Archive for March, 2014

Brain Science: Skating to Where the Puck Is?

March 2, 2014

The New York Times:  Science Times, Tuesday, February 25, 2010

The Brain’s Inner Language:

Decoding the mind requires learning what the neurons are saying to one another, by James Gorman

Seattle-Clay Reid, formerly a professor at Harvard Medical School, left to “become a senior investigator at the Allen Institute for Brain Science in 2012…’It wasn’t a remotely hard decision,’ Dr. Reid said. He wanted to mount an all-out investigation of part of the mouse brain…the institute was already mapping the mouse brain in fantastic detail, and specialized in the large-scale accumulation of information in atlases and databases available to all science.

Now it was expanding, and trying to merge its semi-industrial approach to data gathering with more traditional science driven by individual investigators, by hiring scientists like Christof  Koch from the California Institute of Technology as chief scientific officer in 2011 and Dr. Reid. As senior investigator, he would lead a group of about 100, and work with scientists, engineers and technicians in other groups…”

Dr. Davi Bock, one of Dr. Reid’s former students, said “his experience suggested that Dr. Reid had not only a passion and intensity for research, but a good eye for where science is headed, as well. ‘That’s what Clay does,’ he said. ‘He is really good in that Wayne Gretzky way of skating to where the puck is.

In ice hockey, offensive players need to skate to the  puck (a hard, round rubber disk) to go for a goal.  Defensive players and the goalies need to defend so the puck doesn’t go into their goal.

This is a new metaphor for me for goal oriented action.

When May I Shoot a Student?

March 2, 2014

When May I Shoot a Student? by Greg Hampikian, Professor of Biology and Criminal Justice at Boise State University

Boise, Idaho

“To the chief counsel of the Idaho State Legislature:

In light of the bill premitting guns on our state’s college and university campuses, which is likely to be approved by the state House of Representatives in the coming days, I have a matter of practical concern that I hope you can help with: When may I shoot a student?

I am a biology professor, not a lawyer, and I had never considered bringing a gun to work until now  But since many of my students are likely to be armed, I thought I would be a good idea to even the playing field.

This is a satirical piece in a sense, but very serious about the repercussions of guns and college students.  Professor  Hampikian ends the piece with: ” I want to applaud the Legislature’s courage.  On a final note: I hope its members will consider an amendment for bulletproof office windows and faculty body armor in Boise State blue and orange.”

Over the Tips of Its Skis

March 2, 2014

The New York Times National Friday, February 28, 2014

Day After Veto, Arizona Takes Up Abortion Clinics, by Fernando Santos

On Wednesday, “Demonstrators in Phoenix hailed the veto of a bill viewed as biased against gays…” On Thursday the House of Representatives introduced a “new piece of social legislation that would permit the surprise inspection of abortion clinics in the state”…A vote is postponed until next week.

The Center for Arizona Policy, has been behind several pieces of social legislation, including the above.  Cathi Herrod is president of the group. Chuck Coughlin an important advisor to Governor Brewer of Arizona, “said in an interview that he had told Ms. Herrod that her organization was ‘over the tip of it skis,’ on the verge of losing relevance because of its ‘very narrow social agenda.”

This is the second skiing metaphor this week.  It is skiing season and metaphors seem to crop up with the season.  If one goes over the tips of skiis, one usually falls.