Friday, October 15, 2010

Ran Dom

  • Cars have come a long way in a hundred years, right? Smart, adaptive cruise control, air bags, pretensioning seatbelts, etc. Contrast that with plane landings. In the decades I've been landing in planes, they don't seem to get any smoother or nicer. It's still essentially a semi-controlled collision. Why does it seem that there hasn't been any progress?
  • Things I had right when I was a young teenager:

    • My parents really suck at parenting.
    • You can't argue with solipsism.

  • Things I had wrong when I was a young teenager:

    • I can't separate the logical rational me from the evolved animal that I am.
    • Just being smart means nearly nothing. The game of trying to do the least while being the best is a silly one. Life's about "doing."
    • Everyone is insecure. Even famous physicists.

  • A Nobel-winner discusses the implications of relativity on interstellar trade...the economics of it, anyway.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Little Light Blogging

  • OLD: A nice video of an optical illusion that includes the resolution of the illusion in the video.
  • OLD: I definitely agree that too many kids are going to college: NYT and the AP.
  • Blogging has been light lately :)...I've had a few things to say, but just with as busy I've been, I never could exceed the threshold. But when someone people miss you, you can't just let them down.
  • I've been doing lots of traveling. It's ridiculous how much time I spend either booking travel or assembling receipts/forms to get reimbursed for it.
  • For all you US taxpayers, however, the travel definitely contributes to my productivity. I won't go into details, but I got some ideas and possible collaborations going. One of these ideas actually came from attending a talk.
  • I've been pretty disgusted with a variety of organized religions lately. But it occurred to me where the last vestiges of the supernatural remain in my psyche. A crying kid in the backseat while driving through a major metropolitan area and I find myself praying to the gods of traffic...there must be more than one to produce such assorted effects.
  • A couple NYT pieces I should read, but won't: on tenure and a donation of Jim Simmons.
  • I hadn't been on an NSF panel in at least a couple years, so I'm happy to see that they refrain from showing panel members the mailed in reviews before you submit your own. Definitely a good idea.
  • So I was told I look young and that I am old all at the same conference. I take both as compliments. However, I am noticing more and more of the truly older people are appearing less and less.
  • What's up with the earthquakes? I think I've been in "the neighborhood" of one three times in just the past few years (none of them while at home).
  • There's something about the Bourne movies that really captures me...whenever I see one on cable I just get hooked. I have no spy-skills, but somehow I see myself as a lone warrior against the larger powers that be. My skills are probably more aptly described as clown-skills (juggling, unicycle, etc).
  • I like cars, and so people buying new cars often ask me my opinion. But sometimes it's hard not to show some of my disgust. I'm mostly fine with people getting what they want (but I think people should pay more to register and use large, truck-like vehicles). But it's so annoying the rationalizations and brainwashing people have.

    I want something with three rows.

    How about a minivan?

    No, I need lots of space and often have the third row down.

    You can do that with a minivan.

    Uhhh...., no. I am looking at this crossover.

    "Crossover"? It comes with a tow package and the manufacturer compares it on the webpage to the Honda Pilot. Wake up, it's an SUV.

  • I've given three talks in recent weeks. All but one went very well. The exception wasn't just not good, but it was bad. I just never hit my stride. Strange.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Pure Pedantry

  • Ahh, ignorance is bliss and intelligence is depressing.
  • More disingenuous stupidity about science from our favorite law professor. Scientists make mistakes, so let's throw out science. Heck, doctors make mistakes, so let's abandon Western medicine. Science and medicine continue to progress.
  • A funny picture over at Gizmodo.
  • An pedant's worst nightmare (anyone get the allusion?):

    Should I correct the grammatical mistake in a scrawl written on a bathroom stall?

