Hell Anyone? (Midterms)

“Mid-terms have now stretched to basically 5 or 6 weeks (almost half the semester), and consist of little more than hell. And, on top of it all, we have to go class and try to keep up on our daily class work and readings. I am not super-man! I am not even She-ra! I am Barney on the Super-Hero-meter right now. I am nothing but a lowly student trying to…

Why I am a Bad Correspondent

“When the novel comes to an end, I feel a certain letdown, a loss of contact. It is natural to want to recapture that feeling by reading other works by the same author, or by corresponding with him/her directly. All of this seems perfectly reasonable—I should know, since I have had these feelings myself! But it turns out to be a bad idea.” Neal Stephenson –Why I am a Bad…

Rings Around the Sun

“Not only was there a halo around the Sun–the so-called ’22° halo,’ which sky watchers often see–but also there was an enormous ring of light running parallel to the horizon at the same altitude as the sun. It was like a giant angel’s halo suspended above my town, interrupted every 120° by a brighter splash of light (more ‘mock suns’). ‘That’s the complete parhelic circle!’ I exclaimed aloud to the…

Physics bitten by reverse Alan Sokal hoax?

“We all laughed when Alan Sokal wrote a deliberately silly paper entitled “Transgressing the Boundaries: Towards a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity”, and managed to get it accepted by a refereed journal of social and cultural studies, Social Text. But now I hear that two brothers have managed to publish 3 meaningless papers in physics journals as a hoax – and even get Ph.D. degrees in physics from Bourgogne University…

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Clown Paintings

“But these 60-some full-color plates are, most likely, not the reason you’d want to own Clown Paintings. I mean, if you’re like me, you spend a little too much time every day trying to avoid clowns, so why would you want to bring a bunch of pictures of them into your home? (Except maybe to frighten the neighborhood children.)” Jim Knipfel reviews Clown Paintings, edited by Diane Keaton –Clown PaintingsNY…

Reuters Accused in Web Privacy Case

A small Swedish company posted its quarterly earnings on its website, without any password protection, but without publicizing the URL. A Reuters reporter guessed the URL and found the report before it was supposed to be released. Now the reporter is being sued for Hacking a URL, which is a fundamental navigation technique that many users employ every day. –Reuters Accused in Web Privacy CaseSalon) Let’s go a little further…

The Impact of "Too Much Information"

“Techniques for managing information are the new critical ‘meta-skills’ needed to stay current (and hopefully sane). Gurus urging ‘simplicity’ and ‘turn off technology’ (while very sage advice) miss an important point: nothing is slowing down. What we need is simplicity in how we manage information, not simplicity by ignoring or turning off information.” gsiemens –The Impact of “Too Much Information”ELearnSpace) One bit of information that I’d like to see on…

Arming America Professor Resigns in Wake of Investigation

Follow-Up: A history professor ‘s controversial claims about the origins of gun culture — and his inability to back up those claims using scholarly methiods accepted by his peers — cost him his job. A passage from Emory’s official investigative report (a PDF document) — “Taking all this into account, we are led to conclude that, under Question 5, Professor Bellesiles did engage in “serious deviations from accepted practices in…

Insultingly Stupid Movie Phyiscs: Outerspace Explosions

“Star Trek originally got it right. In early episodes, when something exploded in outerspace, it made no sound. That’s because there is no air in outerspace to transmit sound…. Yes, an explosion probably would create an expanding cloud of gases which would eventually impact a spaceship in its path. However, in the vacuum of space this expanding cloud of gas would have a very low density. When it hit a…

Gar's Tips on Sucks-Less Writing

“When writing, don’t try to edit as you go. Say what you want to say, unencumbered by the constant commentary from that fussy little editor swimming around inside your head. First, get it all down. Then, have at it, keeping what works and bug-zapping the rest. By separating writing and editing functions, you can convince yourself that you’re just doing a first draft. This way, you often end up with…