My Best Teaching Is One-on-One


Of course, I team teach and do special lessons, etc.


But my best work in the classroom is after the lesson is over --
going one-on-one,
helping individual students with their assignments.


It's kind of like with computer programs, walking the client through hands-on.
The job isn't really done until the customer is using the program.


Thursday, January 19, 2012

Ashamed to be human

Thinking more about the wars now being fought in courtrooms and Congress in the name of "intellectual property", in a society of plenty, where there should be no need to constrain the free human soul with such legal fictions, I am ashamed to call this planet my home.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Tech Companies too Big to Fail

Another epiphany while I was exercising this morning --

If a company claims it's too big to fail, what they are really claiming is that they are too big to risk being allowed to fail.

In other words, too big to have to put up with the normal viscicitudes of the market.

If they are so big, why do they need our help? (If big is such a good thing ...)

No, I'm not thinking about the banks and the American auto makers today. Lots of other industries are feeling the pains of too much of the wrong kind of big.

What is the wrong kind of big?

It's when you use your influence to your own advantage.

For example, it's when use money and connections to force changes in the law to protect yourself from all the little people who won't do what you want.

And it's when you use your ill-gotten patents to pervert the courts and make them them your battlefield in your wars of attrition.

Let's be straight. If you are looking at the market place as your battlefield and not thinking there's something wrong here, can you be sure you aren't already too big in your own mind?

Monday, January 9, 2012

Being human is so confusing.

[This is part of a meta-thread on Love and Romance.]

Being human is so confusing.

Some people are raised with the assumption that dance is foreplay. That kind of assumption makes it hard for men to dance with men, or women to dance with women, without people feeling perverted.

When I was young, there was an undercurrent in the popular literature/culture around West Texas, that physical interaction with other people was implicitly sexual. It made it hard to talk about rape as a crime of violence, because violence itself was sexual.
What do you mean, crime of violence, not passion? Violence is passion. Passion is violent.
I thought at the time that it was something that we were brought up with. If one is taught when young, that physical interaction is always sexual, it's hard to untangle sex and violence.

There was also a similar undercurrent that tenderness was a sexual emotion.

But if one is taught that the only "real" love is the kind that makes babies, one is at a loss to explain friendship.

I have since observed that the confusion is not simply intellectual.

The various systems in the unborn baby must go through a process called differentiation, or the organs never form. I read somewhere that, in many cases, the differentiation is not complete at birth. In particular, the circulatory, lymphatic, and endocrine systems tend to remain tangled, even in adults.

And a light came on. The understanding came a little late, but looking back I see that my own systems were still tangled up until sometime after I was married. (Still aren't completely untangled.)

I had a hard time in social situations when I was a teenager precisely because my adrenalin and hormone systems would kick into gear at the same time. Where the psychiatrists talk about fight-or-flight, I found other stimulations present when I was under stress. Some of those felt sexual in nature, which was embarrassing to me.

With experience, the stimuli have mostly sorted themselves out. I couldn't talk with girls about almost anything at all when I was around twelve to fourteen, because my system was charged with feelings that I had been taught I must not let loose. Physical exercise was often difficult for similar reasons. Answering the teachers' questions in class was sometimes difficult for the exact same reasons.

Learning to run longer than a few hundred yards at a stretch helped me straighten some of those out, although I would find myself fighting with a variety of confusing stimuli after about five minutes on pace. Taking modern dance classes at college was even more help. Dating helped, too, not to burn the hormones off, but to help me sort out which stimuli were real and which were artifacts of the tangling.

Dropping out of college for six or seven years to make an attempt on the OS challenge that Linus Torvalds finally succeeded on might have been another of the things that helped me get untangled.

Believing that the systems could be straightened out was essential. That belief is derived from my belief in the teachings of Jesus -- repentance.

(And repentance, itself, can be really confusing.)

