Gufodotto would like you to read these:

Thursday, April 05, 2007

To teach, or not to teach?

Strangemaps has a map (d'uh!) showing whether "Evilution" is taught decently or not in the states of the Union. Kind of depressing, I would say. especially if you consider that many of the states were teaching of the subject is deemed satisfactory/good then you discover that may be human evolution isn't spoken off, or the theory is marred by creationist notions, and so on...

Some of the comments then are just complete rubbish:

# Evolutionism is the tinfoil hat atheists wear to keep God out of their brainwaves.
# There is a junkyard acroos the street, I don’t see it turning into an airplane.

Explain: Love, Guilt, Happiness, Sadness, Passion, Self-Control to me. How did evolution create those things?



If the traffic to this website continues to grow this way, almost exponentially, in a couple of months I will be read by more people than are actually on the planet - Don't hold me on that, I haven't done any calculation, it is just a rough guesswork.

Anyway, I don't think it will keep going like this, especially since i don't have much to talk about.

Today is my last day before a very short Easter break, I am leaving work this af'noon to drive down to Mechelen, open a bank accoutn where to put the deposit for the new apartment I am going to move in by the begin of june. Then I'll head off to Dilbeek to wait the night, and my girlfreidn will come out of a night watch the morning after.

And off we go to Anthisnes, to spend Easter with her family. I've already dismantled (literally) her bike, and put it in my car, I'll stick mine inside as soon as I cycle it back home. Then I am officially on holiday.

I don't actually feel like it, there's so much to do here at work... not that I feel like doing it either, otherwise it would not have accumulated...

I really have to start properly writing that damn paper on cardiovascular safety, everybody seems so excited about the results, but I am very bad at writing down things. Uh... must... force... myself.

Luca Off.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Yesterday's TV

Been spending the last couple of evenings watching my new favourite TV show, 3rd rock from the Sun, alongside the old favourites Scrubs and Ally McBeal.

So funny!!! And it looks like he keeps going strong for most of its six seasons.

On the culinary side, I cooked two sausages in a pirex ovenplate, added vegetables and pasta "al dente" and that was it! The day before instead, the same vegetables, stir-fried in a wok, ricotta fresca, and pasta.

But do you care?

difficult to work...

...when a crane is being mounted, suspended above your head - it makes you wary of it coming down to meet you.

Anyway, I pledged that I will work more and blog less today. Too much time wasted yesterday. I better start then. Ok after I finish this.

Yesterday I tried to repair an inflatable plastic pillow, using those high-pressure can of foam which are known in Italy as "Fast". I wanted to make it from a permanently deflating to a permanently inflated pillow. Without much success I am afraid. The connection wasn't perfect, so I sprayed foam all over my bathroom. Then it started leaking air/gas from the little hole. the hole may have been closed, but this morning the pillow was severely deflated. I wonder if it's worth giving it another blast... I'll use a football needle this time, though.


Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Licensed to procreate

Stephen D Levitt makes the point on a recent study showing how anti-social behaviour of children can be significantly altered by training their parents to be better parents.

He concludes with a telling line:

This kind of study does make you wonder why, here in the U.S., where you must acquire a license to drive a car, sell real-estate, or hunt deer, there is no such license (or commensurate training) for raising children. I’m not saying there should be such a license.

Or maybe I am?

And this makes me think of a David Brin's short story in his collection "Otherness" (can't remember the novel title), where a woman goes to great lenghts to get a license-to-procreate, working while she attend a university level course - something I'd frankly make compulsory. I have seen enough children born by parents who just didn't know how to behave themselves.

Pareto's principle

And since I cited Sturgeon in the previous post, let me cite italian economist Pareto in this one (rip/mix/burn from Wikipedia):

He made several important contributions especially in the study of income distribution and in the analysis of individuals' choices. He introduced the concept of Pareto efficiency and helped develop the field of microeconomics.

Oh, why should I copysomeone else's words? Ok I don't have time just go there and have a look at it. You will not regret it - economist are actually fine people - and I am pretty sure Pareto would have enjoyed a conversation with Steven D. "Freakonomics" Levitt ;-)

The truth is...

I previously rambled and ranted about my insatisfaction with being a scientist. How I took the wrong field, how am not interested to what I am studying now, and so on... Blah blah blah...

Oh, please...

The truth is, I'd like to have a work place as fun as SCRUBS, with people giving me high five when they meet me in the corridors, something interesting and significative happens every day, people are crazy and either smile psychotically (men) or look at me lusciviously (girls).

Instead, I have to make do with - well, in fact a place which is even weirdier. Scientist who are very versed in their discipline, but almost nothing else. Don't take me wrong, some people I work with are absolutely brilliant in their own right, and as an environment where to work in this is OK. Challenges are there, for the willing mind, it just takes guts and will to tackle them. May be I miss those. But even in the best of cases, the work is for 90% frustration, and only 10% satisfaction. But I guess Sturgeon's Law holds for every thing: "Ninety percent of everything is crud. And it would apply to my next escape job too, I guess. Ouch! This sucks. I better get to grip with this. and life in general. Good evening.

