Going dancing with my darling…

For our anniversary, my husband purchased two private dance lessons for us. We are going to learn to dance!!!

My very first date was to a dance, but since I didn’t know how to dance, my date and I just went and talked. It might have been better to try and dance. He told me he sold drugs to elementary school kids so that they could make their own choices. Not my idea of an ideal date.

The first time I ever danced in my life was my husband’s 20th high school reunion (five years ago). I danced once with him and once with a girlfriend at that event.

Two months ago he and I and the girlfriend and her husband went out dancing.

Then we had his 25th and I danced with several women for a couple of songs and then with him for one.

Doom and gloom everywhere.

The fear mongers are out in the Web in droves and everywhere I go I read about recession and depression and economic meltdown. I wonder if those living in the early months of the depression realized what they were living through.

And I wonder if we are really going to have a depression and, if we do, whether it is our fault for having said the sky is falling.

It is, I suppose, the law of attraction. What you talk about, what you act on, that is what shows up in your life.

Not all is vanity, but much is.

M turned 16 on Friday. I took him today (Wed.) to get his license, but he wasn’t able to get it. His eyesight is too bad. Even though eight months ago he didn’t need glasses, now he does. And he needs them for both eyes.

M is upset because he doesn’t want to look like a nerd. His long hair is one way to avoid that. But glasses, he is sure, would overwhelm his non-nerd look and make everyone who knows him realize he is a nerd. (Because his erudite vocabulary, scholarly interests, and encyclopaedic knowledge are not sufficient indications.) So his goal has been to, perhaps, look like a tech geek. That’s okay. But looking like a nerd is not okay.

Update:M got contacts. He had trouble getting them in this morning, but popped them in easily this afternoon. He is 16 and one week and is the proud owner of a Texas driver’s license, for which, he reminded me, I owed him $5, since I forgot to give him money to pay.

Can it really be accidental? I don’t think so.

New discovery: Murdoch’s preliminary design also contained an Islamic sundial

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One of the dozen epic-scale mosque features in architect Paul Murdoch’s Crescent of Embrace design is a year-round accurate Islamic prayer-time sundial. The shadow calculations take a bit of work to verify, but the overt similarity is immediate:

Flight 93 memorial,Crescent of Embrace,Circle of Embrace
Traditional Islamic sundial, left. The gnomon’s shadow is just reaching the outer curved vertical, indicating time for Islamic afternoon prayers. On the right is a plan view of the Tower of Voices part of the Flight 93 memorial. Shadow calculations confirm that, when the tower’s shadow reaches the inner arc of trees, it will also be time for Islamic afternoon prayers.

An Islamic sundial is a very exacting structure that would be nearly impossible to construct by accident. Islamic prayer times are determined by shadow length, so the prayer-time indicator line must be placed a particular distance from the gnomon, and must follow a particular arc.

It turns out that architect Paul Murdoch’s also put an Islamic sundial in his preliminary crescent design (from before he was chosen as a design competition finalist). This first Islamic sundial was to have been situated a few hundred yards away from the sundial in his final design, and instead of being surrounded by a vast array of crescents of trees, Murdoch’s first sundial just used a single arc of trees, laid out along the tower’s afternoon prayer line. Here is the first incarnation of the Tower of Voices:

First Tower of Voices, also an Islamic sundial
The view here is facing south, along the entry road. The Tower opens to the northeast.

The plan view shows a tree-line to the east of the tower that appears to be at least roughly the shape of the prayer line on an Islamic sundial:

Islamic sundial,Circle of Embrace,Crescent of Embrace,Flight 93 memorial
Left hand image: the tower sits at the bottom of the north-south rectangle of black rock. Right hand image shows the shape of the afternoon prayer line for an Islamic sundial, generated by Fer de Vries’ ZW2000 sundial computer. It is calibrated to the crash site latitude of 40.03 north. Fer’s red X marks the center of the gnomon. The prayer-line image gets scaled up or down depending on the gnomon height.

Scaling the image to give the best fit to the tree line to the east of the tower, the fit is just about perfect when the gnomon height is set to 86 feet:

Stage1 Tower of Voices animation, 25%
If an 86 foot tower is placed at the flashing red cross, then when the tower’s shadow reaches the base of the line of surrounding trees, it will be time for Islamic afternoon prayers. (Details below on how to determine this scaling.)

