Sunday, October 29, 2006

Old influences, happenstance and the whirl of fun ideas.

I was reading a blog (I should write an old blog mate's blog but I have never met the blogger and would never want to attach any kind of chronological measure to folk one stumbles over online). Nevertheless, for folk who enjoy the odd bit of good fun around curriculum, schooling, computing and so on then Arti's little blog is a heap of fun. I was responding to a post about Starbucks and the NZ curriculum and was pointing out my own preference for drawing on business ideas and thinking. I do this because, generally there is a lot of good, hard-nosed thinking goes on about teaching, learning, leadership, change etc. It was also how I stumbled so long ago into the fun little habit of scenario planning after reading Stewart Brand's the media lab (which is also where I stumbled over the size/problem of so-called global money!!!). But back to the Artichoke post and Arti, true to form, goes beavering away and pulls up some stuff about Semler that I had not heard about, Semler's Escola Lumiar. From the bits you can find online it sounds a bit like KPS schools on steroids. Some quotes from the Telegraph report: "One of the things that is very silly - and I hear from educators all the time - is that schools essentially teach kids to learn. They don't need school for that. Learning is what they do best. We kill it for them." "We are trying to prove that by giving kids freedom, they will in the end be better educated, with much more residual knowledge than the kids in the disciplined schools. They can have a much happier existence and be much more prepared for life if we don't teach them the stupid things that traditional schools do." and Armed with University of Chicago statistics showing that 94 per cent of what we learn in school is never used in later life, he decided to ditch what he calls the "unsuccessful teaching methods" used in millions of schools around the world.

Friday, October 20, 2006

My (bad) digital habits

As a pseudo/semi-functional academic, I am always interested in ways of tracking contemporary writing, ideas (memes) in and around the stuff in which I have interests. i/e/ how to drink from the fire hose without drowning. One little trick I have been exploring is to do a Google Blog search for the key words/phrases and to copy the 100 RSS feed into my RSS aggregator. I end up with an always updated set of posts, many of which often point me to a publication I have missed, a conference, or call for papers, and even occasionally some useful commentary. And you can filter and search the inputs from this into the aggregator with the search facility in the aggregator.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Widget's for blogger

As you probably know, Google owns Blogger and has a neat widget for posting, so this is a small test of how well it works. 

Friday, March 24, 2006

For something that probably reflects my weird online reading habits than much else but I must say a good deal of this is a darned good read. It is stuff from The Edge and it a collection of short speeches, transcribed or available in mp3 format that were given to mark the 30th anniversary of Richard Dawkins' The Selfish Gene. Maybe some quotes to whet the appetite. From the book: "They are in you and me; they created us, body and mind; and their preservation is the ultimate rationale for our existence. They have come a long way, those replicators. Now they go by the name of genes, and we are their survival machines." from the book River Out of Eden: Show me a cultural relativist at thirty thousand feet and I'll show you a hypocrite. Airplanes are built according to scientific principles and they work. They stay aloft and they get you to a chosen destination. Airplanes built to tribal or mythological specifications such as the dummy planes of the Cargo cults in jungle clearings or the bees-waxed wings of Icarus don't. From Dennett: First I want to remind you of what Francis Crick called Orgel's Second Rule. "Evolution is cleverer than you are." Now what Crick meant by this jape, of course, was that again and again and again evolutionists, molecular biologists, biologists in general, see some aspect of nature which seems to them to be sort of pointless or daft or doesn't make much sense — and then they later discover it's in fact an exquisitely ingenious design — it is a brilliant piece of design — that's what Francis Crick means by Orgel's Second Rule. a virus is a string of nucleic acid with attitude From Krebs: I first came across the notion of an intellectual plumber when I was sitting in my then Oxford College, Pembroke, next to Simon Blackburn, the philosopher now at Cambridge. I turned to him and asked, "What's the point of philosophy anyway, Simon?" And he said, "Well, think of it this way, John. You're just a biologist, you sometimes have leaks in your thinking, and what you need is an intellectual plumber to patch up those leaks, and that's what philosophy will do for you. " From Ridley... size doesn't matter: From this end of the telescope, human beings look like they have quite a big genome, but if you turn the telescope around and look from another direction, the human genome looks rather a small one, compared with that of grasshoppers, which is at least three times as large, or deep-sea shrimps, which have ten times as much DNA as us. From McEwan My son, William McEwan, last year completed an undergraduate biology course at UCL. When he was studying genetics, he told me he was advised to read no papers written before 1997. One can see the point of this advice. In the course of his studies, estimates of the size of the human genome shrank by a factor of three. Such is the headlong nature of contemporary science. But if we understand science merely as a band of light moving through time, advancing on the darkness, and leaving darkness behind it, always at its best only in the incandescent present, we turn our backs on a magnificent and eloquent literature, an epic tale of ingenuity propelled by curiosity. and from Dawkins at the end: So what are the general principles of life, wherever life might be found? I just want to suggest some candidates, as a sort of stimulus to get other people thinking of others. First, Darwinism itself. I've mentioned that. I think it's universal. Can't prove it, but I think it is. Second, digital genetics, with very low mutation rate. Does it have to be DNA? Presumably not. Does it have to be a polynucleotide? Possibly not. Does it have to have a triplet code? Almost certainly not. Et cetera; those are the kinds of questions I'm trying to ask.