Finally, Rhinogradenthians

Thinking in time

Carl Zimmer has a new piece on the NY Times dealing with the ability of certain animals to remember episodes of their past, but also forecast their future needs and take steps towards this, much like we humans do. Some birds who cache food in various places are able to remember not only the location, but also the content of each one.

Others will store food for future use only if they think it's needed (that requires judgement), and they will restrict their choices depending on various factors. for example, squirrel monkeys will only eat one date instead of four, if they know that by eating four they will not get any water after.

The case for Unidentified Flying Objects

aka UFOs. I believe that we've been visited. I mean, let's face it. the evidence is all around us. Who would dare to challenge or deny this fact?

Tha Nazca figures, Martin Mystere's Atlantidean gun, the recently unearthed archeological findings from Putifigari, in the island of Sardinia, which seems to confirm that this island was Plato's Atlantis; the rocky altars of this island, bearing surfaces of syntherised rock, clear indication of vertical landing and takeoff of rocket-powered vehicles.

Also, dinosaurs still survive in the oldest and inacessible region of the island, Aspromonte: Su Scultone.

Do you have any doubts that the land I come from is special, not to say magical and central to the planet. Let me tell you, the world's belly button isn't Easter Island, but rather Sardinia, the mopst savage and beautiful of them all.

ps: yes, this article is written tongue-in-cheek, I am just curious to see how many people would link it. :-P

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

This has to be the funniet rockband name I have ever heard of.

It is (or rather, was?) the preferred rock band of my fiancee youngest sister, aka Cadette.

Apparently she's now into another band called !!! as in three excalamtion marks, pronounced Bang Bang Bang - can't find any internet website, though - sorry.

I know she has a blog somewhere. As soon as I find it I'll post it.

The asymptotyc PhD

I was good at school. I've always been. At the high school, I'd read my science book in the two or three days after receiving it, and then I'd be done. Probably, the understanding wasn't perfect, specially for physics, and chemistry, but biology would be a doodle. University wasn't much different, the time to pass the exams was spent mostly memorising the stuff the way the professors wanted it, not by grasping the concept - exception made for QM and StatMech.

So, why do I feel like I can't get to the damn PhD, which i started begin of 2001? I've spent now four years and a half, let's say five to account for the hours spent re-running things while I was writing up. Ok, since then I haven't been idle, I'm one year inside anm industrial postdoc and have learned so many new things at work, and outside. Still, i can't help but feel that I've lost the magic touch. May be I have reached my maximum potential? I don't think so. I still spend very little time on research... exactly like ten or fifteen years ago, I just do what's necessary, and devote the rest of my time to learn new things - things which are undeniably cool, but don't bring home the bread - other than to the amount to which my wide-spanning knowledge impresses people during job interviews, that is.

I sometimes thought that I am not really lin love with science, I just collect cool things to say to impress people - especially girls - almost all of my girlfriends I attracted this way... I'm kind of a sea urchin, coating myself with hard and shiny piece of science to show off myself... interesting idea uh? or may be not.

Fact is, I don';t think I am researcher material - not really. I know many of them and they have such a focus on their field which I can't simply match. I like to discover new theories, yes. I like to learn some new techniques. I even like playing with them for a while - But then my interest dries up. Sometimes, just before being able to wrap up what I have done in a publication of sort. Hence my sparsely populated publication list. may be I just haven't found my field, yet. May be I should really have gone into biology, discarding the concerns on the ability to find a job later on. As I used to say to my younger friendss, there's always a place for the best in the field: is the mediocre who has to recycle him/herself. Am I mediocre?

Or is this long tirade just another excuse to avoid having a look at my PhD Thesis correction, or even finally getting down to write the apparently insightful work on drugs' cardio vascular safety I spent my last year on? Cheery-o!!!

Laelaps has made it...

... to my blogroll. litle step I know. Anyway. Just wanted to let you know.

The lancet against the cluster bomb...

In 2005, editors and authours affiliated with the famous british journal "the Lancet" (it: Il bisturi) discovered that their publisher, Reed Elsevier, also organises and sponsors weapons expositions - a position that most of them consider inconsistent. I do agree.

More info and thoughts are expressed by Revere on his Effect Measure. Go and check it out.

And oh, check out also John Wilkins summary of France, Great britain and Germany strive to mantain biodiversity at Evolving Thoughts.

Monday, April 02, 2007

and one more.

Since I haven't worked at all today (almost nothing at the very least), here's one more blog I stumbled upon: Laelaps. Whatever this may means. Again, enjoy!

I am off to buy some food for my empty fridge.

No, not this one...

