ddhr.org | 2017 | 04 (4) about | archives | comments | rss

Accept the answer Fri, Apr 21, 2017
One of my coworkers just said a pretty profound thing.  We were talking about how the Cassini spacecraft used nuclear power, and people at the time were scared of the prospect of a nuclear anything flying over their heads.  Even in the event of a disaster, the amount of radioactive material spread out over the earth's surface would've been indistinguishable from other naturally-occurring radioactive sources.  In other words, it was a non-issue.  I said, "People are pretty dumb."  I corrected myself and said, "But don't be afraid to ask the question."  He responded with, "And don't be afraid to accept the answer." #science

Spring anxiety Wed, Apr 19, 2017
The weather just started to get warm near me, and I have a bunch of outdoor projects in mind.  I find myself experiencing a bit of anxiety each year around this time, because for the past several months I've been doing essentially nothing, and now the weather is nice so I can finally do something.  There's a limited amount of time for planting things or clearing brush, and there are certain things that need to be completed before other things are started (e.g. changing oil before running lawn mower).  I keep waking up on Saturday mornings nearly at a sprint because there's so much I want to get done.  And god forbid it rains. #lifestyle

On trigger warnings Tue, Apr 18, 2017
On the Media did an interview a while back with Cornell professor Kate Manne discussing the positive aspects of trigger warnings: 
KATE MANNE:  Mm, I mean, the reason I give trigger warnings is I'm teaching material that traditionally people have been protected from in the academy. There is very little discussion, say, of misogyny and sexual assault in Philosophy until feminist philosophers began to introduce those topics. So it's not obvious to me that this is really about coddling, so much as that's an expression of resentment to extending basic consideration and kindness to people when, in fact, new and more challenging topics are under discussion.

BROOKE GLADSTONE:  The weird thing is that the banner of academic freedom has been picked up by both sides of this discussion.


BROOKE GLADSTONE:  What I see is the creation of an environment where it is the professors that are being curtailed in their speech.

KATE MANNE:  Yeah, I mean, I think a lot of people who historically have been very privileged are feeling unfree because members of historically subordinated groups are freer to morally criticize their statements.
I haven't encountered trigger warnings in real life, so I have mixed feelings.  But like any issue these days, most people have simply followed the lead of their political party to determine their stance without actually thinking about it.  This interview presented a pretty rational viewpoint. #psychology

Chemical weapons Mon, Apr 17, 2017
This may be somewhat poorly timed, in light of the recent chemical weapon attack in Syria, but here we go anyway:  I don't think chemical weapons are all that bad.  Yes, they're bad when used against innocent civilians.  But I would argue that all weapons are bad when used against innocent civilians.  That's not the issue I'm addressing.  I just don't think poisonous chemicals, when used to defeat opponents in a war, are worse than say the kinetic energy of a bullet or the chemical reaction energy of an explosion.  It's odd to me that we draw the line here.  I'll admit that chemical weapons are generally harder to focus on a small area since their delivery method hinges on poisoning the air.  And it's true that chemical weapons are usually invisible, and that they cause a fair amount of suffering before death.  But I still think it's weird that the entire world gets up in arms at the idea of chemical weapons, but nobody bats an eye when we use chemically-propelled high-velocity chunks of metal to cause tissue damage and blood loss. #politics