Friday, April 29, 2005

Fairness, finally!

The International Ice Hockey Federation just announced that Canada has won the bronze medal in the 1964 world championships! (story) As The National reported a couple of nights ago, the Canadian team thought they had won the bronze medal and showed up at the medal ceremony at the Olympics (at the time the world championship was decided at the Olympics) only to find that the tiebreak rules had been changed after their final game, thereby giving the bronze to Czechoslovakia and dropping Canada to fourth place.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Progressive public health policy

Finally schools are getting serious about addressing public health issues: Now in Québec, school nurses can distribute birth control pills (story). So much for la revanche des berceaux....

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Google Video Upload Program

If google can make it easy to share video, that would be great. But can google really handle all the video people will want to send them? Besides storage space and searchability, there's also the issue of previewing it all.

While, it would be great if google had all PBS programs searchable and downloadable for a small fee (e.g., <=$1), it would be even cooler if they really could handle all the video that anyone wants to share. I suspect people will want to upload ton's of stuff that only a dozen people will want to see, video of their baby walking, kid playing soccer, college friend's lip synch contest performance, friend's wedding, vacations, etc. Perhaps, they could have an expiration policy, so that you could share your video with family and friends for at least 3 months, but after that the video component would only stay if people were still downloading it frequently.
Google Video (Beta)

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Automatic CS Papers

Has everyone seen this? It's a program that automatically generates CS papers; all you have to do is specify the author names and it generates a silly paper for you, complete with figures! :)

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Wild Salmon?

According to The New York Times tests of salmon, only 4 out of 6 NYC stores had truely wild salmon. A few things of out about this...

  • These include some very high end stores (e.g., Dean & Deluca)

  • I can tell the difference between at least some farm raise and at least some wild salmon by taste (at least when I cook it rather simply). So how come these practices don't get caught.Perhaps there are some farm raised that aren't as bad as others and some wild that aren't as good as others which blur the line?

  • The last two times I bought "wild" salmon from a nearby grocery store (Feb & March), I was disappointed in the flavor and made a point of not buying it for a while.

  • Should I confront this grocery store?

  • This is the second-most emailed story from today's NYT, behind one about Schiavo & Pope, but ahead of Bush & Taxes, Man Dates, and speculation about the next pope.

Friday, April 08, 2005

New York Times editorial on the 50th anniversary of Einstein's death

For those of us that bemoan the lack of scientifically accurate commentary and reporting for lay people, there is an excellent discussion of quantum physics and relativity in today's New York Times Op-Ed page. I'm not sure why a 50th anniversary prespective on Einstein's life and work belongs on the Op-Ed page, but the content itself is excellent.

A $2 bill can land you in jail

From a diary at Daily Kos: a man was arrested for trying to spend $2 bills. Quoth a police spokesman: "It's a sign that we're all a little nervous in the post-9/11 world." Thanks for ruining our currency, Osama!

Thursday, April 07, 2005

I'm NOT dead...

Right well this is just a weird story about how computers have taken over...
For those of you who don't know, I broke my left thumb. It was a fluke accident during Taekwondo practice.
This morning, I had my 1 week follow up appointment to get another xray and to check to make sure the cast was ok. But when I went to check in, I got more than the usual set of identifying questions (Name, Birthday, Address... followed by "are you sure you're Delphine?"). Then, I was nicely informed that I was deceased! But of course, it was possible that the computer was wrong since I'm standing right there (actually the funny part was that the computer would warn the receptionist that I was deceased but then let her make appointments for me anyway... I wonder how many deceased people need to see the orthopaedist...)
So I got it straightened out after a while (it was a computer "glitch" apparently) but it's just weird to be informed that I'm perhaps not as alive as I think I am...

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Energy secretary admits Yucca Mountain data fabricated

Some really embarassing emails from the people at the USGS... Apparently trying to demonstrate Yucca Mtn would be safe, regardless of whether the evidence supported their claims. When projects have significant political implications and have very big safety concerns, is it wise to trust the humans (even if they call themselves "scientists") doing the safety analysis? Or should we not even attempt to do such projects?

ICT [2005/04/05]��Energy secretary admits Yucca Mountain data fabricated

The April 8th Partial Solar Eclipse

For those of you south and east of me... Sky and Telescope - The April 8th Partial Solar Eclipse

Monday, April 04, 2005

Avast!

Testing out bloggarrr...

Sunday, April 03, 2005

Statisticsbusters

I'm quite a fan of the show Mythbusters on the Discovery channel. It's fun to watch them light things on fire, drop things from heights, and blow things up in the name of science. And it's refreshing to see science being used in order to debunk some obviously false myths.

I was less than impressed with their conclusions from tonight's experiment to see whether yawning is contagious, though. The setup: get 50 volunteers, dividing them into two groups. One-third are placed individually in isolation as a control; the other two-thirds receive the same treatment, but the greeter first yawns at them. 25% (I think) of the control group yawned in the allotted time, compared to 29% of the experimental group. The average yawn time was 9.6 minutes in the control group versus 9 minutes in the experimental group. From this the mythbusters concluded that the hypothesis is confirmed. I argue that the test is inconclusive, since the result is not even 1-sigma.

Of course, the mythbusters often have to work in suboptimal conditions with an insufficient sample size to test their myths, and in many cases one can legitimately argue with their methods. Since it's all for entertainment purposes (and statistics is hardly entertaining), all of this is excusable. Still, it's unfortunate that a show that advances the scientific method would so cavalierly brush aside statistical considerations.

Friday, April 01, 2005

The Tech's web presence

So, is it just me, or is The Tech's web site updated a lot less than it used to be. I like to do a quick browse through the MIT news every few weeks, but the current home page is still showing the March 11th issue. I seem to remember the site being updated twice a week when we were there... is the paper having problems?