Christopher Columbus still inspires Us

The courageous voyage of Columbus, which inspired the world for centuries, has recently been the target of criticism by those who think a man from the 1400s should have thought more like a fellow from 2006.

It’s an unfair assessment of the man.

In 1492, when Columbus set out on his voyage of discovery, the Americas were unknown to Europeans and Asians. Although some evidence exists that the Basque and Vikings both had sailed to the Americas, no written map existed.

Columbus did what no one else had and he did what was inevitable: He linked the continents for exploration ó and exploitation. Columbus wasn’t the first person to exploit a discovery. Conquest and exploitation were a way of life among people who lived in the Americas long before Columbus arrived. Indeed, every discovery of every sort is followed by exploitation.

Columbus let the Old World know about the riches and opportunities of the New World. But he is faulted for things he couldn’t control, like the spread of disease, and for things that seemed altogether reasonable to a 15th century explorer, like evangelizing the local population. There is an implicit, and silly, assumption among the politically correct critics of Columbus that the Americas would be somehow purer had Columbus not explored there. But the fact is, it was inevitable that the continents would be linked, if not because of Columbus, perhaps at the hands of some other, even more politically incorrect human.

Columbus was a man whose own vision and courage set in motion an entire world history. That is an incredible accomplishment.

What does Roy G. Biv tell you?

A mnemonic is a rhyme or formula used to assist in remembering facts.
For example, many remember how to adjust their clocks for daylight savings
time with the formula: Spring forward, fall back. Other mnemonics use the
first letter of a series of words to form a new word. For example, the
admonition to writers is KISS — Keep it sweet and simple.
Below are mnemonics common in some circles, but less well known generally.
Combine your knowledge with the process of elimination to match them.

1. Roy G. Biv
2. Every good boy does fine.
3. Do men ever visit Boston?
4. My very earnest mother just served us nine pickles.
8. Bless my dear Aunt Sally.

A. Order of British peerage.
B. Names of the Great Lakes.
C. Treatment for a sprain.
D. Colors in the visible spectrum.
E. The names of the planets in order outward from the sun.
F. Types of skin cuts.
G. Order for algebraic operations.
H. Lines of the treble clef.

1. (D.) Colors in the spectrum: Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.
2. (H.) Lines of the treble clef are E, G, B, D, F. Spaces spell FACE.
3. (A) British titles in order of rank: Duke, marquis, earl, viscount and baron.
4. (E.) The planets are Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto.
5. (B) The great lakes: Huron, On-tario, Michigan, Erie and Superior.
6. (C.) Treatment for a sprain: Rest, ice, compression, elevation.
7. (F.) Types of cuts are puncture, abrasion, incision and laceration.
8. (G.) The algebraic order: Brackets, multiply, divide, add, subtract.

How the ‘foot, yard, and inch’ came to be

Pre-metric measurements had some interesting, if inexact, origins. Though they have been standardized in countries that use them, they are still difficult for the rest of the world to understand, and even more difficult to explain. For example:

The Foot. This unit of measurement was determined by the length of King Charlemagne’s foot and modified in 1305 to be 36 barleycorns laid end to end. (No measurement for the barleycorn is given.)

The Inch. The width of King Edgar’s thumb was officially designated as an inch. It was three barleycorns across.

The Yard. The distance from King Henry I’s nose to his fingertips. The distance is also twice as long as a cubit.

The Mile. In the Roman legionary, the mile was the distance covered by 1,000 double steps. Queen Elizabeth added more feet so the mile would equal eight furlongs.

The Furlong. The length of a furrow a team of oxen could plow before resting.

The Acre. The amount of land a yoke of oxen could plow in one day.

The Fathom. The span of a seaman’s outstretched arms; 880 fathoms make a mile.

The National Geographic News Service, which collected this information, says the metric system has a more scientific origin, though the common person may think it almost as difficult to understand.

The Metric System. Based on the meter, which is defined precisely as 1,650,763.73 wave lengths of orange-red light emitted by the krypton-86 atom, or originally one-ten-millionth of the length of the longitude from the North Pole to the equator. The meter is exactly 39.37 inches. Or it measures about 118 barleycorns, however you choose to think about it that way.

Cognitive and social impact of technology

Presentation slides from Leading Learning conference

“My focus was on retaining the needed elements of education – transforming learner and society, deep understanding, cultivating capacity for ethical thought, and emphasizing “what it means to be human” – while fostering greater innovation in teaching and learning through the opportunities of technology. It’s a tough balance to get right.” George Siemens