Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Medal analysis

There was a lot of griping in Canada following the country's disappointing medal count in the Athens Olympics. Personally, I thought Canada's 12 medals to first-place USA's 103 was about right on a per capita basis, since the population ratio is 1:9. But Canada can surely take heart in the medal standings at the Paralympics: seventh overall, third in gold medals (ahead of the US). Way to go, Canada!

Complaining about compilers

Like many astronomers, I have written or acquired a small set of Fortran tasks to help in data analysis. All these programs ran fine on the machines I used at Harvard (DEC Alphas), but today I tried to recompile one of them on my Linux machine at the office. Among the many issues with g77 on Linux: 1) It doesn't like the "encode" command, 2) It doesn't support some of the options on the "open" command, 3) It didn't like one of my subroutine names because it has been reserved as an as-yet-unused intrinsic, 4) It complains that I (intentionally) modified a loop variable within a loop, and 5) It doesn't seem to deal with units defined as FORTnn environment variables. After much futzing, I got the program to compile without error, but the algorithm didn't work, even though the program compiled and ran without error on the same data on the Alphas (which I verified today).

Okay, I admit that some of the code is antiquated, and my coding technique is questionable. But that's no excuse for the multiple errors I encountered with g77 under Linux. If code compiles and runs properly on one platform, it ought to work on another platform with another compiler, without reediting.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien

Conan will be given the Tonight Show... but not until 2009.

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Those fake CBS memos

21 SEP 2004

RE: ANNC CBS FK MMS

I kept thinking Vincent was going to post something about those fake memos that look like they were made in Word, but no one's mentioned it. After seeing what they looked like, I don't see how anyone could think they were real! I mean, I could make better fake memos than that. Couldn't whoever faked them even bother to use an actual typewriter? Or at least use a fixed-width font?

Canadian TV lineup

Okay, this may not be of interest to anyone but quark and possibly bdean and finou. Here are some highlights of the Canadian TV season, with special attention to French-language programming. (I'll assume you all know about the highlights of American programming, such as the season premiere of Gilmore Girls this Friday, from other sources. :-) ) All times are Eastern, but don't forget time-shifting opportunities from affiliates in other time zones.

Radio-Canada
  • Returning shows: Infoman Friday 19h30; La fureur Saturday 18h00 (with new games).
  • Et Dieu créa... Laflaque Sunday 19h30: A brilliant show in 3-D animation about the personal and professional lives of a fictional newscaster. There's lots of great political humour here.
  • Tout le monde en parle Sunday 20h: The hit talk show from France has now crossed the Atlantic. Animated by Guy A. Lepage, the guests are people you might actually know (if you watch Canadian TV)! The show has generated controversy (and ratings) for each of the two weeks it's been on so far.


TVA
  • Le sketch show Monday 19h30: Fast-paced and funny. Quebec finally gets a decent French-language sketch show.


TQS
  • 450, chemin du golf Wednesday 20h: The sitcom about suburban Montrealites is back for another season.


CBC
  • Returning shows: Rick Mercer's Monday Report Monday 21h; Royal Canadian Air Farce Friday 20h; This Hour Has 22 Minutes Friday 20h30; The Red Green Show Friday 21h.
  • Not returning: Hockey Night in Canada :-(


CTV
  • Returning show: Corner Gas Tuesday 20h(?)


Shows I haven't gotten around to watching but that sound interesting:
  • C'est mon show Monday-Thursday(?) 19h TQS: Dominic et Martin (from the show of the same name) are back, this time as hosts of a talk show.
  • Hommes en quarantaine Thursday 21h30 TVA: I think this is a sitcom about middle-aged men.
  • La vie rêvée de Mario Jean Wednesday 21h30 Radio-Canada: I can't figure this one out from the ads, but I think it's supposed to be a show about the real and fantasy lives of a comedian.
  • Demandes spéciales Sunday 19h TVA: Robert Charlebois is this week's guest.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Plosives sell?

As this tidbit points out (in French), 172 of the 200 top American brands have a plosive consonant. It's an interesting observation, although I'd like to know what fraction of those names would be expected to contain at least one plosive consonant, based both on the name lengths and plosive frequency in English words. Without that information, I don't think one can argue that there is a correlation, much less touch on issues of causality.

Halloween costume ideas?

I want to learn to use my sewing machine and I figured making a halloween costume would be a good place to start since if I screw up it won't matter too much. Soooooooooo....
Does anyone have any suggestions for what Brian and I could be for Halloween? It has to be something relatively easy to sew so I can practice with the sewing machine and Brian has vetoed costumes involving him in tights or a dress.
In the past we have been Pi and e, and Link and Zelda. Suggestions we have gotten so far are robin hood and maid marion (Brian doesn't want to wear tights though...), and red riding hood and the wood cutter (with stuffed animal wolf which would be cute but I don't know...)
Nothing is really jumping out at me though...
What are other people going to be for halloween?

