Friday, January 29, 2010

What's My Line?

No, it's not a geometry question.  It's not even what actors sometimes whisper onstage.  It's a TV show from a coupla generations ago.  (The question could be expanded to "What's My Line of Work?").  A mystery guest would appear on the show, signing their name so that only the audience could know who they were.  If the guest's face was known to the four judges working on the show, the judges' eyes would be covered with a mask.  The judges would then ask yes/no questions of the guest, trying to guess "What's my line?"  The guests ranged from a ≈80-year-old woman who caught shoplifters to well-known movie stars.  The guests sometimes went to great pains to disguise their voices, and that's where some of the hilarity comes in.  Sometimes their antics caused even the host to crack up!  That's when you knew you had a real winner on your hands.  Late last year while studying for my biochemistry final, my brain fried.  I decided that it was time to cool the sizzling mess with an administration of YouTube.  And it worked.  I found What's My Line and had a blast.  (Hold it -- maybe that was a different time.  I forget!)  Anyway, in case you're wanting to serve yourself up some laughs, here's some of the laughingest guests (at least of the episodes that I saw!):

Colonel Sanders (His face hadn't yet become the icon that it is now; they didn't even the judges wear masks!)
Groucho Marx (Groucho as Groucho.  Hard to beat)
Sammy Davis Jr. (Had an amazing repertoire of voices!)
Art Carney (My personal favorite; so humble, and so talented)
Ed Sullivan (This guy's a riot!)

Two other memorable episodes that I saw was 1) when one of the judges' fathers came onto the show, and 2) the last episode.
You can see the full listing of guests at (of course) Wikipedia.

(By the way, am I right in thinking that this show is what the villians were watching in the cartoon version of One Hundred and One Dalmations?)

Message in a Film

I gotta ask this.  If the abiding message of a film boils down to a single sentence, wouldn't I be better off reading the sentence and skipping the popcorn.  Okay, maybe that's hard-hearted, but just had to ask. 
   I'll soften that a little.  The Bible could be boiled down to the words "God is love," but I certainly don't want to read that sentence and skip the book. 
   How do I decide whether a movie is worth watching?

Pseudo Thesis Title #464

Elevator Ethics: How to Ride the "Lift" with Friends, Strangers, Trash Cans Left by Janitors, or Your Boss [Pseudo Thesis Title #464]

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Iron Lady Speaks

"Being powerful is like being a lady. If you have to tell people you are, you aren't." --
Margaret Thatcher (chemist, Prime Minister, Iron Lady)

Margaret Thatcher, chemist

Did you guys know that Margaret Thatcher was a chemist?
The gal was amazing!!!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Chemists4Christ Announcement

Greetings, earthlings.
This afternoon we'll be studying a book about an alien. It's out of this world: the guy's dad asked him to leave the perfect place where white carpet stays white, to come here with a gift. (No, his name wasn't Superman). He invaded our world quietly, demonstrated ability with shaping cellulose and subduing dihydrogen oxide, and gradually showed us that he himself was the gift. After guys in brass and guys in linen killed him, his dad brought him back to life, and he could walk through doors and give people phenomenal fishing tips. Best yet, he showed us that he was the way to the place where the white carpet stays white.


P.S. Ever feel that maybe your home planet isn't this one? Check out Hebrews 11:13-16.
Are you a resident alien?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Is the DI WUI?

Is the Daily Illini WUI?  Are a majority of its authors Writing Under the Influence of an atheistic worldview?

Pseudo Thesis Title #228

Emotional Equipment: How Printers and Power Supplies Acquire and Inopportunely Express Their Personalities (PseudoThesis Title #228)

Better Writing

Want some quick advice on writing?  A few weeks ago Celia Elliott from our physics department gave us a talk on how to improve our writing, especially technical writing.  Here's some links she sent to us.  Her presentation was a lot of fun, especially because she used pictures to emphasize her points.  (I really like the groundhog saying "I always use wimpy verbs and complicated syntax; sounds more 'scientific.'")

