Monday, October 20, 2014

Racist misogynist professors...

So basically this guy, Barry Spurr appears on the basis of a selection of his emails published in New Matilda to be racist, misogynist,  and worst of all, up himself.  His views reflect another time, one that Barry obviously misses, even though it seems that this time was long gone, even when Barry was a boy.

Somebody also thought he was a good choice to review our national school curriculum.  And I have a problem with that.  I want a curriculum driven by people looking forward at the new world, not hankering after a view rapidly disappearing in the rear view mirror.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Smoking madness

I hate smoking.  A lot.  There are people who hate it more than me, but not that many.

None the less, there are some anti-smoking decisions I can't understand.  Apparently the West Australian Opera has decided not to perform Carmen.  Why?  Because Carmen works in a tobacco factory, and the West Australian Government's health promotion arm, Healthway, sponsors WA Opera.  And they see an opera featuring tobacco as undermining the anti-smoking message.

Now Carmen also features jealousy, murder, suicide and bullfighting.  And I'm guessing that Healthway is happy with that.  Just as long as no one smokes.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Physics education - keeping up to date

I'd go to bed, but I've got Neil Young on, and he isn't finished yet.

So every year, all around the world, students studying physics get problems like, "A 2kg block rests on a plane inclined at 30 degrees to the horizontal.  The coefficient of kinetic friction between the block and the plane is 0.20.  How long does it take the block to slide 2m down the plane from rest?"

Now, I like this sort of thing.  Even though I just made it up, I want to start solving it now.  But apparently not all students are like me.  Apparently, problems are supposed to actually interest them.  You know, have some relevance to their lives.  But students lives are always changing.  Ten years ago, most students did not have mobile phones.  Now they all do.  Three years ago "planking" was all the rage.  Now if you mention "planking", you'll just draw blank looks.

So it occurs to me that at the start of each new school/university year, educators should get together, find out what is cool with todays students, and work these things into this years physics problems.

For example, a standard problem is uniform deceleration to rest over a particular distance.  Usually this is presented in the context of a car crash, showing you how many g's you experience, and why it kills you.  However you could present it in terms of the thickness of case needed to protect the screen of your iPhone or Galaxy when you drop it.  Students will have phones, and have had to make the decision to not protect them, or get a Lifeproof case, or a cheaper case.  Having made this decision, they will be more interested in studying how the thickness of the case changes the amount of protection.  Or maybe not...

Anyhow, its just a thought for what physics educators might do over their holidays.

And Neil has finished now, so its off to bed.

Neil Young

So I'm watching Neil Young on youtube.  Singing "Like a Hurricane" and "All Along the Watchtower".  OK, the singing bit is not terribly important.  Its the guitar.

A very long time for now, humans might look back and see people like Neil, and Jimi, and be fucking amazed.  The intensity, the effort, the total focus.  Lives totally devoted to being as awesome as possible with a guitar in hand.

What did we ever do to deserve such people?

Monday, September 29, 2014

Throwing money at education

So Christopher Pyne is on Q & A, and he says that we've tried throwing money at education, and it hasn't worked.

Now Christpher doesn't believe this.  He is a Liberal, and Liberal voters everywhere vote with their wallets that money does buy a better education.  They spend a fortune on private schools.

Anyway, it isn't a surprise for anyone to find out that Christopher Pyne is an annoying but enthusiastic dissembler.