Archive for the Uncategorized Category

Smiths, Millers, Priests: European Occupational Surnames

Posted in Uncategorized on September 30, 2018 by telescoper

I have known for some time that ‘Ferreira’ (a rather common surname in Portugal) means more or less the same thing as ‘Smith’ (Ferreira derives from the Latin word for Iron). But I’ve often wondered whether other countries have similarly common surnames relating to occupations. Yesterday, through the power of the interwebs, I came across this blog post which answers this very question, though it seems variations on ‘Miller’ may be as common as those relating to ‘Smith’.

Marcin Ciura

Here is the map of the most frequent occupational surnames in European countries and the corresponding trades.


Country Surname Transliteration
Belarus Кавалёў Kavalyow
Bulgaria Попов Popov
Greece Παπαδόπουλος Papadopoulos
Macedonia Поповски Popovski
Russia Кузнецов Kuznetsov
Serbia Поповић Popovic
Ukraine Мельник Melnyk

I made it with Cartopy, Shapely, and Natural Earth data. The surnames are taken mainly from the appropriate Wikipedia page. Redditors provided data for Sweden, Norway, Lithuania, Latvia, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Turkey, and Catalonia (Ferrer = Smith), as well as corrected my mistakes in Ukraine and Austria. I sincerely appreciate their help. Click on the links to see relevant comments.

This is a quick hack, not serious research. The map takes into account countries rather than ethnic or cultural areas (update of October 1, 2015: now the maps of Spain…

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The Open Journal of Astrophysics and NASA/ADS

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , on September 18, 2018 by telescoper

As I’m working on the Open Journal of Astrophysics project quite a lot these days I’m probably going to be boring a lot of people with updates, but there you go.

First is now transferred to the new platform here. It doesn’t look like much now but there is a lot sitting behind the front page and we will get the new site up and running when we’ve got various administrative things approved.

Another thing I forgot to mention in yesterday’s post concerns the SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System which (for the uninitiated) is a Digital Library portal for researchers in astronomy and physics, operated by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) under a NASA grant. The ADS maintains three bibliographic databases containing more than 14.0 million records covering publications in Astronomy and Astrophysics, Physics, and (of course) the arXiv e-prints. In addition to maintaining its bibliographic corpus, the ADS tracks citations and other information, which means that it is an important tool for evaluating publication impact.

One of the issues that we’ve had with the handful of papers published so far by the Open Journal of Astrophysics is that, because it is an overlay journal, the primary location of the papers published is on the arXiv, alongside other content that has not been refereed. Up until recently searching ADS for `All bibliographic sources’ would return OJA papers, but `All refereed articles’ would not. I’m glad to say that with the help of the ADS team, this issue has now been resolved and OJA papers now show up as refereed articles, as demonstrated by this example:

I know that this was a particular worry for early career researchers who might have been deterred from submitting to the Open Journal of Astrophysics by the fear that their publications would not look like refereed publications. They need worry no longer!

Incidentally, that image also shows that citations are tracked through the CROSSREF system, in which OJA papers are registered when published and issued with a DOI. All this happens behind the scenes from the point of view of an author, but it involves a lot of interesting machinery! A discussion on facebook the other day led to an academic publisher stating that one of the greatest costs of running a journal was registering publications for citation tracking. In fact it costs a maximum of $1 per article (see here). The industry is relying on academics not understanding how cheap things actually are.


The Curse of WH Smith

Posted in Uncategorized on September 8, 2018 by telescoper

In Dublin Airport, as in most other European Airports these days, WH Smith has a monopoly on the sale of printed matter, including newspapers. This morning, then, on my way back to Wales and wanting something to read, and a crossword to do, on the flight, I picked up a copy of the Weekend FT and took it to the automatic checkout.

As you can see, the newspaper is clearly marked ‘Republic of Ireland €4. 00’ (the price has just gone up). I scanned it on the machine and was about to pay when I noticed the price had come up as €5.70. Querying this apparent error with the assistant I was told this was the price I would have to pay because “this is the airport”.

I refused, and bought the Irish Times instead. That was marked €3.20 on the banner, the same amount as I was charged. I eventually bought the FT when I got back to Cardiff. The crossword was quite easy.

I don’t know of it’s unlawful in Ireland to attempt to sell goods at higher than the marked price, but it’s certainly sharp practice to do it surreptitiously, as Smith’s have done, in such a way that many people will pay without noticing the fact that they have applied a 42.5% markup. But then this company has a reputation for dodgy business practices, forcing small newsagents and bookshops out of the High Street and replacing them uniformly dreary outlets selling overpriced low quality items. You will struggle to find a decent bookshop in any airport because of the Curse of WH Smith.

Perhaps, after Brexit, WH Smith will lose its monopoly but I’m not waiting for that to make a decision not to shop there again.

Books Returned!

Posted in Uncategorized on August 31, 2018 by telescoper

At the end of a very busy week in Maynooth I’ve at last been reunited with my books and other possessions. Eamon arrived with his van this afternoon, we unloaded all the boxes and I made a start of stacking the shelves.

It being rather warm this afternoon, however, I’m now a bit sweaty and have had enough so am going home for a drink…

Not the Bank Holiday Weekend

Posted in Uncategorized on August 26, 2018 by telescoper

So here I am, then, back in Maynooth. The rain was pelting down in Cardiff when I went to get the bus so I arrived at the airport soaked to the skin. Other than that, and a slightly delayed flight, the trip home was uneventful and I arrived in Maynooth in good time.

That was quite a surprise, actually, as this afternoon the Pope was doing his thing in Phoenix Park, Dublin, and there were many road closures in the city as a consequence. I feared a long delay on the Airport Hopper bus, but in the event it ran precisely on schedule.

Perhaps the lack of travel disruption was connected to the fact that fewer than 130,000 attended today’s Papal Mass for which 500,000 tickets had been made available? The last Papal visit to Ireland in 1979 drew a crowd of 1.25 million to Phoenix Park. Ireland does seem to have changed a lot in 40 years.

Anyway the heavy rain I left behind in the United Kingdom is pretty typical for an August Bank Holiday weekend. Here in Ireland, however, this is not a Bank Holiday weekend. The August Bank Holiday here is on the first Monday of August, not the last…

I didn’t realise until yesterday that the UK August Bank Holiday was originally set to be the first Monday too, but was moved in 1965 as an experiment to try to extend the summer; change was made permanent in 1971. You can read more about that here.

Anyway, since it is not a Bank Holiday Monday, I have a busy day at work tomorrow, including an Examiners’ Meeting. Perhaps my books will arrive too!

Books Away!

Posted in Uncategorized on August 23, 2018 by telescoper

Well, the inestimable Eamon and Barry have been with their van and collected 34 boxes of books, including those shown below, files of notes, and sundry other items from my Cardiff residence.

It all went more smoothly than I’d anticipated, actually, because a parking space right outside my front door appeared about a minute before the van arrived. That saved quite a bit of to-ing and fro-ing loading the boxes.

Another part of my relocation to Maynooth is thus under way.

I hope to be reunited with these belongings in Maynooth at some point next week as they are currently making their way to Ireland (via Birkenhead, apparently).


Posted in Uncategorized on August 23, 2018 by telescoper

Not a lot of people know that a Latin translation of Winnie the Pooh, by A.A. Milne, was published in 1960. Alexander Lenard, the translator, was also a physician, painter, musician, and poet, but he is most famous for Winnie Ille Pu.

The book is the only Latin book to become a New York Times best seller – it remained on the NY Times list for 20 weeks.

Here’s a sample page: