Links for 2010-07-02

  • "Question No. 9: But you'd still love the NBA to incorporate the yellow/red card system for flagrant fouls and technical fouls, correct?

    Sure. Much better than an official leaning over a scorer's table and telling them what the technical or flagrant was, then trying to guess what he said. Bring out yellow/red cards and we'd know right away. I also like the concept of an official not having to explain why he called what he called -- like the ref who robbed the U.S. of the winning goal in the Slovenia game and never explained why. It's really the only way NBA officials could be shakier and more suspect than they already are. I say go for it -- let's go for as shaky and suspect as possible. Let's push the envelope."

  • "Experiment: Administrator B was secretly followed for one week. After subtracting baseline activities such as eating lunch or using the restroom, during this week Administrator B was observed participating in the following activities: 42%: sitting in meetings with no tangible outcome; 21%: talking to people while standing in hallways or doorways; 19%: talking to people while sitting at their desk; 8% signing papers without reading them; 3%: unclassifiable activities. Conclusion: Inconclusive, but the unusually high percentage of conversations conducted while standing is suspect."
  • "On 17 January 1794 a French doctor and botanist named Joseph Dombey stepped aboard the Soon, a brig departing from Le Havre for Philadelphia. Dombey bore a letter of introduction from the Committee of Public Safety, the executive body that ruled France during the Reign of Terror. Dombey was carrying to the US Congress a copper length prototype - newly named the metre - and a copper kilogram, which were intended to help the US reform its system of weights and measures.

    The French revolutionaries had chosen their emissary well. Dombey had an engaging personality and a wealth of scientific learning that would surely impress the Americans. "He had integrity, courage and a sense of adventure," writes the historian Andro Linklater in his 2002 book Measuring America (Walker and Co.) "He was the ideal choice in every way but one - his luck was phenomenally bad." "

  • "Andreas Schadschneider knows a thing or two when it comes to evacuating stadiums. Here he explains how models of pedestrian dynamics borrow ideas from physics to model people as particles" With cool videos demonstrating pedestrian dynamics.
  • "Initiated during 2009 and in the framework of the International Year of Astronomy (1), The Unidentified Aerospace Phenomena (UAP) Observations Reporting Scheme is a project aiming at facilitating the collection of UAP reports from both amateur and professional astronomers, via a questionnaire to be downloaded from a dedicated website." Also includes guides to commonly misidentified objects, and flow charts to help make a correct identification. (via Physics World)
  • "And then came Kagan. One of the things that's been difficult to explain is why anyone who's ever met her--from her students to her colleagues at Harvard to her staff at the Solicitor General's office--lights up when talking about her. Whereas an American public that fell pretty hard for Roberts and Sotomayor has remained almost completely indifferent to Kagan. [...]

    One explanation for this is that Kagan never had a personal story that grabbed American voters by the heartstrings and dragged them into this hearing room. But the other explanation--the one that is increasingly evident today--is that to know Elena Kagan is to love her. This is what her boosters and students have been telling me all along: While on paper Kagan appears to be made out of, well, paper, in person she lights up a room."

  • "AVC: You've played doctors several times, along with a lot of cabbies and doormen. You've been a doorman at least twice.

    AM: That's just the reality of Hollywood. When you're brown and Indian, you get offered a lot of doctor roles. I used to get the cab-driver roles all the time, and the deli owner. Now I've moved up to the medical profession."

  • We're #13! We're #13!

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