Ethics of gambling

I began the ethics of gambling lessons today. It was interesting. One class had pretty much all of the four students agreed on the premise that gambling is inherently bad, while another class mostly agreed that gambling is just a thing that people do, and it’s only a problem if people do it too much or take advantage of people by gambling unfairly.

One student told an amusing anecdote about his father, who used to work in a casino. I shouldn’t say more for privacy reasons, but it had the other students giggling.

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Anzac long weekend Monday

Today was the Anzac Day public holiday, although it didn’t make much difference to my day, as I had ethics classes online as usual. We finished up the topic on contact with extraterrestrial life. I started writing the lesson for tomorrow’s new topic, which is gambling. I mentioned during a class this morning that next week’s topic is gambling, and we’ll be talking about betting on sports—

At which point a student interrupted and said, “That’s not gambling! Gambling is like blackjack and stuff!”

So… maybe it’ll be an interesting topic for some of the kids. I guess they don’t have a lot of experience with actual gambling at their age.

There was a bit of housecleaning work and cooking and baking bread today, and some work on the secret project, and walking Scully, and that was about it.

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More ethics than ever before

I had a special request from a parent for an introductory 1-on-1 ethics class for her daughter today before putting her into a group class, so I scheduled a new class, meaning I had 4 classes today. Previously I’ve never had more than 3 on one day. So it was a bit exhausting, and ate up much of the day, as they were scattered around with not much of a gap between any of them in which to do other things.

I did manage time at lunch to go for a walk with my wife and Scully, down to the waterside park and back. It looked fine when we set out, but we got a heavy shower while out. it was pretty heavy rain, and strong wind so it came in at a steep angle, but it didn’t last too long, and was fine again with the sun coming out by the time we got back.

I cooked up another batch of bunya nuts and made pesto, which I’m saving for dinner with pasta on the weekend, but I used part of it as a sauce on burgers for tonight’s dinner. They were beetroot and black bean burger patties from the supermarket.

Tonight is virtual board games night. We’re currently in the middle of a game of El Grande. I’m winning, but I’m not sure it’ll last.

Edit: And I won the game of El Grande! Wow, I hardly ever win in games against my friends…

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New ethics topic: Emotions

It’s Tuesday, which means the start of a new topic for the week of online ethics classes. This week we’re discussing emotions. I wrote the lesson this afternoon, and this evening I taught the first three classes. It seems this one is more of a critical thinking exercise than an ethical one, as there was barely any disagreement or alternative opinions among the students to most of the questions. Instead of exploring diverse opinions, we’re instead teasing out an understanding of various emotions and why we feel them, using critical thinking skills. Which is part of the class scope and description, so that’s all good.

I got up early this morning and went for my run first thing. This was after doing yesterday’s run in the evening after dark. It was the first time I’d done a run at night time, and it was a little disconcerting going at pace along streets and footpaths, with dark shadows everywhere and not having a clear view of the footing. So yesterday’s run was slow compared to times I’ve been doing recently. (Although still good compared to what I was doing a couple of months ago!)

I forgot to mention it here, but on Saturday Strava informed me that during that day’s 2.5k run I clocked my fastest 1k split ever. I ran the first kilometre in 3:53, which Strava told me was my fastest 1k ever. (At least, since I’ve been using Strava – although given I’ve never really been much for running, it may well be the fastest 1k I’ve ever run in my life.) I was pretty pleased with that, since I’ve been aiming at breaking 4 minutes for 1k for a while.

At lunch today I took Scully for a walk up to the shops and got some sushi rolls for lunch. I chose to walk a little further to another small park to eat, rather than the small square in the middle of the shops. The latter is convenient and a nice place to sit and watch people go by, but the grass there has all died, and it’s also haunted by posses of magpies who have become increasingly aggressive over the past few years. They will literally steal food from your hands while you’re trying to eat. This other park we went to is also very small, but nicely grassy, and blissfully empty of magpies, because it’s more out of the way and less trafficked. So I enjoyed my sushi rolls in peace, and then we walked home in the lovely warm sunshine.

