

21 August 2017 will be an important day in astronomical history. A total eclipse of the sun will occur, cutting a 70-mile-wide path from Salem, OR to Columbia, SC in the United States.  The physics of this event would humble Einstein, with sun, moon, and earth moving through space in perfect time and position, finer even than Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, and Mikhail Baryshnikov at their most magnificent. There will be eclipse parties, eclipse merchandise, and millions of eclipse viewers, some acting as citizen scientists for the US National Air and Space Agency (NASA). Schools are closed, and visitors in Oregon are renting tents for the weekend for $1,500 to get a front row seat.

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Fame – A Mathematical Model

A non-quantitative way to think about fame, how to increase it, and how to manage it. 

(Fame) I’m gonna live forever I’m gonna learn how to fly (High) I feel it coming together People will see me and cry (Fame) I’m gonna make it to heaven Light up the sky like a flame (Fame) I’m gonna live forever Baby, remember my name (Remember, remember, remember, remember) (Remember, remember, remember, remember)

When Irene Cara sang those words in 1982, she was predicting her future fame, and echoing a dream of people throughout the ages. Napoleon Bonaparte reputedly said, “glory is fleeting, but obscurity is forever.” Thousands of years before, women rejoiced with Naomi at the birth of her grandson Obed, saying “may his name become famous in Israel (Ruth 4:15).”  From the Gong Show to American Idol, from the high school gridiron to the Super Bowl, and from the county seat to the White House, many people are willing to do almost anything for fame.

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A Christian Philosophy of Education

What is Christian, as opposed to secular, education? How do educational theories apply? What should Christians do?

I was reading George Knight’s classic Philosophy and Education on a recent flight from Charlotte to Memphis when Paul, a young man in the seat beside me, struck up a conversation. A Punjabi Sikh, Paul had been a math teacher in an all-black classroom in Memphis, and we discussed how hard it can be to motivate students, especially when cultural and racial barriers stand in the way. The hardest question to answer is “why learn?” The most obvious reply, to get a good job and make money, is effective but limited. While we all have to eat, the human spirit needs a transcendent answer, something beyond the individual, to give meaning to learning, and to life. A metanarrative is a story that provides structure to people’s beliefs and meaning to their experiences.

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Health Care Foibles – A Personal Tale

An example of the stupid things even doctors do when it comes to health care. 

In March of 2013 I wrote Healing the Health Care Cost Conundrum. Four years later, in March of 2017, I have retired from the US Army and am practicing medicine in Memphis, TN. My practice is in the inner city, and our focus is serving the Medicaid population. Our patients are impoverished and often very sick, with chronic diseases frequently showing up 20 years earlier than in their more affluent counterparts. Many live in dangerous communities, have no reliable transportation, and have unhealthy food. Obesity is the norm, violence is taken for granted, and serious mental illness is widespread. It comes as no surprise that many patients abuse drugs, citing chronic pain that may or may not be real. Some come to the clinic for no other reason than to feed their drug habit, and try to get narcotics to generate a little extra income. It is the toughest medical environment I have encountered since my combat tour in Iraq.

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