Recently, I heard on NPR’s Diane Rehm Show a statement that american hubris is a serious problem for America. Her guest, Godfrey Hodgson, had recently written a book entitled “The Myth of American Exceptionalism” where he explains that the U.S. is not as exceptional as it often believes. As Mr. Hodgson was being interviewed by Ms. Rehm, the word “hubris,” as applied to America, was discussed with some detail.
I don’t know about you, but the word hubris is not a word that I use regularly. According to my dictionary, hubris is excessive pride or self-confidence, arrogance. Well, I do agree that often times when listening/watching certain radio and television shows, usually the ones that are considered conservative, there does seem to be a “bit too much” pride or self-confidence expressed. Perhaps one general example of such “hubris” is when a politician says “God Bless America.” Though on the surface, there is nothing wrong with that for those who believe in God, it is often stated in a media that will be offered to the world. Wouldn’t it be better to at least say, “God Bless America AND the Rest of the World?”
Another statement that is often said is, “America has the best …”, where you can fill in the … with almost anything. Examples are “best education”, “best health care”, “best military”, “best life-style”, etc. I don’t know about you but I don’t think we have the best educational system. On almost all measuring instruments our educational system, especially when you consider education before college, is not the best. I really don’t believe our health care system is best when we have so many without healthcare insurance. And the list goes on and on and on….
What do you think?
My First Guest Writer
Rich Burnett, the author of the following “guest blog” is a friend of mine from college. We were, in those days, hunters by necessity. We would hunt and bring the game home for a good meal that evening. Some of the best meals I had while in college were those made after a successful hunt. When you read what Rich has written you may want to know more about his Dad. He has written an interesting book about his Dad and can be read by going to the site “Reamy George Burnett – “Slim”, A Brief History Including Ancestors and Descendants (1802 – 2000). I thank Rich for contributing as a guest writer.
The following is submitted by Rich Burnett, guest writer
Reading Ron’s R2 blog got me remembering old times. Ron and I were close during our four years at Truman State. Both avid hunters, we located a place 10 miles from Kirksville and spent many a winter day hunting rabbits and quail. Ron had an old single shot 12 gage with a 36″ barrel and a back sight. He would carry 2 extra shells in his hand, just under the grip. More than once, I saw him get off three shots at a rising covey, and bring down 3 birds. Quite a feat with a single shot, ‘course that old 36″ gun would shoot a half mile.
Thinking about our fine hunting times and also Ron’s comments about his Dad, caused me to remember a story about my Dad as well, which I’ll share here. The reader may know Ron lost his Dad when Ron was only five, I was fortunate to have mine all thru my growing up years. Anyway, here is a story about my Dad (Slim)
Daddy loved hunting and he had a knack for training dogs and always kept a good squirrel dog, one of the last ones was Rachel, an Airedale he got from the local Humane Shelter. Once when Mel Reese, my brother’s nephew came down to hunt with him, and after they had shot a fine mess of squirrels, Mel said, “That is a mighty fine squirrel dog. I believe that if she would only bark when she treed a squirrel that she would be the best squirrel dog I have ever seen.” Daddy replied, “That dog is awful smart. She knows I can’t hear so there ain’t no need of barking.”
“Ride slow, it’s about the trail, not the end of it.”
Recently, I attended a meeting of a philanthropic organization called St. Nicholas Philoptochos Society that is organizing a fashion show for the purpose of lending support for Autism Speaks. Why I am writing about this? Well, as I was sitting in the meeting it occurred to me that numerous meetings such as this are taking place almost everyday for many, many different reasons. Why do we, as humans, do philanthropic work?
What is in “human nature” that results in so many good deeds done for those in need? At the before-mentioned meeting I witnessed many attendees express great emotion – hoping to influence the decisions and have the fashion show “go their way.” All of the attendees were engaged in the meeting. No one was drifting or not concerned. Having been a teacher in my past, I could only wish that my students were as involved as those at the meeting. And the purpose? To do something for someone in need.
Why do we do these things as humans? What is it in us that causes us to do such things?
What do you think?
Do you try to make your thinking fit reality OR do you try to make reality fit your thinking?
This is a question I first heard posed by Richard Paul. I have found it to be an interesting question, especially during the past eight years, where I found myself wondering about the thinking being done by our country. Did we try to make reality fit our thinking when we said that our economy can be based on credit? Did we try to make reality fit our thinking when we said that the war in Iraq was justified? Did we try to make reality fit our thinking when we said “mission accomplished?” The pronoun “we” is not necessarily the most appropriate word to use but I did not want to blame all of this “flawed” thinking on a “he”, “she” or “they.”
Now for a specific example of a “he.” President Bush gave a news conference on the morning of Jan. 12, 2009. As he was asked various questions about the past eight years, I found myself constantly asking the question, “Did he try to make his thinking fit reality or did he try to make reality fit his thinking?” I think the latter. I have felt this way many times during his presidency.
I’m wondering if President Bush was asked about boiling water in the white house would he possibly answer with something like “it boils at the temperature of 50 degrees celsius.” Of course, the white house is not in Tibet (in the northern part of Tibet elevations average over 15,000 ft.) where water does boil at a lower temperature due to the altitude. The reality is that the white house in not in Tibet and water does not boil at 50 degrees celsius.
What do you think about this question of “Do you try to make reality fit your thinking or do you try to make your thinking fit reality?”
The 1st picture, above and on top, was taken when I was two and with my Mother and Father. The 2nd picture was taken when my sister was two (I’m not in the picture) and with my Mother and Dad (step-father). The 1st picture was taken approximately seven years before the 2nd one. Yes, that’s a cigarette in her hand. :-)
One of my recent comments asked for more poetry. I have one that I would like to share.
