Saturday, August 30, 2008

Anger Management

  • I've always been convinced that too much income inequality is not a good thing. It's nice to read someone who can explain why. I'm no socialist, but I just can't buy the whole libertarian position.
  • What do I think of McCain's selection of Palin as his VP running mate? I'm pleased that he picked a woman, even if he did so purely for political reasons (well that, and probably a bit because he couldn't get along with the men under consideration). She seems like the kind of woman you might want to have a beer with or go camping with. But a heartbeat away from the Presidency (and a 72 year old heart at that)? I never faulted Obama for a lack of experience because no one has the experience to be President. But at least he seemed a bit battle tested and as ready as someone could be. Palin? Sure, she may be up to it, but how would we know? Ultimately though, the thing I want to get on the record is that, whether McCain wins or loses this election, everyone will be attributing it to his choice of running mate.
  • I come into my office today to find an expense reimbursement returned to me in my mail box. I had submitted this over three weeks ago, and it's a couple thousand dollars. There's a note in there with a couple issues which don't apply in this case, and one matter that should have been easily resolved without my involvement. I'm steaming. So much so, I can't work. I call the administrator who returned it, knowing she'll be at lunch since it's noon. I turn to email her but know that I shouldn't, not in my agitated state. At 1:30pm, I call again and she's still not there. I write an email addressing each matter. I spend 10 minutes deleting every word and phrase that's not absolutely necessary. The email is terse, but not obviously angered. Though still mad, I'm at least pleased I've not yelled at anyone yet. Five minutes later I get an email from her with the first sentence saying she's working from home, but either through dedication or insanity she's responding to emails. The next paragraph basically just tells me to send the paperwork back and she'll address it promptly. Fine. It's dealt with. I email her back a nice thanks, hopeful she'll be better next time. But here's the rub...I had emailed her boss as well, and sure enough about an hour later, her boss emails that the administrator is out today for a family medical issue but should be back in tomorrow. So I respond that she took care of it from home, and the boss emails me back extolling the virtues of the people under him! So this administrator who seems barely able to do her job, is getting kudos from her boss because of me! What did I do wrong?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

  • Gizmodo:

  • Thoughts on the Olympics:

    • I thought I saw cheerleaders at the women's beach volleyball events. That was strange enough, but the announcing also seemed...a bit unconventional.
    • I'm not sure that the sprinter Bolt's performance overshadows that of Phelps, but certainly just winning 8 gold medals doesn't imply being the best Olympian. And Freakonomics make all this admiration graphical.

  • I've finally caught up on Backreaction:

    • I like that she complains about academia because certain physics blogs are way too cheery for my taste. However, when she says "I don't know anybody who was particularly happy during his PhD," I have to laugh. I was just saying the other day how stress-free my life was during grad school. No more so than once I was done with classes, and just researching. I suppose I've always been a bit of an underachieving, laid-back, slacker so perhaps I'm not the norm. It was only when I stumbled upon a tenure-track position that I got somewhat ambitious. Most of the stress in my life is fighting that ambition (or giving in to it, depending on how you look at it).
    • In the same post, she talks about the lack of availability of supervisors. Again, I play the contrarian. I pretty much sought to avoid mine. I always found it best to ask questions during social occasions, especially ones with alcohol present.
    • Sabine has broken a cardinal rule of physics blogging. Just as Stephen Colbert cannot see color, we cannot judge the attractiveness of colleagues. Luckily, she apologizes in the same breath which may hold off the hordes for a bit, when she says "who is really cute, sorry, but this has to be mentioned."

Friday, August 15, 2008

The First Post To Demonstrate....

  • Why are so many banks going up? I haven't entered any branches of my main bank in many years. I just don't understand why these chain banks need so many branches? Perhaps, the physical buildings don't represent too much cost but presumably employee salary and benefits must be significant. Or perhaps, such a physical presence attracts enough business and serves as advertising to make it worth their while? Not sure I buy that argument even though it's my only one.
  • I'm no fan of using "first" in a paper. Everything that get published should be the first to do something. So when I see people using the word, as in "We present the first case of ..." it strikes me as inappropriate in an academic pursuit. Just tell me the result. Besides, someone may have done it already and just not published or not published in anything read by you. Which naturally leads to the derivative "To our knowledge, this represents the first time...." which lays bare the ambition of the's pure salesmanship, not science.
  • Clearly, this guy needs to start yet another "angry" blog. Does mooning fall under academic freedom?
  • Anyone with any remaining faith in McCain's character from 2000 should follow the link and read Joe Klein.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Whom you know

  • Further doubt about nuclear fusion coming from sonoluminesence since Purdue has found scientific misconduct.
  • DVRs are not yet commodities. I've got a Scientific Atlanta box free for a year and its UI is lightyears behind that of Tivo.
  • Gizmodo does more physics movies: fluid dancing on water and lightening hits camera.
  • My Facebook activity has continued...lots of old high school friends. Strange when some people ask me to "be their friend," contrasting sharply with their rather indifferent behavior towards me so many years ago. Strange also juggling personal Facebook I have a name which can feel a bit strange sometimes when switching from blogging to Facebook'ing or vice a versa. Another strange thing...looking at these old high school "mates" puts one in the awkward position of evaluating one's accomplishments relative to what one expected of others in high school. Current friends have confirmed that such reacquaintences leads to such reconsideration.
  • What's the deal with these conference webpages using various certificates? I often have to accept them or they cause some browser error, and I really don't see the point. And my browser always seems to find something wrong them. What in the world are they protecting? Furthermore, for any conference organizers out there, for coffee breaks, please try to find some sort of non-sugar snack. I'm a sucker for free food but when all that's available is either high sugar or high simple carbs, what am I to do? Inevitably, I succumb and quickly crash or get a headache.
  • A somewhat interesting answer to "Does using revolving doors help?"
  • I share Doug's skepticism about the FQXI grants. I'm also a bit skeptical about the amount of correlation among Panel members and awardees.
  • Camera news: I think I've mentioned that I'm waiting till the Fall to get a new camera. Apparently, the new stuff comes up in August or September, and new news has been leaking out. Here's some more, via Gizmodo: a Nikon SLR which records video, the promise of yet smaller SLRs from Olympus, and a wide angle superzoom from Fuji. Still no news of a Canon G10.