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Books to Read While the Algae Grow in Your Fur
Books I've read in the last month or so and
feel I can recommend
 Diarmaid MacCulloch, The Reformation: A History
 Vast, global history of how Latin Christendom came to tear itself apart
into so many distinct, mutuallyintolerant chunks, going from the late 1400s
through about 1700. It's wellwritten, and does a very good job of explaining
just enough of the theological issues at stake  and I use the word
advisedly  to make the disputes comprehensible. One nice feature is the
sustained attention to the reformations in eastern Europe (PolandLithuania,
Hungary, Transylvania...), part of a broader sense on MacCulloch's part of
itcouldhavegoneotherwise. Another running theme  often no more than a
subtext  is that almost all the major participants on all sides were
viciously intolerant theocrats, who would have regarded freedom of conscience,
if it had been explained to them, as a flat invitation to heresy, and a policy
promoting it as the civil power failing in its Godgiven duties, probably with
Satanic inspiration. Modern ideals of liberty grew out of the locales where
the different strands of Reformation and CounterReformation fought each other
to draws, and so failed  places like, for a while, some of the
eastern European commonwealths, and more permanently and momentously, Amsterdam
and London. The modern world was born from the 17th century abandonment of the
ideal of "Christendom", in which all full members of society belong to the same
Church, whose writ is enforced by the State which it in turn legitimates.
 (MacCulloch is too good a historian to waste time on silly analogies that
say that "what Islam really needs is a Reformation", but I'm not a historian so
I'll bite. If you take this seriously, then what you are prescribing is that
multiple transnational ideological movements compete violently for the
authority to reward virtue and punish vice, leading to an endless series of
civil and regional wars. The Reformation was not the
Enlightenment.)

May 01, 2007
Slothful Reading Update
I have been too lazy busy to update the book
recommendations sidebar.
The last three
months should preceed
this post, and April's
recommendations follow it. Some TV
shows on DVD are now included, since a lot of my time for reading fiction has
gone into watching them; I suspect my taste in video is even less trustworthy
than my taste in books, but why not?
Posted by crshalizi at May 01, 2007 15:40 
 permanent link
Posted by crshalizi at May 01, 2007 15:40 
 permanent link
Books to Read While the Algae Grow in Your Fur, April 2007
 Ingrid D. Rowland, The
Scarith of Scornello: A Tale of Renaissance Forgery
 Or: how a teenager got out of being shipped off to law school by forging
ancient Etruscan writings, sparking a scholarly controversy that was to some
extent a rehash of the Galileo affair. Briskly and amusingly told, with no
great pretense that it was ever anything other than a brazen forgery — I
won't spoil some of the jokes by pointing out some of the evidence of
just how brazen. Thanks to John "reprieved" Burke for recommending
this!
 Jane Haddam, Glass
Houses
 Serial killers, pedophiles, bookkeepers...
 C. J. Box, Trophy
Hunt
 Animal mutilation and energy booms in Saddlestring, Wyoming. Some bits made me
wonder if Box had read Warren
Ellis's Atmospherics
(still, for my money, the best relation of the cattle mutilation myth).
 Larry Gonick, The
Cartoon History of the Modern World, Part I: From Columbus to the
U.S. Constitution
 When I think about it, I realize a truly substantial proportion of my basic
knowledge of the world derives from reading Larry Gonick's Cartoon
Guides and Cartoon History of the Universe; this is a
worthy continuation of the latter.
 Peter
Hedström, Dissecting
the Social: On the Principles of Analytical Sociology
 Will get its own review. In the meanwhile: right on, brother, right
on.
 Garry Wills, What
Jesus Meant
 Short devotional work presenting Wills's interpretation of the gospels.
Wills has no interest in recovering the historical Jesus, and explicitly says
that he finds such a project pointless; he is interested in the Jesus of his
faith, as presented by the gospels vouchsafed to him by the Catholic tradition.
