Adventures in Ethics and Science

Archives for December, 2009

Here in the Northern Hemisphere (of Earth), today marks the Winter Solstice. Most people have some understanding that this means today is the day of minimum sunlight, or the longest night of the year. Fewer people, I think, have a good astronomical sense of why that is the case. So, in honor of the solstice,…

Santa Claus and ethics.

It’s time for Dr. Free-Ride to have a chat with the grown-ups. If you’re a kid and you’re reading this, think how much the adults in your life would appreciate it if you got up from the computer and put away your stuff that needs putting away (or played with your brother or sister nicely,…

Via Kate Clancy on Twitter, a news story about how one Illinois legislator wants to save his state some money. As reported in The News-Gazette State law allows employees who have worked for one of the Illinois’ public universities for seven or more years to receive a 50 percent waiver of their children’s tuition costs.…

In comments on and earlier post, I mentioned that I no longer take extraordinary measures in anticipation of students taking an exam in an earlier sitting passing on information or answers to students taking the same exam in a later sitting. Commenter Martin wondered if I wasn’t being na├»ve: there has been no evidence of…

The better half and I were trying to decide this morning whether there was a way to follow the progress of “health care reform” in the U.S. Senate without getting really mad or really sad. (Conclusion: It seems logically possible that such a way exists, but we haven’t found it yet.) The one player that…

Given the extent and urgency of my current grading responsibilities, the sprogs and I have not had occasion this week for any extended conversations about matters strictly scientific, but there has been some chatter about Santa Claus: Younger offspring: What happens if I stay awake on Christmas eve and see Santa? Dr. Free-Ride: I don’t…

Speaking of fairness.

An open letter to the handful of students during today’s exam asking whether I could “explain” the fourth short-answer test item to them: Dear students, The question you are pointing to is unambiguously phrased. The wording of the item is quite clear in asking you to explain what that particular author is arguing about that…

If my congested head is upright today, I must be administering final exams. This puts me in mind of a question that has not come up this semester (and, with luck, will not), but that has come up on occasion in the past. I frequently teach multiple sections of the same course in a given…

Getting neti with it.

One of the sprogs gave me a cold. There is nothing like being knocked on your butt by a cold to take all of the fun out of a weekend spent not-grading research projects. Also, it seems to have filled my head with phlegm that then got … phlegmatic. Not quite congealed, but on its…

Whereas the commenters on this blog have on numerous occasions proven themselves to be whip-smart and very funny, and whereas this humble blog comes up near the top of Google searches for “three toed sloth sex jokes”, I propose that we write some worthy three-toed sloth sex jokes.