Thursday, September 9, 2010

Final Race to Read list!

Well, I didn't quite beat my count from last year, but I did at least make it to 10. Here is the final list:

1. I See Rude People (Amy Alkon)
2. The Cat Who Came to Breakfast (Lillian Jackson Braun)
3. The Cat Who Blew the Whistle (Lillian Jackson Braun)
4. If It Takes a Village, Build One (Malaak Compton-Rock)
5. A Better Pencil: Readers, Writers, and the Digital Revolution (Dennis Baron)
6. Bottled & Sold: The Story Behind Our Obsession with Bottled Water (Peter H. Gleick)
7. The Magician's Nephew (C.S. Lewis)
8. The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (C.S. Lewis)
9. If the Church Were Christian: Rediscovering the Values of Jesus (Philip Gulley)
10. The Insecure American: How We Got Here and What We Should Do about It (edited by Hugh Gusterson and Catherine Besteman)

Please click here to go to my GPLC donation page and make your donation today. Donations can be made through September 30.

As a reminder, this year I am matching all donations, up to $200. 

If you cannot make a donation to GPLC, please consider volunteering with a local literacy program instead. Or, just read to your children!

Thank you!

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Race to Read update (9/5/10)

(If you're not sure what this is all about, check out my introductory post here.)

Here are the books I've finished so far:

Added 8/26/10:
I See Rude People (Amy Alkon)--an interesting read!
The Cat Who Came to Breakfast (Lillian Jackson Braun)--I am actually reading a lot of these right now, but I won't count all of them for Race to Read because they're just too easy to read.
Added 8/28/10:
The Cat Who Blew the Whistle (Lillian Jackson Braun)
Added 8/29/10:
If It Takes a Village, Build One (Malaak Compton-Rock)--very useful; highly recommended for anyone interested in volunteering or service, but unsure how to get started!
Added 8/31/10:
A Better Pencil: Readers, Writers, and the Digital Revolution (Dennis Baron)
Added 9/1/10:
Bottled & Sold: The Story Behind Our Obsession with Bottled Water (Peter H. Gleick)
Added 9/4/10:
The Magician's Nephew (C.S. Lewis)
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (C.S. Lewis)
Added 9/5/10:
If the Church Were Christian: Rediscovering the Values of Jesus (Philip Gulley)

Second annual Race to Read for International Literacy Day!

International Literacy Day is September 8. For the second year in a row, I've decided to participate in the Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council's fundraising event: Open Up a Book, Open Up a Life.

Here's what I have in mind:

I will read as many books as I can between now (well, actually, August 22) and September 8. I'll keep a record of the books I finish here on the blog. If you'd like to make a donation, pick an amount to donate per book I read. After September 8, come back here to find out how many books I've read. Do the multiplication to figure out your total donation, then go to my donation page and make a secure online donation. Of course, if you'd prefer to just make a single fixed donation, you can do that, too. If you'd prefer to donate through the mail, that's also a possibility; just let me know.

You can donate any time between now and September 30. GPLC's tax ID number is, I believe, 25-1392652, if your company can make matching donations.

If you'd like to see the final list of books I read last year, you can check out the final post about it here.

If you're not able to make a monetary contribution, please consider donating some time to GPLC or to your local literacy group. Or, just pass the word along to others.

Thank you!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Usage tip double dip: poll/pole and roll/role

So, after a long-ish hiatus due to factors beyond my control, I have returned. And what better way to return from hiatus than with a double dose of homophones?

A poll is a survey, typically used to assess people's opinions. A pole is a long, thin, generally cylindrical, typically vertical object. (Unless you capitalize it; a Pole is a person from Poland.)

We took a pole to decide what kind of food to have at the company picnic.
I always walk into that poll in the basement.

A recent poll shows that most people are sick of taking polls.
Our garage's roof was unstable, so we put a pole in to hold it up.

A roll is a small, typically single-serving-size piece of bread; it can also refer to an object in the shape of a small cylinder. The word roll can also be a verb, meaning to move via rotation or (typically combined with up) to fold a flat object to form a cylinder. A role is the part an actor plays, or the function of a component of a system.

I love coming to this restaurant; they make the best dinner roles.
He made cabbage roles for dinner.
I used to love to role down the hill when I was a kid.
Make sure to role the dough evenly, or your cinnamon roles will look strange.
The actor playing the leading roll was not very good.
No one is quite sure what the roll of the senior vice president is, other than to look good on television.

