• Golden Girls and Carleton College

    Betty White passed away yesterday. Well-wishers flooded twitter with messages mourning her passing and celebrating her life. One tweet from @jxeker shared a clip from The Golden Girls where Rose Nyland (Betty White’s character) is telling a story from her past to help her friends resolve a problem. The clip shows her actor colleagues breaking character under the pressure of Ms. White’s comic chops.

  • Speculation on Social Justice Radio

    What can amateur radio offer the social justice movement in the United States? I approach this question through my limited knowledge of both. The aspect of social justice that I have in mind, at present, are public demonstrations against police injustice.1 I’ll organize my thoughts in a call-and-response format, sharing what I’ve learned about how amateur radio communications support events I’ve participated in and then speculating about how that might translate to supporting social justice work.

    1. These thoughts will be wildly extendable to other types of protests or demonstrations or public displays. 

  • Preliminary Thoughts on Social Justice Radio

    Individuals who have an amateur radio license often exercise their radio skills by volunteering for community communications service. I volunteered to work at Camarillo’s annual air show where I walked around the grounds with my handheld radio and tried to help answer questions from attendees and alert show organizers of problems when I saw them. I also volunteered at a parade and helped the manager queue floats and rolling exhibits, updating the announcers a mile away if there were discrepancies with the written program. Next week, I volunteer at a half marathon where I’ll ride behind the runners and report on their progress. While these kinds of volunteer activites are enjoyable and have value, I’ve been thinking about other creative ways to use communications skills in the service of the public good, and I been wondering about social justice efforts.

  • Jack Update - Day Four Post-Op

    On Monday, six weeks and five says after his surgery, Jack reported to a post-op follow-up meeting with folks at Mayo.

  • Regular Expressions and Preparing for the General Class Amateur Radio License Exam

    Last week I decided to study for and take the FCC Amateur Radio License exam for a General class license. I earned the Technician class license a couple years ago, and I’ve been spending some time this summer learning more about my radios. I learned that my fiddling with antennas and things has significant overlap with topics on the General exam. So I shrugged and decided to prepare for it.

  • Software Development and Anti-Racism

    In these post-George-Floyd times where the apartheid-hiding bandages have been ripped from the eyes of many Americans, people talk about being anti-racist but don’t know how to do it. Even when people are beign anti-racist, it can be hard to see the anti-racist actions they are taking. This afternoon, I encountered one in the software development community.

  • Flashbake rediscovered!

    A long, long, long time ago, when I was first learning about git and was regularly reading LifeHacker, I discovered and started using a script that would add rich content to a git commit message. For the last couple weeks, I’ve been trying to figure out what that script was called. I associated it with the Lifehacker founder Gina Trapani and the author and activist Cory Doctorow, but that’s about all I could remember. Today, I decided to ask the Twitter hivemind for help and posted this.

  • Jack Update - Day Four Post-Op

    We’re heading into day six, post-operation, and everything is going reasonably smoothly. Jack has experienced no complications. His incision seems to be healing. He’s walking out to the workshop to not lift heavy objects, and he even went out to eat yesterday.

  • Exploring Antennas for my Radio

    In early 2018, I took and passed the test for a first ham radio license (Technician class). My thought at the time was that the license would allow me to do interesting work-related things with unmanned aerial vehicles (e.g., sending and receiving telemetry and image data), but nothing really happened with that. While I was studying for the exam, I recognized that being able to operate a radio is an important skill in times of emergency, so that motivates me to be proficient with these radios.

  • Jack Update - Day One Post-Op

    Early reports on Jack’s condition this morning are great. He was moving around last night before bed, and his nurses say they will be making him ‘do laps’ today, soon enough.

  • Jack update - Surgery Day Updates

    Jack, Naomi, and Tim arrived at their assigned Mayo Clinic surgical center on time. This is how the day played out. (The page will be updated periodically through the day.)

  • Using Rmarkdown and Jekyll

    Last week I was writing up some thoughts on trying to understand how unexpected the high temperatures on June 28th in Portland, OR, were. (They hit 115°F!) My goal was to think through some quantitative reasoning based on statistics, and I used R to support my calculations. Today, I realized I should have been able to write that post up in Rmarkdown in RStudio and post it to my Jekyll site (hosted in Github) with graphs and computations so much more easily. So I sat down to try to figure it out.

  • Jack Update - Greenlit for Surgery

    Today, Jack had some final pre-operation meetings and tests. He and Naomi and Tim met with the surgical team, received COVID tests, and got information about the procedure and post-operative care.

  • Jack update - This is the week!

    For those of you who are still keeping score at home, this is the week that Jack will have his thymoma removed at the Mayo Clinic. His procedure is scheduled for Wednesday, July 7th. This post is a brief description of how we think this week will go.

  • Radio Frequencies - National Park Service

    When in a National Park, I like to be able to communicate with Park rangers over my radio. Because the FCC says that I’m not authorized to transmit on their frequencies (except in the case of an emergency)1, this usually means I’m listening in. But if I have their frequencies programmed into my radio, I can reach out to them should an emergency arise!

    1. If I were to have an authorized NPS employee program NPS frequencies into my radio, then I could use my radio to communicate in other non-emergency situations. 

  • How Unusual was the Portland, OR, high temperature on June 28th?

    In late June, I wrote a short post to capture the feeling of meteorologists’ disbelief at the temperature forecasts for the Pacific Northwest (PNW) for late June 2021. Their reactions to the forecasts shows the clash between our weather expectations from experience and the new reality of global climate change. In this post, I look at the tempon June 28 and put it into a historical context using some statistics (and R).

  • Traeger Trouble

    My Traeger smoker is consistently blowing the GFCI switch when I use it, and I can’t figure out why. It seems this problem is not uncommon, and there are no solutions out there.

  • Jack Update, 24 June 2021

    Yesterday (Wednesday), Jack had two appointments at the Mayo Clinic, the first with a neurologist and the second with an internist. The neurologist gave him a once-over to check for external signs of myasthenia gravis (MG). He found none. Blood test have come back with evidence of MG, but they are not manifesting and those signs might disappear with the thymoma. Fingers crossed.

  • From the Adjusting Our Expectations Department -- A Weather Model Incident

    Climate change is making weather prediction a bit more complicated these days, and climate scientists are having a hard time keeping up. Last week, a climate scientist reported that an important weather prediction model was giving absurd results for West Coast weather that was ten days away.

  • State of the LC, 22 June 2021-- Maintenance Required Light Off

    In early Februrary, I changed the rig’s oil myself. Bought a couple filters and gaskets along with a bunch of oil from Costco. Set myself up for doing the next couple oil changes, too.

  • State of the LC, 20 June 2021 - Updating the TODO list

    I’ve been keeping a running list of things that I’d like to do to the rig, and things I’ve done to the rig.

  • Ben3DBuild's broken tab fix

    In December, I started trying to fix an issue with my PS power window. It led me to remove my power window master switch, and my indelicate methods caused me to break off the small plastic tab that helps hold the switch place in place. I tried to use my new hot glue gun to re-affix the broken tab, and it worked for a while. But summer temps weakened that bond, and the tab browke off again.

  • Update on Jack, 19 June 2021

    This week, Jack had four appointments at the Mayo Clinic; three on Tuesday and one on Friday.

  • State of the LC, 17 June 2021 -- Replacing the speaker grill fabric

    Refoaming my speakers was a perfect time for me to replace the cloth covers on my speaker grills.

  • Dealing with the LC's Speakers

    I’m not an audiophile, and I’m not an audio-gadget guy, but I do appreciate quality sound. When I heard heavy buzzing and scratching while listening to the news or to music, I get sad inside. Audio artifacts like those have been bugging me for years, but they don’t have an easy fix.

  • Jack Update - Meeting with Mayo Surgeon, 11 June

    On Friday, Jack and Naomi had a Zoom call with a Mayo Clinic thoracic surgeon, Dr. Stephen Cassivi. Jason and Tim joined the call. The doctor introduced himself, reviewed what he knew about Jack’s case, and described how the surgery would happen. Jack wrote this about the visit:

  • State of the LC, 10 June 2021 -- Adjusting Air Pressure

    Last year, I needed to replace the tires on my LC, so I decided to upgrade. The OEM 31 inch tires (P275/60R18) got swapped out for 32” Michelen Defenders (275/65R18). I remember the suy at the shop telling me the inflation psi the new tires needed, but I didn’t write it down. Some number in the low 30s stuck in my mind. So I’ve been inflating front and back to about 32 psi since then.

  • Mayo's Confident Diagnosis, 9 June

    Midday today, Jack had an appointment with an Internal Medicine physician at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester. The doctor would provide their assessment of Jack’s medical roller coaster ride in May and, hopefully, provide some insight into what put Jack into the hospital. Afterward, Jack summarized the meeting by telling Jason, “I give the meeting an ‘A’.”

