Friday, July 30, 2010

Friday Fun Video: The Guild and "Game On!"

The hilarious geeks of "The Guild" are back with another musical dance number.  (Remember "Do You Wanna Date My Avatar"?)  This time they've taken a cue from Bollywood!  Alessandra and Koz, this one's especially for you lovelies.

<br/><a href="http://www.bing.com/videos/watch/video/season-4-music-video-game-on/y0da39gh?from=sp&fg=shareObject" target="_new"title="Season 4 - Music Video - "Game On"">Video: Season 4 - Music Video - "Game On"</a>

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Nerd News: More on the Debating the Merits of Tenure (or Lack Thereof)

Remember this ongoing issue?  Well, more nerds pile on!  Plus the quote of the day: "While I can see decent arguments against tenure, they are nothing like so urgent as the arguments against the powers of university ‘administrators’."  YES.  My disdain for edu-crats of all stripes knows no bounds.

Geek Fun: Starship Smackdown at Comic Con 2010

Which science fiction starship is the best?  Let the geektastic debate begin!  Last night the Cine-Sib and I, with some friends, were busy arguing about this over dinner.  The Cine-Sib wants the Defiant on there.  I still stand by my TARDIS even though it doesn't have any weapons -- since I think you should expand the definition of starship awesomeness beyond just the ability to blow stuff up (though that is pretty cool too).

Bulls 1, Bullfighting 0 as Catalonia Outlaws the Ancient Tradition

I'm not sure how I feel about this.

Fugly or Fabulous? Laver's Law of Fashionable Clothing

Fascinating!  More here.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Nerd Journal: A Slice of Life

If you must be stuck in ridiculous big-city rush-hour traffic jams, you might as well be stuck in them with the Cinema-Mad Sibling.  Yesterday we simply cranked up the radio and had a big traffic-jam singalong.  Let me tell you, you haven't lived until you've heard the Cine-Sib and I break into a hammy version of "I've Had the Time of My Life" -- which is scary, since we remembered the lyrics even though we haven't heard the song in years. 

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Nerd Journal: Fleeing from Nerdworld

Mind you, I can't really afford to leave, either in terms of time or money, but I'm going to do it anyway.  I'm escaping from the Library of Doom to go visit the Cinema-Mad Sibling and some dear old friends for a couple of days.  Don't tell the Nerd Lords!  I give you a line from "Doctor Who" that seems to sum up what I'm thinking and feeling in the middle of my current summer nerd research hell.  The Doctor is facing down his old nemesis Davros and the Daleks, and then in response to Davros' taunting, the Time Lord says this around 1:20:

(Below the fold since alien guts are involved.)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Nerd News: The Decline of Tenure

Here is an interesting debate: "What If College Tenure Dies?"

UPDATE 1: More here.

UPDATE 2: A thought.  There's a lot more going on in the tenure discussion that it looks.  As a nerd, I'm also struck by the thought that there are some misconceptions in the conversation, especially on the part of non-academics.  I don't have time right now to write a full-blown post about tenure and its need for reform (I do think the question of "what is tenure good for?" is a legitimate one that we should talk about).  But here's a sidenote about the forgotten: a large amount of teaching on any university campus is done by lecturers and adjuncts.  They don't have tenure nor the chance of getting it.  It's like an entire academic underclass.

Quote of the Day: Craig Ferguson on Sci Fi and Fantasy Fandom

I'll get back to "serious" blogging about foreign and domestic politics later (ummm ... sorry?).  I found this quote and I could not resist.  Look what Scottish (now Scottish-American -- congrats on being naturalized, sir!) comedian Craig Ferguson had to say recently (begins at 4:37 if you bother going, though the quote's all you need, and I have it right here):
"There’s rivalry between the Harry Potter fans and the Twilight fans. And Twilight fans think they’re much cooler than the Harry Potter fans. And I’m like, I dunno why, they’d all get their @$$ kicked by the Doctor Who fans."
Ferguson then yells, "That's right!  I am one!"  Absolutely fantastic.  Have you any doubt at all that tough, smart, sassy, independent Who fans like La Parisienne and California Dreamer and Alessandra and I could have Twilight fans for breakfast?  It wouldn't even be a contest.  And we'd still have room for croissants afterwards.   Oh, and remember the end of this?

Nerd Journal: Paper Given to Nerd Lord Today!

