jump to navigation

Dogs v. Wolves May 7, 2012

Posted by Administrator in Education, Mechanistic Relativism, Science.
add a comment

The Scientific American examines a study on the social adaptation differences between dogs and wolves.  The question being asked is this: Are social adaptations made by the species a function of genetics (nature) or environmental learning (nurture).

Researchers took two cohorts of dogs and wolves at four to six days after birth, and had them hand-raised by humans.  The human “parents” had  a protocol to follow that insured the subject animals were fed, carried and cared for by “parents”, and were regularly exposed to new humans to acclimate them to the presence of them.

Then at six weeks, a series of experiments were run to determine if, given a situation where interaction with a human were advantageous to the subject animals:

In one simple task, a plate of food was presented to the wolf pups (at 9 weeks) or to the dog puppies (both at 5 weeks and at 9 weeks). However, the food was inaccessible to the animals; human help would be required to access it. The trick to getting the food was simple: all the animals had to do was make eye contact with the experimenter, and he or she would reward the dog with the food from the plate. Initially, all the animals attempted in vain to reach the food. However, by the second minute of testing, dogs began to look towards the humans. This increased over time and by the fourth minute there was a statistical difference. Dogs were more likely to initiate eye contact with the human experimenter than the wolves were. This is no small feat; initiating eye contact with the experimenter requires that the animal refocus its attention from the food to the human. Not only did the wolf pups not spontaneously initiate eye contact with the human experimenter, but they also failed to learn that eye contact was the key to solving their problem.

(The table in the original article shows quite clearly the difference.  This was not a mere statistical significance.  There is no question there is a difference between species.)

The long and the short of this is that it seems there is a genetic difference in social interactions.  Wolves will NOT interact with humans, while dogs will.

My one beef with this article is this:  “In one sense, this is a remarkable example of tool use.”  And of course, the title of the article refers to this as well, when in fact this study says NOTHING about tool use, but draws the distinction between social preferences in wolves and dogs.  The term tool use is fraught with political intrigue.  Goes against that idea, once again, that humans are unique.  I cannot see dogs viewing us as “tools”.  A tool is a passive object, capable of nothing on its own till activated by the user.  (Think of ANY workshop tool, or the twigs chimps use to prize termites out of their mounds.  Without the animated force of the tool user, the tool just sits there.).  So, to view humans as tools for dogs to use is, in my mind, a gross misuse of the term.


This is damned funny. May 4, 2012

Posted by Administrator in Education, Humor.
add a comment

What I am often wanting to say to my boss.

Screw it.  Can’t figure out how to import a GIF.  So, here’s the link to it.



The WIAA is peopled by bleeptards UPDATED June 6, 2008

Posted by Administrator in Education, Idiots, Sports.
add a comment

“There never was a rule that didn’t have to be broken at some time, and the man who doesn’t know when to break a rule is a fearful pain in the neck.” –William Feather


First, there was the Archbishop Murphy fiasco from this last fall.

In brief: Archbishop Murphy High School fields a killer football team this past fall. After two games I think it was, Murphy’s coach, Terry Ennis, died after a long battle with cancer, though this death was somewhat unexpected. Rich Stubrud, Ennis’ brother-in-law, took over the reins and Murphy ran the table, 10-0 going into the first round of the playoffs.

It is at this point that Murphy finally discovered that one of their players failed to turn in his physical form before the season started. By Washington Interscholastic Athletic Association (WIAA) rules, this rendered the player ineligible, and any games he played in (all 10 of them) forfeit. Ennis had been responsible for managing this paperwork. But the incisive reader will note that he got terminally sidetracked -literally- in managing that paperwork.

Archbishop Murphy then self-reported to the WIAA, expecting a little leniency. I mean, dead coach and all.

Nope. The WIAA forced Murphy to forfeit all their games and disqualified them from the state playoffs.

Bunch of hidebound, clueless, thoughtless robots over at WIAA. To make things more outrageous, they changed the rule after this episode, but still left Murphy to swing in the wind.