  • Update on Jack's Health, 8 June

    Each day Jack continues to grow stronger. Starting Friday, June 4, he began to seem more like himself, saying his mind felt more clear, and his general attitude appeared stronger. Jack’s appetite is good. Every day he goes for short walks. He even drove the lawn tractor for a short time on Sunday.

  • State of the LC, 8 June 2021 -- Working on the leak

    A couple years ago, I woke up on a rainy morning to a dead rig. Battery drained. When I charged up the battery, the tail lights stayed on. It was bizarre. Until I noticed that there was water on the floor by the cowl under the steering wheel. The rain had leaked into the cabin behind the dash and shorted out the electricals. How was the water getting into the rig? I poked around abit, but found nothing definitive. Until I had more time and focus, I draped a tarp over the driver side of the LC when it rained.

  • State of the LC, 6 June 2021 -- CA Smog Test

    A few weeks ago, CA sent the letter that said it’s time to get the LC smog tested. The last time this happened, the LC failed the test and I brought it to my local auto shop to see if they had any tricks that would help it pass. They ‘cleaned’ the catalytic converter with some sort of fluid. Cost me about $200. At the time, I thought it was worth it.

  • State of the LC, April 2021 -- Recharging my own AC

    A month or two ago, my wife and I are driving the LC to go on a hike. The air temps here in Southern California were still cool but the strong sun could heat up the LC’s cabin quickly enough to make my wife and I want to turn on the AC. After a few moments of fiddling with our 2005’s integrated stereo and climate control system, we had the AC on with the fan gently blowing, waiting to be cooled down. It didn’t take us long to realize that not much was happening. The AC wasn’t blowing cold.

  • Extra Mayo (Clinic), 2 June

    Yesterday afternoon, within ours of our Zoom meeting, the Mayo Clinic professional messaged Jack saying:

  • And Mayo Says ...

    This morning, Jack and Naomi had a Zoom appointment with a Thorasic Surgery professional from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. Jason and Tim joined the conversation remotely. The purpose of the meeting was to review Mayo’s assessment of Jack’s case. None of the Millers knew where the meeting would lead. Would the Mayo take Jack’s case? Would they say it wasn’t interesting to them?

  • Jack Update, 1 June

    Jack would describe the past few days as ‘copacetic’, which might be overstating things a bit, but it’s his way of saying things are fine. He rides an energy roller coaster, with periods of activity broken by periods of rest.

  • Jack Update, 27 May

    As you know, if you’ve been reading these updates, Jack came home on Sunday, 23 May. He was released from the hospital because his kidneys were showing signs of recovery. The creatinine numbers were decreasing steadily enough for the kidney doc to feel OK about Jack continuing his recuperation at home.

  • Jack's at Home but Not Out of the Woods, 23 May

    On Saturday, Jack’s nephralogist (kidney doctor) told Jack, “If the numbers improve in 24 hours, then we can start talking about getting you out of here.” The ‘numbers’ he refered to was a blood creatinine level, which is normally 1 and Jack’s had exceeded 7. On Saturday, the creatinine measure was continuing it’s downward trend.

  • Condition Update for Jack, 22 May

    Jack continues to improve. He seems to have more energy every day, seems fatiguied less often, and is taking more exercise. In a meeting with the kidney doctor du jour, we learned that the kidney team no longer believes the kidneys were a primary source of the problem that hospitalized Jack. “The kidneys were innocent bystanders,” the doctor said. They suffered an acute injury from the contrast dyes and the antibiotics. Now they are getting better. Jack’s creatinine numbers continue to decrease, and the doc said this shows him and his colleagues that should just let the kidneys recover on their own. No need for biopsy. No need for assistive dialysis.

  • Questions we're hearing and want to answer

    We understand people are asking how they can send Jack a card, or where they could send flowers, and those sort of caring questions. Here are our answers to those questions right now.

  • Condition Update for Jack, 21 May (Updated)

    If you want to send Jack or Naomi a message, you can email your message to jack@scroungers.me. You can click on this link to start your message.

  • Condition Update for Jack, 20 May

    Many people have been kind to reach out to learn how Jack has been doing after falling ill last week. In an effort to share updates with all those who have reached out, we will post periodic (daily?) updates here on Jason’s blog page. All posts about Jack’s condition will be listed here.

  • Condition Update for Jack, 19 May

    Many people have been kind to reach out to learn how Jack has been doing after falling ill last week. In an effort to share updates with all those who have reached out, we will post periodic (daily?) updates here on Jason’s blog page. All posts about Jack’s condition will be listed here.

  • Update on Jack Miller's Hospitalization

    Many people have been kind to reach out to learn how Jack has been doing after falling ill last week. In an effort to share updates with all those who have reached out, we will post periodic (daily?) updates here on Jason’s blog page. Each post will be tagged with the keyword ‘jack’ to make it easy for visitors to find them all.

  • Loosening a Moen Faucet

    At the end of March, the faucet in our half bath was failing. Cold water wouldn’t flow when the level was turned. I tried replacing the cartridge in the handle, but it didn’t fix anything. Time for replacement. Finding a replacement faucet was easy, but learning the secrets to removing the faucet were not. This post is to record how I learned the dark secrets that allowed me to remove the faucet and complete its replacement without the assistance of a professional. TL;DR: Ask YouTube and YouTube shall provide.

    The faucet was a Moen Castle B, a discontinued faucet. (I learned this by calling Moen. They were very helpful.) It was easy enough for me to figure out how to remove the handles, and I was able to remove a cover from the top of the spout, but I was not able to figure out how to loosen the faucet from the sink itself. There were no nuts or bolts to loosen. It seemed as if the faucet clung to the sink by magic.

  • State of the LC, 15 January 2021 - trip beyond the Los Padres

    Before the pandemic, my landcruiser was a daily driver (unless I was bicycle commuting) that I also wanted to use as a camping and backpacking asset. I imagined that it could help my family access remote camp sites and trailheads away from the car camping crowds and pandemic-era backpackers. Today, I was taught how to do that.

  • Private Citizen Seditionists

    There was an unsuccessful coup the other day. We can’t be smug about its failure. Scholars say successful coups are almost always preceded by an unsuccessful coup or two. So we need to be vigilant. We need to root out the bad actors and use our judicial system to hold them accountable.

  • Companies Supporting the Rule of Law

    This post is about companies that are reacting to America’s attempted coup on January 6th by pausing political donations. I started trying to collect tweets that announced these changes until I noticed all the tweets were from @JuddLegum who, with @TesnimZekeria, is working to document the companies that do (and those that don’t) make such a change. Benjay Renton (@bhrenton) is also collecting this data and sharing it in one place.

  • Why Was the Stop-the-Steal Rally Different?

    My jaw dropped midway through reading the WaPo article “Outgoing Capitol Police chief: House, Senate security officials hamstrung efforts to call in National Guard”, by Carol D. Leonnig, Aaron C. Davis, Peter Hermann, and Karoun Demirjian.

  • Putting MP4 Video in a Post

    Today, I was writing a post documenting the coup attempt on January 6th, and I wanted to include a video of the crowd chanting, ‘Hang Mike Pence!’. I found a video on Twitter, downloaded it, and put it in the post like this:

  • Who led the Insurrection?

    Everyone knows that Donald J. Trump fomented the attempted coup of 6 January 2020 that resulted in five deaths and massive property destruction (including cybersecurity breach). Unless you were a decision-maker for law enforcment1 in Washington, DC, you expected something wild to happen in DC on that day. (See footnotes.) The rally was based on a Trump lie; that the presidential election was stolen from him.

    1. There is documentary video evidence that some Capitol Police officers may have been complicit with the insurrectionists. 

  • Who Incited the Violence?

    Yesterday, President Trump made history. He is the first American President to incited violence in an effort to overturn an election. He led the first American coup attempt. For weeks, Trump had been rallying his base for mobbing Washington DC on the day Congress would certify the Electoral College vote.

  • One Day Build - Workbench and Organizers

    Today, I pursued some inspiration from the @donttrythis one-day-build where he fixed up a worktable in his lair and created custom dividers for drafting tools that lived in that table’s drawer. That one day build opened my eyes to the power of a hot glue gun and made me see how my work space (my cluttered garage) would benefit from a work table like Savage’s.

  • State of the LC, 30 December 2020 - Misc. Updates

    It’s been a long time since I updated these running lists of work on the rig, so I’m going to split short descriptions of work from this thread and link laterally.

  • Land Cruiser - chains still fit

    Last year, when the tread on the tires was wearing thin, I upgraded the rig to 32s. Specifically, I purchased five Michelen Defender LTX M/S 275/65R18 (32 inch) tires. The rig looks good!

  • Land Cruiser - hot glue is beautiful

    I’m discovering the beauty of hot glue. Today, it was applied to solve some problems with the land cruiser.

