Monthly Archives: November 2007

Just call it entropy research

I thought our lab was a mess, but it could be worse… via Chad Orzel, here’s a chemistry professor (at UT San Antonio) whose lab had to be forcibly cleaned by the university:

“Clean your room or get out!” Words from a frustrated parent to a messy teenager? Not quite. The mess-maker in this case was a chemistry professor at the University of Texas, who ignored repeated warnings to clean up his dangerously cluttered lab space. When University officials decided to clean it themselves, the professor caused such a disturbance that campus police had to lead him away in handcuffs. The professor was eventually fired, which prompted a lawsuit claiming that the University retaliated against him and denied him equal protection.

The legal opinion notes that apart from the problems in the lab, the professor’s office was an “extreme fire hazard”, which still puts him a step below the physics professor here at Berkeley who actually set his office on fire. In any case, this makes me feel better about the disordered state of our lab. We cleaned it only a few months ago but it returns rather rapidly to equilibrium.
(I also want to point out that the legal blogger linked above is evidently a fan of Arrested Development, and has chosen the obvious pseudonym to use on his law blog…)

Words and Guitar

I’m supposed to be writing the concluding chapter (!) right now, but I would be remiss if I didn’t link to Carrie Brownstein’s review of Rock Band (which I haven’t played yet) in Slate. She’s a little snobbish about it, but when you played guitar for Sleater-Kinney you’re allowed.
She’s the one on the left:

(And I still have an appendix to write, so I’m not quite there yet… also the whole “revision” thing.)

I’m back (but not really)

Just a post to keep the page alive—I’m back in Berkeley from Thanksgiving (in Vegas) and my high school reunion (in Connecticut), but now I really need to finish my thesis very soon. A couple notes from yesterday:
An easy way to get the full-service treatment from the TSA is try to get through security with an expired driver’s license (even if it only expired three days ago). This also entailed filing some kind of form with my name on it so I’m probably on the watch list now. However, as I learned Thursday, flying on the day it expires is allowed. Now I have to fit in a trip to the DMV, and renewing my license now will ensure that I end up taking a job in some other state, requiring me to do it again in a few months.
I had to make two stops on my way back from Connecticut: my actual connection in Philadelphia, and an “unscheduled fuel stop” in Denver. (I myself sometimes make unscheduled fuel stops in my car, but when the airlines do it I find it somewhat worrisome.) With computer use prohibited during all the takeoffs and landings I had lots of time when I was forced to do something other than work on my thesis, and I took the opportunity to finally read Philip K. Dick’s classic novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (which as you probably all know was the inspiration for Blade Runner). I liked it, and while it was a short novel with a light prose style, it was extremely rich and coherent thematically. The book is concerned with the nature of the distinction between “real” and “artificial”, and addresses this from many directions at once, with almost every principal element of the plot and the setting illuminating a different aspect. I’m inclined to write a full review, but I don’t have time so I’ll stop here and get back to work.