Prof: Draw the structures in your project that you're referring to.For the most part I liked the visit and did well, despite the painful encounter above. I met a couple really nice professors that are doing some fascinating work, and I'm growing fond of the campus and the city. We'll see what happens!
Me: Oh, ah, sure... *pencil stutter*
Me: *pencil stutter*
Prof: *looks at paper, then at me, then at pencil*
Me: ...*pencil stutter*
Prof: *picks nose*
Me: *draws a particular rendition of structures*
Me: ...*pencil stutter*
Prof: So how many DNA molecules are in a human cell?
Me: Umm... millions?
Me: I mean, uhh, billions?
Prof: ...*narrows eyes and motions to floor*
Me: Oh... ahh... 100,000?
Prof: Oh for fuck's sake it's 46.
Prof: Do you know [insert any scientific topic here]?
Me: No! *cries and waves white flag*
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Sunday, March 25, 2007
Friday, March 23, 2007
“The quest for an answer to the riddle, “What is Life?” is one of the grand themes that resonate through the scientific conversation of this century—a period whose science is also its singular glory. That riddle embraces and transcends the subject matter of all the biological sciences, and much of physical science as well. A physics that has no place for life is as impoverished as would be a biology not informed by chemistry. The study of life as a natural phenomenon, a fundamental feature of the universe, must not be allowed to slip into the black hole of departmental tribalism.”
-Franklin M. Harold, The Way of the Cell: Molecules, Organisms and the Order of Life, 2001
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
Another month of deception. Deceiving hall staff by sneaking materials into the residence halls. Deceiving passing students walking to class with campaign literature that skews reality. Deceiving all of us even through Facebook, a testament to their alignment with Satan himself, no doubt. C'mon future political leaders, by what standards are we judging our friends when we have 1000+ 'friends' on the Facebook 2 years into our college experience?
Don't get me started, Presidential Candidate #1 and others like you.
To know the names of other phonies that will be representing the student body next year, check out Beetle's candidate list.
Monday, March 19, 2007
To teach secondary biology (grades 7-12) in California, one must pass 2 general science subtests and an in-depth biology subtest. While I gave a warm welcome to the multiple-choiced, single-'a'-through-'d'-answered, penalty-free guessing test format I haven't seen since high school, the test was still difficult. For instance, I haven't taken geology since never, and yet there I was, trying to justify plate tectonics using paleomagnetism as evidence. That will be a fun essay to grade.
Most interesting to see was not the test but the people signed up to take the test. Since one never needs to retake these exams (given passing scores), only those who want to start their teaching careers will take it. Given that fact, I was astonished to see so many older folks scratching their heads in the same room as me. Learning the ropes of teaching with other novices twice my age will engender a vastly different dynamic than I had imagined.
Friday, March 16, 2007
And here's an inspirational look into his life. Choice words:
One's voice is very important. If you have a slurred voice, people are likely to treat you as mentally deficient: Does he take sugar? This synthesiser is by far the best I have heard, because it varies the intonation, and doesn't speak like a Dalek. The only trouble is that it gives me an American accent.
Thursday, March 15, 2007
"If an idea presents itself to us, we must not reject it simply because it does not agree with the logical deductions of a reigning theory."
-Claude Bernard, An Introduction to the Study of Experimental Medicine, 1813
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Check out some ways that you can party with Pi!
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
A part-time Florida high school music teacher has run afoul of the school district because he is baring his bottom in a community theater production of "The Full Monty."
Jason Brenner, 28, said Tuesday that he refused to quit the show at the Venice Little Theatre despite receiving a letter from the school district last week with the ultimatum that he either cover up, withdraw from the show or resign his job at Lemon Bay High School.
It's easy to understand the district's prime motivation for this, that teachers are role models for their communities and their impressionable students, and ought to be held to higher standards than others, but I'm not too convinced that stifling this teacher's creativity and chosen form of expression is the right thing to do.
