Finals are over!

For my students, at least—now I just have to buckle down and do a lot of grading over the next few days.

I made my poor Human Physiology1 students suffer through a long comprehensive exam. For a lark, my son Connlann2 took the final, and I have to publicly shame him. I don’t normally publicize exam scores, but he got a mere 12.5%3 right! And he answered most of the questions that demanded a short answer with limericks. This is disgraceful; what do they teach students in those Wisconsin schools?4

1This is an upper level biology elective, packed full of pre-meds.

2Who is a freshman English/theater major at UW Madison.

3He did take some freshman biology course out there.

4I shall have to yank him out of that terrible place, and either enroll him in our superior local university or put him to work digging ditches.

Vince McMahon should moderate

The IDists are promoting a staged event at Biola—they are purporting to put their proponents “under fire”…at Biola. Right. This is the same kind of thing creationists always do, promoting their crap in venues that will guarantee a largely friendly, and largely ignorant, audience.

In this case, though, they are trying to salt the crowd with a few opponents. Most have wisely turned them down, since this is about feeding the creationist pretense rather than actually putting some pressure on the clown show. Michael Shermer reveals some of the restrictions; some of their ‘guests’ would be seated in the audience, and allowed only one question. You can guess how any critical questions would be answered, of course: with meaningless noise. Andy Groves, who sometimes comments here (Hi, Andy! Kiss, kiss) was one of the critics invited, and maybe he’ll tell us how he turned them down. Good for him on doing the right thing. I wasn’t invited, but I wouldn’t have gone even if they’d promised I could be the stock villain swinging a folding chair.

This is an escalation of the debating ploy, which was always intended to do one thing: put creationists on stage with real scientists, falsely amplifying the creationists’ credibility. Now they’re setting up a ‘debate’ with their own rules, stacking the situation until it’s as fake as pro wrestling. The event is on the 12th; I will predict that on the 13th, the Discovery Institute will be proclaiming victory by press release, and saying that they sailed through a trial by fire unscathed.

Horowitz can’t count

His book, The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in America, apparently only contains 100 professors. While some might argue that this is an indicator of his sloppiness, I prefer to think of it as his offering of hope: those of us aren’t in the book can now dream that we were supposed to be in there, and it was just an oversight that we were left out.

Repeat after me: I am the 101st Professor!

Gary Farber, unsung prophet of the internets

I’ve been catching up with the blogs, and I’m seeing outrage over the revelation that the NSA has been carrying out wide-spectrum data mining of the American people…that it hasn’t just been surveillance of suspected terrorists. You know, if everyone would just read Gary Farber, you’d have known this five months ago. That’s how data mining works. Now people are trying to argue that we knew it all along, so it’s OK—but this is exactly what the administration has spent the last several months denying.

It’s not just the surveillance. It’s the lying. Well, the obtuseness, too.

Beautiful birds?

Crap. Coturnix tagged me with this beautiful bird meme, and I am the wrong person to ask. I don’t get out much, preferring to sit in the lab or the library, so my favorite birds are all in pieces and dead. But OK, since he asked…

The Week in Review, and an open thread

Flitting about as I have lately means I’ve been missing this, that and the other thing. So here’s a quick summary.

  • Tuesday night I was at the Café Scientifique in Minneapolis, where UMM’s Timna Wyckoff gave a talk on antibiotic resistance. It was terrific! Lots of good questions throughout, and a mob of conversation afterwards. This is exactly how these events are supposed to go.
  • I missed Michael Ruse’s talk at the UM on Wednesday—I was somewhere in Wisconsin, with a dorm room packed into a car—but I have one email report that he was entertaining but extremely aggravating. Anyone else care to say more?
  • Paul Nelson gave a talk at UCI. It sounds like the usual thing we get from Nelson.
  • A new Skeptics’ Circle has crystallized.
  • There’s an I and the Bird sighting!
  • The liberals are having a carnival!

Now I’ve got a couple of finals to give, and man, I’m exhausted. Driving to Madison and back again in one day is too much for this tired old guy—we got back about midnight last night, and then I had to drag myself out of bed at 6 to finish writing one of my exams. And then tonight…more grading.