My Dream for Star Trek: Picard

This post includes spoilers for the premiere episode of Star Trek: Picard. You have been warned.

Although I hold that the only bad Trek is no Trek, I must say I’ve been deeply disappointed by the “Jar Jar Abrams” timeline. So it is with only desperate hope that I pitch my crazy theory about the latest show in the Star Trek Universe: Picard will erase the Kelvin timeline and return things to the way they should be.

The thermodynamics of teaching and power imbalances in the classroom

Heat one end of a rod, and eventually the whole rod will reach an even and elevated temperature. That’s thermodynamics.

Drip a drop of dye into a cup of water and eventually the dye will diffuse evenly everywhere in the water. That’s thermodynamics too.

When heat moves from here to there, it’s because of an energy gradient. When dye moves from here to there in a cup of water, it’s because of a chemical gradient.

Gradients represent sources of power. Water falls over a cliff because of a gravitational gradient; and we can tap that gradient to generate electricity; we convert gravitational power into electric power. The taller the cliff, the greater the gradient, the more power is available, and the more electricity can be generated.

Put another way, gradients and power go hand in hand; you can’t have one without the other.

Classroom dynamics are like that too.

Continue reading “The thermodynamics of teaching and power imbalances in the classroom”

Text Expander for Chrome

Text Blaze is a free Chrome extension of the “text expander” type. It allows you to create abbreviations that will automatically expand to other user-definable text. There are lots of these text expanders out there; I’ve tried a few, but none have provided the functionality and usability of Text Blaze for free.

For instance, I’ve set up a snippet that turns “/today” into [17.03.19].

There’s a bit of a programming interface so you can create quite complex substitutions, even in Google Docs too. And it connects to your Google Account, so install it once and it will “spread” to all your devices that support Chrome extensions automatically

If you’re looking for an easy way to make your Chrome browser work better for you, I suggest you look into this extension.

You should watch this movie

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” — George Santayana
You may think things are pretty messed up these days, but in many ways they’re actually better. We have gotten kinder and less violent, for instance. There have also been tremendous strides forward for equality, all prefaced on the very simple realization that there is no necessary connection between skin colour, sex, (dis)ability, or culture and the quality of one’s character.

Continue reading “You should watch this movie”

Why the “Oxford Comma” matters

When you write a sentence that includes a list of items, the last one typically starts with “and.”  A question that has been vexing people for centuries now is whether that last clause should start with a comma – i.e., “, and” rather than just “and.”

That last comma is called the Oxford Comma.  Some people love it. Other people hate it. Continue reading “Why the “Oxford Comma” matters”