Does the Stage I Tower of Voices have a gnomon height of 86 feet?

Very likely. The Stage I design does not specify the height of the tower, but in the elevation view above it looks to be 90 or 100 feet tall, and in Murdoch’s final design, the tower height is 93 feet, which seems the likely height here.

That’s a bit off from 86, and a gnomon height of 93 feet would push the afternoon prayer line several feet out beyond the center of the line of trees, but notice that if the full tower height is 93 feet, the gnomon height is actually several feet shorter.

Take a look back at the elevation view of the tower and you’ll see that the it has a crescent shaped top, with two arms reaching up maybe 6 or 8 feet above the low point of the crescent. The consistent gnomon point would be the low center point, which would be pretty close to 86 feet, if the full tower is 93.

Thus this LOOKS to be another year-round accurate Islamic prayer-time sundial. What we can say for certain is that Murdoch is within a minor height adjustment of having a second year-round accurate Islamic sundial. Given the specificity of these sundial shapes, that can’t possibly be coincidence, demonstrating that Murdoch had a terrorist memorial mosque in mind from the beginning.

Of course that had to be the case, given that a terrorist memorial mosque is what he ended up designing, but this is the first clear indication of Islamic intent going back to the preliminary design itself. Murdoch’s repeated Mecca orientations and the other elaborate proofs of terrorist memorializing intent don’t appear until the Stage II design.

In the final design, Murdoch took care to hide his precise Islamic symbol shapes

In his final Crescent of Embrace design (now called a broken circle), Murdoch is systematic about hiding geometrically precise Islamic structures behind seemingly imprecise Islamic symbol shapes. For instance, the giant central crescent does not point exactly at Mecca. It points 1.8° north of Mecca, ± 0.1°, making it a not quite precise Islamic mihrab.

But Murdoch also includes a thematically defined crescent in his design. It starts where the flight path thematically breaks the circle at the upper crescent tip, which more than a hundred feet from the end of the full Crescent of Embrace structure. That hundred foot plus change in the end-point of the crescent alters the orientation of the crescent by exactly 1.8°, so that the “true” thematic crescent points exactly to Mecca, as closely as can be determined given the pixel resolution of the graphics. Murdoch then provides redundant proof of intent by repeating this whole multi-Mecca oriented geometry in the crescents of trees that surround the Tower of Voices. (Demonstration in the 2nd half of this post.)

Murdoch does the same thing with the Tower sundial. On first look, the inner arc of trees in Murdoch’s final Tower of Voices design is only an accurate marker for afternoon prayer times for 8 months of the year (from March to October). But upon further inspection, one sees that Murdoch used a tricky two-height gnomon, where light passes through a slot in the top of the tower from November to February, lowering the gnomon point at the center of the crescent topped tower for those months.

This tricky two height gnomon puts a kink in the afternoon prayer line that conforms exactly to Murdoch’s tree line, creating a year-round accurate Islamic sundial. True evil genius.

In the preliminary design, Murdoch was not so careful. His tree line follows the full traditional Islamic afternoon prayer line shape, which any informed person could immediately recognize.

The chances of Murdoch coming up with TWO different year-round accurate Islamic sundials by coincidence? 0/(∞2).

Sundial calculations

Islamic afternoon prayers commence when an object’s shadow is the length of its noon shadow, plus its height. As summer turns to winter, noon shadows get longer, so the shadow length at prayer time gets longer too. Also, shadows lengthen more quickly, so the time it takes the noon shadow to grow by the gnomon height gets shorter, making prayer times occur earlier. Thus the angle of the prayer-time shadows gets more northerly (earlier) as the days get shorter, creating the characteristic prayer-line arc.

The labor intensive way to calculate prayer times is to use J Geisen’s awesome sun-shadow applet to find the length of shortest shadow for a particular gnomon on an particular day at a particular latitude and longitude, then look for the time and shadow angle at which the gnomon’s shadow is the length of its noon shadow plus its height.

The easy way is to let Fer de Vries’ ZW2000 computer program do the work for you. Just download the zip files, right click the folder and extract all the files, then open the program, set the latitude to 40.03 degrees (shanskville PA), check “Islamic prayer lines,” click calculate, and set the scale so you can see the result. (The bigger the gnomon height you pick, the more you will have to scale the resulting graphic down to bring the prayer lines into the picture). Really easy.

