Mind Games 2.0

Bloggin' 'bout science and life

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A Great Man Honored

I think these two men have done a great job.  I don’t always agree, but you couldn’t find two finer men.

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A New Kitchen Table

Last April, we moved into a new house.  Before we moved, I ripped out all the carpet on the main floor of the new house and then installed hard maple flooring throughout.  It only took me 5 days to do 6 rooms.  

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Where Does It Say That Evolution Does Not Happen?

I was sitting in church a couple of weeks back on Christmas Eve waiting for the service to start.  As I usually do to pass the time, I picked up the Bible (what else are you going to do in church?), and I had a revelation about what I work on – namely evolution.    

This revelation came to me in the form of a simple question.  Where in the Bible does it say that evolution does not happen?

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Do Scientists Really Need Certificates Of Participation Just To Do Their Jobs Now?

Today I was submitting a review of a manuscript to a British scientific journal.  This is a routine part of any scientist’s job.  Participating in the peer review system is probably the most important community activity that keeps science working.  Peer review is the best part of the scientific process.  

I went to the journal’s website to submit my review as always.  What startled and exacerbated me, and what sparked this post, was the first question I was asked at the submission website.  The journal wanted to know if I wanted my reviewing activity to be noted for all the world to see on Publons.  

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Words For These Times

The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism. The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.

George Washington, Farewell Address 1796

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The Other Adult In The Room

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The Best Statistical Software For A Scientist To Use

I am now planning the next offering of a Generalized Linear Mixed Models course that I sometimes teach to our graduate students.  I’m teaching the next offering next spring.  All our graduate students are clamoring for a course in R, and I am sure I’ll get much pressure to teach this course using R. 

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Valuable Advice About Editing And Teaching In General

Posted by The Baltimore Sun on Thursday, September 8, 2016

This is hugely valuable advice.  If one is to teach what students need to know, one really has to just simply do it!

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What If Everyone Was Carrying A Concealed Firearm?

I was talking to a friend today about gun control policies.  As a scientist, he was trying to think through how to formulate the problem of what is the optimal fraction of the American population that should be armed via conceal-carry permitting.  I should point out that my friend does not own a gun, and I believe his personal views are that the best fraction would be 0%.  However, he wants to analyze the problem as a scientist, because he knows his personal preferences do not decide public policy and may even not be correct.  I wish all our politicians had such an inquisitive mind and rational/analytical curiosity for applying the best techniques to deliberating about public policy. 

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Morality and Idealism Do Matter

The opening paragraph of Theodore Roosevelt’s book American Ideals: And Other Essays, Social and Political states the following:

In his noteworthy book on National Life and Character, Mr. Pearson says: ” The countrymen of Chatham and Wellington, of Washington and Lincoln, in short the citizens of every historic state, are richer by great deeds that have formed the national character, by winged words that have passed into current speech, by the examples of lives and labors consecrated to the service of the commonwealth.” In other words, every great nation owes to the men whose lives have formed part of its greatness not merely the material effect of what they did, not merely the laws they placed upon the statute books or the victories they won over armed foes, but also the immense but indefinable moral influence produced by their deeds and words themselves upon the national character. It would be difficult to exaggerate the material effects of the careers of Washington and of Lincoln upon the United States. Without Washington we should probably never have won our independence of the British crown, and we should almost certainly have failed to become a great nation, remaining instead a cluster of jangling little communities, drifting toward the type of government prevalent in Spanish America. Without Lincoln we might perhaps have failed to keep the political unity we had won; and even if, as is possible, we had kept it, both the struggle by which it was kept and the results of this struggle would have been so different that the effect upon our national history could not have failed to be profound. Yet the nation’s debt to these men is not confined to what it owes them for its material well-being, incalculable though this debt is. Beyond the fact that we are an independent and united people, with half a continent as our heritage, lies the fact that every American is richer by the heritage of the noble deeds and noble words of Washington and of Lincoln. Each of us who reads the Gettysburg speech or the second inaugural address of the greatest American of the nineteenth century, or who studies the long campaigns and lofty statesmanship of that other American who was even greater, cannot but feel within him that lift toward things higher and nobler which can never be bestowed by the enjoyment of mere material prosperity.

This is a fantastic statement about why character, moral example, and the art of language does matter in our political leaders.

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