24 pages double-spaced, baby. Comparatively speaking, it's not that big or bad a nerd paper, but the Nerd Lord I gave it to is no ordinary Nerd Lord.  He's The Big Kahuna, the Object of My Nerd Idolatry, the reason I went to my particular Nerdworld.  Now to wait with bated breath until said mighty Nerd Lord gets back to me!  Now, gentle reader, keep your fingers crossed that his response isn't this.

I can't rest much, though.  I have
more massive research obligations to do before fall classes start, but I'm fast running out of summer!

Still, I'm going to slack off for a little while because hey, I did just turn in 24 pages, all carefully footnoted and everything.  Tomorrow I'm going to pick blueberries with a friend at a farm not too far away, and I just baked a big evil chocolate cake for
myself!  Oh, the whole apartment smells like fresh warm chocolate cake, and it is HEAVEN.

For now, though, I'll amuse you with something that fellow literature fan La Parisienne and I have been amusing ourselves with.  Personally, I don't like Tennessee Williams, but I might have found the only thing that will make me look twice at a certain famous play of his.  Oh, identify the play -- but it's basically a gimme.


Nerd/Geek News: German University Teaches Computer Geeks How to Flirt

Here's the news story.  Blurb:

Even the most quirky of computer nerds can learn to flirt with finesse thanks to a new "flirting course" being offered to budding IT engineers at Potsdam University south of Berlin. 

The 440 students enrolled in the master's degree course will learn how to write flirtatious text messages and emails, impress people at parties and cope with rejection. 

Geek Fun: 28 Fictional Characters on Twitter

Tweet, tweet, my lovelies.  Rated PG-13, though.  (Via Neatorama).  Oh, Internet culture!  Plenty of your favorite pop culture figures that you love (or love to hate) are tweeting like mad.  I give you an example or two:



Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Grad School Metaphor: Another Day in the Life

Via the Presurfer comes this fantastic photo.  If you have to ask which is the professorial Nerd Lord and which is the grad student, then clearly you've never been to grad school!  (Gotta say -- my favorite detail is the poor monitor lizard's floppy tongue!)

A Memo Pad of Honest Practicality

By the wags at Knock Knock:

Fugly or Fabulous? Dress to Kill in These Shoes


Christian Louboutin Bianca Platform Pumps in merlot leather.
An impossible dream!  But I can LOOK.

Geek News: Life Imitates Sci Fi with Time Travel and Quantum Mechanics

Via a cool little post at io9, here is a recent actual abstract for research on the topic.  The paper is here in PDF.  The physicists involved hail from MIT, the Scuola Normale Superiore (in Pisa, Italy), and the Tokyo Institute of Technology.  Upshot: paradox-free time travel? Or at least (gratuitous "Doctor Who" reference in 3... 2... 1...), WIBBLY-WOBBLY TIMEY-WIMEY!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Nerd Journal: If I Could Be a Real-Life TV Trope ...

Oh, TV Tropes is a glorious website!  I'm thinking that, given a choice, I would want to be either this trope or this one.  Ooooh, or probably this one too -- it even comes with a lovely quote from the poetry of Dryden!  Or this, which comes with an even more awesome quote about the sage and his (let's make it "her" too!) books:
Trouble rather the tiger in his lair than the sage amongst his books. For to you kingdoms and armies are things mighty and enduring, but to him they are but toys of the moment, to be overturned by the flicking of a finger.
OH YEAH.  That's about five kinds of awesome.  

Nerd/Geek Fun: The Large Hadron Collider Explained Visually!

Seriously, who's got the time or inclination right now to go into the nitty-gritty details about how the Large Hadron Collider near Geneva works?  It's the world's largest particle accelerator, right?  Check out Geeks Are Sexy's hilarious visual aid:


Hm, why isn't the animated GIF working on my blog?  Just go to Geeks Are Sexy  to see the fun.

Jeremy Lin on Verge of NBA Signing

Who's Jeremy Lin?  A Taiwanese-American member of Harvard's basketball team now in talks with three different NBA teams.  Not bad, not bad at all.  It'll be fun to see another Asian besides Yao Ming out on the court!  Oh, and if Lin goes to the NBA, he'll be the first Hahvahd man to go that since 1953.  Not too shabby!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Movie Madness: "Exam"

Art imitates (nerd) life?  The flick is supposed to be a terrifying psychological thriller.  Here is the movie teaser poster.  Oh, by the way, this is just another day at Nerdworld.  UPDATE: the trailer -- annoyingly -- played automatically when I linked to it, so I took it down.  Just go here to see it.

Quote of the Day: Culture Clash in Domestic Politics

A Brit looks at current American politics and compares it to class-based portions of British politics.  It's an interesting read, and the following is our quote of the day:
The president's determination to transform the US into a social democracy, complete with a centrally run healthcare programme and a redistributive tax system, has collided rather magnificently with America's history as a nation of displaced people who were prepared to risk their futures on a bid to be free from the power of the state.
BINGO.  Look at how succinctly and piquantly he has identified one of the core problems of the Obama Administration's domestic policy initiatives: we don't want European-style big government statism.

Even more quotable goodness after the fold below:

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Economic Gloom: Are We Going to Repeat Japan's Lost Decade?

Oh my.  When "banzai" turns into "boohoo."

You may remember that I had posted last year about repeating Japan's mistakes and about what some of those mistakes were.

History in Photographs: Old Taiwan

Check this awesome archive of some 3200 vintage photos of old Taiwan -- a place that has long since vanished.   Check out, for instance, these street views of Taipei from "back in the day."  How far we've come!  Notice too how you sometimes see Japanese flags flying in photos from the pre-WWII (Japanese colonial) era.

Link via the always-fantastic
View From Taiwan blog (xie-xie, Michael!).

Nerd Fun: What Famous Writer Do You Write Like?

Try this!  I had it analyze this recent blog post, and it told me:


I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

Then I used this rant, and, finally, I tried this recent movie review, and the program said the same thing.  David Foster Wallace.  Meh, whatever.  Really?


OK, now brace yourself.  Then I pasted in my most recent Nerdmoot conference paper, and I got THIS:


I write like
William Shakespeare
I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!

It's patent nonsense, of course, but I grinned like the Cheshire Cat when I read THAT!  I felt like spiking my laptop and dancing around my apartment in triumph or something.

The Cinema-Mad Sibling put in some of his movie reviews, and it told him that he writes like James Joyce and Dan Brown (and, yes, of course, I laughed at him!).

Disgustingly Cute: Googling with Kittens

Via Presurfer, here is Googling With Kittens.  Go and see for yourself.  It does exactly what it says on the tin.

Awesome Art Nerd News: A New Caravaggio Painting Discovered in Italy?

OH, PLEASE, LET THIS BE TRUE!

Willful Self-Delusion 2, Objective Reality 0

Read this. Blurb:
Intellectuals, like everyone else, live and work in a marketplace. In order to get noticed they must say things which have not been said before, or at least say them in a different manner. No one is likely to obtain many plaudits for the rather obvious, indeed self-evident, thought that a street robber cannot commit street robberies while he is in prison. But an intellectual who first demonstrates that the cause of an increase in street robbery is the increase in the amount of property that law-abiding pedestrians have on them as they walk in the streets is likely to be hailed, at least until the next idea comes along. Thus, while there are no penalties for being foolish, there are severe penalties (at least in career terms) for being obvious.
Then read this. Blurb:
No one is more sentimental than our intelligentsia, at the root of most of whose ideologies is a sentimental disregard of the most obvious realities, in favour of absurdities they would prefer to be true.
So, yeah, we're all obfuscating ourselves to death.


RELATED POST: Intellectuals and the really, really bad ideas they often support.  I should put the word intellectuals into scare quotes: "intellectuals."

MM in the Kitchen: Decisions, Decisions -- Dinner or Dessert?

Which one should I make?  Mini-meatball sandwiches or peach-blueberry cobbler?

Awesome Advertising: A Hilarious Corporate Viral Marketing Campaign

It's the hilarious return of the Old Spice Guy!  (Previous ads here.)

For your weekend entertainment,
click through here for convenient links to all 4 videos in the ongoing Tweetfest between the Old Spice Guy and actress Alyssa Milano.  It's a perfect combination of Internet culture and advertising.

Nerd Journal : Epic Filial Piety Fail

I just realized that it's my mom's birthday today and I forgot to send her a card.  Ugh.  (You know, of course, that I will now never hear the end of it, and she will use it as fresh ammunition in her maternal guilt-trip lectures.  So I am doubly screwed.)


Make It D'oh!