Please make sure to pick up some grinder rolls at the grocery store.
Pass me that roll of parchment, would you?
If your emergency brake is broken, your car may roll away.
I had so many posters that, when I rolled them up, the roll was two inches thick!
Do you know who had the leading role in that movie?
My role is primarily that of a troubleshooter.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Scientia Pro Publica 21!

GrrlScientist hosts the most recent Scientia Pro Publica carnival. Check it out for links to some great science, medicine, and nature writing!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Links for the week of 2/8/2010

Physical sciences:
Scientists from the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel figure out how to get water to freeze at different temperatures by modifying the electric charge on the surface it is sitting on. (ScienceNews)

Plastic water? misc.ience describes how scientists are able to make hydrogels that retain their shape, but are made almost entirely out of water.

Researchers at the University of Maryland shed light on how Egyptian bats track their prey. Rather than firing sound waves directly at it, they shoot to either side. This makes them less likely to locate prey, but once they have found it, they can follow it more accurately. (EcoTone)

Beware mussels bearing "gifts": Neuroskeptic describes a study of amnesia caused by toxins in shellfish.

It's now fairly common knowledge that bees dance to tell other bees where to find food. But a recent study in Current Biology shows that they also use short buzzes to tell each other not to go to a dangerous location. Ed Yong at Not Exactly Rocket Science describes the study.

Female crickets can apparently warn their young of environmental dangers: baby crickets born to mothers hunted by wolf spiders are more likely to freeze and hide when they detect the spiders. (Not Exactly Rocket Science)

Sociology/human psychology:
Also from Neuroskeptic: A study of whether antipsychotic medication can reduce psychotic experiences in marijuana users.

If you want to encourage altruism, lead by example...and cleaning that bathroom might not hurt, either. A recent study suggests that watching other people perform good deeds increases the observer's altruistic tendencies. Interestingly, smells associated with cleaning also seem to increase altruism. (Psych Central; Not Exactly Rocket Science)

Daniel Hawes at Ingenious Monkey-20 two 5 has an excellent pair of posts on factors affecting girls' success in math.

A number of bloggers have written about Inuk, an ancient Greenlander whose entire genome was recently sequenced. Gene Expression describes the genetic relationships between Inuk's people (which anthropologists call the Saqqaq) and other human groups. Ed Yong describes what we know about his appearance, and how we know it.

John Tierney of The New York Times describes a sociological study conducted using the Times' own records. As it turns out, articles that inspire awe and those that deal with complex topics are the most likely to be forwarded on. (I wonder if there might be selection bias--perhaps readers of The New York Times are more likely to be interested in complex or awesome topics?)

Is religion necessary for morality? A common belief (for lack of a better word) is that religions originally developed to provide a basis for morality--i.e., to give the members of the society rules to follow to keep the society functioning. A recent analysis of studies in moral psychology, however, suggest that religious training and beliefs do not affect how people make moral decisions. Instead, the authors suggest, religion may have filled other needs in early society, such as the need to feel in control of one's surroundings. (björn brembs blog)

Friday, February 5, 2010

Links for the week of 2/1/2010

Since I don't seem able to put together a daily links post, maybe weekly will be more manageable. Within each group, links are posted in approximately reverse chronological order (most recent first). (Yes, I know some of these are from before Feb. 1. I never said what the error bars were on that date.)

Fossil Feather Colors Really ARE Written in Stone (Living the Scientific Life)
The renaissance of technicolour dinosaurs continues (and the gloves come off...) (Not Exactly Rocket Science)
Oldest feathered dino shows its colors (Science News)
Newly Described Bird-Like Dinosaur Predates Archaeopteryx by 15-20 Million Years (Living the Scientific Life)

Next: Running...ur doin it rong...(maybe):
Evo. Anthro. Study Suggests You Might Be Running Wrong (Laelaps)
New Nature Magazine Cover Story Shines More Light on Barefootin' (Runner's World Peak Performance)

How to not be annoying at the gym, courtesy of Peter at Obesity Panacea:
Appropriate Gym Etiquette
Annoying Gym Personalities
What to Wear

And finally, assorted other interesting things:
Seven habits of highly successful toads (Not Exactly Rocket Science)
Friday Weird Science: Preserving the Species (Neurotopia)
Un-Natural Disasters (In Terra Veritas)
Backyard Chickens: An Art, A Science, A Social Movement (Food Politics)
Dave Munger (formerly of the Cognitive Daily) has launched a new blog, The Daily Monthly. It's awesome.
Bees can learn to discriminate human faces (Arthropoda)
Playing to Learn (NYTimes Op/Ed)
Looking inside the structure of the Yellowstone caldera (Eruptions)
Power source for a light saber (Dot Physics)