Bmax Comes Alive

I reckon that Bmax fellow swings by this corner now and then

Sunday, January 29, 2006

You can run but you can't hide...

I thought I would update you all on training. No, not my marathon training (its going great thanks for asking), but rather a macabre tale of training from the vaults of terror.

I was walking over to the gym this evening when I first heard it,


It's coming closer


Closing faster


Glancing over my shoulder in terror, what do I behold?
A woman is jogging toward me with the most horrifying grimace on her face.


As she finally overtakes me, I notice she has wierd weights strapped to her wrists and ankles.


Finally, she turns off in a different direction.


Now, what did we learn from this episode? First, don't be crazy and grunt really loudly and yell obscenities in public; its disconcerting and unneccessary. Second, unless you are trying to escape from Alcatraz, running in shackles is not a good idea.

Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics

All of you daytime tv watchers out there probably already saw James Frey's recent meltdown to infamy on Oprah. No matter what the Oprah-haters out there have to say, one thing Oprah does have is integrity. She realized her mistake in defending Frey on Larry King, admitted it, and tried to correct it.

The editors of Science are also trying to show some integrity by proposing new authorship guidelines in the wake of Hwang Woo-Suk's miraculous results. The proposed guidelines would force each author listed on a paper to indicate his/her individual contribution to the research and his/her view of the conclusions. For those of you wondering what it looks like inside a scientists brain, the New York Times produced a (probably) fake article illustrating this proposal.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I feel like I should mention that this article is most likely plagiarized from a real journal article by this guy.

This whole faking research thing is nothing new though. In my particular field, Jan Hendrik Schon produced a total of 15 fake papers in the journals Nature and Science in 2000-2001. Now, these journals are supposed to be the premier source of scientific research, but they often contain less Edison and more Barnum. Nature and Science articles are all about big claims and pretty pictures, but the journal editors get easily bored with things like experimental methods and statistical significance of results, which get pushed into supplementary online materials if they are published at all. All of this tends to eliminate reproducibility, the hallmark that distinguishes science from hokum.

Which finally brings me to the point of this entry, I am seeking submissions for my new journal entitled Hokum: Return of the Double McGuffin.

There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesome returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.

-Mark Twain
Life on the Mississippi

Monday, January 23, 2006

Macho Sunday

Yesterday, I participated in something known as "Macho Sunday." This is a tradition that a friend had inherited from his Dad of having an all male gathering to watch the division championship football games and eat manly food. My contribution to the food section was tater muffins. And if you want to make tater muffins at home read on to find out how.

Step 1. Arrive with frozen tater tots
Step 2. Realize that the host has a deep fat fryer and decide to "fry these babies up" as per the instructions on the side of the package
Step 3. When instructions on side of package produce soggy/floppy tots, continue frying much longer in an attempt to crispify them
Step 4. Give up on frying when tots become an indistinguishable mass of potatoes and pour potato mass onto paper towels
Step 5. Discuss with host what can be done to make this even remotely palatable
Step 6. Decide, let's put this in muffin tins and broil it
Step 7. Remove from broiler and serve
Step 8. Warily eye tater muffins
Step 9. Enjoy ribs, steak, cornbread and pie

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Let's Go! ...To Class.

Well, a couple of things happened this week. I had the first day of classes for the spring semester. So, I shined up my best pocket-protector and put on my newly cleaned and pressed bowtie to go and meet the future. What does the future hold for me? Good news! In one class, I don't have to show up again for a whole 'nother month.

Another good thing that happened is Neil, Paul and the rest of the cast of Let's Go! came up to the Bay for the San Francisco Sketch Fest. It was a fun time and I got to be the world's greatest tour guide. Example: "This is a statue. This is a tree. Thats a building. If you found this tour entertaining and informative, feel free to tip your hat on the way out."

In case you weren't fully convinced, I think Jack White's collected musings prove that he's completely batty (and awesome), but not as batty (or awesome) as this guitar player,

whose collected musings prove that Japan is probably the greatest place ever.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Amadeus Muzart

I was in the drugstore earlier today and my attention was drawn to the song coming over the loud speakers. What's that tickling my ears but none other than the intro to the Steely Dan classic, "Black Cow." But, wait, where are the lyrics? Thats not singing, thats a saxaphone! Arrrgh, I've been fooled by a clever muzak producer.

Now, I love the Dan as much as everyone reading this (if you're reading this you do love the Dan, right? right??), but I think we can all agree that a muzak version with jazzy sax and guitar lines replacing the vocals is kinda like having to fill out a form in triplicate.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Why Grandma...

