Swimming The English Channel Just Got Tougher

Filed under: — Bravus @ 6:28 pm

…possibly thanks to climate change.



(an explanation)

Filed under: — Bravus @ 7:01 am

The Braviad seems to be going OK, but it is more in the nature of a personal journal. There are still bits and pieces on policy and education and climate (and bikes) that arise from time to time, and they fit better here than there. So ‘Bravus’ will turn into something a bit more like the very wonderful ‘Trenchant Lemmings‘ – an occasional blog about the big stuff. If you don’t use RSS already you probably should, to alert you when new posts pop up.

An excellent result

Filed under: — Bravus @ 6:59 am

This report from The Age says that wealthier parents are more often sending their kids to public schools:


That’s an excellent thing, from my perspective, because (a) it means the public schools don’t end up as neglected ghettos for the poor and (b) it means the affluent are more likely to throw their considerable electoral muscle behind better support for public education.


The Braviad

Filed under: — Bravus @ 8:11 am

OK, having read all the comments from Friday (for which thanks to all of you), here’s what I’m thinking. I had particular goals and aspirations for the Bravus blog, which had to do with getting a bit more theoretical and talking about science and philosophy and religion and so on. I’ve done a lot of that, and think there’s some good stuff in the archives. It wasn’t planned so much as a ‘here’s what I’m doing and what the family is up to’ kind of blog. That tended to make me feel awkward when I did post that kind of personal stuff here.

So I think what I’ll do is create a new Blogger blog (hosted on my own server if that means anything) called ‘The Braviad‘ that is just the story of my life as it unfolds. The purpose is different from what I had in mind for ‘Bravus’, so it makes sense to me to start over in a new ‘place’.



Filed under: — Bravus @ 8:22 pm

I think I’m gonna put this thing to sleep. It’s limping and coughing and in pain… better to just finish it clean. Maybe too busy, maybe all out of original ideas (or too scared of repeating myself though probably no-one notices 3 years later), I dunno. Anyway, no more posts here.

Of course, I’m a Christian, so I’m basically required to believe in the possibility of resurrection. I’ll try to let ya know if the blogging impulse revives.



Filed under: — Bravus @ 11:06 pm

Saw a share this morning before the market opened and, looking at its announcements and basics, thought ‘that’s gonna do well today’. Considered buying some, but I’m still (mostly) paper trading to gain confidence, so I didn’t buy any real shares, just checked it again at the end of the day.

It rose by over 20% for the day. Coulda made some money… No doubt I won’t get it right every time, but that was a strong (educated) hunch I probably shoulda played.

The Key Thing

Filed under: — Bravus @ 9:40 am

So one of my bags didn’t accompany me home from the conference – in fact, due to a complex saga, it may never be coming home at all. Annoying enough to lose some clothes and toiletries and the newly purchased computer power supply and so on… but the really bad bit is that my keys were in the bag.

I feel like I’m locked out of my life.


All Over In An Instant

Filed under: — Bravus @ 8:59 pm

Just got the response from the new job I’d applied for, and I didn’t make the shortlist, so that’s the end of that. A bit disappointing since it was such a great job and a great opportunity, but it’s definitely nice to have the uncertainty over… I’ve felt like I was living in limbo for the past 4 months or so, not knowing where I’d be living and working in the future. Now I can settle in where I am, we can find a new house without having to worry about the big commute, and when I buy my new bike in 6 months or so it won’t have to be one that can do 230 km a day or so. Guess I’ll try to use the time when I would have been commuting to do all that new reading I’d resolved to do below!


Filed under: — Bravus @ 7:57 pm

I presented the workshop with two friends and colleagues, Mike and Shaaron. Both are younger than me, and both have awesome careers. They’re probably both smarter than me too, but they also work a lot harder. I’d be the first to acknowledge that I’ve been lazy for the last few years… too much time on the web and on forums, and reading novels and playing games, not enough keeping up to date on the literature in my field. It’s not a huge change, but I’ve read maybe 200 novels in the past few years and maybe 2-3 work related books and a dozen papers.

So not making too huge a statement, but I’ve started two extra web pages to keep me more conscious of reading and writing more on work stuff. All the other stuff I was doing isn’t bad in itself, but it was getting in the way of doing my job properly, so I’ll be backing off a bit on the web stuff (like fruitlessly clicking through three or four forums in the hope of an update) and just lifting my game on reading and publishing.

When I was working on my doctorate, I felt like I had the smarts and the skills and the work ethic to be highly successful in my field and make an impact. I think I still have the first two, but have slipped on the work ethic thing, and I think also been a bit confused about what counts as ‘my field’. I can clarify that and kind of regain that effort to make a difference, I think… but it takes some changes.

Here are: What I’m Reading and What I’m Writing

‘Quiet Information’

Filed under: — Bravus @ 7:50 pm

A speaker used the term ‘quiet information’ in talking about diagrams and pictures in textbooks the other day. By that he means that if you can add to a diagram extra info about things like the context in which something happens – partly faded out or blurred out so that it’s in the background and maybe not even consciously noticed – then students are more likely to understand what they’re seeing and be able to apply it in the appropriate context.

I was wondering about verbal, as well as visual, ‘quiet information’. I guess things like accents and word choices underlie the content of what we actually say and put it in context in some way, so that what we mean is not just contained in what we say. How we look and present ourselves might also be part of the ‘quiet information’ that helps people to interpret our speech.

