Archive for the ‘not maths’ Category

Songs for homesick Britons – 3 of n- Moneypocalypse edition

May 8, 2009

Some songs from home for the tough times, from the Specials and the Streets

I have never outed MdS

April 10, 2009

The “top searches” for this blog

matt heath, marcus du sautoy gay, (s + c) x (b + f)/t – v, where s = overall shape (“including tendency to droop”), c = circularity, b = bounce factor (not to be confused with “wobble”), f = firmness (with perfect being “like a comfy bed”), t = skin texture and v = vertical ratio (the goal: “on the top-heavy side of symmetrical”). for the male rear end, the equation replaces bounce, circularity and vertical ratio with m (muscularity), l (leanness) and o (overall symmetry), listen number, immigrant expatriate

This amused me slightly. Of course now I’ll attract people searching for these even more.


Happy relavent holiday

December 23, 2008

The day before last was (except on a set of measure zero) either the summer or the winter solstice on Earth and around this time there are all sorts of holiday celebrations. Happy whichever ones you are marking.

The desire to impose order on the universe – punk rock version

December 17, 2008

All talk at Ars Math over whether mathematics appeals to a desire to impose order on our existence made me think of “Where Next Columbus” by Crass. Video below the jump. (more…)

On the restoration of independence.

December 1, 2008

It’s a holiday in these parts because of replacing a Spanish/Austrian king with a local one a while back. I have nothing interesting to say about this holiday, but it seemed serendipitous that in my feed reader today was this article by Ben Webster at The Secret Blogging Seminar which deals with the El Naschie fail and discusses of how mathematicians might cast off (or at least loosen) the shackles of Elsevier (and by extension big commercial publishers generally).

For me the best bit was this:

A journal is only as good as its editorial board. Affiliation with the commercial publisher, a big price tag, good production values, indexing in the Web of Knowledge(TM), all of these are essentially meaningless.

So, what is it with editorial boards? Given that good journals (those with good boards) are owned by ElSpringier it’s clear enough why we mere authors benefit from submitting there, but what do the editors think they are gaining. Clearly, (with a couple of exceptions like Topology and K-Theory) editorial boards seem to think they do have something to gain by working for Elsevier and Springer. They do after all keep doing it, rather than walking out and starting a new journal. I’ve been wondering lately what anyone could think the benefits are for editors. The best I can come up with is that:
1) the publishers own the title (hence new periodicals called Journal of Topology and Journal of K-Theory) and
2) while editors that quit on mass will take with the reputation of their journal any formal measures of this reputation (such as the Impact Factor) will belong to the title.

This presumably makes a dent on the more bureaucratic types of assessment of the editors’ work (I’m not actually sure about this but I think being editor of a “prestigious” journal should be worth a few points) and also means authors gain less in such assessments by publishing there and so may not be as keen to submit.

If point 2 in the above is a big factor it seems fixable by a small adjustment to the way things like Impact Factor and eigenfactor are calculated – simply declare that if a new journal has all the editors of the old it is the same journal for the purposes of crunching the numbers. Maybe then there would be more editorial walkouts. On the other hand it seems so small an advantage that I can’t believe it is the real reason. Are editors of academic journals (people general held to be intelligent) just letting the big publishers make a profit at their expense for no reason at all?

Incidentally, if the editors of Journal of Functional Analysis happen to be reading this, I would really appreciate if you could quit Elsevier and regroup as Journal of Journal of Functional Analysis. I’m going to submit stuff to you any way, but I’ll feel bad about it.


November 24, 2008

Ha! Pure dumb luck has lead to me being linked to by PZ Myers! Now I’m the 95th fastest growing blog on WordPress. Gotta love pure dumb luck.

He’s tagged me with this meme.
1. Link to the person who tagged you.
2. Post the rules on your blog.
3. Write six random things about yourself.
4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them.
5. Let each person know they’ve been tagged and leave a comment on their blog.
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

Technically PeeZed hasn’t done number 5 but I’ll let him off because he has a proper job with fixed hours and yet seems to put it 10 hours solid blogging every day.

So, I’ve done 1 and 2. Now 3.

1. I have trouble pronouncing the letter “r” distinctly but only notice this when I hear recordings of my voice. I find it slightly embarrassing.
2. I am currently somewhat sleep-deprived and compensating with coffee. This may end badly.
3. I made the second round of University Challenge on BBC2 with the team from Nottingham. We lost the second round game to Leeds by the smallest possible margin. I contend that we was robbed.
4. I am the only person I’ve ever met who enjoyed the film “Velvet Goldmine”.
5. I don’t actually have to go work. Unlike postdocs in just about any other subject, who have to put in hours in labs or archives, as a mathematician I can work pretty much any schedule and anywhere provided I can occasionally convince people I’ve proven enough things. I don’t even live commuting distance from my office (mostly; I have digs down there).
6. I am yet to pass a driving test and haven’t taken any lessons in years. I also get claustrophobic on planes. If I could I would take the train everywhere.

Bonus fact: I know nearly no bloggers, even in a “people I know OL” sense.
Thus my esteemed collaborator toomuchcoffeeman gets a tag even though I know for a fact he’s way to busy, notedscholar gets tagged … just because, and the rest go to (more or less all) the people who’ve linked to my posts in the past and who let non-serious business on their blogs : Catsynth, mathmom, Blake Stacey and Reston Kid

Just 2 England first team members still to get injured

November 19, 2008

This is getting silly. I fully expect to hear tomorrow morning that the bit of trouble John Terry was having with his foot has worsened to the point of losing a toe and that team doctors have ruled David James out of the game due to previously undiagnosed old age.

EDIT It’s Wednesday now!? I thought it was Tuesday all day. OK By “tomorrow morning” I meant “in the next 10 minutes”.
EDIT: No they were fine. And YAY England won.

Expat vs. Immigrant

November 17, 2008

I’m English and I live in Portugal. Since it’s very common for researchers to be working in countries other than there homeland, I would usually just define my status as “post doc”. Now, I was looking over things at Facebook (which I had more or less forgotten existed until they sent me an email yesterday) and I noticed they have a lot of expat groups. I have to confess that the word “expat” squicks me. It always brings up thoughts of Eldorado and of rich Brits in the Algarve who’ve lived there a decade and are proud that they have avoided learning any more Portuguese than “por favor” and “obrigado/a”. Since I have a Portuguese wife I don’t really relate to this. This isn’t actually very fair since I think a fair number of those (Brits, Germans, Americans…) who would self-identify as expats in Portugal don’t fit stereotypes of cultural arrogance or any other such nonsense but it’s what the word triggers in me.

My personal response to the word isn’t really the pint of this post though. (more…)

Lest we forget

November 11, 2008

For Armistice Day, some sad, beautiful songs about wars. Videos below the jump.

Songs for homesick Britons (part 1 of n for some n)

November 8, 2008

I’m feeling vaguely homesick today and trawling YouTube for music videos. I thought I ‘d share a couple

First are Blur who were pretty much the first band I really loved. They are playing “This Is a Low” which has lyrics based in part on the shipping forecast from Radio 4. Too few songs are based on the shipping forecast. It’s also quite startlingly lovely.

Second up, Billy Bragg singing Between the Wars. My elder sisters used to listen to Billy Bragg quite a lot when I was a kid. My dad seriously hated his voice, to the point were he just wouldn’t shut up about hating Billy Bragg’s voice. I usually start welling up around “Mine is a faith in my fellow man”.