Wednesday, January 25, 2017

All of My Heroes Are Dying: Good-Bye Mr. Vonnegut

Well I just read the news. I was getting on the web to do some surfing and there it was. Kurt Vonnegut Jr. has passed on. He was 84. I’m sure that like most people I did a double take and thought maybe I read it wrong. No such luck. As the reality of it sunk in, the memories of his books started coming back to me. I have several on my bookshelf and love them all. For me, Kurt’s writing was very important. When I was in my early teens my brother gave me a copy of Breakfast of Champions. It became the first book I’d ever read all the way though on my own time. I just couldn’t put it down. Or course I’d read books for school and children’s books when I was little, but I really wasn’t much of a reader until I got that paperback. It was magical and changed me and the way I thought about what could be written and how stories could be told. Up until that point I never knew that books were being written like that. The humor and absurdity of it blew me away. I was so taken by it that I started writing my own stories not long after that, a direct result of reading that one book.

Every so often a famous person dies and the story hits the news everywhere. Most of the time its just some old actor or politician who was sick and we all remember when they were in their prime. Then we just go back to our lives and forget about it by lunchtime. But, every once in a while someone famous dies and a little light burns out in our heart. This person wasn’t just a name on TV or the author of a great book. Sometimes that person meant something very special to us. They were a part of our childhood and the memories we have of it. The late Fred Rogers from the PBS show Mister Roger’s Neighborhood comes to mind. I’m usually not that emotional but I actually cried when I heard that he passed away. Imagine a thirty-something me sitting in front of the TV watching the news crying over a the death of a man I’ve never met. I was also saddened when Dr. Carl Sagan died. Like so many others I watched Cosmos and was completely fascinated by all the wondrous things Dr. Sagan would describe and teach us. I went on to read his books too. We lost another great one when we lost him.

It amazes me how we never realize that some of the people who have greatly influenced our lives in a positive way, we’ve never actually met. These people reached out and touched millions. They taught us to think and explore and try something new and have a few laughs along the way. That’s a gift that can never be repaid. I miss them all and can be thankful that they’ve each left something behind that we can enjoy. I can still go to the neighborhood of make-believe when I turn on the TV and watch reruns of Mister Rogers if I want. I can put Cosmos on the DVD player and relive those discoveries billions and billions of times. And of course, I am rereading Slaughterhouse-Five as I write this. Thank you Mr. Vonnegut, wherever you are. And so it goes.

Labels: All of My Heroes Are Dying: Good-Bye Mr. Vonnegut

Anorexia Relapse: How I Am Working Through It

The risk of relapse from a patient suffering with anorexia is very high. An anorexic patient will starve themselves while thinking that they are overweight. It is a severe emotional disorder, and is more common in developed countries than non developed countries. Risk factors also include obsessive compulsive disorder, depression, dieting or avoidant or narcissistic personalities.

I have had a personal encounter with a relapse in Anorexia. I do believe that it is about control. I choose not to eat, when I cannot control anything else in my life. I choose the way that I will look, I choose to fill myself up with drinks and control every morsel that goes into my mouth.

I am on the verge of a relapse. I can feel it in my bones, but mostly in my mind. I am so hungry that I am biting my nails again, I don’t want to eat. I want to prove that I can do it again. I am fighting with this, and I thought I was better. I thought I was able to handle it, but maybe I am not. I drank a small bottle of Sunny Delight today and went for a run for an hour until I became light headed. I have drunk bottle after bottle of water today but it won’t cease the hunger that I feel. I could eat… but than I would feel worse about myself. I have brushed my teeth six times today, to ward off cravings for food.

Anorexia affects the demographics of women, onset into puberty. A fifth of women who suffer from anorexia have a relative who suffered from anorexia at some point in time.

Interestingly enough, a cause of anorexia is said to be overbearing, or critical parents, or other critical people involved in your life. As well, perfectionist tendencies or fear of ridicule are also causes of the disorder.

On a different level, a relapse of anorexia is often caused by psychological distress as hunger feels worse than the pain that we often feel inside our minds. The risk for relapse will always be there, and I will be fighting this for the rest of my life.

This article does not support anorexia in any way; it is informing you about what goes through the mind of an anorexic, which is at risk of relapse. I do not want you to feel sorry for me, for words give me strength – and hopefully I can gain control over my life, not just today but always – finally, I will no longer have to worry about what it is that I am putting in my mouth.

Labels: Anorexia Relapse: How I Am Working Through It

An In-Depth Look at the 4-3 Defense

This is an analysis of the 4-3 defense used in American football. The 4-3 defense is thus called because there are four defensive linemen and three linebackers in the front seven positions of the defense. The 4-3 is designed to get more pressure from the line of scrimmage from the defensive lineman and usually relies less on blitzing.

