This of That – NerdNite May, 2011

The History of the Guitar

Joe Gioia

In a talk drawn from his upcoming book, The Guitar and the New World (SUNY Press, 2012), Joe reviews the stages of the evolution of the American acoustic guitar, from its origins in the mythological past to the great folk music scare of the 60s. Highlights include the major developments of intermediate instruments, a look at string theory (ha-ha) with Daniel Bernoulli, and what, if anything, Galileo had to do with it.

Do Toasters Have Human Rights?

Barbra Barnett

How do we define and ground human rights? Can our existing categories serve as a basis for universal moral norms as humanity moves into an unchartered future? The science fiction cable television series Battlestar Galactica calls into question our basic ethical precepts and is a valuable tool for teaching ethics. By challenging the prevailing assumption that membership in the human species carries moral significance, the show provides a framework for examining basic paradigms for understanding ethics as it has developed in the West. It also offers several avenues for engaging contemporary issues in practical ethics, including whether there are any ethical limitations on the use of political and military power, and arguments for extending rights protection to animals, nature, and other non-human entities.

Barbra Barnett has taught courses on human rights, ethics, philosophy, and religion at The University of Chicago and Elmhurst College. She has a J.D. from The George Washington University Law School and a Ph.D. in Ethics from The University of Chicago. When not watching reruns of Battlestar Galactica, she can be found watching the TLC reality t.v. show “Sister Wives.”

The World of Ketchup

Jason St. John

Ketchup, as a topic of study, is just shockingly multidisciplinary. In a talk ranging from international studies through linguistics, culinary studies, non-Newtonion fluid dynamics, and pop culture, Jason reveals all that he learned from Wikipedia one slow day at the lab, instead of doing science. He is a local student finishing his dissertation work at one of the nearby National Accelerator Labs (there are two), on something entirely unrelated to condiments. He also sometimes organizes a local event called nerd nite.

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