-CC BY 2.5, Dietmar Nill, PLoS Computational Biology, July 2009

Attrib: Dietmar Nill, PLoS Computational Biology, July 2009, CC BY 2.5.


Education, Science.

Evolutionary zinger: The bat, the moth, and the mite

When Fred Rickson taught his section of General Biology at Oregon State, I made sure to attend all of his lectures, as he opened them with his evolutionary zingers, hoping that his students would would be enticed to be more prompt than usual.  My favorite was his zinger about the three-way symbiotic relationship between a bat, a moth, and a mite.



Education, Science.

Evolutionary zinger: Ants and acacia trees

I treasure the science education I obtained at Oregon State University. One standout class was General Biology, a portion of which was taught by professor Fred Rickson. He did not like people slipping in late, so he gave short teasers promptly at the start of the hour, which he entitled evolutionary zingers, hoping that his students would enjoy the stories sufficiently to show up on time. It definitely worked for me. I was not in the habit of attending a lot of lectures, but the intricate stories of complex life told by professor Rickson were as attractive to me as nectar "fountains" are to acacia ants, the subject of one of his zingers.
-CC0 PD,



Education, Essays, Philosophy.

Life, education, and life-long learning

We each are given a precious life and can choose to do with it what we will. We can act in our natural self-interest and seek safety, material wealth and pleasure, or we can act outside of our direct interests, enriching our lives through the consideration of others. Our lives are most meaningful and worthwhile when we love others. The elements of life to be savored most are those that are founded on the humble idea that we are all human beings who are worthy of consideration.
-PD-US, Marion Hooper Adams

Attrib: Marion Hooper Adams, PD-US.


Education, Essays, Literature.

Can precision in writing be attained?

I was reading a recent article by Andrew Sullivan, who asks the question: "Does punctuation matter?" The discussion was nominally about internet and texting abbreviation in both word and thought, but raised other questions to me:

Does precision in writing matter? If so, when does it matter? These are devilish questions.

-PD, Jastrow

Attrib: Jastrow, PD.


Education, Essays, Literature.

The art of writing? Just get started

I was talking to a friend about the difficulties of writing, and so gave some thought to my own writing process. I have often felt stymied in getting started writing, both in business, of which I did a large amount, or privately; I enjoy writing, and sometimes can write freely and fairly quickly, but the norm is that I struggle to start. My most usual technique is to write a set of scattered notes down, anything, and then revisit it and start shaping it. Most of my more serious ‚Äúessays‚ÄĚ started in one direction, and are in many ways unrecognizable when I am done, precisely because one idea or phrase begets another.
Education, Memoirs.

Memories of Ann Williams

I  was sad to hear that Ann Williams died, and I extend my sympathies to her family.  Ann Williams was my English teacher at Jackson High School during my Junior year.  Miss Williams, as we knew her, was an involved and caring teacher.  Her love of literature was apparent in her teaching.  As a class, for example, she had us do a full reading of  Macbeth, with assigned parts, which gave us all, the great majority of us with no dramatic experience, a serious exposure to the beauty of his language, a personal glimpse into the difficulties of "playing" a part, and for my part, contributed to a life-long appreciation of Shakespeare and of Shakespeare done well.

Book Book Review, Title Relentless Pursuit, Author Donna Foote, Rating 3.5,

Relentless Pursuit

Donna Foote

Book Review

Education, Literature, Reviews.

Teach for America

Donna Foote's book Relentless Pursuit: A Year in the Trenches with Teach for America describes the controversial teacher program, following five of its young college graduates who immediately out of college and just after a short training stint, are teaching for the first time, and in failing inner city schools.