Found Words – The West Wing

December 24, 2009
“Why do you think this one’s so hard to spin?”- Josh
“‘Cause, it’s the classic Washington scandal. We screwed up by telling the truth.”- CJ
“All right. Let’s try not to do that that much.”- Josh

Found Words – Capitalization

December 19, 2009

“What we’re talking about is what are called capitalization rates, which refers to how efficiently any group makes use of its talent. So, for example, sub-Saharan Africa is radically undercapitalized when it comes to, say, physics: There are a large number of people who live there who have the ability to be physicists but never get the chance to develop that talent. Canada, by contrast, is highly capitalized when it comes to hockey players: If you can play hockey in Canada, trust me, we will find you. One of my favorite psychologists, James Flynn, has looked at capitalization rates in the U.S. for various occupations: For example, what percentage of American men who are intellectually capable of holding the top tier of managerial/professional jobs actually end up getting a job like that. The number is surprisingly low, like 60 percent or so. That suggests we have a lot of room for improvement.” – Malcom Gladwell


Written Words – It’s.

December 18, 2009

It’s uncomfortable. To see a genius struggle to learn.  Because what can a genius learn?

It’s deflating.  To have grand ideas and common achievements.  Because what’s an idea without manifestation?

It’s depressing.  To look in the past and see nothing of substance.  Because how will the future be different?

It’s frustrating.  To have a breakthrough, followed by a setback.  Because why keep pushing forward if the pull backwards is inevitable, and stronger?

It’s refreshing.  To see a genius get his ass kicked, and get up smiling.  Because maybe that’s why they’re a genius.

It’s reassuring.  To have simple successes.  Because it just takes one to change a life.

It’s inspiring.  To see a past littered with failures.  Because clearly each one wasn’t fatal.

It’s life.


Written Words – Exams

December 17, 2009

I find it ironic that I can’t catch up to physiology,

that the information just slips away from me

like blood in an artery. I need to absorb facts —

what is the mental equivalent of a capillary?

If pressure equals flow times resistance,

I’m about to explode,

because there are too many equations flowing past

and my brain just won’t accept them all.

Will someone nudge me back

onto a healthy work-function curve

before my heart overloads?


Found Words – Avril Lavigne

December 16, 2009

“So far away
I wish you were here
Before it’s too late, this could all disappear
Before the doors close
And it comes to an end
With you by my side I will fight and defend,
I’ll fight and defend
Yeah, yeah!

Keep holding on
‘Cause you know we’ll make it through, we’ll make it through
Just stay strong
‘Cause you know I’m here for you, I’m here for you
There’s nothing you could say
Nothing you could do
There’s no other way when it comes to the truth
So keep holding on
‘Cause you know we’ll make it through, we’ll make it through”

-Keep Holding On


Written Words – (DPhil)

December 16, 2009

Was at the pub this week trying to convince them I needed to work less hours, and laughed, asking if I wasn’t working for school enough. I told them, I’m working plenty hard, I’m just not getting enough done.

It was a bit of a flip comment, and got a little laughter, but very reflective of the DPhil. As I’ve mentioned before, the work isn’t linear. I have weeks on end where I feel like I’m reading and writing, but not making any progress. Interspersed with those is the occasional week when I make a breakthroughs. It’s those breakthroughs that keep me going.

That’s why I was particularly excited about my supervisor meeting this week — I wanted to share with him some of my latest thoughts. One was an essay in which, for the first time, I felt like I was getting beyond summarizing other peoples’ work and establishing the core of my thoughts and my research. I’d also put together a new set of research questions; or more accurately, a new set of goals for the research that better reflected what I was looking for.

The supervisor hated both, which made for an absolutely dreadful meeting, and another lesson learned about the doctoral process:

Other people won’t always see the breakthroughs. They won’t realize the progress. The writing to me was important to me because it was new. But it was bad to him because it was sloppy. The ideas I found important, he did not. But part of it was that he wasn’t close enough to the work, close enough to the ideas, to understand their value. Not only does a DPhil place me into a world where my work doesn’t translate directly into results, it places me in a world in which there’s no guarantee anyone else can see the results even when I have them.

That certainly makes for frustrating meetings.


Found Words – (physiology)

December 16, 2009

“…at a certain pressure the aorta might contain 200 ml of blood, flowing at 5 liters/min. At higher pressure, it might contain 250 ml of blood, flowing perhaps at 6 liters/min. Note that this raises an interesting philosophical paradox, like “If a man says something while in a forest, with no women around, is he still wrong?””

-RW on mechanical control of circulation