(Presumably this is why, for instance, he uses only the canonical books of the
New Testament, and assumes that they tell a consistent story.) Fair
enough, if he wants to do that, though not at all convincing to someone without
a prior committment to that tradition. But then I utterly fail to see how he
can square this with rejection of, in no particular order, papal authority,
bishops, priests, and even (I think) the mass? Well, he says, I don't see any
justification for this in the text. But that same tradition which
guarantees the text for him also comes down on their side. And a Jesus who
founded a Church with bishops and priests performing miracles of
transubstantiation would be very different from the Jesus he wants...
 Battlestar Galactica [0; 1; 2;
2.5]
 Yes, it really is based on that appalling old TV show. Yes, it really is
as good as everyone says.
 Michelle
Sagara, Cast
in Shadow and Cast in Courtlight
 Fantasy novels with detectivestory elements; the kind of thing which would
appeal to those who like P. C. Hodgell, though it is not as good as her books.
There is a weird emphasis here on names, writing (a  you should excuse the
expression  literal body of inscription is a central part of the
story, along with the magical struggle to control the reading of that text),
and, near the climax, the autonomous power of language itself; this tempts me
to postulate some kind of runin with poststructuralism in Sagara's past (and
I'd even say not a happy one, given her heroine's attitude towards teachers),
but really anyone who comes to this looking for specifically Derridean
high fantasy would be disappointed. (Not that I can think of anyone who would,
now that Chun the Unavoidable is no longer among us.)
Books to Read While the
Algae Grow in Your Fur
Posted by crshalizi at May 01, 2007 15:40 
 permanent link
April 30, 2007
Let Me Be Among the First to Welcome Our SixPedaled Floral Robotic Overlords
From this week's Carnegie
Mellon 8 1/2
x 11 News (emphasis added):
Carnegie Mellon researchers have developed a series of robots that
are simple enough for almost anyone to build with offtheshelf parts, but are
sophisticated machines that wirelessly connect to the Internet. The robots can
take many forms, from a threewheeled model with a mounted camera that people
could use to monitor their home while they're away to a
robotic, sixpedaled flower that can open and close based on
moods. The robots can be customized and their ability to wirelessly link to
the Internet allows users to control and monitor their robots' actions from any
Internetconnected computer in the world.
I realize this is a typo for "sixpetaled",
but the mere fact that I couldn't be immediately sure has brightened
my day. The vision of mobile fields of flowers, pedaling in unison to follow
the sun over the hills and valleys of western Pennsylvania, may yet come to
pass...
Oh yeah  here's the link
to Telepresence Robot Kit website.
Update: Thanks
to Alex Mallet for
pointing out
my typo; I believe at least one is required, thermodynamically, when
making fun of someone else's.
Linkage
Posted by crshalizi at April 30, 2007 15:20 
 permanent link
Books to Read While the Algae Grow in Your Fur, February 2007
 Phil Rickman, The
Remains of an Altar
 Julia SpencerFleming, All Mortal Flesh
 Having earlier commented on Rickman and SpencerFleming's series, and even
on the similarities between them, I find I have little to add, except that
these are both good, and that I think the latter has brought her series to a
satisfying  if unconventional and less than happy  conclusion. (Oh, and
Rickman's diathesis for geeking out about music in his novels is not, actually,
out of control here, despite what the dustjacket made me fear.)
I did actually manage to read more than two books this month; but a lot of
them were mediocre even by my standards, and one of them was Ethier and
Kurtz's Markov
Processes, plugged
this time last year.
Books to Read While the
Algae Grow in Your Fur
Posted by crshalizi at April 30, 2007 14:54 
 permanent link
Books to Read While the Algae Grow in Your Fur, March 2007
 Homicide
[1
and
2; 3; 4; 5; 6;
7; omnibus
collection]
 At its best, which was frequent, simply some of the best storytelling I've
ever encountered. Season 6 drags a bit — the dialogue is not quite so
good, and there is too much soapopera among the detectives — but season
7 picks up a bit, especially towards the end, and the final episode is, I
think, a brilliant ending.
