Monday, August 27, 2007

Sudoku National Championship in Philadelphia

Anyone want to come try it? (article)

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

More on Women in Science

Matt's right, this is in it's final days. Here are my parting shots:

Women in Science
by: Philip Greenspun
February 2006

Why does anyone think science is a good job?
The average trajectory for a successful scientist is the following:

1. age 18-22: paying high tuition fees at an undergraduate college
2. age 22-30: graduate school, possibly with a bit of work, living on a stipend of $1800 per month
3. age 30-35: working as a post-doc for $30,000 to $35,000 per year
4. age 36-43: professor at a good, but not great, university for $65,000 per year
5. age 44: with young children at home (if lucky), fired by the university ("denied tenure" is the more polite term for the folks that universities discard), begins searching for a job in a market where employers primarily wish to hire folks in their early 30s

This is how things are likely to go for the smartest kid you sat next to in college. He got into Stanford for graduate school. He got a postdoc at MIT. His experiment worked out and he was therefore fortunate to land a job at University of California, Irvine. But at the end of the day, his research wasn't quite interesting or topical enough that the university wanted to commit to paying him a salary for the rest of his life. He is now 44 years old, with a family to feed, and looking for job with a "second rate has-been" label on his forehead.

Is There Anything Good About Men?
by: Roy F. Baumeister
American Psychological Association, Invited Address, 2007

When I say I am researching how culture exploits men, the first reaction is usually “How can you say culture exploits men, when men are in charge of everything?” This is a fair objection and needs to be taken seriously. It invokes the feminist critique of society. This critique started when some women systematically looked up at the top of society and saw men everywhere: most world rulers, presidents, prime ministers, most members of Congress and parliaments, most CEOs of major corporations, and so forth — these are mostly men.

Seeing all this, the feminists thought, wow, men dominate everything, so society is set up to favor men. It must be great to be a man.

The mistake in that way of thinking is to look only at the top. If one were to look downward to the bottom of society instead, one finds mostly men there too. Who’s in prison, all over the world, as criminals or political prisoners? The population on Death Row has never approached 51% female. Who’s homeless? Again, mostly men. Whom does society use for bad or dangerous jobs? US Department of Labor statistics report that 93% of the people killed on the job are men. Likewise, who gets killed in battle? Even in today’s American army, which has made much of integrating the sexes and putting women into combat, the risks aren’t equal. This year we passed the milestone of 3,000 deaths in Iraq, and of those, 2,938 were men, 62 were women.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Road to Clarity

Joshua Yaffa writes in the NYT Magazine this week:

The Federal Highway Administration granted Clearview interim approval in 2004, meaning that individual states are free to begin using it in all their road signs. More than 20 states have already adopted the typeface, replacing existing signs one by one as old ones wear out. Some places have been quicker to make the switch — much of Route I-80 in western Pennsylvania is marked by signs in Clearview, as are the roads around Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport — but it will very likely take decades for the rest of the country to finish the roadside makeover. It is a slow, almost imperceptible process. But eventually the entire country could be looking at Clearview.

Some comparisons between Highway Gothic Series E and Clearview are given here:

NYT slideshow accompanying the article

Thursday, August 9, 2007

Earthquake Fun

For those of you who don't know, I'm in LA this week. I arrived tonight and as I was going to sleep, i felt this! Almost as fun as a thunderstorm :-) I hadn't gotten to sleep yet but Elise was awoken by it so it was pretty substantial.

Woohooo! Good stuff!

Guitarist for Queen to get PhD in Astrophysics

A buddy of mine passed this along to me: I'm actually not took him over 30 yrs!

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Barry Bonds' Other Advantage

Rich sent me this article about the advantage Bonds gets from wearing his colossal arm guard. According this the author, it's much more that just reducing the fear of getting hit, including physically keeping his arm in the correct plane and allowing him greater leverage at impact. I'm not sure I agree with all the arguments, but it's interesting to think about.

Sunday, August 5, 2007

If you're in LA in Aug or Sept this year...

...then try to check out the Florian Maier-Aichen exhibit at the Pacific Design Center. He takes photographs and then digitally alters them to make pretty pictures. "Long Beach" is my favorite. You can read more about him in the Summer 2007 Aperture Magazine (flash required).

Why I hardly ever post to this thing

From the number of updates there have been recently, it seems like this blog experiment is in it's last clutches of life. Perhaps that's just because it's summer and Alan and Dave have better things to do now that the weather is nice. I've wondered why I don't post to the blog very often, and figured since no else is either, I would list my reasons and everyone else could list theirs and that would increase content, at least briefly. So, here goes:

1) It's painfully slow for me. I am an extremely deliberative writer, for better or worse (probably worse). Practically, this means that it takes me between one and two hours to produce any typical entry. It just doesn't really seem worth the effort to me. Of course, this entry is typed straight in and is not deliberate in any way, so will take a total of about 5 minutes (I'm a decent enough typist).

2) I don't really have much interesting to say. The information that I choose to access is generally either too specialized (for work), too dated (I mostly read big old books on history), or too commonplace (cnn, bbc, espn, etc.) to be worthwhile in a post format. I don't really run across much in the way of truly interesting internet articles, at least what I would consider interesting to a wider audience. In my opinion, this leaves two serious options for things I would post about if I were to post on a regular basis--carefully researched opinion articles on a topic that strikes my interest and general, under-informed rants. I don't really see the point in either of those.

Those are my excuses for not posting much. Does anyone even care? If anyone have their own reasons for not posting here much (other blog/ interesting life/ etc.), it would be interesting (to me, at least) to read.
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