Thursday, May 31, 2007


The Chicago Sun-Times reported an interesting story about stereotypes damaging a person's performance. A University of Chicago study shows that the popular stereotype of boys being better at math than girls affects girls' performance and ability to do math. The results were published in the current issue of the Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.

In a nutshell, the study quantifies and clarifies the exact nature of how a stereotype negatively affects a person. The methodology, in a nutshell: Two groups of female college students with exemplary math skills were assembled. The first group took a pre-test and a test. The second group took the same tests, but between them, they were told that it was part of a study to determine why men were better at math than women. The women in the second group performed "drastically worse," according to the news release.

A couple of questions:

~ That stereotype is older than the '50s. Does anyone really believe men are better at math than women?

~ Where is the study about how men perform with the same kind of stereotype?

Thanks to Rudeclerk for the heads-up.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Man, did I have a great idea for a blog entry tonight. A brilliant post about sex education in Missouri schools, a recent bill that passed, a Congressional study about abstinence-only education and, um, well, monkeys. Terrifying space monkeys maybe got loose. I know, it's complicated.

But it was going to be so brilliant! Consise, clever, nuanced and witty.

But, I got to yakking on the phone, heard some interesting gossip and... you know.

So, enjoy my must-have-been-separated-at-birth twin brother. He gripes about video games, drinks beer, cusses and is a geek. This is definitely NSFW and/or kids. He really knows how to cuss.

And if that's not enough, enjoy these emo oranges. (Thanks, Melissa!)


Tuesday, May 29, 2007


An innovative approach to computer education is taking place at America's universities. The Wall St. Journal reports on how students are beginning to study social computing. Like classes on video game design, this is an attempt to make "technology studies relevant to students' lives," according to the article.

Traditionalists would argue that the classes are a waste of education and tuition fees. Considering the reach of these classes, which also delve into psychology and sociology, traditionalists would be wrong. The impact that MySpace and Facebook -- or even America Online 10 years ago -- has had on interpersonal communications is gargantuan.

Honestly, these classes make me wish I was back in college. The thought of studying blogs and wikis appeals to my inner geek.

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Monday, May 28, 2007


Take a glance at a clock with a second hand. Now, what is the square of 115?

How long did it take you to get 13,225? It probably took some Indian students only a second.

Kamlesh Shetty told Wired News how he came up with the square of 85 in less than a second.

"To find the square of any number ending with 5, just put 25 on the right-hand side," he said. "Take the number that precedes five. In this case it is 8. Add 1 to it. So in this case it becomes 9. Multiply 8 and 9. You get 72. 7,225 is the square of 85. It's easy."

Julio Leon, president of Missouri Southern State University, has talked about how students in Brazil, Russia, India and China view a college education as salvation. Manu Joseph's story details how far Indian children will go to secure a coveted spot in India's main engineering school -- to the point of searching out the Vedic formula above.

As for the Vedic formulas, 16 of them have been found in cryptic Sanskrit verses. There is an amount of controversy involved in finding such specific, accurate mathematical formulas amidst praises of Lord Krishna. Maybe the Bible explains phi in Matthew 7:12.

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Sunday, May 27, 2007


Rep. Marilyn Ruestman, R-Joplin, submitted a bill that would let school districts opt out of paying prevailing wage to construction workers. It never got farther than a committee hearing.

Union workers are likely sighing with relief, but smaller school districts will likely be disappointed. Ruestman estimated that a school could get 25 percent more building without paying workers higher wages. If the bill gets submitted next year, then it will give both sides a chance to strengthen their cases:

~ Proponents of the bill, especially school districts, should explain how contractors can build a quality product without the quality-guarantee of which construction unions boast. These are publicly-funded school buildings that will house a community's children, so the highest quality is paramount. Having trained workers is a no-brainer, but how does a school district convince its patrons that only trained employees worked on a school?

~ Opponents of the bill need to explain why prevailing wage is so important. Not every school district can raise the millions needed to build a quality building through property taxes and bonding. Smaller school districts see buildings in Arkansas and Kansas -- built by the same companies that build schools in Missouri -- and wonder why they have to pay so much more in wages.

If any of you are in the business of building schools, the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations released the latest prevailing wage schedule. If you're an asbestos worker, you'll get $28.14 an hour.

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It's nice to have a holiday. And it's only Sunday night. But, I've been fighting a virus on my compy all day, and finally got it pegged without having to do a format C. Woot! Still, I haven't yet been called into the office, so tomorrow looks like a day to be lazy, read, write and catch up on things. Got some blog-related bullets:

That's about it. Thanks again for your patience. Send your feedback to


Saturday, May 12, 2007


I don't know what to think about DragonForce. Go ahead, watch the video below.

I was told that DragonForce is the new Dream Theater, so I had to check the band out. I've watched all the videos and listened to all the songs that I can, and I'm still undecided about whether to burn caysh on these guys.

GOOD: Damn, those two guitarists rock.
BAD: Avenged Sevenfold wants its sound back.
GOOD: The drummer has incredibly fast feet and is tight.
BAD: The drummer plays so fast it sounds like thrash polka.
GOOD: They have a frenetic, hectic and majestic sound.
BAD: It makes me think of Jack Black in "School of Rock" playing at twice the speed.
GOOD: The singer actually sings well, instead of impersonating Cookie Monster.
BAD: He sings cheesy lyrics about mystical wars and medieval battles.
GOOD: For thrash metal, they are tight, musical and sound pretty solid.
BAD: For thrash metal, they sound like their audience is eight-grade D&D players.

VERDICT: They are definitely not the new Dream Theater. But they are decent. I just don't know how I can justify DragonForce in my iPod.

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Thursday, May 10, 2007


What a difference a new record company can make.

Dream Theater signed with Roadrunner Records for their upcoming album, Systematic Chaos. Since that time, they have started a MySpace page (finally), released a song as a free mp3 (kick-ass), requested bootlegs for a YouTube page and put out extra videos to promote the upcoming album, including this online press kit.

Here's the latest to hit the 'Net: This is a recording of "Dark Eternal Night" on top of footage taken in the studio. Watch, turn the volume up and marvel at bassist John Myung's fingers and drummer Mike Portnoy's feet.

The Mailbox doesn't remember a time when Dream Theater was so well promoted. From the sounds of the two songs released, it doesn't sound like they've made any musical compromises for mass-market consumption. The Mailbox is excited as all get out about Dream Theater's future. The real question is whether it will translate to higher record sales, but Roadrunner will see that we DT freaks are loyal buyers, even though our number is not as high as the group who will buy whatever popcrap the radio tells them to.

Two petty gripes from the two songs: There's too much singing about mystical beasts and Portnoy is not the best backup singer. But John Petrucci has some amazing performances, Portnoy is all over his kit and the band sounds tight -- especially the unison between Petrucci and Myung. Can't wait for June 6.

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