  • Jekyll and Google Analytics

    Today, I attempted to add Google Analytics to my personal website, here. I used these instructions:

  • Notes for Guiding Reading of _Algorithms of Oppression_

    Each spring, my University is has a Campus Reading Celebration where they choose a boo, make it available to the campus community, and host a visit by the author. This spring’s book, Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism by Safiya Umoja Noble, is suprisingly timely and should be of interest to mathematics students.

  • Embed YouTube clip in Markdown

    Wanting to share on this site a video of a malfunction on my rig, I learned that they don’t embed like inline images.

  • Applescript for sending batch emails with attachment

    When I teach, I often want to send out an individualized email to my students. This is especially important when I am emailing a student about their grade in the course.

  • State of the LC, 28 December 2020

    The rainy season is here, and I don’t know why I didn’t prepare for it correctly.

  • Teaching Statistics with R - t-test

    This tweet was about three months late for me. At the last minute, I was tapped to teach a major-level introductory probability and statistics course this Fall. It was something I accepted with grace because I knew my Chair was coming to be because a junior colleague had special COVID-related leave. In my career, I’ve learned statistics on the fly, first through teaching an introductory class for non-majors and later through mentoring research with undergraduates. Statistics if cool, but it requires a different way of thinking.

  • Chad Loder's List of Things Your Unhoused Neighbors Will Appreciate

    Chad Loder (@chadloder) is on my follow list because he does important work amplifying #GeorgeFloyd demonstrations and the police brutality they unjustly receive from law enforcement. Today, he posted a Twitter thread (linked at the bottom of this post) on some personal recommendations for supporting your unhoused neighbors.

  • Why Can't California Control COVID-19?

    It’s almost been a year since SARS-CoV-2 became an adversary of humanity. It reared its head in Asia and, as of this week, it has set up residency on all seven continents.

  • Unplug

    For the last year or years, I’ve been operating with input jamming into my eyes, ears, and skin every waking moment of the day. Between the computer screen, podcasts, movies, music, and the sound of other peoples’ voices, I’ve given myself little time to listen to the silence (or the screaming) in my own head.

  • Does the mRNA COVID-19 Vaccine Really Confer Immunity?

    People are excited to say that Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine is `between 90% and 95% effective’ but they are rarely specifying exactly what that means. This is feeling a frowing gap between what the public understanding of the vaccine’s effect (that it will stop the pandemic) and what scientists can say with any certainty about these new drugs.

  • Stand up for more than Dr. Jill Biden

    For all you white male professors out there who threw up a little in their mouth when they heard about that Wall Street Journal editorial targeting Dr. Jill Biden’s honorific, if you want to do more than change your FB profil or your Twitter name to fight this breed of misogyny, try this.

  • The Tri-County Mini-Region

    Ventura County doesn’t report any new COVID-19 case numbers on Saturdays or Sundays. This means that our Monday reports, which include test results that come back over the weekend, have worryingly high numbers. Until recently, reminding myself that the number covered three days calmed me. This didn’t work today.

  • Ventura County Leadership Whines About Sacramento

    Our county leadership, its Board of Supervisors and its Executive Officer, are not happy about California’s new effort to keep citizens safe during the global panedmic. One day after the governor announced the new regional approach to slowing the spread of COVID-19, one triggered when a region’s available intensive care unit (ICU) capacity drops below 15%, the county saw its own region’s available ICU capacity drop below 15%. In a message sent out to the county on Saturday morning, leadership gave voice to their unhappiness with the governor.

  • Hatch Fixed!

    My attempts at fixing the rear hatch latch on my LC100 have succeeded. Here’s a video of my printed part at work.

  • Fixing the LC's Rear Hatch Latch

    The rear hatch mechanism in my LC stopped working a couple weeks ago, and I’ve been trying to fix it. This is my story.

  • Powering the Sunshade: I need the harness

    Last week, My youngest daughter and I were drving in the LC. She was fiddling with the sunshade, and when she tried to move the sunshade away from the secondary shade beneath it, the sunshade popped off the ceiling and the screws flew through the cabin. We were both surprised at how easy the sunshade came off of the ceiling! She carefully put it down on the back seat, and we went about our business. The following describes what I discovered later, and why I am looking for someone parting out an LC 100 with grey interior.

  • Student Uses LaTeX to write classnotes

    Here’s a remarkable blog post written by a mathematics student in Belgium who uses LaTeX to take notes in his mathematics classes. His criterion: he needs to be able to record as fast as or faster than the professor writes, he doesn’t want to have to edit after the class, and something else.

  • Traffic Shockwave

    This kind of shockwave happens all the time on the 101 between Camarillo and Ventura. In at least two places.

  • Mathematician Story

    A cute story about David Hilbert, replayed through Twitter. Some things never change.

  • Game Theory and Self-Segregation

    Check this out.

  • Patton Nailed It

    Patton Oswalt was fast out of the gate with this tweet and its iconic image.

  • Canadian Road Rage

    Been there. Wanted to do that.

  • State of the LC, 20 May 2018

    Knocked one thing out on each of the three days this weekend: Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Descriptions after the jump.

  • State of the LC, 16 May 2018

    Running boards off. Wind deflector off. Plasti0dip (black) purchased and looking for something to do.

  • State of the LC, 14 May 2018

    Lots done in the last week, thanks to S&M Auto and Randy Worth of Trailcrews 4x4 TLCA club.

  • State of the LC, May 8, 2018

    The BlueTooth module is working great. The homelike re-wire has crapped out, and I don’t know what to do about it. But the rig is in the shop (and I think I like the guy), getting needed work done that I can’t do. I don’t have the tools or the time. Someday, that will change.

  • State of the LC, May 6, 2018

    Materials to make that bluetooth bridge to the stereo are in the mail. I’m eager to set that up. I hope it’s not too much of a pain for multiple users to use.

  • State of the LC, May 6, 2018

    Materials to make that bluetooth bridge to the stereo are in the mail. I’m eager to set that up. I hope it’s not too much of a pain for multiple users to use.

  • State of the LC, May 4, 2018

    The ancient technology of the LC’s stereo is one of the most disappointing aspects of this rig. The CD player doesn’t work. The antenna mast extends only 5 inches, so radio reception is very weak. The stereo does not have an AUX input. And bluetooth only works to connect your phone for handsfree dialing. Until this morning, I thought bringing the stereo into the 21st century would require replacing the whole stereo. But this morning, I saw a build thread on ih8mud that changes.

  • State of the LC, May 3, 2018

    Was walking around the truck today, and I saw at least one thing that should be added to the list. And I thought of a few others that should go onto it.

  • State of the LC, May 2, 2018

    Someday, I’ll get the LC armored with bumpers, front and back, with a winch, recovery gear (hi-lift), and jerry cans. Here’s an ih8mud thread on comparing two makes of bumper: the Slee and the DIssent.

  • State of the LC, May 1, 2018

    With the windshield wiper fluid delivery system fixed, and with an appointment to bring the rig in for “Shady” to look at it and quote a price for maintenance work (e.g., timing belt, t-case), I’ve been mulling over the list of things that need to get done. I missed an obvious one (e.g., radio antenna) and have some aspirational items to add.

  • State of the LC, 30 April 2018

    This morning I finished fixing the hosing in the windshield washer fluid system. K&A Imports in Canoga Park missed the fact that the fluid system wasn’t working. A quick investigation (i.e., pouring fluid into the resevoir) revealed a hole in a rubber hose leading from the resevoir. That lead to the discovery of a second hose in the system severed by the firewall. After replacing those, I found this:

  • Winsont Churchill said ...

    “The malice of the wicked was reinforced by the weakness of the virtuous . . . They lived from hand to mouth and from day to day, and from one election to another . . . The cheers of weak, well-meaning assemblies soon cease to echo, and their votes soon cease to count. Doom marches on.”

  • Is this Legal? Ethical? Right?

    I love my alma mater. During my time there, the faculty and programs helped me grow intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. It was the right experience for me at the right time.

  • SageMath

    I’m trying to learn to use SageMath as a computational tool my students can use in Calculus I and in Differential Geometry. The University does not appear to have computational resources that allow me to run a local SageMath Server, so I’ve used this page:

  • shithole

    “If fifty million people say a foolish thing, it is still a foolish thing.” Anatole France.

  • Recipe: Smoked Salsa

    There’s been a couple threads on the Traeger Facebook group about making salsa on a smoker. Since the number of posts on that group are so … numerous … it makes referencing my past posts on the topic hard to find. So I’m going to put my recipe here for easy future reference.

  • Python project - scraped text from web to CSV file

    Some neighborhood shenanigans led a group of home owners to start a GoFundMe page to raise money to file a lawsuit against the city. The backstory isn’t important. I was curious to know who would support this bad behavior, and I wanted to practice my python.

