Saturday, January 31, 2004

I've been lax, and have only just found that Southern Cross has been churning out a lot of good stuff of late. Including: Democrats are to boardroom, as Republicans are to bedroom. How so? you'll have to go and read to find out (I think it's from the 26th).

And from the "also in the news" section[1] of the BBC News's website: LaShawn Pettus-Brown found on Google. Now if you were on the run having magicked away a large about of money, would you still use the same name? The same very distinctive name?

[1] Otherwise known as "lazy blog writer's corner".

Douwe Osinga's mapping quests continue: this time it's to show who's going to win America. I know I ought to know more about this and care more about this, but the election is in November, and somehow it doesn't feel like there's going to be any change (other than less fuss about chads).
Random thought - how exactly does one pronounce Mr Osinga's name? I've always assumed it's do-we, or possibly dow-e, but then the only other instance of it that I've come across is the coffee: Douwe Egbert's. Which in this country, at least, is pronounced dow (as in the boat, or possibly the Dow Jones).

Following on from yesterday's comments: The M25
- Highways Agency: incident map, traffic flow (use the controls on the right, though it would make more sense if the default was the latest). Strangely their nation-wide travel map is nowhere near as comprehensive (and all it currently says on the M25, is that there are signs saying "end" between J10-11 anticlockwise, but it doesn't tell you where the roadworks start. It also doesn't mention the crash the other map shows in Surrey).
- The AA. which tells me about the roadworks, about the fact it's just rained (well "surface water hazard"), and areas where there is disrupted traffic flow. Also on the same map it tells me about burst water mains in Richmond, roadworks in Brixton, and traffic lights not working in Putney.
- The RAC, don't even run to a map. And they helpfully file news items by severity and county. Which is great if you want to find whether there's a really bad accident in Gwent. Not so great if you want to see what's happening on the M3, M25 and M40 (so that's Hampshire, Surrey, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, how far out does Middlesex come? and do they still count it? Oxfordshire, Warwickshire, West Midlands and I'm sure I've missed one out).
- The BBC unfortunately farm it all out to their regional people, so once again it's pick a county, any county (but they do run to more detail than any of the others on the local stuff).

So why do the private companies trounce the governmental organisation? (ok, so it's only one company, but still...).

Yet another interesting thing, this time from Signal + Noise. It's a piece summarising psychological experiments that demonstrate externalisation as a coping strategy. It's one of those things were it's just nice to have a succinct initiator or reminder. In other words if you have a psychological background, you'll be ranting about the simplicity of it, and how it's all age-old, widely known work (and thereby forgetting that some of us haven't had that training, and weren't alive when it would have been making the newspapers[2]). So read it.

[2] Can you tell that this is a pet peeve of mine? People who make assumptions just annoy me, whether it's assuming the audience knows everything, or assuming the audience knows nothing. It always surprises me how, when all students are instructed to aim their work at a "bright, yet uninformed, student", much science writing, that is not itself the primary literature, buries itself in either acronyms, statistics and references[3], or is simplistic beyond the verge of patronising (which the average bright, yet uninformed, student is not going to take too kindly to). And yes I am aware that to most people[4] writing like this is like an old shower, always jumping from one extreme or the other, and never in the optimum range.

[3] None of which are bad per se, but it's just some authors suddenly spring you with sentences like "The ETA of 9.645x10^6 closely reflects that which would be expected from the NOVAG in Reed et al's 2002 paper, confirming the veracity of ECMP". Which is fine if they've already stated what Reed suggested, and that ETA, NOVAG and ECMP are common acronyms or statistical methods (such as DNA or SE/Standard Error). But often they are not, which poses some problems.
[4] Ok, so I'm usually included in this. But what do you expect from stuff written at 3:28am on what's still Thursday night? Anyway it's not like anyone actually bothers to read the entire thing. You read the abstract, the first half of the introduction, and the beginning and end of the conclusion, and make a couple of red marks[5] in the margin on each the rest of the pages, usually at either a third of the way down the page, or two thirds, just to make it look like you're trying. Oh and find something to correct or comment on in the references. If for any reason you should come across something that sounds like something you've said, you should write a big "NO!" and contradict it (though strangely markers often take this back when approached).
[5] Try to avoid direct ticks and crosses, and opt for dashes, question marks, illegible curly squiggles, and the deservedly ubiquitous solitary dot (which says you saw something arresting, but maybe you misread it, or decided it was not worth commenting on, and so carried on. Also due to its supreme lack of meaning it allows the marker to argue anything they want in any discussion of the marking).

Hmm, and on this cynical note (or am I merely externalising?), I shall leave you.

Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?