Monday, 17 September 2012

Notre Dame football analysis: Irish must avoid the noise

It wasn't just the season-ending injury to Jamoris Slaughter that put Brian Kelly in an all-business mood when the celebration was still percolating all around him.It was the knowledge that his Notre Dame football team’s 20-3 conquest of then-No. 10 Michigan State Saturday night could be much more than an upset. It could be a turning point. And the time to start building toward that possibility started before the team even got on the bus just after midnight in East Lansing, Mich.
The third-year Irish head football coach’s postgame mantra? Don't get infected with success.“It's easy to forget how you got here,” Kelly said Sunday afternoon. “It's easy to listen to how great you are. We've got to avoid the noise and stay disciplined on the process. If we do that, we'll be pretty good in November.”
If the Irish — 3-0 for the first time since 2002 and carrying their highest ranking (11th) since Dec. 3, 2006 — want to be pretty good this Saturday night against No. 18 Michigan (2-1) and beyond, they’ll have to do it without Slaughter, a fifth-year senior.
Notre Dame’s most-experienced member of its secondary and most-versatile defender is out for the season and perhaps for his college career with a torn Achilles tendon. The 6-foot, 200-pound free safety suffered the injury on the first play of the second half of Saturday’s game.
Slaughter had played drop linebacker as well against spread and option teams the past couple of seasons, nickelback when asked to and was Kelly’s safety net for a thin cornerback corps that already lost junior Lo Wood for the season to injury.
Sophomore Matthias Farley, a converted wide receiver and perhaps the biggest personnel surprise on either side of the ball this season, moves into the starting lineup.
“You lose a Jamoris Slaughter, you're losing an ‘A’ player,” Kelly said. “Matthias is certainly not at the level yet of a Jamoris Slaughter. So we'll have to continue to develop him, but we have a lot of confidence in him.”
Slaughter does have the option to petition the NCAA for a sixth year of eligibility for 2013.While he mulls his future, his Notre Dame teammates will be cultivating theirs. Pushing beyond what they’ve already accomplished is a lesson learned the hard way last season by a deflating 31-17 loss to USC when the stage was quite similar to what Saturday’s Michigan game figures to be.
“A lot of the guys went through the USC experience, and we didn't play our best football,” Kelly said. “This is a group that has learned by their mistakes — not just players, but coaches. So moving forward, I think we've learned from the experiences over the last couple years that we've got to stay focused and away from the distractions.”
In that light, here are ND’s areas for growth potential and how that plays against the backdrop of the road ahead:
Quarterback play
Sophomore quarterback Everett Golson put up the ugliest stats of his three-game starting run Saturday against the Spartans, and yet probably took his most significant step forward in his overall evolution.
A 14-for-32 night gouged his historic start in the completion-percentage category. A 1-for-14 success rate on third down did the same to his conversion rate.
Yet the 6-foot, 185-pounder made big plays when he had to. He stayed poised. He took shots down the field in the passing game to try to loosen up the overloaded box Michigan State was using to stop the run.
Golson threw a 36-yard TD pass to John Goodman and scrambled for a six-yard score against a defense that hadn’t given up an offensive touchdown this season. And he may have done it all against the best defense overall and in the passing game the Irish will see this season.
Only Oklahoma has a better pass-efficiency defense rating nationally (third) than MSU’s (seventh) at the moment, and the Sooners’ was accumulated against the likes of UTEP and Florida A&M.
The most significant stat is turnovers. The Irish have a total of two through three games. Last year at this time, they had 13.
The next step in the QB evolution, Kelly insisted Sunday, isn’t adding more pages from the playbook or augmenting some formational bells and whistles, it’s Golson getting better at what’s already on his plate.
Catching on
Three games into life after Michael Floyd, an unlikely trio of TJ Jones, Robby Toma and Theo Riddick are tied for most receptions in 2012, with nine each.
Tight end Tyler Eifert, shut out Saturday night for the first time since he became a starter midway through the 2010 season, is right behind them with eight catches.
None of them are likely to fade, but the depth of the receiving corps needs to continue to develop, because there are some weapons in the younger classes that can open up opportunities for everyone.
Freshman Chris Brown showed off his speed on a first-quarter incompletion Saturday night in which Golson put a little too much air into the throw. Classmate Davonte’ Neal has a knack for getting big yards after the catch.
And sophomore DaVaris Daniels may be the most dangerous of any of the wide receivers on the roster. His participation Saturday night was limited to a handful of plays after he suffered a setback to his recovery from an ankle sprain Friday during a walkthrough.
Daniels is averaging 19.8 yards per catch, best among Irish players who have more than two receptions. Kelly’s expectation is that the 6-foot-2, 190-pounder will be available for the Michigan game.
Reshuffling the secondary
The good news in ND’s war of attrition in the secondary is that the Irish don’t face a team currently ranked higher than 40th nationally in passing efficiency the rest of the season.
The less-than-good news is that those numbers aren’t likely to hold up. USC (41st), with Matt Barkley; Oklahoma (47th), with Landry Jones; and BYU (61st) with Riley Nelson are among those who figure to climb significantly by the time the Irish face them.
At least they’re used to playing without Slaughter. In addition to sitting out all but one play of the second half Saturday, the safety missed the entire second half of the Purdue game on Sept. 8 with a shoulder injury.
Senior Zeke Motta becomes the air traffic controller of the group. He’s the only one among the four secondary starters who didn’t get moved from the offensive side of the ball.
“I think what we're seeing is the development of some really young players that can be really good players for us,” Kelly said. “We don't need to hide them. They just need to continue to develop.”
Polishing a diamond
The defensive front seven is this Notre Dame team’s calling card.
Even ND’s surprisingly sparkling No. 26 standing in pass-efficiency defense is due in large part to the pressure the Irish can get up front without a lot of gambling and blitzing.
Perhaps its most impressive numbers are these: The 30 points given up through three games are the fewest since its last national title run, in 1988. And Saturday night, the Spartans didn’t run a single play in the Irish red zone. In the second half, only one of MSU’s 33 plays was snapped on the ND side of the 50-yard line.
And yet it’s not even close to what it could be. Fifth-year senior end Kapron Lewis-Moore missed almost all of the Purdue game (Sept. 8) and was laboring with a calf injury Saturday night. Freshman Sheldon Day and sophomore Tony Springmann, key backups, are surging each week.
Drop linebacker Danny Spond is healthy and improving. Senior weakside linebacker Dan Fox probably played his most complete game. And middle linebacker Manti Te’o is inspiring everyone around him to keep pushing.
So is Kelly.
“I think you have to,” he said. “Obviously, they're 18- to 21-year-olds. You need to continue to remind them about where they are, how they got here.”

