We, the attendees* of the Santa Fe Science Writing Workshop, talked a lot about how constraints can really foster creativity at the Santa Fe Science Writing Workshop. In that case, it focused on the traditional style of a news article, something I have been encouraged to try at least once in my life. So, this discussion has been at the forefront of my mind – or, whichever wrinkle of my brain contains recent memories**.
Marc Maron’s interview with Sam Simon, co-creator of The Simpsons, reminded me of this relationship between creativity and constraint. The Simpsons has been incredibly successful and creative (at least for several seasons, depending on who you ask). Maron and Simon talked about how animation could allow The Simpsons creators to do whatever they wanted. Continue reading
Contrary to political posturing, there are more than two positions on the climate change issue. There are political conservatives who accept anthropogenic climate change, but prefer using market forces to address the problem. These individuals rate a 4 on my Dubiosity Scale (1 is the most dubious).
According to an article in the NY Times by Eduardo Porter, the US insurance industry may also rate a 4. It accepts the scientific consensus position, but is reluctant to engage in political squabbles, because the threat of punitive regulation is a bigger risk than increased payouts due to worsening weather:
Yet when I asked Mr. Nutter what the American insurance industry was doing to combat global warming, his answer was surprising: nothing much…Instead, the focus of insurers’ advocacy efforts is zoning rules and disaster mitigation. – Eduardo Porter
Porter summarizes the position of a 4 on the Dubiosity Scale in his last sentence:
And that’s the best hope for those concerned about climate change: that global warming isn’t just devastating for society, but also bad for business. -Eduardo Porter
But, what happens when the issue is so politicized that the market forces are responding to the politics and not the market?
William Curtis School (Adolf Cluss, 1875), O Street, NW between 32 and 33rd Streets. Razed 1951. DCPS Archives
Those of you out there who went to graduate school, try to think back to the early days….I know the PTSD makes it difficult, but try to remember the beginning of graduate school. Do you remember the required classes that you had to take? These classes were a mostly a hodge podge of random professors talking about either their own work, or a concept they may not even be familiar with. I read a Commentary in the journal Cell the other day that gives me hope that schools will consider modifying their graduate curriculum and spend more time on teaching. Continue reading
Vaughan Bell penned an insightful piece for The Guardian about psychologically recovering from disasters. Evidence and expert opinion from world leading health agencies supports the statement that the vast majority of people who experience a “disaster-level” trauma recover, psychologically, on their own.
The evidence does not support the trendy notion of “psychological debriefing” – one-off counseling immediately after events to help people “process” – in fact it shows that it is worse than doing nothing. The actual experts in disaster relief seem to be wise to the research and using methods to help identify those people who do need help, rather than “helping” people who do not need it.
*Hat tip to Ed Yong.
Bandelier National Monument (Photo by Josh Witten CC BY-NC-SA)
I’ve spent the week with a bunch of talented wordsmiths in Santa Fe. Among many discoveries, we learned that the terms used to describe groups of creatures can be wonderfully imaginative (eg, unkindness of ravens, murder of crows, etc); but they can also be dull.
We improved them:
OLD: A flight of dragons (also, weyr or wing).
NEW: A blaze of dragons.
Alternate: An ohshit! of dragon(s) (1 or more dragons).
OLD: A blessing of unicorns.
NEW: A sparkle of unicorns.
We also came up with a few new ones:
A right of wrongs.
A quixote of science writers.
Any other ideas?