I only made one New Year's resolution, to floss, and at the time it was mainly a joke. However, I've been flossing everytime before I brush my teeth and I never knew what I was missing. Pre-resolution/revolution, I would only floss if there was stuff actually caught in my teeth, but with this new found habit, my teeth are cleaner, stronger and sharper than ever before. All the better to take a bite out of crime with.

Looking to your right, you'll notice that the out of date poll is missing and has been replaced with a new section, the 'Marathon Corner.' I programmed a little countdown to the Chicago marathon I'll be running in ten months. Since that seemed a tad bit negative, with the counting down and whatnot, I wanted to add something upbeat. My first thought was the cumulative training miles I've run (starting with yesterday's 4 miler), but I'm not entirely settled on that. If anyone has a better positive element for the corner, let me know.

Finally, in case you were wondering, on Dr. John's big hit Right Place, Wrong Time he was backed up by fellow Nawlinzers and the funkiest band on the planet, The Meters. The More You Know...

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Arise Lord Vader

So, the Flaming Lips have a release date for "At War with the Mystics" set on April 4, 2006, which gives them plenty of time to work on "some tracks we've delved into production-wise, where we're trying to get some of that heavy rock'n'roll with heavy guitar riffs." Mars-tronaut Wayne Coyne notes that "we've tried to be more expressive in beautiful ways. But sometimes, volume and intensity are great too."

In the meantime, the Jan. 31st reissue of "The Soft Bulletin" in 5.1 gives you plenty of time to buy a copy for my birthday and a Dolby surround sound system to enjoy it.

But in the hear and now, the first single off their new album, "The W.A.N.D." has been released into the digital void. And, who can't enjoy a track about a homeless guy in OK City who wanders around with a stick that gives him self confidence?

In other music news, Jack White is still crazy.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Can't be Satisfied

Do you ever think, "Man, the blues suck." I used to think the same thing until I realized that what I thought was "the blues" is actually lame electric Chicago blues. Then I discovered the country blues right off the Delta. Now, I'll do my civic duty and present you with a little introduction:

1. Robert Johnson The Complete Recordings

Song Highlight: "Hellhound on my Trail"
The man who supposedly sold his soul to the devil. For a complete history you should consult Crossroads, which details the Karate Kid's search for the place where the deal took place. Oh, yeah, and he battles Steve Vai as the devil's guitarist.

2. Mississippi John Hurt Avalon Blues

Song Highlight: "Candyman Blues"
He cut this one record back in 1928 and not another until 1962 when somebody tracked him down using clues from the title track. Oh, and the Candyman isn't selling confections if you know what I mean.

3. Blind Willie McTell The Classic Years 1927-1940

Song Highlight: "Dying Crapshooter's Blues"
He has a prolific set of recordings made by the Library of Congress. On the White Stripes cover of his "Your Southern Can is Mine" they sample an interview with him. Though I can't figure out why they wouldn't want to sample the section just prior when the interviewer (Alan Lomax?) is being extremely racist.

4. Son House Original Delta Blues

Song Highlight: "Death Letter"
Son is distinguished among blues men for having two nouns for a name instead of an adjective in front. Besides playing standard guitar blues, he also has some real haunting acapella blues.

Now that I've passed some good music your way, its time to balance out the universe. If you want to be tortured by the fiasco of my "performance" at the physics holiday party then click here.

Friday, January 06, 2006

More Tales from the Stalls

There is a certain restroom in the physics building at the University of Berkeley that I visit on occassion. What makes this particular facility unique is the graffito battles taking place on its walls. Since the last time I visited this locale the battle has grown more fierce, which this gem will show:

"God is Dead"

"Nietsche is Dead"

"This joke is dead"

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Best of 2005

After 14+ hours of travel yesterday, I arrived back in California from the Heartland of Iowa. In the belated spirit of New Year's I thought I'd present a Best of 2005. Well, at least a best of the past couple of weeks:

And the award for best...

Surreal experience goes to the Washington High School Class of 2000 for their appearance at my 5 year high school reunion.

Christmas present goes posthumously to Willard Wagner for sending me some of his unused underwear.

Dad joke goes to Cap'n Bobby Skeers for asking if his son had seen "Backdoor Mountain" yet.

New euphemism goes to the microwaveable treat known as a "Hot Pocket."

Song to ring in the New Year goes to "Do It Again" by Steely Dan.

So here's hoping you had a great 2005 and let's do it again!