Archive for: October, 2008

Happy Hallo-Meme.

Oct 31 2008 Published by under Passing thoughts, Personal

BikeMonkey tagged me ten days ago, but Casa Free-Ride has adopted the just-in-time model of jack-o-lantern production.
Here are the rules:

Carve a pumpkin.
Light'er up.
Snap a foto.
Post it.
Tag some bloggers.

Here are the photos:

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Spooky (but not anatomically correct) cookies.

Oct 31 2008 Published by under Passing thoughts, Personal

I don't know why I never thought of making Hallowe'en cookies like this:

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DonorsChoose Blogger Challenge 2008: last day.

Oct 31 2008 Published by under Kids and science, Philanthropy

This is the last day of Blogger Challenge 2008.
You have mere hours left to give to our challenges and get in on Seed's prize drawing (which includes that spiffy iPod Touch).

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The mystery of the beans.

Oct 31 2008 Published by under Food, Science in everyday life

Earlier this week, I cooked up about a pound of the bush beans from our garden. There was a mix of yellow, green, and purple beans (although, as expected, steaming transformed the purple beans to a dark green color). I dressed the cooked beans as usual and served them with dinner.
As I was clearing the table after the meal, I saw this:

MysteryBeans.jpg

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Friday Sprog Blogging: ghosts.

Oct 31 2008 Published by under Kids and science

Elder offspring: I read about a house where the 17th stair on the staircase creaks because a man who was shot died on that stair.
Dr. Free-Ride: Oh, really?
Younger offspring: Why did it creak?
Elder offspring: Because the house is haunted.

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Physics professor gives common sense the day off.

Sadly, the Houston Chronicle brings us another story about an academic caught plagiarizing. The academic in question is Rambis M. Chu, a tenured associate professor of physics at Texas Southern University, who is currently under investigation for plagiarism in a grant proposal he submitted to the U.S. Army Research Laboratory.
Since the investigation is still under way, I'm open to the possibility that Chu will present some evidence to demonstrate his innocence here. However, should the facts reported in the Houston Chronicle stand up to scrutiny, this is shaping up to be one of those cases where the accused took leave of common sense.
From the Houston Chronicle article:

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The challenges of dialogue about animal research.

Earlier this month, I wrote a post on California's Researcher Protection Act of 2008, which Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law on September 28. There, I noted that some opponents of the law expressed concerns that the real intent (and effect) of the law was not to protect those who do academic research with animals, but instead to curtail the exercise of free speech. I also wrote:

I'm left not sure how I feel about this law. Will it have a certain psychological value, telling researchers that the state is behind them, even if it doesn't actually make much illegal that wasn't already illegal? Will it end up curtailing free speech, possibly driving more people to pursue "direct actions" against researchers because their attempts at dialogue are frustrated?

In comments on this post, Clinton raised some important issues about what is -- and is not -- involved in a dialogue, especially around the question of research with animals. Clinton wrote:

Why is it when you write "dialogue" what I read is "getting their way"?
There is no problem with the dialogue. Particularly in these days of the internets and blogz and all that, people who oppose the use of animals in research can sound off to their heart's content. It is very likely they can find a venue for dialog with animal research supporters as well. They are free to lobby their local Congressional representative. With just a little effort they can probably get on their local nightly news. "Dialogue" is freely available.
People on the animal rights bandwagon who are "driven to direct action" are not being driven by a failure of dialogue but rather by a failure to get their way. It is a failure on their part to convince a majority that they are correct in their extremist views.

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Blogger Challenge 2008 thank-you poem: ethics.

Oct 28 2008 Published by under Kids and science, Philanthropy

Reader Patrick made a generous donation to my challenge, and wrote:

I want to thank you for the posts on Ethics. It is a subject that I feel is mostly neglected during a scientist's formal education. We end up learning by example (not always good), but it should be a required course for everyone with an advanced degree.

Patrick requested a haiku on ethics ... but so far, I've been having trouble putting something meaningful into 17 syllables. So, I am hopeful that a villanelle about ethics will suffice.

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Blogger Challenge 2008 sprog thank-you art + poem: chemistry.

Oct 28 2008 Published by under Kids and science, Philanthropy

Regular reader Duke (who this blogger knows as "Dad") made a generous contribution to my challenge and requested sprog art and a limerick on the subject of chemistry. (Like my mom, he indicated that this donation was to go to the "NO TATTOO" fundraising total.)

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Random question for the hive mind.

Oct 28 2008 Published by under Medicine, Passing thoughts, Personal

The other day, my better half and I were discussing scratching. Predictably, in the course of the discussion, I became aware of every itchy square millimeter of skin I might possibly possess.
I wondered whether scratching actually works -- that is, whether scratching ever acts to make an itch go away, or even to reduce it.
"Of course it does," my better half opined. "Why else would we do it?"
"Because we're poorly adapted?" I ventured.
So, here's the question*:

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