Mike Beversluis

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Science Conferences

Biocurious: Anatomy of a seminar*

They don’t all go like this, but the vast majority of seminars I attend seem to follow this general outline.

1. Introduction of Esteemed Speaker by Local Professor with the largest overlap in research interests. Enumeration of every award Esteemed Speaker has ever garnered is standard issue, and if Local Professor and Esteemed Speaker know each other, humorous story from “well, not THAT long ago” is recounted, though chances are you probably had to be there (unless it involves breaking obscenely expensive equipment, in which case everyone has a good laugh).


By all means, click through, but I will say that the short talks (which are what I give/gave) which follow the plenary speakers aren't that much different. Basically, the quickie-version. Hopefully, you won't repeat the previous speakers, but they'll have been similar enough that you can hit the ground running. Wham, bam, thank-you ma'am. My advice is to use non-serifed (helevtia et al) fonts for legibility, tell a story, and use the whole thing for a poster which you run in parallel (posters are easy to get at OSA conferences).

*for those keeping score at home, I'm an idiot.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Exceptions prove the rule


Friday, January 25, 2008

2008 DC Auto Show

I went to the DC Auto Show today, which was fun. They did not have the new ZR-1, or the new Camaro or Challenger, but still, it's fun to go sit in cars (that's the wheel of the gonzo RS4 convertable above).

The Mustang Shelby KR-500, coming to a Barret-Jackson near you.

The new M3 hotness, for the spiky-haired Maxim reader.

Vintage Racing Volvo!

Ford GT hotness.

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Saturday, January 19, 2008


Even though it's a shaky-cam movie without a whole lot of story, Cloverfield is a pretty intense monster flick.


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Billion tree campaign

Maybe you recall that some time ago I had posted a note about a campaign led by the 2004 Nobel Prize Wangari Maathai to plant one billion trees in 2007. Well, I am happy to say that the campaign reached its goal, you can check it out at the campaign's website. For the economically minded, it is interesting to note that the main contribution came from governments and their agencies.
Said this, the campaign is being re-proposed for 2008.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008


One-tonne rodent discovered in South America.

I don't think they exist (quickly looks over shoulder). Also, note the mention of terror birds. Holy crap, South America sucks!


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

8 Mile Island

Detroit's Fate
By Tom Bethell

Intransigent unions, declining auto makers, and poor public policy have wrecked both Michigan and its largest city. But the worst may be over, writes TOM BETHELL.

For the Ford Motor Company’s Rouge Factory Tour, we were instructed to assemble at the IMAX theater. That’s in Dearborn, on the outskirts of Detroit. The theater turned out to be next to a huge, dispiriting, almost empty parking lot. But if you go to Detroit you get used to parking lots that seem larger than necessary.

Detroit’s population peaked with the Census of 1950 at 1,849,000. Today, it’s less than half that. An analysis of FBI crime statistics by Congressional Quarterly in November found that Detroit is America’s most dangerous city, with Michigan’s Flint, 60 miles away, ranked third. And, while Detroit would hardly seem to be an overheated real estate market, it has suffered more than Las Vegas or Miami in the recent property bust, ranking second nationally in its foreclosure rate. The automobile industry hasn’t been doing so well, either.

At a time when the national and global economies have been thriving, the unemployment rate of the metro area centered in Detroit, as of October 2007, was 8 percent—the highest among the nation’s 34 largest metropolitan divisions and nearly twice the overall U.S. rate. Phoenix, by contrast, was 2.9 percent. While the United States has gained 1.7 million jobs over the past year, Michigan has lost 75,000, and its unemployment rate, 7.7 percent in October, is the highest of any state.

In response to the state’s fiscal difficulties, the Canadian-born governor, Jennifer Granholm, recently raised taxes—the biggest increase in Michigan’s history. The state with the worst economy now, according to the Tax Foundation, has the 11th highest tax burden.

From the outside, Michigan and Detroit look like disasters. Why? Bad public policy, grasping unions, the shifting fortunes of the domestic auto industry? Do the state and its largest city have a future? In all my 45 years in America, I had never been to Detroit, so I decided to go there and take a look for myself. A tour of the Ford plant was probably a good introduction.

I went to Detroit last year, and honestly, it wasn't as bad as I expected. It was definitely less depressing than driving through Bethlehem, PA, and I'd rather live there than New Jersey. Which is faint praise as they say.

In a related note, I've added HBO back as the last season of The Wire has started. This article made me think of Baltimore, because if you go there, you will see they aren't exaggerating anything. They too raised taxes in an effort to get a phoenix to rise from the ashes, but you can burn a lot of money in that pursuit and not get anywhere. I drove up to Johns Hopkins the other week, and yes, I locked my car doors when I got off the freeway.

Also, unlike last year when they left McNulty alone, the show's writers are messing up his new marriage just so they can satisfy their desire for tragedy. It's annoying and so the more they moan about their lack of recognition, the more I think they deserve it.


Dyslexics are

teaple poo.


