Friday, April 29, 2011

Excellent Use of Mascot Costume

One of the stories told in this article is when a former minor league baseball manager was kicked out of the game and then later came back on the field inside the mascot's costume. I approve! That is awesome.

(Tip of the cap to Rob Neyer.)

Royal Wedding

If you care about such things, I recommend that you watch this royal wedding instead.

May the shwarz be with them, as it were.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Quote of the Day: Beer Edition

Today's quote comes from this article about a beer-only fast that ended with a bacon smoothie. The quote, which is priceless and a bit of a non sequitar within the article, is the following:

Wilson is an avid home brewer, blogger, and Christian, and his beer-only quest merged these passions.

But are both players perfectly rational?

The new issue of Mini-AIR includes a pointer to a paper called Costly but worthless gifts facilitate courtship.

Let me guess: Both players (or maybe only one of them is a player?) are assumed to be perfectly rational. Yup, this is how it all works.

Bloody economists. :)

I'm still in shock.

A few days ago --- right after I got back to Oxford --- one of my friends from high school died rather unexpectedly. At the moment, I am not going to write a 'proper' obituary blog entry or even say who it is (as things need to run their course) because I don't think it would be fair to the family. I don't know if the cause of death is fully known yet, and I certainly don't know all of the details.

This is a tragedy in and of itself, but there are particular reasons why it's especially horrible in this case. Again, I am not going to say anything about this right now.

It was a shock when I first found out, and it's actually bothering me more day by day (though, as only a distant friend, this obviously is not even a blip on the radar screen in comparison to what's going on with relatives and so on!). I am hoping to shortly have a discussion with a particular one of my high school classmates with whom I am close.

Eventually, I would 'like' to post a proper obituary in remembrance, and to tell a couple of stories---but perhaps unsurprisingly I don't want to do that right now (and probably not for quite a while).

For what it's worth, this isn't even the only thing bothering me right now. I know how to address the second thing, however, so at least I know what to do to address the issue. In fact, I think it will work out fine, and my worries regarding that one are essentially due almost entirely to my worrying nature. For my friend's death, however, I have more of a helpless feeling even from my distance. It's bloody scary is what it is.

New to the Blogroll: La bella vita

I have just added La bella vita, a blog by one of my former students, to the blogroll.

I am also thinking about cleaning up my blogroll a bit in the near future by removing blogs that seem to be effectively dead, though I'd certainly be keen to see renewed posting.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

What Happens in Lyngby Stays in Lyngby

I have an early morning flight tomorrow to Lyngby to visit and give a seminar at Technical University of Denmark.

This will be my second trip to Denmark. My first trip was in 2006 for a conference to celebrate the 60th birthday of this guy.

Update (4/30/11): Here are some pictures from my trip.

This One's for Lemming

Hey Lemming, you might want to get ahold of this magic 8-ball!

In other news, it was pretty quiet in The Dinning Hall today.

Update: Oh, and speaking of demotivational posters, I have to assume that somebody at Borders did this on purpose.

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Perils of Algorithmic Pricing

This blog entry tells a highly amusing story about algorithmic pricing on Amazon.

Wow! A book about flies that costs more than $23 million! Who knew?

(Tip of the cap to Jaideep Singh.)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Congratulations to Vivien Chua!

Vivien Chua, one of my former undergraduate students from my Georgia Tech days, just got a faculty job offer in Civil and Environmental Engineering from National University of Singapore. (She's from Singapore, so she gets to go back home.) Congratulations!

Also, this makes me feel old.

Operation of Dodgers Taken Over by Major League Baseball

Commisioner Bud Selig has announced today that operation of the Dodgers has been taken over by Major League Baseball.

The Dodgers and I make a great pair, don't we? Can somebody save me from myself, too?

Clarification: Nobody has actually taken me over.

Update (4/26/11): Here is an article in Slate about hopefully soon-to-be-former Dodger owner Frank McCourt, who LA Times columnist T. J. Simers calles "the parking lot attendant". I want my Dodger stability back! It was still that way when I was growing up! (Tip of the cap to Mariano Beguerisse Díaz for the Slate article.)

Friday, April 15, 2011

Eat Your Heart Out, Oscar Gamble!

Oakland Athletics outfielder Coco Crisp is evoking memories of Oscar Gamble with his huge new afro. Bring it on! (And, seriously, look at the top picture on the linked page.)

Oh, and I wholeheartedly approve!

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Quote of the Day: Google Edition

Somebody got to my website in an attempt to find the phrase sex is the subjugation of the desire to do mathematics. I have no idea who, if anybody, said this---but I tip my hat to him/her.

And if you do know the origin of this quote, please let me know.

A Video on Teaching Science with Videos

Here is a very cool video about using short videos to help teaching scientific ideas.

If you watch the video, you might note it a bit ironic that I feel like this video reinforces my conceptions of how science should be taught. :)

(Tip of the cap to Quentin Miller.)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

"Historians Admit To Inventing Ancient Greeks"

This might be The Onion's funniest article ever. Seriously, it's hilarious! And you don't even have to be a historian to find it funny. :)

Monday, April 11, 2011

Racial/Ethnic "Sensitivity"

To use one of my favorite lines, you're doing it wrong.

