Vatican Building Nuclear Bomb

The United States government has announced that the Vatican is developing nuclear technology in prelude to building a nuclear bomb. The Vatican has denied the claim.  U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the information was accurate, and although it wasn’t a slam dunk, it was probably a grand slam, and at the very least it was a two point conversion. Critics of the U.S. government criticized that statement.

The Vatican is a reference to the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church, who do their leading from a country called Vatican City. Vatican City is geographically located in the city of Rome, Italy, but existentially it is located somewhere between God and everyone else.

The Vatican said that they wanted peace and love spread among all of the people of the earth, and that they had no motivation to build a nuclear bomb. The U.S. government said that the Vatican did have motivation. They were motivated by the spread of Islam, and the rise of secularism in Europe. The U.S. government insisted that many of the gains in Catholic Church membership in the past had been made through conversion by the sword at first, followed by a high birthrate. The Vatican insisted that that was all in the past, and that they could never get away with that in this day and age.  Not that they would try, they said, because they wouldn’t dream of it, at least not during their waking hours, but at night you never can tell what you’re going to dream so they couldn’t promise about that.

The Vatican also said that even if they were developing a nuclear bomb, hypothetically, they would have nowhere to test it. Their country was less than half of a square kilometer in area. One accident would eliminate the whole country. The U.S. government said that the Vatican had churches and property all over the world, and that they were working in multiple locations.

The Vatican said let’s see your proof. The U.S. government said that we can’t show you that, it’s classified. The Vatican said yeah, right.

The mayor of Rome said, “Whoa, you guys need to calm down. We’ve got a lot of innocent people down here.”  The U.S. government said that according to the Vatican none of them were innocent, because they were all born with original sin. The Vatican said I know you are but what am I?

U.S. President Barack Obama blamed it all on  former President George W. Bush. He claimed that the dispute was personally Bush’s fault, as were the current economic crisis, the rise of political polarization in Washington, the decline of Western civilization in general, and original sin.  Former President George W. Bush said that he had no commentation regarding this issue.

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History Worksheet

Below are links to various formats of a history worksheet I prepared for homeschool. It covers definitions of history, prehistory, and big history; and also the abbreviations BC, AD, BCE, CE, c and MYA.

These are included without any warranties as to fitness or whatever, implied or otherwise or whatever, etc, etc, blah, blah, blah.

History (pdf version)

History (LibreOffice version)

History (Microsoft Office version)

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Math Worksheets

I mentioned in the previous blog entry and in another earlier post that I had found two websites which generated math worksheets.  Even though I liked those resources, I still wanted my own math worksheet generator if I could create it without too much trouble.  The solution that I came up with was to use a spreadsheet that contained formulas which generated random numbers.

The key to the worksheet is a four-cell block that is two columns wide by two rows tall.  In the right-hand column, both the top and bottom cells have the following formula:  =randbetween(1,12)

This formula will generate a random number between 1 and 12, inclusive.  To generate a larger number, simply change the 12 to the desired number.  This weekend we will start reviewing long addition and subtraction, so I’ll probably change the 12 to 1000 in order for my kids to get practice with more complex problems.

In the left-hand column, on the bottom row, you can put the order of operation if you want it to be the same for all of the problems on the page.  For my daughters I wanted to mix addition and subtraction problems, but I wanted to make sure that if the number in the upper right cell was smaller than the number in the lower right cell that I didn’t use a minus sign because we weren’t working on negative numbers yet.  The solution involved the use of two formulas.

In the upper left-hand cell, the formula was “=rand()” without the quotation marks.  This generated a random number between 0 and 1 that could be used to randomly determine whether to use a “+” or a “-“.  I didn’t want this number to be visible, so I changed the font to white in the upper left cell.

The first group of cells on my worksheet that have this four cell group are B3:C4.  In the lower left cell (B4), the formula I used was:  IF(C3>=C4,IF(B3>0.5,”-“,”+”),”+”)

The quotation marks in the formula are important (at least they are in LibreOffice), and should be included.

