Thursday, May 24, 2012

Police Blotter: Meridian, Idaho

Twenty cars were broken into overnight in a Meridian neighborhood. The thieves stole cell phones, GPS’s, iPods, and a gun. Nineteen of the cars were unlocked.

Details here.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Dear Scientist, The Public Values Your Work--Tell Them Your Story

The Pew Research Center reported, in 2009, that Americans value the work of scientists and believe that science improves our lives. Scientists, on the other hand, are disappointed in the public’s understanding of science.

In cooperation with the American Association for the Advancement of Sciences, the report found that scientists blame the media for doing a poor job of educating the public. Specifically, they believe that news reports do not distinguish between findings that are supported by evidence and claims that are not.

However, the days of scientists staying in their labs and leaving the reporting to the non-scientific media appear to be numbered. The National Science Foundation, which funds innovative science and engineering research, is training scientists to tell the story of their research using narrative techniques.

I see a similar gulf in rangeland science. Range managers value the work of plant ecologists and range science researchers, but researchers are often disappointed in how the knowledge they develop is applied on the ground. Managers, on the other hand, are frustrated by the flood of jargon-laden papers researchers produce.

I looked at this con- flict, and described how scientists can use narrative nonfiction techniques to tell their story to diverse audiences, in my February, 2012 Land Lines column in Rangelands, a journal of the Society for Range Management.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Trader Joe’s and Walmart

Trader Joe’s

I’m checking out with a package of tortillas:
Cashier: "Just one thing?"
Me: "I only needed tortillas."
Cashier: "People come in needing one thing all the time. They check out with four bags full."
Me: "I guess I have everything I need."
Cashier: "Including will power."

Walmart

Overhead at the jewelry counter:
She to he, with child in tow: "You didn’t give me enough money. I didn’t have enough left."

Then:
Salesperson: "Can I help you?"
She: "I’d like to see this one, the wedding band for $68."
He: "We haven't been able to get one yet, but we’re getting married this week."
Cashier: "Would you like to add the Protection Plan?"
He: “Sure throw it in."
Cashier: "Would you like to contribute to the Children’s Miracle Network?"
He: "Yeah, add a couple bucks."