Humour

Never knowingly relevant

by reestheskin on 11/11/2018

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A few words from Melvyn Bragg about his radio programme ‘In our time’

He insisted that the programme should be “never knowingly relevant” and jumped wildly from the gin craze of the 18th century to the Palaeocene-Eocene thermal maximum. He expected to be out of a job in six months

The Economist | Sweetness and light

In times like ours, not a bad motto to live by.

Rebel’s lament

by reestheskin on 17/10/2018

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To punish me for my contempt of authority, Fate has made me an authority myself.

This is a validated Einstein quote (many claims of what he did say, appear mistaken).

Einstein quotes

Inverse mentors and inverse role models

by reestheskin on 16/10/2018

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I do not like the term mentor. It is a perfectly fine word, it is just that I have a suspicion of the people who tend to use it. I prefer to think about people I would like to be like; or not. And think about how some people can help me; or hinder me. But the following exchange between Nassim Taleb and Tyler Cowen is fine.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb on Self-Education and Doing the Math (Ep. 41 – Live at Mercatus)

TALEB: I don’t know, but I know how to find inverse mentors.

COWEN: How do you do that?

TALEB: People — you know they’re doing something wrong, and you figure out what makes them do something wrong. There’s a fellow I worked with, and I knew that he was a complete failure but a nice person. When he would do something wrong, he was always caught into details. I realized that there’s only one set of details. You cannot get into more than one set of detail. So that’s one thing I learned.

Also, I find inverse role models, people you don’t want to be like when you grow up.You pick someone and you go with it. You have an instinct to know what you don’t want to look like. Look at what they’ve done, what they do, and then you counter-imitate. You do a reverse imitation, and it works.

On having a Welsh Temperament

by reestheskin on 13/10/2018

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Some tidy words from a Master

Anthony Hopkins: ‘Most of this is nonsense, most of this is a lie’ | Film | The Guardian

When I was at the National all those years ago, I knew I had something in me,” he says, “but I didn’t have the discipline. I had a Welsh temperament and didn’t have that ‘fitting in’ mechanism. Derek Jacobi, who is wonderful, had it, but I didn’t. I would fight, I would rebel. I thought, ‘Well, I don’t belong here.’ And for almost 50 years afterwards, I felt that edge of, ‘I don’t belong anywhere, I’m a loner.’ I don’t have any friends who are actors at all

Millennials

by reestheskin on 06/10/2018

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As the joke goes, everyone hates millennials until they need to convert a PDF document into Word.

Edward Luce.

A tool for water sharpening?

by reestheskin on 03/10/2018

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It just puzzled me…

 

Carrot weather gets it right again

by reestheskin on 29/09/2018

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Facebook accounts hacked? I thought that was the feature not the bug.

 

 

 

Carrot weather — the weather app with attitude.

 

Give me a break

by reestheskin on 08/08/2018

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A day in court for Kit Kat. The European Court of Justice will deliver a verdict on Nestlé’s long-running attempt to trademark the chocolate bar’s shape—”four trapezoidal bars aligned on a rectangular base.” Competitors like Mondelez, Cadbury, and Milka cried foul at Nestlé’s move.

Link

Which is not as obscene as the attempt to patent the space within a shape of a defined size.

Neanderthals would have made good doctors..

by reestheskin on 13/06/2018

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I posted this awhile back, but it still makes me smile. I wrote:

Well my knowledge of Neanderthals is rather limited to the work showing that some of them would likely had red hair. But now a reviewer (Clive Gamble) in Nature of a book on Neanderthals states that

Wynn and Coolidge conclude that today, Neanderthals would be commercial fishermen or mechanics, based on their enormous strength and ability to learn the motor procedures needed. Their capacity for empathy might even have made them competent physicians, the authors say, although a lack of mathematical ability means that they would never have been able to graduate from medical school. Neanderthals would also make excellent army grunts, with their high levels of pain tolerance, and would be good tacticians in small combat units. They would never rewrite the tactical manual — although tearing it up, however thick, would not be a problem.

Link

Max Schrems: the man who took on Facebook — and won

by reestheskin on 09/05/2018

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Great story. Only true.

