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Sunday morning comics

(Another in a series) Sheldon is another one of those webcomics that those with a nerdy bent should probably be reading. As exhibit A, I present the following, in which the duck imagines Jabba the Hutt’s dark transformation from overweight and misunderstood Hutt to intergalactic gangster.

sheldon panel

 

Those jocks aren’t gonna have Jabba to kick around, anymore.

frag

XKCD is funny, awesome, oddly touching, sciency, and nerdy. And it has dinosaurs.

 

(Link via elzr, who lists his own favorites.)

Coffee snob cheap shot of the day

From the story noting that decaf still contains some caffeine:

Goldberger and his colleagues tested the caffeine content of decaf from 10 different coffee establishments. Only one — Folger’s Instant — contained no caffeine.

Makes sense. It doesn’t have any coffee in it, either.

Saturday morning pot-luck blogging

Made with the tiny pears from the neighbor’s tree, for tonight’s pot-luck, a pear tart with ginger-apricot glaze on top:

Pear tart

The neighbor also dropped off a bag full of apples this morning. Pie tomorrow? I love autumn. Love it.

Funny

Ugly Hill is one of a handful of webcomics that I really enjoy. One of the strip’s characters—I wouldn’t say “protagonist” exactly—is Hastings Kilgore, who lately has been considering converting to Catholocism in order to get married. As the end of this strip suggests, he’s a little skeptical.

Something about scare quotes as angel wings just gets me.

Notes from the coffee shop #11

Number 1: If you find yourself in Scottsdale, check out the coffee shop whose name I can’t quite remember. Pegasus? Psygnosis? Pergola? Anyway, it’s way up north on Scottsdale Road, north of the 101. In a strip mall with a Walgreens. It’s family-owned, has good coffee, and wifi.

Number 2: On the other hand, Tempe seems to be rather lacking in good options. Google pointed me to one place that was out of business and in a strip mall that seemed to have lost favor to its larger, newer, shiner, down-the-road cousins. I had to retreat to Barnes and Noble.

Number 3: Back in Flagstaff. The upside is that every coffee shop I frequent here now offers free wifi.* The downside is that the one where I am currently sitting has a table undergoing repair, complete with power tools, hammering, and sawdust. Is it that imperative to get the thing fixed before the evening rush? The intermittent power saw is a wee bit distracting.

 

* In descending order of personal preference: Late for the Train, Macy’s, Campus Coffee Bean.

From the access logs

Okay, seriously sb04.eecs.harvard.edu, I think two hits every four minutes since Monday is quite enough. Let’s go ahead and agree that your RSS reader is pointing to a file that doesn’t actually exist.

Because I can

Blogging from the patio at the dentist’s office. Not too shabby.


(Zooooomr)

Gorgeous today in Flagstaff, after the mass of heavy rain we’ve had for a week. After the recent fires in Oak Creek Canyon there was concern of rain causing mudslides, and that’s exactly what happened this week—though the destruction doesn’t look to be nearly as heavy as down in Tucson, where the Rillito topped its banks, Sabino Canyon looks to be entirely washed out, and half the city seems to have been underwater at one point or another.

Diffusion

For a couple of weeks I’ll be doing some guest-blogging over at orgtheory, where Brayden has taken up a new online residence. I hope to not make Brayden regret the invitation—I’m looking forward to having another place to post a few things—and promise to keep the dog-blogging here at home base.

She's usually very dignified

Pay to the order of my mental health

Every previous year on record, I waited until right up to the deadline. This year, however, I hereby endorse doing one’s taxes in February as one of the greatest things in the world, ever.

Two items

A couple of things:

Anonymity

The thing about power is that even when one has pretty good arguments, people who have power usually get to make the decisions, anyway. Drek points this morning to a decidedly negative commentary about job applicants who blog in The Chronicle of Higher Education. While I think the pseydonymous author of the commentary is sometimes unreasonable in his assessment of bloggers, he nonetheless has a lot of power that I lack, so I’m inclined to take the commentary seriously.

“Ivan Tribble” relates his experience with discovering the blogs of job applicants and finding them to reveal things he’d rather not know about the applicants: Blogs gave the impression that applicants were uninterested in academics, too opinionated, or perhaps even academically dishonest. In a job-seeking process where minimizing negatives is important, Tribble suggests that blogs open candidates up too much.

Tribble is sure to point out that his search committee was open to the possibility that blogs would be a positive way for applicants to “take their scholarly activity outside the classroom and the narrow audience of print publications into a new venue.” Later he notes “It’s not hard to imagine legitimate, constructive applications for such a forum. But it’s also not hard to find examples of the worst kinds of uses.” Though his own experience was more of the latter, I’m surprised that he didn’t return to mention at all that the former really does exist and is not simply imaginary: There’s a large and active community of genuinely scholarly bloggers, and while I won’t presume to identify myself as any kind of bright light in that group, my own blogging has nonetheless facilitated plenty of academic and otherwise interesting conversations (both electronic and face-to-face) that I think have been positive for the work that I do. Based on a fairly limited experience with them, Tribble instead identifies blogs as a fundamental weakness:

The content of the blog may be less worrisome than the fact of the blog itself. Several committee members expressed concern that a blogger who joined our staff might air departmental dirty laundry (real or imagined) on the cyber clothesline for the world to see. Past good behavior is no guarantee against future lapses of professional decorum.

Well, sure, I guess that’s right, but there’s never been a guarantee against lapses of professional decorum. So maybe it’s simply a question of scope: As Tribble notes, a lapse of judgement has a (potentially) narrower audience when distributed in an email than when broadcast on a blog. So even though I think Tribble is needlessly judgemental about the mere existence of a blog, I think he also gets close to an important argument here: A blog might diminish a hiring committee’s confidence in an applicant.

