2017 has been a bad year for science. A certain political figure who happens to lead what is arguably most powerful nation in the world took decided not to believe in science and made his mission to minimize the potential impact of the said nation’s scientists (through severe cuts in scientific funding, for example). Because some scientists that care about their work are having a hard time to actually convey their findings, the popularization of science is more important than ever. Randal from XKCD, who happens to be my personal hero, did a stellar job using really cool data visualization to explaining why climate change is a big deal.
Today I found out that Americans don’t know what Cvarci (plural, “cvarak” singular) are. I thought it would be a shame not to share the beauty of what Wikipedia calls “pork crisps”.
Motivated by a TED talk I’ve seen recently, I have decided that in 2017, instead of a yearly resolution, I would take on a new resolution every month, no criteria what-so-ever. Some of them would be useful and practical, and some of them will be just for the hell of it. For January though, I decided to watch, and reflect on, one TED talk per day. It started with the Top-20 playlist and went on from there. It was a lot of fun, and I feel that, even if I didn’t learn a lot, at least it have improved my critical thinking a bit. When, a week after I collected my notes and looked up people and talks that I found significant, I realised that one of the authors, Hans Rosling died that day (February 7th, 2017).
Many of you who know me, know that I am fond of ice cream. Very very fond of ice cream. Ever since I realized that my body tends to retain most of it, I stopped with my “a Hageen Daas a day makes issues go away” mantra, but I still love to visit an ice cream shop every now and then. Ever since I started my studies at Dartmouth, I was enchanted by the idea of “the best gelato in America” being 7 minutes from my dorm. When I started to earn some money, I became a loyal customer. Although their ice cream really is among the best that I’ve tried, and could even hold a candle to most places I’ve visited in Italy, I have not been fully satisfied with the overall service of the place. The ice-cream was consistent, but coffee and other products weren’t. They switched from (quite bad) local roaster to predictably ok-ish Illy (that can be made into undrinkable slush by not-yet-trained waiter), and somehow managed to lose the original appeal. The ice-cream is still great, but that is about it.
Every year, millions of Americans indulge in collective act of gluttony, also known as Thanksgiving. While most schools only have couple of days off for that particular occasion, (meaning most of them would not bother to go home) Dartmouth students, thanks to our beloved quarter system, get a six-week break from just before Thanksgiving to the first Monday of January. This is great for all, except for internationals who have nowhere to go. Campus is usually empty thus leaving us with no opportunity to join the feast.
Here is an thought - what if sitting and typing can cause one of the most common workplace injuries in the current age? Apparently, RSI is a real thing once you’re old enough. Funny enough, I’m actually becoming old enough to consider the risks my future job will have, on my body. So far, I realized that whatever I do, I’ll include spending at least 5 hours a day behind the keyboard. For the next 40 years (or until we come up with better input sources). That’s not a promising start, even if I’m used to common strain injuries (wee “varsity” sports).
I have been interested in neural networks for a long time. In the recent couple of months, I have started to look more into convolutional neural networks, as I was growing more and more interested in doing research with the Visual Learning Group here at Dartmouth. In the process, I have seen some amazing work and read some amazing papers.