Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Potential plots in the next Gilmore Girls followup

For the next follow-up Gilmore Girls series, which of the following developments would you like most?
  1. Headmaster Charleston arranges for Lane to receive a college degree based on life experience and hires her as the Head Music Teacher at Chilton.
  2. Upon the retirement of Headmaster Charleston, Paris becomes headmaster at Chilton and shocks the faculty with the admonition that the curriculum must be made "45 percent tougher so that we can beat those nasty [expletive deleted] at the Oxford Academy."
  3. Taylor persuades a luxury goods factory outlet mall operator to locate a facility in Stars Hollow. Property values go up dramatically, but the locals start complaining about traffic congestion.  Taylor valiantly pushes Luke to offer some "at least reasonably sophisticated fare" in the diner so that mall shoppers can be attracted to visit Downtown.  When Luke resists, Taylor attempts to enlist Emily to plead his case, but Emily takes Luke's side, telling Taylor that "this kind of supercilious snobbery is deplorable and entirely unbecoming."
  4. In order to escape their obligations to visit, Lorelai and Luke persuade Emily to run for the U.S. Senate. After Emily serves three years, she is elected Vice President, and the Governor persuades Lorelai to take over Emily's Senate seat. After Emily and the President find themselves too exhausted to run for re-election, Lorelai is elected President on the Republican ticket.  She serves for two terms and uses her business sense to promote a strong progressive agenda.  Democrats and Republicans all agree that she will go down in history as "a truly great--if not the best--President."  Luke feels uncomfortable in the White House, so he sets up a non-profit organization that that sells hamburgers and fries to tourists, with the proceeds going to programs for returning veterans.
  5. When Rory is nominated to be U.S. ambassador to China, it comes up in her confirmation hearings that she has been serving as an undercover agent for the CIA since shortly after graduating from Yale.
  6. Miss Patty has an affair with Headmaster Charles, and when they are exposed, a major scandal erupts. Lorelai brokers an agreement with concerned parents that Headmaster Charles will take a one year sabbatical for counseling and "deep and intense soul searching," after which he will be allowed to return. Tristan is tapped to be Acting Headmaster.  Unfortunately, Tristan has a major disagreement with the football coach on strategy, and when the coach has to go on medical leave after being punched out, Tristan hires Kirk as acting coach.  Although many of the players and a large number of fans have serious doubts about the acting coach's strategy, the team goes on to have its best ever season.
  7. A famous actress named Lauren Graham moves to Stars Hollow.

Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Moon missions

Wikipedia indicates that the manned U.S. flights to the Moon all took place from 1969-1972. First of all, it really is very politically incorrect that we refer to "manned" missions.  Even though it happened that all the astronauts who went to the Moon were men, the term "personned" really would have been much more enlightened. I had been under the impression that there were something like 2-3 trips; apparently, there were six. I believed that the Soviets had landed on the Moon several times, but apparently, they never did. It seems a bit perplexing that so many missions were done in such a short time period with none to follow afterward.  Wouldn't NASA have wanted to spend more time between missions to make improvements based on what had been learned on previous trips and technological advances that had taken place?  Please don't get me wrong--I am not suggesting another personned Moon trip now or in the near future; there probably isn't all that much that could be gained for such an expensive endeavor, but it really seems a bit wasteful to run six missions so close in time.

In July of 1975, the Apollo–Soyuz Test Project took place--a trip that involved some cooperation between the U.S. and the Soviet Union with simultaneous space missions.  I had thought this was a Moon mission--at the time, when I was something like eleven years old, I probably could not have imagined any other reason for going up into space.  I certainly would not have understood the idea of going into orbit of the Earth or any other body.  I could not understand why so many people seemed to be so excited about another Moon trip since we had been there before. It all seemed rather routine. And it turned out that they had actually been excited about something even less eventful!  How pathetic!  In any event, this may be why I thought the Soviets had landed on the Moon.