·         Celia Elliott's presentation:

·         Celia's technical writing rules:

·         Source of images of Celia's presentation.  They were almost all purchased ($1 or $2 per image) from  Celia says that  istock is an excellent source of high-quality, royalty-free images

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

MASSMAIL - Message from the Chancellor re: Finances

Essentially, the university's broke, and the state is even more broke.  Maybe el Presidente will bail out his home state (that is, the home state that doesn't begin with "H" (Hawaii) or "I" (Indonesia) or "K" (Kenya)).

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Chancellor Robert A. Easter (Interim) <>
Date: Wed, Jan 20, 2010 at 1:24 AM
Subject: MASSMAIL - Message from the Chancellor re: Finances
To: All Undergrad Students & All Grad Students <>

Dear Students:

As we approach the spring semester I write to inform you of the current
financial situation at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

As is the case with all public universities in the state we currently face
a cash crisis. In the current fiscal year that commenced on July 1, 2009,
we have only received 7 percent of our annual appropriation from the
state. As I write this letter the state of Illinois owes the University
more than $436 million of its appropriation. That number increases every

As a response, we have instituted a number of measures on campus to ensure
that we have the necessary resources to get through the semester with an
eye to confronting a similar fiscal shortfall in the next fiscal year. Our
faculty and administrative staff will begin mandatory furloughs in
February. (A furlough is a leave of absence without pay.) We have also
been cutting costs at all levels of the university and we are looking at
ways we can consolidate services to garner even more savings. Finally, we
continue to draw on cash reserves, but these are finite and we can no
longer continue to go down this path.

Please understand that we are doing everything we can to protect our
students - our number one priority - from the impact of these cost-cutting
measures. We believe that each fiscal decision we make must not compromise
the education of this state's greatest assets, its daughters and sons.

Please share this letter with your parents and family members. Great
public universities such as ours must be preserved and supported to ensure
that Illinois and the nation stay competitive in a global economy.

Thank you for your support,

Robert A. Easter
Chancellor and Provost (Interim)

This mailing approved by:
The Office of the Chancellor

This Message sent via MASSMAIL.  < >

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Letting Go

Sometimes growing in Christ involves adding things to our lives.  Other times, it involves letting go of things:

"Letting go in order to grow can be scary.  It requires change, which demands a certain degree of faith and hope.  That's why our picture of God must heal, at least a little, before we can embark on greater growth.
    "The writer of Hebrews reminds us that we can only let go and run the race of life well when we keep our eyes on Jesus.  Abiding and surrender... continue to be important as we practice the discipline of letting go.
    "There are three things we must learn to let go if we want greater healing and maturity in our lives -- we must let go of: unrealistic expectations, negative emotions, and lies."  (Leslie Vernick, The Emotionally Destructive Relationship, as quoted in Setting Boundaries for Your Adult Children: Six Steps to Hope and Healing for Struggling Parents, written by Allison Bottke, pp. 146-147).

Green Absurdity

A national chemistry conference had this to say on its website:
"Plan to attend the Spring 2010 National Meeting in San Francisco. The city, known for being home to some of the world's most innovative environmental legislation and initiatives, is the most appropriate city for our sustainability program theme.
"By attending symposia, poster sessions, and workshops, meeting attendees will experience the most exciting and cutting-edge research that the field of chemistry has to offer."

This harmonizes with the November 2, 2009 TIMES cover that pronounced "Why California is Still America's Future.  (And That's a Good Thing Too)."

California may be bankrupt, idea-wise and money-wise, but saying that is so un-PC!  Instead of trying to explain how the state ended up in its current predicament, or trying to spin its current lack of -- uh, greenbacks -- we'll avoid all defensive arguments by pretending that there's nothing to defend!  Problems?  What problems?  All praise to California, its lawmakers, its example!  Green laurels on your head, O California!

One thing I do agree with.  San Fran is the most appropriate city for this celebration of absurdity.  But that's hardly a compliment.

