## Thursday, June 09, 2005

### Back from puffin land

Well, it's been a great vacation, but it's now over alas, and I am back from puffin-land (where I actually didn't see any puffins, but that's another story). Many thanks to Graham for taking over the reigns in my absence; his ability to write long, substantive posts far exceeds mine, and he clearly needs to start a blog of his own !

One of the things that foreign travel (especially to Europe) does is that when you return, you find yourself asking questions like "Why can't wine and beer be served at any cafeI visit?", "Why can't I just ask for a cup of coffee and know that I'm getting a nice thick espresso", "What's so bad about universal health-care coverage" (ok well, maybe not that last one)

My epiphany was a realization of how good some of the BBC shows (especially the nature programs) really are (and in case you were wondering, these shows were watched in a 30 minute window before going to bed :)). Returning the the US of A, and scouring my PBS guide for similar fare, I realized that the pickings were quite sparse in comparison. I did find this particular series interesting though: a four part series on the basics of probability and statistics, which addresses nicely some of the issues raised by Graham's post on probability. Alas, at least in Philadelphia, it's playing at 1 am, which is not very useful unless you're an insomniac or have TiVo. I fall into both categories, so a review might be forthcoming if I can shake off this post-vacation ennui.

p.s I was on a ferry boat up in Scotland, and saw at least two people working their way through a Sudoku book.

p.p.s On a side note, what is it with the British and quiz shows ? I didn't realize where the Indian fascination with quiz shows came from, and now it all makes sense. There are radio quiz shows where I could barely answer 1% of the questions, and the contestants answer even before the quizmaster has finished his question. I am quite impressed.

p.p.p.s Further signs of the imminent demise of the American empire: A brief blurb for the American spelling bee presents the contestants as brilliant and studious whizkids: in the US, the spelling bee is covered on ESPN and there is a thinly disguised disgust at the (mostly Indian-American, 5 of the last 7!!) "nerds" who win.
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