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The Pittsburgh Press from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania • Page 36
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The Pittsburgh Press from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania • Page 36

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
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JLWl E6 The Pittsburgh Press Tuesday, April 30, 1991 Dave Barry 'V Why U.S. skills don't add up in math world I 'I '2QM il Hi I V. 1 tti'A Jil LAST WEEK I WITNESSED a chilling example of what U.S. Secretary of Education Arthur A. Tuberman was referring to in a recent speech when he said that, in terms of bsic mathematics skills, the United States has become "a nation of stupids." This incident occurred when my son and I were standing in line at Toys Us, which is what we do for father-son bonding. Our immediate goal was to purchase an item that my son really needed, called the Intruder Alert. This is a battery-operated Surveillance Device that can be placed at strategic locations around the house; it makes an irritating electronic shriek when you, the intruder, walk past. This important technological breakthrough enables the child to get on your nerves even when he is not home. The woman ahead of us wanted to buy four Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle drinks, which come in those little cardboard drink boxes that adults cannot operate without dribbling on themselves. The Toys Us price was three drinks for 99 cents, but the woman wanted to buy four drinks. So the mathematical problem was: How much should the cashier charge for the fourth box? Talk about your brain teasers! The cashier tried www. 4 No one wants to "rest in peace" anymore, that disappeared in the '30s and '40s. Then the hippie movement and war protests of the '60s and 70s put sentimentality on hold. Now, people are more interested in expressing their feelings. Many grave markers are again recording more than just the dates of one's life. By Pete Bishop Istaring intently at the fourth box for a while, as if maybe one of the Ninja Turtles would suddenly blurt out the answer, but that didn't work. Then she got on the horn and talked to somebody in Management Us, but that person didn't know the answer, either. So the 'cashier made another phone call, and then another. By now I assumed she was talking to somebody in the fc highest echelon of the vast Toys Us empire, some wealthy toy executive out on his giant yacht, which is powered by 176,485 cell batteries (not included). Finally the cashier got the word: The fourth box ''Iij1should cost I am not making this up 29 cents. This is, of course, ridiculous. As anyone with a basic grasp of mathematics can tell you, if THREE drinks 99 cents, then a FOURTH drink would cost, let's nr see, four boxes, divided by 99 cents, carry your six here and put it on the dividend, and your answer rv is OK, your answer is definitely NOT 29 cents, And this is not an isolated incident of America's mathematical boneheadism. In a recent study done by American Association of Recent Studies, 74 per-jy-jient of U.S. high school students nearly half ri irwere unable to solve the following problem: "While traveling to their high school graduation cer-t. Bill and Bob decide to fill their undershorts Cheez Whiz. If Bill wears a size 32 brief and Bob wears a 40, and Cheez Whiz comes in an eight-ounce iJ, jar, how many times do you think these boys will have po repeat their senior year?" ttss; mm Most epitaphs express love, loss HERE'S A SAMPLING of epitaphs in district cemeteries. In some cases, punctuation has been added or altered for clarity. Allegheny, Lawrenceville Elizabeth Baird Patterson, died Oct. 9, 1917, no age given: "Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all." Gen. Alexander Hays, July 8, 1819 -May 5, 1864, killed in the Battle of the Wilderness: "On fame's eternal camping groundHis silent tent is glory guards with solemn roundThe bivouac of the dead." Robert Weir Everson, April 27, 1927 -Feb. 3, 1967: "If you came in the early morningWhen the ground is covered with dewyi specs you'd be likely to find meA-sittin' and dreamin' o' you.If you came in the dusk of the eveningWhen the sun is behind the blue specs you'd be likely to find meA-sittin' and dreamin' here still." Beth Shalom, Shalcr Stanley Krakower, April 20, 1927 -Jan. 10, 1987: "If love could have saved him, he would not have died." Calvary, Greenfield Jessica M. Blake, Sept. 19, 1984 -June 28, 1985: "We loved you Jessey o' (sic) so muchNow your (sic) here for us to touchWith great loss to foster parents." Grandview, North Versailles M. Bertha Feehrer Caddy, 1883-1961: "Bebe You are not forgotten, loved Please see Headstones. E7 mm VERE IS THE IRONIC thing: America Dro- 05; 1 I I duces "smart" bombs, while Europe and Ja- The Pittsburgh Press CHET SPORNY taught music in the Aliquip-pa public schools, played saxophone and baritone sax and was a member of the Pittsburgh Baritone Quartet. He died Nov. 6, 1988, at age 72 and was buried in Highwood Cemetery, North Side. On his monument there's a treble clef and joined eighth notes, along with the inscription "The music of his life lives in our hearts forever." "We did it for his sake because he loved his music," said his widow, Irene, of Emsworth. "I don't know who all's seen it, but a couple of my friends thought it was beautiful, Since they knew Chet." Many people here and elsewhere think it's beautiful, meaningful and fitting to put more than names, dates and and perhaps family status on a headstone. In short, the epitaph is coming back, although how far is a matter of dispute. Four-fifths of customers at Eckels Granite Marble Lawrenceville, want something more than the basics, says co-owner Dorothy Dulemba. Only 10 percent ask for something more at Carlini Bros, in Greenfield, says owner Henry Carlini. Others estimated the percentage at somewhere in between. John E. Dianis, executive vice president of Monument Builders of North America, a trade association based in Evanston, 111., says epitaphs fell out of favor in the '60s, "when people were protesting against everything. The values weren't there. They got away from religion, away from love, away from sentiment." Steven Urbach, who owns Steven Urbach Memorials in Squirrel Hill and