Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Philosophy of Science

Since coming to Virginia for my internship at the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator, I've started (re)reading Mano Singham's book The Quest For Truth: Scientific Progress and Religious Beliefs. I read portions of the book for the SAGES class I took with Mano last fall, which explored the nature of scientific revolutions. Now that I have time, I want to take a closer look at the book and reexamine some of the ideas that so plagued me during the course.

If you talked to me much at all during the time I took Mano's class, you know that exploring ideas in the philosophy of science has both scared and fascinated me. Before the class, I had never really asked the question "What is science?" It seemed too simple and basic to ever merit my attention. But now, upon asking me this question, you will get at least an hour long rambling rant that would conclude with an overall "I don't know." Of course, one could say that almost any subject or idea becomes unclear when you question its fundamental essence.

But, what I find so perplexing and captivating are the consequences of these definitions of science. When you define science, ideas about how it progresses and where this "progress" is heading follow. Largely, philosophers of science have focused on explaining how science makes advances (or even if it advances at all). And as an aspiring scientist, I find so many of their ideas frightening and confusing. These feelings largely result from personal uncertainties about my beliefs. I have always struggled with the idea of absolute truth--whether it exists, and whether or not we are capable of perceive such a truth if it does exist. This is a rather in depth topic, to which I will probably devote multiple future posts.

After finishing the first part of Singham's book, I have been reminded of all of my frustrations and questions that philosophical explorations of science raised. I find myself both discontented with the different models of scientific progression (I will probably attempt to explain why later), and pondering the consequences of the different systems. Ultimately, I've found that everything boils down to the debate between relative and absolute truths. I seem stuck in constant circles.

I also wonder how I should proceed in trying to sort out the confusion. Many of the philosophers I have read, such as Karl Popper, have been plagued with biases. They seem to set in an opinion of science and absolute truth, and then create a system of scientific progress that gives their desired result, ignoring any sorts of problems the philosophy may have. I find this approach flawed, and feel one should approach a question without a predetermined opinion of the outcome. But, I also find it extremely difficult to compare different philosophies of science if I cannot determine which is closer to my own beliefs. You cannot compare two things without criteria!

I can tell that reading this book is opening up a summer full of pondering. Ahh--philosophy inspired confusion.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road?

I found this story from the BBC too funny not to pass on.

I guess all those chickens longing for transcendence to the other side better watch out! This one got off on a technicality.

Who keeps a pet chicken anyways?

Friday, May 20, 2005

Brief Break

I'm just writing to say that I will be in North Carolina for the next week, and most likely will not be posting anything for awhile. I'm sure it will be terribly hard on you all, but try to be strong. ha!

On a random side note, I have awfully cute dogs that I will most certainly miss while I'm away on this vacation, and during my internship (which I am going to straight from NC). Just look for yourself. How could you not love this face?

Although I will admit that when she's trying to kiss you with her outrageously stinky breath, love isn't the primary sentiment you're feeling.

And, here's the other one:

She's a huge goober, but still very adorable and lovable. That's saying a lot, considering that she wakes me up almost every morning wanting to cuddle. Me liking someone who regularly disrupts my sleep....wow.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Thrifting and Crafting

I started this blog with the intentions of discussing academic topics and things that interest me. But, I think I'm just a bit too burned out from the spring semester to really get into indepth discussions just yet. I have very little desire to think right now. Quite possibly, this is the result of a semester chock full of classes that 1) I had to work very hard in 2) I heartily disliked. So, I'm going to allow myself a short break. Hopefully my usual nerdy attitude will return soon. Until then, here's some fluff.

While at home, I decided to make another tie purse, as the original was falling apart. When making the first one, I hadn't really thought about the ties I used too carefully--some of the silk ones didn't fare too well. Aside from that, the purse has served me very well. I wanted to try and make a new purse out of something else, just to change things up. But, due to a current lack of good ideas, I decided to stick to something that works for the time being.

I went to various thirft stores around the area and collected interesting ties. Then, I set to work. This one turned out a bit more colorful than the original. At first I didn't like it as much, but it's growing on me.

The front (before the finishing touches, mind you):

and, the back:

It looks much better now that it's been lined and whatnot. And I will note that the camera flash distorts the colors a bit. I went for a more colorful lining, which I like quite a bit. The strap is a red polyester tie with white polka dots. All in all, I'd say it was a success.

Another success story! I found this shirt while searching for ties at the Morgantown "ReUze-it" (Yes, they actually spell it that way) store. I absolutely love how tacky and silly it is!

This may very well become my new favorite shirt.

Today, I decided to further avoid boredom by making a drawstring backpack. I had fabric left over from the lining of my purse, and thought the bag would be useful. The fabric for the lining wasn't quite thick enough to hold up on it's own. So, I bought some complimenting fabric and made the thing reversible. I don't have a picture of the finished bag (it really isn't that exciting...very simple), but here are the two fabrics I used:

It's a little bit scary how I turn into a Little Suzy Homemaker if left alone and bored in this place for too long.