 C. J. Box, Winterkill
 Paranoid militia idiots vs. triggerhappy government idiots in deepest
Wyoming, as seen by Box's recurring character, the admirable if nonetoobright
game warden Joe Pickett. The ending is very unhappy.
 Greg Keyes, The
Briar King
 Another beginningofavastfantasysaga novel. The world is interesting,
and, unlike Erikson below, I do need to find out what happens
next...
 Steven Erikson, Gardens of the Moon
 Lapbreaker military fantasy. I picked this up in Brussels on September
10th, 2001, and, well, lost track of it for a while. Aboveaverage writing, but the
first volume in a series which is still uncompleted. Not sure I want
to commit myself to following the saga — and I feel no real compulsion to
find out what happens next, which says something in itself.
 Bernard E. Harcourt, Against
Prediction: Profiling, Policing, and Punishing in an Actuarial
Age
 See Review:
Harcourt contra divinationem.
 I will definitely include this material the next time I teach data
mining.
 Stanislaw Lem, The Invincible
 Man versus  well, that would be a spoiler, actually  in an alien
desert. I feel OK, however, in saying that the selforganization of cellular
slime molds is a key insight.
Books to Read While the
Algae Grow in Your Fur
Posted by crshalizi at April 30, 2007 14:54 
 permanent link
Books to Read While the Algae Grow in Your Fur, January 2007
 Langston Hughes, A Negro Looks at Soviet Central Asia
 This new edition (ISBN 9967235551) was printed for David Mikosz in
Bishkek in 2006; it reprints the first edition (Leningrad: Foreign Worker's
Cooperative Publishing House, 1934), with a preface by Mikosz, and endnotes
giving the handwritten corrections in Hughes's personal copy, now at Yale.
(These are almost all improvements.) This is by no means Hughes's best writing
(even with the corrections), and it is painfully clear that the author was
naive about the Soviet system. (The happy collective farmers! The fraternal
solidarity of the Russian and Turkmen peoples!) But it also conveys why an
American in 1934 might have wanted to believe in the Soviets —
especially a black American. Only recommended to those with a special
interest in Hughes, the history of Central Asia, or, pardon the phrase, fellow
travelers.
 Steven Johnson, The
Ghost Map: The Story of London's Most Terrifying Epidemic — and How It
Changed Science, Cities, and the Modern Worl
 Welltold rendition of the story of John Snow, the Broad Street pump, and
the discovery that cholera is transmitted by fecal contamination of water. The
distinctive feature of Johnson's version is his setting it in the larger story
of the history of cities, waste disposal, and the evolution of disease, which
are all more fascinating than you might expect. The last chapter, however, in
which Johnson jumps from the 19th century to the 21st, has only the most
tentative connection to any of the foregoing, and with a little editing could
have been printed on its own in Wired or something of that ilk;
for all I know it was. For some grousing about this book by a historian of
medicine,
see here.
 Paul Embrechts and Makoto Maejima, Selfsimilar
Processes
 Compact (99 pp. + references), highly selective primer on selfsimilar
stochastic processes, their characterization, uses, and a little bit of their
statistical inference. Stochastic processes are selfsimilar when time and
space can be rescaled in ways which leave the distribution invariant
(rather leaving particular realizations invariant). They are good on
connections between selfsimilarity and longrange dependence, not quite so
good on how selfsimilarity relates to heavy tails. (To be fair, the latter is
a more complicated topic, because, e.g., there are Gaussian selfsimilar
processes.) The implied reader has some knowledge of measuretheoretic
probability, the Wiener process, Itô integrals, and Lévy and stable
distributions — it's pitched at applied probabilists rather than, say,
physicists. (Someone who
took my course would know
all of these prerequisites except the stuff on stable distributions, so I need
to add them.) Many proofs are abbreviated or referred to the literature in
their entirety; those they do give are generally nice.
 Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Academic Publishing System
Dept.: This book consists, as I said, of about a hundred pages of text,
including computergenerated figures, plus references and an index. In other
words, it's only slightly more elaborate than a long review paper
at arxiv.org. It is also sturdily bound, which
is useful. However, it lists for over $40, and a generous price on printing
from the archive (paper, ink, bandwidth, staples, time) is 4 cents a page. I
do not see an extra 30 cents per page of value being supplied by the publisher,
or even the publisher and the binder together.
 Patricia A. McKillip, Solstice Wood
 A sequel, of sorts,
to Winter
Rose, but also a rare venture into early twentyfirst century
America. Less ornate prose than usual, but still more Elfland than
Poughkeepsie (to use an old line of Le Guin's).
Books to Read While the
Algae Grow in Your Fur
Posted by crshalizi at April 30, 2007 14:54 
 permanent link
Linkage
 Let Me Be Among the First to Welcome Our SixPedaled Floral Robotic Overlords
 Spring Cleaning of Late Summer Bookmark Cleaning
 The Complaints Choir of Helsinki
 Felix Lupercalia
 Absolutely Regular

 Piracy and Peer Production
 Two Links on Scientific Programming
 Go Outside and Play, Why Don't You?
 Zadig, or, The Book of Fate
 Brunch in the Ruins
 Topping from Below
 Corners Bumped
 Reasons to Be Cheerful: Higher Primates Issue
 Snowclones in May!
 7x7
 A Last Night in the October Country
 Destroy All Bookmarks!
 Structure and Dynamics (On the Economic Geography of Gilgamesh)
 Thursday Sloth Blogging
 Slack from the Past
 And You May Say to Yourself, "This Is Not My Beautiful Blog!"
 Saturday Sibling Blogging
 Happy Hogswatchnight!
 Debugging Early on a
Saturday Warfare of Science and Theology in Christendom
Blogging
 Let No One Else's Work Evade
Your Eyes
 Selfmods
 Yet More Political Data Analysis (or: "There you go, bringing class into it again")
 Friday Cat Blogging (Science Geek Edition: Special Complex Networks Issue)
 Balkan Chronicles
 Shrill, Shrill, Shrill (with a Will)
 The Circular Ruins
 Speaking Truth to Power About Weblogs, or, How Not to Draw a Straight Line
 Testimony
 One Roll of the Dice Will Never Abolish Warblogging
 Assorted Reading
 Someone Has Found a Way to Make Money from the Internet!
 Hidden Connections; or, Flying Saucers, Conspiracies and Prehistoric Tibet
 America's Finest News Source
 More Assorted Reading
 Assorted Reading
 A Remarkable Likeness
 Giving People What They Want
 "If you loved me, you'd kill yourselves today"
 Yet Another Blogroll Update
 Notorious C.H.O.
 Today's snippets
 Nelson Minar
 Passing it along
 Assorted Reading
 Fear and Loathing in Professional Sports
 A Fish, a Barrel, and ...
 When Did They Get a Blog? Dept.
Posted by crshalizi at April 30, 2007 11:10 
 permanent link
Tao on Structure and Randomness
Terence Tao is posting the text
of his lectures on "Structure and Randomness"
(part
I on number theory and Fourier
analysis; part
II on combinatorial number theory, graph theory, ergodic theory and "ergodic
graphs";
and part
III on partial differential equations). It's a fascinating glimpse into
the mind of a truly accomplished pure mathematician. Most striking to me is
how Tao completely avoids rounding up any of the usual
suspects  Paul
Erdös and Mark Kac's work on statistical independence in number
theory*, statistical mechanics, Kolmogorov complexity, etc.  while still
finding fascinating things to say about,
e.g., Wick
rotation. All three posts, I guess I should say, are for mathematically
mature audiences only.
Tao's earlier post
on Why
global regularity for NavierStokes is hard is also very worth reading.
*: Kac's beautiful little book on Statistical Independence in
Probability, Analysis and Number Theory is still in print (ISBN
9780883850251, $21.95), but the publisher,
the Mathematical Association of America,
makes it impossible to actually link to its catalogue page. The best I can do
is refer to the page for
the series in
which it is published.