This was so outrageous, even Rick Reilly sounded off on it, calling the WIAA a bunch of asshats. (copied in its scathing entirety here. I discovered this newest idiocy via Rhymes with Right)

That’s how the WIAA started the year. Now, let’s look and see how these asshats end the year:

The state’s governing body for high-school sports again finds itself stuck between its rules and what many consider common sense.

This time, the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association faces a protest from Nicole Cochran, a senior at Bellarmine Prep of Tacoma. Cochran finished more than three seconds faster than her competition in the girls 3,200-meter run at the Class 4A state track and field meet in Pasco, but she was disqualified after an official flagged her for running on the inside lane line.

One problem: a video shows she didn’t do it.

“I’m still in a little bit of shock,” Cochran said Thursday afternoon. “That’s pretty much all everyone can talk about.”

The video — which shows that a Bellarmine Prep teammate, not Cochran, stepped on the inside lane line — was shot by flotrack.com, a track Web site. Since the event’s controversial finish late Friday night, the video has circulated throughout the state’s track community, triggering many to call for the WIAA to reverse the disqualification and name Cochran the winner.

That, WIAA executive director Mike Colbrese said, isn’t likely to happen. (there’s a big effing surprise -ed)

He said the WIAA must follow the rules of the National Federation of State High School Associations, which prohibits the use of unauthorized video for reviews. In addition, the race official’s ruling is considered a judgment call, which Colbrese said is non-reviewable. (link)

Oh f***ing BULLSHIT. Of COURSE it’s reviewable. But once again, the WIAA, enslaved to their own rules, penalizes the innocent in defense of the indefensible.

People, it’s really simple. Rules are designed to serve the people, not the other way around. When rules become of paramount importance, you get enslavement and neuroses. It is no surprise that Orthodox Jews, who are the most hidebound and rule-enslaved people on Earth also have the highest cultural incidence rate of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Why do they do what they do? Because the rules say so. That’s all.

Fricking WIAA wants to become the Orthodox Jews of the high school athletic world.

Although does anyone find it interesting that in both cases, a Catholic school got screwed over? Archbishop Murphy: Catholic high school in Mill Creek, WA. Bellarmine Prep? Jesuit, Catholic high school in South Seattle.

Just sayin’.

And before any asshat liberal douchebucket wants to start slamming Catholicism with the same breath, read your Catechism first and get a real idea of what the Catholic faith is all about before you start babbling out of your ass. Anyone going there will get deleted. Don’t even start.

UPDATE: My ubiquitous, clandestine informants tell me that the Cochran disqualification was overturned, and she is the rightful state champion.

That’s good to see, but still, the WIAA is still only 1/2 here; 1 for common sense, and one for idiot, hidebound rule-mongering.  That’s a 50% success rate, and in the classroom, that spells FAIL.

Silence perhaps to end. . . May 2, 2008

Posted by Administrator in Drama, Education.
add a comment

Just ended two weeks of nearly unrelenting toil to bring Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing to the stage at my high school. We opened tonight. These are my quick observations:

I hate, HATE the lapel mikes we are working with. They have given me no end of trouble, and tonight was no exception, with Claudio’s mike taking much of Act I off, again, and the occasional screeches, mikes turning on and off at whim drove me to distraction.

That is the lone cavil. The kids brought in great energy, better than I have ever seen, making stuff come alive that I hadn’t really noticed in the script before, and I’ve been living this script almost non-stop for months on end.

We got a standing ovation. I was pleasantly shocked, to say the least. People raved about it afterward, saying it was far, far better than they anticipated. There will need to be some reminding to the cast that they still need focus for the next two nights.

I am utterly exhausted, too much so to feel the ebullience I ought to be feeling when getting a standing “O” on my very first opening night as a director, and so grateful that the 18-hour days I have been putting in the past two full weeks (no break on weekends) are finally at an end.  The show is opened.  It is in the hands of the actors now.

