Sunday Starlinks

November 14th, 2010

I was late at work Friday night, Saturday night, and I’m just hoping I don’t have to pull an all-nighter tonight.   Ugh.   I probably should.   NSF grant proposals are serious support for research, and I can fund my summer salary, my students annually, and cover all our expenses with one of these.   I’ve revised one now that was previously rejected, and am working to finish a second.   I have too many grad students right now counting on me and I worry more about letting them down than letting myself down.   The second proposal will be less polished and less likely to get funded (ALL proposals are unlikely to get funded as it’s about 1 in 5 or 1 in 6 odds), but if that’s the case I’ll get feedback to revise it next year, and forcing myself to focus so seriously now is still a good thing.   I’m helping two of my students develop thesis projects and large parts of this proposal will constitute my effort in that direction.

Our first faculty candidate arrives in town today, too, and I must spend some time with him between now and Tuesday, so it continues to be important thing upon important thing, as usual.   I don’t mind triage to focus on top priority, but sometimes there are multiple top priorities.

Well, enough about me.   Who wants to read about personal stuff on a blog, anyway? ;)   Onward to some really good starlinks.

The flawed science of the floating mountains in Avatar in one handy graphic.   Cameron cares about getting things right, but I think art trumped science here.   They were cool.

Essential Science for SF Writers.   A little more basic than I usually worry about, but yes, definitely essential.

The 7 Most Horrifying Museums on Earth.   I’ve been to the Catacombs under Paris, which is comparable but not technically a museum, but not these others.   And one or two might still be too scary even for me.

Here’s something else horrifying.   Marvel Brothel.   It’s an amateur video game with the premise that Professor X decides that whoring out mutant babes is an effective way of improving human-mutant relations.   Um, yeah. From the article: “Every once in a while, something comes along that’s such an incredible train wreck on every level that it seems like the entire Internet grinds to a halt while we all try to comprehend that it actually exists.”

OK, some real astronomy. Giant gamma ray bubbles extending out from the galactic center.   Sounds like to me, several tens of thousands of years ago, the supermassive black hole at the core of the Milky Way had a snack.

More astronomy!   Amazing animated 3D graphic of the heart of a coment.   Do check this one out.

More astronomy!   It turns out that Pluto might be just a little bigger than Eris after all.   Sounds like the verdict is still that Eris is more massive by quite a bit, so we can still argue about which is “bigger.”   If your one of those people who think that size matters.

Io9 defends steampunk.   Fine.   I know some people like it.   Not my cup of tea.   It steams up my goggles.

Yet another thing seriously wrong with the Catholic church: they’re working to fill their need for more exorcists. I can’t understand how anyone with a brain can keep up an association with this organization.   Someone who has symptoms of possession needs real help, not praying and holy water.   The power of Carl Sagan from beyond the grave commands me to say this.   This sort of superstitious nonsense is not worth anyone’s respect.

How to build your own 2-meter RC flying Enterprise.   I’d like to make a Flying Spaghetti Monster for a party next year and this gives me some ideas.   Ramen.

Interesting account of what happens if you don’t go along with the TSA’s new mandate to X-ray or grope would-be airline passengers.   I fly a lot.   I’m not shy and pretty much don’t care if people want to check me out, thoroughly, and we already pay doctors a lot to check for testicular cancer and give us prostate exams, and the dentist to X-ray my teeth.   Seems like we could improve airline security and provide all Americans with healthcare with a few small adjustments…More seriously, we live in a country motivated by fear and willing to spend billions and give up rights for what is usually just the illusion of security.   I want people to stand up for their rights and to be treated politely by authorities when they do so.

Keep it simple.   Notes from a Bad Interviewer.   Some good advice here, not just about job interviews, but also concerning nearly any time you’re trying to communicate with other people who aren’t experts in your own subfield.   Trying to keep the advice in mind as I write my NSF proposals.   Back to it now!

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