Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Copycat Killing

The murder of a Norfolk teenager was based on the movie Severance. One for my lecture on art and society...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Kidney Swap

A mother from Oxfordshire donated her kidney to a stranger so that her son could receive one from another compatible donor. Once we allow bartering, I'm not sure we're so far from open buying and selling.

Cooling Sun

Apparently, scientists are baffled by decreasing solar activity. If this continues, it may partially offset any man-made warming - although the fact that the Earth appears to have been warming since 1985, despite reducing solar activity over the same time frame, is worrying.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Philosophers in Schools

The BBC reports that Wellington College in Crowthorne, Berkshire has apparently employed philosopher-in-residence Julian Baggini ('blog', wikipedia) to teach children how to think. Their own website puts it amusingly: "Wellington College to teach its students how to think in a major new departure"!

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Col Ewe

The BBC football blog actually discusses Colchester United!

Deja Vu

I've been reading through a lot of Dilbert cartoon strips lately. They're good, but I can't help noticing that sometimes certain ideas get repeated (and I'm not the first to do so).

Here's one I just spotted: 30/03/08 Dilbert congratulates PHB on being the first human to fail the Turing test. 16/03/09 (just under a year later) he's obviously so frustrated that he's now shouting what should be everyone's new slogan...

Friday, April 17, 2009

Public Speaking

Not sure about the programme, but this BBC mini-site features lots of tips on public speaking. May be worth looking at before I start my lectures this coming term...

Sunday, April 12, 2009


In her book, Whose Body Is It Anyway?, Cecile Fabre suggests compulsory 'citizen service' - like the military service still practiced in numerous countries, only with youngsters being forced to perform socially useful work, such as caring. Well, it seems that it's a step closer to reality, with Gordon Brown having recently suggested compulsory community work for under 19s.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Elect the Dead

Arrow suggests that, if voters provide a rank ordering of candidates on the ballot paper, then the death of one candidate should be handled by simply ignoring them and counting up the rest of the votes as if they'd never existed. For the presence of a dead candidate to affect the choice between two live ones would violate what he calls the Independence of Irrelevant Alternatives.

Since many electoral systems only ask people to declare their first preference, so this isn't always feasible. More importantly, I don't think Arrow ever tells us what to do when the dead guy wins...

(Similar stories here)

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Commandments of Lecturing

As I've mentioned, I'm currently trying to write my first set of lectures - which is harder work than I realised (even though I only have four to write!). This list of 'Ten Commandments' is therefore timely (via).

I. Thou shalt connect new lectures to previous ones.
II. Thou shalt move beyond chalk and talk.
III. Thou shalt not lecture like a caffeinated hummingbird or a tree sloth.
IV. Thou shalt not assume too much.
V. Thou shalt link known to unknown.
VI. Thou shalt be enthusiastic.
VII. Thou shalt not be a pompous ass.
VIII. Thou shalt not tolerate disruptive or disrespectful students.
IX. Thou shalt not lecture outdoors.
X. Thou shalt seize learning moments.