Tuesday, June 20, 2006

And so it ends

It was a great run, it was hugely exciting. I wish we had won something. I wish we had made it to the second round and challenged Germany. But we didn't. It was the first time Trinidad and Tobago made it to the World Cup. I wish I had been there, I wish I had seen some of the games in real.

It was great to see them play at the World Cup. It was great to see Latas play. There's a beauty in his play, skill and grace. "The Little Magician" - less than two months short of his 38th birthday. What would it have been like if we had made it to Italy in 1990. How would things have been different if we would have had a coach like Beenhakker in 1989? In a real sense I believe that the disenchantment that began after the USA match in 1989 was the first stones slipping down the mountain that ended as the avalanche that was the July 1990 coup attempt.

Would the world have been different if we had made it to the 1990 World Cup? Would I have been different? It's unknowable.

Saturday, June 17, 2006

The Gay Animal Kingdom

Fascination read - I've got to track down Roughgarden's book now, buy a copy when I get a chance.

I was really amused by the idea that, yes, here's real "controversy" in evolutionary biology - someone questioning Darwin on sexual selection. Just the sort of thing that the Discovery Institute is talking about in their Teach the Controversy campaign. Right? I can really see them calling for high school children to be taught that homosexuality is normal (or as the article puts it "[a]t last count, over 450 different vertebrate species could be beheaded in Saudi Arabia.")

The thing that really made me think was the comments about how biologists tend to react to homosexuality in other animals - as a curiosity, as animals "just having fun". I must admit that I have never been too quick to embrace the idea that, because homosexuality if widespread in other animals, that it is natural in humans because I couldn't find a good adaptive explanation for the behaviour. Sure, the "gay uncle" theory is plausible - that non-breeding relatives add survival value and contributing to the survival of your siblings gives you just as much fitness as raising your own offspring. Still, it makes a lot of sense that the adaptive value of homosexuality is in its contribution to social cohesion. Which raises an interesting point - does our modern definition of homosexuality, in which people who are gay do not reproduce, amount to selection against homosexuality? Are the homophobes, who would rather homosexuals remain in the closet, actually acting against their own interests (by increasing the chances of gays reproducing)? Interesting thought.

Thursday, June 15, 2006


We play England in just under two hours. Terribly nervous, but hopeful. In the first game I was nervous, I was hopeful, but I really thought the question was whether we would lose with respect or whether we would lose badly. But once we drew with Sweden, everything changed. Suddenly we have so much more at stake. If we can draw with Sweden, maybe we can beat Paraguay. Then the game against England becomes so much more important. Goal difference matters. And, as uninspiring as England was in its first game, maybe we could come out of this game with a point or three. Sure, it's far more likely that we will come out of the round with only the one point we have, but suddenly there's possibility. And possibility is scary.

Teaching Evals

So I got what appear to be my best evals to date. Granted, I haven't seen the summary yet (those wonderful averages of categorical data, but whatever), so it's hard to compare with past semesters, but the comments were amazingly positive. I just hope that the comments were a reflection on the overall opinion.

At the same time, I can't ignore the negatives. My style of lecturing leaves still leaves some to be desired. Of course, I also need to lecture less. I get off to a good start with interactive/inquiry teaching, but I have a hard time keeping it up. I think that this class is going well and people are learning, but I find myself standing around with not enough to do. I need to get back to requiring myself to talk to every student, individually, every couple of days. It's easy to interact with the interested ones, but it's a lot harder with the ones who avoid eye contact. Something I have to work at.