Schrems sent the complaints to the Irish data protection commissioner in Portarlington, a town with a population of 8,000. From a modest office above a supermarket, the Irish DPC was responsible for regulating all the tech companies that nominated their Dublin-based subsidiaries as “data controllers”. Despite its role protecting millions of EU citizens, the commissioner had just 26 staff at the time.

FT

This all reminds me of that wonderful scene in the film Local Hero when the visitors from the US mega corporation discover that the same person (played by Denis Lawson) runs the bar, hotel, office, professional services etc. in the small Scottish village where it is set.

BTW: instead of the mandatory GDPR corporate training, can we just not watch Local Hero again?

Performance management in the real world

by reestheskin on 02/05/2018

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Stalin, Krushchev and Brezhnev are riding on a train when it suddenly stops. Stalin says “Comrades we must execute the driver to motivate the others”. The poor driver is dragged out into the snow and shot. the train still doesn’t move. Krushchev says “Comrades, we have made a dreadful error. We must set this thing straight and rehabilitate the poor driver.” So the driver is posthumously rehabilitated. Still the train doesn’t move. “Listen”, says Brezhnev, “The solution is obvious. Let’s pull down the curtains, bounce up and down on the seats and pretend the train is moving”.

Nail in the coffin

by reestheskin on 16/04/2018

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And third, the internet is disrupting death as it has life. Comparison sites shed light on funeral providers’ services. And though not many bereaved relations yet “bring their own coffin”, a quick browse online gives people a far better idea of what it should cost. Startups are offering more radical disruption: rocket-launches for ashes; QR codes on graves linked to online tributes; new ways of disposing of bodies besides burying or burning.

I like that you can now go ‘direct’. Purgatory is now optional.

Economist.

Slow service

by reestheskin on 05/04/2018

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On keeping a straight face

by reestheskin on 22/03/2018

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“It’s hard to keep a straight face and conduct professional conversations about finite element modelling or soil strength profiles when I’m in a site office surrounded by pictures of naked women.”

From a review of: Built: The Hidden Stories Behind Our Structures, Roma Agrawal Bloomsbury, 2018. 308 pp.

Reviewed in Science

Ebbinghaus redux

by reestheskin on 19/03/2018

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Ebbinghaus link

The neoteny of misery

by reestheskin on 16/03/2018

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Dr. Santos speculated that Yale students are interested in the class because, in high school, they had to deprioritize their happiness to gain admission to the school, adopting harmful life habits that have led to what she called “the mental health crises we’re seeing at places like Yale.” A 2013 report by the Yale College Council found that more than half of undergraduates sought mental health care from the university during their time there.

Yale’s Most Popular Class Ever: Happiness – The New York Times

Integumentary matters

by reestheskin on 28/02/2018

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Well, what would you expect of a fellow ectodermist. The story in the FT is about Nick Park refusing to sell Wallace and Gromit.

Yes, I say. “And teeth”, I add. Those Beano characters, like so many Park characters (except of course the mouthless Gromit), had such maniacal teeth. That’s so British, isn’t it? Look what Hollywood did when it wanted to create a funny British secret agent. Austin Powers. Gave him terrible teeth.

I used to say similar things about the prevalence of acne amongst medical students in different countries. But as Miroslav Holub wrote, in a poem that we had to find a dentist to read, at my wedding:

Teeth are rather ridiculous remains of the outside inside

The pedagogy of liars

by reestheskin on 27/02/2018

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But teaching bright young adults also teaches one a lot about the law – and quite a lot about how to spot liars.

Lady Hale: ‘Studying law? Make sure you have the stomach for it’ | Law | The Guardian

Not so much in the tea leaves, but in the latte

by reestheskin on 07/02/2018

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In the US, “belief in work is crumbling among people in their 20s and 30s”, says Benjamin Hunnicutt, a leading historian of work. “They are not looking to their job for satisfaction or social advancement.” (You can sense this every time a graduate with a faraway look makes you a latte.)

