Archive for: October, 2009

A bit peckish.

Oct 31 2009 Published by under Passing thoughts

Is it too soon to dip into that bowl of "fun-size" candy bars while we wait for it to get dark?

2 responses so far

DonorsChoose 2009 Social Media Challenge: Last day of the drive!

Oct 31 2009 Published by under Kids and science, Philanthropy

Happy Hallowe'en and welcome to the last day of the 2009 Social Media Challenge. With your help, ScienceBlogs bloggers have raised more than $56,000 to help public school teachers pay for classroom supplies, fund field trips, and support activities to help their students learn.
Today is the end of the drive, so if you've been hanging back -- or if you've found some money in the pocket of that winter coat you've just dug out of the closet -- this is a great time to help make a difference. And, if you make a donation through my challenge page, you can still get in on some fabulous prizes, including sprog art.


Indeed, here's some art from the younger Free-Ride offspring to encourage you to give what you can!
(Oh yeah, and since you all helped me raise more than $3,000, I'll be composing, singing, and posting a philosophy of science song for you. Gulp!)

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Basic concepts: Truth.

Oct 30 2009 Published by under Basic concepts, Philanthropy, Philosophy

No, I'm not going to be able to get away with claiming that truth is beauty, and beauty, truth.
The first issue in understanding truth is recognizing that truth is a property of a proposition. (What's a proposition? A proposition is a claim.) A proposition that is true has a certain kind of correspondence with the world about which it is making a claim. A proposition that is false does not have this correspondence.
At the most basic level, what we want from this correspondence seems pretty obvious: what the propositions says about the world matches up with how the world actually is.

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14 responses so far

Friday Sprog Blogging: experiments currently underway.

Oct 30 2009 Published by under Chemistry, Kids and science

The Free-Ride offspring have been rather busy recently, what with the approach of Hallowe'en and the rapidly approaching end of their regular soccer season. (The post-season, of course, falls after this weekend's time change, which means practices will either be earlier or darker.) Still, each of them has found time for an experiment they'd like to share.
From the elder Free-Ride offspring, a model of the water cycle:

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6 responses so far

How did we do at dialogue?

In a recent post, I issued an invitation:

I am always up for a dialogue on the issue of our moral relation to animals and on the ethical use of animals in scientific research. If folks inclined towards the animal rights stance want to engage in a dialogue right here, in the comments on this post, I am happy to host it.
(I will not, however, be hosting a debate. A dialogue is different from a debate, and a dialogue is what I'm prepared to host.)

That post has received upward of 250 comments, so there was certainly some sort of exchange going on. But, did we manage to have something approaching a dialogue, or did we end up slipping into a debate?
In considering this question, I want to offer a grid I encountered in the Difficult Dialogues Initiative at San Jose State University, adapted from material from the Public Conversations Project. The grid compares characteristics of dialogues and arguments (which are not precisely the same as debates but are probably close enough for our purposes here):

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47 responses so far

Signs of the times.

Oct 27 2009 Published by under Academia, Passing thoughts

The times in question being, in this case, the last days of October.


Once upon a Tuesday morning, while I wandered, cold and yawning,
Up the grimy stair steps winding skyward toward my office door,
On the wall's bile-greenish surface, noticed I a note whose purpose
Took more consciousness to process than I'd had the step before.
"English majors strike," I murmured, "with tactics I've not seen before,
Reciting Poe and nothing more."

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6 responses so far

DonorsChoose 2009 Social Media Challenge: help to increase my share of the HP funds and I'll sing for you.

Oct 23 2009 Published by under Kids and science, Philanthropy

As I noted earlier this week, Hewlett-Packard is going to be distributing another $200,000 in the DonorsChoose 2009 Social Media Challenge. They're dividing up that pool of money according to how much each challenge has raised as a proportion of the total funds raised by this Sunday. In other words, if my challenge were to raise an amount equivalent to 1% of the total take by Sunday, HP would add another $2000 to fund the projects in my challenge.
If we were to get enough of an extra kick from HP to break $3000, I would gladly deliver the "big reward" I promised to you (and the internets) collectively.

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One response so far

Friday Sprog Blogging: Mole Day.

Oct 23 2009 Published by under Chemistry, Kids and science

Dr. Free-Ride: So, you know this Friday is Mole Day.
Elder offspring: It is? What does that mean exactly?

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Helping you get ready to celebrate tomorrow.

Oct 22 2009 Published by under Chemistry, Kids and science

Because, of course, tomorrow is Mole Day. According to the National Mole Day Foundation:

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2 responses so far

'I'm not even supposed to be here today!'

Oct 21 2009 Published by under Academia, Passing thoughts, Personal

Since being tenured, I've tried to shift to a pattern of only coming in to campus three days a week, working from home on Mondays and Wednesdays (and giving the earth a little break by not doing my freeway commute on those days).
However, today, a Wednesday, I figured I should go in to campus to catch up on committee-related work. I envisioned a day where I'd make good progress on some things that needed doing, plus maybe get a chance to go out to lunch at a local eatery (something that never seems to fit in my teaching-days schedule).
Suffice it to say that there was barely enough time to grab a cup of decaf and a muffin, let alone to sit down and enjoy a burrito.

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4 responses so far

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