In 1988, Obama Lent a Stranger $103 To Fly Home to Norway

Translated from a newspaper in Norway:

At the airport in Miami things were hectic as usual, with long lines at the check-in counters. When it was finally Mary’s turn and she had placed her luggage on the baggage line, she got the message that would crush her bubbling feeling of happiness.

-You’ll have to pay a 103 dollar surcharge if you want to bring both those suitcases to Norway, the man behind the counter said.

Mary had no money. Her new husband had travelled ahead of her to Norway, and she had no one else to call.

-I was completely desperate and tried to think which of my things I could manage without. But I had already made such a careful selection of my most prized possessions, says Mary.

Although she explained the situation to the man behind the counter, he showed no signs of mercy.

-I started to cry, tears were pouring down my face and I had no idea what to do. Then I heard a gentle and friendly voice behind me saying, That’s OK, I’ll pay for her.

Mary turned around to see a tall man whom she had never seen before.

-He had a gentle and kind voice that was still firm and decisive. The first thing I thought was, Who is this man?

Although this happened 20 years ago, Mary still remembers the authority that radiated from the man.

-He was nicely dressed, fashionably dressed with brown leather shoes, a cotton shirt open at the throat and khaki pants, says Mary.

She was thrilled to be able to bring both her suitcases to Norway and assured the stranger that he would get his money back. The man wrote his name and address on a piece of paper that he gave to Mary. She thanked him repeatedly. When she finally walked off towards the security checkpoint, he waved goodbye to her.

The piece of paper said ‘Barack Obama’ and his address in Kansas, which is the state where his mother comes from. Mary carried the slip of paper around in her wallet for years, before it was thrown out.

-He was my knight in shining armor, says Mary, smiling.

She paid the 103 dollars back to Obama the day after she arrived in Norway. At that time he had just finished his job as a poorly paid community worker* in Chicago, and had started his law studies at prestigious Harvard university.

(via Rory’s)

Related:
In 1996, McCain Shoved a Woman in a Wheelchair into a Wall:

Six people present have written statements describing what they saw. According to the accounts, McCain waved his hand to shoo away Jeannette Jenkins, whose cousin was last seen in South Vietnam in 1970, causing her to hit a wall.

As McCain continued walking, Jane Duke Gaylor, the mother of another missing serviceman, approached the senator. Gaylor, in a wheelchair equipped with portable oxygen, stretched her arms toward McCain.

“McCain stopped, glared at her, raised his left arm ready to strike her, composed himself and pushed the wheelchair away from him,” according to Eleanor Apodaca, the sister of an Air Force captain missing since 1967.

Word of the Night: Nucular

From Wikipedia:

Nucular is an ad hoc spelling of an incorrect pronunciation of the word nuclear, representing the IPA: /ˈnjuːkjələr/ (NEW-cue-lurr) pronunciation of that word instead of the correct /ˈnjuːkliːɚ/ (NEW-klee-urr).

This pronunciation is incorrect, although some dictionaries recognize it because of its increasing usage.[

The Dumbing Down of the GOP

From Salon:

All the glaring defects so blatantly on display in her debate with Joe Biden — and that make her candidacy so darkly comical — would be the same if she were a hockey dad instead of a “hockey mom.” In fact, the cynical attempt to foist Palin on the nation as a symbol of feminist progress is an insult to all women regardless of their political orientation.

There was a time when conservatives lamented the dumbing down of American culture. Preservation of basic standards in schools and workplaces compelled them — or so they said — to resist affirmative action for women and minorities. Qualifications mattered; merit mattered; and demagogic appeals for leveling were to be left to the Democrats.

Not anymore.

Mathematics in Chutes and Ladders



From Wikipedia:

Any version of Snakes and Ladders can be represented exactly as a Markov chain, since from any square the odds of moving to any other square are fixed and independent of any previous game history. The Milton Bradley version of Chutes and Ladders has 100 squares, with 19 chutes and ladders. A player will need an average of 39.6 spins to move from the starting point, which is off the board, to square 100.

In the book Winning Ways the authors show how to treat Snakes and Ladders as a (loopy) impartial game in combinatorial game theory even though it is very far from a natural fit to this category.