Monday, October 26, 2009


Seeing as how I'm employed by Harvard Medical School, I feel like I should comment on the recent poisoning case (I don't work in the New Research Building, although that is where my gym is located). First, it is downright appalling how long it took HMS to tell anyone about this -- it happened two months ago. Second, there is no frickin' way it is accidental. Sodium azide just doesn't float into a coffee machine. It is also worth pointing out that this is very easy to do. Most labs have grams of sodium azide just lying around, along with all sorts of other poisons, so if you're interested in doing something like this, there's not much of a barrier to entry. And no offense to the Harvard Police Department, but shouldn't the Boston Police Department get involved, since this is, you know, attempted murder?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

F = ma

Force equals mass x acceleration. This explains why, all other things being equal, it behooves you to use a heavier bat when hitting a baseball or to weight 350 pounds if you're a nose tackle.

It also means that if you get hit by a Chevy Suburban at 30 mph you'll be in much worse shape than if you were hit by a mini Cooper. Yet someone caught speeding in either of those vehicles receives exactly the same fine. Now, one aspect of setting a speed limit has to do with sight lines, reaction times, etc. But not always -- there are plenty of streets where the speed limit could be much higher, but since it is a residential neighborhood with children, a commercial area with a lot of pedestrians, etc., the speed limit is much lower, meaning that one aspect of the speed limit is the recognition of limiting damage when the inevitable does occur. So maybe instead of speed limits we should have force limits.

No, I don't think this is actually do-able, but just as a thought experiment. And actually, now that we're on the topic, if the point of traffic tickets is to discourage behavior, shouldn't the ticket amount be normalized to income?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009


What does it say about this country that the best sources of news are Jon Stewart and the Onion?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Will work for EZ moneez

I'd like to say, just from a keeping-it-real perspective, that my blogging absence of late has been due to depression over the Red Sox, but that is not true. Rather, Real World events have intervened, namely, me starting to think about leaving the postdoc world.

I had an interview yesterday, and started off the day by meeting with someone from human resources. Towards the end of that (and I swear, I knew more about his work place than he did) he asked what I was thinking about in terms of salary. What the f? I mean, if I answer a bijillion kajillion dollars, will they offer me that? As far as I can tell, there is no upside on my part to actually answering that question -- if I say a number lower than their standard offer, then I've just screwed myself. But I cannot imagine a higher number altering their original offer. Just extreme silliness, really.

Obama visits MIT on Friday. No tickets for alums, unfortunately.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Nobel Peace Prize

Really? In less than 365 days Obama won both election as US President and a Nobel Peace Prize?

The reaction from conservatives will be totally ridiculous, and telling. Some will say, look, some bad people have won the Prize in the past (Arafat, e.g.), ergo, Obama is a bad guy. Of course, so has Mother Teresa, Nelson Mandela, MLK, etc. Others will say it is pointless prize anyway and does nothing for America, somewhat implying that this makes us weak.

I'm wondering if Andrew Sullivan took his Abilify today -- will he post that composite image of Obama that he does when he's feeling good about the guy, or will be spend the whole day sniping that Obama didn't make repeal of DADT and DOMA his top priority.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Playoff Baseball

Sox come into the postseason after 95 wins in the regular season -- the same number of wins they had in '03, '05, and '08. As a friend commented, I don't like the way any of those postseasons turned out. Interestingly, the top 4 offenses by runs scored in the American League made the playoffs, but only 1 of the top 4 pitching staffs made it, the wild-card-winning Boston Red Sox, ranking 3rd in runs allowed (Yankees are 6, Twins are 8, Angels are 10).

Game 1 is tonight, starting at the bleary-eye-inducing 9:37pm. I don't want to know who the announcers are, nor does it matter, because they will inevitably suck. At least they sent Craig Sager to New York, he's probably the worst of the bunch, and that is saying a lot.

Wait, praise Jesus, here's a good sign: TBS is letting Don Orsillo (teamed up with Buck Martinez, he of the David OR-tiz pronunciation) call the Sox series! I guess I couldn't wait to find out. Anyway, that's good news.

Seems like an awful lot of postseasons of late have had the Yankees beating the Twins and/or the Red Sox beating the Angels. I don't really see that changing this year.

Google creep

This morning, I logged onto Google Reader and there was a note saying that Person X is now following me on Google Reader -- essentially, when I read something that I think others would be interested in, I click the 'share' button and that blog posts pops up in Google Reader for everyone else who's following me.

Anyway, in addition to the note saying Person X is now following me, there's a note asking if I want to follow Person X, so I click yes. I then send Person X an email saying ha ha, you sure you want to know what I read on the internet. It then became clear that Person X is only following me because I was following Person X -- the same reason that I'm following Person X, because Person X was following me!

Essentially, it seems like Google just decided to link us together even though neither of us initiated the following. I dunno, maybe we had exchanged enough emails or something to pass some threshold. But that's kinda creepy.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Crystal ball

Via Andrew Sullivan, this brought a smile to my face. Baseball is a fun sport: