Author Archives: Bob Welbaum

The Importance of Piano Lessons

I never took piano lessons; my instrument was a tenor saxophone.  But I know music lessons are an important part of growing up — at the least it’s a sneaky way to teach kids math, especially fractions. My opinion has been reinforced by a new study, involving Mandarin-speaking Chinese kindergarteners, that claims the piano can

Read More

Documenting Children and War

Keeping up with the news can be sobering, even depressing, especially when children are involved.  But every once in a while, a story grabs your attention like a slap across the face.  Like tonight. I don’t know how many watch PBS’s “News Hour” ( https://www.pbs.org/newshour/ ), but a story late in tonight’s broadcast really brought home

Read More

Why We Procrastinate

Do you ever have a list of jobs to do and find yourself doing the less-important ones first?  I know I do.  So I was relieved to read there is a scientific explanation — the urgency effect. According to the article “Why Your Brain Tricks You Into Doing Less Important Tasks” by Tim Herrera, “Our

Read More

Endangered Species — The Middle Child

If my occasionally reliable memory is correct, there was a “Simpsons” episode in which a family crisis caused Lisa’s birthday to be forgotten.  She ended up celebrating by herself: “Happy birthday, overlooked middle child….” I was reminded of that by an article, “The Extinction of the Middle Child: They’re becoming an American rarity, just when

Read More

Trying Not To Be A Surplus Human

Automated check-outs.  Self-driving vehicles.  And those are only the obvious jobs being automated.  Lots of people’s livelihoods are in jeopardy, so many that I’ve discovered a new term — surplus human. “Are You a ‘Surplus Human’? These Are the Jobs Robots Are Coming After Next” by Alissa Quart is an article that explores this in

Read More

Presidents and the Supreme Court

Today we tiptoe into the minefield of politics. Recently much has been made about presidential appointments to the Supreme Court, and with good reason.  Our highest court has the final say on what the law of the land actually means. Within a year and a half of taking office, President Trump gets to appoint two

Read More

Be Like Eisenhower

Dwight Eisenhower was a five-star general and 34th President of the United States.  He helped win, then stop, hot wars (World War II and Korea), and navigated the country through eight years of the Cold War.  He is also know for his domestic accomplishments, like the Interstate Highway System.  One poll I found rates him

Read More

But What Did Einstein Actually Say?

From the “I’m Sorry I Asked” Department — All of my life I’m been hearing about Albert Einstein and his Theory of Relativity.  He has had such a huge impact on our lives in general and science in particular.  In high school, when I was asked to report on the most consequential figure of the

Read More

How Spiders Fly

If you’re afraid of spiders, you should stop reading now. Scientists have long known that spiders can travel by air.  In a technique called ballooning, they simply raise their abdomens, extrude some silk, and float away.  They have been found a thousand miles out at sea.  Neat! But the mystery is spiders only seem to

Read More