In addition to generating prayer lines, De Vrie’s program also generates a bar that is equal in length to the gnomon height. It is visible in the bottom right corner of the graphic above that shows the prayer line superimposed over the tree line. That gnomon-height reference line makes it possible to scale the image of the gnomon point and its associated prayer line to the site-plan image.

The base image used is a 32x enlargement of a tiny piece of the large JPEG image of Murdoch’s Stage I design. That original image includes a distance scale, where 3.5 screen inches at 72dpi = 4000 ft. After enlarging 32x, that becomes 112 s.i. = 4000′, or 1 s.i. = 4000’/112=35.714′.

Once the graphic is resized so that it fits over the estimated gnomon point and the tree line, the gnomon height bar scales out to 2.41 inches. (It looks a bit bigger, but that is just because it was bolded, which makes the length grow along with the width.) 2.41 x 35.714 = 86′.

The Memorial Project claims that it investigated the sundial warnings and found them to be a false alarm, but their comments prove that they never even looked at the warnings

Memorial Project Chairman John Reynolds said last year that any tower with a wall around it can serve as an Islamic sundial. When prayer time comes around, just mark the wall with the angle of the tower’s shadow, and voilà.

FAIL. Islamic prayer times are determined by shadow length, not shadow angle, and the shadow angle at prayer time changes every day of the year. It CANNOT be marked on any old wall around a tower. An Islamic prayer-time marker must be set the right distance from its associated shadow-caster, and it must follow the right arc.

Imagine telling the public you have investigated a warning of terrorist attack and found it to be a false alarm, when in fact you never investigated it at all? That is what Reynolds is doing when he claims to have investigated the warnings of an Islamic sundial, when he doesn’t even know that Islamic prayer times are determined by shadow length. The irresponsibility of these people is breathtaking.

Need more Vitamin D.

Maybe these are why my doctor said I need more Vitamin D.

Science Daily says

In a paper published in the August issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Norman identifies vitamin D’s potential for contributions to good health in the adaptive and innate immune systems, the secretion and regulation of insulin by the pancreas, the heart and blood pressure regulation, muscle strength and brain activity. In addition, access to adequate amounts of vitamin D is believed to be beneficial towards reducing the risk of cancer. Norman also lists 36 organ tissues in the body whose cells respond biologically to vitamin D. The list includes bone marrow, breast, colon, intestine, kidney, lung, prostate, retina, skin, stomach and the uterus. According to Norman, deficiency of vitamin D can impact all 36 organs. Already, vitamin D deficiency is associated with muscle strength decrease, high risk for falls, and increased risk for colorectal, prostate and breast and other major cancers.

The BBC says insufficient Vitamin D is also linked to chronic pain.

The American Association of Pediatrics doubled its VitD recommendations.

Vitamin D is linked to Parkinson’s; “Scientists found that lower blood levels of the vitamin were more common in people with Parkinson’s than healthy individuals.”

The boys and I need to take more vitamins. At least two a day.

This information brought to you, in part, by Heroes Not Zombies, who got me started.

Alcohol does in fact kill your brain.

I’ve been telling my sons that for years. My mother says I “brainwashed” them. But it turns out, I was telling them true.

Reuter’s has the article.

Total brain volume decreased as alcohol consumption rose, the researchers found, and the relationship was stronger for women. “Alcohol is absorbed more rapidly in women than in men, and in general women are more vulnerable to the effects of alcohol than men,” the researchers note.


People’s brains are known to shrink with age and the amount of damaged white matter increases, as people get older, the researchers say. And as dementia and cognitive problems progress, white matter lesions grow and the size of the brain declines.

I may have to give up the occasional search for the perfect Strawberry Daquiri. (In a year I usually have two glasses of alcoholic beverages. I am a bit concerned that I not reach my tipping point into alcoholism, like my brother and a sister, and I don’t really like the taste of most alcohol.)

Michigan textbook has 15-page Obama excerpt.

An eighth grade textbook from Racine, Wisconsin:

I just found out that my son’s new (copyright 2008) Wisconsin – McDougal Littell Literature book has 15 pages covering Barack Obama.