At $299, Wii U offers 'strong value,' says Nintendo's Fils-Aime

Is Nintendo's Wii U delivering the right value to consumers? The company's chief operating officer Reggie Fils-Aime certainly thinks so.
Speaking to in an interview published today, Fils-Aime said that the Wii U Basic Set, which will retail for $299 when it goes on sale on November 18 in the U.S., "is a really strong value, and it's a value that's going to be strong for a long time."
Nintendo announced details of the Wii U at a press event yesterday in New York City. The device comes in two sets -- the $299 basic edition and a $349 deluxe offering. The basic set comes with the console, a single GamePad, sensor bar, and 8GB of onboard storage. The deluxe set adds a charging stand and the Nintendo Land game disc, and jumps to 32GB of storage.
In addition, the console will support a new, in-home entertainment feature, called Nintendo TVii, that will allow users to tap into live programming and streaming video from the GamePad for viewing on a television. Users will also be able to record live programming from the controller.
Despite all that, value isn't determined by companies; it's arrived at by consumers. And whether Nintendo customers will want to buy a new console for at least $299 remains to be seen.
So far, opinions are mixed on the quality of Nintendo's offering. Some say that the GamePad is an ideal addition, and the now-HD games are welcome. Others aren't so impressed by the graphics in the Wii U titles shown off so far, and wonder how the device might stack up against the long-expected Xbox 720 and PlayStation 4.
But Nintendo has time on its side. The company is the first to jump into the next generation, and with a mid-November launch, it'll be able to take advantage of the busy holiday shopping season. Its future competitors aren't expected to hit store shelves for about another year.
So far, that, along with the device's features, appear to be helping the Wii U out.
"In the end, the consumers are going to decide [the Wii U's value]," Fils-Aime told "So I'll share this data with you. We've announced the price and we have a number of retailers taking pre-orders and the feedback that I'm getting from retailers is extremely strong in terms of pre-sales and consumer excitement at the store."