Mathematics;
Enigmas of Chance
Posted by crshalizi at April 30, 2007 11:10 
 permanent link
April 26, 2007
Lecture Notes on Stochastic Processes (Advanced Probability II), Spring 2007
Since the first lecture of
my class coincided with
the first nontrivial snowfall of the winter, talk of the "spring" semester
seems like a cruel joke, but there you go. One of my New Year's resolutions
was to leave the notes as nearly alone as possible, so they will largely
follow last year's, but with
typo corrections, a few occasional improvements, more examples, and some
pictures (not, I dare say, enough).
Update, 26 April 2007: The link at the end of this list to
complete set of notes now goes to the complete notes, including
chapters yet to be covered by the lectures.
This page will be updated with new lecture notes as the semester goes on.
If you want an RSS feed, this
should do it.
 Chapter
24: Birkhoff's Ergodic Theorem (4 May)
 The almostsure or individual ergodic theorem of Birkhoff: if the system is
asymptotically mean stationary, then, with probability 1, the time average of
every wellbehaved observable converges to its expectation.
 Chapter
23: Ergodic Properties (26 April and 1 May)
 Ideological remarks on ergodic theory. Dynamical systems and their
invariants; connections to Markov processes. Ergodic properties of
functions and ergodic limits. Asymptotic mean stationarity.
 Chapter
22: Spectral Analysis and MeanSquare Ergodicity (1224 April)
 "White noise" as a linear functional; its description as a generalized
stochastic process (mean zero, uncorrelated, Gaussian) and equivalence to the
Ito integral. Spectral representation of stochastic processes, especially
weakly stationary ones, or, random Fourier transforms. The WienerKhinchin
theorem linking the spectrum to the autocorrelation function. How the white
noise lost its color. Our first ergodic theorem: convergence of time averages
in mean square. A first proof assuming rapid decay of correlations. A
stronger second proof based on the spectral representation.
 Chapter
21: A First Look at SmallNoise Limits of Stochastic Differential Equations
(10 April)
 SDEs defined by adding a small amount of white noise to ODEs. Solutions of
the SDEs converge in distribution on the solutions of the ODE as the noise goes
to zero (via Feller properties). An exponential upper bound on the probability
of given magnitude of deviation between the solutions. Preview of coming
attractions in large deviations theory.
 Chapter
20: More on Stochastic Differential Equations (29 March and 1 April)
 Solutions of SDEs are Feller diffusions (as they solve martingale
problems). The Kolmogorov "forward" and "backward" equations, for the
evolution of the probability density and the observables, respectively.
Examples of the forward or FokkerPlanck equation and its solution.
 Chapter
19: Stochastc Integrals and Stochastic Differential Equations (2029
March)
 Rigorous approach to stochastic integrals, after Ito. Ito integrals of
"elementary" processes; extension to a wider class of integrands via
approximation. Ito's isometry. Some simple but instructive examples. Ito
processes. Ito's formula for change of variables. Stratonovich integrals
(briefly). Representation of nice martingales as Ito integrals. Stochastic
differential equations: existence and uniqueness of solutions. A more
realistic model of Brownian motion, leading to a stochastic differential
equation (the Langevin equation) and OrnsteinUhlenbeck processes.
 Chapter
18: Preview of Stochastic Integrals (8 March)
 Why we want stochastic integrals. A heuristic approach via Euler's
method (the EulerBernstein scheme).
 Chapter
17: Diffusions and the Wiener Process (6 March)
 Definition of diffusions. The Wiener process as the prototypical
diffusion. Resume of the Wiener process's properties. Wiener processes with
respect to arbitrary filtrations. Gaussian processes. Wiener measure.
Nondfferentiability of almostall continuous functions.
 Chapter
16: Convergence of Random Walks (27 February and 1 March)
 The Wiener process as a Feller process. Continuoustime random walks.