And then there’s writing – even as simple as the way this blog presents itself, but also whether you read something on the web or in a book, paper or magazine, and details of the font and layout… it is all important, and we often miss that when we focus too tightly on just the main message.


Filed under: — Bravus @ 6:22 am

Workshop this arvo on Jmol, a Java-based application for viewing molecules in Chemistry. Lots of fun, and really intelligently written to make it simple to use.

I’d love to have shown it to you right here on the blog page – that would have been very cool – but unfortunately the blog code breaks the javascript code that calls Jmol. Instead, this screenshot photo links to another page with a demo I made today:

Jmol is free and open source, and well worth a play if you’re into chemistry – or just enjoy playing with cool stuff.


The Vulture Speaks

Filed under: — Bravus @ 9:23 pm

Two eminently sensible articles from The Register about the recent attempted car bombings in the UK:



On Refusing To Be Intimidated

Filed under: — Bravus @ 8:10 pm

This is an interdisciplinary conference, so it includes people from all of the sciences – including demography and meteorology and geology as well as chemistry, physics and biology – presenting on their work. That often means I have to really struggle to understand the relevant science that their educational visualisations are designed to teach.

It would be easy to just give up trying, sit back and fold my arms and say ‘this is way over my head’. But I’d miss out by doing that. Saw an amazing 3D movie yesterday about the processes by which our cells produce new proteins. It included all sorts of complicated language about mRNA and tRNA and release factors and codons and… but at the bottom it was beautiful and rich and amazing, and showed me the incredibleness of the molecular processes that make life possible.

I think there’s real value in just choosing not to opt out when things get complicated. Sure, I definitely didn’t understand everything about what was going on that the molecular biologists in the room did, but I did see something very, very cool and interesting, and leave the meeting excited.

Back to the old style

Filed under: — Bravus @ 1:55 pm

The new theme was purty, I guess, but I made this one (with help from Cibby on the graphics), plus as Lorne has suggested I’m gonna start branching out more and commenting on other blogs, and this one has the blog-roll at the top instead of the bottom. I might tweak this theme a bit for style, and would welcome any suggestions for ways of doing that, but it’s back to the old familiar style for the time being.

David Goodsell

Filed under: — Bravus @ 3:54 am

Heard him speak, loved his images… which are in textbooks and other locations all over the place. I think I’ve talked before here about loving visual artworks that are too rich and complex to take in at a single glance. David Goodsell is a molecular biochemist who is also an artist, and these images are scientifically correct as well as beautiful:


I particularly like the japanimation look of these molecular models:


Interesting article on him here: http://www.genomenewsnetwork.org/articles/10_03/pastel_proteins.shtml

The Older I Get, The Better I Used To Be

Filed under: — Bravus @ 3:47 am

I just looked back at July 2005’s posts to see whether I had written anything much about the previous GRC two years ago. I hadn’t, but I was kinda impressed with the quality and quantity of what I was writing back then, and depressed with what I’ve been doing with this blog recently – not much and most of it personal rather than of more general interest. I’ll try hard to lift my game, and there’s plenty of interesting stuff for the next couple of weeks to write about, but I kinda feel like if the inspiration doesn’t improve soon it might be time to put the blog to bed for good. I want it to be something more than just a ‘here’s what I did today… oh and here’s a link to RealClimate’.

NOT Reporting on the Gordon Research Conference

Filed under: — Bravus @ 3:46 am

I’m at Bryant University in Rhode Island this week for the Gordon Research Conference (GRC) on Visualisation in Science and Education. The Gordon conferences (there are about 80 of them on different subjects each year) are unusual in that they are intended to allow scientists to present their cutting edge work, and it’s therefore forbidden to take photos or record audio or video during the presentations, or to publish anything from stuff that happens at them. It’s less crucial in our particular conference than in the more mainstream chemistry ones where there are patents and first publication of results on the line and so on, but nonetheless I’m being careful here to report things that are general knowledge and in the public domain, not things from the GRC itself. Of course, being at the GRC is sparking off ideas… and I think I’m allowed to tell you about those.


Just One More Nail in the WMD Coffin

Filed under: — Bravus @ 10:52 pm


They knew, they lied, they connived, they got what they wanted… and they still look like escaping unscathed.

Addiction is Expensive

Filed under: — Bravus @ 6:39 am

(and so is carelessness)

I remembered to pack my laptop, an adaptor to allow me to use American powerpoints, my mp3 player and its power adaptor… but didn’t end up packing my laptop power adaptor. Since my beloved kids had been watching movies and left the battery flat, it meant I had no access for a couple of days to the net, and looked like having none for the whole 9 days or so of the trip. Couldn’t handle it – among other things I’m waiting to hear about a job, and I also need to do work here and keep in contant with people and Skype with the family. So I just went out to buy a replacement power adaptor. Bought a new one in Oz recently (after the dog chewed the old one) and it was 30 bucks, and that seemed reasonable. But the only ones available were ‘universal’ adaptors for most laptops, and they were 80-100 US dollars each. I almost walked out of the shop without one, but couldn’t do it, so it cost me something like $110 Aussie to have access this week. Still, it’ll be worth it… and it’s cheaper than say getting broadband for a week in a hotel…