The first “IF” tests to see whether the number in the upper right cell is greater than or equal to the number in the lower right cell.  This needs to be done in order to avoid a subtraction problem that would have a negative number for a solution (which is important for us at this time, but may not be in the future). If the number in the upper right cell is greater than or equal to the value in the lower right cell, then either a “+” or a “-” can be used, otherwise only a “+”.  The second “IF” tests whether or not the value of the hidden formula in the upper left cell (B3) is greater than “0.5”.   If it is, then the lower left cell (B3) will show a “-“; if the value in the upper left cell is less than “0.5” then the lower left cell will show a “+”.

The four-cell group is then copied and pasted as many times as desired throughout the worksheet.  Currently the worksheets I’m generating have 36 problems, 6 rows of six problems.  Once the worksheet is saved there is no need to edit any of the formulas unless I want to change the size of the numbers in the problems.

The good thing about the random number formulas is that each time I open the worksheet they generate new numbers, so that the likelihood of having the exact same worksheet twice is very remote.  In LibreOffice, I can also go to File -> Reload and the worksheet will reopen, causing the formulas to be recalculated.  In this way I can print a bunch of different worksheets in one sitting.

I’ve included several versions in case they might be of use to anyone.  The pdf version is static, and won’t generate new worksheets.  Downloading it multiple times will not generate new worksheets either.  The other versions can be saved to your computer and used for generating your own worksheets, should you care to do so.  The Excel version was saved using LibreOffice and has not been tested in Excel, but it should work without any issues.  If not, then the formulas can always be edited as per the instructions above, and then be recopied throughout the worksheet (or be changed using Find and Replace).

pdf version:  Addition and Subtraction Worksheet

LibreOffice template:  Addition and Subtraction Worksheet

Microsoft Excel version:  Addition and Subtraction Worksheet

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Worksheets

When I began homeschooling my daughters, I didn’t give a lot of thought to the use of worksheets other than using blank maps for geography.  My plan was to review information by asking each girl questions during our sessions.  After several months of experience I now have a greater appreciation for the value of worksheets.

Verbal review takes away from the time that we could use for covering new information.  By assigning worksheets I can monitor the learning and retention of data in a way that is more convenient and efficient.  The girls can do the worksheets while they watch television or listen to music, and that makes it convenient for them.  I can still do some verbal review of the subject matter to make sure they have the information memorized and aren’t just copying it (not that they would do that if they weren’t given permission to do so, but I’m a fan of “Trust, but verify.“).

The first use of worksheets (other than blank maps, word searches and crossword puzzles) was for math.  We had been using (and still are using) flashcards for math, but I found a couple of good websites for math worksheets that I thought were useful for supplementing our verbal review (http://themathworksheetsite.com/ and http://www.superkids.com/aweb/tools/math/).

I also decided I wanted to make worksheets that covered the material we were studying in other subjects, so I started a database in an office suite called LibreOffice (which is free to download).  I created one table for definitions, which included both the term to be defined and the definition itself; and another table for questions and answers.  Each of those tables was linked to a table of topics, which in turn was linked to a table of subjects, which in turn was linked to a table of categories.  This gave me the maximum flexibility for creating new worksheets that covered multiple topics.  Worksheets that covered only one topic I would save, but others I could generate using queries and a template in Calc (the spreadsheet application in the LibreOffice suite,  equivalent to Microsoft Excel).

As I was creating the first worksheets which just covered definitions, I decided to use a set of four worksheets for each topic:

  1. A sheet of terms and their corresponding definitions
  2. A sheet for matching the randomly sorted terms with their definitions by drawing a line from one to the other
  3. A sheet listing the definitions with blank lines for writing in the terms
  4. A sheet listing the terms with blank lines for filling in the definitions

With this system, each sheet allows for a greater demonstration of knowledge of the material than the previous one.  I start out by giving the whole set to each girl, then subsequently print whichever sheet seems appropriate for the demonstrated mastery of the topic.

Each set is saved in a separate Calc workbook, with each page on a separate worksheet.  By using a spreadsheet I can re-sort the order of the items to avoid the possibility of the girls memorizing the order of the answers.  In a column next to each item I insert the formula =Rand(), then copy it for each row of items.  This formula works both in Calc and in Excel, and gives me a random number next to each item.  Then I highlight both of the columns and sort ascending by the random number.  The first worksheet which has the definitions doesn’t get re-sorted, but the other three do.  Then I delete the cells with the random numbers and print the worksheet.