Thursday, 13 September 2012

To Die For

To Die For
Amna again glanced towards the girl sitting across from her at the train station. Her nose buried in a book; it took her a while to realize that it was actually Tehmina her old friend from college days. Just about four months since their graduation, Tehmina was practically unrecognizable her face looked yellow, shriveled and gaunt; even the lips seemed to have retreated, and her pallid skin was unevenly shadowed and deeply lined. With a gasp, Amna felt as if she was looking at the features of a dead girl.
A few seconds later, Amna collected herself — Tehmina was sitting there, swinging her leg, reading a book, obviously very much alive. But then, why did she look so ghastly?
What Amna didn’t realize, was that Tehmina was showing stark symptoms of anorexia nervosa, an eating disorder that preys upon one to five % of all female teens and adolescents. Tehmina was wrapped up in extra loose clothing to disguise her extreme loss of weight, and she was greedily perusing the images in a cookbook. Anorexia might not be rare, but few people recognize it as a problem, and it is encouraged by the ignorance of peers and family members.
Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder with underlying emotional causes. Those suffering from anorexia are haunted day and night by the urgency of losing as much weight as they can. They severely restrict their intake of calories and in many cases, also engage in extreme and arduous exercises. To an anorexic, each pound lost is a victory, and there are no worldly limits to the situation of the obsession expect death.
Anorexia is a psychological disorder and germinates from emotional stress or the onset of despair and lack of self-esteem. While a variety of conditions may be responsible for the development of anorexia, all patients feel the same need for control which they only find in the manipulation of their own diet and bodyweight, hence they continually abuse it. 90% of anorexics are female, and almost all are teens and adolescents. Moreover, anorexia is chronic, and those who are affected once are prone to show symptoms repeatedly.
Anorexics are averse to eating, count their calories, and sometimes even exercise madly, all in a rush to keep losing weight. They ignore signs of bad health and waning looks, and take pride in their weight loss. However, to divert attention from their extreme thinness, anorexic patients will often wear baggy clothes to make themselves look fatter than they are. People, who have anorexia often develop a sideways obsession with food and love to plan meals, look at picture of food or cook something for their family. Along with this, symptoms of slow starvation are soon visible. The skin becomes dry and pallid, circulation is low, and body temperature drops. With prolonged anorexia, the nervous system fails, followed by eye coördination. The patient has severe hair fall and feels cold. The body starts surviving on body fat and the patient loses his/her defense against the cold.
It is difficult to cure anorexia, because anorexics don’t want to be cured. However, need to that ht treatment starts off without delay, and first aims at eliminating the medical complications, and gradually normalizing bodyweight and eating habits. After that, the issues of self-esteem need to be addressed and a correct perception of a healthy body image needs to be established. The patient almost always needs professional help. The health complications that stem from anorexia are many and grave, and it s therefore vital that it is immediately dealt with. Psychotherapy can be employed to tackle the psychological or emotional problems responsible for the onset of this disorder.
There are many social problems underlying this disorder, chiefly projection of a thin girl as beautiful girl by the media, and the undue acceptance of this concept by society. An increasing number of 13 and 14 year olds look up to poster girls as role models for looks. Ask any school going teen girl and she will tell you that good sense of fashion is practically a free ticket to popularity. On the other fat girls are often subject to unintentionally cutting and discriminating jokes, and are acutely aware of their own excess mass when they want to fit into something chic and desirable. Loathing for one’s own shell can be so dehumanizing that once pushed off the edge, its little wonder they will go to any length to keep losing weight.
While anorexia can be fatal, similar body weight complexes are equally damaging to physical and mental health, not to mention the future prospects of the afflicted persons. Girls who keep but a vestige of their original appetite in order to remain skinny not only deprive themselves of the nutrition their mind and body desperately need, but also suffer the consequences of this malnutrition as are apparent in their declines in academic or professional performance. Look around you; there may be such people in your very social sphere, outwardly jovial but secretly weeping over their clumsy weight. Next time you start calling someone fatty think about that.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Maria Montessori: Is the Montessori method any good?