  • Note to Future Self - who to remove

    It looks like humanity needs to unite to remoe this Trump appointee to the federal bench:

  • Paris Climate Pull-out and U.S. Senators

    As soon as POTUS removed the US from the Paris Climate Agreement, the anti-Republicans posted a list of Republican Senators who sent POTUS a letter encouraging him to pull out of the Agreement. Most also happened to have received significant campaign contributions from Big Petro. All together, the 22 Republican signatories received $10,694,284 in donations. Here’s the list.

  • Op-Ed: How Strong is the Anti-Development Sentiment in Village at the Park?

    NOTE: This is a short piece I wrote for and posted to a neighborhood Facebook group on 3 June. I live in Village at the Park (VATP), and there’s a bit of a kerfuffle about plans to develop a vacant three-acre lot into am upscale, senior assisted living facility. I’m not against it. But people who are against it have twisted the truth a bit, and I wanted my other neighbors to know that these whiners are a relatively small group, despite the noise they are making. I also wanted to engage my neighbors in conversation on the topic. Ninety-seven comments so far, including a handful from me.

  • ImageMagick, Applescript, and Automator

    This week, I wanted to use the GoPro camera to grab timelapse shots of traffic on a neighborhood street. I also wanted to share the timelapse video online with neighbors. In this post, I’ll describe how I brewed up some AppleScript and bash to get this done.

  • Etching a Kettle

    This weekend, I finally got around to etching my boil kettle. Here are some notes that may help others.

  • Concatenate with Line Breaks in Apple Numbers

    If you want to concatenate two elements in a Numbers spreadsheet and include a line break between them, use CHAR(8232)` to represent the line break. For example, putting a line break between the contents of cell A1 and B1 would look like

  • The Immigration Ban Executive Order is a "Shock Event"

    This illuminating observation showed up in my Facebook feed. It’s an observation by Heather Richardson, a professor of History at Boston College. She has given people permission to share, so I’m sharing it with my future self (as I’m the only person who reads stuff here).

  • Do you know a demagogue?

    Take a look at this wikipedia page on the meaning of demagogue. Does it remind you of anyone who appears in the media from time to time?

  • DHS and DOJ

    This makes me think that the Department of Homeland Security either doesn’t get it or doesn’t want to get it.

  • Contact Public Officials

    Public Officials who need to hear my voice

  • Robert Reich Report: Week 1

    Robert Reich has been vocal about the changes that are swirling around and emenating from POTUS. Here is Reich’s report onwhat’s happend during the first week of the POTUS term. (Copied from a FB post of his.)

  • POTUS Acts in the First Week

    This week, POTUS made hay with the fountain pen, signing several executive actions (orders and memoranda) that are making waves. If you want to keep score on the good/damage POTUS is doing, here’s the scorecard, as best as I can gather. UPDATE: Hours after posting, another EO on ethics was created. This post is updated to add that to the list, below.

  • Media's Dilemma

    “I’m covered dishonestly by the press — so dishonestly,” POTUS says. So he’s going to keep using his personal Twitter account to communicate with the public.

  • Trump and Dictionaries

    I’m a terrible pedant at home. When my wife chooses a word that I think is a cousin of the “right” word, I cringe. Sometimes I’ll vocalize my cringe in a monstrous way, but I’ve mostly learned to control myself when we converse because I love her and know I’m a monster. I share this so you know how strongly I feel about the meaning of words. So when I say “words matter” in the context of President-elect Trump (or President Sex Criminal, as he is rightly called in [Episode 217][1] of the Flophouse Podcast), you see that I have a lingual rap sheet and I mean business. Words matter. Humans have taken time to create dictionaries to make this clear. And humans string those words together in ways that allow us to convey ideas to one another. How those strings are read or heard can leave room for interpreting their intended meaning, but generally humans are good at making their intentions clear.

  • Trump Protests

    According to this wikipedia page, these are the sixty-eight cities that have had protest over Donald Trump’s election to the American Presidency.

  • Marching

    These protests in LA, I’m there in spirit!!

  • Actions

    Two thoughts have come to my when I’ve taken time to reflect on what’s happening around me.

  • A Moral Line Must Be Drawn

    I’m trying to wrap my head around the election results, trying to connect dots into something reasonable to say. Then I saw this.

  • *in loco parentis* and St. Olaf College

    I’ve been monitoring the recent on-line conversations about St. Olaf College’s sexual assault policies and procedures. As an alumnus, a (hopeful) future parent of an Ole (or two), a liberally educated mathematician (so I’m not the greatest writer), and a higher education professional, I have some serious concerns about St. Olaf’s track record in dealing with sexual assaults on students. After all, every alumni of St. Olaf College is connected to me, and I want the best for all of them.

  • Analyzing Archery for Science!

    My daughter is in eigth grade. When she was asked to come up with a science project, she thought of her compound bow and how she could use that to study the effect of changing some variable and holding others constant. For her project she is asking, “What effect will varying the draw poundage have on my accuracy?” To study this, we have spent some time at the regional archery range (home of the Conejo Valley Archery club) and shot rounds on their 13m and 18m lanes.

  • Wrestling MS Word: Section Numbering

    If I want to typset a slick looking (and working) document with internal references, my preference is to use the LaTeX system. But there aren’t many people at a University that use that system. Most people use Microsoft Word. So I’m often forced touse MS Word, too.

  • Automator Workflow for getting creation datetimes

    My day job involves grant applications, and we have a long way to go when it comes to gathering data on our performance. It’s been my feeling that our workload has been increasing over the past few years, and that we have boom and bust cycles. A count of proposals is an easy way to verify the upward trend in overal production, but looking for the cycles requires data that we’re just not logging.

  • When you buy the thing, you own the thing.

    DMCA and tractors?! Give me a break. When you buy it, you own it.

  • Watching Jimmy Carter

    I’m in fifth grade. That must make it about 1979. It was my first experience of a landslide loss. We’re holding mock presidential elections in class. Carter, the incumbernt, versus Reagan. There’s a cardboard box on a shelf at the fron to the room that we put our ballots in, and my desk faces it and is pretty close.

  • True Detective, season 2

    When I skim the online reviews of the second season of True Detective, I wonder what all the critics were looking for. The review aggregators like Metacritic and Rotten Tomatos are consistent in the way they give the series a C-/C. I guess they are largely polling the same critics, so the ratings should be similar. When I surf around, trying to hear what other people think, the negative critiques prevail. The themes of those critiques seem to hinge on ideas like:

  • Fatal Attraction on the Road

    Just saw this in a Slashdot post: it appears someone can demonstrate how to take advantage of a modern car’s lack of internal ‘network’ security if you have access to the car and a low-cost bit of tech that isn’t too hard to assemble.

  • A Fatal Attraction to the Internet-of-Things

    Last year, I moved away from the family to take a job across country, and my new faux bachelorhood gave me space to buy some in-home tech that I wouldn’t be able to with my wife around. She is the tech super-edo to my tech id. Hers is the voice I hear in the Apple store when I’m checking out the JamBox or the latest iPad. We’re not made of money, so I walk into that store with aspirations and temptation, not intentions. Usually, I walk out of the store empty handed. Some mid-priced gadgets have been making that harder for me to do, but I’ve denied their siren song so far. This week I learned why denying them is a Good Thing.

  • Rediscovering Gorka

    A raw post.

  • Conservative George Will on Learning and Economic Mobility

    So, I don’t normally read much George Will. He is too conservative for me. But I listen to him because he’s an interesting thinker with integrity. He’s never just been one of those talking heads that spouts talking points on the Conservative issues of the day.

  • Good news this morning via text message

    [Posted this to Facebook this evening, and I thought it was worth exposing to a wider audience. It’s about life.] Relieved a bit this morning with a text from Mom. The weekend, when the rents visited, I learned that Dad had some internal bleeding. “I’m at about 80%,” he’d say. He’d have anemia-like moments. Doc told him the standard: no climbing, no heavy lifting, no flying. (The last is because he just got his pilot’s license at 60+!) Coming about a year after prostate cancer, this blood thing was a bit scary for us all. When they were here, he clearly didn’t want to talk about it. We got him as far as ‘black stool’ and he shut it down. Changed the subject. So we gave him space. It didn’t keep him from hunting 8 hours a day, though he didn’t climb up in to the tree stands. This morning, he had an appointment for an endoscopy in the Cities. Mom’s post-appointment text went something like, “only an ulcer.” My question: how can a guy who’s a month from retiring from working for the ‘man’ get an ulcer? I guess the lesson is that life’s transitions are stressful. (Really did want to know more about the ‘black stool’ and other symptoms so it could feed or fight my hypochondriac monkey.)

  • An Approach for STEM Talent Expansion

    The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) published their Engaged to Excel report in February 2012 calling for America to produce a million additional college graduates in STEM fields in the next decade.  Unlike the National Research Council’s Rising Above the Gathering Storm report of 2007, which made more general calls1, the PCAST report is focused and provides strategies to increase retention to STEM degrees from 40% to 50%, a change that would go most of the way to realizing the PCAST goals.

