Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

In praise of failure

September 10, 2012

“In 2004, Kim and Chan (KC) carried out torsional oscillator (TO) measurements of solid helium confined in porous Vycor glass and found an abrupt drop in the resonant period below 200 mK. The period drop was interpreted as probable experimental evidence of nonclassical rotational inertia (NCRI). This experiment sparked considerable activities in the studies of superfluidity in solid helium”.

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Mountain Lion and stuff

August 19, 2012

Between work and home I own eight Apple computers — four iMacs, two MacBook Air, two Mac Pro. So, like any respectable user, I promptly upgraded the operating system to the new version, OS 10.8 (aka Mountain Lion), which has now been available for a few weeks. Around this time last year, its predecessor Lion had come out. On that occasion, after installing it on all my machines, I expressed in a blog post my lukewarm feelings about it.

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Sorry, can’t work with you

May 15, 2012

Imagine this: you are the owner of a second tier football franchise based somewhere in Europe, say one like Tottenham, Udinese, Bayer Leverkusen — one of those. Your team is solid, good but not great. It is good enough to play consistently in the major league of your country, often earning a spot in some European competition (occasionally the UEFA Champions League, normally the UEFA Europa League).

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An ordinary Sunday evening

May 6, 2012

It’s 6 pm on Sunday evening in Trieste. I am walking by the train station, almost at the end of the long (about 90 minutes) walk from the International Centre for Theoretical Physics, of which I am a guest this Spring, to my downtown apartment. The end of my European stay is quickly approaching; I am about to spend my last month here frantically trying to finish all the projects that I started — that’s how things always go.
In a week, however, I shall be visiting a collaborator in Strasbourg. I am going there by train.
That reminds me, I do not have my train ticket yet… might as well get it now.

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Mend it, don’t end it (email, that is)

January 26, 2012

I blissfully went through the first half of my life without electronic mail, and yet I cannot imagine living without it now. There are specific tasks for which mail (narrowly defined here as the transmission of text written by the sender, to one or more recipients) is simply irreplaceable. People have corresponded in that way for centuries, and electronic mail is in many respects nothing but the obvious evolution of “snail mail”. I hardly see any reason for going back to slow, clumsy, expensive, unreliable snail mail; I cannot think of anything that it did, that electronic mail does not do much better.

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Education disadvantage

January 21, 2012

If a cash-strapped province or state had to make painful cuts to public services, the immediately noticeable effect would be the outright elimination of some of them.
One would not think of, say, laying off a fraction of all bus drivers and asking the remaining ones to work longer hours, in order to keep all existing bus routes active — some would be phased out, based on various considerations of priority, in order to minimize the inconvenience to denizens, while continuing to offer as much of the original transportation as possible. Some people, however, would have to go to work or to the grocery store in some other, less convenient or more expensive way.

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Predictions for 2012

December 30, 2011

The end of the year is finally upon us, and an appropriate post must accompany it. Memes are lame, which is why I never rarely do them. Thus, I am going instead to wrap up this very eventful year by offering ten bold predictions for the one that is about to begin.
My hallmark boldness remains unabated, in spite of some recent minor flops with Canadian elections.

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Can you share this ?

December 29, 2011

Dear Massimo,

Here is how the Wikipedia fundraiser works: Every year we raise just the funds that we need, and then we stop.

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On the road again

December 23, 2011

A long and tiring term is coming to a close. Time to celebrate the holidays, then head out to Vancouver for a few days, to end 2011, and then it will be a new year and a new term. The Winter term of 2012 is also going to be very intense, but for different reasons — I have quite a bit of traveling ahead of me. Indeed, it looks as if I shall be in Europe (Germany and Italy) until Summer.

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Copying time

November 10, 2011

I got the idea for this (silly) blog post from my primary, inexhaustible source of inspiration, but I swear, I have been thinking about doing a blog post on handwriting for a while.

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