Convergence of random walks to the Wiener process via the Fellerprocess
machinery; via direct use of the theorems on weak convergence.
 Chapter
15: Convergence of Feller Processes (27 February)
 Weak convergence of stochastic processes; hints as to the Skorokhod
topology on cadlag functions; necessary and sufficient, and merely sufficient,
conditions for convergence in distribution of cadlag processes. Convergence
in distribution of Feller processes. Convergence of discretetime Markov
processes on Feller processes. Convergence of Markov processes on ordinary
differential equations.
 Chapter
14: Feller Processes (22 February)
 Clarificiations on initial states and distributions of Markov processes;
Markov families, the probability kernel from initial states to paths.
Definition of Feller processes and its physical motivations; reformulation in
terms of semigroups; unique correspondence between Feller processes and their
generators. Attributes of Feller processes: cadlag sample paths, strong Markov
property, Dynkin's formula.
 Chapter
13: Strongly Markovian Processes and Martingale Problems (20 February)
 The strong Markov property is being Markovian even at random times. An
example of how a Markov process can fail to be strongly Markovian. The concept
of a "martingale problem". Relationship between solutions of martingale
problems and strong Markov processes.
 Chapter 12: Generators (15 February)
 The generators of the semigroups associated with Markov processes: analogy
with exponential functions, how to find generators starting from semigroups,
some uses of generators for solving differential equations, Laplace
transforms and resolvents. HilleYosida theorem on building semigroups from
generators.
 Chapter 11: Examples of Markov Processes (13 February)
 The logistic map as an example of turning nonlinear, deterministic
dynamical systems into linear Markov operators. The Wiener process as an
example of finding the transition kernels and timeevolution operators.
Generalization of the Wiener process example to other processes with stationary
and independent increments, and connections to limiting distributions of sums
of IID random variables.
 Chapter 10: Two Views of Markov Processes (8 February)
 Markov sequences as transformations of noise; transducers. Markov
processes as collections of operators: Markov operator semigroups evolve the
distribution of states, and their adjoint operators evolve the "observables",
the bounded measurable functions of the state. Some functionalanalytic facts
about conjugate spaces and adjoint operators.
 Chapter 9: Markov Processes (6 February)
 Definition and meaning of the Markov property. Transition probability
kernels. Existence of Markov processes with specified transitions. Invariant
distributions. Dependence of the Markov property on filtrations.
 Chapter 8: More on Continuity (1 February)
 Existence of separable modifications of a stochastic process (in detail).
Idea of measurable modifications. Conditions for the existence of measurable,
cadlag and continuous modifications.
 Chapter 7: Continuity (1 February)
 Kinds of continuity for stochastic processes. Versions and modifications
of stochastic processes. Benefits of continuous sample paths, and an example
of the impossibility of deducing them from the finite dimensional distributions
alone. Separable random functions.
 Chapter 6: Random Times and Recurrence (30 January)
 Reminders about filtrations and stopping times. Waiting times of various
sorts, especially recurrence times. Poincaré and Kac recurrence
theorems. "The eternal return of the same" and its statistical
applications.
 Chapter 5: Stationarity and Dynamics (25 January)
 Strong, weak, and conditional stationarity. Stationarity as
shiftinvariance. Measurepreserving transformations and stationary
processes.
 Chapter 4: OneParameter Processes (23 January)
 Oneparameter processes; examples thereof. Representation of oneparameter
processes in terms of shift operators.
 Chapter 3: Building Infinite Processes by Recursive Conditioning (23 January)
 Probability kernels and regular conditional probabilities. Theorem
of Ionescu Tuclea on constructing processes from regular conditional
distributions.
 Chapter 2: Building Infinite Processes from FiniteDimensional Distributions (18 January)
 Finitedimensional distributions of a process. Theorems of Daniell and
Kolmogorov on extending finitedimensional distributions to
infinitedimensional ones.
 Chapter 1: Stochastic Processes and
Random Functions (16 January)
 Stochastic processes as indexed collections of random variables and as random functions. Sample paths and constraints on them. Examples.
