Archive for: December, 2009

New Year's Eve gabfest.

Dec 31 2009 Published by under Current events, Passing thoughts, Personal

If I were not involved in preparing food for Casa Free-Ride's New Year's Eve celebration (after which, I will be joining my family members to celebrate and/or test our endurance in the face of fatigue -- I'll let you know afterward which of those it ends up being), I would totally be writing you a nice ethics-y and/or science-y post.
Since I'm not, and since you appear to have a moment to be reading this, let's make it a party. Use the comments to share:

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5 responses so far

An appeal to help light the darkness.

Dec 30 2009 Published by under Personal, Philanthropy

In the last few days, I've gotten a bunch of emails reminding me that the window for tax-deductible charitable giving for the year is closing. So, as 2009 winds down, I want to make an appeal to those readers lucky enough to have a bit of money for discretionary spending. Last year I wrote:

[T]o the extent that we can, we can shake our tiny checkbooks and try to bring a bit more light to the darkness.
Especially since doing it before the last minute of 2008 (at least in the U.S.) may give you a tax-deduction on your 2008 taxes.
(Minor sidebar here: As the tax code stands in the U.S., rich people who make charitable donations effectively get more of a tax-deduction than do lower income people. I don't know if this is supposed to encourage those with piles of money to be more charitable than they would otherwise; if it is, I don't know if it works. In any case, given the current tax rules, this means that the people on the financial edge who find a few bucks to give to a charitable cause are the real heros. Also, that it may be worth reexamining the tax code.)
In the event that you have even a little money to spare and you want to see 2008 out doing something to help others, here are a few organizations near to my heart.

The same three organizations I recommended in 2008 are still on my list, but I'm adding some more this year.

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2 responses so far

Movie review: Avatar.

Dec 28 2009 Published by under Movie review, Personal, Pop culture

While the sprogs were hanging out at the aquarium with the Grandparents Who Lurk But Seldom Comment, my better half and I went to see a 3-D IMAX screening of Avatar. My big concerns going in were that all the 3-D IMAX goodness would make me motion-sick, and that if that didn't get me, then the story by James Cameron might make me lose my lunch.

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9 responses so far

Back to posting soon.

Dec 26 2009 Published by under Passing thoughts, Personal, Pop culture

... once my fingertips holler "Uncle!" and tell me to take a break from my new ukulele.
To help you pass the time, some uke players who are way better than the n00b that I am on day 2 of my musical odyssey:

5 responses so far

Who's that snuggling on the couch?

Dec 26 2009 Published by under Biology, Medicine, Passing thoughts


Yeah, sure that plush Borrelia burgdorferi (the bacterium that causes Lyme disease) is playfully cuddling the plush penicillin now. But can their friendship last?

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5 responses so far

Christmas wrapping.

Dec 25 2009 Published by under Food, Passing thoughts, Personal

Well, technically, wrappings for Christmas eve dinner: discos para empanadas.
It turns out, peeling them apart requires some patience and dexterity. Luckily, I had sufficient quantities of both.


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5 responses so far

An open letter.

To the young people wandering around Casa Free-Ride singing Christmas songs (not just the refrains but all of the verses):
None of the canonical reindeer is named Connor. And Santa does not have a reindeer named Nixon.
Dr. Free-Ride
P.S. The last batch of cookies will be out of the oven in one minute. But you need to let them cool before you sample them -- just like the other batches.

6 responses so far

A bad way to use your officially sanctioned cheat-sheet on an exam.

Dec 23 2009 Published by under Academia, Personal, Teaching and learning

I am, as it happens, done grading. But I need to express my concern (OK, bumfuzzlement) about something I saw quite a lot of on the final exams I was grading.

You may recall that I let my students prepare a single page of notes (8.5" by 11", front and back) that they can use to help them on their exam. Sadly, not all uses of such an officially sanctioned cheat-sheet end up being helpful. Imagine the following exam question, which the students are asked to answer in a few sentences:

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34 responses so far

The elder Free-Ride offspring breaks into song.

Possibly related to the last post. The lyrics are original.
(For this, you need to imagine the younger Free-Ride offspring humming in the background as the elder sings.)
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
We're sorry that we killed ya.
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
At least we didn't grill ya.
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
Our only Christmas casualty.
O Christmas tree, O Christmas tree,
Be thankful we don't "nil" ya.

2 responses so far

The challenge of drawing principled lines.

Dec 22 2009 Published by under Biology, Current events, Ethics 101, Food

The new piece by Natalie Angier at the New York Times may make things a little more ticklish for people who pick their food on the basis of the characteristics it has or lacks as an organism:

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24 responses so far

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