Archive for the ‘current events’ Category

I KNOW that look you all get. I can see it in your eyes. Sometimes, you just wanna throw stuff at me.

Well, today is your lucky day….

Registration for the first annual TCC Northwest Campus faculty v student dodgeball tournament is Tuesday-Thursday of this week (March 29-31)!!! The $5 fee benefits our Cornerstone student club; for just $10 you can get a T-shirt too!  Create a team now and don’t forget to sign up!!! Dr. Preston, Mr. Green, Mr. Rhoades, Dr. Moore and I are among the faculty participants who just CANNOT WAIT to throw balls at you. Feeling a little uncomfortable? Show up just to cheer on your FAVORITE team (hint, hint)!! Go ahead and get yourself a T-shirt too, to support your peers and commemorate this awesome opportunity. If you need me, I’ll be in my office stretching.

Click here to register and find more information: Learn about our team and cause.

Please note: You can also sponsor one of our classmates, donate directly, or become a distance team member, OR: participate through “Sleep in for the Cure”….which I’m certain many of you will appreciate 🙂

You may have seen the title of this post and thought: “Oh! It’s like Jeopardy! And the question is…What three things are mutually exclusive?” I initially typed these words without irony, inspired into blogging action by the resignation of NPR CEO Vivian Schiller; however, this simple title took on new life as it glared back from the screen.

Whether you are conservative or liberal, work with your head or work with your hands, are with us or against us, look black or white or in between, a universally shared trait seems to be the inherent skepticism (no matter from whence it stems) of these three words thrown inexplicably together: Politics. Media. Truth. What has so united us in our distrust?

I’m reminded of something David Gergen alluded to while speaking at UTA’s Maverick Speaker Series last year: What we need (I believe he was initially making an inter-generational comparison, which I will here take the liberty of scaling up to the whole population level) is a cause for passion. Previously in this great nation of ours, we have been united by common goals that often included battles, whether of the physical or ideological nature. Importantly, these causes gave all Americans, regardless of background or affiliation, a united stance to take on a directed measure. The example Gergen used was the first two World Wars: These were just, he argued, and everyone agreed. What Gergen then called for, in an argument under-appreciated at best, is a new united front – a new reason to band together – and one that is nonviolent. Simply stated, we need to SHARE PASSION if we are to ever feel content. What, asks Gergen, since the Great Wars, have we ever ALL BELIEVED IN, all at the same time and in the same place? Give us a common cause, a good one, and you’ve just given us a clear path forward.

The question is, of course, rhetorical. And the history of human nature seems to suggest only great injustice can incite unified indignity. Unfortunately, I share the perspective of Einstein when it comes to the disturbing concept of raging a third world war: “I know not with what weapons World War Three will be fought, but World War Four will be fought with sticks and stones.”

Economics often serves to remind us biologists of just how animal-like humans truly are. All our supposed logic and reason and critical thought can be explained and predicated by laws that serve game theorists, behaviorists, ecologists, and evolutionists equally well.

This was the order of events:

  1. My estimable colleague Larry and I were immersed in one of our many interesting conversations when he mentioned his son’s former San Antonio apartment having a box on the wall. This box was approximately 80 years old. It took him a while to figure out what the box was.
  2. I reminisced about, then actually popped into the DVD player, Mary Poppins. Remember watching Mary Poppins as a kid? (You should, because you led a depraved childhood if not.)
  3. I witnessed that the old-fashioned telephone was in a box. Simultaneously, I observed the hand-crank powering it.
  4. This morning, Plinky delivered a “prompt” to my inbox: “Would you like to dance?” it asked.
  5. I figured I’d kinda like to dance. I also suddenly recalled reading about an off-the-grid dance club that powers itself by using the dance floor as a huge generator, channeling the dancers’ energy to create electricity.
  6. I thought to myself about how the hand-crank telephone concept had morphed and re-emerged on the dance floor…
  7. And wondered why we didn’t do this more often???

After looking into it, I discovered one can actually purchase exercise equipment, mostly of the stationary bike nature, capable of acting like generators, potentially powering the host gym directly, and also able to charge a battery of some sort.

Holy singing fish! I’d love to get in on that patent! Seriously, though, it is glaringly clear we became so over-indulged and deluded by convenience during the twentieth century that one of the simplest, most obvious and sustainable concepts was lost to us when it could best have been incorporated: Harnessing the energy we were already spending to power our machines. Novelty aside, this is a fantastic idea we should never have divorced ourselves from – especially not in favor of burning organic stuff at remote locations.Come on, America! Move it, grassroots-style! This is the best idea no one is talking about. Gyms, obviously, should be powered this way. But, duh, so should everything else! For people like me, who have trouble concentrating and hate sitting still for long periods of time, I KNOW my office productivity would be greatly enhanced if I had some pedals to push as I sat deskbound. (And my coworkers would probably appreciate a break from the pushing of their buttons…) It need not be a high-tech elliptical, or even that fancy a contraption at all: Just an inconspicuous under-the-desk foot crank would be fine. Moreover, I wouldn’t feel as great an urge to spend hours on the treadmill after work if I wasn’t merely plopped immobile on my rear all day. I foresee additional benefits as well, including a decline in irrelevant (and irreverent) daydreams, naps, and various other creative forms of procrastination.

