muscadine: (Me 2005)
The way this meme works is as follows: I commented on [ profile] bdouville's post, and he gave me the age 14. If you request in the comments, I'll assign you an age, and so the chain of memes can continue. Or not. So, here goes.

At 14 (for reference, we're talking June 1990-91.) )
muscadine: (Jesus Revolutionary)
Given that it is an underpinning text of texts that have heavily informed my own beliefs I can't believe it has taken me this long to read through this book, but there you have it. I've now corrected that oversight. As the author is coming from a position of relative Catholic orthodoxy (relative being key here since the ideas are quite radical) there is much I don't find engaging or persuasive, but many interesting passages to reflect on nevertheless. I highlight some of them here:
Key quotes from the text )
muscadine: (Cooking Demon)
...has no right to be this good. Although TJ's yucca chips are still better.
muscadine: (Bugs & Elmer Gay Bestiality)
The New York Senate has voted to approve same-sex marriage. The governor plans to sign the bill. Blog posting of the events leading up to the vote here.


Mar. 9th, 2011 11:35 am
muscadine: (Comfort/Grief/Rain)
Heading for Seattle tomorrow for the Pacific Sociological Conference - there til Sunday. The forecast for the 4 days I'm there? Rain.

muscadine: (Class Warfare)
If you are interested in supporting the Wisconsin protestors by donating food, here's some information on how to do that reposted with permission from [ profile] cabell:

PLEASE HELP US. You can donate food to protesters by calling Ian's Pizza at (608) 442-3535. They've completely shut down their storefront to focus on feeding us:

Straight2YourDoor, a delivery service that coordinates with about 30 restaurants in the vicinity of the Capitol building alone, has kindly set something up to help people donate other food to protesters (we love Ian's, but some of us are pretty sick of pizza) via any of those restaurants, and provided a $3 off coupon code (killthebill). Instructions on how to use it here, at my other blog:

You can also send fruits and veggies from Madison Fresh Market (608-287-0000) or Capitol Centre Market (608-255-2616).

NON-FOOD DONATIONS: The Teaching Assistants Association is taking donations for Capitol clean-up/maintenance & rally organizing here:

If you don't live in Wisconsin, this should still be of utmost concern to you. If Wisconsin falls, you're next.

muscadine: (Default)
I'm trying out some new ways of moving towards cloud computing. If you're interested in backing up your files online, syncing files/ pictures/ music across multiple computers and/or with your smartphone, you might want to check out SugarSync. If you join using this invite we both get bonus storage space:

Hello 2011!

Jan. 1st, 2011 12:07 am
muscadine: (Music/Party/Wonder Woman)
Happy New Year to all!
muscadine: (Devil Approved EVIL)
For finals week the front desk of the women's dorm in our building has decorated with a theme of The Nightmare Before Christmas. Heh.
muscadine: (Contemplative/Fantasy)
The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern. Mockers stir up a city, but wise men turn away anger. If a wise man goes to court with a fool, the fool rages and scoffs, and there is no peace.
muscadine: (Sociology)
We spent part of class time today watching and talking about this news story that aired on NBC Nightly News last night about the closure of a GE incandescent light bulb factory. It was a great example of how social structures and forces influence personal troubles/outcomes in several respects, but the best part was talking about what the story doesn't touch on.

People are still buying light bulbs - they're just CFL/Halogen/LED. By checking other media sources on this story you can find out some interesting additional information. The CFL was invented in the US but it wasn't developed further or pushed here because it was deemed too labor intensive (the "twist" has to be done manually). Chinese companies, on the other hand, took it on and are now unsurprisingly current lead producers of CFLs. The leading Chinese company who manufactures CFLs is looking at building a factory here in the US so they can sell "Made in America" CFLs. They believe they are marketable at a premium price. So why didn't GE just refit the factory or open a new factory for CFLs? They say it would be cost prohibitive and are moving factories overseas where labor is cheaper.

Does the linked story by NBC say anything about any of this? No. The factory is closing and people are out of jobs permanently because of big bad government and those pesky environmentalist consumers. Does this slant to the story probably have something to do with the fact NBC is owned by GE? Hmmm.

In my first class of over 100 students not a single student knew NBC was owned by GE.
In the second class of over 100 students at least one and possibly a handful knew, but most did not.

Light. Bulb. Moment.
muscadine: (Sociology)
It turns out learning styles may not be all that important after all:
The current science doesn't lend much support to the idea of matching learning and teaching styles. Learning styles predict enjoyment of a particular teaching style and possibly even aptitude for learning that involves using that style, but it turns out in terms of actual knowledge retention and such there may be a "best" way to teach materials that doesn't necessarily match one's preferred learning style.

For example, both verbal and kinesthetic learners may learn about the structure of complex molecules better through building models in a lab rather than through reading about molecular design. Kinesthetic learners enjoy the lab work more and in fact do better than verbal students on the test after the lab, but when they do the reading exercise they don't do any worse than the verbal students. Verbal students, on the other hand, enjoy the reading more, but those that do the reading exercise do worse than verbal students who do the lab work.

Oh well.
muscadine: (Science/Teaching)
I learned or was reminded of the following interesting things on Nova's special on "Becoming Human" last night:
* Humans are one of the few animals associated with more than one type of louse. Head lice are endemic human lice but pubic lice are actually evolved from gorilla lice. Draw your own conclusions. ;)
* Bipedalism (and resulting freeing up of hands for tool use) was not enough to spur increases in overall brain size/capacity, although there is some evidence of shifts in the way brain capacity was used. The latest scientific speculation suggests that the Homo genus (with an increased brain capacity, among other distinctive traits) and the Homo sapiens species are probably both the result of extreme climate change. Climate and fossil data suggest the growth of Homo brain capacity was an adaptation towards a cycle of drastic climate changes in Africa alternating between rainforest-like conditions and drought. Homo sapiens are probably the result of an extreme, prolonged drought on the African continent that isolated Homo populations and almost drove them to extinction. Interesting that now we're the cause, rather than the effect.
* However, bipedalism was one thing that allowed human ancestors to leave the forests and compete effectively in the food chain, since bipedalism is a much more energy efficient method of travel over ground. Apparently it takes chimpanzees 4x the energy to walk.
* Hair loss is thought to at least initially be an adaptation related to bipedalism and the evolving ability to do endurance running. Bipedalism plus hair loss allowed efficient travel and the ability to avoid overheating, which allowed humans to compete with other predators by practicing a different, rarely practiced form of hunting (chasing prey to exhaustion) and to be active during the day when most predators are less active.

BTW, the series is available online starting here:


Aug. 13th, 2010 10:37 am
muscadine: (Contemplative/Fantasy)
"It isn't the sad people in movies who make me cry, it's the good ones." - Roger Ebert (not, actually, in the context of discussing movies)
muscadine: (Music/Party/Wonder Woman)
Email received a few minutes ago:
Congratulations. Your submission has cleared all of the necessary formatting checks.

You have now completed all requirements for your Ph.D, which will be awarded August 12.
muscadine: (Sociology)
From a story on the overturning of Prop 8:
Backers of Proposition 8 contended that the legal burden was on the challengers to prove there was no rational justification for voting for the measure. They cited as rational a view that children fare best with both a father and a mother.

But defense witnesses conceded in cross-examination that studies show children reared from birth by same-sex couples fared as well as those born to opposite-sex parents and that marriage would benefit the families of gays and lesbians.
muscadine: (Headbang/Frustration)
The transition from AZ to PA has been a repeated lesson in the failure of law and bureaucratic policies to keep up with even the most commonplace shifts in practice due to advances in information technology.

The first way I was confronted with this issue was in the case of several pieces of paperwork required to move forward with my dissertation defense and graduation. Each of them required my signature and the signature of each of my committee members. In other words, it assumed we would all be present in more-or-less the same local space for a substantial period of time, despite the existence of online courses, the propensity for faculty members to travel during the summer (or, for that matter, take fellowships at other campuses during the year), and the surprising pattern of graduating PhDs with jobs moving to new locales. Thankfully we have great staff in the department who have been willing to help facilitate the process.

I have also been dealing with health and property insurance companies which, while willing to email you forms, require you to FAX them back. Who has a FAX machine these days other than businesses? I think one person in our 48 household co-housing neighborhood had one. Tellingly, one of the business I contacted that was listed as offering "FAX services" no longer does so. More to the point, though, why oh why would you not have a system for taking scans when you clearly have email capabilities and scans are in no way substantially different from a FAX (except insofar as they might be of better quality)?

The latest situation has been the most frustrating: obtaining drivers licenses. At first glance, the requirements are not particularly onerous. Besides ID they want two things that provide proof of residency: a lease agreement, mortgage paperwork, tax records, a W-2 form, a current weapons permit(!), or a utility bill. In a pinch they'll take official mail such as a bank statement or magazine with your name on it (which we initially read as meaning "a bank statement" will do - silly us). Guess what? If you've just moved here and your apartment building handles utilities and/or you use paperless options on all your bills and might only have a lease or mortgage paperwork on hand, and perhaps only a copy at that. We took a copy of our lease, the utility statement from our apartment, our checkbook (which came in the mail and has our address on it), our insurance cards with our address on it, and a printed out bank statement. The person who handled Allen's paperwork took the copy of the lease and the bank statement, but the person who handled mine would only, with some hesitancy, take the copy of the lease (although, to her credit, she did ask her supervisor about taking the bank statement after I objected). I also tried a shipping statement/receipt I happened to have in my wallet. No luck. Has to be "official mail."

What do they do with these verifying papers? Scan copies of them into a machine.

It gets better. You don't even get your permanent license at the facility. They give you a temporary while they check to be sure you aren't fraudulently getting a second ID under a different address. What do they do after they verify this? Send your permanent ID through the mail. Identity theft much?

I have the feeling the car registration is going to be just as much of a headache.
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