This sunny weather won’t last. It’s supposed to close in tomorrow, and Thursday is going to be extremely wet, with 100 mm of rain and flash flood warnings. It remains to be seen how possible it will be to travel into the university for my lecture class on that night…

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Double writing day

It was a very busy day today. I had to write the ethics lesson for this week, on trial by media. Then I had to write a report on the ISO Photography standards meeting I attended back in February, to send to Standards Australia in time for our follow-up national meeting on this Friday. I should have done it a bit earlier, but I’ve been so busy that I put it off to this week. Those two tasks took a good chunk of the day. And then tonight I had three classes to teach, the last ending at 10pm! Thankfully from next week all the classes will be an hour earlier, since we go off daylight saving this weekend. (And I’m leaving the classes unchanged for most of the students who live outside Australia, so they’ll be an hour earlier by my clock.)

I also took Scully out for a drive at lunch time, because it was raining and I didn’t fancy a long walk in the rain. We went to the Italian bakery and I got some treats for me and my wife for dessert tonight, as well as lunch.

We had close to 60 mm of rain overnight, but it eased off during the day, being light for most of the day. Although this evening as I type it’s pouring down again. I added up the rainfall so far since the beginning of the year, and we’re not over the average annual rainfall for Sydney yet, but we’re getting very close.

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Scully grooming day

Scully was looking a bit scruffy and shaggy recently, which means it’s time for her haircut/groom at the dog groomer. I picked her up from my wife’s work at lunch time and took her to the groomer, then collected her with her new haircut a few hours later. We can see Scully’s eyes again!

Otherwise it’s been another fairly busy and exhausting day. I had my face-to-face ethics class at the school this morning. After 5 weeks of teaching this, there are still about half a dozen kids on the roll who I haven’t seen yet – maybe sick for the past 5 weeks? I’m not sure. Thankfully the kids who have been showing up are pretty good and the class runs smoothly, mostly. There was an incident today though when a teacher poked her head in and told us to open the windows for ventilation, and a kid ran over and did it… and a fly screen fell out of one of the windows, dropping two floors to the ground below! The kids thought this was hilarious, and several ran over to look out the window and see where the screen had fallen. I sent two of them out to go retrieve the screen and bring it back. I didn’t bother trying to reinstall it – I just told the regular classroom teacher about it when he came back after the class.

Oh, there was something amusing after the class too. The room I have is next door to the Anglican scripture class, and on the far side of that is the Catholic class. The kids all split up to go to their relevant scripture class (or ethics), and return to their regular classrooms afterwards. While I was leaving I overheard some kids talking outside:

Did you know Mary was a virgin??
Yeah, she was a virgin, but God stuffed a baby up there anyway!

On my way home from dropping Scully at the groomer, I stopped at the bakery at Naremburn to grab a sweet treat, since I was driving past. I like popping in and seeing what new items they have – they always seem to have something new in the rotation. Today they had what looked like rocky road tarts, which I confirmed by asking, and a delicious looking individual cakes topped with icing and coconut shavings, which turned out to be mango cakes. I had the rocky road tart to eat while sitting outside at the cafe tables, but then I decided I’d go back in and grab a mango cake for dessert tonight, because who knows how long it will be before they appear there again!

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The ethics of magic

Today I wrote the material for the next week of online ethics classes, on the topic of magic! I’m using several examples of things from the Harry Potter stories, and posing questions like:

  • Would it really be okay for children to use hexes to affect other kids, even if no serious harm was done?
  • Harry uses one of the Unforgivable Curses in his fight against Voldemort and his followers. Is that okay or should he be punished for it?
  • Is the Killing curse (Avada Kedavra) any worse than shooting someone with a gun, or is it similar?
  • Why would a small group of people who could do magic want to hide from everyone else?
  • What could happen if the rest of the world found out about wizards and magic?
  • Can you think of any legitimate, ethical uses for Polyjuice potion?

I’ve just run the class with three groups of kids this evening, and so far every student has been familiar with Harry Potter, so that’s good. I have enough explanation that if any student isn’t familiar with Harry Potter, they’ll still be able to get enough context to answer the questions.

