Blogs, conferences, mallard ducks, and chance vs. strategy

Hey, I'm trying to keep the titles topical. It's not my fault that my thought processes are so scattered.

1. Check out the new Site of the Month--it's to an oldie but goodie, a matrix developed to describe the many possible uses of blogs in academia. I thought it fitting, given

2. The new paper that P and I have submitted to the Quantitative Big Name Conference, on the establishment and codification of blog communities. I like the idea so much that I'm willing to overlook her *total theft* of my intended post on the valet who drove my car around for 15 minutes looking for my car. Strange that he asked for the license plate number, and then failed to, you know, *look* at it before driving off to use up some very expensive gasoline.

To add to my annoyance, I discovered upon arriving home that I left my favorite pillowcases in the hotel room. Yes, I take my own pillowcases. I worked as a hotel housekeeper in college, and I'd recommend that everyone bring their own pillowcases. The failure to pack them and take then home is *not* recommended.

3. More fun with H5N1. The Globe and Mail has this interesting article regarding "native" strains of bird flu in Canada and the U.S.
"I want to emphasize that the H5N1 subtype detected in Manitoba is completely distinct from the strain currently present in Asia," Dr. Brian Evans, Canada's chief veterinary officer, said in disclosing the findings.

"The identification of this virus, which has been previously identified in North American birds, poses no new risks to human health," added Dr. Arlene King, head of respiratory diseases for the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Avian flu viruses bearing the same subtype name can vary widely in their ability to cause disease in poultry or pose a human health threat.

In trying to clear the confusion over why the Canadian findings are not a source of alarm, Dr. Evans likened H5N1 viruses to people walking around wearing blue blazers and grey slacks.

"At any given time, you may see 25 people wearing blue blazers and grey slacks. They are different," he insisted.

Once you get past the unfortunate fashion analogy (Yes, the blue blazers and grey slacks are all different. But they universally have the effect of making the wearers look like accountants, so how much does the difference matter in that case?) there is an important point to be made. It's pure luck that it happens to coincide with my harping on *not* calling H5N1 "Bird Flu."

While I'm all for simplification of concepts to model a system, I believe that it's crucial to call things what they are. Care in naming, especially in this case, goes a long way in preventing people from panicking about endemic strains of the flu virus, and helps the public health community react strategically. Given that the public health system is underfunded, officials need as much calm and accurate reporting as they can get.

4. On an unrelated note, LOTR Risk is a totally different game to play, because the chance that the Ring will leave the game means that you can't pursue a grand strategy for conquering the entire board. Instead, you need to balance the immediate possibility of the end of the game against the cost in battalions of a series of attacks.

And there are orcs, Nazguls, and cavetrolls on the evil side, against archers, rohanians, and eagles--why would anyone ever want to be the good guys in this game?

Also, Diplomacy can be played by two people, but what's the point if you can't make alliances?

And this gem, from Bunny (see sidebar):


At 11/21/2005 11:04 AM, Anonymous serena said...

lol wow that was a wide range of topics.

lol and i didnt get to hear this car story until this morning when I read P's entry on this here blog...shame shame....but i will blame your fatigue!

At 11/21/2005 12:05 PM, Blogger Bionic-Woman said...

Aaah so the pretty aqua floral pillowcases were yours and not the hotel's? Nice choice...and thanks for the tip. I usually carry a bedsheet with me...pillowcases have been added to that list. I love being friends with someone who is on the same position on the same position on the "how anal-retentive and/or obessive-compulsive are you?" spectrum as me...it runs from incredibly tight-assed to don't give a flying fuck.

At 11/21/2005 12:40 PM, Blogger Elizabeth said...

S: yeah, I know--I meant to tell it, but I was so busy losing at Seussian trivia that I forgot!

b-w: yeah, they were mine--wish I'd noticed them before we left. Maybe if I call the hotel, they'll send them to me? I'm so irritated at myself for the line about how you always double check, and then I didn't double check and we ended up forgetting a bunch of stuff in the room. Aargh.

I don't carry a sheet, because I don't have my face on the sheet. But pillowcases, yeah, definitely. I don't think of it as obsessive-compulsive--just good sense. Plus, I use method laudry soap, and I just sleep better that way. (But the hotel did have some sort of linen spray stuff in the room. I think Anomie grabbed it when we left?)

At 11/21/2005 1:28 PM, Blogger Priya said...

I know...I got to the car story before E did! Sorry, E (well, not too much. It was funny) :-)

Didn't see hotel rooms or pretty floral flowercases since was too busy running around the capital of the free world trying to GET there. I reckon calling the hotel would work, though.

Am intrigued by possibility of LOTR risk. I spent Sunday watching HP4 and being convinced that ALL the best films of 2005 have one common factor: Ralph Fiennes. Can that be a causal mechanism, I wonder?

At 11/21/2005 4:39 PM, Anonymous endgame said...

Remind me to send you my "house" rules for LOTR risk. It changes how the ring is used so as to allow for world domination (which is the whole reason to play anyways)

At 11/22/2005 1:23 PM, Blogger Elizabeth said...

Of course RF can be a causal mechanism! If I believed in independent variables, I'd say he's one of those, too.

And endgame, I can't say that LOTR Risk with rules for domination is that appealing. I prefer the degree of chance that makes it a bit more realistic...but I can see why world domination would appeal to you!


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