thesinkhole.org

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There is an odd combination of care and mockery with regard to infrastructure devoted entirely to sinkholes. Please, please go to thesinkhole.org and check them out. It is not a complex blog, but it is dead serious (for example, note that a number of the stories covered by the blog record casualties). A curious resource and one to keep your eye on.

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Uncommon Walking Tour of Bristol

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In a fascinating post about walking, Will Self offers an uncommon walking tour of Bristol. According to Self, “walking was the way to break free from the shackles of 21st-century capitalism.” Walking tours, sometimes also called pedway tours, are growing in popularity; pedways are pedestrian walkways and they can be both above ground and below; they are sometimes discussed as a form of ungoverned or unplanned civil engineering.

Self, who guides the walking tours, gets meta pretty quick; he “began with a brief introduction to the situationists – the Paris-based artists and thinkers of the 1960s who championed the concept of “psychogeography”, the unplanned drifting through an urban landscape to become more in tune with one’s surroundings.”

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New Zealand Grants River Personhood

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Great ANT case for teaching: “New Zealand Grants River Personhood

Want to take it to the next level in the classroom? challenge students to understand how a person-like “state” (in this case, New Zealand) is apparently accorded the ability to do this!

Ask them, which is weirder, a river being a person or a state granting the personhood?

Teaching STS: Construction of Time and Daylight Savings

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In the “Teaching STS” collection, we’ve discussed teaching lessons (with some resources) about the social construction of time a number of times related to whether or not time exists at all (with research from the Max Planck Institute), reflections on the notion of aberrant time such as “leap seconds” (students are bothered by this one), and, even though when we write about the olympics, it is usually about derelict stadiums, it occurs to me that when the atomic clock was adopted and the length of the second transformed, “timing” at the Olympic games might have been an interesting topic to think about for students who imagine that the length of the second back in 1936 should be identical to the length of the second that Michael Phelps was swimming in 2008 (in Beijing).

At any rate, a nice entry point for a classroom situation for discussing time might be to use humor before you get into the nitty-gritty of “existence” or whether or not the basic units of measurement are less stable than we previously thought. Enter a satirical trailer about daylight savings … it would work to kick off a class on the topic of time.

Infrastructure Humor from The Onion

Maps and map-making and the like have played a powerful role in shaping states and shaping states up, in STS research and elsewhere; however, a shocking and not-at-all-new statistic indicates that map literacy may be fading.

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The Onion Reports: “Increasing Number Of Americans Unable To Point Out Map”

WASHINGTON—-An alarming new study released Tuesday by the Department of Education found that nearly 70 percent of Americans are incapable of pointing out a map when presented by researchers with a map. “Not only did a majority of people just stare blankly ahead, but nearly half pointed to nearby desk lamps in their attempts to guess correctly,” said Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, who called the findings endemic of the nation’s failing school system.

At least as concerning:

“In fact, 14 percent of all Americans claimed they had never ‘even heard of no map,’ and asked if being prompted to locate one was some kind of trick question.” According to Duncan, the Department of Education has suspended all further studies and will instead be spending the next six months just screaming into a pillow.