Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Nerdy Joke of the Day

If there aren't complex numbers in your equation, it isn't real math.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Surname Determinism in the News

I had an anthropology professor in college who talked about the concept of surname determinism. I was never sure if she actually believed in the idea that your last name has a profound impact on the course of your life. From what I understand, at least in the west, a lot of surnames were derived one's occupation, i.e. Smith, Cooper, and Porter. I don't really believe in the idea of surname determinism, but any time I come across a case of possible surname determinism, I have to chuckle. There have been a couple of cases in the news lately. Most notable is Edgar Ray Killin, who is about to stand trial for the murders of three civil rights workers in the 1960s. Last week's winner, at least for German-speaking people, was Angel Raich, one of the plaintiffs in the supreme count medicinal marijuana cause. Her last name is similar to the German word: rauchen, which means "to smoke". Maybe that's a stretch, but it's the first thing that I thought of when I first heard about her and her case.

Detroit is not an Apocalyptic Hellhole

Tom Walsh's column, from today's Detroit Free Press cities a recent study by a Wayne State professor that states that downtown Detroit isn't as dangerous as most people would have you believe. Considering that most media and suburban eyewitness accounts of downtown Detroit would lead you to believe that it's slightly less dangerous than Baghdad, this doesn't exactly come as a shock. I am a bit skeptical of the study, given that it was commissioned by the Detroit Metro Convention and Visitors Bureau. Still, it does make some good points. Most notable is that Detroit's miniscule number of downtown residents (5272 according to the study) skews crime data since it is always reported as a ratio of number of crimes to residents. Factoring in the number of daytime commuters who work downtown makes sense, providing they aren't given the same weight as actual residents. The last sentence of the column is a classic, and in case you couldn't figure it out, the inspiration for the title of this entry.

Monday, June 13, 2005

When in Rome

We found some outstanding gelato a couple night ago in Little Italy. That's correct, Syracuse has its own version of NYC's world-famous Little Italy neighborhood. The Biscotti Cafe & Pastry Shop was virtually empty when we arrived around 11 pm last Friday. The fact that it was still open was even more surprising than their selection of flavors and the quality of their product. It's a nice little place, and while I can't personally consume enough Italian pastry and gelato to guarantee the success of the Biscotti Cafe, I will certainly try.