Google celebrates the 142nd birthday of Italian physician Maria Montessori. Does Montessori's 'child-centered' method work? In 1907, Italian physician Dr. Maria Montessori opened the first Casa Dei Bambini to work with poor children in the slums of Rome, presenting the world with a living example of her scientific theories of education. At the beginning of the 20th century, Italy's first female physician, Maria Montessori, sought to turn education on its head. Using methods developed through her work with developmentally disabled children, Montessori created a 'child-centered' approach that emphasizes rich environments, freedom, and respect for the student's point of view.

"Education is not what the teacher gives," wrote Montessori, a devout Catholic whose classical empiricism echoes that of St. Thomas Aquinas, in a 1946 book. "[E]ducation is a natural process spontaneously carried out by the human individual, and is acquired not by listening to words."

Instead of emphasizing drills and memorization, with students all doing the same thing at the same time the same way, the Montessori method deploys student-selected work, small-group instruction, a lack of exams and grades, and collaboration, often between students of different ages. Montessori stressed the importance of developing social skills alongside academic ones.

RELATED: Maria Montessori and 10 famous graduates from her schools

Her approach has caught on. The International Montessori Index estimates that there are some 4,000 certified schools in the United States and about 7,000 worldwide. ('Montessori' is not trademarked, and other estimates say there are roughly 20,000 such schools around the globe.) In the United States, this includes hundreds of public schools, as well as some high schools.

But does it actually work? How does a Montessori education stack up to a conventional one?

The evidence tilts in Montessori's favor. A 2006 study of 112 students in a Montessori school and conventional public schools in Milwaukee found that the Montessori students performed significantly better on both cognitive and social measures.

Half of the students in the study were 5 years old, and half were 12. The Montessori 5-year-olds performed better than those their age at other schools when it came to identifying letters and words, solving basic math problems, and ordering and categorizing. The young Montessori students interacted more positively on the playground and were more likely to deploy reasoning in social negotiations, often with appeals to abstract values such as justice and fairness. The researchers found no differences between the spatial reasoning, vocabulary, and concept formation skills between the two groups of 5-year-olds.

The differences between the two groups of 12-year-olds were less pronounced, but still present. Essays written by Montessori students used more complex sentence structures and were rated as more creative, but the students in the conventional public schools appeared to have "caught up" on many of the researchers' other measures. The Montessori students tended to select more constructive responses to hypothetical social problems, and they reported feeling a stronger sense of community at their school.

In a 2006 interview with Scientific American, University of Virginia psychologist Angeline Lillard, who led the study, speculated that the less-conspicuous differences in academic performance between the Montessori and non-Montessori 12-year-olds could have been a result of the school being only three years old when the 12-year-olds enrolled back in 1997. Lillard noted that it takes time for a school to put Maria Montessori's method into practice.This was very authentically implemented Montessori," she told Scientific American. "It's actually a fairly small percentage of schools that are this strict.

Other studies loosely corroborate Lillard's findings on the effectiveness of a Montessori education, but they vary in the details. A 2009 study, also in Milwaukee (which is attractive to researchers because students are placed via lottery), found that high school students who had attended a Montessori school performed significantly better on math and science tests, but not in English and social studies.

What accounts for the outcomes among Montessori kids? It could be that the Montessori method teaches them to be more motivated and focused. A 2005 survey of 290 middle-school students by psychologists Kevin Rathunde and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi found that the Montessori students were more likely to report being driven by an interest in academic tasks, and that they were more likely to report getting joyfully immersed – feeling "in the zone" – when doing their work.

Such finding would be very much in line with Montessori's educational philosophy, which emphasizes devoting long uninterrupted blocks of time to tasks. "The child who concentrates," wrote Montessori in her book The Absorbent Mind, "is immensely happy."

The same holds true for adults, even into old age. A number of studies have found that Montessori-based activities can benefit the elderly, particularly those experiencing dementia.

So if the Montessori method is so effective, then why are most American students still getting twelve years of standardized, test-driven, teacher-centered, school-bell-interrupted pedagogy? Part of the reason is that the Montessori method is so tricky to implement. Read this sweet, yet daunting, essay, "Owner’s Manual for a Child," written by author and educator Donna Bryant Goertz, who founded a Montessori school in Austin, Texas.