Post-work: the radical idea of a world without jobs | News | The Guardian

Tips for teaching

by reestheskin on 17/01/2018

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Luis von Ahn, somebody who has changed the world on more than one occasion, has also been awarded a teaching award from his own university. Take  his tips seriously 😉

  • Pick great TAs. Over the years, I’ve had the most amazing set of TAs, and this teaching award is more than 50% due to them. If you’ve TA’d for me,I would like to give each of you part of the cash prize associated with this award. Too bad there isn’t one.
  • When you don’t know the answer to a question say it’s outside the scope of the course.
  • Teaching evaluations are highly correlated with the grade the students think they will get at the time of filling out the surveys. Make your course easy, then crush them on the final.
  • Never, under any circumstances, disclose the exact grade cutoffs at the end of the semester. Somebody has to get the highest B, and they won’t be happy. “You’re lucky you got a B, dude.”
  • Finish lecture 10 minutes early every time – they love this (and they’ll never know you love it even more).
  • Easiest way to get rid of whiners without yielding: “I’ll take that into account when calculating your final grade, dude.”

[link]

 

Tinder as a metaphor

by reestheskin on 16/01/2018

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The internet, as digital journalist and commentator Cory Doctorow has remarked, is “an ecosystem of interruption technologies”. Always imagine that your readers are looking for a reason to — in Tinder terms — swipe left on your prose

FT

Quote of the day

by reestheskin on 10/01/2018

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The easiest way to predict the future is to prevent it.

Original version is Alan Kay (the easiest way to predict the future is to invent it), and this permutation is his, too. As he says, very appropriate for education.

New boss: same as the old boss

by reestheskin on 09/01/2018

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“In Sweden, if you ask a union leader, ‘Are you afraid of new technology?’ they will answer, ‘No, I’m afraid of old technology,’” says the Swedish minister for employment and integration, Ylva Johansson. “The jobs disappear, and then we train people for new jobs. We won’t protect jobs. But we will protect workers.”

NYT

  • “Won’t get fooled again”; The Who.

Let us change your skin

by reestheskin on 29/12/2017

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Just thinking of the New Year resolutions. Let us change your skin…and empty your wallets.

Philosophy 101

by reestheskin on 27/12/2017

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When is a wheelbarrow a chair?

Neurophobia

by reestheskin on 08/12/2017

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Neurophobia’, a term first coined by Jozefowicz in 1994, describes medical students’ fear of neurology 2. It is a chronic illness that begins early in medical school 4. Physicians and medical students alike often state that neurology is the most difficult subject in the medical school curriculum, and that their knowledge about the subject matter is limited, leading to a lack of confidence in managing neurology patients 5, 6, 7. [link]

There are lots of other phobias, too. Pick one up as you check out of med school.

Marriage

by reestheskin on 08/11/2017

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Marriage, however, proved to be a towering practical problem — Princeton, where Feynman was now pursuing a Ph.D., threatened to withdraw the fellowships funding his graduate studies if he were to wed, for the university considered the emotional and pragmatic responsibilities of marriage a grave threat to academic discipline. [Here]

The above is about Richard Feynman, but reminds me of a story closer to home, told to me by a consultant dermatologist (who I will call CS) and former academic. CS, then a senior registrar, on entering the departmental library, was pleased to see the elderly professor reaching for books on the top shelf. CS, with evident pride, told the professor that he had good news: he was engaged to be married. The professor replied: ‘Sorry to hear that CS, I had high hopes for you’.

REF, TEF and now DEF

by reestheskin on 25/10/2017

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Yes, the Digestive Excellence Framework (DEF) fro PhD students. And as sensible, too.

Of low salaries and high tables

by reestheskin on 27/09/2017

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It was not deliberate policy; it simply seemed to be only men who applied, usually refugees from the twin miseries of academia: low salaries and high tables.

Ah, those were the days…

The Fear Index, Robert Harris

Like arguing with a table

by reestheskin on 21/09/2017

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When you ask me that question I am gonna revert to my ethnic heritage and answer your question with a question: On what planet do you spend most of your time? As you stand there with a picture of the President defaced to look like Hitler, and compare the effort to increase health care to the Nazis, my answer to you is, as I said before, it is a tribute to the First Amendment that this kind of vile, contemptible nonsense is so freely propagated. Ma’am, trying to have a conversation with you would be like arguing with a dining room table: I have no interest in doing it.

Barney Frank, in response to questioner at a town-meeting in Dartmouth, Massachusetts, broadcast on CNN (18 August 2009).

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