Monthly Archives: May 2006

To the person

talking a mile a minute while on the exercise bike.  I am guessing that if you can talk so much and so rapidly, you are not getting much of a workout.  Amazing that you called someone just as you started pedalling, too…


summer teaching

Don’t do it.

(Although the student are great, I want to be concentrating on research every work day, not just some of them…)

Strategic interactions?

Here is an article of how business journalists and academics interact.

You Got Game Theory!: from (found through digg)

Game theory is the fun-sounding branch of economics introduced in the 1940s by Hungarian genius John von Neumann and developed in the 1950s by Princeton’s John Nash, subject of the 2001 Oscar-winning film A Beautiful Mind.


In the end, none of our experts had a concrete example. But many offered the same advice: “Ask Preston McAfee” — an economist at the California Institute of Technology and perhaps the country’s foremost working game theorist (he designed that government spectrum auction). He was more encouraging: “There are lots of examples,” he emailed, agreeing to an interview.

We reached the professor in his office at Caltech. “So,” we asked, “what are all these examples of game theory applied to real life?” There was a silence on the line. “Well,” he said, “a lot of companies hired game theorists to prepare for those spectrum auctions.” Okay — but what about nongovernment auction situations? “I don’t know of any companies that employ pure game theorists — but maybe they’re keeping it quiet.”


I would have liked to listen in on some of the interviews. I do wonder if the article tells us more about the experts or more about the journalist. Some of the comments on digg are good, some are amusing.

One reject criteria

From: Cardboard. Damnit!: I’ll Repeat: Get The apostrophes right!:

Not just with its & it’s–another common goof up that irks me is saying “In the late 80’s”. I’ve seen some of the biggest companies make this mistake and regularly read papers supposedly written by PhDs that don’t understand the difference.

Helps to know I ain’t the only one who’s bothered by this:)

I have started looking at marketing blogs, realizing that my job as a academic is to convince people to take my ideas seriously enough do something. And noticing that the best academics are often the best marketers of their ideas. For example, I regularly see big shots in my field tweaking and then popularizing ideas/techniques from less famous peoples’ research in interesting ways, and thereby getting lots of other researchers moving in a new direction.

Convincing other geeky academics to use your model might be different than convincing people to buy a premium vodka. But maybe not.

Oh oh. Another neat blog.

How much of this will transfer to my job?

Miss Snark, the literary agent: A Little Too Much is Probably Enough:

A Little Too Much is Probably Enough

Dear Miss Snark:

I, too received a rejection with a ‘keep up in mind for other projects’ notation written at the bottom. Now, I have other projects, but is it wise to start querying a second manuscript while other agents are looking at partials, and the number one agent on your list is reading a full?

And perhaps, the bigger question: At what point do you decide to stick a manuscript into that ‘under the bed’ file and move on to pitch the next?

Pats to KY, and help yourself to my Bombay Sapphire.
“Eagles may soar, but weasels don’t get sucked into jet engines.”

Oh, that is Miss Snark’s new motto! Call the armorer for rewelding the escutcheons!

First, I think you should keep as much stuff in circulation as you can afford and keep track of. If Agent A has a full on Manuscript A there’s nothing nitwittish about sending Manuscript B to Agent Q. Just keep good notes.

I have found a new corner of the blogging world—literary agents. Not that I ever want to write a novel, but maybe a book one day (although it’s pretty rare in my field.)

Things I did not learn in grad school but now wish that I had learned

  • How to negotiate. I was unprepared for that stage of the job market. And even now, negotiation can cause me headaches. Even dealing with the ‘grade-negotiators’ where I have all the power drains me. I don’t think that I am alone in being bad at negotiating things.
  • How much time is enough in doing class prep? I guess no-one really knows. But still.
  • English grammar (based on the old title to the post). Though I should have learned that in grade school. But did not.

Today I bought new office supplies. The summer has begun!


The weblog Simplicity lists some ‘laws of simplicity.’ Here is one of my favorites:

Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious, while adding the meaningful.

I also replace ‘Simplicity’ with ‘Good research.’ I will read papers looking for this definition of simplicity, and I am going to work on achieving such simplicity in my own work. I read much research that does the reverse: It subtracts the meaningful and adds the obvious. Including my own efforts. But no more.