Thursday, May 27, 2010

Jooooooooosef FALLER!

The California sun fills my pores with warmth and happy memories. It had been almost a year since I last drank the love pouring down over my home state. BCI Meeting 2010 blazes around me. I’ve been looking forward to this since the last one (which was in 2005), and yet it is far more fun than I anticipated. These conferences are evermore a reunion of old and new friends, and I spent a lot of time with both over the last few days of the conference. I coordinated a social event on the first night that went exceptionally well, and the sponsors want to do it again, so it looks like I just started a Series of Special Events that could be prepended to other conferences.

Another tradition was born. Gerwin Schalk and I, two of the (physically) largest people in the BCI Community, found it fun to yell names of Austrian colleagues, with a strong bias toward Josef Faller. This caused my voice to, um, Falter, but we kept it up on the subsequent nights. Tonight will be the last night of the conference, and we anticipate the biggest blowout by far.

Ah, the nightlife of neuroscientists. The Special Event I threw was at the bonfire area of the conference, since we paid the conference people $145 for a 2 hour bonfire. The later parties leveraged a key fact: the conference center is only a five minute walk from the beach. Some of my homies from Berlin got some beer et al. on spec on Monday night, and then I followed up and coordinated the madness last night. It was quite engaging for me – aside from the fun of the party itself, and the intensity of some of the conversations (intercalated with screaming “Josef Faller” with Gerv periodically), it reminded me of countless other beach parties. Many of the attendees had never been to any beach party, and/or never been to the US, and so it was good fun being in the middle of the mass initiation to my little world.

Here’s a further testament to the character of the BCI community. I put up $100 for beer last night on spec. This was a calculated risk, and I guessed I would get half of it back. After hosting the ten Distinguished Party Series at UCSD, and countless other happy hours and other such events, my expectations were low. I showed up yesterday with the beer and didn’t even bother with a donation jar. Further, I repeatedly rallied wood committees to drag wood to the beach for our fire, meaning I couldn’t guard the alcohol supply and ask for donations. And yet, people were surprisingly proactive in donating money to me, which I kept in a separate pocket. I counted this morning. $133. This is the first time in my life I actually turned a profit, purely because of the goodwill, camaraderie, and honor of my colleagues. I love them all the more now, which is why I sprang for $300 tonight. Again, I’d be content to recoup half of it, but am guessing I will get more.

Of course, we did a lot of work related things at the conference too. But, there are good reasons why I have this, and my official work blog on the future BNCI website.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


This sign is right in the middle of my daily walk to work, so I had to mock it sometime. Adding to the fun: the long German word on the bottom of the sign means "Business Consulting."

I can use the potty all by myself.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Balming in the media

Here is how four different media entities present the recent feeble bombing effort in New York. All four screenshowts were taken around 15:40 CET today.

Fox News put it on its front page, with a big headline claiming a terror attack:

CNN disagreed, saying it was too early to tell - also not just in the article, but in the cover link announcing the article on their main page:

BBC did not address the terrorist issue in the headline, but the article also quickly said it seems to be a one-off event, ie, not terrorist:

And, finally, Der Spiegel did not mention the bombing anywhere, but instead have this headline about poisoning the Bushes in Germany in 2007:

Actually, this is more intriguing, and smacks of far more hgh-level intrigue, than any of the other stories. The New York failed car bomber wasn't a terrories, mastermind, or anything. But who the hell is so good he can can sneak poison into a top-level party, fuck up one guy's hearing, prevent another from walking properly forever, make Laura Bush sick, evade all detection and (most remarkably) keep the erudite and garrulous president to utter a sentence with no multisyllable words? Wow! This guy is the true genius. (The poisoner. Not Bush.)

Text from that article:
Bush writes that she doesn't even know herself if any poison was discovered. She writes that the most concrete conclusion any doctors could reach is that "we contracted a virus that attacks a nerve near the inner ear and is prevalent in Heiligendamm." She claims that one White House staffer lost all hearing in one ear and that another had trouble walking. The military aide's "gait has never returned to normal," she writes, "nor has our senior staffer regained hearing in that ear."

"No, no, no," Stefan Hummel says, trying to catch his breath after an outburst of laughter. Hummel, 59, is the chief pulmonary doctor at the Median Clinic, a medical facility located just behind the Grand Hotel. He finds it strange that one person had a gastro-intestinal problem while another supposedly had an ear problem and a third a walking problem. A highly infectious virus wouldn't have remained contained within the delegation, he knows that much. And if many people had fallen ill, he says, he would have heard about it. He also said the climate at the resort was a "hostile one" to viruses.

And on the day after George W. Bush had his chicken broth, he was apparently already feeling much better. Steffen Duckhorn met the president, who was in what Duckhorn describes as good spirits, in the courtyard. Bush shook his hand and praised the cook for his meals. "Hey man, good food," Duckhorn recalls him saying.