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    Saturday
    Dec032011

    Graduate School and How to Increase Your Chances of Getting In

    My old friend, Dave Mumby of Concordia University, visited Algoma a couple of weeks back and gave a talk about getting in to grad school.  Dave is well suited for this, as he has written a book about the subject, which is entering its second edition.  You may recognize Dave from such blog posts as this one about peer review here on my blog.   

    I have recomended Dave's book, Graduate School, Winning Strategies For Getting In to a number of students over the years becuase it is simply the best resource out there dealing with the application (and hopefully acceptance) process.

    Music “First Semester Freedom Fighter” by Hell or Highwater

    Listen Now

     (The audio was originally posted at my psych class podcast blog).

    Thursday
    Dec012011

    Broca's Area Episode 115 - Crocheting While Playing Bingo in TIbet

    A few years ago, 2005 to be exact, Isabelle and I had a podcast called Broca's Area.  We went through a couple of format changes etc but we had fun.  We packed it in back in 2009.  We resurrected the show for the first Canadian National Day of Podcasting (Dec 1, 2010).  Well, it is December 1, 2011, so we are back.  Now, I would love to get back into doing this show, but that is another matter.

    We talked about the economy, war and peace, and the idea that Isabelle will either end up becoming an old woman who plays bingo or a wonk in Tibet....

     We hope you enjoy the episode (which you can download directly here).  Leave a comment!

    Monday
    Nov212011

    Spit and Twitches: The Animal Cognition Podcast - Episode 2, The Hippocampus and Recognition Memory with Dave Mumby

    I have known Dave Mumby for about 22 years now.  We first met at some conference or another when we were both graduate students.  We are now, however, much older....  Over the years we have kept an eye on each others' research and have even threatened to work together some day.  Dave's work has focussed on a number of areas, but he has arguably received the most attention for his work on the role od the hippocampus and other limbic regions in recognition memory.  We of course talked research, and we also had the questions that he did not expect, including the obligitory Ron Wiesman athletic question....  Thanks a lot for sitting down with me Dave.

     

     Download episode 2.

    Saturday
    Nov052011

    Cogito, Ergo, Sum, Multitasking?

    I appeared yesterday on the great TWiT.tv video podcast Futures in Biotech.  Rather than rant on about it, I thought I would post the video here.  I was cohosting with regular host, Marc Pelletier.  We interviewed neuroscientist Adam Gazzaley.  We talked about Adam's work on the neural basis of distraction and how to train people not to be distracted using video games, it was great stuff.

    (I wanted to call the episode 'Cogito, Ergo, Pwn' alas, I had no support...) 

     

     

    Saturday
    Oct082011

    Why Did Steve Jobs' Death Affect Me?

    When Steve Jobs died the other day it affected me in an odd way.  I felt sort of empty.  I felt like something was suddenly missing.  I have not felt this way about someone I have not met for a long time.  I remember when john Candy died, and Pierre Trudeau, and Rocket Richard.  I did not know any of them either of course (though I did shake Trudeau's hand when I was 12 while on a class trip to Ottawa, alas that is another story).  

    To be sure, this was nothing like losing my Dad to cancer, or my friend Duncan to the same disease.  Those two guys influenced me probably more than any two men in my life.  (When I don't know how to solve a problem at work I think 'WWDD' meaning What Would Dad/Duncan Do?  Oddly, the solutions are almost always the same...)

    No this was different.  Why did I care so much about a billionaire?  I mean, I understand Trudeau, hell, when I was a kid, until I was 19, he was the Prime Minister, ok except for that brief Joe Clark thing....  So, he affected me every day, I lived in Trudeau's Canada.  The Rocket, well, I am a Habs fan, and we are big into tradition and history we Habs fans, so, I guess that made sense.  I had heard the stories, I had seen grainy film etc.  But Jobs, I mean why?  He was, by some accounts, a ruthless and arrogant businessman.  Then again, Trudeau was a ruthless politician, and often seen as arrogant.  The Rocket was ruthless on the ice, and also often seen as arrogant.  I remember when Gretzky came in the league, and the Rocket was asked how he would do in the 50s.  His reply was something along the lines of 'He would win the scoring title, if he was on my line'.  Jonathan Mak's excellent tribute logo. 

    Was this arrogance though?  Trudeau had an IQ of 180.  The Rocket was, up until the arrival of Lemieux and Grezky, the greatest goal scorer ever.  They KNEW they were great.  Did everything they did in their work turn out?  No.  The National Energy plan was a disaster politically for Trudeau.  Maurice Richard was not the easiest teammate to have.  

    Jobs was a visionary.  He guessed what we would like, before we knew we would like it.  He saved Apple when he returned.  He did this by doing stuff other people had done before (mp3 players, phones etc) better than they had.  He was bold enough to use UNIX as basis of OS X.  He, by all accounts, did not use focus groups.  He somehow just knew.  Oh he had his fuckups.  The iPod HiFi, the Cube, Mobile Me (oddly, I sort of like Mobile Me...)

    However, he did not let his screwups get in the way.  He moved on.  He came across, to me, as a genius, but as a flawed one.  Not some fatal flaw, just flawed like all of us.  As an academic I have known/know many people with the sort of drive, vision and flaws that Jobs had.  Maybe that is why he resonated with me.  He also made geek cool.  

    Strangely, I hated Macs until OS X.  I had no interest in them, when I used them they bothered me, it all seemed clunky.  OS X changed that.  I did not have an mp3 player until the iPod came out.  The first smartphone I bought was an iPhone 3Gs.  His sense of what worked usually worked for me.  Plus, it is way easy to zoom in on a Mac, and that helps me a lot what with the blind thing and all.

    As he said in his famous Stanford address: 'stay hungry, stay foolish'.  Maybe that is where Candy fits in....

     

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