As you can see here the 4-3 defense was probably invented by Tom Landry who eventually called his version the flex defense. The 4-3 defense uses two defensive ends and two defensive tackles as opposed to linemen used in the 3-4 defense as you can read about here.

The defensive ends line up across from the offensive tackles, and the defensive tackles across from the offensive guards. The ends will usually line up to the outside shoulder of the offensive tackles. Their job is to get to the quarterback on passing plays and to contain the outside on running plays while trying to make a tackle. The defensive tackles in the 4-3 defense try to occupy blockers to keep them off the linebackers, while also trying to pressure the middle of the offense.

The three linebackers are the middle linebacker, strong side outside linebacker and the weak side outside linebacker. The strong side linebacker lines up on the side of the field where the tight end is playing for the offense, if there is one in the formation. The strong side linebacker will usually cover the tight end or a running back on passing plays but sometimes blitzes. The middle linebacker mostly plays run defense first but will also play zone pass defense. The weak side linebackers blitz more than the other linebackers in the 4-3 defense and also cover backs out of the backfield on pass plays.

The defensive backs in the 4-3 defense are two cornerbacks and two safeties. They line up in different places depending on their coverage assignments. The safeties tend to do safety blitzes less than in a 3-4 defense due to less people being back in pass coverage.

Some famous versions of the 4-3 defense or well known teams that used a variation are as follows. The Pittsburgh Steelers “Steel Curtain” defense was a 4-3 with such notables as “Mean” Joe Greene, Ernie Holmes, Jack Lambert and Jack Ham playing their roles. Dallas’s “Doomsday” Defense under Tom Landry was the 4-3 “Flex” as mentioned above. The “Cover 2” defense or “Tampa 2” is a 4-3 defense. Buddy Ryan’s “46 defense” was a variation of the 4-3.

Sources looks at the 4-3 defense article on the 4-3

Labels: An In-Depth Look at the 4-3 Defense

Accelerating Environmental Education Towards Sustainable Development

The Philippines is in full-gear as it climbs a step up the ladder of education for the environment towards sustainable development. Through the initiative of the government, and the headstrong coordination of the academe, the media, the non-government organizations, environmentalists, private organizations, and the civil society, the Filipinos would be taking up the challenges, with a vision to keep pushing a national movement towards the betterment of the Philippine environment, through education.

Education is and has always been a crucial component towards environmental conservation, protection, and management. However, all men have all been made aware of the constraints and problems at hand concerning the natural resources – problems brought about by factors varying from technology to population, from lack of discipline and values, to mal-education. There is an urgent need to sustain the precious resources worldwide so that lives would be sustained, and so, emerged a universal program of action, the Agenda 21.

Agenda 21 is a universal campaign to bring the Earth into a sustainable future, and the Philippines, being among the countries participating in it, has created its local version, the Philippine Agenda 21. It is a vision for a better quality of life for all, with five goal elements to keep in mind: Ecological Integrity, Poverty Reduction, Social Equity, Empowerment and Good Governance, and Peace and Solidarity.

Last July 4, 2006, the Environmental Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) hosted a forum on Accelerating Environmental Education Towards Sustainable Development, attended by no less than Ambassador Madam Preciosa Soliven of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), and by DENR officials, noted environmentalists and academes, the media, the church, and the business sector.

The Forum, which has become a venue for educators and environmentalists, focused on one goal element: Ecological Integrity. This is to highlight the urgent need to push for resource conservation, and endlessly lobby for programs on environmental restoration and enhancement.

Let us all be key players who would make sustainable development in the Philippines possible, even through small contributions through environmental education. Let us play the eternal role in making more and more people aware of, and convincing them to take responsibility in, the management of the Philippine environment. Together, let us work towards a vision of an environmentally-literate and proactive citizenry, who would care for and protect the environment.

No government project would succeed without the support of the people. Education is key towards progress. Let us all take the challenge and work together to accelerate environmental education towards sustainable development.

Labels: Accelerating Environmental Education Towards Sustainable Development

Adaptation Postulation

1. Glitz by Elmore Leonard-for the Get Shorty fan

I’m cheating here, because Glitz was already adapted into a movie, but it was a TV movie from 1988. But I’m talking about an actual feature length film, so don’t gripe. Anyone who has read Elmore Leonard’s books (or even see his movies) knows he succeeds at three things: dialogue, humor, and realism. He understands people and how they talk, their mannerisms, and how funny it is to exaggerate stereotypes (e.g. the grandiose gangster, the ultra psycho, the cop with all bravado). More importantly, his stories are never outrageous and improbable, they never take themselves too seriously. That said, Glitz is my favorite of his books Set in the 1980s, Glitz tells the tale of Miami detective Vincent Mora who, while recovering from a gunshot wound, is not only caught up in a murder plot in Atlantic City, but is also being stalked by a vicious killer called Teddy. Of course, twists and turns abound, and the result is a highly entertaining piece of mystery.