Humor donors and Humor Acceptors

Analogous to the functional groups which form hydrogen bonds, people act as humor donors and humor acceptors.  Which are you?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Lone Professor, or Why We All Need Heroes

I just read the following from one of William F. Buckley's speeches, and thought you might enjoy it.  Buckley gave this speech in honor of one of his Yale professors who was the lone active free-market economist at Yale in the late '40s and '50s.  He gave this speech in 1961:

  "Professor Saxon was the nearest thing to an omnipresence I ever knew.  He made Yale unsafe for economic presumption.  You could never tell just when one of the current economic myths, traveling about the campus drawing applause from all the little apprentice social magicians, would turn a corner, bump into Glenn Saxon, and die a miserable death.  Occasionally, our beleaguered conservative forces needed a massive display of strength,and we would summon forth our Big Bertha, and put Mr. Saxon publicly on display before, say, the Political Union.  There he would pronounce the verities... and, reanimated, those of us who were convinced of the interrelationship of economic freedom and freedom could go about our businesss with the unique confidence that comes from knowing that the champion of your ideas has met the challenger and is still champion."

(From p. 41 of Let Us Talk of Many Things).

Monday, January 11, 2010

Graduate Fellowships reminder

Somehow I don't think my research fits...

Dear ____,

The deadline for applying to the Intercollegiate Studies Institute's Graduate Fellowships Program will come in undera weeks, on January 16, 2010. There is still time to apply, and I welcome you to work with me if you are concerned about having your materials in on time.

There are four fellowship programs for graduate students.

The Weaver Fellowship pays tuition and a $5,000 stipend in support of graduate-level academics dedicated to excellence in the humanities.

The Western Civilization Fellowship provides $20,000 for dissertation work related to the heritage of Western Civilization.

The Salvatori Fellowship grants $10,000 for graduate work related to the principles of the American Founding.

The Renshaw Fellowship awards $12,000 toward graduate study on the role of education in America's Western tradition.

Visit for more information on graduate fellowships and do not hesitate to contact me for assistance in the application process. You can reach me by email at or by phone at (302)524-6122.

Nathaniel Zebrowski

Director of Fellowships and the Honors Program
Intercollegiate Studies Institute


Saturday, January 09, 2010

Buckley interviews Muhammad Ali

Liberal Theology

I flipped open Schaeffer's book and found the following, riveting paragraph.  Wow -- what a point he makes:

    "There is no adulterous woman who has ever been so soiled as the liberal theology, which has had all the gifts of God and has turned away to a worship of something that is as destructive as Molech was to the babies whose parents were led astray from the living God to worship this idol.  We must show love to the man with whom we discuss.  Yes, and we fight for this at L'Abri.  We must fight for the fact that he is not to be treated as less than a man.  Nothing is more ugly than the orthodox man treating another man as less than a man and failing to show that he takes seriously Christ's teaching that all men are our neighbors.  We do not discuss with the liberal only to win, but to help others, and to try to help him as well.  But to treat lightly what liberal theology has done -- not for a moment."  (From p. 146 of the Complete Works of Francis Schaeffer, Volume 4: "A Christian View of the Church.").

Friday, January 08, 2010


Jumping over snowdrifts, this is what I came to:

- It only matters if you're playing the game
- I like menial, repetitive work: it gives me time to think
- Writing?
- I'm not a people-person, but I can take people in doses
- I like classifying things
- Librarian?
- I like graphs and figuring out how to present data
- Scientific illustration?
- I love protocols, methods, predictability, and reproducibility
- Analytical chemistry? Programming?
- There's a funny predicament between individuality and belonging:
sometimes I like to know I belong; other times I like to know I'm different and unique
- Anyone can make something more complex, but only some can correctly simplify something
- I care only about certain things, and those things I care about strongly
- Most people won't care about what I care about, but that's okay
- As an introvert, to me, everything's a speech
- It's okay with God if I'm me

Thursday, January 07, 2010

The Introverted Life

What do you think?

Personally, I think the articles pile on too much praise for introverts.  That said, there's a lot of true stuff here about what an introvert is, and why they act as they do!

I think all five of us are introverts. :)   I also think that's pretty cool!