All posts for the month November, 2005

Fascinating novelty item [via Rivets] of a week’s worth of activity through locks on the Panama canal compressed into 11 minutes of time-lapse video.

Must be something about the sequence of locks and holding pools, but there are long inefficient sequences with all boats going in the same direction, lock’s repeatedly filling with no up-bound ships, locks emptying without down-bound ships.

Been away from blogging for a week, spending a week at a business development and golf sales conference in Koh Samui, Thailand. Beautiful location, fun time.

Flying back, Bangkok to London, I continued to read Salman Rushdie’s “Midnight’s Children”. 75% through, it’s a great read. Whacky style, funny, serious period of childish biographical Indian history – loaded with the language of Hindu / Moslem / Christian mythology and morality – “strange fiction more credible than rational truth” – reminded me of Martel’s more recent “Life of Pi” with Joycean linguistic invention thrown in.

Caught in the act.

Anyway two points of note.

Flew right over Benares – Amritsar – Lahore – Faisalabad in clear darkness whilst reading the machinations of Partition and subsequent Sino-Indo-Pakistan wars. The cease-fire line / border between India and Pakistan continuously sodium illuminated with border posts in a long twisty thread just east of Lahore, stretching south from the line of dispute in Kashmir. Spooky.

Intriguing is the fact that one of Rushdie’s heroines is a sea captain’s wife called Lila, promiscuous lady, with a shady past involving a death or two. The book’s 1960’s / 70’s chronology refers to Kerouac and Heller amongst others, but no Pirsig or ZMM. Pirsig’s “Lila” was published in 1991. Rushdie’s Lila saw print ten years earlier in 1981, when “Midnight’s Children” won the Booker Prize. (It won the Booker of Bookers too in 1993, when Rushdie also became Honorary Professor at MIT.) Must read more Rushdie – I first made the Pirsig / Rushdie connection here.

[Thanks to Alice for this Reason On-Line link to an interview with Rushdie.

Loved this quote from Rushdie

This is the problem with the truth. Truth is never one-dimensional. It is contradictory sometimes. But politics wants clarity.


Browsing The Edge (see previous post) I see this article by Canadian paleontologist and broadcaster Scott Sampson. He sees cross-discipline eco-focussed education projects as shifting the evolution debate from history on geological timescales to here and now relevance, and creating a better informed population in the process. As a pan-Darwinist, I’d have to agree.[My last post on this only this morning.] Sampson says …

Fortunately, there is movement afoot within both science and science education to bridge the eco-evolutionary gap. Increasingly, scientists are seeking out cross-disciplinary collaborations. Ecologists are expanding their scope to embrace regional and deep time effects on ecosystems, while evolutionists increasingly are considering the role of ecosystem dynamics on evolutionary patterns and processes. Research on topics such as complex adaptive systems is uniting once disparate disciplines in a search for common explanations and even natural laws. In parallel fashion, radical new approaches to education are challenging traditional notions of learning. For example, the ecoliteracy movement has argued persuasively that designing curricula around key ecological concepts and outdoor activities has great potential to connect children with the natural world and foster the growth of a more informed citizenry. But this is just the beginning.

Good to see the shift from bashing the creationists, and Dawkins-style defence of Darwinism against them, to simply better science education.