Archive for April, 2009

Salieri and Mozart in Vesuvio Saloon

I found an empty stool and sat down next to an older gentleman. He was wearing a gray beret. We chatted a bit about the weather, then I asked his name. “Vincenzo,” he told me.

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Analiese’s Reading 4/19

Local edition: Franken/Coleman recount update, terrorism charges dropped against RNC8, Bachmann caught in another lie, Pawlenty enjoying stimulus package photo-op, looking at Minnesota property taxes, neighborhood art awards calling for nominations, the 35W bridge collapse as jewelry,the Lake Wobegon killer, coverage of the Minneapolis/St. Paul International Film Festival, the Guthrie celebrating Tony Kushner.

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A Letter to the Kid

The other adults in your life aren’t blameless either. We’ve all let you down, including me. Sometimes we’ve let our own lives distract us. Sometimes we’ve let ourselves get worn down by the battles necessary to get permission to participate in your life as much as we want to. Sometimes we’ve let you make us angry despite knowing that was what you were trying to do, or held your behavior to standards we haven’t taught you to meet. Sometimes we’ve just forgotten that your life has taught you to hide your feelings, and we haven’t worked hard enough to find out what you were keeping hidden.

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Rock Stars of Science at Origins Symposium

Rusty-red rocks against an electric blue sky were an exact color match for the mix of brilliant intellect I knew to be in Phoenix on Monday. I had just flown into Sky Harbor Airport from Minneapolis, and any Minnesotan will tell you that we don’t waste a day like that indoors. It was a sparkling spring morning alive with color and radiant sunshine. But I happily joined 3,000 other science fans inside a dark auditorium for a full twelve-hour day of physics, cosmology, biology and more.

You didn’t hear about it? It was the much anticipated and sold out public event called the Origins Symposium. The media may not report it, because they don’t get science. But regular, everyday people do and are hungry for it. We came to hear the new, and what we know will be stunning, discoveries about how the world works. We filled up the concert hall on the campus at Arizona State with anticipation.

Monday morning began with an amazing line up of rock star status scientists who spoke for an hour, one after another. Does lecture style delivery at a podium with PowerPoint visuals on a large screen sound boring to you? Not a bit—it was mesmerizing for five hours straight. Steven Pinker, Don Johanson, Brian Greene, Richard Dawkins, Craig Venter, and Lawrence Krauss presented their unique views on evolution, origins and their research with charismatic delivery. We laughed and cheered and bonded knowing we were witnessing an historic event. As the late afternoon panel of six, count ’em, six noble laureates came on stage, we stayed right where we were. Ira Flatow, the nationally known science journalist and host of Science Friday, expertly juggled the egos and zingers that the physicists on either side of string theory tossed at each other.

Listening to these brilliant minds was like hearing a symphony performed by the original composer. The world of ideas and the appreciation of beauty is an aesthetic artists share with scientists. This trans-disciplinary approach is one that Michael Crow, President of ASU, and Lawrence Krauss, physicist and director of the “Origins Initiative” are developing. Along with college courses, the Initiative will also reach out to the public and journalists through workshops and future events.

Between presentations, I noticed how many in the audience were curious about the people around them. We found each other interesting and smart. We’re creating a trend, riding a wave of discovery, taking part in a cultural transition don’t ya know. Many people told me how relieved they were to see our intellectual lives respected after eight years of oppression.

So with spring and science in the air, I felt a little giddy heading back to Minneapolis. I’ll revisit my bookmarked pages at the Origins web site during the year, watching how the Initiative develops and hoping to catch next year’s big event.

Lynn Fellman is a Minneapolis artist and blogger, as well as an interviewer for Atheists Talk radio and one of science’s most enthusiastic cheerleaders.

The Thump Thump Thump Dream

My heart would be racing and my breathing labored. I would be in the house, often in the basement or in the scary front hallway that was blocked off by a bookshelf on one end and turned into a side office full of mimeograph machines and file cabinets (my father had a home office). I would hear the sound…

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Losing Miller’s God

I remember reading Finding Darwin’s God awhile back. The first half of the book was an excellent defense of evolution and critique of creationism. The second half of the book was a poor defense of god belief. I remember thinking that if Miller had only applied the logic from the first half of his book to the second half, he would be an atheist.

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Consider the Lowly Bird

If we step outside of our chauvinistic inclination to look at evolution as a process with humans as the teleological result of its process, the unfolding story of life’s continual divergence makes even more sense. As Klink illustrates, we are but a small twig on a minor branch of the Tree of Life and not necessarily its crown.

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Stage Kiss

I almost didn’t get cast. I was friends with the director, Greg, who invited me to read for the part. Then he couldn’t decide whether he liked me in the role or just liked me. Luckily for me, his assistant director liked me too and told him to stop dithering.

As an aside, Greg had a better than average reason to be wary about me. The night we met almost destroyed his reputation on campus.

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The Four Stone Hearth Anthropology Blog Carnival

Quiche Moraine is proud to present The Fourth Stone Hearth, a blog carnival that specializes in anthropology in the widest sense of that word: the study of humankind, throughout all times and places, focusing primarily on four lines of research: Archaeology, Sociocultural Anthropology, Biological Anthropology, and Linguistic Anthropology.

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Analiese’s Reading 4/9

National politics edition: U.S. economy looks more like an emerging market than an established one after undue political influence from finance, Obama administration is attempting an end run around Congress on bailout rules and reporting, documenting the administration’s ties to finance,Nassim Taleb predicted the collapse and explains what needs to happen next, the possible return of Eliot Spitzer, Spector no longer supports a vote on EFCA, war demands sacrifices from dogs too, state legislatures focusing on voter “fraud” instead of real issues, Congress may fillibuster Justice nominee to protect Bush administration, and being denied health insurance for needing it.

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