Thursday, May 7, 2009

Never tell me things can't get worse!

As the title says.  Back at IIT-B, one of my seniors said, "don't worry, Professor X never gives lower than a BB."  Guess what I got?  A BC.  Story of my life - breaking barriers no-one should!

Today was another one of those days.  Started off with a severe cramp in one leg, which got worse through the day, and is only now easing off.  Still, I doubt I will hit the gym tomorrow.
Next, I hear from my landlady about extending my lease.  These days, I am trying to buy a condo, but haven't had much success.  Figured I'd try to get a month-to-month lease.  But my landlady's position was that she couldn't let me stay beyond my current lease, which ends June 30, for two reasons: (a) it's hard to rent the apartment in the middle of the school year (fair enough); and (b) she wants to refurbish the apartment in between my departure and arrival of the new tenant.  I managed to talk her into letting me stay till July 10.  This means I have to find a condo by the first week of June, close on July 1 or 2, and move in the week after that.  Do-able...
Except - I might be in North Carolina the end of June/beginning of July for experiments at the EPA!  So that's going to be an especially joyous time... Might have to live at an extended-stay hotel for a couple weeks while I find another place, unless things fall into place in June.
Things then got even better.  A new policy at work - everybody's documents will be moved to the server, ostensibly for easier back-ups both on- and off-site.  This might be OK for most people who just work with M$ Office and kb-sized documents.  But I work with data - and GOBS of it.  Even with Gigabit Ethernet, I am not sure I trust running my >500 MB Igor experiments, which access GB-sized data files, off the server over the network.  [This is not like running experiments on a supercomputer/mainframe - my local CPU will still be running the processes, just transferring *data*, not commands, to-and-from the server.]  In addition, if automated, regular back-up was the purpose of this move, I haven't seen anything implemented yet for the TBs of data I have on my desktop and numerous external hard-drives (more like a few hundred GBs, backed up on different hard-drives - I know my s***!)  Ended up copying My Documents back to my local computer.  Given the slow network speeds, that was a frustrating 3 hours I didn't want to spend today.

Things can't get worse, right?  D-oh!  I finally get a review on my recent submission, and it seems a nasty one.  Though the paper was reviewed internally by 4 other PhDs (including 3 senior scientists/faculty members) before submission, apparently the paper lacks clarity and organization.  The reviewer stopped short of rejecting the paper, but at the end of this day, s/he might as well have.

Got back home, tried to watch TV... Can't get my mind off the review.  Ended up working on it, taking notes of what I need to do, and found most comments relatively easy to address, even though more data analysis is required.  Oh well.  At least I feel better now.  12yo Glenfiddich helps.
Maybe I will indeed get a pet soon - a King Charles spaniel, maybe, who loves me unconditionally (except for the food part, of course), irrespective of whether my submissions suck, and will always let me know I am a great guy, with no "but..."

Monday, May 4, 2009

National political environment assessment by GOP agency

Wilson Research Strategies, a Republican outfit, just released an assessment of the national political environment for May. (via @PatrickRuffini)  Mainly, they say while Obama remains personally popular, folks are not as supportive of his policies, which, they say, makes him like Carter and not Clinton.  Also, apparently Obama is not helping Congressional Democrats, which leaves them optimistic about the GOP's chances of regaining control of the House in 2010 - assuming the GOP develops an overarching response to the Obama administration, rather than a piecemeal approach.

A few questions and observations:
1. Slide 10 - "independents beginning to have doubts" - Obama's approval rating among Independents is relatively steady at ~60% (slide 9), so this statement isn't correct.
2. The "Obama is most polarizing President" meme - slide 11 - has been hashed over many-a-time.  In short, Obama is more popular among Democrats than any previous President, and the Republicans these days are just the hard Conservative core (e.g. the Arlen Specter party switch), so obviously they don't like anything Obama does.
3. Slide 14: Are Obama's ratings more like Carter or Clinton?  No comparables are provided.
4. Slide 16: Only 6% think negatively of Obama for "not reaching out to Republicans."  Clearly, Obama doesn't have to worry about appearing partisan!
5. Slide 17: WRS says support for Obama's economic policies is soft.  But only 21% oppose President Obama's economic policies!  The rest either support Obama and/or his policies (knowing or hoping they work), or support Obama for what he's trying to do, though they doubt his policies will work.  (And I thought teabaggers were a MAJORITY of the population! /snark)
6. Opposition to bailouts and impact of teaparties in slides 22-23: I sure would like to see non-Rasmussen polls for these questions.  Ras has a known house effect in favor of Republicans, even going so far as to pen an anti-Obama WSJ op-ed while claiming to be an independent pollster. [See Mark Blumenthal/Charles Franklin for a detailed explication of Rasmussen's WSJ claims.]

However, it is an interesting look at one Republican viewpoint, and it definitely is a way for Republicans to frame the debate so that they regain power.  Question is, will they be able to overcome, in particular, the Obama administration, which has proved very adept at communicating their policies with the public.  As proof, see #5/Slide 17.