Archive for the ‘education’ Category

board games

October 28, 2007

go board
I must say I love board games. After all it is the nice way to spend an afternoon with your monopoly-playing friends. But interesting thing is….why are board games good for? I read that there is more than a century long study on psychologic aspects of such games going on…impressive. So what do they say.

In nice article Wanna Play in Psychology Today by Jay Tietel he mentions

It is impossible to calculate how much people benefit from games:

o Games are primers on turntaking, the basis of all relationships.

o They can solve major crises in industry and teach people not to pilfer pencils from the company storeroom; in fact, companies spend hundreds of millions of dollars a year on them for that.

o They can be training grounds for legendary generals and make the difference between winning and losing wars.

o Finally, and most important, games can reopen doors into the world of pretending and childhood, reminding us of unadulterated fun, sparking creativity.

So, what is your favourite game? I always liked chess, since my early childhood when I first saw on the photo that my uncle plays that unusual game. I asked my father to explain the rules to me, and he also bought a chess set very soon for me, and one illustrated book, so I was delighted to ponder about pawns and other figures as medieval armies in my imagination. At school I played sea battle on piece of paper with my friends, shoot invisible submarines with invisible torpedoes – it was fun. Later on I learned Go, and that game took my breath away with its infinite variety of possible moves. It is like painting your character and inner world with black and white stones on wooden table.

But I liked also to play Monopoly game, recently I played it with my little cousin, but he was constantly trying to steal monopoly money (he thought I do not see it). At first I acted as if I do not notice, but then I said stop – it is very important to play by the rules. Such is the life and everyday situations also, you have to know inner rules to get the joy in your victory and in your defeat. And very important thing that board games and sports are teaching us is fair-play.

Card games are also very nice. I like the idea of bluffing in Poker, but I never played it seriously – though I like to hear stories about card players very much and to watch such movies, as the one with Matt Damon.

But the game I would like to learn to play is Diplomacy. Several reasons for that. First, I want to learn more about history in Napoleonic wars, and WWI and WWII (game starts in 1901, so it is best for learning about WWI). And learning history without paying attention to diplomatic intricacies is incomplete. So, somehow I want to feel the history of Europe – not just to learn dates mechanically. I have a feeling that would be very challenging and interesting thing to do.

envoys of beauty

February 22, 2007

To go into solitude, a man needs to retire as much from his chamber as from society. I am not solitary whilst I read and write, though nobody is with me. But if a man would be alone, let him look at the stars. The rays that come from those heavenly worlds, will separate between him and what he touches. One might think the atmosphere was made transparent with this design, to give man, in the heavenly bodies, the perpetual presence of the sublime. Seen in the streets of cities, how great they are! If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore; and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown! But every night come out these envoys of beauty, and light the universe with their admonishing smile.

Ralph Waldo Emerson – Nature

I am into astronomy these days. Downloaded and installed free Astro Planner on my PC, and also installed Planetarium on my handheld. But nights are cloudy in Belgrade, I have no luck. As soon as stars become visible again I am determined to find Orion Nebula on the sky. Approximately I know where it should be located.

For those who are not accustomed with using telescopes, good start is to observe the sky with binoculars. And if you watch through telescope, first thing you should see is the surface of the Moon (it always takes my breath away), then you can try to find Jupiter and see its 4 bigger satelites (if you draw down their positions over time axis you will get sinusoidal waves). Of course, never ever watch directly to the Sun, do not try that even with special filters either. If you want to see spots on Sun surface, project the image from telescope to paper, and there you will see it very well. And you can try to see Saturn rings too.

I have at home some older russian telescope, I think that diameter of mirror is about 6 cm. But let me tell you these modern computerised telescopes are really something. They have so called GoTo option, which means that there are memorized coordinates of stellar objects and computer controlls moving mechanism which directs the telescope right to the desired object. All you have to do is just look and enjoy.

Problem with using telescopes in cities is light pollution. I wonder if Suburbia likes to watch the stars since she lives in the suburban area of the big city, and I guess the night sky is much more clear there. Nowdays there are many telescopes on the market, I saw even those with 10 inches diameter (I think that with them you can see even that red spot on Jupiter’s surface). Actually I found very nice booklet from Meade telescopes and you can download it here. There are interesting stories in it, like one when a man found new supernova (exploded star) with his home telescope.

I remember I liked to read in my primary school about comet hunters. That is so cool to try to find new comet.

Astrophotography is also something breathtaking. That art combines calculation and photography. You have to be very precise if you want to catch the photo of “diamond ring” in total solar eclipse.

