Monday, March 31, 2014

Boat Person

My next-door neighbor in Knoxville is from Vietnam. As a teenager in the 1980s he was in a monastery, but the communist government didn't tolerate monasteries.  So he became a fisherman, and decided to bide his time, learning the ropes. At the age of 19 he escaped in a boat with an engine, but was driven back by a typhoon. (Many perished in such typhoons.) One year in jail followed. My neighbor doesn't recommend communist jails. Then, he tried again, captaining a boat with 37 people, this time with no engine, and made it across the South China Sea to the Phillippines.  My neighbor: one of the Vietnamese Boat People. Puts the rest of us to shame, I think. How many more stories are there like that in the leafy subdivisions of middle America?

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Reasons to be Cheerful, Part IV

Troy Wymore: had his sarin picture appear on local TV.
Demian Riccardi: incorporated Hackamol into finding potential drugs against hypoposphatemia.
Jerome Baudry: has been strongly recommended for tenure
Xiaolin Cheng: is still publishing all sorts of stuff at a rate of knots.
Barmak Mostofian: has entropy-driven explanations of ionic liquid effects.
Hong Guo: has navigated through a huge article on a mercuric reductase
Loukas Petridis: finds water has remarkable effects on cellulose
Tongye Shen: has nailed bacterial motions.
Hanna Qi: has been grappling with huge data and found contacts.
Derek Cashman and Pavan Gatty: got great new jobs.
John Eblen and Roland Schulz: have GROMACS running fast on Intel Mics.
Benjamin Lindner: published two Markovian theory articles in JCP.
Hao-Bo Guo: has figured out redox reactions in MerA.
Liang Hong: got his fourth PRL here accepted.
Karan Kapoor: has made advances in thrombosis that we can't talk about.
Amandeep Sangha: has made a first small step to drugs for four cancers.
Sally Ellingson: graduated! Then went straight to a faculty position.
Jason Harris: successfully predicted toxicity
Xiaohu Hu: is aging gracefully
Quentin Johnsongave us a great talk
Jing Zhou: published her cobalamine QM calculations.
Emal Alekozai: graduated!
Jerry Parks and Alex Johs: Won the big ORNL science prize.
Julia Cooper: retired. Many thanks for nearly four decades of service to ORNL.
Michael Galloway and Steve Moulton: got our new system ordered, installed, up and running.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Only Happy with a 15-point Lead

Sports spectatorship psychology is infuriating. Why is it that, after not caring at all for the best part of three years, it suddenly has become very important to me that the UT Vols keep progressing in the Men's Basketball NCAA tournament? Talk about fair-weather fan-dom!  Also, why is it that we watch games that can rarely actually be enjoyable to watch?  If we really care about the result, we can almost never be happy until the final whistle (or buzzer). You see, in soccer, my team has to be 3-0 up to be safe, and this never happens. 2-0 is not enough because the other team can score one then put the pressure on. Likewise, in basketball, if you haven't got a 15-point lead then you can never relax.
So last weekend there were two games to watch: Norwich versus Sunderland in soccer and the Vols against Mercer in the NCAA Round of 32. Norwich won 2-0, but we were never safe.  The Vols, on the other hand, were 15 points or more in the lead virtually throughout. So only that game  could actually be enjoyed in real time. Now, as for Michigan in the Sweet Sixteen, I doubt there will be any pleasure there until, possibly,  the very, very end.