But having lots of paper in the printer doesn’t make me any more likely to write embarrassing letters to the editor, and that’s why, first of all, content ought to matter more than the simple existence of a blog. In terms of content, Tribble still seems to put bloggers in a difficult box: He encountered the blogger who bares all—too much—on one hand, while on the other hand was the blogger who didn’t write enough about academics. Well, that’s a bind, isn’t it? Must one’s blog be either pseudonymous or limited strictly to one’s academic field? Look, this place has a fair amount of academic thinking to it, but if you were to just read the music category, you wouldn’t find much of it. To be fair to Tribble, certain kinds of impressions certainly matter to different degrees under different circumstances, and I’m not suggesting that bloggers aren’t responsible for the impressions they make—especially, as in some of the cases Tribble notes, when job applicants include a URL on their CV. But at the same time I would hope hiring committees could acknowledge that having interests outside of academics might not neccessarily be a mark against, or that writing less about one’s research on a blog doesn’t mean the blogger cares little about that research. When I’m writing up my own work, it tends to be in the places that I hope would matter more, like inside my drafts of dissertation chapters.

Second, Tribble’s negative experience with blogger-applicants really needs to be considered as an N of 1. This returns, I think, to the fact that the world of blogging is indeed a pretty large one, and persuasive arguments about what blogging means and what its consequences are (or ought to be) should be more than anecdotal. That is, after all, what I think all these courses in writing, argumentation, methods, and statistics have in part been about.

Ultimately, however, I have to come back to this whole power issue. I disagree with a fair bit of what Tribble writes, but he’s in exactly the kind of position that will soon matter to me quite a lot, so his commentary makes me think seriously about my own blogging. There’s very little around this place that I’d re-think or be tempted to self-censor, but maybe that’s because I have a different understanding of how the blog fits into who I am than a new (and highly critical) reader. So do I become more pseudonymous? Attempt to disappear entirely? Do more to show my best face? I don’t know.

So I’ll think about that for a while. In the meantime, summer seems to have arrived, and now that all the human residents of Schussman North have just about completed our dental work, we’re going on a short road trip that will have nothing whatsoever to do with gross pulpal debridement. We hope.

Home from vacation update (July 18): Brayden, as usual, has put together some good thoughts about this, including a quick roundup of other sentiments. I’m particularly sorry to see Peter discontinue his blog, though I do understand his ambivalance about blogging.

Technorati via Txp

Via funkaoshi comes a link to a Technorati Cosmos plugin for Textpattern. Combined with tag functionality, (also see much discussion at the forum and Burning Bird’s tagback effort) this plugin makes for some pretty tight integration with Technorati. (The author, whose blog is lovely and largely in Italian—which itself is lovely—has also written a WYSIWYG editing plugin for Txp. Mad skills. Abilite arrabbiarsi? Probably not quite right.)

Also on the subject of tags, Jonas Luster has lately been doing some neat tinkering: He’s using Yahoo[!]’s term extraction API to automatically extract tags from posts in Wordpress and display them as links to Technorati tags.

Weblogs for the weekend

I’ve come across a number of neat blogs in the last handful of days.

Invasive Species Weblog covers issues of exotic and invasive plants and animals. Having a spouse who spends a great deal of her time thinking about invasives (plants, in particular) in Arizona, I have lots of interest but very little actual knowledge in the sorts of subjects discussed there.

ISW is a good read, and pointed me along to
Respectful Insolence and its brilliant installment of Tangled Bank, a collaborative project assembling posts from science blogs. Respectful Insolence’s take on Tangled Bank comes in the form of an author’s letter to an unfriendly journal editor. The whole “letter” is great, but I can’t resist quoting from the conclusion:

Assuming you accept this paper, we would also like to add a footnote acknowledging your help with this manuscript and to point out that we liked the paper much better the way we originally wrote it, but you held the editorial shotgun to our heads and forced us chop, reshuffle, restate, hedge expand, shorten, and in general covert a meaty paper into stir-fried vegetables. We couldn’t or wouldn’t have done it without your input.

Both Patrick Nielsen hayden and ISW pointed this week to Chris Clark’s blog Creek Running North. Chris is editor of Earth Island Journal, and his blog is a wealth of thoughtful and moving writing. Chris mentions his desperate desire to hike the Ruby Crest Trail, to which I must say: Go and do it. it’s glorious. (But carry extra water; the Rubies are high, and it can be a long way between water stops.)

I spent a couple of hours poking around Google maps this week with my Dad. He explored via satellite the spot where he cross country skis back home, and I wandered my way from Glen Canyon Dam, Down the River to the S. Kaibab Trail and Phantom Ranch—where I made my way on foot a couple of years ago. Seriously, the satellite photos of the Grand Canyon are just spectacular. So it was a treat to come across a list of cool google-sat photos at Return of Design. Be sure to check out the Bonneville Salt Flats and the Tucson Boneyard.

Finally, a couple of weeks ago I came across some links to The Corpuscle (again via Patrick?). Pick anything from the “Corpy’s Select” list and start reading.

Wonkery

After a false start last week, all of us at Piazza della Schussman are just about ready to move to our new hosting digs. The steam pipes may be particularly thumpy for the next couple of days as DNS changes make their way about, and parts of the site that don’t use relative URLs (some graphics, for example) won’t show up. Things should be back to more or less normal soon.

Update: It looks like things went pretty smoothly. Neat.


About, the short version

I’m a sociologist-errant. This site is powered by Textpattern, TextDrive and the sociological imagination. For more about me and this site, see the long version.

Copyright and so forth: Commenters own their own posts, and linked or excerpted material is subject to whatever copyright covers the original. Everything else here is mine, rights reserved.

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