Nerdworld Soundtrack: Josh Groban

Because it did rain earlier! And because Groban's got quite a set of pipes.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Nerdworld Soundtrack: The Fratellis

This is for La Parisienne for a Friday afternoon treat.  Look who else likes the Fratellis... !  It's adorkable, all right.  Oh, and if you, gentle reader, don't know this Scottish alternative rock band from Glasgow, you can have a listen at Pandora or Rhapsody or on their MySpace page.


Look Out Sunshine!

Cartoon Commentary: Capping a Disaster

This is the latest from the piquant and talented cartoonist Michael Ramirez:


Forgotten History: Mayonnaise 1, Nazis 0

Check out this story from the French Resistance!  Bonus: Marcel Marceau is involved.  No, really.  Blurb:

[Philippe] Mora, 60, praised the bravery of his father and Marceau. ''Marceau told me this story about my dad being called Mr Mayonnaise in the French Resistance.''
His father, who had escaped from Germany after the book-burning, noticed German soldiers would never search sandwiches containing mayonnaise in case drips stained their uniforms.
So the Resistance wrapped the identity papers of Jewish children being smuggled over borders in greaseproof paper, smeared them with mayonnaise and inserted them into sandwiches.
And so the fear of a fashion faux pas led to an ingenious tactic!

Friday Fun: Online History Quiz + Race Against the Clock

Have a go!  I got 100% and 1616 points.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Nerdworld Soundtrack: Scouting For Girls

Here's something from one of my favorite bands, the UK group Scouting For Girls.  Title of the song: "It's Not About You."  Glorious fun as it riffs on the old "It's not you; it's me" breakup line!  And a cute video too, right at the end.

Quirky Euro Files: The "Ladies of the Czech Parliament" Calendar

Heehee!  If you got it, flaunt it!

Don't Fence Me In: Overnight Lockdown in Beijing's Migrant Neighborhoods

This is not the kind of "gated community" that you want, people.  Read the whole thing.  I give you a blurb here:
The government calls it "sealed management." China's capital has started gating and locking some of its lower-income neighborhoods overnight, with police or security checking identification papers around the clock, in a throwback to an older style of control.
It's Beijing's latest effort to reduce rising crime often blamed on the millions of rural Chinese migrating to cities for work. The capital's Communist Party secretary wants the approach promoted citywide. But some state media and experts say the move not only looks bad but imposes another layer of control on the already stigmatized, vulnerable migrants.
Aside from being yet another example of the perils of living in a police state, all this seems ... weirdly familiar somehow.  Hmmmm.  Very ... 16th century Venice, y'know.

You may recall that we've talked on this blog before about the plight of China's millions of rural poor, whose lives are miserable in the hinterlands and also in the cities, where they flock for jobs and end up being second-class citizens in their own country.


Jonah Goldberg wants to know
what Thomas Friedman thinks of all this.  Friedman, you will recall, is a Beijing-bootlicking idiot.  Shall I remind you of three people far more courageous than Friedman and his ilk?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Quote of the Day: Intellectuals and the Really, Really Bad Ideas They Often Support

Heh (my emphasis in italics)!  There's something both breathtakingly arrogant and repulsively atavistic about self-proclaimed "intellectuals" and cultural elites embracing the darkness in the name of moral superiority.  Simply unable or unwilling to live like normal folks, eh?
But intellectuals are no more rational than the rest of us, and none of us are wholly rational in our politics. The attractiveness of the resistance takes place on an emotional level, for like all of the most intellectually captivating modernist grand concepts it is a rejection of the Enlightenment, the boredom and the mediocrity of regular politics. The Enlightenment did away with the blood, the magic and mysticism of the great leader, he who decides life and death with a word. And this is what is to be recovered in the resistance: the charisma and authenticity of the human being unrestrained by what Nietzsche called slave morality. From Pound and T.S. Eliot to Martin Heidegger and Michel Foucault and their disciples, for a century the West’s greatest minds have taught that the privilege, and duty, of the Western intellectual is to unmake the West, even—or especially—through violence, even if someone else, like the resistance, must serve as the agent of apocalypse and rebirth . . . The intellectuals are nothing if not spellbound by the economy of force, and equally so in the purgative bloodshed that ensues.
So here's a piece of advice: stay away from wild-eyed idealists who have no grip on reality, who are constantly yelping about "revolution."  These are the folks who, useful idiots and all, enabled and encouraged gulags and killing fields and murderous totalitarianism.  As for me and mine, we shall cheerlead for the West, thanks.  Grad school or not, I make no claims to being an "intellectual," nor do I want to!


