Friday, 15 March 2013

End of Week Report, 15th March

I took one look at the material for week 2 of Chemistry* and dropped the course. Math. I suppose I should have expected it, but that's not going to happen right now. It's an extremely good course, I love the approach, and the professor is very clear, but now is not the right time for me to attempt another course with math in it. Maybe next year.

AIDS is very different this week, looking at prevention by behavioural changes. I admire those in public health etc with the staying power to remind people for the umpteenth time to use a condom. It must get very discouraging that it has to be repeated. And dealing with the shame and denial (the social cause of the spread of the disease), well all I can do is take my hats off to them for their patience and tenacity. These are dedicated people.

Aboriginal Worldviews is heavy this week, testimonies from survivors of residential schools, more and more details about the abuses of native people. Another piece of information came from the forums, this was not in the course, a student posted a lecture from a Mohawk doctor......"there is an established history of american indians being subjected to psychiatric interviews after they are arrested for minor crimes such as vandalism or disorderly conduct in which they are asked if spirits were involved in their minor crimes. These questions are of course not asked of non-indians. When the indian admits his belief in spirits, he is diagnosed with schizophrenia and required to take pills and receive electro-shock treatments that damage his brain and dull his thinking in order to control his "illness". He is also labelled publicly and may end up being shunned as mad by his own family, which makes things worse."

History this week was the first half of WWI, how and why it began, and why it went so badly. I have a horrible feeling those lessons, even if they were ever realised by TPTB, were quickly forgotten. Looking at current long slow war situations, the parallels are clear. Bad planning from the get-go.

Between these three courses, I could easily lose all faith in humans altogether.

Thankfully there's Philosophy. It's a light in a dark tunnel. This week was Descartes, and it was done so well (Professor Mitch Green is a treasure) there was no single moment I felt lost. So glad I took this and didn't let the other Philosophy course (ended) put me off. I have never read Descartes, I had been avoiding him, and now I love him. That's quite a feat.

In Energy we looked at how electricity is produced, including the sustainable technologies. Clearly the way forward is wind, if only we can get people past their superstitions.

Physics went well, I'm not clear on a few points, but the purpose of this course is to introduce the concepts, and that's working. Several aspects are counter-intuitive, and seeing it explained so well helps remember why things are the way they are. I was fascinated to discover that grams and ounces aren't just different scales, but different systems. Grams are mass, ounces are weight, they just happen to be equal at the Earth's surface due to gravity.

First week of "Introduction to Sustainability" is somewhat depressing, Malthusian catastrophes, and all that (knew about those from History) but good to see that several predictions have not actually come to pass. Still, at least there is such a discipline AS Sustainability, which is the key, of course, we have to say "Now what?" because we are very close to the edge.

Genetics is on March Break, and we are over the math intensive part of the course. I don't think I can pull my grades up enough, even if I get 100% from now on, to pass, but it's still been worthwhile. I get it, I just can't do the figures myself. If nothing else, this course caused me to purchase Jerry Coyne's book Why Evolution Is True, which everybody needs a copy of. It's the layman's guide, and it might just be enough to convince people with open-minds, but hitherto wrong information (i.e. from their church, or biased school).

*Using short names for the courses, see my full list for their full names.

1 comment:

  1. I'm loving the Philosophy class. I've only had time to watch the first video, and I'm still trying to find time to finish off The Apology.
    The professor from the How Things Work class is fun. I enjoy his humor and animation. I hope to do better this week.