Sunday, May 15, 2005


Yesterday, I learned that Professor Ignacio Ocasio (known to most as Doc Oc) passed away. I, like most Case Western freshmen, had Doc for my introductory chemistry course. And though I can't say that I was especially close to him, his death has really made me think. The sudden death of anyone in our lives always reminds of our mortality, making us reevaluate things in our lives. But Doc Oc's passing has made me think about something very specific--teaching. Doc Oc was an incredibly sweet man, and one of the most dedicated teachers I've ever had. The man went to the freshmen dorms before classes started to meet with his new students and try to learn their names. He taught two classes of probably 300+ kids, but knew almost all of their names and faces well before the end of the semester. He was the type of professor that made me think about being a professor myself.

I've always played around with the idea of getting my Ph.D., but never felt certain that it would be right for me. Partly because so many professors seem so caught up in their own research and the politics of universities to care about the students. (I'll leave a discussion of such things to a later post.) But professors like Doc Oc, Doc Brown, and Mano Singham have made me realize that the teaching aspect of the job isn't always forgotten. And I quite like the prospect of being able to impact other people's lives in a positive way, as these professors have done for myself and others.

Doc Oc will most certainly be missed.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005


Today, the two neighbor girls Isabelle (not quite 2) and Elizabeth (not quite 3) came to visit. Partly, it was a way for my mother to repay their parents for helping her with various tasks, but mostly, I think my mom just really wanted to play with the kids. The way she planned out things for them to do gave me the impression that she would be very excited to be a grandmother soon. For awhile, I would have told her to count on my sister for that. But more and more, I feel like I would really like to have children of my own. (Certainly not in the near future, though. No no no.) Perhaps the maternal instincts are kicking in? I used to feel like children were so much work--trying to raise them well, always scared that you'd do something that would make them hate you. Now, though, it's hard to describe why, but that burden doesn't seem so daunting. I blame the lack of logic on hormones.

Anyways, I spent much of the day messing with my parents' new digital camera, taking pictures of these two adorable kids. Here are some of the results.

We started things off with a tea party, using a lot of my old toys. Some of which didn't survive the afternoon.

Isabelle really enjoyed the cookies, sometimes double-fisting the things:

Elizabeth seemed slightly more suspicious of the cookies.

Once Isabelle realized I was taking pictures, her inner diva came out, and she enjoyed making faces at the camera:

Quite the face, indeed! Most of the time, she just giggles at me, though.

Once we were done with the tea (read once the mess couldn't be made much bigger), we moved on to some old Barbies.

There were Barbies....Everywhere.
Elizabeth really enjoyed them:

But both Isabelle and Maggie (my dog) were slightly bewildered:

Soon, Isabelle got bored, which lead to her getting into almost everything in sight. But, you can't deny that when she slows down for a second, she's damn cute:

Soon, it was clear to me that Isabelle was a budding alcoholic:

Her sister, however, seems to prefer plastic fruit:

Isabelle quickly moved on to playing with the plastic plates my mom gave her to eat a snack on:

Elizabeth entertained herself with, well, sculpted rocks. It amazes me how easily kids can be entertained!

Isabelle often makes random exclamations (most of which you can't yet decipher). They're quite adorable indeed, especially this one:

Lunch time proved very interesting. I learned that you don't actually need utensils of any sort to eat macaroni and cheese. Sadly, I didn't get a picture of Isabelle in action with the macaroni--I was too busy trying to stomach the spinach nuggets (chicken nugget alternatives) that my mom had purchased (spinach should never be eaten in nugget form). Anyways, here's the two of them trying to eat together in one chair:

Isabelle decided to do a bit more posing for the camera after lunch:

And Elizabeth ran right back to the Barbies:

Eventually, things settled down as we watched the Little Mermaid (one of my favorite Disney movies) and Isabelle fell fast asleep. Elizabeth, on the other hand, was glued to the TV.

I just hope that if I ever do have kids, they are half this cute.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

"Come See the Duck!"

I feel slightly overwhelmed by things I want to talk about. So, I'm going to stick to something recent and straight forward for the moment, perhaps moving on to more random topics in days to come.

Yesterday, I saw Deerhoof play at the First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia, hosted by R5 Productions, a local grassroots-type production company. The venue was certainly not what I was used to, as the concert was held in the basement of a church. But things were well run and on the whole, I was impressed. It was far from professional, but in many ways the amateurishness was charming and refreshing. R5 also has a record and CD exchange (i.e. you can purchase other people's old music or get money for yours) that was rather neat.

The show started off with Needelle, a singer-songwriter from San Francisco. It must have been her first tour, because it was quite obvious that she was nervous and slightly embarrassed while performing. Being shy myself, I found it very endearing and adorable. She was also very cute, which went right along with the adorable vibe. While I wasn't completely blown away by her songwriting, she does have a charming voice that was quite pleasing to listen to. She also did a nice cover of Smokey Robinson's "Hunter Caught by the Game." I'm hoping that her talent will progress, and that we'll hear more from Needelle soon.

