Sunday, January 26, 2014

How Many Papers Should I Review For This Conference?

My field's main conference is the Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, or, as it's commonly called, "Cognitive Science." People submit 6-page papers. Each one needs to be reviewed by three people for a decision to be made. It's a part of a scholar's civic duty to review papers. It's natural to review papers for the conferences you submit to. But how many should you agree to review?

One way to think about it is that you should be pulling your weight, and not taking advantage of the system. So if every paper needs three reviewers, then maybe you should agree to review 3 papers for every one you submit.

There are two things wrong with this simple calculation--not all papers are single authored. If you're submitting a paper with 6 authors, maybe the pain should be spread out a bit.

The other factor is that there are freeloaders out there, and you might want to do your part to make up for them.

So what I do is say I'm going to review 5 papers for every one I submit. But this is divided by the number of authors I have on each paper-- so it's 5/n for each paper, where n is the number of authors per paper.

This summer Cognitive Science is in Quebec City. Nice and close! So my laboratory is submitting lots of papers. For papers with my name on it got two I'm the sole author on, three with two authors, and one with 6 authors.

So I'm going to review (5/1) + (5/1) + (5/6) + (3 * (5/2)) papers this summer. That's 18.33.

That's a lot of papers, but it's proportional to the amount of work I'm putting on everybody else in the community, so I'm doing my fair share.

It's easy to calculate using

Pictured: A charolais in Venezuela. From Wikimedia Commons.

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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Book Round-Up 2013

Below are the books I read in 2013.

Near the end of the year I started using which is great. For a yearly subscription, I get credit for one book per month, for $10 per month, cheaper than most audio books. And I get through about a book a month. Between that and podcasts I have lots to listen to.

I didn't get audible for a long time because I bike and I didn't want to bike with headphones. I found I didn't have much time to listen to books. But my beloved got a Bose bluetooth headset for Christmas. It can be used like most, but also can be used as a normal headphone. So now I can listen to books while I bike. It's only in one ear, so I can hear traffic and get that important situational awareness. The fact that it's bluetooth is great because I don't have lots of cords getting caught up in everything. This was especially a problem in the winter, with a coat, scarf, facemask, hat, etc. The bluetooth makes it so nice.

Anyway, happy reading! If you want to see my complete list of books read, see my webpage for it:

Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein (audible)
Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success by Adam M. Grant (audible)
Blood Rock: Book Two of the Skindancer series by Anthony Francis
The Player of Games by Ian M. Banks
Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi
In Gods We Trust: The Evolutionary Landscape of Religion by Scott Atran
Gone Girl*** by Gillian Flynn
The Ragged Astronauts by Bob Shaw
Wool Omnibus by Hugh Howey
Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking by Daniel Dennett
A Memory of Light (Wheel of Time) by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
Not by Genes Alone: How Culture Transformed Human Evolution by Peter Richerson and Robert Boyd
Religion Explained: The Evolutionary Origins of Religious Thought by Pascal Boyer

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Monday, January 13, 2014

Anyone Can Cook? How the Film "Ratatouille" Undermines Its Own Message

In the charming Pixar film Ratatouille, a rat named Remy is inspired by a famous cook who says that "anyone can cook." In the end, the rat is vindicated, and becomes the chef at a French restaurant. 

The story evokes the American value that with hard work even someone from a lower class can achieve greatness. The theme of the film, "anyone can cook," resonates when even a rat, with sufficient ambition and wiles, can make it big. 

What most people ignore about the film, though, is the complete inability of the other main character, Alfredo, to learn to cook, in spite of having the same ambition, and, indeed, extensive exposure to good cooking practices. 

In the story, Remy secretly uses Alfredo as a puppet to cook (see the picture). In this way Remy's cooking gains acceptance--nobody would give a rat the same chances they'd give a human. But even by the end of the movie, Alfredo is incapable of making a decent meal on his own. 

What's the difference between Alfredo and Remy? It appears to be some kind of in-born talent, which is at odds with the theme of the film. 

Anyone can cook. Except you, Alfredo. You just don't have the right stuff. 

Pictured: A screenshot from the trailer. From Wikipedia.

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