I was shocked – No John McCain, no Hillary Clinton, no George Bush – Just Barack Obama. I’m wondering how it is that Obama’s story gets put into an 8th grade literature book? It would be one thing, if it was just the tidbit about his boyhood days, but 15 pages, and they talk about his “Life of Service”.

from Real Debate

Academic Freedom

Erin O’Connor talks of academic freedom and William Ayers in an article that begins:

Academic freedom does not mean “freedom from criticism.” But there are a lot of academics who would like it to mean that–and who respond to public criticism with cries that the criticism threatens academic freedom. The cries have grown especially loud since 9/11. Remember, for example, Daniel Pipes’ Campus Watch? This was an effort to publish the names and dossiers of academics whose public statements suggested that they were apologists for terror. It drew loud, angry protests from within academe, the word “McCarthyism” was much in the air, and the episode was defined by many as a threat to academic freedom. Of course, it was nothing of the kind. It was unwise and ill-advised–you don’t create meaningful reform of academia by targeting individuals, and you do encourage a mob mentality that serves no one well. But it was not a threat to academic freedom.

Public criticism of academics cannot, by definition, threaten academic freedom….

Gun shows don’t increase suicide or homicide.

Gun shows are not, as some have argued, a venue for suicide and homicide. According to a new study from the University of Michigan and the University of Maryland,

To determine the impact of gun shows, the authors traced the number of gun-related deaths in ZIP codes close to where gun shows took place, looking at how the number of deaths changed leading up to and following the shows. Researchers looked at the gun-related deaths in the weeks immediately after gun shows and actually found a small decline in the number of homicides following shows in Texas.

“The absence of gun show regulations does not increase the number of gun-related deaths as proponents of these regulations suggest,” said Jacob, director of its Center for Local, State, and Urban Policy (CLOSUP).

For thee but not for me?

Disciriminations has an article on a survey done on Affirmative Action.

He ends with:

So, students at schools that employ racial preferences are less likely to believe that “diversity” has benefits and more likely to believe that it constitutes reverse discrimination than students at preference-free schools.
That, of course, is not surprising, since they should know.

Fingerprinting… 4000 years ago

Scribal Terror quotes Wikipedia:

Although the ancient peoples probably did not realize that fingerprints could identify individuals, references from the age of the Babylonian king Hammurabi (1792-1750 B.C.E.) indicate that law officials fingerprinted people who had been arrested. In China around 300 C.E. handprints were used as evidence in a trial for theft. In 650 C.E., the Chinese historian Kia Kung-Yen remarked that fingerprints could be used as a means of authentication.In his Jami al-Tawarikh [Universal History], Persian official and physician Rashid-al-Din Hamadani (a.k.a. “Rashideddin”) (1247-1318) comments on the Chinese practice of identifying people via their fingerprints: “Experience shows that no two individuals have fingers exactly alike.”

Another tidbit for Dielli.

Does starting college at a community college hurt the student?

According to Inside Higher Ed, it does. The article, though, seems to be saying that there is a significant penalty, but maybe less of a penalty for someone who is “serious” about getting their bachelor’s.

I hope I haven’t hurt my son’s chances of getting into a 4-year school with this.

[A recent study]found a significant “penalty,” or decreased likelihood of completing a degree, for students who started out in community colleges compared to those who started at four-year institutions.

Although it conflicts with some efforts to expand access to higher education, the implication is that students with the desire to earn a four-year degree would be better off if they started out at four-year colleges rather than trying to transfer out of a community college.

But separating the students with a “demonstrated intent” of graduating with a four-year degree solves the apples-and-oranges problem of comparing students from different types of institutions. While the results still show a penalty for community college students, it’s smaller than it otherwise would be and suggests possible solutions.

“I think what we’re trying to say … in the paper [is that] a lot of policy is putting a lot of pressure on the community colleges, and they already are not really supported financially. In comparison to their four-year counterparts, they receive a lot less money,” Long said. So, rather than arguing that students who would otherwise have started at community colleges should be siphoned off to four-year colleges instead, she said it was important to improve support and make it easier for students to transfer.

A diary for a non-linear thinker.

One of the bloggers I read regularly has written about his creation of a diary for himself which was “not linear.” He does a lot of thinking/brainstorming/planning and playing to come up with his visual diary. I enjoyed his discussion on the history of the days of the week and the pictures of his ultimate artistic endeavor in this venue. I’ve shared the post with friends who are diarists/journalists. And I thought I should share it with my online readers too.