That’s about half the class. The other half discusses how real world historical societies who believed in magic made laws regarding the use of magic, and if those laws would make sense in a world where magic is real.

In other news, Sydney had two consecutive days with no rain, yesterday and today! This is the first time this has happened in over a month. But it won’t last… we’re predicted to have another 100mm or more of rain over the next four days.

And today I decided to extend my usual 2.5k run to 5k. I haven’t done a 5k since just before Christmas. It felt tough, but I did my second best time over that distance, despite doing it on the street route with hills, rather than around a flat oval. So yeah, maybe my fitness level is still improving, which is nice.

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Speaking of misbehaviour…

I had my first serious behavioural issue with students in one of my online classes today. After almost a year of teaching online, the students have generally been incredibly well behaved. But today I had three who started goading each other in the Zoom text chat. I told them multiple times to stop it, but it continued, and eventually I had to disable the text chat when they started calling each other stupid.

It was very unpleasant at the time and not having had to deal with anything like this before it made me a bit flustered. After the class I wrote messages to all the parents. Two of them have replied so far, very apologetically, and saying they had had a serious talk with their child. SO hopefully it won’t happen again. But next time if anything seems to be bubbling up, I’ll just close the chat earlier, now that Ive had this experience.

It was rather upsetting, and dealing with it took up much of my morning. I went for my usual run to clear my head and get into a better mood.

This evening was week 4 of the Data Engineering course, and this time we went for about 2.5 hours instead of the 2 hours of the previous three weeks. The class is scheduled from 6-9pm. but the lecturer feels the students get a bit tired after 2 hours, so doesn’t want to fill up the full 3 hours.

But at least tonight the trains were kinder. We caught a train as soon as we arrived at the station near the university, and it went straight through to both our stations ( I assume it continued on to the lecturer’s station as promised). So I got home a lot quicker than last week.

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Face to face ethics, week 4

The busy days never seem to end…

This morning was the 4th week fo face-to-face ethics teaching at the local school. Out of the class of what is now 21 students on the roll, about 6 or 7 of the students I have yet to see, them having been absent every week now for four weeks. And some other students who were present last week were away too. Oh, and also the regular classroom teacher was away, with a substitute covering for him.

I can only assume COVID is running through the school. It’s a little scary, but I’m wearing an N95 mask the whole time I’m on the school grounds and am fully vaxed, so I guess I just take my chances.

It was a good discussion today. This class is really a delight compared to the classes I had in the last couple fo years before COVID interrupted the lessons last year. It’s full of good kids who make sensible contributions to the discussion, and nobody really misbehaves or interrupts. Hopefully it’ll stay that way as the no-shows start trickling back in.

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Back to the office

For my wife, not me. She’s been working from home for months because of COVId, and then her work decided to renovate the office while everyone was away. That renovation is now done, and they’re inviting people back into the office, so she went in today at lunchtime to check it out.

I took Scully out for a walk and to get some fish & chips for lunch. It was a beautiful early autumn day, partly cloudy, with some blue sky and fluffy white cumulus clouds, and a pleasant temperature. I took the food to my usual eating spot, overlooking the harbour from high up on the hill. The harbour water is still very brown from all the rain runoff, but it’s still a great view from there.

This morning I wrote my next ethics class, on the topic of property. I’ve had the first class already, earlier this evening. We start with the question of who owns the moon. The kids generally agreed nobody owns it (as I expected). Then I suggest what if Elon Musk sent robotic miners there using SpaceX rockets, and they dug up some minerals, would Musk own them? The kids split 50/50 on this question. Then I asked what if the robots brought them back to Earth and Musk made Tesla cars with the moon minerals. Would he own those cars and be able to sell them? And they all said yes. So then I asked why does he now own something that nobody owned before?

It was an interesting introduction to the subject. Then we go on to other forms of property, including the concept of copyright for things like songs. Interestingly some kids thought the concept of “owning” a song was ridiculous, but they also said that if someone writes a song, then other artists should have to pay them if they want to record it and sell that recording. I think this will be a very interesting topic for the coming week.

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