Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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Podcasts I’ve Been Listening to Lately

In addition to reading, I listen to a fair number of podcasts. I typically just listen when I’m driving, so I don’t listen as much as I did when I was driving to work – I used to get a solid 40-60 minutes of podcast listening in per weekday (depending on traffic) when I was working in an office that wasn’t very close to good transit so I was driving to work everyday. But then we got moved to a different location that is not as bad to get to on transit, but I mostly read on the Skytrain and the bus; I have a 10 minute walk from the bus stop to where my office is, so I usually listen to a podcast during that walk1  We are going to be moving to a new office downtown, right near a Skytrain station, some time in the next few months, so I once that happens I won’t be listening to nearly as many podcasts – I’ll probably only listen during the only other time I really drive: on my way to the hockey rink.

Anyway, here’s some of the podcasts I’ve been listening to lately, in no particular order:

  • Everything is Alive is a relatively new podcast in which inanimate objects, like a can of soda and a bar of soap, are interviewed. It’s hilarious2.
  • Sea Hags is a podcast by a woman who goes to my gym and a friend of hers. I heard her talking about it one day and decided to check it out. They talk about all kinds of stuff and even when they are talking about stuff that I typically am not into, like bullet journaling and astrology, I still find it endlessly entertaining. They are currently on hiatus, but hopefully will be coming back soon!
  • School of Batman is a podcast that I started listening to when Dr. Dan was on it, but I have kept listening to since. This podcast features academics talking about their research and has a short story where what they research helps Batman solve a crime.
  • Very Bad Wizards is a podcast that features a philosopher and a psychologist who talk about things related to morality and neuroscience. They tend to do a lot of chit-chat at the beginning of the podcast that I could really do without, but usually make up for it by discussing interesting research and doing so in an irreverent manner that I find amusing.

I still listen to a couple of the podcasts that I last mentioned the podcasts that I listen to three years ago, but sadly some of the ones on that list have ended since then. In particular, I really miss Caustic Soda! There are also a few podcasts I started listening to, but haven’t had an episode in a long time. I’ve always thought it would be really fun to do a podcast, but it’s also apparently a tonne of work and takes a tonne of time, so probably isn’t something I’m really going to do in the near future.

  1. Or, if the buses are all messed up and one is not going to show up for a while at the bus stop outside the Skytrain station that I go to, then sometimes I just walk all the way from the Skytrain station to my office, so it’s a good 20 minute walk. []
  2. Props to Capulet Communications, who recently featured this podcast in their weekly newsletter, which is where I heard about this podcast. []

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Podcasts I’m Listening To These Days

Library PodcastI’m a big fan of listening to podcasts when I drive and since my boyfriend lives about a half an hour drive away, I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts lately. Here are some of my favs:

  • Caustic Soda – As they describe it, this is “a weekly podcast about the science, history, and pop culture of the weird, gross and disturbing hosted by Toren Atkinson, Kevin Leeson, and Joe Fulgham. It’s hard science by soft people! If you like weird, gross, disturbing things, this is a must listen to show. The hosts are hilarious and know a tonne, so it’s a great combo of learning interesting things and being entertained. I recently finished listening to all of the current season so far and have now downloaded all the previous seasons and started listening to Season 1 and I think this might be the first podcast I’ve listened to that was great right from episode 1!
  • Savage Lovecast – Dan Savage’s relationship and sex advice podcast. Though I don’t agree with Dan on some things, overall I think his advice is pretty wise and one thing that I really like is that when someone asks for advice on a topic that is outside of his expertise (e.g., a medical question), he brings in a guest expert on that topic.
  • Dazed and Convicted: Craigslost – This is my friend Monica’s dark comedy podcast. D&C is an evolution from Monica’s previous podcast, the S&M Rants, which you may recall from the amazing guest judge they had on episode back in 2011. This iteration of the podcast features Monica reading the crazy stuff she finds on the Internet, primarily, but not exclusively, from Craig’s List. It’s hilarious and every time I see a new episode in my podfeed, I get unnaturally excited.
  • The Skeptics Guide to the Universe – A weekly podcast produced by the New England Skeptics Society. I quite like the blog NeuroLogica, which is written by one of the hosts of the SCU1, though SCU focuses on science more broadly than NL, which is focused more on medical sciences. SGU is the place where I learn more about things like physics, which I don’t really tend to read as much about as I do the biosciences.
  • Planet Money – Their tagline says it all: “The Economy Explained”. A great way to be entertained and educated (which apparently is a theme for me!)
  • Reasonable Doubts – This podcast hasn’t had an episode in a really long time, but I’m hoping they will start up again because I love their show!