  • Coaxing Internet Service from a Rural Provider

    A few days ago, I had a deeply moving experience with my ISP that taught me something about tech support, speed tests, and customer star ratings.

  • Want to Understand Dolphin Echolocation, Talk to A Biologist

    It looks like a story about the mathematical ability of dolphins has caught the attention of many. (See for example the HuffPo, Discovery News, MSNBC, and the Examiner.) Everyone loves dolphins, and it wouldn’t surprise anyone that dolphins are doing sophisticated mathematics. They are very very intelligent mammals, after all. But there are two things wrong with the story, or maybe with the way the story is being described.

  • Sadly Leaving Posterous.com

    I’m 40 years old, and I’ve been in contact (more or less) with the Internet as it’s grown from inchoate network in the early 1990s to the Thing that it is today. This means that I’ve been aware, and to some extent Rubbernecked, the blogging movement as it has developed. This includes the sector of bloggers who share too much information about themselves online. I’m not one of those. I can’t even say that I’m a blogger. Yes, I’m using the web, but I can’t and won’t claim to be ‘logging’ anything. That’s not the way I roll.

  • BS Doesn't Impress

    I usually avoid reading TechCrunch because its writers aren’t that great and the topics they cover rarely intersect the topics I find interesting. This morning, a tweet announced that TechCrunch had an article that seemed to say that the technology industry is a zero-sum environment. As a mathematician and a college teacher, this piqued my curiosity; I’m always looking for good examples of situations that admit game theoretic descriptions.

  • Modding the Smoker

    Last week, I caught up with an old friend who had turned me on to cooking with a smoker. I love grilling, whether it be over gas, over charcoal, or over an open pit fire. So adding a smoker to my collection of cooking tools was a thrill. My smoker is an old Traeger Lil’ Tex. This smoker burns wood pellets that are drawn slowly into an ignition well by an electric auger. The smoking temperature is regulated by a three position thermostat. Its setting are smoke, medium, and high. This doesn’t give much control over the cooking temperature. When my old friend said he had a couple digital thermostats gathering dust on a garage shelf, I jumped at the chance to upgrade. Here’s how it worked.

  • Just read "Pump Six"

    [Pump Six and Other Stories Pump Six and Other Stories by Paolo Bacigalupi.

  • A 'holy shit' moment?

    From the nytimes.com

  • Which comes first, the cart or the horse?

    President Obama says that he is putting Colleges and Universities on notice. If they don’t stop tuition from increasing, they will watch their public funding decrease. Funny. I think most pubic colleges and Universities are increasing their tuition BECAUSE public funding is being cut by state lawmakers. Maybe I’m missing some Federal system of higher education?!

  • Safety First


  • A Dirty Job

    I love being a filty mathematician.

  • Is the America Invents Act Digging Us Deeper?

    It looks like the America Invents Act has been passed by both the House and Senate, and it is on its way to the President’s desk. And it looks like the President is going to sign the bill. What is this going to mean?

  • Making and Edukating: an idea waiting to happen (revised)

    Across the country, a handful of companies, nonprofit groups, public educational agencies and even science museums are trying to make manufacturing seem, well, fun. Focusing mainly on children aged 10 to 17, organizations including the Da Vinci Science Center in Allentown, Pa.; and Stihl, a maker of chain saws and other outdoor power equipment in Virginia Beach, Va., run camps that let students operate basic machinery, meet workers and make things.

  • Up and Up: Putting the Balloons to Bed


  • Tremendous. Experience.


  • Up and Up: If Lost, Please Return To....


  • Up and Up: Still Winds Over Campus


  • Up and Up: Breaking Against the Wind


  • Up and Up: Failure Lies on the Path of True Knowledge

    There’s a failure meme out there, and here is our contribution. I post this for fun and to contribute to the meme.

  • Up and Up: Further adventures in educational ballooning


  • Making and Edukating: a fun test leading to a big week

    In a little over a week, I play host to 33 junior high students from Kansas City who are going to come to Truman’s campus and spend three days learning what college is like. For the last few weeks, I’ve been madly putting a program together that leans somehow on model rocketry. What can be more fun that controlled explosions, right?

  • The Feds Considering Putting An End to Subsidized Loan Program for Undergraduates

    Is the Federal government really considering ending their program os subsidizing undergraduate loans? Sorry, but it appears to be true, according to an article this morning in Inside Higher Ed.

  • Education in America - We Need an Adaptive System

    The NYTimes online has an article this morning that talks about government plans to cut the level of funding for programs that provide technical training at the high school and community college level. The article begins with a sketch of a young man, Matthew Kelly, whose who performing poorly in traditional high school courses. When a guidance counselor suggested a new strategy: take technical training courses.

    Then his guidance counselor suggested he take some courses at a nearby vocational academy for his junior year. For the first time, the sloe-eyed teenager excelled, earning A’s and B’s in subjects like auto repair, electronics and metals technology. “When it comes to practicality, I can do stuff really well,” said Mr. Kelly, now 19.

  • China's State-controlled Catholic Church Pokes Vatican In Eye

    I had no idea that there is a state-controlled Catholic church in China. I guess I should be surprised, but there is a certain cognitive dissonance intrinsic to its very idea.

    China cut ties with the Vatican in 1951, shortly after the Communists came to power. Although the wholesale persecution of religion has eased significantly in China, the state still maintains a firm grip on organized religious practice, and it is especially wary of the challenge presented by papal authority.

  • The Failure Meme: Louis C. K. for Father's Day 2011

    I think that there’s a failure meme in the air, and several people are expressing it. Many who have put the meme into words are entrepreneurs, or people who are working at the frontiers of our economy (the frontiers that are being created by new technology). In this video essay for CBS Sunday Morning, Louie C. K. talks about being a father in a way that acknowledges that most of us (fathers) are making this up as we go along. And that’s OK so long as we understand why we’re doing it in the first place. <p /> <iframe src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/KJI8wLao1yY?wmode=transparent" allowfullscreen frameborder="0" height="417" width="500"></iframe>

  • Louie C.K. on Being Thankful for Technological Advancements

    I just ran across this clip from Louis C. K. on Conan O’Brien’s old show. Louie is celebrating our ‘amazing amazing world’, and if you listen to him, the amazing things he celebrates are the fruits of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. <p /> <iframe src="http://www.youtube.com/embed/itn8TwFCO4M?wmode=transparent" allowfullscreen frameborder="0" height="417" width="500"></iframe>

  • A Pogue PR Misstep?

    Just caught this on the NYTImes.com: popular gadget reviewer and a freelancer for The Times, David Pogue, is caught up in an ethics foofaraw concerning his relationship to public relations (PR) people.

  • Federal Action on Affirmative Action

    Insider HigherEd reports this morning on an interesting reversal on the 2006 Affirmative Action ruling which made broadening participation in higher education (and STEM) more difficult. If this reversal holds, it will be a Big Thing.

  • Review and Setlist for "Toad the Wet Sprocket", Dakota Bar & Grill, Minneapolis), 26 June 2011

    My pseudo-staycation for 2011 put me in the enjoyable position of seeing “Toad The Wet Sprocket’s” kick-off public performance for their summer reunion tour. My gal and I secured mezzanine tickets and dinner for their 7pm show, and we showed up just before 5:30 to get our table. (Will-call started at 5:30, so we wanted to be nearer the front of the line.) We were surprised to find the foyer with the will-call empty of patrons, but the staff was happy to let us head to our table. Turns out, we were the second group to be seated. The first group was the band itself.

  • A Two-fer for Introverts and Those Who Love Them

    Just hit a double for introverts, the home team. Check out this page, titled “10 Myths about Introverts”, and take a look at the book that inspired the post, The Introvert Advantage.

  • From the Change Is Hard Department

    Just caught “Why Change Is So Hard: Self-Control Is Exhaustible” by Dan Heath. It’s a year old, but it’s new to me. Too bad it doesn’t have any references. This looks like a primary paper on the experiment Heath describes.

  • Conan Expresses the 'Failure' Meme

    Either it’s one of those mid-life things for me or there’s a meme going around about embracing ‘failure’ and the growth that comes from ‘making mistakes’. It looks like Conan O’Brien gave voice to this in his commencement speech at Dartmouth this Spring. </p><

  • The quicker ketchup picker-upper

    Wow! Cool concept. How can I become a middle-man for this tech?!

  • The Churrasco Forecast was Correct

    In the face of wind and rain, thunder and lightning, and metric boatload of mud at the 2nd annual McGinnis Memorial Meat Marathon, Karl and I walked away with the traveling trophy, pictured below.  About thirty pounds of meat (thanks, Costco) passed through the loving heat of our churrasco grill. Pork tenderloin, back ribs, and some prime ribeye roasts pleased the crowds and the judges.

  • Brazilian Demi-God

    We have a BIG fan!

