static, interference, intervention, intervene, get involved so as to alter or hinder an action, white noise, snow, fuzz, fuzzy, Fuzzy, ME

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Why We Should Care About Genetics

I went tonight to the first in a year long series of lectures/discussions on genetics sponsored by the Illinois Humanities Council. This lecture, Why We Should Care About Genetics, was meant to start the conversation. It was interactive, we were given a clicker to instantly answer questions so they could be tabulated and compared to other peoples answers. The talk featured a political scientist who studied scientific literacy (who by the way is yet another Spartan), a geneticist from Northwestern who talked about why genetics is important and some possible issues with genetic research, and an interpretive dancer who talked about the dance project that she created about genetics and how the arts might be used to bring more people into the conversation about genetics. THe program was very engaging and while it went 2 hours, it could have very easily gone much longer. A quiz that had been given to the general public in 9 countries was given the the audience and about twice as many of the audience passed the test then the general public. A member of the audience did make a point however, that the results are probably skewed because the people that came to the talk were interested in the subject and so had a higher level of knowledge. While that may be true, it was good to be around a group of people that aren't willfully ignorant.

Monday, September 25, 2006


I have been very busy in the last week and a half, but busy is better than not. I am not sure I will remember the things that I have done but I will try. I will start on Saturday the 16th. I went to Lincoln Park Zoo to do a cleanup around the south pond with One Brick. We went to lunch afterward at Bar Louie. I then walked up to the Gin Mill to watch Michigan State beat Pitt in football. I don't remember what I did on Sunday but on Monday, I went downtown to get tickets for the Chicago Humanities Festival. i got 6 tickets and didn't have to pay for any because I am volunteering at three other events. I didn't do anything on Tuesday because I was suffering from a cold and Tuesday was my worst day. On Wednesday, I went volunteered at the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation helping them store things after the Boulevard Lakefront Tour. On Thursday, I went to Cafe' Society where we had a lively discussion about interracial relationships. We decided that while there could be some problems, it has to do with both ignorance and traditions, things are getting better. Friday, I ushered at the Goodman Theatre for the play King Lear. I always enjoy ushering there because its an easy job and I get to see the play for free and this was an excellent play. While it is a Shakespearean play, stylistically, it was set in modern day Bosnia. As would be expected of a Shakespearean tragedy, it was very dark. The setting just added to it. Saturday was domestic day. I paid bills, bought groceries, and did laundry. Later, I watched MSU lose tragically to Notre Dame. Sunday, I went to a lecture at the Field Museum which was part of Chicago Science Expedition: Two Weeks worth of WOW! It was called Three Cosmic Tenors: Exploring the Frontiers of Matter, Energy, Space & Time. The talk was given by three particle physicists who talked about their work and where there work was going. While they were all masters in their field, they were also very good at explaining their work to laypeople. It was very interesting. After the lecture, I stopped for dinner on the way home and ate at the Gale Street Inn. The ribs are fantastic. The sauce is both sweet and spicy and the meat is fall-off-the-bone tender.

Tomorrow, I'm going to a genetics lecture at the Museum of Contemporary Art which is the beginning of a year long series of genetics lectures sponsored by the Illinois Humanities Council.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Cafe' Society

About a week ago, my company (UOP) put out a press release that they were participating in the World's Largest Periodic Table which is part of Chicago Science Expedition:Two Weeks Worth of Wow. There are going to be a bunch of events associated with this. I looked at the Events and discovered the Illinois Humanities Council. They have a bunch of lectures, movies, and other such things all over the state. One of the programs they do is called Cafe' Society. It is a conversation on a spcific current eventand issues about it. Today's subject was called Combating Terrorism and we talked about the issues associated with the War on Terror and whether the things that are being done are actually protecting Americans. I found it very interesting although there aren't any more subjects listed. I will definitely do this again if and when it happens again.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Lots of different stuff

I haven't written in a while, mainly because I have been busy doing a bunch of stuff. I also saw some articles on Friday that I thought were significant enough to post about, so here I go. Both articles have to do with the availability of higher education to the average American. According to demographic studies, 39% of Americans have at least Bachelor's Degree, but because of the increasing cost of education, many people are being priced out of college. The bottom 40% of the population are having to pay more than half of their median income for a year of college because financial aid has been falling. For those people that are able to go to college, many colleges have changed their suicide policies to evict those students that admit to being suicidal. Colleges want to avoid legal liability while claiming that they are allowing the students to ge tthe help that they need. While someone that is having problems such that they think that suicide is the only way should be given some time off from classes to let them get themselves together, evicting them from school altogether may push them over the edge. Schools should have the resources to give students the help that they need.

Over the weekend, I went to the Touch & Go 25th Anniversary at the 10th Anniversary of the Hideout Block Party. The Hideout every fall does their block party to benefit Tuesday's Child, Literacy Works, and Drummond Elementary School. I have been volunteering for the last three years and coming only on Saturday. Because this was such a big event, I decided to come all three days (although I wasn't there from beginning to end on all three days). Touch & Go started out as a Hardcore label in Detroit but has evolved over the years to include regular punk and Indie Rock. Friday went from 5-10PM and featured among others, Girls Against Boys, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, and !!! GVsB played one of their classic albums in its entirety plus a couple of other songs, Ted Leo did a bunch of new songs and did a high energy show as usual but he didn't bleed this time like he did at Pitchfork, and while I like !!! somewhat, I actually like the band that they came from more (Out Hud) and to me, they seemed to be off. Saturday was mostly about punk rock and their were many bands that got together strictly for this event . While there were a lot of good bands, the last three were something to be seen. Surf-punk band from Birmingham, Alabama, Man or Astroman, post-hardcore/noise rock band Big Black got together for the first time in 17 years played4 songs and Shellac, the present band of former leader of Big Black, Steve Albini all played incredible sets in their own right. Sunday was Indie Rock day and while it was pretty dreary, it was also my favorite day. I liked Enon, Three Mile Pilot, Seam, The Black Heart Procession, Pinback, and especially Calexico, who put on a much more hard-rocking set than I have previously seen them do.

Monday was 9/11 and while it was the 5th anniversary of the tragedy in New York and Washington DC, it was also the 100th anniversary of Mohatma Gandhi's declaration of nonviolent resistance. The Chicago Humanities Festival in conjunction with Peace Journey, The Peace Alliance, and The American Friends Service Committee held a screening of the 1982 movie Gandhi, starring Ben Kingsley. I thought it better to dwell on peace than war so I attended this.

I am going to stay busy but I will write again when I can.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

23 hours

There was one very strang story in the news todaythat I thought that I would mention. A woman was riding cross-country on an Amtrak train with her very ill father. He died of a heart attack en route to their destination of Chicago and his daughter didn't report his death until 23 hours later when they were arriving in Chicago. She said that she did not have the money to have the body shipped so she didn't report it until they arrived. An Amtrak spokesman said that he could not remember a situation in which a passenger's death had gone unreported so long.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Steve Irwin

Steve Irwin, the "Crocodile Hunter", was killed in a freak accident yesterday while snorkeling off the coast of Australia. He was 44. He was stabbed in the chest by a stingray spine. He was swimming near the stingray while filming a documentary for television called The World's Deadliest. Stingrays are notoriously shy and would rather run than attack. They extendtheir spines when they feel threatened and trapped. Reports do not seem to indicate that Mr. Irwin was threatening the ray; it is speculated though, that the ray felt trapped between Irwin and the cameraman. Mr. Irwin was a tireless conservationist, raising money for and founding several nature preserves primarily in his native land of Australia. While he was a hotdogger and blatant self-promoter, who was compared to a modern day bear-baiter, his promotion brought to light species and areas that needed conservation help. He will be greatly missed, not only by his wife and two young children, but also by the conservation community and his many fans.

Saturday, September 02, 2006


I have a couple of updates on stories that I have posted about in the past. Teh first is relatively recent. It appears that the newborn Beluga calf that was born at the Shedd Aquarium on July 17th is still doing well. This is a good thing in that it also is a very unusual occurence as only 2 of 6 beluga whales born captive at the Shedd have survived. The handlers have been watching Puiji and her as yet unnamed cub to ensure that they reach certain milestones. They have also been slowly introducing other whales and themselves to the calf because he will eventually have to interact with them.

On a completely different subject and a much older story, the paintings by Edvard Munch that had been stolen two years ago, The Scream and Madonna have been found. Two armed gumen came to the National Gallery in Oslo in August 2004 and took The Scream and Madonna. Police are being tightlipped about how or where the paintings were recovered although rumors indicate that David Toska, the mastermind behind many of Norway's most notorious robberies was involved. Speculation is whether the theft of these paintings was arranged to draw attention away from a bank robbery that went bad 4 months earlier in which 2 police officers were killed. Three men have been charged and convicted in the theft. Something that I had not seen before was that the makers of M&M's had offered a reward of 2 million dark chocolate M&M's for the safe recovery of The Scream. The painting was featured in and advertisement for the candy as part of a campaign featuring dark works of art. The paintings were apparently handled roughly since the theft because there is some damage, but they are repairable. The good thing is that they are back where they belong.