Monday Miscellany

A bunch of smallish items that have been failing to resolve into full-fledged blog posts for a little while now, thrown together here because I don't have anything better to post this morning:

-- When is doubt, start with self-promotion: Physics World includes How to Teach Physics to Your Dog in their holiday gift books guide, and says wonderfully nice things about it:

Chad Orzel talks to his dog about quantum physics. It is not clear what the dog gets out of this arrangement, but the rest of us ought to be grateful for it, because Orzel's book about their "conversations" is sure to become a classic.

and Emmy would bark at me if I didn't quote the bit about her:

For the purposes of the book, Emmy functions as a doggy Greek chorus: popping up to ask naive-but-illuminating questions. Orzel often plays these interruptions for laughs, and his weary patience with Emmy's persistent squirrel/food/ tummy-rubbing obsessions will set many dog owners chuckling. However, her crazy suggestions (like the one about getting through the neighbour's fence using quantum tunnelling) also allow Orzel to counter some common misconceptions about quantum mechanics, and to expand on his explanations without appearing to talk down to the reader. As a quantum physicist, Emmy still has a lot to learn - but as a plot device, she's fantastic.

-- While I'm in "buy my book" mode, there's also a mention of it in the gift guide from MSNBC's Cosmic Log. This is one of those "Wow, it's cool to see my book listed with all these other brilliant people" things-- some great stuff on that list.

-- A more ambiguous honor: I made this list of most prolific science bloggers, coming in at #12 with a hair under 20,000 words posted in November. The funny thing is, November didn't strike me as a particularly high-volume month-- I'm pretty sure I posted a lot more than that in July and August. The count is also inflated a bit by the Links Dump posts, which are largely automatic. But, still, there's that, make of it what you will.

-- We had some PR consultants on campus last week to do "media training," which was mostly stuff that I already sort of knew about, but included a few items that were new to me. Including the suggestion that media types prefer LinkedIn to other social networks when it comes to connecting with sources. Thus, this, though as its networking mechanisms are more annoying than Facebook's (showing me job titles rather than names in a list of search results is not as helpful as it might be), I doubt I'll be doing all that much active with it. But, you know, it's there, and I suspect I will be following the same "accept all requests, send almost no requests" policy I do on Facebook, if you think it would be useful/interesting, feel free to send me a request.

-- If you find yourself thinking "Gee, I miss those halcyon days of late July when there was a lot of righteously indignant meta-blogging about the Pepsi mess," then Nature Network is there for you, with yet another blog kerfuffle. I didn't notice this one in real time, because I don't read any of the blogs affected, but that link will take you to a summary with all the links you could want.

-- If you find yourself thinking, "Screw last July, I want to party like it's 1996!" then Razib at Gene Expression is your guy. He's kicking the science wars old-school with a broadside against anthropologists that will reawaken all those old Sokal hoax feelings.

-- And speaking of Science Wars, there was a bit of a stir last week over why scientists aren't Republicans. I basically agree with Kevin Drum (the second of those links), though Razib's posts are a good reminder that right-wing kooks don't have a monopoly on anti-science idiocy.

-- I wonder if adding today's xkcd to my lab writing guide would help convince students of the importance of axis labels, or if it would just confuse them?

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