Sunday, January 20, 2008


  • I long ago stopped buying music. I can't stand the RIAA. I know there's independent music out there, but the days when I could afford the time to just listen to great music and be transported elsewhere are long gone. But if I were younger, the overprocessing of music these days would bother me.
    Funny, I remember in college an EE major was trying to argue with me that CDs were demonstrably better (neh, perfect) than analog recordings with some simple sampling arguments. So this stuff doesn't affect me much, but I have a similar complaint w/r/t the audio on current movies. The first of which is why do movie studio movies lack reasonable audio sometimes? Two people talking outside but sounding like they're in a small room really bugs me. And then you watch a movie on DVD at home, and the movie is super loud in the action sequences but the conversations are so low you can't hear it. Here's we need such audio compression. As a followup, you might read on Slashdot about the return of vinyl.
  • A surprising amount of physics in a NYT article on the role of heat in cooking.
  • If, like me, you've wondered how people can possibly vote as they do, you might enjoy this article. Update: Sean has some more comments on this.
  • I go through notebook computer batteries pretty quickly. I think because I actually use it as an extra desktop. So this time, every time I park my laptop on my desk for any extended length of time, I switch out my recent, good battery for the old one. I'll let you know how well this works. And yes, I know I could just leave the battery out, but it's nice to have a battery in there in case I have to move it or the power goes out or something.
  • The Incoherent Ponderer has some posts on faculty pay and on tenured folk's ability to say "no." Regarding the former, I wanted to mention that one of the nice things about this job is that I can look forward to someday simply changing what I research. I can simply take a sabbatical and learn a whole new field. Regarding the latter, there are many who abuse tenure. I've pretty much thought of it the same way I do about welfare. Yeah, people abuse it, but it's still a good idea. However, I'm becoming more and more skeptical (of tenure that is, not welfare programs).
  • Chad turned me on to this new physics blog, which discusses refereeing. I can certainly concur that there's way too much which gets published in my field. This over-abundance means that I'm hesitant to respond to an editor that the paper is out of my field. Basically, I give the paper a quick read (e.g. a "smell test"). If I can tell it's probably bad and if I have a chance of making a convincing case of it, I take it. If I can't make much of it or can't argue against it, then I pass it back. What's more interesting is that, for some reason, I'm often called in essentially to arbitrate papers when either the authors and referees are getting hostile or different referees wildly disagree. I get a small ego boost out of such requests, but I imagine it is only because I basically make it a rule to pretend that my reports might become public with my name attached.
  • I went to a show the other night, and a woman from behind me tapped me on the shoulder. She just wanted to let me know that if her daughter, who was directly behind me, kicked the seat or acted up it was because she was autistic. I didn't know quite what to say, and basically just said that was fine, and thanked her for letting me know. Indeed, I was quite thankful because I could easily dismiss such behavior in that case, but it would drive me nutty otherwise. It turns out, the girl behaved quite well with only occasional kicking and a couple very brief exclamations. A boy who appeared to be her brother however was very loud and buggy, but I suspect he's not autistic (I didn't say anything).

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