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Ted on Ted

I recently stumbled on a website called TED: Ideas worth spreading, and I apologize in advance for sharing this most addicting site with you.

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The Value of a Conceptual Schema

This year represents the 60th anniversary of the publication of the famous paper by James Watson and Francis Crick proposing a structure for DNA. This podcast from Nature contains interviews with scientists who were actively involved in the race to work out the structure. Listen to the podcast. At approximately 7 minutes into the podcast, there is a remarkable description of Watson’s first look at the classic x-ray crystallography picture of DNA. Watson knew immediately what the picture represented because Crick had, two years previously, published a theoretical paper about what a helical diffraction pattern
would look like.

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I don’t understand why you don’t agree with me.

A New York Times* online essay by Gary Gutting, a philosophy professor, contains one of the clearest explanations of the differences between inductive and deductive reasoning I have seen.

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Productivity is not a four letter word.

For me, anyway, the point of opinion writing is less to try to shape events, a presumptuous and foolhardy ambition at best, than to help stimulate debate and, from my particular perspective, try to explain why things got the way they are and what they might mean and where they might lead. My own idiosyncratic bent as a writer, no doubt a legacy of my years spent in the theater, is to look for a narrative in the many competing dramas unfolding on the national stage.

Frank Rich, New York Times

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World (Cup) Cultures

One of the true pleasures of my job is the opportunity to travel and meet people from all over the world. Different cultures presume different business and social behaviors, of course.* But I have found that in spite of the differences, there are at least two similarities among world cultures: a passion to cheer for your national team to win the World Cup and a nearly universal reviling of the vuvuzelas.

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The Education of Henry Adams

I stumbled upon the remarkable autobiography of Henry Adams by accident while reading a history of the end of the 19th century. When Adams’ autobiography was published after his death in 1918, it became a best seller and won the Pulitzer Prize. Adams is remarkable for his ability to speak to us more than 90 years later with a message that is both relevant and moving.

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The Inspiration of Great Architecture

Buffalo is home to truly spectacular architecture. We have many landmark buildings, historic sites, and cultural attractions and to appreciate them is to be reminded that Western New York was once at the cutting edge of architecture and landscape design that served to make Buffalo an aesthetically pleasing place to live and work. These works of art were conceived and built during a time of remarkable wealth generated as a result of Buffalo’s location at the western terminus of the Erie Canal and a transportation hub for goods moving between the Mid-West and East Coast.

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Don’t shoot.

Criminologist David M. Kennedy’s (1) strategy for reducing gang violence has dramatically reduced youth homicide rates nationwide. Dubbed the “Boston Miracle,” this strategy brings together all the key actors in a neighborhood from the police and community members to gang members, drug dealers, and their mothers and grandmothers to openly discuss their issues. Boston’s youth murders were cut by two thirds after installation of the program (2).

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New Graph Library

A new graph library that provides the right graphs at the right time and with the right information has been developed by Cognigen Corporation, a leading provider of pharmacometric analysis and support services. Comprehensive graphical exploratory data analysis is essential to building pharmacometric models of drug behavior. Previously, deciding which graphs were required to describe the data and then creating a new program for each graph consumed excessive time from both scientists and programmers.

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Life’s Too short

In a recent Wall Street Journal column, Terry Teachout had a wonderful essay questioning the complexity of modern art.* He quotes from James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake, which contains sentences like this:

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