Monday, December 19, 2005

End of the semester...end of an era

I finished up my grades late Friday night. I doubt many of my students will be happy. This marks my most difficult semester teaching. I think the students are starting to read too much into my 'good press'. They think because I come highly recommended that I'll be easy. They are sorely disappointed when they find out that they have to work hard and there is no free lunch.

As it turns out this will be my last semester teaching for the forseeable future. My department could not find a person to cover the single course that I wanted to drop to begin my new position part time. To get someone to cover they went back to the search committee that hired me to teach and asked them to approach the second place finalist. They hired him to replace me totally in my teaching role once it was determined that CMS could hire me full time immediately. I'm happy they could hire the second place guy. He's 63 and his group had lost their grant funding a couple of years ago. He had left physics to be a used car buyer in Omaha. He'll work in the department until he retires.

For me there will be no more students. No more lectures. No more rigorously defined time scales & schedules.

I'm a creature of habid and order. I hate change and its looking as though 2006 will be a year of tremendous change for me and I'm none too excited about it. I'm entering a poorly defined position that will demand a great deal of skills I have yet to develop.

I have friends who thrive on change and flux. I am not such a person.

Well, here's to 2006. Hopefully it'll be a good one.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Intelligent Design and Inheriting the Wind

(This was sitting in my 'edit' queue for a while. Might as well publish it without further edit."

One of my all time favorite films is the original 'Inherit the Wind'. Its a Hollywood version of accounts from the Scopes monkey trial and the difficulty faced by teachers wishing to introduce the theory of evolution to American classrooms at the beginning of the last century. Of course both sides are caricatures of the people represented. The pro-evolution crowd is portrayed as calm, intellectual or forward thinking youths. The creationist are portrayed as violent alarmists who are stuck in the past, threatened by progress.

I recently purchased the original and while watching it I was mildly creeped out by the parallels we're seeing with intellectual design, the attempt to re-insert creationism back into the classroom. Its a roll reversal I would hope most American's would find compelling.

One scene in the movie sticks out in my mind. The attorney for the defendent (charged with teaching evolution) attempts to read a passage from Darwin's 'Origin of Species'. The attorney for the state (a hot shot politician from Nebraska) objects and no passage from the 'Origin of Species' is allowed to be admitted as evidence. Today I could image the exact same set of circumstances with a lawyer holding up the book of Genesis and having it struck down.

If I had the time and talent I'd love to redo the script for Inherit the Wind with the roles reversed. The frothing masses of malcontents would jeer at the peaceful, calm, intellectual creationists as they tossed Bibles onto a bonfire.

Ah fun with stereotypes.

I really don't care too much about the ID issue. Even as a scientist I don't have a passionate response to those who I clearly think are barking up the wrong tree because I feel that the ID debate is a symptom of a much deeper issue. Its the same issue that making people shout Merry Christmas at the top of their lungs and vote for Bush even when its not in their best interest. I suffer from some of the effects as well, but I hope I'm self aware enough to be more analytical than most.

But in the end, whom so ever makes trouble in their own house shall inherit the wind...

Thursday, December 01, 2005

The Procrastinator Returneth...

I'm supposed to be working on a paper that my collegues desparately need published and I simply can't bring myself to do it. I'm weary of the topic and can no longer find the strength to push it through. What a horrible thing.

If someone would like to finish this paper for me please step up.