Thursday, June 28, 2007

Three Things You Can't Be

  • You can't be selfless. No matter what, it's always because you want to.
  • You can't behave unnaturally. You are part of nature.
  • You can't be busy. Ok, this is a bit more debatable than the others, but I basically always have stuff to do. If I take a break, I'm busy relaxing.


  • Funny quote from Scott Aaronson:

    I'm telling you, if a giant asteroid were going to hit the earth in a week, the first question academics would ask would be how to beat out competing proposals for the "$50-million Deflection of Space-Based Objects" initiative at NSF.

  • You know you travel too much when you forget which light switches match with which lights in your own home.
  • Saw this in the NYTimes feed by George Johnson on Meta Physicists (I mention it only because I didn't see any of the usual 6' 5" suspects mention it).

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Pol Potpourri

  • Cluster computing during an Earthquake? That's what Sun was testing with an interesting video about the results (notice that the test results are shown on Windows platforms, not a Sun operating system).
  • Nice to hear some sane thoughts on a difference between Macs and Windows boxes...even if it concerns the rather mundane details of each of them deals with rendering fonts.
  • There's been lots of talk lately about people pissing off judges. Not just the sheriff defying the judge in Paris Hilton's case, but also in the Scooter Libby case. I think this footnote he stuck in is brilliant, and, unless you've been reading Talking Points Memo as I've recommended, you've probably heard nothing of it.
  • FSP gets asked "Didn't the senior co-authors read this thing?" concerning one of her submissions. I've asked the same question a number of times, but not about simple editing. No, I've challenged a couple of the ostensible leaders of a small field concerning overly general applications of simple theorems. I'm still left wondering if they're really as stupid as both their original manuscript and their responses indicate. I suppose they're just used to bullying referees or something. I'm comforted by two facts: (i) their papers didn't get accepted and (ii) they don't know who I am, but I know who they are.
  • The Cavs are so outclassed. As the strange dude on ESPN says (paraphrasing) "The Cavs are a good team in the JV league that is the Eastern Conference." I like LeBron, but he needs help on defense and offense. It may be sacrilege to some, but MJ needed help as well.
  • Federer lost and I'm happy. I don't really have anything against him, but I figure his rivalry with Nadal is best preserved if Nadal maintains his reign at the French Open. And oh yeah, though I hate to root against records being broken, I love Sampras so if Federer never wins it, it'll be tougher to say Federer is better than Sampras. And if anyone dares mention Agassi in the comments...

Sunday, June 03, 2007


  • You know those alumni magazines? I really don't understand the custom of including a spouse's alma mater. The chances that any readers went to that school are nearly nil, so presumably it's just some sort of pedigree sort of like saying "Joe Schmoe married Susan Aragon of the Cheshire Aragons." It bugs me. I wonder if I could sneak this by the editors:

    John Smith '84 is happy to announce his engagement to Susie Doe (York Middle School '06). The wedding is scheduled for Susie's 17 birthday in Kentucky.

  • I'm looking to buy one of those universal power adapters for the airplane and am looking at iGo's Juice70. I'm no electrical engineer, but my notebook's power adapter is a 90 watt unit. In addition to the power adapter, I'm thinking I'd invest in a little plug adapter so that I can just bring this setup overseas without bringing the US power supply that came with the notebook. Is the 70 watt adapter going to be sufficient? For those non-physicists, you might be surprised at the general ignorance of any practical electrical knowledge among career physicists (not all, but some). For those engineers out there, the surprise is probably instead that I would even realize the adapters differ in different countries!
  • Slashdot refers us to an interview with Guth and Turok about the Big Bang (Censor's note: "Big Bang Theory").
  • I still haven't commented much on Rob's tenure woes. Once again, I don't have anything too deep to say, but I did want to comment on one issue that Rob raises. That is, the job market is very much non-liquid. That is, once you get a tenure-track job, it's not that you've broken through and can move around to a school which provides a good fit. This may seem obvious, but this makes for a fair amount of frustration. Of course, for those in their fifth postdoc not able to get a tenure-track position, there's probably not much sympathy.
  • FSP talks about what it takes to succeed as a science professor:

    So, even if you're not brilliant: if you are smart, can get things done, and can think of new things to do, you've got most of what it takes to be a science professor.

    My experience suggests most (if not all) prospective physicists think themselves brilliant for some amount of time. That perception suffers increasing attacks as you progress out of high school. But I pretty much agree with takes all kinds in physics, somewhat like a basketball team. It always helps to have a superstar but you also need the workhorses and the role players. Not necessarily brilliant physicists, but people who can get a job done.