If we’re fat because we don’t move enough, but our modern jobs and technology have left us with nowhere to go, why on this significantly-less-green-than-desirable planet would we keep on burning up our finite natural resources while wasting all that potential energy trapped in our expansive potbellies? We’d be happier, we’d be healthier; we and our Earth would live longer together.

Think about what the Wii has done for video games. Kids big and little have ventured forth from the comfort of the couch and discovered joy in motion. Why doesn’t the Wii power itself, I ask? Now take it one step further and imagine this: The television requiring power by movement at all times! Ah hah! Wanna watch Jersey Shore? Well then keep on pedaling cause the show stops when you stop! If we cannot separate ourselves from our modern toys, isn’t it at least ideal for them to require our work to work? Technology needn’t be effortless to be appreciable.

It is estimated an average person generates about 100 watts of power during an hour of sweating. A seasoned spinner might pump out 400 watts. Think about it.

Earth Day is approaching – April 22 – And this year it shares the calendar with Good Friday. For some this connection holds significance; for others, less so. Either way, this coincidence has led me to reflect upon the potential to unite unique (and often overlapping) groups of people for one crucial common cause.

I’d like your feedback on Earth Day Celebration ideas for our campus and community. Please share any thoughts, suggestions, or ideas you have to make our day memorable, and to initiate little changes toward making big differences. You can find some starting points here and here. In addition, I owe E.O. Wilson for the ideas below:

The human species has adapted physically and mentally to life on Earth and no place else. Ethics is the code of behavior we share on the basis of reason, law, honor, and an inborn sense of decency, even as some ascribe it to God’s will.

For some, the glory of an unseen divinity; for others, the glory of the universe revealed at last. For some, the belief in God made flesh to save mankind; for others, the belief in conscious free will. Some claim to have found a final truth; I am still searching. I may be wrong, you may be wrong. We may both be partly right.

Do our differences in worldview separate us in all things? They do not. You and I and every other human strive for the same imperatives of security, freedom of choice, personal dignity, and a cause larger than ourselves. Let us see then, if we can work together to solve a great problem. I suggest we set aside our differences to save The Creation. The defense of living Nature is a universal value. It does not rise from, nor does it promote, any ideological dogma. Rather, it serves without discrimination the interests of all humanity.

The Creation – living Nature as we know it – is changing rapidly and appears to be in distress. If the current extinction rate continues unabated, the most conservative estimates still calculate that the cost to humanity, in wealth, security, and quality of life, will be catastrophic. Whatever our background, surely we can agree that each species, however inconspicuous and humble it may seem, is a masterpiece of biology, of divinity. Each species possesses a unique combination of genetic traits that fits it more or less precisely to a particular part of the environment. Prudence alone dictates that we act quickly to prevent loss of biodiversity and, with it, the pauperization of our ecosystems – hence of The Creation.

You may well ask at this point, Why me? Because religion and science are the two most powerful forces in the world today; if they could be united on the common ground of biological conservation, many ecological problems (not to mention social issues!) would efficiently be addressed. If there is any moral precept shared by people of all beliefs, it is that we owe ourselves and future generations a beautiful, rich, and healthful environment.

The great challenge of the twenty-first century is to raise people everywhere to a decent standard of living while preserving as much of The Creation as possible. Science has provided this much: The more we learn about the biosphere, the more complex and beautiful it turns out to be. Knowledge of it is a magic well: the more you draw from it, the more there is to draw. Earth, and especially the razor-thin film of live enveloping it, is our home, our wellspring, our physical and much of our spiritual existence.

I know that environmentalism is linked in the minds of many with evolution, Darwin, and secularism. I don’t know exactly how or when or why this came to be. But I know the story of a young man, newly trained for the ministry, and so fixed in his faith that he referred all questions of morality to readings from scripture. When he first visited the Brazilian rainforests, he saw the manifest hand of God and in his notebook wrote, “It is not possible to give an adequate idea of the higher feelings of wonder, admiration, and devotion which fill and elevate the mind.”

That was Charles Darwin, as recorded in his personal journal in 1832 (now published as The Voyage of the Beagle).

Genesis 2:15
The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.

Islam is described in the Qur’an as the religion of nature. God declares: “Therefore, orient yourself, with all due sincerity and uprightness toward the natural religion; this is consistent with the nature He has created in humankind…this is the straight way. However, most of humanity realizes it not.” (30:30)

Vote for your classmates!

Posted: February 11, 2011 in current events

Hey everyone – Take this opportunity to click on the 1406/7 tab and hit the link to vote for one of your colleagues in a scholarship contest she’s entered!!!! (Or just click here: http://www.brickfish.com/Pages/PhotosAlbums/PhotoView.aspx?qsi=55189338) In addition, when you enter your own contests, please post your link here as well so we can support you too 🙂

Cash Money

Posted: February 8, 2011 in current events, funding, helpful hints

Something to do between Connect modules, or potentially to occupy time during more snowy days: