Spooky Synchronicity (again)

Filed under: — Bravus @ 9:28 am

On the ride in this morning I was thinking about the fact that, despite my best intentions, I didn’t make it to The Angels gig last weekend. Ended up seeing a dance performance instead. I was experiencing some regret about this, since it might have been my last ever chance to see the favourite band of my teens live.

And then this morning, in only about an hour at work, the Party Shuffle (random) function on iTunes has kicked out 3 Angels tracks. Given the size of my music collection I’d usually be lucky to run into one Angels track a month or so.

Just ever so slightly spooky.

There are many right ways

Filed under: — Bravus @ 9:13 am

Just finished marking a bunch of assignments in one of the courses I teach. Two people got the highest possible mark. One assignment was about 25 pages, that other about 5 – but they were both excellent.

It made me think: sometimes I think that when we say ‘there’s no One Right Way to teach’ we’re misunderstood as saying that ‘there are no wrong or right ways to teach’. But of course there are wrong ways – maybe some of you have experienced really bad teaching. Any teaching that is abusive is obviously wrong, but so is any teaching that doesn’t lead to learning, or that ignores the learning of some students, or…

But the point is also that there are many possible right ways. Different teachers have different personalities, different strengths and weaknesses, and are teaching in different contexts. They should definitely challenge themselves to avoid over-stressing their strengths and to find ways to alleviate their weaknesses, but the bottom line is that every teacher will teach differently – and many of the ways they teach will be the right way, for them and more importantly for their students. There are many right ways.

I think that’s an important distinction to make in education. But aren’t almost all religions (with the possible exclusion of some forms of Buddhism) based on the idea that there is One Right Way to salvation, and often One Right Way to live? Is this so? Should it be?


Trent Reznor breaks the musical fourth wall

Filed under: — Bravus @ 11:34 am

He’s experimented with it before – leading to some inspired remixes that cut his dark industrial through the Ghostbusters theme, among other things – but now that he’s free of a major label Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails has released all the original tracks of his new album, allowing fans to create their own remixes with ease. I’m not a huge fan of all his music – although I loved the fact that he did the Quake soundtrack all those years ago – but this approach to inviting the fans inside the creation process of the music seems like something genuinely new and interesting to me.



Filed under: — Bravus @ 1:06 pm

Some of the beginning teachers in my class used the phrase ‘BG – Before Google’ as a joke today, but it’s really a pretty amazing concept in terms of education. How does education change when, rather than needing to memorise facts, you can google them in a second? Now what school needs to do is not teach you facts, but what the facts mean and how to judge the quality of the information you find, from whatever source. I’m afraid an awful lot of our educational system is still geared to the BG world…



Filed under: — Bravus @ 3:26 pm

My physics education students said to each other, in my hearing, at the end of yesterday’s class “This is the quickest 2 hours in our week of classes!”

I take that as a compliment.

Green Explosives

Filed under: — Bravus @ 8:45 am

Environmentally friendly killing and maiming: http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v427/n6975/full/427580a.html


The edges and the centre

Filed under: — Bravus @ 10:02 am

A striking idea from this week’s sermon, and perhaps one that feeds into the long-running ‘different beliefs in Adventism’ thread.

The illustration is from the book ‘The Empty Raincoat’, and the notion is that, rather than focusing on the edges of our religion, it’s better to focus on the centre. If we focus on the edges we become obsessed with figuring out who’s in and who’s out. If we focus on the centre, and put Jesus there, we realise that we’re all growing closer to Him, but we all have more growing to do. Our focus becomes growing and helping others to grow toward the centre, rather than spending our energy on what amounts to choosing who to exclude.


A provocative take on religion and belief

Filed under: — Bravus @ 12:02 pm

A very interesting interview on Salon: http://www.salon.com/books/atoms_eden/2008/07/21/james_carse/


When did ‘elite’ become a bad word?

Filed under: — Bravus @ 2:41 pm

I’ve heard it used disparagingly a couple of times in the past few days, once in reference to Barack Obama and once in relation to private schools in Australia. It’s part of a bigger trend, but maybe I missed the memo: isn’t being elite a good thing?

Without elite athletes there’d be no Olympics. Without elite scientists and engineers there’d be far less helpful technology. And so on.

So of course Obama is elite – he was a law professor at Harvard. I’d like to think if I paid the fees for my child to attend Harvard, she wouldn’t be being taught by the average or the mediocre, but by the elite.

Perhaps it’s just confusion about words (again): what people are trying to say is ‘elitist’. Being elitist is a bad thing, but it’s a different thing from being elite.

Being elitist is thinking that those who are not elite are of lesser value as human beings. I’ll fight that whenever and wherever I can. But help me reclaim the use of the word ‘elite’ for the positive things it actually describes.


The Minibeast

Filed under: — Bravus @ 10:02 pm

Had an excellent weekend down at Lismore, staying with my best mate from high school Cam and his family and spending a fair bit of time with my brother Paul and his family.

On the way home we passed a farm with the fateful sign on the fence: ‘Free border collie pups’. Had to have a look, and of course that meant it was impossible to leave without one. Here he is:

So far he has no name, so any suggestions are welcome.

Going back to Edmonton!

Filed under: — Bravus @ 3:24 pm

Oh, not permanently, but my paper has just been accepted for a conference in Edmonton from October 16-19. I’ll probably aim to stay for a few extra days before or after just to catch up with friends and colleagues. Pretty exciting stuff, after a couple of years away.


Nothing New Under The Sun

Filed under: — Bravus @ 10:27 am

From my friend colin (capitalisation his) at the William Gibson Board, this amazing tale: