A month? Oops.

I can’t believe it’s been so long since I posted. It’s been a really busy month. I had a couple of big assignments due for school, so I was cranking away on those until I left for Austin last week. And I didn’t have internet access the whole week I was in Austin, so if I wasn’t in touch with you, it’s not because I don’t like you. It’s because I didn’t have any numbers or any way to contact anybody (except for those few numbers I have memorized).

Anyway, it was great being back home – so great that I almost changed my flight and stayed another week. But I know if I had stayed another week, I would have wanted to stay another month, and so on… And of course I have to finish out my masters here in London, so here I am. I miss the sunshine and BBQ and lake and cheeseburgers already. And my friends. I miss those guys the most. I wish I’d had more time to see everybody, but hopefully I’ll be back in May when I finish up, but I’m not sure if I’ll be moving back for good then, or if I’ll be spending my summer elsewhere. We’ll see!

A good day

I managed to make it through the seminar I had to give today, and I think I did well. I still need to work on speaking slowly and clearly, but I think the content came across well enough anyway. Here’s a link to the slide show, if you’re interested in a bulleted version of my talk (apologies to Flickr randoms I borrowed, and Google Docs seems to have mangled my PowerPoint slightly).

The ride home today was serene. On the train in West London, passing through trees changing color and football pitches waiting for players, it seemed there was nothing better or more peaceful than a sunny, autumn afternoon, when the sunlight shines strong at low angles to the Earth, lighting everything with an ethereal glow, and there’s a chill in the air and Midlake in my headphones. The Midlake is key.

Abandoned books

Detroit

There’s something about abandoned places I find alluring (I think I’ve probably mentioned that before). Detroit seems to be rife with these places. Here’s a story about the abandoned book depository:

Pallet after pallet of mid-1980s Houghton-Mifflin textbooks, still unwrapped in their original packaging, seem more telling of our failures than any vacant edifice. The floor is littered with flash cards, workbooks, art paper, pencils, scissors, maps, deflated footballs and frozen tennis balls, reel-to-reel tapes. Almost anything you can think of used in the education of a child during the 1980s is there, much of it charred or rotted beyond recognition.

Although HDR makes me cringe, here’s the still-interesting Flickr set [via]

Science loses an advocate in Texas

This is not only idiotic, it’s infuriating:

After 27 years as a science teacher and 9 years as the Texas Education Agency’s director of science, Christine Castillo Comer said she did not think she had to remain “neutral” about teaching the theory of evolution.

“It’s not just a good idea; it’s the law,” said Ms. Comer, citing the state’s science curriculum.

But now Ms. Comer, 56, of Austin, is out of a job, after forwarding an e-mail message on a talk about evolution and creationism — “a subject on which the agency must remain neutral,” according to a dismissal letter last month that accused her of various instances of “misconduct and insubordination” and of siding against creationism and the doctrine that life is the product of “intelligent design.”

I honestly can’t believe people are still having this so-called “debate.” On the one hand, you have a theory based on sound science. On the other, you have an unprovable philosophy based on reasoning and faith, having nothing to do with science. One of those belongs in a science classroom, and one doesn’t. No one should have to remain impartial about that.

Update: Appropriately scathing NYT editorial here.