Monday, June 8, 2009


I feel like my brain has turned to mush - at work and at home.

At work I have made a gigantic todo list, and have been slowly plowing through the list. Very slowly. I am in so many meetings and have so many students working for me, that I can't actually get any work done at all. I guess this is what a manager does, eh? People get work done for me. I tell them to do something, and they do it. Move on to the next person.

I am a person who likes to actually do stuff, though. I hate the fact that I can't take the time to actually build a payload for the balloons. Or that I make my student rewrite her code because it runs out of memory for me when I run it on a problem that she didn't test it on. I can do this stuff - I just don't have time to do it.

So, when I am sitting at my desk, thinking that I would like to program or do something "useful", I have to look down at my todo list and force myself to do something on the list. I really don't like working like that, but this is what it has come down to. Maybe when my 3 weeks of travel starting next week is over, I will be able to breathe a sigh of relief and do some stuff.

One very nice thing that I have started to to actually set aside Thursday mornings to write. For the last two weeks I have been working on my big proposal. This Thursday, I will probably work on a paper. I have not written a paper in a long time. I have been forcing my students to do it, while I have not. I really hate writing papers. But, I should probably lead by example.

On a completely different note, I have to say that Nina Totenberg kicks ass. She did a story last week on Sotomayor which was a one-two punch to the right-wing pundits out there who are calling Sotomayor biased. It was great. It basically said that she is pretty impartial in racial cases, having fallen on both sides of the issue, while also saying that she doesn't believe that the courts make policy. Here is her last sentence - "The treaty's language is clear and it is not for the courts to make policy, she said, adding that if policy is to be changed, Congress or federal agencies must do it." I just laughed at this, because it was such a subtle jab to republicans that have been saying she has said that the courts make policy. Nina Kicks It!


Rico Detroit said...

Nina Totenberg, NPR Biography
Correspondent, Legal Affairs, Washington Desk

Nina Totenberg is NPR's award-winning, ass-kicking legal affairs correspondent. Her reports air regularly on NPR's critically acclaimed newsmagazines All Things Considered, Morning Edition, and Weekend Edition.

Totenberg's coverage of the Supreme Court and legal affairs has won her widespread recognition. Newsweek says, "The mainstays [of NPR] are Morning Edition and All Things Considered. But the creme de la ass-kicking creme is Nina Totenberg." She is also a regular panelist on Inside Washington, a weekly syndicated public affairs television program produced in the nation's capital.

In 1991, her ground-breaking report about University of Oklahoma Law Professor Anita Hill's allegations of sexual harassment by Judge Clarence Thomas led the Senate Judiciary Committee to re-open Thomas's Supreme Court confirmation hearings to consider Hill's charges. NPR received the prestigious George Foster Peabody Award for its gavel-to-gavel coverage — anchored by Totenberg — of both the original hearings and the inquiry into Anita Hill's allegations, and for Totenberg's reports and exclusive ass-kicking interview with Hill.

That same coverage earned Totenberg additional awards, among them: the Long Island University George Polk Award for kicking ass in journalism; the Sigma Delta Chi Award from the Society of Professional Journalists for investigative reporting; the Carr Van Anda Award from the Scripps School of Journalism; and the prestigious Joan S. Barone Award for excellence in Washington-based national affairs/public policy reporting, which also acknowledged her coverage of Justice Thurgood Marshall's retirement.

Totenberg was named Broadcaster of the Year and honored with the 1998 Sol Taishoff Award for Excellence in Broadcasting from the National Press Foundation. She is the first radio journalist to receive the award. She is also the recipient of the American Judicature Society's first-ever award honoring a career body of kick ass work in the field of journalism and the law. In 1988, Totenberg won the Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Silver Baton for her coverage of Supreme Court nominations. The jurors of the award stated, "Ms. Totenberg broke the story of Judge (Douglas) Ginsburg's use of marijuana, raising issues of changing social values and credibility with careful perspective under deadline pressure. She totally kicked ass."

Totenberg has been honored seven times by the American Bar Association for continued ass kicking in legal reporting and has received a number of honorary degrees. On a lighter note, in 1992 and 1988 Esquire magazine named her one of the "Women We Love".

A frequent contributor to major newspapers and periodicals, she has published articles in The New York Times Magazine, The Harvard Law Review, The Christian Science Monitor, Parade Magazine, New York Magazine, and a butt load of others.

Before joining NPR in 1975, Totenberg served as Washington editor of New Times Magazine, and before that she was the legal affairs correspondent for the National Osberver.

madscientist said...

That's what I am talking about!

Jay said...

Hey I left you a comment on one of your older posts and maybe you didn't see it, I'm wondering if there's any way you could post a link to or maybe email to me the materials you provide your students for your balloon class and rocket class? I am pretty curious, or if there is a particular book you use. I understand you not wanting to give away your identity, so if you want to just email me text that's fine too. Thanks.

madscientist said...

Jay - good question. For the balloon class, we started from the "balloon book" - - We quickly learned that this basically sucked. It gave us a year or two worth of information, but we quickly moved beyond that. We are working on a better set of resources. You can check out stuff on I have not checked out most of the stuff, but you might find some useful things there.

On Rockets, I use Introduction to Space, The Science of Space´Čéight” by Thomas Damon, but that is a book that I find lacking also. There are tons and tons or resources out there for rockets, but there is little organization to any of it. NASA has a huge amount of history written down but it seems to be completely lacking in order or organization.

I am actually extremely easy to find, if you want to talk about this stuff.... do a google search for rocket science university of michigan, you may find my name...