  • Meat Marathon update


  • Returning from the hunt


  • Pushing the Flywheel: TEDx

    TED. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s an acronym. Stands for “Technology, Entertainment, Design”, but the “E” should really be “Education”. The TED Conference brings together thinkers and doers from every discipline and sector. They share 18 minutes of insight from their life experience, and that slice is shared with the work through audio podcasts and video podcasts.

  • Higher Education, Standardization, and International Competition

    Just listened to a podcast from the 2011 meeting of the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) in which Assistant US Secretary of Education, Edward Ochoa, spoke about some current issues. He illuminated for me, for the first time, the importance of the Lumnia Foundation’s effort to help higher education reach state standards for educational attainment levels.

  • Poking fun at Corporate-speak Email Footers

    In the `90s, the nerds on the internets were all concerned about the automated sniffing of email text being carried out by Echelon, the NSA’s signals intelligence collection and analysis network. Many people started adding terms to email footers that were believed to trigger Echelon. There were Echelon Days identified for this effort. People wrote scripts that appended trigger words to every email they sent.

  • On Jeff Jarvis Calling Lectures Bullshit

    We’re in the final stretch of the spring semester here at school, so I thought I’d repost this. Though I still feel the same way about lecturing, the economics of being a teacher at a state-supported University make it difficult to get away from this traditional style of teaching. I’ve made some progress, but it’s been messy and unsatisfying for me. (Probably for my students, too.)

  • Are you a Teacher? Interested in going into Space?

    A group calling itself ‘Teachers in Space’ is offering a cool looking workshop for those who teach science, technology, engineering, or math at the high-school level.

  • The Unfolding of a Case Study in Academic Freedom

    Some faculty interpret ‘academic freedom’ to be a right that allows them to say and teach what they want in their classes. A new story coming from Wisconsin reminds us of this protection’s original intent.</p>

  • From the 'What Can I Do With A STEM Degree' Department

    Yesterday, I called attention to a new Kauffman Foundation report that explores the effect that a growing financial sector has on entrepreneurship and the creation of robust new companies, perhaps through their recruitment of STEM talent.

  • Vampirism of The Finance Industry

    This article, “Friends Don’t Let Friends Get Into Finance”, appear in my STEM-centric twitter stream. It talks about the damage that the finance industry is doing to America by its recruitment of STEM talent from graduate programs. Citing the authors of a report from the Kauffman Foundation, the author says</p>

    Paul Kedrosky says that the virus that infects scientists and engineers and causes them to go to Wall Street rather than create something of societal value is “economic Ebola”. He wants to be an “economic virus hunter”. Let’s all help him. Let’s save the world by keeping our engineers out of finance. We need them to, instead, develop new types of medical devices, renewable energy sources,and ways for sustaining the environment and purifying water, and to start companies that help America keep its innovative edge.

  • Worth a read: Understanding and Reengineering Open Source Communities

    Open Source Software (OSS) communities are an interesting social phenomena. They get things done that commercial shops do not or cannot. They are a feature of the Friedman’s ‘flat’ world that are a bit mysterious. rather than being the open, accepting, nd egalitarian social organization that they are often made out to be (by members), it turns out that they’re about as cliquish as they come. Through a recent article, Gina Trapani shows how she has struggled with being a member of OSS communities and with being a leader of her own. <p /> Her description of OSS communities and what she is doing to broaden participation could be a case study in dynamics at work in the broader STEM community. Maybe?

  • The New York Paywall, part II

    When the New York Times announced its pay wall, the other day, I posted here. (As a the owner of a free account, I was on their ‘list.’) Well, today they’ve sent me a follow-up note. Is everyone getting this deal? There’s no way I rate as a ‘sqeaky wheel.’

  • The New York Paywall


  • Cool Tool: Weatherspark

    This from kotke.org, a cool weather tool. It might replace weather.com for me.

  • Today is pi day


  • Earthquake Magnitude & Earthquake Energy

    Japan’s terrifying earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disasters have the world watching, talking, and thinking hopeful thoughts for people in that island nation. Yesterday, I listened as a seismologist talked to an NPR radio host about the magnitude of the Sendai earthquake, which has now been upgraded to a 9.0 magnitude earthquake.

  • Face-to-Face with the Sendai Tsunami

    My twitter stream brought this video to me today:

  • The (Imperfect) Art of Sending Sensitive Stuff

    Advice worth sharing. Love Dropbox. And Hazel.

  • Citizen Freakin' Science


  • iPad2 in KC


  • Makin' in the Kitchen


  • Arthur Bryant's BBQ in KC

    P713 P715

  • First picture from Earth of a spacewalk

    @BadAstronomer is sharing the exciting news that someone has taken the first picture from Earth of an astronaut on a spacewalk from a Shuttle. Is this the first such picture, internationally? Or is it just the first such picture in America?</p>

  • The Benefits of Science to the Scientist

    Nice thoughtful and short essay on the value of studying (and doing) science to the scientist student.

  • Great Book Now in Paperback: HeLa

    Today, Rebecca Skloot’s famously good book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, is available in paperback. If you have any interest in science in American culture, you should read this.

  • A College Degree is a Good Thing

    It’s that time of year. You or your kid is thinking about going to college or whether to stay in college next year.

  • Nerdgasm: Automating Student Peer Reviews, Part 2

    The other day, I wrote about how I used Google Docs and Applescript to lubricate the peer review workflow in a class I’m teaching. My set-up is certainly imperfect, and here I want to comment on a couple improvements that I could make, when I can find the time.

  • Nerdgasm: Automating Student Peer Reviews, Part 1

    So, I’ve just had a chance to bend Google tools and Applescript to the service of teaching. In the event that someone else might find this interesting, I thought I’d share the story. Details are available to those who request them in the comments.

  • On Writing: Passive Voice and Presentation

    Passive voice sucks the energy out of writing like a lamprey. My next writing assignment in an interdisciplinary seminar I’m teaching is to have students write an essay without using the passive voice. Use of the passive voice will result in a letter grade reduction on that assignment. My hope is that this exercise will focus our minds on word choice.

  • Comment on 21st Century Education

    Quick thoughts. Caught this article, “Universities not preparing students for 21st century” by Mark C. Taylor. The title resonated with my current professional interests include preparing students to contribute to the 21st century STEM workforce.

  • The 'Ph.D. Problem'

    This morning, I saw a question on Quora about the state of Ph.D. production in the U.S. “What can be done to address the problems of the current PhD system of academia?”, the writer asked, pointing to the December 2010 article “The disposable academic: Why doing a PhD is often a waste of time” by Natasha Loder in the Economist.

  • Interesting: the power of writing

    From today’s Insider Higher Ed:

  • Misconceptions

  • A 'convergence' model for STEM training

    This morning, Insider Higher Ed reported on a meeting at MIT at which a panel discussed how recent breakthroughs in the life sciences point to a new way to think about academic organization. The called this model ‘convergence’, suggesting the movement from several directions (or disciplines) toward a common limit point (or achievement). Of course, this is just another way to package interdisciplinary interaction at a team-level.

  • The Best 'Messiah' video of 2010

    Here’s the best holiday video I’ve seen this year:

  • America COMPETES Act is Renewed by Congress

    It looks like Congress has renewed the America COMPETES Act. The House passed (228 to 130) the Senate’s version that was passed last week.

  • Thinking through tough questions

    Another nice idea in Making a Big Change: a Case Study [How I Retired]”:

  • Interesting thought: making and keeping commitments

    Just read “What Can You Learn from Google About Managing Your Time?”. There’s some GTD jargon in it, but it should be interesting to anyone who tends to take on more than they should.

  • What do you Make?

    At Saturday’s commencement, our speaker, Dr. David Russell, the new commissioner for higher education in Missouri, gave an address that included lots of goodies. He also lifted a story that we quite similar to a poem by Taylor Mali, so I thought I’d put this out there for people to enjoy:

  • Ricky Gervais

    Ricky Gervais speaks to us this holiday season in “A Holiday Message from Ricky Gervais: Why I’m An Atheist”, From Speakeasy of the Wall Street Journal.

  • Research and Google Storage

    Google has given me permission to use their Google Storage service. It’s also given me permission to use the Google Predication API. I’m thinking of using this in service of some research projects I’ve conducted with colleagues and undergraduate collaborators. The dataset aren’t huge, but sharing them between institutions has been a PITA. I wonder if anybody else has use Google Storage to collaborate on small-scale academic research projects in the life sciences.

  • The White House and Makers

    After all, we wouldn’t teach kids how to play football by lecturing to them about football for years and years before allowing them to play. And if education is about the ‘lighting of a flame not the filling of a pail’ – we should be putting the tools of discovery, invention and fabrication at the finger tips of every child – inside and outside of the classroom.