The Final Word on the (supposed) Heterodoxy of Harry Potter September 13, 2007

Posted by Administrator in Apologetics, Blogging, Education, Smart People.
add a comment

I had considered at one point sounding off on this. Michael O’Brien -a writer whose fiction, most notably Father Elijah I’ve greatly admired- has written at length, for many years, about the evils purportedly found within the Harry Potter novels. Frankly, I always felt that he was straining at a gnat, or better yet, a ghost. Contemplated writing a rebuttal in my usual half-assed fashion. There is a problem, however.

I’ve never actually read the series.

It has captivated my children, and I have heard my oldest son read portions aloud to his younger siblings; and I confess that the storyline as presented in his readings and the movies is intriguing.

But when I tried to read Sorcerer’s Stone at the height of the initial frenzy all these years ago, I simply couldn’t find my way past JK Rowling’s prose. It bored the hell out of me. Her plotting was fine, her characterizations adequate. But her sentence structure, paragraphing and overall pacing bored. Me. Stupid.

Which may say more about my shortcomings as a bibliophile than it does about her’s as an author.

All that said, I have been long a supporter of the phenomenon, and I applaud her work.

Fortunately, the proper apologia for Potter -and response to the naysayers like O’Brien- has been given by the inimitable Mark Shea, once again. (He claims -I think rightly- that O’Brien painted himself into a corner years ago and simply refuses to step back over the line and rejoin the party. Too bad for him).

Go read Mark’s work, and the link, right away.

Brainless, Bovine Creature is at it again September 5, 2007

Posted by Administrator in Cultural Pessimism, Education, Idiots.
add a comment

She needs to take her lithium and level the hell out.

No, it’s not a member of my family I refer to, nor any of my co-workers or students.

But it IS someone who desperately needs to get a life.

School has started. . . August 27, 2007

Posted by Administrator in Blogging, Education, Personal.
add a comment

. . .and consequently, so has the weariness factor.

Coupled with the fact that my work computer went belly-up two days before school started, swallowing four years of collected work on its way down into the depths AND eliminating my access to student grade and info databases -thereby giving me a TON of additional work just to get back to square one- there won’t be a whole lotta blogging going on, at least not until I get this ancient laptop up to speed and get my stamina back.

All I want to do now when I get home is go to sleep.

And the homework hasn’t even really started yet.

At least my students are pleasant, for the most part. I kinda have to be nasty with my son’s class. . .he has some world-class knotheads in there, resulting in my being a lot less fun and a lot more cranky in the classroom. Oh well. Such is the teaching life.

And the hard-disk data WAS retrieved, thanks for asking.  My four years of work is back in a safe area of cyberspace.

Silverwood May 25, 2007

Posted by Administrator in Blogging, Education.
add a comment

Theme parks and roller coasters with high schoolers.  15 hours.  Why is having fun so exhausting??

Apologetics Note, #2 May 22, 2007

Posted by Administrator in Apologetics, Education.
add a comment

Link to article.

(Mark Shea, of course)

Hmmm. Student wins essay contest. . . May 20, 2007

Posted by Administrator in Creepiness, Education, Liberal Hypocrisy, Liberal self-loathing, Pharyngulism.
add a comment

. . .that caters to one of PZ’s greatest hobby horses; physicians that choose to not believe in evolution therefore make bad doctors.

The student then goes onto his blog to crow and thank his benefactors (one of whom is none other than PZ, whattacoincidence).

But here’s the part that creeped me out:

Ok, I know this post is getting kinda long, so I’ll cap up by saying, I love you all! Oh yeah, and there’s also my teacher to thank, Ms. Chung (who I then spent a week with in Costa Rica, which was a very good break from this). She helped revise and polish the essay, which I think made a huge difference.

Mm hm. Am I the only one who is troubled by a student spending a week in Costa Rica with his teacher to “modify an essay”?

Watch out, PZ, or else you might find yourself getting tarred with that same brush you so love to wield against Catholics.

Here’s the essay itself.  Interesting to note that it is nothing more than an opinion piece, and one that upholds the notion that if you dare go against Scared (sic, on purpose) Scripture in Science, be it AGW or Evolution, you too can be branded a heretic.  No citations, just a ranting of the standard Party Line.

Yep.  That’s modern science.  How comforting.