I haven’t done any worksheets yet with just questions and answers, only worksheets with terms and definitions.  My anticipation is that I will do both types of worksheets the same way.

When the girls have learned the material for a given set of topics, rather than giving them worksheets for reviewing individual topics I’ll give them worksheets that cover multiple topics.  This is where having the information in a database will come in handy, although it could actually be done in a spreadsheet as well.  I like using databases because it allows me to write queries that group the data that way I want it, but the functionality could be duplicated in spreadsheets if the person setting them up preferred.

I’ve only done three sets of worksheets so far, but I’ve exported them to pdf files and attached them to this post in case anyone wanted to see an example.

Knowledge

Math

Language

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Global Average Temperature

The concept of a global average temperature is an interesting one, but the problem with it is that is gives no useful information.  It is composed of the average of a certain number of sites, but it doesn’t tell you specifically where or when any changes occurred.

Global average temperatures can be compared to grade point averages.  If one’s GPA is at an extreme, such as 4.0 or 0.0, then information can be clearly gained from the number.  That person is either doing well at everything or poorly at everything.  Similarly, if the global average temperature of a planet is at an extreme, such as above 100 degrees C or below -100 degrees C,  then we have useful information:  we know we can’t live there without special equipment.

If a person’s GPA goes from 2.5 to 2.6, there is no actionable information unless that person is taking only one class.  If the person is taking more than one class, in which class or classes has that person improved, and in which does he or she still need improvement?

Likewise, knowing that the global average temperature has gone up by one degree is equally useless information.  Did the entire world get hotter?  Did one hemisphere go up by 2 degrees and the other remain the same?   Did one fourth of the world get hotter by five degrees and the rest cooler by a third of a degree?  Did the temperature increase occur over land or over the oceans?  Did it occur primarily at night, or during the day?  Or only during the winter, or only during the summer, or both?

On a planet where the extremes of temperature are greater than 100 degrees C apart, where the difference between daytime highs and nighttime lows is routinely greater than 10 degrees C, and where a one degree change falls within the range of natural variation, does a one degree change even matter?

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Olive Oyl Hospitalized for Anorexia

Olive Oyl was hospitalized yesterday after a visit to psychiatrist Siegfried Roy, who determined that she suffered from anorexia nervosa. She was admitted to the Betty Boop Clinic, and is expected to be there for several weeks. Ms. Oyl was not available for comment.

Anorexia nervosa is a mainly psychological condition in which the sufferer has an aversion to body fat and has a distorted self-image. These factors incline the sufferer to engage in eating patterns which can lead to other serious illnesses, and in extreme cases can result in death. Anorexic eating behaviors tend to result in a body form known as toothpicky, which may be attractive to skeleton people, but which is very unattractive to almost everyone else.

According to a friend, Olive Oyl began seeing a psychiatrist to deal with relationship issues. For many years she had been wooed by two suitors, Popeye the Sailor Man and Bluto, and she was having trouble staying committed to one or the other, tending to prefer whichever one happened to be winning the current day’s fight. Usually the winner was Popeye, but she would have been equally happy to go with Bluto, also known as Brutus. She was beginning to wonder if her fickleness was normal, and if there was something she could do about it.

Popeye and Bluto both stopped by the Betty Boop Clinic to visit with Olive Oyl. Questioned by a reporter at the entrance to the clinic, Popeye said that he had always thought that Olive was a bit too skinny, but that she was what she was and he loved her anyway. He said he had never wanted to be critical of her, particularly since she had always seemed so ready to drop him for Bluto at a moment’s notice.

Bluto was already inside of the clinic when Popeye entered, and a fight between them soon broke out. They were both ejected from the clinic, and permanently banned from the premises.

Olive Oyl’s medical doctor estimated Ms. Oyl’s chances of improvement at about eighty percent, although the likelihood of a full recovery was somewhat less than fifty percent. The doctor said that the most likely treatment would involve regular psychiatric sessions, and a high calorie diet. He said that in a few weeks she should look considerably less toothpicky, and more like a regular person.

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Fixing The Banking System

In my opinion, these are the laws that would need to be made in order to fix our banking system, which includes transitioning us from fractional reserve banking and eliminating the FDIC:

1. The FDIC will only insure deposits in fractional reserve banking accounts for the next ten years, after which time the FDIC will be closed, and no bank accounts will be guaranteed by the federal government after that time.