Anybody have any great podcasts that they listen to that they want to recommend?

  1. And which I’m just now realizing that I forgot to put on my blog posting about the blogs I’ve been reading lately! []

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Represent!

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that Canada has never had a non-white Prime Minister (and nor have we ever had a contender for PM who wasn’t white) and it prompted discussion, some of which can be summed up by “Who cares what race/gender politicians are? I only care that politicians are capable.”  I argued that if all (or the vast majority of) our politicians are white and male, doesn’t that mean that there must be some kind of barriers in the way of non-white and female candidates becoming politicians?  And doesn’t it mean that we are missing out on people who would be amazingly capable politicians, if we are only drawing from the white male pool, leaving all the other pools virtually untapped?

Well, I just listened to this podcast, where philosopher Anne Phillips does a much better job of discussing this whole issue than I do.  Give it a listen!

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First Day of School

In honour of today being the first day of school1, I decided to share with you some education-related podcasts I’ve listened to/watched lately.

First, up from the Philosophy Bites podcast, I give you M.M. McCabe talking about the Socratic Method.

The Socratic Method is:

a form of philosophical inquiry in which the questioner explores the implications of others’ positions, to stimulate rational thinking and illuminate ideas2

It’s an form of “investigation through dialogue” and one of the key things I take from my reading about the Socratic Method is the reminder that in order to learn anything, you need to first recognize that you don’t already know it!  Typically in our educational system, we make students afraid of saying, “I don’t know,” but really, that’s just the thing we need to say in order to figure out what we need to learn.  When I teach using Problem-Based Learning (a student-centred technique that requires students to determine what is the problem they need to solve, what do they already know that can help them solve the problem, and what do they not know, but need to know, in order to solve the problem), I use Socratic-style questions to help students recognize for themselves what they know and what they don’t (and, in many cases, it turns out that people assume they know something, but once questioned, it turns out that they don’t actually know it!). Although the course I’m teaching this term isn’t PBL, it will be student-centred, involving debates and student-led seminars, so I anticipate using a fair amount of questions to get critical thinking happening. Some of my favourite questions for use in this reals are:

  • how do you know that?
  • how did you come to that conclusion?
  • what is your evidence for that?
  • why?

One time, a student got a bit, shall we say “annoyed” with my questions – students are used to asking the instructor a question and being told the “right answer,” so my always answering a question with a question can bit a bit off-putting3. Exacerbated, the student exclaimed: “Can’t you ever just answer a question without asking another question?!”  To which I replied, “Why do you think I always answer a question with a question? What education benefit might there be to my doing this?”  Hmm… I think I’m starting to see why Socrates was forced to drink hemlock and die because he annoyed the hell out of everyone with his infernal questioning.

“The unexamined life is not worth living.”
-Socrates

Next up is an interesting talk I saw in the TED podcast – Ken Robinson’s talk: “Do Schools Kill Creativity.”

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more about “Ken Robinson says schools kill creati…“, posted with vodpod

And finally, since I teach nutrition, I give you this clip from the Onion Radio News:

Also, as a scientist, I feel the need to share these Onion Radio News clips:

Here’s to a school year filled with Socratic questioning, creativity and french fries.

1Well, technically yesterday was the first day of school, but the course I teach is on Wednesdays, so today is the first day of school for moi.
2Socratic Method. Wikipedia.
3I always explain why I do what I do when I’m teaching and that usually helps. But it does appear to take some getting used to.