We always stand in awe under the starry sky. I hope tonight there will be no clouds in Belgrade. I am already browsing the catalogs in software to choose what I will (and can) observe. Wish me good luck with the weather. And you can join me with exploring the space.

favourite magazine

February 18, 2007

Ah yes, I like to read magazines. In early 80ties I was a still a kid, and in those times computers were much expensive, but I was so obsessed with computers – so you guess, I was not merely reading, but learning computer magazines by heart :)

Even today I like to read computer magazines, but they are much different now. The best ones are business oriented, and frankly I don’t care about business. For me science was always like a poetry, and I am always more eager to read interesting article about something theoretical or even about good computer game, than to read boring article about some database or something that will help someone improve his business, and earn a lot of money.

This is the reason, perhaps, why I am always silently quarreling with my wallet. But I remain a poet.

And today, it is so difficult to find good scientific magazine. Back in 80ties in Yugoslavia there was famous magazine Galaksija (Galaxy). It was about popular science. You could read there how to solve Rubik’s cube or how to build a solar house or a wind turbine. And articles about cosmos, which were so not business related. Remember the TV series about Cosmos by famous Carl Sagan. We loved to watch him here.

I bought few days ago National Geographic in serbian language. And it is great. Articles are well written. And on NG site you can find video material related to those articles. I wish to see good magazine about science here one day. Some of the articles in National Geographic Magazine you can read here, they are in section Features.

In the meantime I read Nature and New Scientist sometimes, in English. They are really good.

And I like to read about expensive things I cannot buy – like magazines about yachts, or good hi-fi and hi-end magazines.

What is your favourite magazine and what do you like to read?

mahna mahna – just for Tracey :)

February 12, 2007

The question is: What is a Mahna Mahna?
The question is: Who cares? :)))

Particularly cute is the way they shake their heads to correct the guy in singing :)

There is one commercial made based on these characters by CanTeen – The Australian Organization for Young People Living with Cancer. You can see it here

PSA commercial from New Zealand (trying to create an awareness of cancer amongst teenagers) that aired in October 2005.

Featuring the Muppet characters Ma Nah Ma Nah, the Snowths, Rowlf the Dog, the Swedish Chef, Dr. Teeth, Janice, Kermit the Frog and Rizzo the Rat.

rediscovering autobiographies

February 8, 2007

palm IIIxe

“There is properly no history; only biography”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

These days I have intense wish to read biographies and autobiographies. And I really wish to read about that golden period of history – XIX century. Impressionists were painting in France, and Henry David Thoreau went to the woods to write his diary there. Serbian inventor Michael Pupin went to USA and wrote to me very dear Pulitzer winning autobiography From Immigrant to Inventor, in which he portrays the true american spirit, and when you read that book you see how America was great country comparing to Europe then. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote his immortal Essays, and believe me I am spending nights in reading his collected works, and I stand in awe in front of his language (I still don’t get it how could he wrote like that!) Who can write in such fiery words if not that philosopher poet from Boston, who wrote Self-Reliance – essay that became solid inspiration and foundation of my system of values. And there are poems of Emily Dickinson. And of course, we cannot avoid Nikola Tesla serbian poet-scientist who gave the world alternating currents. Many many interesting people were born in XIX century.

Now I know that books are expensive, and one is not always in mood to go to the library too. But that is why project Gutenberg is there. You can find ove 20000 free e-books there, and there is always top list of 100 books and authors if you are not sure what to read (I never paid too much attention to that top list so far, but it is nice to know it exists). Good thing is that Gutenberg library offers books in Plucker format, which is suitable for reading on your Palm device. I have prehistoric model, Palm IIIxe, with grey display and 8 MB of memory, but truth to be told, I like to read books on it. And I don’t like to read books on the computer screen (I do it only when I have to). Now I entered word biography in searchbox on Gutenberg site, and it gives me 90 results back (you can try to type memoirs too). So there will be a lot of good (and free reading) for me in next period.

If you have Palm but do not have Plucker, you can download it from here. From the list I chose autobiography of actress Sarah Bernhardt. I was reading first few chapters this morning, and I was very immersed in the story. And so far, I really enjoy reading it a lot. So I will provide link for it here:

My Double Life – The Memoirs of Sarah Bernhardt

If you know some good biography or autobiography that you have read and enjoyed it, kindly recommend it in comments please.

how to put NO FUR sticker on your WordPress blog

February 6, 2007

It is easy. If you wish to do it, here is how it can be done.

First you need text widget. WordPress allows you to have 9 text widgets. Kindly go to Presentation -> Sidebar Widgets. Take text widget with your mouse, left click and hold, and drag and drop it into the sidebar – on place you wish. If you do not have enough text widgets you can increase their availability from drop down menu beside question How many text widgets would you like?