  • Nerdgasm: iPhone+Applescript+Chuck Roast


  • Zakaria's "Restoring the American Dream"

    This weekend, while I was playing hookey from Church, I stumbled upon this program on Fareed Zakaria’s GPS, on CNN. It was a program titled “Restoring the American Dream” and it talks about what America needs to do get back on track to be the world’s greatest economic powerhouse.

  • On Finding Collaborators

    I’m glad to see, after reading this article (“The Art of Computational Biology” by Jeanene Swanson), that the model for training in mathematical and computational biology that we have established at Truman State University reflects what is happening in the ‘real world’ in interdisciplinary collaboration.

  • Deconstructing the 'STEM' acronym

    Natalie Angier, one of my favorite science and nature writers, has a piece in the New York TImes OnLine this morning, “STEM Education Has Little to Do With Flowers”. The piece is a bit of a critique of a fad that we at Truman have invested in: STEM education. Her essay is short and lively. Read it.

  • Interviews with Techie Names

    This morning, Chair Gruber of Daring Fireball introduced me to this web site: http://usethis.com. It’s basically a list of interviews with people (with some degree of name recognition) that work in technology-related fields. Each interview is short, and they should feed your inner-geek.

  • Case Study: the power of openness - Understanding Alzheimer’s

    There’s been much ado in the last decade about transparency and openness in technology and, in particular, science. The culture of science has been slow to take a ken to openness and sharing. But the NYTimes.com has an article today that suggests an open approach to understanding Alzheimer’s may be bearing fruit.

  • Cool Tool: Address Book Importer (Abee)

    Just found a cool tool that saved me an hour (or more) of hand entry of data into my OS X Address Book. <p /> I’m a college mathematics teacher, so each term I get a set of roster spreadsheets for my classes. Because I use email heavily, I like to put those rosters into my laptop’s address book (OS X Snow Leopard). This allows me to group student contacts by class, and such. I think past, I used MailPictures (which you can find at http://bit.ly/arfpYz, but development of the app seems to have stopped) to help learn student names more quickly, which added value to having their contact information in my address book.

  • Wave Bye-Bye

    Just learned about this from Daring Fireball:

  • The Business Plan of For-Profit Universities?

    All this time, I though the success of for-profit Universities was based in the way they gave students individual attention, and supported them as their pursued their degree or certificate program. I guess I was wrong. It seems like many for-profit Universities are succeeding on the basis of lies and fraud:

  • The Beautiful Body of a Library

    Nice Old Spice Guy-like riff on libraries.  I’m on a cart.

  • The College Completion Challenge

    There’s an article in the NYTimes on-line, here http://nyti.ms/97qkLM, on depressed college completion rates threatening American economic competitiveness. (Have you heard that theme somewhere else?) The article is a bit dry, has some data, talks about some people who are ‘doing something’, and has at least one link to an external report.

  • My next project

  • Goodbye, Dr. Henry Blackwell

    This week, I saw that a mathematician I’d never really heard of passed away. He was famous enough, a probabilist and game theorist at UC Berkeley, and he was a member of the National Academy of Sciences. This morning, I read an article about him at NYTimes.com, here.

  • eBook reading and writing, continued

    My quest for find ways to create rich mutli-media eBooks continues. As of today, I have not found any interesting authoring tools that are based on open-standards like the ePUB format. Several videos of prototypes for content delivery are floating around the interwebs, some of which I relays in a previous post here (see UPDATED: Popular Science’s Magazine of the Future. Is this the Textbook of the Future, too?).

  • Another Nobel Laureate, Education Advocate Joins Obama Administration

    This morning we learned that President Obama has nominated Dr. Carl Weiman (2001 Nobel laureate in Physics) as associate director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. This is the third Nobel laureate in the Obama administration. The first was Steven Chu, the Secretary of Energy. The second is President Obama himself, I guess.

  • Progress on ePUB mathematical documents

    For months, I’ve been casting about for tools that will allow me to create mathematical eBook documents in the ePUB format. I chose that format because it’s open, supported by the major readers (e.g., Kindle, Nook, iPad software), and can be authored in a way that’s very similar to authoring HTML documents.

  • Meet Ada Lovelace

    Found this nice little cartoony introduction to Ada Lovelace here

  • too good not to share.... #SXSW

    Wish I would have been at South-By-Southwest just to see this presentation and to interact with the crowd that it attracted.

  • On Jeff Jarvis Calling Lectures Bullshit

    This jumped out at me in my Buzz feed this morning, so I chased it to its home at Jeff Jarvis’s blog, BuzzMachine. When the tag #highered, Jeff Jarvis (author of What Would Goggle Do) and the word ‘bullshit’ (cf. Frankfurt’s book) get together, you know you’ve got something good on your hands. So I read with high expectations. They were met.

  • An Inspirational Talk by Dr. Freeman Hrabowski

    On 28 January in Addison, TX, the National Institute for the Study of Transfer Student (NISTS) hosted its 2010 conference that had a kickin’ opening plenary. The conference brought together practitioners from 35 states to share best practices in supporting and graduating transfer students, and this speaker got us all excited for our work and its importance. I was there to support the after-conference mini-workshop titled “What does it take to help students transfer successfully in the sciences?” that’s an outgrowth (and dissemination effort) of the Belknap Springs Workshop.

  • Sharing Clay Shirky's "A Rant About Women"

    Clay Shirk ranted on his blog, recently, on a topic that resonated with the teacher and educator in me. He titled this blog entry “A Rant About Women”, which sounds a bit misogynist. (And I’m trying to think of how to start this entry to make it clear to you, Dear Reader, that it’s exactly the opposite.) But it’s not. It’s quite the opposite.

  • The importance of abstract thinking: listening to TEDtalks

    An interesting idea for a teacher (especially one who works in a liberal arts, life-long-learning context) to ponder. And to do it in the context of TEDtalks is a gem of an idea. Take a read of Seth’s post here.

  • American Colleges and Universities are Losing STEM Majors

    This morning’s Inside Higher Ed published an article titled Graduation Gaps for Science Majors.

  • A Powerful Image of Volcano Monserrat, and a Cool Factoid for Later Use

    The other day, BadAstronomer (the Twitter handle of Phil Plait, the writer of Discover Magazine’s Bad Astronomy Blog) used his blog to share a beautiful picture taken from space, and a nice science tidbit that’s worth sharing.

  • Science of the Olympics

    In the spirit of this Olympic Season, we share this photoessay from the Canadian National Research Council in which the NRC shares the science of olpympic-level competition.

  • We're helping Missouri Rise Above the Gathering Storm

    Just gave a talk at the 2010 Conference on Transfer and Articulation with Jane Road (of Moberly Area Community College) and Jennifer Thompson (of Truman’s STEP Office). A link to the slide deck on slideshare.com is here for those who are interested.

  • How My Little Pony turned a little girl into a computer scientist

    Just read this on Boing Boing and had to share it with my STEM posse.

  • From the Life Imitates Life Department

    Slime as Engineer - brainless mold mimics Tokyo subway via Boing Boing by Jessamyn West on 1/29/10

  • UPDATED - Popular Science's Magazine of the Future. Is this the Textbook of the Future, too?

    Just watched a video of a conceptual magazine fit for a table-like device. (More than a Kindle/Nook, less than the forthcoming Apple Tablet, probably.) The video explores Popular Science’s vision for rich magazine content delivery, complete with thought out multitouch interaction with content, layout considerations, and user needs for search and sharing.

  • From the "America Losing Its Lead" Department

    From InsideHigherEd.com:

  • NSF's Science & Engineering Indicators 2010 to be Released 1/15

    Just read the news here that the National Science Foundation (NSF) will be releasing its Science and Engineering Indicators for 2010 on January 15th.

  • From the "Liberal Arts Education = Best" Department

    In the NYTimes. com article Multicultural Critical Theory. At Business School?, Lane Wallace reports on the important and critical (no pun intended) training that can be delivered by a business school whose curriculum is based on a liberal arts education.

  • HigherEd at CES? Who knew?

    I had no idea until I read this article and followed this link that there was a Higher Education conference at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES). If I had known, I might have gone!

  • From the #Hackedu Department

    Another #hackedu and pro-transformation piece: “End the University as We Know It”

  • talk about #hackedu on This Week in Google (ep 23)

    Here’s an example of the topic of #hackedu rearing its head in non-academic settings. In this case, it’s a tech podcast.

  • Quote: on Lectures

    “The definition of a lecture has become the process in which the notes of the teacher go to the notes of the student without going through the brains of either.” – Donald Tapscott in “The Impending Demise of the University”

  • STEM Podcasts: Game Theory and its Social Importance


  • Update: Best Jobs Involve STEM!

    Update: I just took a moment to think about this post, and I’m a bit embarrassed. So I’m going to take another run at it, by adding some additional commentary to the bottom of the post. Let me know if it makes any difference to you.

  • "Rethinking Science Education" promotes Integrative STEM Education

    From “Rethinking Science Education” in InsideHigherEd.com by Scott Jaschik.