CSMP

So, I'm curious. Did anyone else do CSMP (Comprehensive School Mathematics Program) in elementary school? Is it just a Midwestern thing?

In case you need a refresher: if, during math class, you had arrow pictures, the minicomputer, string pictures, magic peanuts, etc., then it was CSMP. If this doesn't sound familiar to you, then your school probably didn't do it. If you still can't tell, here's a typical problem (though it's less interesting than most).

Monday, September 13, 2004

Greedy bastards in the food service industry

A man in New York was arrested for leaving a small tip. He was displeased with the service whilst dining with a large group and refused to leave the full 18% mandatory tip for parties of six or more.

Mr. Taveras is my hero. Restaurants started adding on 15% to larger groups as a convenience factor a long time ago, and many have raised that amount to 18% or 20%. Rarely do large groups get 18% service, much less even 15%. How can a gratuity be mandatory? Webster's defines gratuity as something given voluntarily or beyond obligation usually for some service; especially : TIP. If it's mandatory, how can it be given voluntarily?

Taveras faces charges of theft of services. I wish him the best of luck in fighting these charges. A precedent needs to be set to protect consumers from excessively greedy restaurateurs.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Double translation (a subtle dig)

LCN, the Canadian French-language equivalent of Headline News, had a story about Céline Dion, who broke the world record for album sales. On screen appeared the text "La plus vendue de tous les temps". "Vendu(e)" means "sold", but it's also slang for "sell-out". :-)

Friday, September 10, 2004

Clinton spurs epidemic of heart checks

It's not just pharmsuetical comercials that lead to unnecessary medical costs.
I know it's cool to talk about how great "preventative medicine" is, but I think that ithere can be too much of a good thing.
CNN.com - Clinton spurs epidemic of heart checks - Sep 10, 2004

Thursday, September 09, 2004

Google recruiting games

There is a bilboard in the Harvard square T stop that say:
{first 10-digit prime found in consecutive digits of e}.com
so if you find what that number is and you go to thatnumber.com you get to a second puzzle:

Congratulations. You've made it to level 2. Go to www.Linux.org and enter Bobsyouruncle as the login and the answer to this equation as the password.
f(1)= 7182818284
f(2)= 8182845904
f(3)= 8747135266
f(4)= 7427466391
f(5)= __________

Anyway, apparently if you keep going you finally get to some web page that tells you congrats and encourages you to apply to a job a Google!
it's kind of fun no? I'm still stuck on the second puzzle though. no google job for me!

Wednesday, September 08, 2004


The sample return capsule from the Genesis probe crashed into the ground! It seems likely that the sudden decelaration will severely damage the sample. Of course NASA will still try to salavage something. But for the time being, they're worrying about approaching a capsule with a live mortar round that was supposed to fire (to open the parachute), but apparently didn't. Link to Space.com story Posted by Hello

Monday, September 06, 2004

Hockey time

The World Cup of Hockey is underway, and the first round games are over. The matchups in the elimination round will be Canada vs. Slovakia, Russia vs. USA, Finland vs. Germany, and Sweden vs. Czech Republic.

Canada looked really strong in its first three games, and they should have no trouble against Slovakia. Likewise, Finland will have an easy win. I predict Sweden will win their quarterfinal game in a hard-fought struggle. Russia vs. USA ought to be an exciting toss-up; neither team was convincing in their first matchup, but Russia really seemed to hit their stride today versus Slovakia. Predictions to the contrary are, of course, always invited. :-)

Get your hockey in now, because unless the NHL and NHLPA can come to some sort of agreement soon regarding salary caps, there may not be an NHL season this year. World Cup games will be shown on ESPN/ESPN2 and CBC.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Ph.D. or Sc.D.?

Ok so Brian and I are trying to graduate this term (I'm not kidding...) Anyway, we have a choice: we can either get a Ph.D. or an Sc.D. The difference is a checkbox on the degree application form. Here's the pro's and con's so far:
Sc.D.
pro-
1. we're in science. makes more sence to have a doctorate in science than philosophy.
2. in some european systems, Sc.D. is a better degree than a Ph.D.
3. get to go earlier during commencement
con-
1. might have to explain to some people what an Sc.D. is for the rest of your life
Ph.D.
pro-
1. people in the US are more familiar with the term
con-
1. since when is the stuff we are doing related to philosophy?
Another factor is that they have different hood colors. Of course, I don't actually know what the colors are so that doesn't help much...
So any comments/suggestions?
people want to vote?