Friday, June 22, 2012

Seven Quick Takes Friday (v. 37)

Call me a college football heretic, but I don't think that many of the proposed "playoff" schemes will be much of an improvement. I'm a fan of a modified "plus 1" system in which only conference champions are eligible. Play all the bowls as usual (minus a BCS championship game), and after the bowls are over, the two highest ranked teams which won their conferences square off for the national championship. An 8-team seeded playoff tournament would be good, too, but then what about all the other bowl games? In any event, the current system is bad--everybody recognizes this--but many of the playoff proposals basically just involve expanding it to the top 4 teams by ranking (and not be any particular merit). Shy of the modified plus-1 or an 8+ team playoff, I would have to say that the old system (pre-BCS) is probably next best: there's at least less pretense that the APS/Coaches/Harris/Whatever national champion is indisputably the best team in the country.

 I spent most of this week recovering from the workshop/conference of last week. I haven't even begun to write up a conference proceedings paper yet. And I did a heck of a lot of grading earlier this week, plus spent time writing a new homework assignment (and the solutions) for my students. And there is a new guy in our group who may become my successor--which on the down side means that I have to start training him--so my project will not die off when I leave. Here is the summary slide I submitted to the conference:

Oh, and I've been machining/testing out some new photogate picket flags for the physical science classes. Basically, I decided that the acrylic flags which are made by Pasco just don't last very long, since they tend to get scratched and then to trigger the photogate in the "clear" parts of the flag which are supposed to *not* trigger the photogate. I therefore designed (and then machined) some flags for myself. When I tested these out, they actually ended up agreeing more accurately with predicted values for acceleration and speed than did the old (commercial, Pasco) acrylic flags. Here is the CAD drawing which I made of the new aluminum flags. The dimensions are in inches, and the aluminum is only 1/16" thick. This works for both measuring acceleration and for measuring speed:

On revisiting my earlier question about why I can't teach two summer sessions: honestly, I've made it most of the way through this session, and would be up for doing another session. The university's policies against letting its graduate students make more than a subsistence salary prohibit me from ding so.
Whatever happened to my book club? Last summer, we were reading through St Augustine's City of God; by the fall, only Andrew and I were still going at it. The goal was to be doing the Summa Theologica this summer*, but the group kind of up and dissolved. For my part, I'm reading through Aristotle's Physics at this point, and will probably turn to the Summa after the summer, by which time I hope to have also read Aristotle's Metaphysics and possibly also The Nicomachean Ethics.

*Speaking of which: I just inherited a nice three-volume set of that great work from a deceased Dominican friar.

Speaking of book clubs, I stumbled onto this post while browsing the comments at the Conversion Diary Quick Takes for this week. I must say that reading Russell Kirk's Roots of the American Order sounds like a pretty impressive book club, even if that isn't his best or more important work. I notice, though, that it is a pretty old post, which causes me to wonder if this means that their book club has the same troubles are ours.
My brothers (yes, plural) are coming to Austin this weekend. Let the good time roll.

Seven Quick Takes Friday is hosted by Mrs Jennifer Fulwiler at her Conversion Diary blog.

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