Category Archives: society

YouTube and me (and maybe you)

By | September 15, 2017

I’ve had my own personal YouTube channel for a good many years now. I’ve used it to post primarily videos dealing with course material at the various universities I’ve taught at, plus a few other things. Most of it has been private. But like all of us, I’ve spent a great deal of time looking at YouTube, and… Read More »

Google, affirmative action, and society

By | August 13, 2017

No one can have missed the current flap about Google’s hiring practices, surfaced by James Damone in his recent memo that went viral, leading to his firing and a modest media firestorm cultivated by forces on both sides of the current culture wars. The original ostensible issue – affirmative action – has been pretty much eclipsed by all… Read More »

Research funding, revisited

By | July 20, 2017

The latest issue of Science contains an article entitled “Another tenure-track scientist bites the dust”, by Adam Ruben  (http://www.sciencemag.org/careers/2017/07/another-tenure-track-scientist-bites-dust). It chronicles the presumed end of the academic career of a biological scientist named “Matthew” following his failure to secure funding for his research projects from the National Institutes of Health. It’s a sad story, without much in terms… Read More »

Fun with genealogy – another Family tale

By | July 5, 2017

Genealogy is a fun exercise. It’s fascinating to try to understand one’s family background – or backgrounds, to be more precise, since most of us come from a lot of pretty diverse origins. It’s also frustrating, because often there is little to know except someone’s critical dates. The more people you can identify, the more people you want… Read More »

Categorizing people

By | December 21, 2016

An interesting discussion on Facebook with a former college classmate of mine from 50 years ago, Graham Seibert. Graham now lives in Ukraine, and takes a dim view of Muslim refugees overrunning Western Europe. He referred me to his review of a recent book called IQ and the Wealth of Nations, by Lynn and Vanhahen. The book features… Read More »

Judging perfection (Part 2)

By | September 28, 2016

(Continued from Part 1) Let’s return to the grading standards used in the Olympics and their application to educational assessment. As I suggested, the upstanding students – those who will become the elite of the students in the program – quickly become subject to a different set of grading criteria from those who don’t stand out. Assignments from… Read More »

Judging Perfection (Part 1)

By | September 25, 2016

Women’s gymnastics is one of the most popular Olympic events, and with good reason. It’s truly amazing the kinds of things that people can do with their bodies, twisting, rolling, hanging in the air. But the essence of the Olympics these days isn’t really in watching the sport; it’s watching the scores. Although you’re watching the top fifty… Read More »

“Sociotechtonics” as multiply invented?

By | August 29, 2016

I recently came across an interesting website operated by Dr. Win Wenger , called “Project Renaissance” (http://www.winwenger.com). He’s clearly a man of many parts, with fingers in lots of intellectual pies. Among other things, he includes a page called “About SocioTectonics”, detailing his concept of the term that I’ve been sure was entirely my own. Apparently he formulated… Read More »

Safe spaces

By | August 24, 2016

There’s a lot of continuing interest in the concept of “safe spaces” and the role of so-called “trigger warnings” in establishing them. Like a lot of us, I have such a space to which I can retreat when things get too complicated – it’s called “my room”. I go there when I’ve read enough about Trump to feel… Read More »

Political brainwashing by media?

By | March 21, 2016

I found myself contemplating this on the freeway the other morning. For the last 30 years or so I’ve been listening to conservative-to-reactionary talk radio (largely in my car). I find it fascinating how differently people can think about seemingly simple political and social issues, and how fervently we argue in favor of our views. There’s a new… Read More »