Sadly, this is not the first time my beliefs about astronomy have proven erroneous.  At one point, I believed that aside from the Sun, the star closest to the Earth was some twenty-six light years away.  The closest one is actually "only" 4.22 light years away.  Fortunately, I don't teach astronomy, and I hope my students have not lost too much confidence in me.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Bozozity and delusion

Is the bozo completely clueless as to the consequences of his stiffing of suppliers, tax avoidance, insulting of the disabled and war heroes, unrepentant philandering, misappropriation of funds, treasonous encouragement of enemy nations to hack into U.S. computer systems, abuse of bankruptcy laws, deceptive advertising and misrepresentation, unmitigated use of profanity, and general lack of any meaningful element of conscience on the destination to which he will be headed when he passes away? Sadly, I would not be surprised if he has deluded himself that he will be in the number of that saints when they come marching in--and that he is owed the privilege of skipping the march and arriving in an air conditioned limousine. He will probably not be very happy with the climate control in place where he is headed. If he is dependent on ice skating for his happiness, he will be in real trouble.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Would Your Grandma Make The Youth Pastor Spread Rumors About Your Neighbor's Ex-Mother-in-Law If She Did Not Get Paid to Do So? Some Juicy Considerations in Theory of Mind and Social Relationships

Strictly speaking, this question only involves first order theory of mind: Separate but related questions about one's grandmother's thinking and the questioner's basis for the question.  The inquiry might lead one to suspect that the questioner believes that the grandmother in question may be rather greedy and/or that she is mean-spirited.  There could, of course, be socially redeeming reasons for bringing about this gossip--if, for example, the mother-in-law in question is engaging in socially destructive behavior in the community and could be driven out by the damage inflicted on her reputation.  But that is probably not what would come to mind at first glance.

Despite the first order nature of the question, however, the question does raise some interesting issues about social relationships:

  1. The questioner seems to presume some insight into the grandmother's motivations.
  2. The questioner appears to believe that the questionee has the background--based on knowledge of the characters involved--to figure out this rather complicated potential chain of events.
  3. There are assumptions that: (a) the grandmother has some power--whether by way or blackmail or otherwise--over the youth pastor; (b) the youth pastor might be unwilling to spread the rumors on his or her own initiative; (c) the youth pastor would be able to carry out this mission successfully; (d) some unidentified individual may be motivated to pay the grandmother for her efforts; and (e) it is clear from the context or otherwise (i) which youth pastor is implicated, (ii) which neighbor is implicated; and (iii) that either (1) the neighbor in question only has one ex-mother-in-law, (2) the relevant one is clearly implied, or (3) it is not particularly critical which of possible multiple ex-mothers-in-law is targeted--with the possibility that more than one might be targeted, either simultaneously or sequentially.  This is really getting complicated!
There are some thorny issues left unstated in this question, although the questionee might have some potential insight:
  1.  What is the motivation of the questioner?  Is he or she genuinely looking for information or is he or she possibly trying to embarrass the quetionee about his or her grandmother's potentially flawed character--or perhaps to instill pride either in (a) the greed of the grandmother, (b) her apparent evil nature, or (c) her willingness to "do the right thing"--if this is how the compulsion to spread gossip is seen--without being paid?  If the questioner is asking purely for information, is he or she potentially a cheapskate looking to have the rumors spread and wondering if he or she can get away with not paying the grandmother for her potentially valuable services?
  2. Is there any relevance to the fact that the ex-mother-in-law is that of a neighbor, or is that just a way in which she is identified?  How would the neighbor feel about the situation?  He or she may view the rumor attempts favorably as misfortune that a potentially disliked individual deserves to suffer; or, quite possibly, the neighbor may still have some loyalty to a former in-law and could potentially be the real target of a potential conspiracy to injure.  Or it could be that someone is trying to injure both the ex-mother-in-law and the neighbor at the same time.  If the attempt is to injure the ex-mother-in-law, does the individual seeking to accomplish this care one way or the other about any possible impact on the neighbor?
  3. Does the neighbor have a current non-ex-mother-in-law?  How would this potentially affect his or her views about the questions above?
  4. Does the questionee care one way or the other about the fate of the ex-mother-in-law?
  5. Does the questioner care one way or the other?  
  6. Although it is assumed above that the grandmother has some power over the youth pastor, is the choice of this individual as the sub-agent based on the appearance that the agent (the grandmother) has an especially high degree of power over this individual or is the assumption that the youth pastor would be a particularly effective sub-agent?
  7. Would spreading rumors be especially objectionable for a person of the cloth?  In particular, does the youth pastor's charge to minister to the needs of impressionable youth make spreading these rumors even more objectionable than it would be have been if done by other clerics?  Perhaps one might argue that it would have been at least as objectionable for the head pastor to spread the rumors but that the youth pastor's behavior would be more problematic than that of other subordinate ministers.
  8. Could all of the above potentially involve a plot by enemies of the grandmother to find a way to disgrace her, making the ex-mother-in-law merely a potential object of collateral damage?
Of course, these questions could become a whole lot more complicated if we added in issues about parking spot assignments.