Archive for: September, 2009

If you enter a dialogue, do you risk being co-opted?

On my earlier post, "Dialogue, not debate", commenter dave c-h posed some interesting questions:

Is there an ethical point at which engagement is functionally equivalent to assent? In other words, is there a point at which dialogue should be replaced by active resistance? If so, how do you tell where that point is? I think many activists fear that dialogue is a tactic of those who support the status quo to co-opt them into a process that is unlikely to lead to any real change because the power is unevenly divided.

Continue Reading »

2 responses so far

Send GrrlScientist to Antarctica!

GrrlScientist is in a contest to become Quark Expedition's official blogger from Antarctica. (So is DN Lee from Urban Science Adventures.)
Grrl has been doing pretty well getting votes in this contest, despite the fact that her competition includes a radio personality from Portugal and a member of the Osmond family.
Of the top vote-getters, it is clear to me that Grrl would do the best job with the specified task (blogging from, and about, Antarctica). She has a personal and professional interest in nature, science, the environment, and conservation. She has a history of writing pieces that are accessible communications of both scientific content and aesthetic appreciation, in an astounding balance of clarity and lyricism. She takes lovely nature photographs, which she regularly shares with readers of her blog. And to say she's an experienced blogger is an understatement on par with noting that Antarctica can get a little chilly.
The voting in the contest ends 30 September, 2009 at 12 noon (Eastern time). That's less than 48 hours from now.
If you haven't yet voted, consider giving Grrl your support. Voting does require registering your email address with Quark, but they are doing this to avoid poll-crashing, and I haven't received any spam from them. And, if you've already cast a vote for someone else, you are allowed by the rules to reassign your vote. Some other worthy science bloggers in the competition have been throwing their support to Grrl as the voting winds down, so don't miss this chance to give her your vote, too.

2 responses so far

Dialogue, not debate.

At the end of last week, I made a quick trip to UCLA to visit with some researchers who, despite having been targets of violence and intimidation, are looking for ways to engage with the public about research with animals. I was really struck by their seriousness about engaging folks on "the other side", rather than just hunkering down to their research and hoping to be left alone.
The big thing we talked about was the need to shift the terms of engagement.

Continue Reading »

9 responses so far

Friday Sprog Blogging: reading magazines with the elder Free-Ride offspring.

Sep 25 2009 Published by under Critters, Kids and science

Owing to the fact that I had to focus my attention on getting healthy in a hurry so I could catch a plane yesterday evening, I asked the elder Free-Ride offspring to write something for this week's Friday Sprog Blogging entry. Owing, I think, to my apparent fragility, the elder Free-Ride offspring assented to this request without argument, and without demanding a cash payment.
I really do have wonderful kids.
In any event, the elder Free-Ride offspring offers a summary of an interesting article from a magazine that is a favorite at Casa Free-Ride, National Geographic Kids, and then pitches a few ideas for stories the sprogs would like to see in it in some future issue.

Continue Reading »

Comments are off for this post

A question for the infectious disease and public health folks.

Sep 24 2009 Published by under Ethics 101, Medicine, Personal

I ended up spending a significant portion of the last several days down with something flu-like. (It included a fever and the attendant aches, chills, and sweats, as well as the upper respiratory drowning-in-my-own-mucus symptoms.)
I did not drag my ailing butt out of bed to go to the doctor and have my flu-like thing characterized. (In part, this is because I knew it would pass in a few days. In part, it was because I managed to tweak a muscle in my right side by sneezing hard and thus was unable to straighten up or be as mobile as I normally am. Someday, I swear, I am going to figure out how to sneeze more ergonomically.)
As such, I don't know if what I had was the cool new H1N1 flu that's been going around locally or something else.
So, here's the question for those more plugged into public health than I am: Should I still get the novel H1N1 vaccine? (Thanks to ERV for pointing out in the comments that the "novel" is important in distinguishing the H1N1 virus that causes seasonal flu from the H1N1 virus causing the *new* swine flu.)

Continue Reading »

9 responses so far

The best laid plans.

Sep 22 2009 Published by under Academia, Passing thoughts, Personal

Imagine you are looking ahead to a furlough day and taking seriously the piece of the agreement that specifies that you won't actually do any work on that furlough day. To prevent yourself from backsliding by doing work to pass the time, do you:

Continue Reading »

7 responses so far


The other day, while surfing the web, my better half came upon this semi-official looking symbol for psychohazards:


The verbiage underneath the symbol seem to indicate conditions that might have serious consequences for one's picture of the world and its contents, or for one's ability to come to knowledge about the world. A philosopher who was so inclined could go to town on this.
However, while this particular icon was new to me, this isn't the first time I've seen the term "psychohazard" in use.

Continue Reading »

14 responses so far

A concise synopsis of a comment thread exchange.

Yesterday Dr. Isis put up a post that seems to have bugged many of the people who subsequently posted comments on it.
I have no idea whether the commenters on the post intended to convey it, but here's what's coming across to me as a reader of the exchange:

Continue Reading »

32 responses so far

Friday Sprog Blogging: Here Comes Science!

The Free-Ride family got its copy of the new CD/DVD set Here Comes Science by They Might Be Giants this week. The sprogs, who have been listening and watching, offer something kind of like a review.

Continue Reading »

6 responses so far

You want a post *and* comments??

Sep 17 2009 Published by under Announcements, Technical issues

And really, why wouldn't you? What could have prepared you for the possibility that reading one would make the other vanish, as if there were some kind of blogular wavefunction collapse?
The ScienceBlogs powers that be have been alerted that there's an issue with disappearing comments (if you're reading a post) and disappearing posts (if you're reading the comments). They are busy trying to get the squirrels out of the ductwork (or fix the javascript problem, whichever).
In the meantime, if you're desperate to contribute a comment to a post, or to get the 411 on a post on this blog that has up and vanished, shoot me an email and I'll do what I can to help.

Comments are off for this post

Older posts »