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David Anthony Colarusso - Sadly not Havoc Dinosaur
Intermittent musings on the law, science, education, technology, design, and life. Also, I build things: furniture, software, reasoned arguments... To learn more about that, click a persona below for my eponymous website.

Archive for April, 2013

Spring Cleaning 2013

by David Colarusso - April 20th, 2013

messy_office

I’m not vert tidy. In college, I was once issued a warning regarding the condition of my dorm room. There was a fear that it might constitute a fire hazard. The picture above, of my desk earlier this year, will help you assess how far I’ve grown as a person since then. I now try to avoid stacks on the floor…

Anywho, this posting is about cleaning of the digital variety. A while back, I upgraded my blog’s database. In the transition, a few special characters got lost in translation. For example, instances of the pound sign (£) and curly-q quotes (“) found themselves transformed into � symbols. This prompted me to go back through and correct these errors. While there, I removed the “justified” alignment from many of my earlier post. I rescaled some images and videos to better fit the blog’s new layout, and I overhauled the blog’s categories. I didn’t reread every article, but I did occasionally correct typos. However, if I made any substantive changes to content, I used [bracketed text]. If you don’t trust me, check the Internet Archive.

If you’re curious what that awesome desktop art is on my Mac, it’s a wonderful distillation of geekyness created by Mike Mayhew and Rain Beredo. You can check it out over on deviantART. As for the book peaking out from my papers, it’s Jeffrey Toobin’s The Nine.

The Land of Contracts

by David Colarusso - April 14th, 2013

The Land of Contracts

Recently, my wife and I have been reading each other bedtime stories. We started with The Hobbit, next it was The Princess Bride, and currently we’re working through The Phantom Tollbooth. Coincidentally, all of these books included a map. This got me thinking about how much I love maps, and that got me thinking about the map above. I penned it with a great deal of help from my law school classmates back in my 1L year.

The map was our section’s gift to contracts professor Ward Farnsworth. At the time, I shared a poor-resolution image over Facebook, but the nostalgia conjured by my bedtime reading and their maps quickly transferred to nostalgia for those heady days and nights studying away at the law tower–hence this post. You can click on the image above or here for a closer look. The original was framed and given to Professor Farnsworth, and this cell-phone picture is the best image I have. In fact, it’s not even a picture of the final version as we added at least one case (showing travel in a covered wagon) after snapping it.

The map depicts a land of Contracts, with territories mapping roughly to the topics covered in class. Cities bear the names of cases, and occasionally items such as the Peerless are what they were (e.g., two ships bearing the same name). The cases were drawn from a book Professor Farnsworth was preparing on the subject, and it occurs to me that should he like to include such a map in future editions, I would gladly pen one.

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So Long and Thanks for All the the Fi[lm]

by David Colarusso - April 13th, 2013

Slightly Mad Science!
Jamie Nichols, winner of the First Annual Phylm Prize.

Since 2007, I’ve run the Annual Phylm Prize. Pronounced “film,” a portmanteau of physics and film, the prize aimed to spur the creation of physics videos on the web. It’s a name I’ve given a number of physics/film projects–including a curricular unit for physics teachers. I presented the unit at the 2003 summer meeting of the American Association of Physics Teachers. After moving to teach physics in Edinburgh and becoming a YouTube user, I launched the Phylm Prize to help the lesson’s spirit live on while I taught away from my home school.

This year, I’m sorry to say, I’m throwing in the towel. Last year’s prize didn’t attract a critical mass or entries, and I fear that without promotion beyond my means, the same would be true this year. That’s right, the Phylm Prize is on an indefinite hiatus. That being said, the goal of the prize was to foster the creation of quality educational content on the web, and I am happy to say that a few of the prize’s alumni have risen to the level of minor Internet celebrities. That being said, I thought I’d take this blog post as an opportunity to remember where we’ve been.

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A Scout is Reverent; A Scout is Brave: What to Do About the Ban on Gay Scouts

by David Colarusso - April 7th, 2013

As a boy I considered becoming a priest. A large part of the appeal was the example set by my pastor, Father Dan. A Jesuit and former English teacher whose homilies referenced Calvin and Hobbs, Father Dan was an intelligent and compassionate man who made you believe you could be better than you were. I came to know Father Dan outside of mass through scouting. Although my troop met across town at a Methodist church, Father Dan helped several of us earn our Ad Altare Dei, an award presented by the Catholic Church to scouts for study of their Catholic faith. I would later receive my Eagle on the same spot where I first received communion.

The Ad Altare Dei is one of many such awards earned by scouts, and I remember thinking at the time how inclusive the Scouts were. If I had been Jewish I could have studied and received the Ner Tamid, Hindu the Dharma, Islamic the Name of God, Baha’i the Unity of Mankind, Buddhist the Sangha, or Baptist the God and Church. In total, the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) recognizes awards from a little over three dozen faiths and faith affiliations (such as the Protestant and Independent Christian Churches). Many of these faiths disagree over the nature of God, not to mention, the details of how best to live a moral life. Yet, their members proudly proclaim themselves scouts, alongside those they might otherwise condemn. Why, because they believe in something bigger, scouting’s mission to provide youth with the tools to realize their potential.

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