Galactic Spin Exclusion Principle

Spiral Galaxy Winds Backwards
By Jeremy Hsu
Staff Writer
posted: 10 January 2008
06:19 am ET

New discoveries in a strange spiral galaxy show it has a pair of arms winding backward compared to the typical direction for most galaxies.

"While the existence of a galaxy with a pair of 'backward' arms may seem like an inconvenient truth to many, our latest analysis indicates it is, nonetheless, a reality," said Gene Byrd, a University of Alabama astronomer.

Most spiral arms observed so far tend to trail in the wake of their galaxy's spin, meaning they wind in the direction opposite the rotation. The strange galaxy, known as NGC4622, lies 200 million light years away and has a large outer arm pair that winds clockwise.

Byrd and his colleagues analyzed a 2001 Hubble Space Telescope image of the galaxy and found a previously hidden inner pair of arms winding counter-clockwise. Whichever way the galaxy happens to rotate, one pair of arms ends up turning in the unusual direction.

Opposites attract.


Sunday, January 13, 2008


5 Myths About Breaking Our Foreign Oil Habit
By Robert Bryce
Sunday, January 13, 2008; Page B03

With oil prices still flirting with $100 a barrel, everyone is talking about the need for "energy independence." Late last year, President Bush signed the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007; Sen. John McCain has declared, "We need energy independence"; and Sen. Barack Obama has called for "serious leadership to get us started down the path of energy independence."

This may all be good politics. But the idea that the United States, the world's single largest energy consumer, can be independent of the $5 trillion-per-year energy business -- the world's single biggest industry -- is ludicrous on its face. The push for energy independence is based on a series of false premises.

We're sitting on a huge amount of coal, but the sea-change in green thought about nuclear power is an window to start ramping some of that back up.


Saturday, January 12, 2008

Pop Art

Thomas Allen: Pulp Fiction Pop Ups

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Friday, January 11, 2008

kinda cool

Via the brother in law, Hacking the Wii remote for VR head tracking and finger tracking.

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Indoor Weather

Mike's apartment will reach a high, and a nominal low too, of 68 degrees today, and with a light drizzle in my kitchen, thanks to a leaky pipe upstairs. Gradual drying out trend expected. A microcosm of the renting experience. Doh.


Florida, America's Penisula

Family Auto Mart.

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Monday, January 07, 2008

No Respect

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Way way cheaper

But apparently pretty close to the real thing: Games so real the best of drivers take them seriously

Special to The Japan Times

Advancing technology blurs the line between virtual and real-world driving as today's champions practice on television screens.

News photo
Creator Kazunori Yamauchi constantly refines his "Gran Turismo" racing video game. PETER LYON PHOTOS

When I suggested to Kazunori Yamauchi — creator of the "Gran Turismo" video game — that he codrive with me in his first ever "real world" race, a one-hour Mazda MX-5 endurance event at Tsukuba Circuit in Ibaraki Prefecture in 2006, he vacillated for a day or so. Despite being a very good driver, he said no one had ever invited him to join a real race before.

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Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Star Trek (Edward Gorey Remix)

Via the b. in l., The Trouble with Tribbles: A Television Adaptation by Edward Gorey.

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Presented without comment (mostly)

Man, 75, hurt while riding pet buffalo.


Can't stand the heat?

The Invisible Ingredient in Every Kitchen:

January 2, 2008
The Curious Cook
The Invisible Ingredient in Every Kitchen

OF all the ingredients in the kitchen, the most common is also the most mysterious.

It’s hard to measure and hard to control. It’s not a material like water or flour, to be added by the cup. In fact, it’s invisible.

It’s heat.

Every cook relies every day on the power of heat to transform food, but heat doesn’t always work in the way we might guess. And what we don’t know about it can end up burning us.

We waste huge amounts of gas or electricity, not to mention money and time, trying to get heat to do things it can’t do. Aiming to cook a roast or steak until it’s pink at the center, we routinely overcook the rest of it. Instead of a gentle simmer, we boil our stews and braises until they are tough and dry. Even if we do everything else right, we can undermine our best cooking if we let food cool on the way to the table — all because most of us don’t understand heat.


First Step - Set up free blog

Cool Tools is cool: The Personal MBA

I once dabbled with the idea of getting an MBA. After a life avoiding any work in a business, I wanted to start one of my own and knew zero about it. Like many folks, I thought a heavy-duty school program would cure my ignorance and inexperience. But an official MBA degree can easily cost $100,000. I figured out I would learn more spending $500 in self-education. So I devoted $200 for books and the other $300 actually starting a small mail-order business (the fee went for an ad). In two years I learned more about how business really worked than any MBA graduate I had met. No matter what they tell you, an MBA is not essential for landing or handling a good business job. The chief "skill" you'll come away by your degree is a diploma, and a network of indebted friends in business. The latter is actually useful.

Step two eludes me, but step three is Profit!

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Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Worst Retirement Home Ever?

Old Age Rejuvenator Centerfuge (because gravity kills).
Ah, centerfuges... is there nothing they can't do?


Great in '08

Happy Everything.