Saturday, March 16, 2013


I am moving my blog posts to my own site:


Saturday, October 6, 2012

I don't get angry about mass emails, I just pity the fools

There's no question that in spite all the hours we spend dealing with it, email has made work easier. The ability to communicate with someone at your convenience, and have them reply at their convenience is - if it is used properly - a huge timesaver. But we start to stem this advantage this when poorly thought-out or poorly written emails are sent to large numbers of people, say, over 100. If 100 people spend 30 sec reading an email, then nearly an hour of productivity is lost. I'm not saying "never send out a mass email", I'm saying senders should be conscious of the time they are using and spend a few extra minutes making sure that the email has a descriptive subject line and is well-written. Well-written English can be read much faster and can be triaged appropriately, and a good subject line obviously helps with that as well.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

My Only U.S. Election Post (or why I'm watching Game of Thrones instead of the debates)

The U.S. election is in full swing, and like the two previous elections I've been in the States for, and like so many car accidents, it's hard to look away. I will say this about U.S. politics: it's freaking entertaining. After the emergence of the "forty-seven percent" video, it's so easy to deconstruct the libertarian mindset being advanced by this country-club millionaire and all the country-club millionaires that he represents, that it hardly even seems worth trying.

The problem is that after all the hoopla of the conventions, after all the speculation and the debates and the polls, what's really going to happen? Not in November, but in 2013, and in the next four years. Mitt Romney has been next to silent on what he would do as president, even if he won both the House and Senate. Barack Obama is pretty unlikely to get a House majority or a significant margin in the Senate, and we've already seen the best he could do when he had both: a health care bill so watered down that it may as well have been  a Republican proposal (and was, but let's not even go there).

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Information Diet: Some Thoughts

I recently read "The Information Diet: A Case for Conscious Consumption" by Clay Johnson, on my Kindle. Kindle allows you to immediately post to Facebook when you've finished a book, thus telling the world that you read and what you're reading. You don't necessarily need to say what you thought of the book, but I suppose it's implied that if you made it through the whole thing and chose to share it with the world, then it must be good enough. Indeed, I liked this book, or at least parts of it. It's ironic, however, to finish a book about information obesity and then immediately post about it on Facebook, so I waited a couple of weeks for my thoughts to digest, first.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Talking with undergrads

"That's the sort of thing you should put in your notebook"

"That's the sort of thing you can find on Google"

"That's the sort of thing you should wear gloves for"

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Addressing the Alarming Rise in Zombie and Mermaid Sightings (actually, citings)

Drawing by Sean Adams, 
A few weeks ago, the Center for Disease Control was forced to issue a statement that there is no zombie virus. While this might seem an absurd thing for a government agency to say, the whole story is somewhat more convoluted. As I learned from a talk given by science writer Carl Zimmer and posted online, the CDC had posted a story on its website with instructions to prepare people for the zombie apocalypse. The intention was to create greater awareness of disaster preparedness issues so that, by thinking about zombies, people would give some thought to earthquake, hurricane, and disease outbreak-type situations. In other words, a PR stunt. The strategy backfired when rumors started on the web about a real zombie apocalypse, and went viral. At that point, the CDC was tied up in the matter and forced to sound ridiculous.