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Dinosaur News

Amid the perpetual noise of the internet and the jockeying for additional outrage over the latest political scandal--an almost daily occurrence these days--there's been a lot of clicks baited through headlines (which I'm quoting, not linking to, because I don't want to give them the satisfaction of having another visitor to their websites) such as "A 130-Year-Old Fact About Dinosaurs Might Be Wrong" and "Astonishing Discovery About Dinosaurs Shocks Scientists"* and my personal favorite, "A new theory could overturn one of the most central 'facts' about dinosaurs".
Curious about this, I followed the link provided by one of the many paleontologists I follow on Twitter, which pointed me to a blog post by Dr. Paul Barrett. In his post "Shaking the tree...", he explains the basic thesis of what he's conceived of, though the full article is behind a paywall from Nature magazine**. It's not particularly technical, and I thi…
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My Mind

I've lamented before that I feel like I don't know enough. Since I left college, I haven't felt as connected to the intellectual abilities I had started to build during my last year or two. In fact, one of my favorite experiences in all of university was my "Madness in Literature" class. This is one of the reasons that I quickly encourage students to look forward to and anticipate their next step in education.

The class involved looking at madness--the way it was portrayed in literature, obviously, but also culturally, historically, and politically. The professor had never taught the course before, as it was a senior seminar, once-in-a-lifetime chance. I would swing by the professor's office to chat with her about ideas I'd had because of the readings, which was unusual for me. I generally let my classwork speak for itself. But there were a couple of professors whose acquaintance I pursued outside of the classroom. I appreciated Dr. Albrecht-Crane's c…

What Awaits

Where I live, there's just enough light pollution to keep most stars at bay. How interesting it is to consider that technology can push away the ancient photograph of celestial bodies that nightly parades, moving so predictably that we long assumed the stars more permanent than kings, more powerful than rulers. Were a civilization 65 million light years away to look through its telescope at our pale blue dot, they would see the light reflected off of dinosaur hides and feathers.

Maybe that's why aliens haven't visited our planet: They're afraid of our teeth.

The vastness of space is so mind-boggling big that it's sometimes easier to entrench than explore, to recoil instead of redouble our efforts to learn more. That emptiness--the same sky that almost everyone I know sleeps beneath--means something different to each person. How interesting it is to consider that the immensity of the galaxy in which we live, despite its ubiquity, can mean something so separate from …

Pedagogy

First off, the word pedagogy is weird. Generously, it sounds like "ped" meaning foot (like in the word pedigree) and "gogy" meaning "baby talk for 'doggy'". It doesn't mean either of those things. My favorite etymology website says that the word comes from the Greek and Latin meaning "education of boys". The way it's used nowadays, however, is the method of instruction--that is, the choices that an educator makes in her classroom, whether it be classroom management, assignments, or interaction with the students, all wrap into the broadest sense of pedagogy.

I'm becoming increasingly unsure of how I approach things from a pedagogical standpoint, however. I've been teaching for nine years straight, to say nothing of the student teaching and substitute teaching I have under my size 34 belt. Existential crises are pretty common for me--paralyzing moments of crippling doubt that make me puzzle over almost every decision* I'…

How to Use History

When I was a kid, I watched a massive amount of television. I remember watching TV even when I didn't want to watch what was on. Sitcoms were bittersweet: I liked a couple of them, but it also meant that cartoons were over for the day. I watched Mr. Belvedere and Charles in Charge. I spent time with Family Matters and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. I liked Full House (and totally crushed on Stephanie) and even tuned in to Home Improvement. Okay, so by saying "a couple of them", they obviously made a difference in my mind. Thinking back, the melange of TV shows I used to watch is essentially the feverdream fodder for "Too Many Cooks", isn't it?

Growing up with sitcom families, I did what (I think) most people do with shows and movies they love: They assume that there's a parallel between the lives on screen with reality. For example, I was always shocked and a little discomfited when one of the TV adults drank coffee. As a card-carrying Mormon family, we a…

Guilt and Shame

There are differences betweenguilt and shame. I like what Dr. Burgo outlines in the linked article. Since I belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, both of those concepts are something that is not only discussed, but even preached, particularly about guilt. For example, Elder David A. Bednar, in a General Conference address, said a variation of what I've heard in one form or another throughout my life: "Guilt is to our spirit what pain is to our body—a warning of danger and a protection from additional damage."

These two definitions aren't seamless. The doctor's point of view is that it is what we fear about others--their feelings, their lives, their thoughts toward us--and the harm we cause them that triggers the feeling of guilt. For the theologian, it is an internal thing, one about personal choices that aren't kosher. If Dr. Burgo's distinction were applied, Elder Bednar here is talking about shame.

In line with Dr. Burgo's argu…

FanX

A couple of years ago, Salt Lake City developed a hankering for some Comic Con (or ComiCon), ushering in a new wave of geek ephemera and focus on fandom. While my wife and I missed the first one or two, we decided to attend one of the cons when some of the Lord of the Rings actors (particularly Sean Astin) showed up for the experience. Gayle put together a dress that looked like Arwyn from The Return of the King and I wore some Hogwarts robes. We got a picture with Sean and generally had a good time.

Since then, we've attended each convention, always going in costume. We've worn steampunk, Hogwarts, Cinderella and Fairy Godmother, and Queen Elizabeth with her Shakespeare. The boys sometimes come, wearing superhero costumes, dressing as Leonardo da Vinci, and even dressing up as dinosaurs. In short, we go and we participate and we enjoy the experience.

Now feeling fairly familiar with how a convention works--how much there is to see and enjoy, how much time one is standing arou…