2. All banks must prominently post:

  •  Whether or not they are insured against robberies;
  • Whether that insurance applies to robberies by employees, non-employees, or both;
  • If insured, the name and contact information of the insurance company;
  • The amount for which they are insured.

3. No new accounts will be fractional reserve accounts.

4. New accounts may be either one of two types: interest bearing; or full reserve.

5. Neither new interest bearing accounts nor full reserve accounts will be insured by the FDIC.

6. If a bank informs its customers that a certain portion of an interest bearing account can be withdrawn upon demand, the bank must keep that portion of the account in reserve.

7. The bank must hold in reserve the total of the amounts which the bank has guaranteed that will be available for withdrawal to all of its customers with interest bearing accounts and full reserve accounts.

8. The bank is not required to offer the same percentage in reserve for each interest bearing account customer, but may negotiate with the customer the amount to be held in reserve for immediate withdrawal.

9. All interest bearing accounts must be administered within a joint fund, although a bank may have more than one such fund.

10. In any given fund of interest bearing accounts, gains and losses by the fund must be shared proportionately among the investors according to the percentage of the investible fund that they hold; the customers’ reserve amounts are not to be included in this calculation.

11. When signing up for an interest bearing account, customers must be notified in writing of the following facts:

  • The portion of the account that is guaranteed to be available for immediate withdrawal will be held in reserve, and will not be invested, and will not earn interest.
  • The portion of the interest bearing account that is not held in reserve will not be available for immediate withdrawal.
  • The bank will require advance notice for withdrawals of all or part of the funds that are not held in reserve [and the bank will specify in writing the amount of notice necessary].
  • Interest bearing accounts are subject to gain, but they are also subject to possible losses.
  • Losses in interest bearing accounts are not insured by the FDIC, or by any other agency or organization; if the investments the bank makes with the customer’s money suffer losses, the customer will lose money.
  • The customer will be notified in writing on a monthly basis of the status of the interest bearing account, including the amount of money that has been gained, or the amount of money that has been lost.
  • If the account loses more than fifteen percent of its value within a given month, the customer will be notified in writing within three business days of such loss. For each additional ten percent loss in the value of the interest bearing account, the customer will be notified in writing within three business days.
  • Past performance of interest bearing accounts is no guarantee of future results.

12. No money from a fund of interest bearing accounts can be invested in any investment vehicle or transaction which could result in a loss greater than the amount invested.

13. Interest may not be paid on a full reserve account.

14. Banks may, but are not required to, charge a monthly fee for full reserve accounts; and they may, but are not required to, charge transaction fees instead of or in addition to monthly fees for full reserve accounts.

15. A bank may offer to discount or waive the fees on a full reserve account to customers that invest or have invested a certain amount of money in an interest bearing account; this minimum investment is to be determined by the bank, and is to be the same for all current and new customers; and this amount may not be changed more than once every sixty calendar days.

16. If the account balance of any fractional reserve account falls below $100 for more than 24 hours, the bank is required to do the following:

  • Within one business day, reclassify the account as a full reserve account.
  • Immediately upon reclassification, remove from the fractional reserves an amount equal to the remaining balance in the account and transfer it to the full reserves for the newly reclassified account.
  • Within three business days of the account reclassification, notify the customer in writing of the following:
    1. In order to comply with federal banking regulations, the account has been reclassified from a fractional reserve account to a full reserve account;
    2. The account will no longer pay interest;
    3. Any fees to which the account is subject, and the date on which those fees will begin to take effect;
    4. The process by which a customer can sign up for an interest bearing account.

17. For accounts converted from fractional reserve to full reserve:

  • No fees may be charged for the conversion of a fractional reserve account to a full reserve account.
  • A monthly fee may not be charged for the first thirty calendar days after the conversion.
  • After the first thirty calendar days, any applicable monthly fees must be prorated for the remaining portion of the calendar month.

18. No bank may invest any of its funds in any investment vehicle or transaction which can result in a greater loss than the amount invested by the bank, regardless of whether the bank has the potential to hedge that greater loss by an offsetting position.

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These  rules would reform the banking system, and would prevent banks from extending themselves to the point where they pose a threat to the entire economy.

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