Student Contract Jobs at EPA RTP

July 13, 2009

If you know students with science backgrounds and computer skills looking for additional funding in the Research Triangle Park area, then there are several twelve month contracts available for work at the National Center for Computational Toxicology. The contracts can potentially be extended up to a total of two and a half years and pay a bit over $21 an hour. Read the rest of this entry »


Investing in Movies

December 9, 2008

For nearly 10 years, I’ve been playing the Hollywood Stock Exchange. Basically it’s a prediction market based on the box office returns of movies. It’s been a pretty good indicator over the years, but the income model was based nearly totally on ad revenue. A few months ago, they announced a complete site overhaul, ostensibly to “update” to the Web 2.0 model. It must not have been very successful, given its short life and eventual reversion to the “old” site.

Anyway, the 2.0 idea has been abandoned in favor of an even more major step forward: the Cantor Exchange. Named after HSX’s parent company Cantor Fitzgerald, it will be similar to the game format except you’ll be able to invest with real money. Details are sketchy as to the actual implementation, but I expect I’ll be playing around with it a little.

Being Trendy

November 12, 2008

So my sinus headaches have progressed into an eye infection requiring that I now get antibiotic eye-drops just like Emil (Ann’s cat).  I guess he made it look cool and I sub-consciously wanted in on the trend.

Apparently epidemiologists work may be similarly replaced by simply monitoring the frequency of search terms using Google Trends (awesomeness previously discussed). Lunchtime’s unwilling blogger Ann reports (by forwarding a New York times article) that Google Flu Trends is having remarkable success at correlating the flu incidence reported by CDC and the prevalence of flu-related search terms:

Correlation between trends in flu-related searches and incidence

Correlation between trends in flu-related searches and incidence

I know it’s been a long time since I last posted, but I have become a massive Digg addict and if you care what random web-pages I’m looking at you can follow me there.  Last week I finally replaced my computer (purchased in 2001) that died this summer.  It has a mere four cores, so Brian’s cyber-manhood is safe for now).  The upshot is that in a few weeks I will be blogging more regularly.  In the mean time I am playing some games I have been waiting on for, oh, four or five years.  I started with Gears of War, which is a lot of fun but not as awesome as Gary Jules’ cover of Mad World for Donnie Darko.

What happened to John?

June 24, 2008

Hi everyone. I’m still alive and life has been interesting. Ann and I bought a house that we’ll move into in August, but in the mean time we’re packing up and heading to an apartment in Chapel Hill. The lease on our rental house is up at the end of the month and the crummy owners wanted to get it on the market so as not to miss out on those oh-so-common July renters rather than give us an extension of less than a year.

In addition to that fun, I’ve been to both Huntsville and Jacksonville briefly and watched one of my EPA mentors head off for industry.

Finally, on Sunday night, as we were driving into RTP to get some paperwork for the next morning’s mortgage signing, we got caught in a freak rain storm that caused puddles to form on Martin Luther King Parkway (a newly built, divided four lane road). The first puddle was fine (I was going less than 20 MPH so we didn’t even hydroplane) but the second one was two to three feet deep and as we plunged in my engine cut out and still hasn’t restarted. The water was most of the way up the passenger door and we were stuck for a good fifteen minutes or so before the water drained and we could push the car off the road (with the welcome help of some samaritans).

Fortunately, Andy’s googling and Mary’s dashing rescue allowed us to get out of the lightning and retrieve the needed papers in time for the morning.  Unfortunately, I may have totaled my relatively new, unpaid-off car. Oh, why couldn’t we have hydroplaned over that puddle? (Feel free to discuss the physics of that, or lack thereof, in the comments section.) In the meantime I am driving a rental pick-up truck — you should have seen the rental agent’s draw drop when I asked for one — in order to help with moving. For some reason everyone wants a compact right now. All I know is I’ve already ordered my “W – The President” bumper sticker.

In the meantime, I have a great story on how two ball boys saved Michigan’s undefeated season in 1997 as well as a nominee for the blog roll:

It’s like crack for anyone who likes graphs, statistics or politics (a triple-whammy for me). Also in the intersection of cool graphs and politics is Presidential Watch 08, which has great tools for plotting the political blogosphere as well as trends. Without these very impressive analyses, would we have ever been able to tell that Fox news leans Republican?

Finally, if you can show that playing Minesweeper is NP-complete, you can win a million dollars

The Physics Arxiv Blog

April 6, 2008

Force chains in a granular silo... In the physics community it is common practice to submit “finished,” but not yet peer-reviewed, research papers to a preprint server so that they become time-stamped (useful for establishing credit) and freely available to the public. Often, once a paper is revised in response to peer-review and published, a “preprint” copy of the final version is placed on the server so that copies can easily be obtained without tracking down whatever journal it was published in (something that has gotten vastly easier thanks to Google Scholar). The arXiv preprint server started in 1991 at Los Alamos (where it had the dubious-sounding address of since the Web was not yet especially World-Wide) and now hosts papers in physics, mathematics, computer science, and quantitative biology. Anyone who wants may subscribe to have a listing of all the new and updated papers on a given topic regularly sent via e-mail. For me, at least, scanning through the daily cond-mat listing is one of the main ways I try to stay current in my field.

The newest addition to our blogroll is a very cool idea — The Physics Arxiv blog. The author combs through the daily update emails and writes about the interesting papers they see and you’ll never guess how I stumbled across it. Sometimes papers on arXiv are kinda crazy and take a long time to get published (if ever). Sometimes research is happening so quickly that entire research groups dictate what they do in response to the latest preprint (right Joe?). No matter what it’s a neat blog and a good way to stay current in physics.

Innotech, er… EniTech

March 24, 2008

I spent Saturday through Friday last week in Seattle at the Society of Toxicology annual meeting. Seattle is awesome and I had a lot more time to explore than my previous, three day trip. The weather was actually pretty decent — it was often rainy but not raining. In fact, it only rained the two times I didn’t take my umbrella with me.

Anyhow, I need to get back into the blogging habit, and as a big Terminator fan (apparently one of the few that prefers the original) I think that the website for Enitech is pretty entertaining. Read the rest of this entry »

Presidential Politics and the Economy

February 4, 2008

No, not that economy.  Instead it is the the prostitution industry which, at least in Denver — site of the Democratic nominating convention — is expecting a lot of bangs for their bucks August 25-28.  According to San Francisco based postitute Carol Leigh, however, “It would be a lot better for the sex workers if it was the Republican convention… We get a lot more business.  I don’t know if they’re just frustrated because of the family values agenda.”

Republicans, it seems, are not the optimal convention-goer either.  Said Leigh: “Computer conventions can be lucrative.  There’s a lot of nerds that don’t get out much.”