UPDATE:  I'm reminded of this very useful statement, including this utterly fabulous quote: 
"It is your responsibility . . . not just to be zealous in the pursuit of your ideals, but to be sure that your ideals are the right ones. Not merely in their ends, but in their means. That is perhaps the hardest part of being a good human being: Good intentions are not enough. Being a good person begins with being a wise person, then when you follow your conscience, will you be headed in the right direction."

It's the Economy, Stupid!

WELL, DUH!

Nerd News: The College Campus Diversity Fixation and Its Discontents

I've ranted about this before, so I'll just give you the link.  Suffice it to say, it's a reminder that "diversity" as a motivation ends up harming all sorts of people, including high-achieving Asian students -- we don't count as "minorities," remember.

Fugly or Fabulous? A Crocheted Car Cozy

Here is the source, and here is this gobsmackingly odd photo:




RELATED POST: Previous Smart car madness here.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

General Tso's Long March: the History of Chinese Food in America



Well, you do know, of course, that fortune cookies are an Asian-American invention.  You won't find them in Asia, really, though some restaurants are starting to have them because Western patrons expect them.  Food culture is a funny thing!  And it can be delicious.  (I'll save my rant about "fake" Asian food for another post!)


Oh, and I dedicate this post to Count Chokula, my long-time partner in crime in all things culinary.

Nerd News: UK Claims of Discovering King Arthur's Round Table

Well, here's the news story ... but my Spidey sense  nerd instinct is to be completely skeptical until I see way more evidence.  My finger is on the big red "BS!" button.  (It's rather like the "Armageddon" button, only more fun.)  Aaaaand now I have the sudden desire to watch Monty Python.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Thoughts on China, Taiwan, and the US Military

Dignified Rant has a nice new write-up.  Plus kudos to the US Navy.

Houston, We Have Another Problem: Backpedaling on NASA

First we had this.  Now we have this.  Oh, for goodness sake.  Can we PLEASE get back to space exploration?  Sheesh.

A Tale of Three Chinese Dissidents

A reminder that China is unfree.

Quote of the Day: The Perils of Obamanomics

The whole op-ed is worth reading, but I simply must give you this quote:
... the brute fact remains that even enormous government spending can't revive an economy when government threatens to take away anything you earn.
WELL, OBVIOUSLY!

What's In A Name? UK Politician Busted for Being Wasted at Westminster

The guy's name is -- I kid you not -- Mark Reckless.  He's the MP for Rochester and Strood, and he was apparently too drunk to vote when the time came to vote on the budget.  Yes, he's apologized for his behavior, etc. etc.

ClimateGate Revisited: Nullius In Verba

Read this.  Plus some Latin you can use: Nullius in verba!

Nerd Journal: Evil Enablers Gonna Enable!

Haters gonna hate; enablers gonna ... enable.  La Parisienne and I don't believe in keeping our personal obsessions to ourselves.  We believe in SHARING.  Besides, we only obsess about things worth obsessing about, right?

So recently I got a conspiratorial text from the lovely lady (fresh from a previous triumph) saying that she was going to inflict "Farscape" on Count Chocula.  That same day, I got a text from Count Chockula telling me that he had gotten sucked into "Farscape."  That Parisienne doesn't waste any time!  Dang, girl!  And
"Farscape" was a great sci-fi TV show -- and gone before its time, much like the late, lamented "Firefly."


As for me, yesterday I was busy enabling Foxtrot and Ladybird and Alessandra to watch "Doctor Who" (before and after the World Cup match -- a roomful of friends with HDTV and premium ice cream and a soccer championship and the TARDIS ... Do Sunday afternoons get much better?).  So, yeah, I'd been catching some flak from Alessandra for my Who obsession, but I had them all watch the two-parter "Silence in the Library" and "Forest of the Dead," and that did it for these neophytes to the Whoniverse!


The tipping point: The furious Ten confronting the alien predator Vashta Nerada:  "
Don't play games with me! You just killed someone I like; that is not a safe place to stand!  I'm the Doctor, and you're in the biggest library in the Universe. Look me up."

Don't mess with Texas  Ten.

And then the murderous monster
retreats.

Me: "Admit it.  That's hot."
Alessandra, grudgingly: "All right, that IS hot."
Me: *dance of triumph*

Well, then!  Besides that, the narrative is fun, and watching the ladies respond to it was even more fun.  You could nearly have heard the gears whirring in their heads as they were processing it.  It's a thinking woman's show. We all had a great time.  (And more fun, I dare say, than we had watching the Netherlands-Spain game, which was mostly -- as one of my soccer-loving Nerd Lords said -- "lousy.")


