Tuesday, April 22, 2008


  • I know I'm too old to listen to Miley Cyrus' song "See you Again," and certainly too pedantic to be critiquing its contents, but it just bugs me to hear the lyrics:

    I got my sights set on you and I'm ready to aim

    I ain't no gun nut, but if you've got your sights set, haven't you already aimed?
  • I saw this quote at Confessions of a Community College Dean

    After going through several fruitless interviews in a short span, it's easy to fall into the 'always a bridesmaid' kind of self-pity and self-questioning.

    and was really hoping for some consoling words of wisdom. Oh well, at least others feel it as well.
  • Avis has a new fuel policy which bugs me to no end. If you drive fewer than 75 miles, then they will automatically charge you for fuel unless you show a receipt. I often drive very few miles and don't get refueled since the gauge still reports a fuel tank. To combat people like me and to extract more money, they institute this new policy. You might say "fine," but the nerve they have to act like it's a convenience. My inclination is not to show a receipt even if I did stop for fuel. I returned my car and said "I'm not showing a receipt, but the tank is full." The attendant said he had to charge me anyway even though the tank is full. I ask that all readers of this either avoid Avis, show a receipt for fuel purchased months ago (there's no fine print about dates), or a receipt for $0.01 of gas. Please report all good stories.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Collaborations II

  • I mentioned collaborations last time. In keeping with what the Incoherent Ponderer said, the dynamics of these can get bad very quickly. In particular, people in the collaboration will have other projects outside the collaboration, naturally. However, then each individual is basically faced with deciding how much time to dedicate to the collaboration in sort of a reverse of the prisoner's dilemma...that is, if all dedicate themselves to the collaboration, then all succeed. However, if some do not, then they receive the benefits of the collaboration (name on papers, funding, etc) but also enjoy the fruits of their outside work (which is essentially all of their work). So then it doesn't pay for *anyone* to work in the collaboration and it stalls, or, at best, proceeds on the basis of graduate students alone since they essentially have no choice what to work on. Uggh.
  • Not to sound like a Seinfeld-esque comedian, but what's the deal with showing logos during one's academic talks? A couple on the title slide or ending acknowledgments is one thing, but I've seen people with a logo in each corner and the name of their associated lab as a footer on *every* slide! I'd feel dirty doing that, and I suspect these people are in no way compelled to do so. They must get some kick out of this, though I don't understand at all how.
  • Who watches any of the 24hour news networks for any length of time? I'm pretty well read when it comes to current events. Politics, sports, etc. I read two or three newspaper sites regularly. But when I'm stuck in a hotel and sick of working, there's often nothing to watch so I just put on the news networks. It's so repetitive and uninsightful (if that's a word). I could forgive them if they frequently did the silly stuff that the Daily Show ribs them for because at least that's entertaining. What a skewed view of the world one must have from watching...and I don't mean conservative or liberal.
  • I was in a bit of a funk there for the last month or so. They say things come in threes, and I got three bad decisions in the past few months. How quickly things change...I've had a series of three good to very good things occur in....the last three days actually! Pretty cool. Strangely, I have to force myself to think about this to make myself happy. In technical terms, it seems that the relaxation time of my psyche to its stable equilibrium is very short. BTW, thinking of the happiness/sadness landscape in dynamical terms is something I do often, and I wonder about human beings in general. Sometimes I'm amazed that the suicide rate isn't much larger than it is. I also wonder what evolution should be expected to have done for these dynamics. To guard against suicide, it would seem we'd evolve to being very stable. However, it is our urges and desires which can bring about procreation and survival (and hence further procreation). I wonder if one could do some type of modeling and find some "natural" balance between sanity and so-called "animalistic" urges/desires/rages/etc.