East Suburban Memorials in Penn Hills, places the nadir in the '70s, "right after the Vietnam War, where people lost touch with a lot of their feelings." He attributes the epitaph resurgence in the last five to 10 years to "stronger feelings of love. I think people are feeling better about the country." Eckels' Dulemba says almost shyly, "I think it might be me. I sort of go overboard for my customers. I like to put more feeling into something I sell." THE TRADITION of epitaphs is ancient. They've been found on Egyptian coffins and sarcophagi. The Greeks and Romans began the tradition in Europe, and by the end of the 16th century the writing of verse epitaphs became a separate trade. Homespun epitaphs, although heartfelt, could be unwittingly amusing, such as this one from Gloucestershire, England: "Here lies two babbies, dead as nitsJWho died in agonising fitsjThcy were too good to live with weJSo God did take to live with He." S-'A A pan do not; yet our young people don't know the answers to test questions that are child's play for European and Japanese students. ci- What should be done about this? The American TiCouncil of Mathematicians recently proposed the fol-o Jowing solution: "We tell Europe and Japan to give us test answers, and if they don't, we drop the bombs on them." Seriously, though, this nation is a far cry from the America of the 1950s, when I was a student and we were No. 1 in math and science, constantly astounding the world with technical innovations such as color television, crunchy peanut butter and Sputnik. What was our secret? The answer is that, back then, math was taught by what professional educators refer to as: The Noogie ur Method. At least this was the method used by Mr. O'Regan, a large man who taught me the times tables. Mr. O'Regan would stand directly behind you and yell: aii-VNine times seven!" And if you didn't state the answer Immediately, Mr. O'Regan would give you a noogie. You can easily identify us former O'Regan students, we have dents in our skulls large enough for chipmunks to nest in. Some of us also have facial tics: These were caused by algebra, which was taught by Mr. Schofield, using the Thrown Blackboard Eraser Method. But the point is that these systems worked: To this day, I can remember that nine times seven is around 50. Few people now want anything flowery or fussy. The shorter the better Bible verses, religious messages such as "In God's hands," short phrases like "Together forever" or "Together in eternity" for married couples, literary quotations, hymn or song titles or lyrics. But 'not "Rest in peace." "That went out in the '30s and '40s," says Nelson Rodgers, owner of Nelson Memorial Studio in East McKeesport. Please see Epitaphs, E7 iV It good that I remember my math training, be- -i cause I can help my son with his homework. He'll be 1 sitting at the kitchen table, slaving over one of those horrible pages full of long-division problems, having trouble, and I'll say: "You know, Robert, this may io leem difficult and boring now, but you're learning a 'r skill that you'll probably never use again." If more par-" ents would take the time to show this kind of concern, rU we Americans could "stand tall" again, instead of be- jng a lazy, sloppy nation where a newspaper colum-'v nist, rather than doing research, will simply make up -the name of the secretary of education. (The Miami Heralddistributed by yvyt. byyy.fSA-KW?vsMWM V.V t' Stacy InnerstThe Pittsburgh Press 1 1Z'-" Real Silk Band, actor Gore head local awards list By Eric Deggans "The Pittsburgh Press The truth about lying: 9 1 of us do it regularly NEW YORK (AP) Only 13 percent of Americans believe in all Ten Commandments. Most workers admit to goofing off for about seven hours a week, and almost half say they regularly call in sick when they're not. Ninety-one percent of us lie regularly, at work and at home. But Americans can still tell the truth when no one's watching or listening. That, at least, is the assumption of "The Day America Told the Truth," a new book based on an extensive opinion survey that gave participants a guarantee of anonymity. According to the survey, one in five Americans say they lost their virginity before they were 13. One in six adults say they were abused as children, and one in seven say they were sexually abused. Twenty percent of women say they have been raped by dates. A third of AIDS carriers have not told their spouses or lovers. Please see Lies, 7 ONGTIME AREA veterans and talented newcomers walked awav with honors during Pittsburgh's second Minor '1 nized by your own people," said KDKA newswoman Brenda Waters while accepting her honor as best television personality. "I feel very grateful." Waters beat out WPXI news anchor Delia Crews and fellow KDKA staffer Patrice King-Brown to win her award. Newcomers to the ceremony included winners of best male rap artist (Tuffi Tuff), best female rap artist (2 Def 2) and best rap group (Two Brothers Deep). A few distractions marred last night's activities. Please see Awards. E7 Vernell Lillie. Veteran local DJ Porky Chedwick delivered a moving tribute to jazz drummer Art Blakey while announcing the Pittsburgh native's posthumous induction into the Minority Entertainment Awards' Hall of Fame. Winners were picked by a group of six judges, including staffers from the Champions organization and WAMO. Anyone who wanted to nominate a performer or public figure could enter their name in the contest by dropping off ballots at the radio station. "It's altvays good to be recog vanian, was simulcast on WAMO and featured performances from a number of local entertainers. The evening's biggest winners were members of The Real Silk Band, who won best group over the Allen Brothers. The band's lead singer, Flo Wilson, was named best female vocalist. "I guess this means we're doing something right," said Wilson, while accepting the group's award. Both Real Silk and Wilson also won honors in their respective categories last year. Local actor Bob Gore took entertainer of the year award, edging out ity Entertainment Awards Co-soonsored bv the 'Champions Association and a mr a LH. I 1 a wmu, iasi nigni snow teaiureu 21 awards in fields as diverse as frinusic, comedy, modeling and ad-Itfvertising. The event, hety at The Pennsyl-

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