For Vincent, I easily cast Russell Crowe, who can bring not only the subtle charm to the role, but also that “Edge” we see in any good Crowe movie. Think L.A. Confidential meets American Gangster and you have Russell Crowe’s character. On the flip side, Jackie Earle Haley, who has now made a career of playing some truly disturbed individuals, is perfect as mama’s boy Teddy Magyk, a creep who isn’t as dumb as he looks.

2. Fools Die by Mario Puzo-for the life crisis and tormented soul fan

Though widely known for The Godfather and his other mob-oriented novels, Mario Puzo also penned this epic tale of redemption, guilt, and personal crisis…basically life. The story begins with a group of friends in Vegas, with one committing suicide shortly after winning a fortune. After that, the plot shifts towards Merlyn, one of the members of this group. I can’t give too much away, mostly because there isn’t a lot to give away. It is dense and there is not a ton of action, but for solid drama, you can do no wrong. This is the book that made me want to write screenplays. Ethan Hawke would be good for Merlyn, , Joe Pantolino for Doran, Julian McMahon for Cully, and in a scene-stealing role, either Philip Seymour Hoffman or James Gandolfini for Osano, the foul-mouthed and outrageous author who befriends Merlyn.

3. The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury-for the Pan’s Labyrinth fan

Note: IMDB.COM states this film is in development, but what does that even mean? Thousands of films are “in development.” In any case, I choose you, Guillermo Del Toro! For Director! Because this is YOUR film! This would definitely be a challenge to adapt, but I think it’s worth it, just for the visual feast it would bring. The lead plotline is about a man who meets a heavily tattooed stranger. This man’s tattoos are able to move and have the ability to tell a story, one for each tattoo. The challenge I mentioned about is that there are over a dozen stories in this novel, all short stories, of course, but how do you choose which ones are most important? That said, Del Toro’s flair for special effects would be PERFECT for these tales, not to mention the Illustrated Man himself would be a sight to behold. I don’t have any preference to actors, as long as they can sell it. For me, it’s all about the stories and the lessons they promote.

Labels: Adaptation Postulation

A Bizarre Error Helped Create the Nobel Prize

Very few people realize that the esteemed Nobel Prize might never have come about if a French newspaper in 1888 had not made a mistake in an obituary. Not only did they have the wrong individual and description about the person’s life, they were also highly critical of that individual.

The evolution of the Nobel Prize began when Ludvig Nobel, recognized as an engineering genius, good businessman and generous humanitarian died in March 1888 in Cannes, France. The local newspapers ran the obituary stating it was Alfred Bernhard Nobel, the younger brother to Ludvig, who just died. The fact was that Alfred, a famous inventor and chemist was very much alive.

As if that was not unsettling enough, the paper was rather judgmental about the life and achievements of Alfred, to the point of labeling him; “the merchant of death.” Alfred was totally shocked that he was perceived in that manner, with such revulsion that his only contribution in life was to bring about death.

Alfred Bernhard Nobel was actually a pacifist by nature. A brilliant man born on October 21, 1833 in Stockholm, Sweden. He grew up with siblings and parents who were achievers. His father, Immanuel Nobel, was an architect, builder and inventor. He had a machine shop in St. Petersburg, Russia and was very successful with contracts from the Russian government to build defense weapons.

Mostly self-educated man, Alfred, became a trained chemist. Besides science, Alfred was an avid reader of literature, plus very fluent in English, German, French, Swedish, and Russian languages.

As a young man Alfred soon began experimenting with nitroglycerine, creating his first explosions in the early summer of 1862. It exploded under unpredictable amounts of heat and pressure. He attempted several different things to make it more stable. By October 1863, Alfred received his fourth Swedish patent, this one for his percussion detonator, what was referred to as the “Nobel lighter” and later called a blasting cap.

He had a small factory at Helenborg near Stockholm to manufacture nitroglycerine. Unfortunately, nitroglycerine is a very difficult and dangerous material to handle. In 1864 that factory abruptly blew up, killing several people, including Alfred’s younger brother, Emil Nobel. He was more determined to make improvements and develop a safe blasting compound. To safely conduct his experiments he set up his materials on a flatboat in the center of Lake Malaren.

While in Manhattan, New York in May 1866, Alfred Nobel demonstrated the explosive effects and safety of nitroglycerine, when properly handled. This was done on a rocky slope at 83rd Street, between Eighth and Ninth Avenues. He was discovering and creating improved substitutes for gunpowder. By 1867, Alfred invented a new and safer-to-handle explosive that he termed ‘dynamite’. He had it patented in Great Britain in May 1867, then Sweden in September 1867 and next the United States by May 1868. Between 1869 and 1872 he had greatly improved the Nitro-Glycerine compound, making it much safer to handle and that was patented.