  • You've heard of Illiteracy. Here's Innumeracy.

    I don’t know how to introduce this video “Verizon Math Fail” (embedded below) blog. It’s been around for a while, so you may have heard about it or seen it.

  • Hey, Look ... There's a Museum of Mathematics!

    Just discovered this place, the Museum of Mathematics, via Make Magazine. I don’t know much about it, and the web page doesn’t have much detailed information on its exhibits, but from what I can see it seems pretty cool. <p /> The Museum of Mathematics is contributing a “Math Monday” entry to the Make Magazine blog that looks like its worth a follow, too.

  • American Jobs Require A College Degree, but That's Not Enough

    Kristi Oloffson’s article “The Job Market: Is a College Degree Worth Less?” for Time.com, 8 December 2009, talks about the changing role a college degree plays in hiring decisions. Where it used to be that fewer than half of all American citizens had a college degree, a college degree made a job applicant stand out from the applicant pool. Now, about 70% of American citizens earn a baccalaureate degree. This means that a college degree has become a minimum requirement for many entry-level jobs. One of my colleague in industry likes to say that a baccalaureate degree is just your ‘drivers license’ for employment.

  • From the Running Shoes are Bad for Running Department

    Featured Article - Running shoes may cause damage to knees, hips and ankles; worse than barefoot and high heels. http://bit.ly/4yhTEx

  • Checklists for the Complicated and Complex Tasks

  • LiveScribe and Teaching

    Found a LiveScribe Pulse in my Xmas stocking. Now the question is, “How do I use this to enhance the things that I do?” Better yet, how can I leverage this technology in the cause of #hackedu and course redesign.

  • The Joy of Computation versus Introduction to Computer Science

    There’s a nice article in the New York Times, online edition, today that touches on several STEM talent expansion issues (New Programs Aim to Lure Young Into Digital Jobs, by Steve Lohr). At the heart of this story, though not explored much, America’s economic need for people who can leverage computational tools and methods is juxtaposed against the way computer science is portrayed to today’s students. The article uses a couple tiny case studies of people whose careers use computers in a central way but who came at computing through non-standard directions. (This means that they weren’t computer science majors, first; their primary passion lay outside the CS major.)

  • America needs more Scientists and Mathematicians. But are we STEM-folks hurting our cause?

    This post is inspired by the overblown and overhyped forecasts of American major media (and government) meteorologists. their recommendations regarding severe weather and dangerous travel have always seemed hyperbolic to me. Then, when I read the Discovery.com blog post here, I felt one of my buttons pushed, and I had to express this exasperation somewhere. Here’s the quote from the post that set me off:

  • From the Technology Required to Pilot a Passenger Airplane Department - the impact crew typos can have on your flying itinerary

    Please excuse the short, personal, introduction that follows. If I write it now, there’s a very good chance that it will never happen again. Promise.

  • Listen To It! Podcast for STEM Students - RadioLab - Numbers

    In college, I had eclectic interests. That must be why I went to a liberal arts institution, eh? For some reason, human cognition interested me, though I wasn’t able to articulate it in that way at the time. From time to time, I’d pick up a Psychology Today at the library and thumb through its pages. Once, I ran across an article about mathematics and the mind. As a mathematics major, this article had great appeal to me. The thesis of the article was that mathematical thinking was not entirely natural, that it was learned, sometime with much effort. I remember xeroxing that article and filing it away.

  • An amazing auto-tuner of Science!

    If you are fond of science, and you haven’t seen this yet, you should find five minutes of broadband access before the end of the day for this YouTube video posted by John Boswell (a.k.a. melodysheep) of http://www.symphonyofscience.com. His goal in creating this piece (and other similar work, it seems) is, “to deliver scientific knowledge and philosophy in musical form.”

  • On Undergraduate Computational Biology and the Biology Curriculum

    As a mathematics professor at a ‘primarily undergraduate institution’ (a.k.a. PUI) who has been deeply involved in some local and national efforts at reforming undergraduate biology and mathematics education to be more interconnected, I delight at coming across papers with titles like this one: “Computing Has Changed Biology - Biology Education Must Catch Up” by Pavel Pevzner and Ron Shamir (Science 31 July 2009: Vol. 325. no. 5940, pp. 541 - 542). Often times, papers like these are written by people who are passionate about STEM education reform, and they share in their writings insights and perspectives that are useful to me.

  • To do: learn how to make a conference officially live-bloggable

    I’m involved in the planning of an annual, national meeting (that will go unnamed, for now) in a slightly `new way’. The meeting has been happening for several years, and one of its goals is to give participants a chance to make connections with one another in the context of the organization’s primary goals. Past meetings, which have been structured in a conventional manner, have been successful in this regard. But recent advances in social networking have opened doors that might allow the conference organizers to realize their goal at a higher level. This post is about what I’m trying to do to help add a dimension of social networking to the meeting. I invite your comments, hints, advice from past successes and failures, jibes, jokes, and other sorts of feedback in the ‘comments’ that follows this post. Your connecting to my work will help us evolve this meeting.

  • Discovering SEED Magazine

    I just discovered this online magazine, SEED (it has a print version, too) moments ago, and I haven’t been able to rip myself away from the stories and images they publish. The mission of the magazine seems to be to explore the interface between science and culture. Their slideshows have my rapt attention (watch the one on the sculpture), and their articles seems to be quite well written.

  • On ideas and the best way to not run out of them

    So, I’ve had on my todo list for some time the creation of a collection of podcasts that I find interesting or that would be of interest to students (college or high school) in science or mathematics. I could spend hours in iTunes listening to TED talks, NYC Radio Lab, This Week in Science, and making notes on dead trees. Then I could revise and refine the thoughts in those notes and create a nice web page with a list of links, quick review-like comments and encouragements, and put that out into the wild.

  • Cleese on Creativity

    Just ran across this video on kungfugrippe.com, Merlin Mann’s log of thoughts to the web. The video is of Cleese giving a lecture on being creative. He asserts that the subconscious has a role in creativity, doing work while you are sleeping or otherwise occupied. He also says that the key to getting yourself into a creative flow (not a work he uses) is to give your self boundaries in space (do not let yourself be interrupted) and boundaries in time (let there be a start time for your work and an end time). The video resonated with my beliefs and with what I have been reading lately on creativity.

  • #CollegeFail - Graduation Rates Matter and US Universities are getting a failing grade

    Economic Scene - U.S. Colleges Are Failing in Getting Students to Graduate - NYTimes.com http://bit.ly/3WLzFw

  • Biologicals - Building Machines from Biological Parts

    A group of scientists in England are taking synthetic biology (which uses E. coli as its building blocks) to another level: building a robot out of a variety of slime mold. See Engadget’s story here: http://bit.ly/YSI6F #mathbio #synthbio

  • Seth Godin on Selling Your Ideas Up The Chain Of Command

    Wiser words were never spoken. http://bit.ly/4tjWXh

  • From the Whodathoughtit Department...

    On ethics in science: Want responsible robotics? Start with responsible humans. http://bit.ly/zy4aS

  • Web Technology is Revolutionizing Education

    New book ‘The World Is Open’ on have open access is transforming learning and education. Q&A with author. - http://bit.ly/hKeVL

  • Language is a small-world network!

    What’s the semantic organization of human language? “Language networks are small-world and scale-free, although they are built based on different principles.” http://bit.ly/azQpQ

  • Rereading 'Writing Down the Bones'

    Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within (Shambhala Pocket Classics) Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within by Natalie Goldberg

  • Math Modeling and Public Health in Outbreaks

    Mathematical modeling can help inform public health policy in outbreaks such as the H1N1 pandemic, write members of the Pandemic Influenza Outbreak Research Modeling Team in Canada. http://bit.ly/o1V0A

  • Science of Learning informs New Classroom Design

    New science of learning offers preview of tomorrow’s classroom http://bit.ly/okrGv http://bit.ly/j9fYL

  • Governments should support prairie restoration programs along with reforestation programs!

    Just read this in Slate.com’s ‘Today’s Papers

  • Curing Cancer with Systems Biology?

    Systems biology recommended as a clinical approach to cancer http://bit.ly/5kCHH #mathbio

  • Want quality teachers? Select for enthusiasm, motivation, and commitment.

    The most effective teachers are the ones with enthusiasm for their work, high aspirations for the success of every pupil, positive relations, high motivation, commitment and resilience. http://bit.ly/VaVU7

  • Increasing STEM interest in Middle School - Multimedia in Texas

    Univ Texas multimedia program increases middle school interest in science http://bit.ly/uOjcb

  • The Crooks Can Now Fabricate DNA!

    This story on the NYTimes.com talks about a lab in Israel which has demonstrated an ability to fabricate DNA in a way that would allow a Bad Guy to plant fake DNA evidence at a crime scene. See http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/18/science/18dna.html for the story.