 Contents
 Including a running list of all definitions, lemmas, theorems, corollaries,
examples and exercises to date.
 References
 Confined to works explicitly cited.
 The entire set of notes
Enigmas of Chance;
Corrupting the Young
Posted by crshalizi at April 26, 2007 17:43 
 permanent link
April 08, 2007
The Reason for the Season
Today, of all days in the year, it is important to keep constantly in our
minds the message and the meaning of the story of Our Lord; a message which has
the most tremendous, one may even say awful, significance for the fate of every
member of the human race; a message which, if only they would grasp it, would
utterly transform the way they saw the world and their place in it. It is a
message so powerful, so overwhelming, that most of us hide from it; we seek the
false comfort of the distractions and petty views of the mundane — false
comfort, for though we may not be interested in Him, He is interested in us.
We refuse to put together all that we know of Him and face up to its
implications; to acknowledge the utter inadequacy of all human action and merit
in the face of His might and knowledge and plans. It has pleased Him to make
what the world calls "wisdom" into folly, and to ensure that true wisdom shall
be found in what the world calls folly and madness. What is this
mindshattering message that we would rather flee into ignorance and darkness
than admit into our consciousness with all its
power? Just this:
That is not dead which can eternal lie,
And with strange aeons even death may die.
Cthulhiana
Posted by crshalizi at April 08, 2007 19:31 
 permanent link
Posted by crshalizi at April 08, 2007 19:29 
 permanent link
Enigmas of Chance
Probability theory, random processes, statistical inference and machine
learning
 Tao on Structure and Randomness
 Glory and $1500 a Month (VIGREfunded Summer Undergraduate Research in Statistics at Carnegie Mellon)
 Eigenfactor (Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Academic Publishing System? Dept.)
 "Statistical Methods for Modeling Dynamic Systems" Workshop
 Armchair ConferenceBlogging
 Lecture Notes on Stochastic Processes (Advanced Probability II), Spring 2007
 Absolutely Regular

 Statistical Communication
 Notes on "A Likelihood approach to Analysis of Network Data"
 Again with the Statistics 754, Stochastic Processes
 I Taught Him Everything He Knows
 Data Mining (36350) Lecture Notes, Weeks 47
 "The Invisible Academy: NonLinear Effects of Linear Learning"
 Arrrrgh! Owwwwwww! Noooooooooo! (A Remark on Power Laws)
 A Triumph of Socialist Realism
 Data Mining (36350) Lecture
Notes, Weeks 13
 Glory and $500 (VIGREfunded Undergraduate Research in Statistics at Carnegie Mellon)
 Frederick Mosteller Is Dead
 The Awful Turkish Language
 Statistical Arbitrage in the Sky
 Problems in the Doctrine of Chances
 The Absorbing Boundary
 Friday Cat Blogging (MeasureZero Exception to the Hiatus Issue of NonScienceGeek Edition)
 Statistical Network Analysis: Call for Papers
 Graphs, Trees, Materialism, Fishing
 Lecture Notes on Stochastic
Processes (Advanced Probability II, 36754)
 "Experimental Reasoning, Reliability, Objectivity, Rationality": The Names Men Give to Their Mistakes
 Statistics 754, Stochastic Processes (Advanced Probability II)
 Gauss Is Not Mocked
 Will There Be a Text in My Class?
 A Thought I Have No Time to Pursue
 Schooled by Selection
 Our New Filtering Techniques Are Unstoppable!
 Exponential Families and Hybridity (Why Oh Why Can't Physicists Learn Better Probability and Statistics, Part N)
 The Little Grey Cells Get Their Act Together
 This Is Your Brain on Statistical Complexity (This Week at the Complex Systems Colloquium)
 Heard About Detroit, Heard
About Pittsburgh PA
 E Pluribus Unum (This Week at the Complex Systems Colloquium)
 Why Oh Why Can't Physicists Learn Better Probability and Statistics?