Nobel looked at this explosive material as a way to end all wars. His belief in the use of dynamite and nitroglycerine was to help establish peace in the world. His thought: “The day when two army corps can annihilate each other in one second, all civilized nations, it is to be hoped, will recoil from war and discharge their troops.” Unfortunately, many other individuals saw his explosive inventions as an extremely deadly product.

He traveled the world selling his products because there did prove to be a demand for the explosives. Alfred became very wealthy by manufacturing from his 90 factories and the selling of dynamite, the preferred explosive.

Alfred was always an ill man, in poor health, suffering from migraine headaches, depression and blocked coronary arteries. Preferring spending time inventing he was not a social outgoing person and in turn never married or had children. Alfred did a three lady friends over the years whom he wrote letters to, but none married him. Being shy, Alfred also had very few friends.

When the French newspaper obituary erroneously headlined in 1888; “Alfred B. Nobel – a merchant of death is dead“, he realized that he did not want to go down in history with such a horrific epitaph. He thought long and hard about how he could change this perception. It would not be until 1895 that he had a most acceptable solution.

In Alfred B. Nobel’s final will, written November 27, 1895, he would leave approximately 94% of his vast estate to establish a worldwide annual award to outstanding individuals in the fields of physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature and peace. With such an award bearing his name, he hoped the Nobel name might mean more than destruction or death to humanity. He told no one of his wishes, it was strictly written in his sealed final will.

Alfred Nobel, talented chemist and inventor with 355 patents, died alone at age 63 on December 10, 1896 at his villa in San Remo, Italy. He died of a cerebral hemorrhage. There would be individuals years later, with a theory that possibly nitroglycerine poisoning produced the pains he suffered from and aided in an early death.

After his funeral the Nobel will was opened. This was when the world discovered the vast plans Alfred had set up to establish five worldwide prizes. As he stated; he wanted to honor those individuals who made “the greatest benefit on mankind.” He was a wealthy man, so he donated 35 million Swedish kronor (equal to $225 million today); with the prizes coming from the fortune’s annual interest. This news shocked his relatives.

Yet, this was not simple to carry out Alfred’s wishes. Problems arose quickly. First, with relatives not knowing his wishes, they wanted to contest the will. Also Alfred had lived in various counties and had no firm establishment of residence. So the question, which country; France, Sweden or Italy, would his will be valid? Then, there was the question of which country would run such an award foundation.

It eventually took five years to iron out all the details and methods of running the selection and awarding of the prizes. A Nobel Foundation was established with the prizes handed out in Sweden and in Norway.

On the fifth anniversary of Alfred B. Nobel’s death, December 10, 1901, the first set of Nobel Prizes were awarded at the Royal Academy of Music, in Stockholm, Sweden.

Those first winners were:

Chemistry: Jacobus H. van’t Hoff
Physics: Wilhelm C. Röntgen
Physiology or Medicine: Emil A. von Behring
Literature: Rene F. A. Sully Prudhomme
Peace: Jean H. Dunant and Frédéric Passy

The money from Nobel’s rich estate went into a fund managed by the Nobel Foundation. The interest from the fund constitutes the monetary prize each year. The selection process is long and careful. This is the main reason for why so many people give such importance to the Nobel Prize. It is the most prestigious intellectual awards in the world.

In 1968, a sixth prize, that of economics, was added. In each of the subject prize areas, there are between 100 to 250 nominees worldwide each year. No one can nominate themselves. All the paper work and documents used to determine why a person is named a winner for each category are sealed for fifty years. Also sealed are the complete list of nominees, that information is unavailable for fifty years.

Each prize awarded include a gold medal (18 to 24-carat gold), a diploma and a sum of money. Many of the recipients have donated their prize money to benefit scientific, cultural, or humanitarian causes. Just the honor of being selected is tribute enough for most individuals.

The award medal design:
“The back of the medal shows a tunnel blasted by dynamite and a detonator or blasting cap. On the front of the medal is a portrait of Nobel, with the Latin inscription Creavit et promovit, which can be translated “He created and promoted.”

Each December 10th, the anniversary of Nobel’s death, the various prizes are bestowed. The year 2011, with the December ceremonies, will mark the 110th year the Nobel Prizes have been given out. There will be a special remembrance of the man and of the foundation he established. Alfred B. Noble, achieved his goal of being remembered for a far greater achievement that creating dynamite.

Labels: A Bizarre Error Helped Create the Nobel Prize

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