  • I just came up with a great alliterative blog title Pure Pedantry, but of course one already exists with that title. Thing is, apparently it has ceased being updated, so perhaps some could take up the call to service. Perhaps, something a bit more alliterative, such as: Pure Physical Pedantry. How 'bout a contest for the most alliterative title for a physics blog? I can't seem to get more than three repetitions of a sound...Into the Photon-Phonon Forest

Friday, February 12, 2010

I'm so egalitarian, I'm an elite

  • A good idea from the Freakonomics Blog to help restrict corporate corruption of our democracy in the face of the Supreme Court's blatant activism.
  • In a related story, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas defends their ruling by arguing with some well-reasoned zingers like:

    "I found it fascinating that the people who were editorializing against it were The New York Times Company and The Washington Post Company," Justice Thomas said. "These are corporations."


    "If 10 of you got together and decided to speak, just as a group, you'd say you have First Amendment rights to speak and the First Amendment right of association," he said. "If you all then formed a partnership to speak, you'd say we still have that First Amendment right to speak and of association."
    "But what if you put yourself in a corporate form?" Justice Thomas asked, suggesting that the answer must be the same.

    This is just overly simplistic rhetoric that should convince no one who thinks for more than a split second (along the same lines of "you can yell `fire' in your home playing at war, but what if you put yourself in a crowded theater?"). Not impressive that Thomas is stooping so low, but of course I don't expect much better from him.
  • Another failed test of our missile defense.
  • With these tax-prep programs, it feels a bit like a game. You click on "Review Deductions" and scroll through hoping to come up with more to decrease the "Federal Tax Owed" number in the corner.
  • What physics book did Glenn Beck read?
  • Elite status conflicts with my pervading egalitarian attitude, but it sure is addicting, what with getting your bags off-loaded first, special, shorter lines, etc. But recently I'm sitting in the "Quiet Zone" of an airline club and am bothered by two different people having loud cell-phone conversations. One of whom is doing so right next to a "cell phone free zone" sign. Clearly, low-class low-lifes.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Corporate Entity

  • I read Instapundit every now and then just to get an updated glimpse of what some real loons think. It's a bit disturbing that this guy has the following he does, but every once in a while I get a good laugh. Like this one decrying the loss of trust of science because of ``climategate.'' Really? People read this nonsense and think they're being informed? As if these people believed the scientists before these emails?

  • I cringe whenever I see/hear someone using "whomever" incorrectly. It's one thing failing to use "whom" when called for, but if you're going to go through the trouble of using "whom," you'd better get it right. There's got to be a good analogy here, but I'm not coming up with one.

  • I've had it yet again with certain of my collaborators who are putting out papers with others, but letting the paper I wrote with their names on it go ignored. This kind of stuff gets to me more than it would probably to most. And it doesn't help that I somehow have this yucky habit of being like George W. Bush with friends...that is, friends are either good or evil, and once they cross the line, they ain't my friend no more. I call this yucky, because, as might be obvious to everyone but me, friends are still useful (too clinical a word, but I can't come up with a touchy-feely replacement word) even when they aren't perfect. When I was a kid, I'd go through a new best friend every year or two, having literally stopped talking to each in turn. As I became an adult, this behavior continued with colleagues who had betrayed me in some sense. So, needless to say, I'm not great at networking, but I sabotage what meager efforts I do make with this inability to appreciate the good over the bad. Even describing this, I can't really overcome it. I imagine this was a learned behavior, so maybe I should be able to overcome it?

  • Read a quote by Leno recently that I thought made some sense, paraphrasing:

    Democrats like people in general, but no one in particular, while Republicans like people in particular, but no one in general.

  • If you're going to try audiobooks, I really recommend Scott Brick as a reader.

  • In general, I don't contribute money (e.g. charities, political candidates, etc), so I had to do a little research. As far as I can tell, the recent activities of our most-esteemed court in the land lift the limits on corporate money for political "speech." But, what about the limits on my free speech? They're still there right? So if I were a true patriot with my own very profitable company, I'd have "my people" find some real despicable candidate in some small-scale election with no shot of winning. And then I'd spend all the money necessary to get this person elected. Maybe Larry Flint reads this blog.