Saturday, October 18, 2014

Photographs in Tables

Stan is uncomfortable with Jan’s view of data and tables.
Stan: So you visited 30 museums in ten days?

Jan: For the purpose of finding out how technology encourages a more engaging and interactive experience for the visitor.

Stan: And you want to list the technological devices in a table. How many devices?

Jan: Eight or ten. Cameras, projectors, iPads, viewers, simulators, interactive booths, studios…

Stan: So you run technology down Column 1, and add the number of devices down Column 2.

Jan: Need more columns for other data. Like simulators could be flight simulators or code-making simulators. Need a column for photographs too.

Stan: Photographs? In a table?

Jan: Sure. Visuals are data too.

Stan: Huh. Next we’ll be seeing video clips in tables.

Statisticians see data as numerical and linguists take words as data. Their tables are traditionally filled with alphanumeric data. Artists regard visual images as data, so it seems legitimate to include photographs in tables.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Nobel Prize in Physics 2014

Akasaki, Amano and Nakamura
Bad news, good news…
Joaquin: Ebola doesn’t look good.

Scarlett: Isn’t there any good news this morning?

Joaquin: Good news? Oh, there’s the Nobel Prize for Physics.

Scarlett: Another Higgs particle?

Joaquin: Something easier to comprehend. Three Japanese are awarded the Nobel for developing blue LEDs. There was red, there was yellow, they needed blue to mix them to make white light.

Scarlett: LEDs are better than ordinary lights?

Joaquin: Good Lord yes. Most of the energy they use goes into light, not heat, so they use far less energy, shine brighter. Good for the environment and poor people can run them from solar power and batteries.

Scarlett: Proper marvels.

Joaquin: And to cap the good news. Other scientists were full of praise for these three clever and persistent scientists. Companies gave up, they pressed on. “Fantastic,” says an Oxford researcher. “Thrilling,” says a Cambridge professor.

A splendid example of upbeat reporting. The story of a reward for the inventors, the widespread benefits, and the supportive comments from peers. As good as it gets.

From the BBC.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

White Rabbit as Yeo-Thomas

Daily Telegraph 20 February 2010

Forest Frederick Edward Yeo-Thomas (1902-1964) was codenamed “White Rabbit” during his exploits as a British special operations agent in World War II.

White Rabbit himself is currently trying to understand the reason FFEY-T was codenamed WR.

Can anyone suggest WHO identified him as WR? The British? The Germans?
And WHY was he named WR?


Monday, September 29, 2014

Taste of Starbucks Coffee… in Asmara?

Asmara Stabas
Discussing a subject near and dear…

Eritrean: I’ve often thought Starbucks coffee tastes too strong, tastes burnt.

Ethiopian: I always thought their coffee had no aroma, had no taste.

Eritrean: Coffee is subjective. Take roasting. Some like it mild, some like it dark. Starbucks does it dark. Burnt, in my taste. Who likes burnt beans?

Ethiopian: Apparently some do.

Eritrean: We seem to be at odds. You think Stabas is tasteless. I think it doesn’t suit my taste. But we continue to meet here. Maybe the bulldozer of marketing buries the mouse of culture.

Ethiopian: Bulldozer? Mouse? Haven’t I heard that somewhere before?

Eritrean: Article on Tibet. Nothing to do with coffee. Have you ever tried Eritrean coffee? Mind-blowing.

Ethopian: Ethiopian light roast doesn’t taste so bad either.

So we borrow. Usually unacknowledged as a shortcut to sounding original. But getting back to the taste of coffee. A topic on which everyone is an expert. Correction. A topic on which everyone has an opinion. Tastes vary. Widely. Wildly, even. Example here.


Monday, September 22, 2014

Thanking Someone for Their Unconsciously Spreading Happiness

Catch ball after a picnic
Déjeuner approaches young couple in the park…

Déjeuner: Excuse me, it’s nothing really. I just wanted to say…

Young man looks worried, young woman less so.)

Déjeuner: I was having lunch, over there, on my porch, and watching you play catch ball. Your joy and laughter made my lunch taste better.

Young man relaxes, young woman smiles.)

Déjeuner: I just wanted to say “thank you” for my lunchtime entertainment. You live close by?

Young woman: Quite far. Yokohama. For a picnic here.

Déjeuner: That’s pretty far. Mind the mosquitoes. There’s been some dengue…

Young woman: We’ve been bitten. (Scratching at welts.) We’re packing up.

Déjeuner: I have some mosquito balm at home.

Young woman: It’s OK. Really. We’ll get some at the station.

Déjeuner: Thanks again and good luck!
In saying “thank you” for something serendipitous, words have to be chosen, mollifiers to allay anxiety need to be chosen. Imagine if Déjeuner had said, “Excuse me, I want a word with you two.” The young woman picks up quicker on the mollifiers than the young man. Ever wanted to express gratitude to someone (a catch ball-playing couple laughing and leaping) or something (a flower unexpectedly blooming) for bringing a smile to your face?