Friday, April 26, 2013

Ideas in Search of a Blog Post

I keep a list of ideas for blog posts, but some will never turn into posts. So here are a few random thoughts from that list.
  • Some people like to write prose, some people like to write lists, like Bill's last post. Bill will often send me an email that's a list of items. I prefer the prose and usually avoid the lists with today being the "exception that proves the rule" (an expression that I never understood).

    I do have to admit that lists are very efficient, when I can respond to Bill like 
    1. yes
    2. no
    3. Friday
    4. Did you really expect happy comments on that post?
  • Marissa Mayer has banned working at home for Yahoo employees. Lots of academics work at home when they aren't teaching. I didn't have any more deep insights here so it didn't become a post.
  • I have a note to write a blog post on "confusing university names". I wonder what was confusing me.
I'll end this post of uninteresting post ideas with the wine tasting story. At Cornell there was a popular course on wine tasting open only to graduating seniors. Alas it conflicted with graduate complexity which I took from the great Juris Hartmanis. I don't regret that choice but missed the wine.

When I was a grad student at MIT there was a wine tasting course held during the short IAP session during winter break. So we took that course. A fun course. On the last day we all dressed up for the really fine wine. The instructor came to class in his tux even though he was quite ill that day. Two days later everyone in the class got sick as well.

There ought to be a moral to that story but I haven't figured it out yet. 


  1. '"exception that proves the rule" (an expression that I never understood)'

    That's simply because the meaning of "proves" has changed since the expression was formulated. The meaning here is "tests".

    1. Interesting. I remember once trying to understand it, and simply gave up.

  2. Example of a rule and its exception:

    Every great batter in baseball got to the majors in their early 20's
    and did very well their first year.

    Exception: Jackie Robinson who got to the majors in his late 20's
    BUT because of the ban on black players before that he could not
    have followed the rule.

    I always interpreted the `exception that..' to mean that the exceptions have some other circumstance that explains them.

  3. I have a list of 42 ideas for posts:
    1) Some are dated
    2) Some I already posted and forgot to remove from the list
    3) Some when I write them I don't get past the first sentence, though some of those later on
    something else happens or occurs to me and I add to it.
    4) Some probably won't make a good post and
    never get made into a post.
    5) Some probably won't make a good post but get made into a post anyway.

    Lance- you have inspired me to edit it, get rid of those that I already did, and clarify to myself some of the others.
    Why is my list (and I assume Lance's) so long?
    Because posts get DONE when you hae an idea and
    write up the post ASAP. Then its fresh and you like it and your still in touch with it. Going to the ideas list is like revisiting a paper you
    haven'r worked on `what was I thinking'
    `how does that work again?' etc.
    (IDEA FOR POST- relooking at your own paper after a while. Probably won't be a post because aside from saying that its difficult to do, what more would I say. MIGHT get a post if I
    DO revisit a paper and something interesting happens.)


  5. The original meaning of "the exception that proves the rule" was a legal term. An example might be "no children allowed in the building on Tuesdays". Because Tuesdays are excepted, this implies that the rule is "children are allowed in the building, except on Tuesday". The existence of an exception proves the existence of a rule of the exceptions opposite.

  6. confusing university names:
    - California University of Pennsylvania
    - Miami University of Ohio