[Update: 001: 20120109.0925]

So I woke up this morning about five, to exercise, and I realized that I left something unsaid that probably needs to be said.

I never knew anyone who had the systems untangled during their teens. Near as I can tell, it's a life-long pursuit for most of us.

And, I guess, one more thing I should say, since I don't have time to make another blog today, getting things untangled will help us accept and be accepted in society better, but it does not make us conform to any particular social norms. We all have talents, and having talents requires non-conformance, and part of the business of living is learning to use those talents well instead of running from them.

In fact, part of getting untangled seems to involve first accepting yourself as you are at the moment, for the moment. Once you have done that, you can get a good start on the day. And I will have to continue this sometime.

[end-update 001]

Sunday, January 8, 2012

What is love?

[This is part of a meta-thread on Love and Romance.]

One of the big hits by the band Foreigner was a song called, "I Wan to Know What Love Is." They made a lot of mileage out of the line, but there was a hidden assumption in the lyrics, that the singer would know it when he saw it.

A lot of philosophers have also got a lot of mileage from the question. My teachers in high school spent a not-insignificant amount of time on it.

Sometime during high school, I developed a simple formulation that seemed to work for me.

Love was constructive and hate was destructive.

I think one of my teachers asked me about passion, and I kind of ignored the question.

Another word that caught my attention back then was "intercourse". Without some modifier, it seemed to be understood to mean "sexual intercourse". But there are many kinds of intercourse.

Financial intercourse is not prostitution. Or, I guess I should say that prostitution is not the only kind of financial intercourse. Social intercourse is not a euphemism for sex orgies, or, at least, it shouldn't be. Political intercourse is not ...

Oh, never mind. Look it up if you don't believe me. Dealings, communications, interchange, interactions, relations.


Well, if I could use the word "intercourse" without being misunderstood, love is "constructive, or positive intercourse", and hate is "destructive, or negative intercourse."

But something kind of sticks out here.

There is a confusion about love, too. There have been many people, including famous political and social leaders, and philosophers, who seem to have this idea that love is always sexual.

My purpose in this blog is to tell you that is not the case. Pardon my turn of phrase here, but you don't have to screw everyone and everything that you love.

Love is desire, yes, but the kind of love that Jesus teaches us is the desire for the welfare of the other person.

You don't have to be in or under control of someone else to love.

Passion is not the love that Jesus teaches, and the Passion that Jesus suffered is not the same as the passion that causes abuse and failed relationships and crimes. Jesus voluntarily assumed the burdens of our sins. That is anything but passive.

So, if there is confusion, what is the cause?

Love vs. Power

[This is part of a meta-thread on Love and Romance.]

One summer while I was a student at Brigham Young University, my roommate, my neighbor, and I hung around with a very statuesque young sophomore and her roommates.

Once, while we were riding up into the canyon together to go moose spotting (Great excuse for a hike!) this young lady mentioned something she said her mother had told her.

Power is the basis of human relationships.

I didn't like the idea. I'm always a little slow on the uptake, and that was no exception, so I think I just said, hmm. But it conflicted with a number of things that I believe.

I've thought about that idea on and off a bit, and I have decided that many people really believe that. In fact, I think that many people confuse certain kinds of interpersonal power struggles for love.

Power is an important element of relationships, I'll grant that. Self-control is a kind of power, without which relationships can quickly become destructive.

Moreover, if there is an imbalance of power, where one person is always at a disadvantage to the other, the relationship tends not to be very satisfying to either. The one who believes him/herself in control may get a false sense of satisfaction, but there also remains an emptiness, a lack of fulfillment.

If you think you're powerless, it's hard to maintain good relationships. And if you think you must always be in charge, it's equally hard.

Service is a much better principle for relationships than power.

And, of course, love is the proper foundation of relationships. Even God, rather than force us to believe and behave, loves us enough to give us a redeemer in His Son, Jesus Christ.

(Which kind of begs a question -- what is love?)