The original poster looks like it's real, so somebody failed. Epically. I just don't understand what some people are thinking.

This Press Release Spun Me Right Round, Baby, Right Round

Caltech has just published a new press release in connection with a new paper in Physical Review Letters about visualizing vortices warped in space and time.

The press release includes the following line: “Anything that falls into a vortex gets spun around and around,” says Dr. Robert Owen of Cornell University, the lead author of the paper.

You know what would be infinitely cooler, though? If the quote instead read as follows: “Anything that falls into a vortex gets spun around and around like a record, baby,” says Dr. Robert Owen of Cornell University, the lead author of the paper.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Ph.D. Dissertation in Haiku Form

Here is my Ph.D. dissertation in haiku form:

Vibrating quantum billiards
have chaos.
I've moved on since then.

I know I'm late to the game, but I'm on the look-up-references part of writing chapter 2 of my book and a certain collaborator's website (hey, I'm citing you!) reminded me of this meme.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

I don't belong anywhere.

I don't actually belong anywhere (I'm pretty convinced of this), but when I'm with my closest friends I can sometimes pretend that I do belong somewhere. :/

Otherwise, I just need to keep myself sufficiently busy and distracted so that my thoughts don't go in these directions.

(By the way, when I write that I don't belong anywhere, this is not any desire to "fit in" or conform but rather to just have things "feel right". I want to feel like I am in the right place, and I rarely ever feel that way. Most of the times that I do feel that way are when I am with a very few people who are special to me, and naturally I get to spend much less time with them than I'd like. Most of the time, I'm sort of just restlessly wandering through the world in between those precious few times that feel right.)

Friday, April 08, 2011

The Oregon State Legislature is Never Gonna Give You Up!

Yes, that's right: It's a legislative rickroll. Wow! Or should I say, "Ooh." Now that rocks!

(Tip of the cap to Justin Howell.)

So Much for my American League "Comeback Player of the Year" Prediction

Some of you might remember that I recently predicted that Manny Ramirez will win the American League Comeback Player of the Year award. Well, never mind.

As it turns out, Manny seems to have run afoul of Major League Baseball's drug policy again and has decided to screw it and retire as an active player.

It looks like my preseason baseball predictions are well on their aware to being an epic failure.

Oh, and for those of you familiar with certain happenings back in the day at Beverly High, maybe the most appropriate one-line comment is: "Where have you gone, Rico Brogna"? (Most of you won't understand this comment, but a select few will.)

Two-Way Streets

Sometimes, it can be really amusing when a one-way street becomes a two-way street.

The caption of that poster really sucks, though!

I'll buy a drink for whoever comes up with my favorite caption for that poster.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Public Lecture on "The Physics of Social Networks": Part 2

My public lecture at Oxford now has its own web page. It takes place Monday 9 May at 6pm. See you there!

I gave some details on an older blog entry. The physics website no longer indicates needing to e-mail to reserve a spot, and I have confirmed with them that one can just show up.

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Green Jelly Beans Linked to Acne!

You better be careful, because scientists have found that green jelly beans are linked to acne (at least according to xkcd).

This particularly xckd sure hits the nail on the head, doesn't it?

Monday, April 04, 2011

I am Overwhelmed, and I Need More Sleep.

Oh, bloody Hell. I just highlighted the train station address on my computer screen in order to copy it and then paste it onto my hard copy where I need to write this down. I can't believe I just did this.

Friday, April 01, 2011

I Pay Attention to Details

One of my PhD students just wrote me an e-mail and mentioned, I was thinking of last time [with] someone knocking on the door of your office while you were listening to music (the door was open), and you didn't notice him until I sent you an email saying "there is someone behind
you at your office".

This comment was in response to my desiring a loud knock on my door rather than an e-mail if a fire breaks out at the hotel where this person and I are both staying. [My fire alarm apparently doesn't work. An e-mail warning was then promised when I mentioned this, so I requested a loud knock on my door instead.]

And have I ever told you about the time at Caltech that someone was juggling knives over my head while I was playing Mario Kart and I had no idea that that was happening...? (I did, however, hear him say something about people not paying attention to their surroundings---but I didn't think much of the comment until I found out later about the knives.)

Celebrating April 1st

This year's April 1st celebrations weren't as good as last year's.

Google introduced TiSP, which had its moments (especially the 'file not found' page, which took an amusing stab at a certain class of physicists). introduced GMail Motion. (This does remind me, though, that Google announced GMail for real on a previous April 1st.) Do any of you know whether Google did anything in other countries?

Tor introduced new fantasy game, and I gave a talk on "Synchronization of Cows" (several people needed to be assured that that is in fact real).

(Tip of the cap to Puck Rombach and Justin Howell.)

Update (4/2/11): has an article with some pranking highlights of April 1st.