Then we did a selection of different episode intros, and to finish it off with a comedy chaser, we watched the delightful episode from the latest season, 
"The Lodger."  Yes, I'm the Typhoid Mary of Who obsession, and so is La Parisienne.  We share our obsessions because we want you to have as much sci-fi fun with them as we do!  

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Friday, July 09, 2010

Kitchen Notes: Piri-Piri Chicken

Here is a lovely recipe recommendation by Alessandra.  Be warned, though: it is SPICY!

Nerd News: School Choice in the New Orleans Education Revolution

Read this.  What a delightful change from the DC debacle!

Nerd News: Literature And Real World Applications

AWESOME!  Blurb:
The importance of literature to understanding events is probably intuitive to most people. Anyone who has seriously studied the Holocaust, for example, knows that Anne Frank's diary provides a level of insight unattainable through just reading a World War II history book. Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities gives an understanding of the French Revolution (and the long-term implications that we're still discovering) that no non-fiction book could ever do.

This lesson--how great works of literature provide invaluable guidance to understanding events and people--is brilliantly explained in a new book, Grand Strategies, by Charles Hill. In the book, Hill, a highly effective former career diplomat who today lectures at Yale University (and with whom I've worked with in the past), takes readers on a grand tour through the great pieces of literature, along the way explaining their lessons for policymakers.  . . . Taking the argument to another level, Hill shows that being well-read is not just an added benefit to leadership--it's a prerequisite.
OH YES.  Read your history AND your literature, please!

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Houston, We Have a Problem: Astronomical Asinity in New NASA Directive


You don't need me to bang on about the latest example of silliness from the higher-ups.  Regarding the new "direction" for NASA: Somebody please tell me that it's a joke of Onionesque proportions.  Space exploration is about space exploration and things like this or this or this, not about "outreach" or touchy-feely public relations pablum.  That's not science; that's not even junk science.  Like this other fresh example of pseudo-scientific stupidity, the goal isn't knowledge or investigation at all!

You know how much I love science and astronomy and NASA, how space exploration makes my nerdy little heart flutter, so I shall simply post a piquant cartoon (via Bread upon the Waters) and let it speak for me.  Click to enlarge.



UPDATE 1: OK, I can't help myself.  I just have to give you this patently fatuous quote from the news story.  It's by, God help us all, NASA administrator Charles Bolden:  "NASA is not only a space exploration agency.  It's also an earth improvement agency."  Say WHAT?   Oh, for cr*p's sake.  It's not a PR firm.  Has this guy ever read the NASA charter?  

Whatever.  I am now going to go play "I Am A Scientist" by the Dandy Warhols.  Really, really loudly. 

UPDATE 2: More here, with links.   Check out this bit of satirical, sarcastic, hilariously subversive commentary.

Nerd News: Nazi-Era University Policy and Grad Student Impact

Here is some new research from the University of Warwick (via Inside Higher Ed).  Blurb:
An economist's research into the Nazi regime's dismissals of Jewish mathematics professors in the 1930's has led him to conclude that in Ph.D. supervision, big is beautiful.

Between 1933 and 1934, about 18 per cent of all mathematics professors in Germany were stripped of their posts by the Nazis, including some of the most eminent scholars of the day. Fabian Waldinger, assistant professor in the department of economics at the University of Warwick, in Britain, studied the impact of those dismissals on the mathematicians' doctoral students.He found that the students whose subsequent careers were most adversely affected by the dismissals were those who had been supervised by highly cited professors.
This seems obvious, doesn't it?  And yet ... Check out some of the findings and analysis here (in PDF). Anyway, did I really have to remind you that the Nazi policy of purging scholars was both evil and stupid?

I give you the abstract here (warning: it's in Nerdish by an economist, so the language is Double Nerdish):

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Nerd Journal: This One's For the Girls

For La Parisienne and California Dreamer.  Because you deserve it.  Because we're all wishing to escape in the TARDIS.  Because it stinks that we're all in different parts of the country and can't watch "Doctor Who" together.  Because we love it when the Doctor is kicking @$$ and taking names.  And because, deep down, we're all River Song.  Note River quote below too.  Enjoy, my darlings!

