### Like, you know?

I plan to make all of my students watch this video:

Typography from Ronnie Bruce on Vimeo.

I've noticed the creeping vines of questions crawling on sentences in many recent science talks, especially by the "young'uns." The non-question question mark is a defining characteristic of Caltech undergrad speech patterns? I've also noticed a lot of, "Today, I want to tell you about low-mass stars." Oh yeah? You want to tell me that? Well tell me, instead of leaving me in doubt right off the bat! "Today I'm going to tell you about low-mass stars." Period. Then do it!

Another pet peeve of mine is "sort of." There are way too many things in astronomy these days that sort of do things, and sort of correlate with other things. In practice, you don't sort of extract your spectrum. So don't tell me you did.

Tell me what you know. Be the expert in the room. Not just for your sake, but for mine and the rest of the audience.

Hat tip to my seester Amy P. for the video.

P.S. Can you tell I'm suffering from post-AAS burn out?

Anonymous said…
Like, you know, sort of... one of the phrases my first boss made me eliminate from my vocabulary was "I guess". I am not guessing! I need to tell him yes or no and why! He was right, and I still remember that conversation even though it's been 10 yrs ago now (yikes, am I that old?). It goes along with the "sort of", though. And I can't believe I am old enough to criticize the way young folks talk. Am I that old already???
blissful_e said…
Way to go, John! Fight the good fight!!

### On the Height of J.J. Barea

Dallas Mavericks point guard J.J. Barea standing between two very tall people (from: Picassa user photoasisphoto).

Congrats to the Dallas Mavericks, who beat the Miami Heat tonight in game six to win the NBA championship.

Okay, with that out of the way, just how tall is the busy-footed Maverick point guard J.J. Barea? He's listed as 6-foot on NBA.com, but no one, not even the sports casters, believes that he can possibly be that tall. He looks like a super-fast Hobbit out there. But could that just be relative scaling, with him standing next to a bunch of extremely tall people? People on Yahoo! Answers think so---I know because I've been Google searching "J.J. Barea Height" for the past 15 minutes.

So I decided to find a photo and settle the issue once and for all.

I then used the basketball as my metric. Wikipedia states that an NBA basketball is 29.5 inches in circumfe…

### The Force is strong with this one...

Last night we were reviewing multiplication tables with Owen. The family fired off doublets of numbers and Owen confidently multiplied away. In the middle of the review Owen stopped and said, "I noticed something. 2 times 2 is 4. If you subtract 1 it's 3. That's equal to taking 2 and adding 1, and then taking 2 and subtracting 1, and multiplying. So 1 times 3 is 2 times 2 minus 1."

I have to admit, that I didn't quite get it at first. I asked him to repeat with another number and he did with six: "6 times 6 is 36. 36 minus 1 is 35. That's the same as 6-1 times 6+1, which is 35."

Ummmmm....wait. Huh? Lemme see...oh. OH! WOW! Owen figured out

x^2 - 1 = (x - 1) (x +1)

So $6 \times 8 = 7 \times 7 - 1 = (7-1) (7+1) = 48$. That's actually pretty handy!

You can see it in the image above. Look at the elements perpendicular to the diagonal. There's 48 bracketing 49, 35 bracketing 36, etc... After a bit more thought we…

### The Long Con

Hiding in Plain Sight

ESPN has a series of sports documentaries called 30 For 30. One of my favorites is called Broke which is about how professional athletes often make tens of millions of dollars in their careers yet retire with nothing. One of the major "leaks" turns out to be con artists, who lure athletes into elaborate real estate schemes or business ventures. This naturally raises the question: In a tightly-knit social structure that is a sports team, how can con artists operate so effectively and extensively? The answer is quite simple: very few people taken in by con artists ever tell anyone what happened. Thus, con artists can operate out in the open with little fear of consequences because they are shielded by the collective silence of their victims.
I can empathize with this. I've lost money in two different con schemes. One was when I was in college, and I received a phone call that I had won an all-expenses-paid trip to the Bahamas. All I needed to do was p…