Archive for April, 2013

Learning Theory Revisited

Monday, April 29th, 2013

Jenny Mackness has an interesting report on the Learning Theory component of the recently concluded Pedagogy First programme (an online course to learn how to teach online).

Why Should I Write ?

Sunday, April 28th, 2013

I kind of share Stephen Downes' response to Why You Should Write Daily : zenhabits. I don't know that everyone "should" do it, but I do think that formulating and expressing opinions regularly (on topics that may not be part of one's working life) is a useful exercise for most of us. Not having an […]

Introduction to Mathematical Thinking

Sunday, April 28th, 2013

Prompted I think by Downes, I decided to look into Keith Devlin's MOOC on Introduction to Mathematical Thinking. It was nice to see some acknowledgement of the origin of the 'MOOC' term with Downes and Siemens, but not so much to see that brief acknowledgement followed by a claim that a concept only attains respectability […]

pro-life lefty learns about the internet

Thursday, April 25th, 2013

Mehdi Hassan's claim that "being pro-life doesn’t make me any less of a lefty" is plausible enough, but his attempt to make the case on Twitter (of all places!) was certainly misguided, and while some of the lessons he has learned are good ones his descriptions of others demonstrate the opposite of what he should have learned[1]. I […]

Dr Jekyl retracts

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

This is actually a pretty smarmy retraction by Dr Jeckyl Dawkins of an honest but nasty tweet by Mr Hyde Dick. Mr Dick tweeted (perhaps in response to a recent re-tweet reminding him of his frustration at a three month old exchange) that “Mehdi Hasan admits to believing Muhamed flew to heaven on a winged […]

Sustainable Economy Panel of Provincial Election Candidates

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

A Sustainable Economy for BC: a Provincial Election Discussion - Two thoughts 1. The NDP's Shane Simpson (called in at the last minute to replace Matt Toner) was sitting between Andrew Wilkinson representing the Liberal party which implemented BC's carbon tax and the Conservative Duane Nickull who denied that it has been effective in […]

Environmentalism Behind Unabomber Rampage

Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

In his latest post at Discover, Keith Kloor responds to Jerry Coyne's tweeted blog post headline "Islam Apparently behind Boston bombing" with the complaint that it is an "Islamophobic" response of  "intolerant atheists" who "apparently would blame environmentalism for Ted Kaczynski". He has a point of course in that the headline is potentially misleading and may encourage […]

Yes, But..

Monday, April 22nd, 2013

Olivier Roy has been a consultant to the French Foreign Ministry and United Nations, is currently a professor at the European University Institute in Florence, and noted early that al Qaeda was drawing many of its recruits from Western Europe rather than from Saudi Arabia or Palestine or Pakistan. And he is probably right that the motives of people […]

The Enemy of My Enemy

Saturday, April 20th, 2013

This discussion in USA Today seems to me more on the mark than earlier speculation that the Chechen connection might make it more difficult to reach consensus on Syria.

Facing Horror with Humour

Saturday, April 20th, 2013

During Standoff, Congressman Tweets Global Warming Joke About Boston Bombing Suspect | ThinkProgress. I’m sorry, but even though it’s tasteless, disgusting and anti-science I actually find it funny. (And I don’t even feel too guilty about laughing because it doesn’t really belittle the tragedy.)

Quivering the Arrow and Missing the Point

Friday, April 19th, 2013

Part of the appeal of the flaneur is his seediness. The worn but well-starched collar,  the thinning elbows and slightly threadbare lapels of his clean and well-pressed suit, and the carefully polished shine on his ancient shoes. All these speak of a genuine love of style in one who has lost (or never had) the […]

Moral Enhancement and Designer Babies

Thursday, April 11th, 2013

It is in the nature of academic ethicists to test their arguments by pushing to the boundaries of what we consider acceptable (often with an open mind as to whether it is their own arguments or our intuitive limits which are at fault when they go "too far for comfort"). A case in point: Moral enhancement, […]


Wednesday, April 10th, 2013

My brother is left handed and I am averse to unwarranted levels of numerical precision, so perhaps there really is something to this. NCBI ROFL: Left-handed people avoid using exact numbers. : Discoblog. The extension of the effect to "the familial sinistral group" with the hypothesis that "their language and number systems tend to be […]

What is “Islamophobia”?

Friday, April 5th, 2013

In a comment at 3quarksdaily (on the posting by Robin Varghese  about Jerry Coyne's response to Glen Greenwald's criticism of Sam Harris' attitude to Islam), Abbas Raza objects to Coyne's and Harris' claim that those who complain of Islamophobia never define it, and he points to the following (from Greenwald): It signifies (1) irrational condemnations of […]