As I said before, I have been tinkering with the idea of getting a new digicam; my thoughts initially converged on the cool-looking nikon s10. The swiveling body is particularly attractive - but it has some things I don't like. mainly, the battery is a proprietary LiIon thingy, and this means that I'll have to use their own charger rather than carry with me my AA/AAA charger - one more charger and so on. I am nitpicking I know.

Anyway, I love the idea of having a "real" SLR, with interchangeable objectives if possible - although this will make it less cumbersome, therefore less likely to be lugged around when on a bike trip or such.

mah... I'll check some more p/review before taking a plunge. Anyway, I can survive without. Especially since I haven't noticed that my digicam was missing until now, one month and more after using it. And that i do not plan to go anywhere particularly interesting before some months. It's not like the price of these things is going to spike - ah ah.

Sarda, I envy you...

Hi there again. slow pick-up today, after browsing the net this morning and updating this blog with ont or two posts haven't managed to do much else - bad since I'm supposed to fruitfully use this time :-|

Anyway,. I already cited the Fish Feet blog, right? Sarda has managed to do what I did not, despite all my passion for dinosaurs, have the courage to do: become a palaeontologist. Or at the very least, she's on her way to it. Her study encompass, in her own words, "the evolution of terrestrial communities". That is, everything above the shoreline. well, not exactly, i believe she focuses on terrestrial vertebrates, aka tetrapods (four feet) - which bizarrely include also humans and chickens.

Anyway, she surely has an interesting blog (differently from this one ah ah), so go and check it out!!! ;-)

by the way, "Sarda" is her real name and not an indication of her geographic origins. She's not from Sardinia (again, differently from me), rather from India. Where she is right now, the reason why her friend janine is filling in.

An unexplainable surge in popularity...

My blog has been visited by more then 40 people on sunday - strange since I did not post for two full days. Why? may be I ended up in the trackback of some heavily visited blog.

mah? they seem to come mostly through image searches in google.

Am I going to hit big time? I don't think so. I'll keep the victory flag for my soon to come Nobel Prize cerimony

Again on my digital camera

Let's go back to The Imaging Resource to select my new camera. I used this website three years ago, and was thouroughly satisfied with my CoolPix 2100.

And since Nikon kept me happy, I may go for this one:

It looks snappy, has a big zoom and the swiveling body will let me overcome troubles I had with my previous, when trying to snap piccies in awkward positions. Hopefully, when taking macros the flash will tune down, differently from the 2100 whose dark macro shot were mostly overexposed.


Go and pay a visit to Sarda and Janine at FishFeet, they're running a contest/poll to decide which is the most beautiful strato-volcano around the planet.

The picture here is of a spectacular Mount Etna, unfortunately not shortlisted by them, but I feel it's worth a look. Hopefully, I'll go to see it one day... Oh, little fairy, make my wish come true!!! This one, and the one about winning the lottery - no wait, let's say the Nobel Prize. :-D

Good. some more blog for you to look at: Hairy Museum of natural history
Raptor's Nest

(all thanks FishFeet for letting me steal her blogroll)

More of my life...

The spider has reappared. I wonder where it (she?) spends the nights. the small one seem gome though. too bad for them.

Didn't see them for some time though. I have spent the weekend in Anthisnes, with my girlfriend and family. Saturday did suck a bit, rainy anjd cold, and was wandering on my own through Liege's mall. In the evening rwandese-populated dinner at an indian restaurant in Namur - the Taj Mahal - Bleagh. Frankly, my colleague Vikash cooks much better than that, and it's cheaper and more fcheerful too. We left very disappointed. Although I have to say, rwandese really do bitch when they have chosen the wrong place. Quite embarassing for me.

Sunday was wonderful though, sunny and may be a bit windy but nonetheless enjoyed a long walk in the countryside with Marie, while her mum dozed off after arriving from Africa. then I cooked lunch for everybody and the girls planned Easter and talked about... weddings as usual. boooooriiing, so I left to sleep.

That's it. Ah, no, on saturday I also bought a new set of speakers for my laptop. Wanted to buy those fancy ones with power through the USB port, but they came at a price, 1W RMS for 25EUR min (Samsung, 30 EUR for Trust, Logitech came at 50).
For 30 EUR I got a 2.1 set-up, mains-powered, 2 5W speaker plus a 7W subwoofer - and it's Logitech, a brand that's never disappointed me. I also started looking for a new digital camera, since i seem to have misplaced my old one. Pity, since if I really have lost it I will not be able to use the underwater shell any longer. It's very much camera-specific. Anyway, it was well time for me to change it, I have been longing for a decent zoom (at least 10x) for two years now, since I realised that 3x is barely noticeable and not at all useful for naturalistic pictures.

Couldn't find my old favourite though, the Konica Minolta Z-3 (or the Z-5). I am also wondering whether i should rather buy a 'proper' one, with interchangeable objectives - nothing too fancy, again, 5MP is fine for me, the important thing is to get a good generalist objective, plus one with serious punch in the occasions I am going to use it most - whatever they may be. mah?