Click on the right side of text widget and text box will open with title and body for HTML. I thought it would be nice if this sticker hyperlinks to the homepage of PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). Now in title you can write your message about not using fur. In the main text window write this code

kod

Then close window by clicking anywhere outside it, and Save Changes.

I have already done that in my blog so you can see how it looks like. This is easy and everyone can do it. If you do not want to put this sticker on your blog, you can print it on printer and make interesting badge. All in all, be creative, there are many ways to say to other people that you do not feel like that animals should be killed because of someone’s notions of fashion. Let us join to appeal of people who make new fashion – fashion that says fur is out. There is no aesthetics in killing animals for fashion – let us all say what we think and really prove that we are civilised. No fur!

And one more thing – you may find it difficult to become vegetarian at this moment. I hope you will reconsider that option in the future someday, but when it comes to wearing fur – it is very, very easy to renounce wearing it. Just say no, and help higher and more humane taste in fashion to evolve. It is easy. We can do it!

Address of NO FUR sticker, if you want to print it out on paper is
http://www.petacatalog.org/images/200-BU171.jpg
Note, it is address that you have to put in img src tag in text widget, see code example above.

compassion and love to animals

February 5, 2007

lion_hug.jpg
Who says that animals do not feel sublime emotions? We sometimes think that humans are superior beings, but in what plane are we concretely superior now? It is because we have mind, but mind is also responsible for some of the worst atrocities and oppressive social systems. Animals kill because such is their animal nature, but look what so called humans can sometimes do. I am not saying that in the future human beings will not be better than now, I wish that we all manage to discover more and more hidden treasures that everyone of us carries deep in one’s own heart (I am assured that then we will be more caring about animals). But now we must not think that we are so superior to animals, so that we think they have no rights. Sir Paul McCartney decided to become vegetarian when he and Lady Linda were eating lamb meal and at that moment they saw lambs outside in fields. I am not preaching to anyone to become vegetarian, such kind of decision everyone needs to take very consciously. In my case, I am vegetarian but I do eat milk, eggs and honey. Also my opinion is that you should let your children eat meat until they grow up to certain age. But to speak whole truth, once I was chatting with one programmer from India. He is follower of Sri Vaishnava spiritual path, and he told me that in his family nobody tasted meat for centuries ago!!! I was delighted to hear that such people actually exist and can live without meat – it is not true that meat is absolutely indispensable. But if we do not wish to give up on meat, at least we can do for our little animal brothers and sisters is to stop wearing fur and leather. My friends often tell me that we should not think so much of animal rights, when in today’s world nobody cares so much for human rights. But for me this does not follow. Are we civilised or not? Are we still going to fool ourselves that animals do not have such sublime feelings as we do? Next time when you see a cow, look in her eyes, look very carefully in her eyes please. In India they say: cow is giving us milk, therefore we regard her as our mother. What enlightened opinion! Browsing on the internet I managed to find a painting in oil where Krishna and Balarama are milking cows. Cow is considered in India to be holy animal. I applaude for that level of civilized atitude! (Painting is taken from collection on Vrindavan Art gallery) milking_cows.jpg

Paris Street; Rainy Day, 1877

February 4, 2007

Paris Street; Rainy Day, 1877
Impressionist painter Gustave Caillebotte painted this in 1877. No, it is not a photography. How did he manage to paint this rain water on cobblestone? I have no idea, I presume he watched very carefully all the colours. The painting is now located in the Art Institute of Chicago.

is that so?

February 3, 2007

The Zen master Hakuin was praised by his neighbors as one living a pure life.

A beautiful Japanese girl whose parents owned a food store lived near him. Suddenly, without any warning, her parents discovered she was with child.

This made her parents very angry. She would not confess who the man was, but after much harassment at last named Hakuin.

In great anger the parents went to the master. “Is that so?” was all he would say.

After the child was born it was brought to Hakuin. By this time he had lost his reputation, which did not trouble him, but he took very good care of the child. He obtained milk from his neighbors and everything else the little one needed.

A year later the girl-mother could stand it no longer. She told her parents the truth – that the real father of the child was a young man who worked in the fishmarket.

The mother and father of the girl at once went to Hakuin to ask his forgiveness, to apologize at length, and to get the child back again.

Hakuin was willing. In yielding the child, all he said was: “Is that so?”

story taken from 101 Zen Stories

O Captain! My Captain!

February 2, 2007


Where are now teachers like Mr. Keating? Rise poets, rise, your destiny is freedom! Mr. Peter Weir, my infinite gratitude for this movie!