Archive for the ‘housekeeping’ category

A Nice Milestone

April 6, 2009

This blog passed 200,000 site visits this weekend — a number that does not include the readership of my hardy RSS subscribers.

That’s a modest number compared to some — but the quality is unsurpassed, and our numbers have been growing.  Soon it might be said that we surround them…;)

Thanks to all — and from your humble proprietor, a promise:

I know it’s been slow around here for a couple of months (and you should see my other blog). A combination of various day job demands and that thing we call …wait for it…what was it?…oh yeah….family, the wife and child…I’ll get their names in a minute…have put a bit of crimp on blogging time.   But there are lights at the end of various tunnels that may not all be oncoming trains, so I’ll be getting a bit more frisky soon.

You have been warned.

But all excuses and show-me promises aside, again, my thanks to all who have stopped by. Stick around.  More to come.

And in the meantime…enjoy the classic anthem of pomo science rock and roll:


March 23, 2009

For near total blog silence over the last month.  The hideous realities of academic admin have overtaken me, and I’ve almost forgotten how to spell my own name.  (X….his mark — ed.)

But with spring break upon us, and a temporary respite from all the delights of just one more, I-promise-you-it-will-be-quick-meeting, blogging resumes. It’s a target rich environment out there on the science and politics front…so I hope to be back in regular mode within a day or so.

Again, my thanks to all those who’ve been patient with my unaccostomed quiet.  Time now to both rock …and roll.

Apologies, wrapped in a truly scary picture

February 2, 2009

I’ve been conspicuous by my absence, caused more by the disasters that attend a newly installed department head in the first days of term.

I’ll be pretty sketchy in my posts here for a bit, trapped between that admin cr*p, the rigors of getting my upcoming book properly launched, and attending to the birth of yet another Darwin project.  So by way of eye candy and apologies — enjoy this gorgeous vision of the apocalypse.  (Full page of Redoubt Volcano images from teh Alaska Volcano Observatory here.

Image:   Giorgio Sommer, “Pompeii,” before 1914.

Pre-holiday housekeeping

August 1, 2008

As previously announced, I’m outta here for a few weeks. (You know the three best parts of an academic job: June, July, and August. Not that I’m happy about it or anything.)

I will be posting very occasionally, and my guest blogger, Michelle Sipics, will have at least one thing, and I hope more to say as the month unwinds.

But I’m going out into the world with the least possible computer I could find — one of these lovely little linux baby laptops that may be jumping the shark already, if mention in the NY Times is the death knell I think it may be for geek cool. (I’m pleased to say that I ordered mine the day before the Times piece ran. Out of such small triumphs is shaky self-esteem preserved).

However, as a life-long inverse-power user, this is my first brush with anything remotely Linux-oid. I read but I did not believe this, thus confirming my condemnation to tech purgatory.

Now everyone tells me I have nothing to fear. Almost everyone:

So — if I go silent from points foreign…you’ll know the reason why.

Update: Up from the comment thread:  this gets the inverse square seal of approval.

Program Notes: NPR/Nancy Pelosi edition + a little housekeeping

July 28, 2008

Housekeeping first:

I got another vacation coming — this one a honker of a trip to South Africa (family/animals — the key test will be making sure I keep the differences between the two groups clear in my head). I’ll be gone most of August. This blog will keep ticking over — with some help from at least one guest blogger. But I can’t pretend that Inverse Square will be operating on all cylinders (mixed metaphor alert) for the next few weeks. Nothin’ much will be happening anyway.

Anyway — for the month, the style of the blog is going to shift a little — more quick hit posts, fewer illustrations. In that spirit:

Check out this interview with Nancy Pelosi on NPR’s Morning Edition, July 28 edition. It’s a mostly conventional, uncontroversial conversation centered on the release of Pelosi’s new book.

Pelosi went off the rails, for me at least, at the very end of the piece. There, she spoke of how a woman in power would be able to say this:

“I think in an intuitive way and that special quality and that special grace that women bring to it all is something that would be such a source of strength to our country.”

Now, there has been a wealth of research, some of it even reputable, about differences in cognition and other brain functions between the genders. See this, if you want to begin tiptoeing into that field.

Note also that all of the population studies in the world do next to nothing to help you guage the capacity of an individual man or woman. John McCain’s analytical and quantitative skills — categories sometimes trumpeted as strengths of male minds — have not been anything to write home about on this campaign. Hilary Clinton’s mastery of policy analysis was widely seen as a distinction to be drawn against her primary and the putative general election opponent. (As you’ll see from the headline on that link, Brad DeLong’s mantra: “Why, oh why…” has retrospective power

But the point isn’t that individuals are all, by definition, exceptional in some way. It is that it is not intuitive reasoning that women bring to the table as a particular strength — after all, that master of gut knowledge, George Bush, has put thinking by feel into justifiably ill repute as a qualification for the Presidency

No — Pelosi actually got it right the sentence before the one quoted above. It is the distinctive experience of women that would give a female President something new and valuable to bring to the table. Everything to pay disparities to a grasp of what it takes to maintain the daily logistics of families in which men, on average, still do not carry an equal load.

That is: it is a mug’s game to claim for women special fitness for office because of a presumed, at least partially magical quality of how their brains work. Just think of the counter argument, substitute men for women, and rational for intuitive, and think of the justified howls that would result. It is a perfectly legitimate claim to say that women’s lives are different than those of men in the aggregate and in particular — and that such experience is relevant to governance, leadership and policy.

Image: Jean-Baptiste Simeon Chardin, “The Kitchen Maid.” Source: Wikimedia Commons.

I’m Baaack…with a little treat from the road: Unified Theory of Music edition

June 30, 2008

Real blogging on science, civic life and all the serious stuff to start almost immediately, but while my vacation hangover persists, one treat passed on to me by Travis, the 16 year old son of a dear old friend of mine (and a friend himself, now, as he has clearly reached the age of reason…heh.)

It seems that all known post-Baroque music, with the possible exception of settings of Vogon poetry, can be traced back to a single, well known Manchurian candidate of a ditty. See the proof of this subset of a Theory of Everything for yourself:

My informant, Travis, tells me that there are music videos for all fourteen songs referenced above. Consider it a challenge to run them down. (To be fair: one of the fourteen is a setting of the song against found images, not a true, music video.)

Just to get you started, here’s one:

Consider this an announcement of the return of Inverse Square.

Vacation Time. Yippee!

June 19, 2008

Dear all,

I’m going off the grid.  Heading for the hills. Off to one of the last corners of the lower 48 thoroughly untouched by modern communications — no cell phone, no regular phone, no internet, no newspaper delivery, nada.

I may sneak a short post in once or twice on our treks into “town” (a little grand for the destination in question, though I suppose the belated emergence of not one but two places that will sell you an espresso if you ask for it nicely does suggest creeping metropolization).  But basically, I’m outta here for a week.

See you then, refreshed.

Image:  Meindert Hobbema, “Hut Among Trees,” 1664.  Location: National Gallery of Art, Washington.  Source:  Wikimedia Commons.