Taking the perspective of a toddler writing to a parent, Goertz describes how demanding child-centered learning can be. She writes:

    "I want to be like you.  I want to be just like you, but I want to become like you in my own way, in my own time, and by my own efforts.  I want to watch you and imitate you.  I do not want to listen to you except for a few words at a time, unless you don’t know I’m listening.  I want to struggle, to make a grand effort with something very difficult, something I cannot master immediately.  I want you to clear the way for my efforts, to give me the materials and supplies that will allow success to follow initial difficulty.  I want you to observe me and see if I need a better tool, an instrument more my size, a taller, safer stepladder, a lower table, a container I can open by myself, a lower shelf, or a clearer demonstration of the process.  I don’t want you to do it for me or rush me or feel sorry for me or praise me.  Just be quiet and show me how to do it slowly, very slowly."

Goertz's essay is directed at parents, not teachers, but it's easy to see how only the most skilled and patient educators can consistently adhere to this method, even as the child is ultimately leading the way.

Clint Eastwood didn't exactly make Team Romney's day

The idea must have seemed sure-fire when Mitt Romney's advisors hatched it: Highlight the final night of the Republican National Convention with a surprise appearance by that long, tall drink of gritty Americana, Clint Eastwood.The beloved movie star and filmmaker surely would confer some of his abundant credibility on the Republican presidential nominee, still trying after six years of running for the White House to persuade some voters of his authenticity.
Eastwood would then flee into the swampy Florida night and Romney would launch his acceptance speech. Instead, Eastwood's 12-minute rhetorical ramble — featuring his conversation with an empty chair that represented President Obama — became the target of decidedly mixed reviews for the film icon, inspired a social media pile-on and diverted at least some attention from Romney's nomination acceptance speech on the crowning night of his political career.Republican Party regulars watched gleefully as Eastwood took the stage at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Thursday night and slammed Obama for the "national disgrace" of allowing 23 million Americans to remain unemployed. He told the chair, "When somebody does not do the job, we got to let them go." He suggested Vice President Joe Biden amounted to nothing more than "a grin with a body behind it."
Talk radio star Rush Limbaugh said Friday he "loved" the shtick, certain that it had gotten "under Obama's skin." A lot of other conservatives said they felt that way too.If Obama was sweating, he tried not to let it show. He tweeted out a photo of himself sitting in a chair marked "The President," with the text: "This seat's taken." Top Romney campaign strategist Stuart Stevens insisted that the Eastwood "improv" (the staff thought he would sit in the chair, not use it as a prop) was not a problem and that Romney laughed at it as he waited in the wings to make his acceptance speech.But that did not appear to be the sentiment from at least some of Team Romney, with advisors the day after the close of the convention shifting the conversation to anything but their Hollywood pitchman.And, on the network morning television shows, Romney's wife, Ann, sounded less than thrilled with the Eastwood performance.
She told ABC's "Good Morning America" she was "grateful for his support" but quickly shifted to much more effusive praise of Olympic athletes and Mormon church friends who had addressed the convention earlier in the evening.
She also quickly segued away from Eastwood's bit when speaking with "CBS This Morning." "You can never take away from the fact that this country is in trouble" she said, "and people are looking for real leadership and that I know that Mitt is the man for this moment." A Romney campaign official, who asked not to be named in order to discuss internal planning, said Eastwood had gone on for about twice as long as expected. Although staffers had seen some of the actor's notes before he took the stage, they didn't have any control over the message.
"You don't edit Clint Eastwood," the official said.A rising GOP star, Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, said on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" that he "cringed" at the Eastwood appearance, which implied a couple of off-color references by the imaginary Obama. Walker said he would have preferred to see prime-time appearances by the Romney family friends who made emotional speeches during the lightly televised portion of the program before 10 p.m. EDT.
Other fans of Eastwood were not as kind."Clint, my hero, is coming across as sad and pathetic," tweeted film critic Roger Ebert. "He didn't need to do this to himself. It's unworthy of him." Republican political consultant Mike Murphy tweeted that he was "dying" to read a full account of how the "Clint train wreck actually happened. Incredible." Murphy on Friday added: "Some senior Romney genius (amazingly) didn't know a basic showbiz rule dating back beyond the Ed Sullivan show: Always clear the material." A representative of Eastwood's production company said he was not granting any interviews Friday. But his longtime agent, Leonard Hirshan, said most of the calls he had received were from Republicans who liked the empty-chair riff.As with any self-respecting 21st-century pop culture phenomenon, the Eastwood moment quickly developed its own social media afterlife.One wag created a Twitter handle, @InvisibleObama, for the unseen chief executive. It had more than 52,000 followers by Friday afternoon. Social networks teemed with photos of "Eastwooding," people (and even pets) gesturing to empty chairs.
Comedians considered what the party in power would have to do next week at the Democratic National Convention to top Eastwooding. "To restore balance to the universe," said Patton Oswalt, "Obama must have Tommy Chong onstage at the DNC, talking to a steak." Seth Myers of "Saturday Night Live" offered another option: "[Vice President Joe] Biden has to go shirtless for DNC to top it.

