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Are You Ready?

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Many will remember the fall sea- son of 2008 as the beginning of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression of 1929. In the months to follow, many lost their jobs, homes, and investments. In a BBC interview a year later, Alan Greenspan, former head of the US Federal Reserve, indicated that the average person doesn’t believe it will happen again. He said, “That is the unquenchable capability of human beings when confronted with long periods of prosperity to presume that it will continue.”

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Birds, Lilies, And Me

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In the episodes of an old television show, the veteran police lieutenant always said this to the young officers on their way out to the street for their day’s assignments: “Be careful out there!” It was both good advice and a word of compassion because he knew what could happen to them in the line of duty.

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The Human Camera

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Steven Wiltshire, who has been called “the human camera,” has the amazing ability to recall tiny details about anything he has seen and then reproduce them in drawings. For example, after Steven was flown over the city of Rome, he was asked to draw the city center on blank paper. Astonishingly, he accurately reproduced from memory the winding streets, the buildings, the windows, and other details.

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A Wrong Reading

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William Scoresby was a British seafaring explorer in the 19th century who responded to God’s call to the ministry. An interest in the workings of navigational compasses stayed with him during his work as a clergyman. His research led to the discovery that all newly built iron ships had their own magnetic influence on compasses. This influence would change at sea for various reasons—leading crews to read the compass incorrectly. Often this led to disaster.

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Pure Milk

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Recently it was discovered that some milk producers in China had been diluting cow’s milk and adding the industrial chemical Melamine. This chemical was added because it artificially enhanced protein readings. Several infants died and others became seriously ill. Such adulteration is not new. Other countries have been adding Melamine to animal feed for at least 40 years for the same purpose, resulting in the death of animals.

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Beware The Rupert

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In the June 6, 1944, D-Day invasion of Europe, an armada of Allied ships assaulted the beaches of Normandy, France. Simultaneously, thousands of airplanes dropped paratroopers into the action. Along with the paratroopers, the Allies also dropped hundreds of rubber dummies behind the enemy lines. Called “Ruperts,” these dummies were intended to simulate an attack to confuse the enemy. As the Ruperts landed, some German outposts were tricked into fighting the “paradummies,” creating a vital crack in the walls of Fortress Europe.

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Yeah, But . . .

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Grading university papers is full of surprises. Sometimes, one of my students will successfully handle a subject and display good writing style, and I feel as if my instruction was worthwhile.

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A Donkey In Lion’s Clothing

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In the final book of C. S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, The Last Battle, a devious ape named Shift finds an old lion’s skin and persuades a simpleminded donkey to put it on. Shift then claims that the disguised donkey is Aslan (the Lion who is the rightful king of Narnia) and forms an alliance with Narnia’s enemies. Together they set out to control and enslave the subjects of Narnia. Young King Tirian, however, can’t believe that Aslan would actually be involved with such brutal practices. So, with the help of the real Aslan, he defeats Shift and his counterfeit lion.

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The Reveal

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The room was a wreck. Mismatched furniture. Faded paint. Ugly light fixtures. Knick-knacks crammed into crowded spaces. The homeowners tried to make some improvements, but the room kept getting worse.

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The Cheat Test

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Dan Ariely, an economics professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, conducted some tests on human behavior. In one experiment, the participants took an examination in which they would receive money for each correct answer. The participants didn’t know, however, that Ariely was not testing their knowledge but whether they would cheat. He set up the test so that the groups thought it would be easy to get away with cheating.

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