Hillary maneuvering for 2012?

March 23, 2008

I’m not a political blogger: more people do it far better than I do. However, I want to draw attention to an otherwise completely overlooked post by Cenk Uygur over at HuffPo.

Uygur’s premise is that she knows that she has already lost the 2012 election, and knows that she will be effectively too old to run for office in 2016 . So her only option is to insure that Obama loses the election to McCain, so that she can run in 2012.

I am not, and never have been, a Hillary hater. However, I’ve been appalled by her behavior in this election after super Tuesday. Normally I would have dismissed such a theory as sensationalism. But how else are we to interpret Hillary’s comment that only she and McCain had the proper experience? How else are we to interpret Bill Clinton’s comment that only Hillary and McCain love their country. These are odious comments made by politicos desperate for attention. For all that the Clintons had done and been through, I always believed they had the best interests of the Democratic Party at heart. Until now.

Essential Python Reading List

March 19, 2008

I just noticed the blog Word Aligned, which has lots of great python stuff there, among which I found the Essential Python Reading List. Word!

Science and Beer

March 18, 2008

Great story about an article on the correlation between scientific publishing and citation and beer drinking:

Science and Beer (via Mr Verb).

In brief:

[T]he more beer a scientist drinks, the less likely the scientist is to publish a paper or to have a paper cited by another researcher, a measure of a paper’s quality and importance.

The results were not, however, a matter of a few scientists having had too many brews to be able to stumble back to the lab. Publication did not simply drop off among the heaviest drinkers. Instead, scientific performance steadily declined with increasing beer consumption across the board, from scientists who primly sip at two or three beers over a year to the sort who average knocking back more than two a day.

As a scientist who no longer drinks any alcohol, I certainly welcome this. However,  what type of window are we averaging over here? Do I have to count the terrifying amounts I used to drink in my youth?

Jon Kabat-Zinn video on YouTube

March 17, 2008

There’s a great video by Jon Kabat-Zinn on meditation and mindfulness over at YouTube. Kabat-Zinn wrote my favorite book on meditation, Wherever You Go, There You Are. The video continues some of the wonderful ideas in the book.

Lightspeed Champion

March 14, 2008

Absolutely fabulous set by Lightspeed Champion on the All Songs Considered web site. Evidently playing in a public park in Austin, amazing how good they sound. This is the most interesting new band I’ve heard in the last year, and they don’t disappoint here.

Firefox 3 is a big step forward

March 13, 2008

Firefox has released Beta 4 of Firefox 3 this week. I have periodically checked the new releases as they’ve been posted, but it was only this version that impressed me enough to make it my default browser. The feel of the browser is much faster than previous versions. As some of the developers have posted, the memory use is much improved. I like the new bookmark management system Places, though I can’t really claim to “get” it yet. I can’t really point to any of these as the main reason for this version becoming my default when the others did not, and I will sorely miss Google Browser Sync, until they get that extension to work with v3.0. But the overall user experience with 3.0B4 is wonderful.

Oxford, by Peel

March 12, 2008

The SXSW music showcase has the wonderful song Oxford by the group Peel. I liked this song so much I bought the whole album, and was then a bit disappointed that the other songs weren’t as good as this one. But that doesn’t diminish what is a fun, infectious song that you should definitely check out.

Lockhart’s Lament on Mathematics

March 12, 2008

Lockhart’s Lament is an article written by Paul Lockhart, and school math teacher, in 2002 and widely circulated but never published. The article begins with an analogy to music teaching: what if music teaching were made manditory, but they only taught the notes, the keys, the theory, and never played music or wrote songs or enjoyed the whole enterprise. This, Lockhart holds, is what we’ve done to mathematical education: We have distilled it to a series of meaningless notation, but have removed the beauty and the joy behind the symbols.

As a postscript to this, also see Marvin Minsky’s What Makes Mathematics Hard to Learn.

And, for that matter, it’s worth giving another plug to Project Euler, which I think comes very close to Lockhart’s ideal for mathematical education.

Michael Pollan: Don’t Eat Anything That Doesn’t Rot

March 11, 2008

Alternet has a good article by Michael Pollan entitled Don’t Eat Anything That Doesn’t Rot. Much he did in last year’s NY Times article Unhappy Meals, he cuts through much of the fog surrounding nutrition and food policy and comes up with a new simple root for eating.

Chris Bathgate – Serpentine

March 10, 2008

Very pretty song: Chris Bathgate singing Serpentine, another song from the 2008 SXSW Music Showcase.