Saturday, November 12, 2011

Come See The Ballas This Weekend!

We'll be at the St. Andrew Apostle craft fair all weekend. Stop on by!

~Steve

Friday, November 11, 2011

Happy Pocky Day!

You know what to do, gang...Go out and buy all of your friends some Pocky!

~Steve

Thursday, November 10, 2011

From Hairspray to Sweeney Todd

Right on the heels of Z and Julie's Holy Cross performance as Council Member Brad and Prudy Pingleton, Halloween arrived and so too did Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett. In addition to their costumes, they took over decorating the house this year and equipped each room with images from the musical. Fortunately today's version of fake blood is easily removed from windows, and refrigerators, and towels, and...

~Desi

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

From The NBA To The Classroom

I did not know that Yao Ming's post-NBA life has included going back to school, let alone attending Shanghai Jiao Tong University, a place where I had the chance to lecture a few years back. And I thought I stood out on campus!

~Steve

PS: That's a chair that the university specially designed for its tallest student...

Monday, November 07, 2011

On Measurement and Air Pollution

Here is a picture we snapped one day this summer out our living room window. As you can see, it wasn't the clearest of days in Beijing. And, apparently, the air has been at least this soupy in recent weeks.

The US Embassy in Beijing maintains a microwave-sized device on its rooftop. This device measures the amount of particulate matter in the air. If you check out the Twitter feed that is dedicated to reporting these data on an hourly basis, you can get a quick, real-time assessment of conditions on the ground.

Or can you?

(By the way, as I write this, the most common recent reading has been "Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups.")

The Chinese government has publicly questioned these readings on a number of grounds. One official put it this way..."I'm not clear about their monitoring tools and methods, and how they ensure accuracy." According to the city's own measurements, Beijing has enjoyed record numbers of blue sky days in recent years.

Part of the discrepancy between the American and Chinese stories derives from differences in measurement standards. Chinese public measurements track particles down to 10 micrometers. Due to reforestation and the strategic relocation of coal-burning operations, these types of relatively large particles indeed are less commonly blowing their way into Beijing.

As for the US Embassy, it counts particles as small as 2.5 micrometers. Although such particles can penetrate into the lungs and bloodstream, the Chinese government is not prepared to release its own parallel figures, for the following reason..."The public sees world standards, and they expect China to adopt the most advanced ones. But we must accept that the nation can't reach these standards quickly."

Once again, as I like to point out to my research methodology students, what is at first glance a technical measurement issue, turns out to be derivative of conceptualization. How does one conceive of "air pollution?" What is the conceptual phenomenon that one is trying to describe or explain?

So whose purposes and arguments do you find most relevant and convincing?

~Steve