Blue moon shines around the world

Tonight's blue moon may not be as rare as it sounds, but it's still special — as is every glorious full moon, whichever color you use to describe it. Actually, the term "blue moon" is something of a misnomer. There's no reason for the full moon to be any bluer than usual (though it's certainly possible for the moon to take on a blue tinge). Instead, it has to do with the extra occurrence of a full moon in a given calendar cycle. Various cultures have used different terms to describe that extra lunar cycle — Adhik Maas for Hindus, or an extra month of Adar for the Jewish calendar. The Maine Farmers' Almanac used the term "blue moon" to describe an extra moon in a particular quarter of the year.Then, in 1946, an amateur astronomer named James Hugh Pruett wrote about the phenomenon for Sky & Telescope magazine, in the context of the old saying that a rare occurrence happened only "once in a blue moon."

Only problem was, he got it wrong.Pruett described the blue-moon phenomenon as the second full moon in a calendar month. Sky & Telescope stuck with that, and the definition has been used (and hotly debated) ever since. If you go along with the definition, then tonight's full moon is blue due to the fact that it follows a full moon on the night of Aug. 1. There's another long-debated issue surrounding blue moons: You could argue that they happen way too often to be considered as rare as a "blue moon" in the proverbial sense. The interplay of the lunar and solar calendars dictates that a blue moon should occur, on average, every 2.7 years.Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson summed up the issue a couple of days ago in a Twitter update: "A month's second full moon is the blue moon. Not rare. More frequent than presidential elections, yet nobody calls them rare."

Technically speaking, the moon is already a few hours past its full phase — but it's still well worth taking note of, and not just because it's the last blue moon until July 31, 2015. It provides a fitting opportunity to pay tribute to history's first moonwalker, Neil Armstrong, who passed away last weekend. In fact, Armstrong's family is urging you to look at the moon in Neil's honor. "The next time you walk outside on a clear night and see the moon smiling down at you, think of Neil Armstrong and give him a wink," the family said.Photographers around the world have already been getting great moon shots. Here's a sampling of the "blue moon" views:For still more blue-moon pictures, check out's photo gallery and NASA's Flickr site for blue-moon imagery. If you snap a great picture of the moon tonight, please consider sharing it with us. Use our FirstPerson upload tool to send us your moon shot, and we'll pass along a sampling of the photos we receive.

Vesa Vauhkonen's moonrise montage served as the subject of this week's "Where in the Cosmos" photo quiz on the Cosmic Log Facebook page. It took a while this time, but John Culp and Brian Svacina eventually guessed that the photo was taken in Finland. To reward their geographical smarts (or was it just plain luck?), I'm sending them pairs of 3-D glasses, provided courtesy of Microsoft Research's WorldWide Telescope project. Those red-blue glasses will add an extra dimension to moon pictures like this one. Got 3-D? Click the "like" button for the Cosmic Log Facebook page and get ready for next Friday's quiz.The Phrase Finder delves deeply into the origins of the phrase "blue moon," meaning a rare event, and appears to have come up with a sensible explanation. In 16th-century England, the expression was apparently used to describe an impossible event, like pigs flying. The phrase pops up in a sarcastic context in a 1528 work by William Barlow, Bishop of Chichester, titled "Treatyse of the Buryall of the Masse": "Yf they saye the mone is belewe, we must beleve that it is true."

It took centuries longer for the phrase to describe something that hasn't happened in quite a while. The Phrase Finder cites this quote in Pierce Egan's "Real Life in London" (1821): "How's Harry and Ben? haven't seen you this blue moon." Meanwhile, the Maine Farmers' Almanac put its own astronomical twist on the term, going back to the 19th century.