Friday, December 30, 2005

Hey! It's That Guy!...

Finally, there's a book to help you identify all those great character actors out there. What, you didn't know that Wallace Shawn appeared in a Hungarian movie with Meat Loaf? Inconceivable!

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Canadian election open thread

The Canadian federal election campaign season is well underway. The leaders have staked out their positions, launched a barrage of attacks, and even survived one debate in each of the two official languages. The actual vote will be on 23 January 2006. Share your thoughts, questions, and opinions here!

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Scientific misconduct

You've probably heard about the ongoing Korean Cloning Controversy. (If not, try this and/or this article.)

If the allegations are true, then this would be a pretty significant case of scientific fakery. I'm reminded of the double whammy in 2002 regarding (1) Elements 116 and 118 and (2) the work of Jan Hendrik Schön.

What has happened to scientific integrity? Have things always been this bad, and never publicized -- or has there been a real decline in professional ethics?

In either case, how can we improve things? Do we need more ethics workshops for students and scientists? Stricter punishment of cheating in undergraduate classes? Less pressure to come up with positive experimental results?

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

How much is too much?

One of my NRAO friends pointed me toward this nifty calculator to estimate how much caffeine you can consume and stay alive. I don't believe the numbers, though. It claims I can drink thousands of cups of "decaf coffee" [Hey, an oxymoron!] before death claims me, but I'm not sure I could handle even one!

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

How to talk to a human

When I need to talk to a human, I usually guess ways to make the automated machine give up. Today I stumbled into this list of escape codes for many common companies. Hopefully, by posting here I'll be able to find it next time I call a company.