John Fishwick

Science, Literature, Art, Philosophy, Logic

Month: April 2015

KARST TOPOGRAPHY

KARST TOPOGRAPHY

 

Many e-mails are circulating around the web showing great photographs of natural wonders around the

world. Many of these photographs show mountainous scenes from China such as the one below.

 

Karsts China

 

 

 

This topography is called Karst, and is formed when soluble rock such as limestone is permeated by

acidic groundwater causing a labyrinth of caves and tunnels supported by rocky columns of limestone.

If you have been in a coal mine you will have seen a similar structure underground, where columns of

coal are left as supports. Eventually, the surface collapses leaving only the rocky columns of limestone

and the formation of a Karst topography.

MUSLIM EXTREMISTS

MUSLIM EXTREMISTS

 

If we assume that a true Christian is one who follows the teachings of the bible very closely, then one

who treats the Bible (the word of God) as a smorgasbord and chooses which parts to believe or not

believe is less than a true Christian. Using similar reasoning, a true Muslim is one who follows the

teaching of the Quran very closely. There are many references in the Quran indicating that Muslims

regard Islam as the only true religion and that non-Muslims or those leaving the faith should be killed,

usually by beheading. The Quran also teaches that women are to be treated as slaves to men and should

be executed for adultery, often by stoning to death.

If the above is correct, and it seems to be reasonable to think so, then the Muslim extremists are, in fact,

the true Muslims. The inescapable conclusion is that we are at war with Islam despite comments to the

contrary.

Is there a way out of this tangled web of Muslim beliefs? Yes, there is. Muslim leaders in the United

States should convene a meeting to modify or revise the Quran by removing the violent sections and the

death threats much in the same way as Thomas Jefferson created his bible by removing the implausible

events such as miracles. Then these Muslim leaders should announce that American Muslims are

followers of this revised Quran.

STEM EDUCATION

STEM EDUCATION

Several articles about a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) have been recently published in magazines and newspapers, perhaps the most notable being one by Fareed Zakaria in the Washington Post entitled “Why America’s Obsession with STEM Education is Dangerous”.

Let me attempt to put this subject into some kind of perspective by asking the simple question-What is the Purpose of a University Education?

A hundred years ago in the UK there were very few universities and they were for the children of the affluent with the goal of turning them into well rounded ladies and gentlemen suitable for taking their place in society. The men often found positions in the church or in the military.

Today the purpose of a university education is quite different. For most of us it enable us to repay our college loans and get a return on investment. It does little good to spend a couple of hundred thousand dollars on a 4-year education only to end up being unemployed or under employed. If a family cannot afford to buy a house, provide the children with a cell phone, a bike, and a computer or take a two week vacation at the beach, major problems will loom on the horizon. It’s all very well to say that money isn’t everything, but without a living wage life will be a challenge, unless you plan on living in a hut on some remote beach and writing poetry. Follow your passion by all means, but do something else to help you pay the bills. I think it was Dorothy Parker who said-“I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor. Rich is better”.

My advice to a student today preparing for college is to fast forward four years and imagine yourself sitting at a desk in front of a job- interviewer who asks- “What skills do you have that I would be willing to buy? If your answer is –“I know about the history of film or I am an expert on Elizabethan History”, don’t be surprised if you join the ranks of the unemployed.

So, what about the STEM subjects? Our country became the richest most powerful country in the world mainly because of science and technology and our future depends on further developments in the fields of medicine, computer technology, material science, and other related subjects.

Can you study one of the STEM subjects and also some philosophy, art, history, and music at the same time? No, not unless you are extremely bright and willing to work hard. Remember, when you enter the job market, you are competing against the best from India, Korea, and China and they are good. As Thomas Friedman once said-“Your next doctor will be Indian and your next boss will be Chinese.”

While on this subject, all STEM students should study critical thinking, reason, and logic because these are the basic elements of the scientific method.

So, what’s the answer to the problem of producing graduates in STEM who lack skills in the humanities and liberal arts? Very simple. Students must accept, and even welcome, the fact that learning does not stop at graduation; this is where it really begins. Although I have no proof that STEM graduates would find studying history, art, philosophy, and linguistics to be more enjoyable than liberal art students would find relativity theory and quantum physics interesting, I suspect it’s true.

Finally, should you abandon your passion for a liberal arts degree? Of course not! Just be realistic about your future employment opportunities. What does the future hold for teachers? I don’t really know, but most courses are now available on-line for no charge taught by charismatic professors. Does this portend the end of universities?

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