Next, there was One Long Lash, a drum and guitar duo. The fact that I had to look back at R5's website to remember the band's name should say a lot about my opinion of their performance. While they have a decent sound, their stage presence left much to be desired. Their music was also incredibly repetitive--almost all the songs were based around one rhythm, which was driven into the ground about half way through their set. They also took the stop-start-jerking technique a bit too far, putting it in about every song. The most pleasant part of their performance was that the drummer looked an awful lot like Professor Covault. Obviously, this made me giggle to myself for quite some time.

The Danielson Famile was third to perform (see link for information on the band, as well as sample songs). By this time, the small basement was getting very crowded and incredibly hot. The lead singer Daniel was dripping with sweat before their set even started. I was unfamiliar with the group before coming to the show, and I will say that I was incredibly surprised. First off, they are impressive in size (eight total), especially when compared to the two person act they followed. Their sound is also very unique. I'm not really sure how to describe it, and I'm not sure that I agree with the description I read on the R5 website, so I will forgo trying. Decide for yourself. The lead singer's voice has an on-the-verge-of-possessed sound (think BloodBrothers minus the incessant screaming) that, when combined with the sweet sound of the four girls' voices, gives the Danielson Famile an almost eerie tone. Combined with the nurse costumes they perform in, they almost seem like a cult. But, the set was lively, filled with audience participation (via clap-alongs) and well-written songs. All around, a good time.

Finally finally finally, it was time for Deeeeeerhhooooooof, which for me was the main event. A foursome from San Francisco, Deerhoof has a very original sound that (again) I won't try to label. Whatever you decide to call it, it is awesome. Their set was unlike any that I had seen in a while. There was very little talking. Satomi (singer and bass player) didn't even announce their name until about twenty minutes in. They just played--songs running together, some not even played in their entirety. It was almost like a live DJ mix of all of their albums. One of the most interesting things was watching the way the members stay together. I was most impressed by the drummer Greg. Amidst what looked like epileptic convulsions, he managed to 1) never miss a beat (aside from the very end, where he lost a drum stick and attempted to play out the rest with his hand, but had troubles) 2) seemed very connected to the rest of the band. Satomi also managed to rock out quite a bit while still staying in-tune with the band. Towards the end, she also danced around as she sang, which was both fun and adorable (she is even shorter than I am, and so she has a very cute look about her).

After the show, which ended in an encore performance of Panda, Panda, Panda (off of Apple O'), the band rushed to their merchandise table. I shuffled back there and bought their newest EP, "Green Cosmos," which was released in Japan, but doesn't come out here until June 2nd. I listened to it on the way home, and must say that I enjoy it quite a bit. They've moved towards more dance-like rhythms, and sometimes branch out to more elaborate orchestration. It's great to see a good band's sound evolve, and in a good direction. If you get a chance to listen to it, I can almost guarantee you that you'll be saying to yourself "Come see the duck!" for a good while afterwards. At least I was.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

Computer Withdrawl

Having moved back "home" with my parents on Thursday, I have been separated from my personal computer for two full days now. I have unlimited access to the internet-equiped family computer, but that somehow doesn't seem to matter. I am experiencing quite a bit of separation anxiety.

I find myself longing for the comforts of my computer, which no other computer can provide. I go to peruse my usual websites, and all of my favorites aren't there. The desktop background is an ugly premade Windows XP creation, rather than beautiful scenery from my trip to Germany. And most importantly, my music is not here!! I currently have to scan the internet to find good music to listen to.

This withdrawl has made me realize just how much I depend on my computer. You don't really realize how much a part of your life something becomes until you go without it. The more I think about it, the more I become aware of its importance in my life. It's almost like an electronic pet--and no, I don't mean one of those terribly annoying Gigapets that were trendy in my junior high days. When I come back to my dorm room, I almost immediately go to my computer to check on things, just as someone would go to greet their dog when they come home. I even talk about it as if it were alive: "ugh, my computer is being such a bitch today" or "it's such a retarded when it comes to burning cds". Thankfully, I haven't taken to petting it...yet, anyways.

What I find more amusing is that I could easily set up my computer here at home, but I haven't bothered yet. The reason?: There's no way for me to connect it to the internet. Somehow, a computer without internet seems worthless. Aside from being able to access my music, movies, and files, there's nothing to do on an unconnected computer. This seems so silly to me. I can still remember in 8th grade when my cousin showed me and my sister "the internet" and the things you could do with it. I was slightly unimpressed; it seemed boring (granted, the presentation only involved a demonstration of how information on Brad Pitt could be easily found, so it is no surprise that I was not overwhelmed by the power of the internet). But now, about 5 years later, any computer without internet access might as well be dead to me!

I suppose one could try to extend this to a philosophical argument, how we are slowly becoming slaves to our electronics, or how we might be too busy with our computers to actually live real lives. But I think those are too dramatic of arguments to try and make out of this. I'm just a nerd who misses her computer.

Friday, May 06, 2005

On Your Mark, Get Set, GO!

Well, it took a lot of hard work, but I finally made my blog. And yes, going through bloggers "three easy steps" was hard--I'm indecisive. Asking me to make that many executive decisions in only three webpages?! Ridiculous!

Check back soon for for more excitement. Hopefully.