"Theory" Lost in the Crowd

12/02/07 | by Nimble | Categories: Thoughts, Science

We've been drilling it into people over and over again: "it's just a theory" is wrong when we say Theory of Evolution because Theory in scientific terms means well-proven hypothesis, not just some random guess, and that's true for things like evolution and Atomic Theory and the like.

However, "Theory" is used time and again for things that are not well-proven hypotheses...

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Twenty strange legal cases

12/02/07 | by Adam | Categories: Silly

Link: http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/law/article2741049.ece

Link is to an article on some of the odder legal cases from around the world. My favourite:

3. In 2004, a German lawyer, Dr Juergen Graefe, acted for an elderly pensioner from St Augustin, near Bonn, who was sent a tax demand for €287 million, even though the woman’s income was only €17,000. Dr Graefe fixed the problem with one standard letter to the authorities, but as German law entitles him to calculate his fee based on the amount of the reduction he obtained, his fee came to €440,234 (£308,000). It will be met by the state. There is no evidence that he pushed his luck by writing a thank-you letter.

(Via Antigone)

 

The PowerPoint Gettysburg Address

12/01/07 | by Adam | Categories: Technology, Silly

Link: http://norvig.com/Gettysburg/index.htm

This one's been doing the rounds for a while, but Wired News just reposted it so I thought I would as well.

Also on the site is a description of the history of the "Four Score" slide show since its creation back in 2000; it's funny and quite illuminating.

 

Rands' "Nerd Handbook"

11/30/07 | by Adam | Categories: Technology, Silly

Link: http://www.randsinrepose.com/archives/2007/11/11/the_nerd_handbook.html

Hilarious article on interacting with the nerd in your life. It's completely accurate out to lunch and worth reading.

 

I Like Hugo's "In Three Months" Series

11/29/07 | by Nimble | Categories: Reviews, Books, Languages

When I was at my sister's wedding in the UK, my relatives offered to look after our baby for a few minutes while we rampaged through one of Rochester's used bookshops, "Baggins".

It was far too big for a decent perusal of any sort, but before I left the store, I tracked down its language learning shelves, and I found two book's in Hugo's older language series: Arabic in Three Months and Russian in Three Months. I already had Dutch in Three Months - the only other one I had ever seen in the series - and had thoroughly enjoyed it. In my mind, a good language-learning book - and I grant that this is my style and perhaps nobody else's - should do the following:

  • Give you a good, decent pronunciation guide with as much description as you need to replicate the sounds without CDs or cassettes
  • Keep the pronunciation training wheels on for the first many chapters
  • Give you really good rules of thumb for grammar in the language instead of explaining every exception to death before you need it or insisting that you just have to learn everything as a special case
  • Give you a usable vocabulary
  • Have some good quality assurance so that you don't encounter that often-correct feeling of "hey, they never even gave me this word, and it's not in the mini-dictionary at the end, either

The quality part seems oft overlooked. I'm pleased to say that the Russian one, at the very least in its older incarnation (I've not seen the newer remakes), fulfills this checklist admirably. Now I can truly pester my Russian coworkers in grand style. Well, in a few months, anyhow :)

 

More On Craig Chandler

11/29/07 | by Nimble | Categories: Thoughts, Ethics, Politics, Religion

It has been a little bit tough to find detailed information on what exactly Craig Chandler, the controversial candidate whose comments have landed him in hot water - with Premier Ed Stelmach initiating a formal review - said to get himself in such hot water.

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Klutznik Immortalized

11/29/07 | by Adam | Categories: Games

If you know what this is, no explanation is needed. If you don't, none will suffice :)

 

Programmers in management

11/28/07 | by Adam | Categories: Whining

Link: http://blog.eod.com/post/18462877

I've always wondered if people had the courage of their convictions to insist on a demotion in order to keep their job. Here's a case.

It also leaves me wondering about the general tendency to define managers as more valuable to a corporation than the talented and experienced employees who report to them. The problem for most people is that typically salary and vacations are linked to company status. Without that extra job grade there's no further reward to simply getting better and more efficient at what you do. So, as the article comments, you end up with the Peter Principle in full effect. On the flip side, people who like ordering others around or are indeed good at selling themselves, regardless of capabilities beyond that, rise and succeed. It seems somewhat unjust.

Disclaimer: this discussion isn't pertinent to my current job but certainly reflects past experiences.

(Via Daring Fireball)

 

Hurl.exe, Amazon and Firefox

11/28/07 | by Nimble | Categories: Thoughts, Internet

Okay, maybe you have encountered this, maybe you haven't, but if you try going off and listening to a RealPlayer sound clip on a web site in Firefox... say, for example, of Mitch Hedberg, you might often get it coming up with a dialog asking you to open Hurl.exe...

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The Three Kidneys

11/28/07 | by Nimble | Categories: Distractions, Thoughts, Science

Every now and again, you run into a really odd fact in biology. An interesting but tame one is the fact that we also run through multiple different kinds of globin in our hemoglobin (we're done with Hba-x, or "zeta globin", for example, by the end of the first trimester), from different genes, growing from embryo to infant.

An odder interesting fact is that humans, and indeed all vertebrates, have three successive sets of kidneys.

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"Star Wars" before and after

11/27/07 | by Adam | Categories: Potpourri

A few posts ago I made a comment about George Lucas' 'futzing' around with his films. I figured I might dig out a few references showing the more subtle differences.

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Oh, ouch!

11/26/07 | by Adam | Categories: Potpourri

Link: http://www.thetalentshow.org/2007/11/20/blitzers-folly/

Snarkiest comment I've read all day:

Tuning into CNN these days is like walking into your favorite art gallery and finding all of the walls covered with Thomas Kinkades.

(Wikipedia on Thomas Kinkade. They're far too nice about his art.)

 

Steampunk Star Trek

11/25/07 | by Adam | Categories: YouTube

Link: http://blog.wired.com/gadgets/2007/11/steam-trek-the.html

Another video from the school of "Might Have Been": Star Trek done in the best 1880s tradition.

(Via Wired)

 

"He said 'merkin'; heh heh heh"

11/24/07 | by Adam | Categories: Silly

Sometimes a good classical education gets you into trouble.

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Ruddy Solaris

11/23/07 | by Adam | Categories: Technology, Whining

I have a serious love/hate relationship with UNIX and LINUX systems. Where I love them is that when they're up and running, they tend to stay that way. However, when they're not, they're nearly impossible to troubleshoot.

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