Category Archives: Education

learning in America

The Illusion of Substance (Just for Fun)

The Illusion of Substance (Just for Fun)

 One of the many amazing facts that we take for granted is that solid objects exist. I like the following analogy: Assume the nucleus of an atom is the size of a golf ball. Place it in the very center of a football field. Now, how far away are the electrons? The answer is that they are circulating about 50 yards distant (at the goal lines and way past the sidelines)! What this means is that atoms are essentially just “space”.

If this is true, then why do objects appear and feel solid? The reason is that the electrons are moving at a speed of over 99% of the speed of light. In a sense, they provide a force field around the nucleus that provides the “illusion of substance”.

Atoms are extremely small. Our bodies are made up of over octillion atoms (1, followed by 28 zeros). We are primarily (99%) comprised of carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, calcium phosphorus & nitrogen atoms. While most of our atoms are oxygen, the 2nd most prevalent atom is carbon. The nucleus of a carbon atom is comprised of six protons and an average of six neurons (actually can vary from 2 to 12).  And you guessed it, there are six electrons. Thus, the atomic number of carbon is 6.

Education revisited

Education revisited

Not long ago I posted a lengthy treatise (several posts) on the unwarranted costs associated with securing a College degree. One area of concern that I did not adequately address was the impact of these costs on the taxpayer. The advanced education system is heavily subsidized via student loans. Keep in mind that these costs have increased over the last 2 decades at a rate of 3x that of overall costs.

Updated: January 24, 2018

It’s 2018 and Americans are more burdened by student loan debt than ever.

You’ve probably heard the statistics: Americans owe over $1.48 trillion in student loan debt, spread out among about 44 million borrowers. That’s about $620 billion more than the total U.S. credit card debt. In fact, the average Class of 2016 graduate has $37,172 in student loan debt, up six percent from the prior year.

Since these are loans and not grants how does this impact us. Currently the default rate is in the neighborhood of 10%. I have not been able to verify the actual cost to tax payers, but if we assume a 10% default rate and an average of 4 years borrowing that would equate to an annual write off to tax payers of almost $40 Billion. This is not acceptable!

Our government does little to mitigate the rise in these costs. Actually, they facilitate the increases by loaning without questioning the rates that are being charged. While only slightly more than ½ of these borrowers actually earn a degree we still are successfully pumping out about 3 million that earn a four year or higher degree. Only 15% of graduates are assured a college level requirement job on graduation and over time only 40% ever realize this level of employment. About 40% will end up taking a subpar job, often in area not related to their college major. Fully 20% will end up in low paying positions where their high school graduate compatriots have had a four year head start on career progression.

All of this is taking place while there is a shortage in many of the technical skill trades.

Violence in America

Chapter 61 Violence in America

Who cares about the facts? Since we can’t seem to solve the problem of violence in our country our only option is to ignore the facts.

The facts support the perception that we have nurtured a culture that is more violent than almost all the other first world countries.

Following are some facts:

The intentional homicide rate in the US is just under 5 per 100,000 per year.

This is more than 5 times the rate for the following countries:

UNODC murder rates (per 100,000 inhabitants). Most recent year UNODC has published
Country (or dependent territory, subnational area, etc.) Rate Count Region Subregion Year listed Notes
 Andorra 0.00 0 Europe Southern Europe 2015
 San Marino 0.00 0 Europe Southern Europe 2011
 Liechtenstein 0.00 0 Europe Western Europe 2015
 Monaco 0.00 0 Europe Western Europe 2008
 Macao 0.17 1 Asia Eastern Asia 2015
 Singapore 0.25 14 Asia South-Eastern Asia 2015
 Hong Kong 0.30 22 Asia Eastern Asia 2015
 Japan 0.31 395 Asia Eastern Asia 2014
 French Polynesia (France) 0.38 1 Oceania Polynesia 2009
 Brunei 0.49 2 Asia South-Eastern Asia 2013
 Indonesia 0.50 1,277 Asia South-Eastern Asia 2014
 Austria 0.51 44 Europe Western Europe 2015
 Bahrain 0.54 7 Asia Western Asia 2011
 Norway 0.56 29 Europe Northern Europe 2014
 Palestine 0.60 26 Asia Western Asia 2012 notes
 Netherlands 0.61 104 Europe Western Europe 2015
 Madagascar 0.62 130 Africa Eastern Africa 2010
 Ireland 0.64 30 Europe Northern Europe 2015
 United Arab Emirates 0.66 60 Asia Western Asia 2015
 Spain 0.66 303 Europe Southern Europe 2015
  Switzerland 0.69 57 Europe Western Europe 2015
 Burkina Faso 0.71 117 Africa Western Africa 2012
 Luxembourg 0.72 4 Europe Western Europe 2014
 China 0.74 10,083 Asia Eastern Asia 2014 notes
 South Korea 0.74 372 Asia Eastern Asia 2014
 Poland 0.74 286 Europe Eastern Europe 2015
 Czech Republic 0.75 79 Europe Eastern Europe 2015
 Italy 0.78 469 Europe Southern Europe 2015
 Taiwan 0.82 192 Asia Eastern Asia 2015
 Maldives 0.85 3 Asia Southern Asia 2013
 Greece 0.85 93 Europe Southern Europe 2015
 Germany 0.85 682 Europe Western Europe 2015
 Croatia 0.87 37 Europe Southern Europe 2015
 Slovakia 0.88 48 Europe Eastern Europe 2015
 Iceland 0.91 3 Europe Northern Europe 2015
 New Zealand 0.91 41 Oceania Australasia 2014
 United Kingdom 0.92 594 Europe Northern Europe 2014
 Tonga 0.95 1 Oceania Polynesia 2012
 Malta 0.96 4 Europe Southern Europe 2015
 Portugal 0.97 100 Europe Southern Europe 2015
 Australia 0.98 236 Oceania Australasia 2015
 Denmark 0.99


I wonder how the above countries manage to keep their homicide rates so low. Could we learn anything from them?