Inside of the classroom, Brenner's bare bottom act will have little impact on his lesson plans and his ability to teach. After all, teaching musical theory is independent of a teacher's proclivities to wearing underoos in public. Unless there were a real concern that a teacher's outside activities were preventing effective teaching, such as by contributing stress and mental/emotional distress to his lifestyle, the district should not be making an issue out of the situation.
As a role model in his school, what is the harmful message he is sending his students? Follow your passions and refuse to let social norms tie up your ambitions? Self-expression is an ongoing lesson in the life of a teenager, and just as it is important to encourage creativity in writing, teachers need also encourage creativity in action, and expression in movement. Having a unique voice and the courage to express oneself is exactly the kind of lesson students need to be hearing, to promote future self-aware citizens that are willing to speak up for their values, and teachers like Brenner are apt to give it to them.
Outside of school as a community role model, Brenner deserves some praise. He's willing to follow his passions and expose himself on stage, figuratively as an actor and literally as a naked, naked man, despite his job: he hangs around teenagers all day long. Teenagers that would likely find it very, very humorous to see their teacher prancing around naked. This man chose to endure possible ridicule by the sneers and jeers of his students for months, and he took a big chance with the trust of his students' parents, as trust does not come easy for teachers. Yet he is still taking that chance. His passion and determination are exceptional traits for others to emulate.
Teachers like Brenner, who passionately indulge in productive hobbies and know the importance of self-expression and the virtue of motivation, need to be supported and rewarded for their influence in our communities. Music lessons only go so far--encouraging character development impacts students for life.
Saturday, March 10, 2007
Earlier today, a crew of 20 of us swarmed parts of the coastline at the Marina, picking out trash accumulated on and around the rocks. I'd like to be exaggerating when I say this, but in an hour we literally removed a total of 10 heavy bags of flotsam from the shoreline. Plastics made up the bulk of what we found, mainly food packaging and assorted bags, along with the occasional hypodermic needle.
Our coastline is sometimes referred to as "the rim of the toilet bowl" due to proximity to the North Pacific Gyre, a phenomenon of the Pacific Ocean's currents that traps floating waste into a large swirling swath of area between Hawaii and the West Coast. Waste accumulates in its large center, and occasionally spills out onto nearby coastlines, such as ours, and deposits presents for motivated college students like ourselves to pick up.
Normally waste stuck in this never-flushing toilet bowl will, over time, biodegrade.
Plastics do not biodegrade, but instead break up into smaller and smaller pieces, until their likeness to small foodstuffs that the lower food chain prey on is uncanny. They enter the food chain, and bring with them a number of health issues, such as introducing toxic pollutants attached to their surface. In this swirling toilet bowl the issue is most prominent: in the gyre in 2001 it was shown that the mass of plastics exceeded that of zooplankton (the dominant animalian life in the area) by six times.
Today we were also lucky enough to check out the Marina's Straw Bale Building. A "green house", it was made from recycled materials, and is even insulated entirely with straw bales. It is an environmentally-friendly answer to some environmental concerns:
* Forests in the world are declining, lumber costs are high, construction and demolition waste accounts for 20-25% of solid landfill volume.
* Rice straw bales--the primary building material, unlike many other agricultural byproducts, do not decompose quickly under natural conditions. Farmers have had little choice but to burn the leftover material. Over a million tons of rice straw are burned annually in California, releasing 47,000 tons of carbon monoxide into the atmosphere (2nd worst air polluter in California; 1st are cars).
* Energy conservation: the building is fire resistant and provides exceptional insulation, saving heating and cooling costs throughout the year.
All in all today was very productive and educational, not too mention friggin' gorgeous. How 'bout that weather?
Friday, March 09, 2007
Wednesday, March 07, 2007
Monday, March 05, 2007
"We must, however, acknowledge, as it seems to me, that man with all his noble qualities... still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin." -Charles Darwin, The Descent of Man, 1871
Sunday, March 04, 2007
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