Many years ago I wrote a poem about my parents. It was written five years after my last living parent, my mother, died.
My father died when I was five years old and my mother remarried. Therefore, I have had two “Dads” and one Mom. My poem was an attempt to emotionally describe my thoughts regarding these three important people in my life. Note that in the poem I refer to three parents — Father, Mother and Dad. Dad is my step-father.
Some background regarding this poem. I wrote this poem in 1994 after my father, step-father and mother had died. My father died in 1951, my step-father in 1971 and my mother in 1989. On the five-year anniversary of my mother’s death this poem was created.
by Ron Rogers 10/16/94
When my father died I was very young,
And my mother told me while yet my tongue,
Let out so little noise of weep and sorrow,
I thought today was no different than tomorrow.
When my dad died I was young in years,
And my mother told me while yet my ears,
Heard much about the noise of sorrow,
I thought today was less than tomorrow.
When my mother died I was working fine,
And my sister told me while yet my mind,
Felt much about the loss and sorrow,
I thought today was made for tomorrow.
When tomorrow arrived I was here today,
And myself told me while yet I pray,
That so little is known about my sorrow,
For I thought today was my tomorrow.
This picture is an edited version of Jackson Pollock’s “Convergence – 1952,” that was displayed at the St. Louis Art Museum from Oct. 19, 2008 to Jan. 11, 2009
Earlier this week I visited the St. Louis Art Museum. I went with my wife and a friend. Our friend made a comment on a recent blog wondering about my reaction to the current special exhibition at the museum. She is curious about my point of view from someone who studied mathematics and often uses his mathematical thinking when viewing the world.
The special exhibition, called Action/Abstraction, features Pollock and de Kooning. Their work, along with other featured artists, manifest the type of art that some find similar to what a monkey would do if given the opportunity to paint. In fact, there was a video running in the exhibition showing a monkey painting an abstract picture similar to some of the work shown by “human” artists.
Now, what did I think as I used my mathematical thinking? Good question. Though some of the art appeared to be “unstructured,” that did not cause conflict in my thinking. Considering that in mathematics we often use randomness, which purposely seems unstructured, I did have an appreciation for how math and the art I was viewing meshed.
On the other hand, I often found myself questioning the standards that were used in order to create the art. And, then on “even another hand,” I found many of the pieces to be beautiful and pleasing to the eye. Why, I don’t know. Something inside of me just found it to be beautiful. Beauty (art) is in the eye of the beholder?!
Perhaps reading my post on “What Is Math” will help explain how the creative thinking and critical thinking from a mathematical point of view are not in conflict with each other.
What do you think?
OK, I have been asked about the name of this blog – R2. One person suggested that it must have something to do with linear regression. Another thought I was tying in my DNA or RNA or something like that, to the weblog. And another thought that since, in a previous profession I taught math, that the name has something to do with “algebraic reasoning.” Well, that thought is partially correct.
My name, Ron Rogers, has as first initials R & R. I wanted this blog to be something that I produced (a product) and since when you multiply quantities together, the result is called a product, I thought that R2 (R squared), the product of R & R, would be an appropriate name.
What’s in a name? Good question!
What do you think?
OK, you ask: why the title of business cards? Well, that’s what I have been involved in for the last 12 hours. I decided that it would be nice to have some “business cards” — really, I don’t have a business — to help me when someone wants or I want to give my addresses to someone. What I mean, is if I am asked for my web address (URL), e-mail address or any other contact information, then I can give the person the information on a card. Therefore, it’s my business card.
I figured-out how to use some of the software that I have on my computer to make a business card. It is a template and allowed me to design it in various ways and still kept the process simple. Yea!
I spent most of the time figuring out how to put my “blog image” on it, that’s the image you see at the beginning of this blog. This along with other pertinent information should help anyone who wants to contact me have a good chance of being successful.
Here is the final result, missing some information that is not appropriate at this time for this website. :-)
What do you think?
Let’s have a poem for the new year. Well, not necessarily a poem pertaining to the new year but a short poem to start our poetic expression off to a good emotional start. :-)
I read recently that President-Elect Obama is a fan of poetry. I think having a president that appreciates poetry and in fact, reads it, is a plus for our nation. There is more to any part of life than the unemotionally logical aspect. Hurray for Obama and our country. What a refreshing change. Just my opinion, of course.
Back to the poem. My new one for today and year is:
Love Is Now!
Yesterday’s love is like yesterday’s hug -only a memory.
Tomorrow’s love is like tomorrow’s hug -only a dream.
Love is present – a gift that only can be given in the present.
Love is now!
As you can read, the poem is about love. I like to think of love in terms of poetry. How about you?
I wish all a Happy New Year. 2008 wasn’t that great (for some). 2009 will be sublime. :-) I used the words great & sublime for the rhyme AND meaning. Also, I suppose at this time in 2009 I want to be positive.
I had an interesting New Year’s Eve due primarily to the visit of my son and his friends. We spent a lot of time playing Wii. As a local columnist wrote recently, the Wii put the we in our holiday. I bowled, played tennis, played baseball and golf. Generally, I was the loser but losing did not cause me to enjoy the evening any less.
One of my son’s friends has a blog and website that I would recommend all to visit. She writes in a clear and concise manner that allows the reader to come away with an informed point of view. I’ll let you judge the value but in my opinion, she has possible solutions to many of the problems encountered by people trying to be successful in today’s economy.
Meanwhile, as a reader, I thank you for reading this. I am learning how to use the wordpress blog website and know that there still is much of the learning curve that I have to climb.