Amusing Photo: the Disgruntled Citizenry

A History of Failure: 10 Economic Blunders from the Past

Check these out.  Heh!

Nerd News: What Fresh Hell Is This? Blacklisting Scientists

Not just ANY scientists, mind you.  Scientists who are climate change skeptics.  The list by the National Academy of Sciences has almost 500 names so far.  Nevertheless, the fact that there are 500 scientists who are skeptics and critics of an idea is a fact that IN ITSELF should say something.  Now I seem to remember all those hysterical lefty accusations a while back about evil old Bush's war on science.  How now, brown cow?

Public Service Announcement: the National Academy of Sciences has nuked the fridge and made itself a laughingstock, as far as I'm concerned.

Nerd News: The Education Debacle of the Decade

Read it and weep.  Then go fight for change.

Quote of the Day: UAE Ambassador on Iran's Nuclear Ambitions

The United Arab Emirates ambassador to the US, Yousef al-Otaiba, had this to say, with spectacular and unusual candor:
"We cannot live with a nuclear Iran. ... The United States may be able to live with it.  We can’t."
Then he went on to say something even more stunning: he openly called for military strikes (what?), because -- and here is the second quote of the day from him -- "diplomacy" isn't inspiring any confidence:
"Why should I be led to believe that deterrence and containment will work?"
Read the entire news piece.  It's a firecracker, all right.  Here is some interesting commentary.  Anyway, how long do you think it'll be before al-Otaiba is forced to retract his statement and toe the line on sanctions, diplomacy, international pressure, etc.?  HopeChange.


Oh, and for the record, we can't live with a nuclear Iran either.

Awesome Geek News: Astronomers Take a Portrait of the Ancient Universe


OMG!  These are images of some of the oldest light in the universe.  Look at the new photos from the Planck telescope!  They are stunningly gorgeous.

World Cup Obsession: Germany vs. Spain in Semifinals


It's going to be EPIC.  It better be EPIC.  My beautiful Germans have been on a roll, and I am ludicrously excited about the semifinal match later today.   After the Netherlands knocked off Uruguay yesterday (what a match that was!), I am over the moon.  Those Dutchmen!  The very same who sent Brazil home.  I'm beginning to love these guys.  Can't wait to see them in finals!

As for today's semifinal match.  My buddies are all backing Spain.  Oh, sure, Spain is good, but I have faith in my Germans.  I remember how folks thought they couldn't win against Argentina, and look how that turned out.  I'm a little concerned, though, that Mueller's not playing this match.  Never mind.  Get Klose on the pitch and turn him loose.  On the other side, I expect great things from Villa.

Ooooh, and read this little writeup that says what everybody's thinking: Germany-Spain sounds like a World Cup FINAL.  It describes the Germans with this delicious phrasing: "
playing with discipline and a seamless chemistry that makes their plays unfold like a symphony."  OH YES.  They're beautiful and terrifying all at the same time.  I love it!

I'll leave you with this awesome graphic of World Cup champions from
Geeks Are Sexy.  Is this the year for German glory?  They came so close in 2006.



UPDATE 1: As Hamlet said, "I defy augury!"  We previously met Paul the soccer-predicting octopus here.


(Note: I am also obsessing, as I do every summer, about the Tour de France -- now in Stage 4!  But there will be Tour blogging later. Oh, and my now-standard caveat remains in effect.)


UPDATE 2:  Thanks to the German side for a thrilling ride in this World Cup!  MM still loves her Germans even as she congratulates the Spaniards on their 1-0 victory.  Spain to the World Cup finals for the first time!  That Spain-vs. Netherlands final is going to be AWESOME.


UPDATE 3: I guess Paul the Octopus was right after all.  Well, dang it.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Nerd Journal: More Nerd Summer Research Apocalypse

I'm horribly busy.  So here is something amusing instead of a real post about something of any actual import.  It's the entire newly-concluded fifth season of "Doctor Who" condensed into 2 minutes of musical mayhem. Hey, at least it has great music!  And Matt Smith.  In evening wear.  Dancing like an idiot.


Oh, by the way, and my current mood and status is still this:

Nerd Notes: A Professor Ponders Imprecise Language

Interesting!

Monday, July 05, 2010

Nerd Journal: Back to the Library of Doom

Holiday's over ... Back to work.  *Sigh.*  Nerdwork can really stink!


Running for dear life in a library full of perils.
That about sums it up.

Sunday, July 04, 2010