Where I’ve been online (to end March 2013)

Approximate Reading Time: 3 minutes
  • Having heard the protests by prominent atheists against the excerpt published by salon.com (under the inflammatory banner “Has militant atheism become a religion?”), let me say that the role of religion and atheism covers only about 10% of my book. It is an important part, hence the book title, but needs to be weighed against the rest of my message. In order to discuss the biological origins of morality, which is its central theme, I need to get two groups out of the way. One is fundamentalist religion, for which morality comes from God. The other are the neo-atheists who, by labeling themselves rational and everyone else irrational, have closed the door to open and tolerant debate. Calling believers idiots can impossibly be a good discussion opener. This explains my stance against militant atheism (a label that is not mine, but Dawkins’ by the way).

    tags: view atheist critics evolution

  • People who know me and follow my work know that I care about clarity of language. Without it, there cannot be real understanding and progress in education. So, it constantly irks me that people misuse the word “strategy” especially in talking about literacy. As the dictionary definition and comment, above, states, strategy differs from a tactic in that one develops an overall strategy to achieve a specific goal, within which appropriate tactics are used to achieve that success. A third element, skill, is needed to implement the strategy and tactics. In sum: Goal Strategy: overall approach to using all resources to achieve goal Tactics: specific “moves” designed to execute the strategy and honor the goal Skills: personal abilities needed to execute the tactics and strategy and to achieve the goal.

    tags: reading strategies tactics Wiggins literacy

  • So you’re stuck on 15 down (the collective name for a group of rhinos) in today’s crossword puzzle or you are writing the definitive novel about 17th century England and you need to know what they called a group of rooks, or perhaps you are into writing poetry and want to celebrate spring with a reference to larks. Whatever the motivating factor, we have received a spate of questions on collective nouns or group names for all sorts of critters. Perhaps the following, gleaned and compiled from several sources, will help. I’ve tried to indicate proper usage for terms that apply to a specific type of assemblage or to only a single gender or age, but some of my sources were fairly general. Where my sources disagreed on spelling, I let the majority rule. This listing exhausts the meager pile of references available at Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center; if the animal that you are interested in doesn’t appear here, please, please, ask someone else, because I can’t help you! If you are interested in derivation of some of these names, or if you just want some fun reading, check out James Lipton’s book entitled “An Exaltation of Larks” 2nd edition (Penguin Books 1977). Birders interested in avian nomenclature should see Bruce Campbell and Elizabeth Lack’s “A Dictionary of Birds” (Buteo Books 1985). Happy Trivia, Dave Fellows

    tags: animals language names collective_names

  • We understand that people are bored of PowerPoint, unable to harness it for effective presentation design, and looking to avoid Death by PowerPoint. We understand that in 2012 people don’t want to get up and present boring bullet points. For most though, Prezi is not the answer.

    tags: problems prezi presentations

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