Despite the crush of the closing weeks of the semester, I found a little time to follow the conversation about whether Earthicans ought to welcome a meeting with whatever extraterrestrial life might be out there to meet us, or whether we'd be better off hiding under the bed.
Although the Free-Ride offspring have not followed the point and counterpoint on the best alien life action plan, they're generally more enthusiastic futurists than I am. So, I asked them to dig deep into their imaginations and give us their visions of first contact.
It should surprise no one that the elder and younger Free-Ride offspring have very different visions of this event.
Before they started drawing, they brainstormed a bit about what forms extraterrestrial life might take. Maybe you'd find your classic Star Trek humanoids, or comic book little green men. But why couldn't alien life be mostly plants, or fungi?
Maybe we'll be negotiating intergalactic treaties with microbes? (I'm thinking people might be less cavalier about skipping vaccinations if that's how things play out.)
In any case, here are the pictures of first contact they came up with.
Archive for: April, 2010
From the last poll you probably guessed that this one was coming.
I'll be interested to see whether there's any correspondence between the hours demanded by PIs who read this blog and the hours demanded of graduate students who read this blog.
Once again, feel free to discuss the issue of appropriate student workload and/or humane management of graduate students in the comments.
The issue came up in my "Ethics in Science" class today, so I figured it was worth mounting a quick (and obviously unscientific) poll:
Feel free to discuss in the comments.
Yesterday in my "Ethics in Science" class, we were discussing mentoring. Near the end of the class meeting, I noted that scientists in training have a resource nowadays that just wasn't available during my misspent scientific youth (back in the last millennium): the blogosphere.
What does the blogosphere have to do with mentoring?
As we creep toward the end of the spring semester, I noticed a story at Inside Higher Ed about a commencement address gone wrong:
It has come to my attention that a number of people are risking catastrophic seismic activity today by exposing n00bs.
This so-called "n00bquake" frightens me, and not just because I live in earthquake country.
Dr. Free-Ride: So, you know how sometimes you have nightmares?
Younger Offspring: Yeah.
Dr. Free-Ride: I had a nightmare the other night.*
Younger Offspring: What was it?
Dr. Free-Ride: Well, I was supposed to be picking up snakes with two sticks and moving them from one place to another.
Younger Offspring: Why?
I really don't know what to say about this news item, except that it had better mean that the California State University presumptively* views blogging on one's own time and bandwidth as fully compatible with a professorial appointment, regardless of the subject matter on which the blog is focused or the views expressed by the academic doing the blogging.
Otherwise, there is a pretty messed up double-standard in place.
*Obviously, violating FERPA, HIPAA, or other laws or regulations would count against that presumption.
First, let me refer you to Sharon Astyk's excellent post on what has become of Earth Day. If I had the time or energy to pay much attention to Earth Day as a particular day of observance, I think I'd share Sharon's grumpiness.
After all, paying attention to our impacts on our shared environment just one day out of 365 is not likely to make much of a difference, and buying stuff as a strategy to deal with our over-consumption of resources (and the pollution that follows upon the manufacture and transport of that stuff) seems pretty perverse.
That said, I'm going to take this Earth Day as an opportunity to notice some sustainable changes in the direction of treading more lightly that I've made in the past year. This isn't quite rising to the level of Mike Dunford's Earth Day resolutions meme, in which the sprogs and I participated last year. Resolutions are good, but sometimes when you set a goal and then fail to live up to it, you throw your hands up and kind of give up.
Giving up, I'd argue, doesn't do much to help. On the other hand, noticing places where you imagined change would be painful and it turned out not to be might actually help motivate more change.
Here are the changes that have stuck since last Earth Day: