British Teachers Propose Banning The Term “Fail”

I was going to rant about the dumbing down of the American educational system, but this story is actually about the British. Apparently some members of the Professional Association of Teachers are arguing that “The word ‘fail’ should be banned from use in British classrooms and replaced with the phrase ‘deferred success’ to avoid demoralizing pupils.” And I thought purple markers were bad

Chemical Galaxy

Chemical Galaxy
Dmitri Mendeleev’s model of the Periodic Table Of Elements has not changed significantly since the late 18th century, despite his own recognition that it “did not fully represent the overall pattern because it broke up the sequence. He thought the ideal would be a cylindrical helix, but that needs three dimensions.” The Slate article Is it time to revamp the periodic table? reports on Oxford ecologist Philip Stewart’s attempt to rearrange the Periodic Table, “using a starry pathway to link the elements and to express the astronomical reach of chemistry.” Pretty neat…

Scott McLellan Drinking Game

If you haven’t yet visited Rocketboom (embedded QuickTime video), I highly recommend that you do. It’s a video blog (vlog?!) that humorously comments on the news in the vein of The Daily Show. I have to admit that I haven’t watched as regularly as I should, so I missed last Friday’s edition showing Amanda playing a drinking game during the Scott McLellan press briefing in which he futilely fended off questions about Karl Rove’s involvement in the Valerie Plame scandal.

W Ringtones

Although WFMU’s page of W sound bites is ostensibly meant for downloading ringtones onto your mobile phone, downloads in WAV and MP3 format are also available. Listen to and download quotable gems like, “Y’know… Blacks are gagging on the donkey, but not yet ready to swallow the elephant.” Funny and sad at the same time…

James Doohan Dead At 85

ScottyJames Doohan died this morning at the age of 85 due to pneumonia and Alzheimer’s Disease. Doohan was best known for playing the character Montgomery Scott, better known as the engineer Scotty, in the original Star Trek TV series as well as in seven of the subsequent movies and the Next Generation episode “Relics.” As his Wikipedia entry points out,

Scotty also became a kind of general cliché for any chief engineer in the movie genre of science fiction parodies. It has also become something of a cliché for starship engineers to be Scottish — even Star Trek: The Next Generation briefly had a Scottish engineer aboard the Enterprise-D.

Here are some classic sound clip highlights:

And thus my true geekdom is revealed. I am very sad to hear about this… 🙁


Wired magazine has an interesting article entitled “Unorthodox Chess From an Odd Mind” that talks about Chess960 AKA Fischer Random, a variant of chess invented by “fugitive chess genius” Bobby Fischer:

The rules of Chess960 are mostly the same as orthodox chess – but the setup incorporates something once considered anathema to the game: chance. Pawns begin where they always do. However, the pieces behind them on the white side are arranged at random, with the proviso that bishops must end up on opposite colors, and the king dwell somewhere between the two rooks. The black pieces are lined up to mirror the white.

That makes for 960 different starting positions in the game, instead of just one. The point of Chess960 is to free chess from the yoke of memorization.

I’m not really a chess player, but this does sound interesting in that it favors skill over memorization.

Greasemonkey Security Upgrade

Get FirefoxFor those of you that read my post about the Greasemonkey Firefox extension and installed it, you should definitely upgrade to the latest version immediately, as there is a security vulnerability that could potentially expose your computer to someone utilizing code that exploits the flaw.

I’ve been finding a lot of interesting and helpful uses for Greasemonkey, and I will probably be making a separate post about those soon, as well as a possible updated list of favorite Firefox extensions.

While I’m at it, both Firefox and Thunderbird have recently released 1.0.6 versions to address security and stability issues, although those should have shown up as automatic update icons in your browser screen by now.

Update: MozillaZine has a nice summary of the issues surrounding the Greasemonkey extension.