Friday, August 31, 2012


To my pleasant surprise all three boys knew what a loophole was - and even gave me examples. We spoke about whether it is OK to take advantage of loopholes or not, and concluded that "it depends". For example, taxpayers in the US search for the (legal) approach that will minimize their taxes. Taking advantage of loopholes is customary and expected (as long as they are perfectly legal loopholes). On the other hand, a loophole that allows you to do something that you know is "wrong" or "unethical" is a bad idea.

I started to talk about loopholes because I might have found one to decrease the price of my digital subscription to the Wall Street Journal. I signed up for the print version, even though I read the paper on my iPad, because the print subscription is cheaper (at least the offer I got is). And the print subscription gives you access to the digital version. I then decided to put my print delivery on hold, as  I don't want it. But I can still access the print version so I might be getting it for free while my print subscription is on hold. Not sure... My motivation (honestly!) was to avoid having to pick up and throw away the paper every day. But I then realized I might have found a loophole for a cheaper digital subscription... So, if this is indeed a loophole, is it OK? The boys thought it was fine. I am not sure... Does it matter that News Corp is one big corporation that should know how to take care of these things? Would it make a difference if it was a small non-profit community newspaper? I think it does. I think "context" matters...

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Perfect Back to School

First day of the 2012-2013 school year for the boys! Surprisingly they were all up early & ready to go. Maybe it is because they are all getting school iPads this year... Or maybe they missed their friends during the summer.

The boys got into a discussion about perfection. Nico, quoting "the wheelchair guy", said there is no perfection. I argued that something can be perfect within specified parameters and margins of error. For example, a band-aid (I've been cutting myself a lot lately) has plenty of imperfections when examined under a microscope, but the manufacturer might know that irregularities below a certain size can't be felt by our skin nor seen by our eyes, so every band-aid without irregularities bigger than that is, at least for practical purposes, "perfect". Hmmm... Not the best example I admit. But a good one to contrast with the quantum physics that Hawkings refers to, and that is not as relevant day-to-day.

Paco said perfection depends on each person's opinion. I agreed that could be the case in some subjective matters, such as someone thinking a certain chocolate cake is "perfect", but that perfection is not always subjective, such as when imperfections can be physically measured and the margin of error pre-established. Ale said the Sun sure looked like a perfect sphere through the fog today, even though he knows there are flames hundreds of miles high on its surface. We are just too far to notice them... Do imperfections matter when we can't see them?

Time to go. "Have a perfect first day of school"...