Archive for the ‘Blogging’ Category

-Happy new year!

-Wait, it’s January 23rd, – you’re going to say – aren’t you a bit late?

-Sure, I’m late. So?



Well, that’s one more imaginary conversation with the audience of this blog. You might wonder if I disappeared from the face of the earth. As you can see, I’m still alive and the radio silence is over. I took a holiday break after my sabbatical quarter in the fall, and when I came back there was a tsunami of paperwork and stuff I didn’t have to care about in the fall waiting for me. The mountain of accumulated stuff pounced onto any available time that I had to do anything and it played with me like a kitty plays with its food before eating it.

Needless to say, my research and any reasonable activity took a hit. Which made me even  persevere more in keeping my weekends free from work or any activity that could be construed as being even remotely related to work.

I’m finally getting caught up with this stuff so things will hopefully go back to normal.


In the meantime I’m going to open this post as a suggestion for topics that I could cover in the near future. Just in case there is some nagging question out there that anyone might want to have answered and that I might know the answer to, or any discussion that people are waiting to have and have found n other forum.




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Random photos of the day

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Here you see some random pictures of the day. They were take on Saturday Oct 2nd with my very handy ipod nano that was gifted to me a while ago. Except that it does not take pictures, but video. Don’t expect good photos from something so spontaneous, it was just handy at the moment. The audio was not good at all.

To convert the video to pictures I had to use the image capture of my computer screen (it produces rather large files), only after I figured how to get the movies transfered to my computer.  Then I went through a process of reducing the file size by trying random programs until I was able to find the one that would do the job. Turns out there’s more than one, but it took me a while to figure it out.

Of course, part of the fun of blogging is sharing truly random stuff. Like a weird vantage point to take a picture of Times square, or a mushroom formation that looks like a real crown.

I have been too busy finishing various stuff with deadlines in the past few weeks to make a long post about anything serious, so instead this stuff that I just happened on will do in the meantime.

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Babelfish fun.

Here I am, completely overwhelmed by my academic endeavors (hence the low amount of recent blog posts). Over the past few months I have collected spam in Russian directed to this site, and turned it via Babelfish into English. These are the spam messages that say, in some form or another: your blog is good, with a link to a dubious website. This is unlike the random letters with nasty links sort of spam. The whole point of this exercise is that the simple message above gets garbled. I’m sure that having a lot of slang helps in this. Plus it also shows some interesting cultural differences between here and there, wherever there might be.

  1. Sufficiently interesting and cognitive theme
  2. Outstanding [statya].[Respekt] to the author.
  3. It is excellently written! I will much think…
  4. [Mlin], [spamery] simply reached already by this their primitive!
  5. This here from what you did take that so especially and one-sided? I think that it is possible to make in order to open this hypothesis.
  6. But why it is here exclusive thus? I search for, why not to enlarge this theme.
  7. Well why you did solve only thus? I reflect, how it is possible to enlarge this theme.
  8. [Blog] is very qualitative. To you reward for it or order of honor. =)

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A murder of crows

Lunch here can be very entertaining at times. Especially on days like today where we didn’t speak about physics at all. Today I learned that the proper plural for a (relatively large) set of crows is a murder of crows. Unexpected, perhaps, but I’m sure there is an illustrious reason for the name of such a collection of birds to be named such. That is not too different from a school of fish or a herd of antelope. Except for the fact that the plural collective sounds more gruesome in the case of  crows. Here is a link where you can find a few of these fun plurals. Now, in the spirit of this idea, here are a few suggestions on plurals for professionals:

  • A confusion of economists.
  • An arrogance of physicists.
  • A rabble of politicians.
  • A conspiracy of lawyers.

Some suggested a co-set of mathematicians. It doesn’t ring right.  I’m still considering what would be the correct way to describe large numbers of accountants ( a book of accountants, perhaps?). Perhaps I could play to stereotypes that accountants are boring, but I couldn’t find something that sounded quite right either. Bring in your witty suggestions. It is especially important to play to stereotypes of professions. Looking especially for fun ways to describe academics of various branches.

Update: it’s a congress of baboons as well. No surprise there.

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One year.

It seems incredible, but this blog has turned one year old.

Right now, I’m at the airport in London waiting for my next flight to a conference this week. More details will be available later. In the meantime, I’ll find some way to celebrate the passing of time and the one year anniversary of the blog.

Thanks to all the readers and commenters that keep on returning.

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Well, the contributions on quarky literature have stopped, so we can open the hood of the post and check if anything interesting is available. After rummaging I’ll have to declare  Augustine the winner, for his wonderful piece on the mind workings of  some, mostly male, physicists.

Up and down Nature’s curves
the physicist’s glance wanders,
taking in her strange charms,
admiring her bottom
and what her top hides.

So give Augustine a big clap! In the meantime I’ll try to see if I can work a cartoon drawing with that.

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Writers block

As it is not surprising, even in the medium of a blog one can get writers block. Even though I can comfortably believe that I will be forgiven for any silly thought or misspelled word, I still find myself unable at the moment to find a topic or post that I would be willing to spend some time on writing.

I have plenty of topics that I plan to cover, but I just can seem to find myself in the mood to write anything remotely interesting. The worst part of it all, is that it seems that this is the 100th post of the blog. So, it should have been special. Oh well, what can I do?


Of course, I can deflect by sending you around the web. 


Bee has some interesting thoughts on science journalism.

Terrence Tao is compiling a Latex for WordPress bug collection.

Peter Coles talks about the ecliptic anomalies in the WMAP and he has quite a few pretty pictures to go along with it.

Gordon Watts seems to have the next generation of CV technology in his hands.

Apart from those, we were celebrating Stanley Mandelstam’s birthday at the KITP here on Friday. I could not attend all the talks because I had to teach class, but it was really nice to see how relevant Stanley’s legacy is, even today. From the talks I could attend to, I found the talk by Joe Polchinski to be truly amazing. It was really a pleasure to see it live and I found it to be very inspirational. It is one of the few online talks that I would really recommend for people in the business of string theory and related areas to hear and see.

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