 Convex Risk Exegesis
 Yet More Political Data Analysis (or: "There you go, bringing class into it again")
 Boreal Sloth
 Decided and Divided Americas
 How to Change the World
 Friday Cat Blogging (It Always Pays to Read the Annals of Improbable Research Carefully Issue of Science Geek Edition)
 Paradox! StoneCold Paradox! Get It Before It's Warm!
 Booze, Sex, and Death (This Week at the Complex Systems Colloquium: Dying, Lost in the Crowd Blues Edition)
 William Dembski and the Discovery Institute, Renewing Science and Culture by ReInventing the Wheel
 Speaking Truth to Power About Weblogs, or, How Not to Draw a Straight Line
 Monday Exam Blogging
 One Roll of the Dice Will Never Abolish Warblogging
 "Now Barabbas was a publisher"
 More Assorted Reading
 Learning Your Way Around Gödel's Theorem
 Political Factors
 Intermittent Finds in Complex Systems and Stuff, No. 1
 The Art of Noise
 Free!!!
 On a Talk by Persi Diaconis
 Small Worlds and Morbid Amusements
 What's Right with That Picture?
 Try It, and Let's See What Happens, or, Great Minds
Posted by crshalizi at April 08, 2007 19:29 
 permanent link
Posted by crshalizi at April 08, 2007 18:38 
 permanent link
Spring Cleaning of Late Summer Bookmark Cleaning
Attention conservation notice: I wrote the following in
late August, trying to clear out my stufftoblog bookmarks folder. For
reasons I don't remember, I left it aside then, and only ran across it again
now. I haven't updated anything, just checked that none of the links
have rotted. You've probably already seen any which you would have found
interesting.
Jack Balkin has put the full text
of his 1998 book Cultural Software: A Theory of
Ideology online
for free. This is a really good book, where Balkin makes a serious attempt
to tackle two huge problems, namely how we manage to have shared cultural
meanings, and how culture can help produce injustice. The tools he uses are
the idea of memes (in a
broad sense, compatible with
say Sperber's
critiques), along with some more experimentallygrounded psychology. I
think he succeeds, but what he ends up with is 190proof liberal evolutionary
naturalism, which is mostly what I believe anyway. (He doesn't make much of
the way he's recapitulating both
the origins
of American pragmatism in evolutionary and psychological science,
e.g. this, and its outcome
in a liberal
social philosophy, but I can't imagine it's escaped his notice.)
What's really curious, though, is that Balkin does all of this while
suffering from a mild strain of the French Disease (he does teach at
Yale), so that he appeals to Lyotard and Foucault in the course of defending
motherhood, apple pie, and even the flag. Straightforward appeals to not let
oversimplified stereotypes of group differences blind us to the reality of
individual diversity therefore get prefaced by elaborate Derridaforbeginners
deconstructions of all binary oppositions. I suspect that Balkin has thus
managed to write a book which will irritate almost all of its prospective
readers — some with "naive scientism", and others with "postmodern
bullshit" — but is nonetheless actually very good and worth reading.
And, now, free. [This is the short version of the review which has been
sitting, in draft form, on my harddisk since the fall of 2000.]
Meera Nanda gives a
progressive Indian
perspective on American affirmative action, in the context of the debate
on "reservation for backward castes".
(Via Nanopolitan.)
— Has anyone done a systematic comparison of the Indian caste system and
the American racial system? It seems to obvious to have been left alone...
Charlie Stross contemplates the future, and
sees a
world whose constitution was written by Gary Gygax. It's not pretty to imagine how this will intersect with the
economy of
phishing.
Michael
Bérubé has
his head split open by Yeats. (I predicted Jonathan
Goodwin's response, but not
publicly, so that doesn't count.)
Elif
Shafak writes about having a novel which
is charged
with the crime of insulting Turkishness:
The fictional Armenian characters in my latest novel, The Bastard of Istanbul, are blamed for defaming and belittling Turkishness. Thus for instance, a character named Auntie Varsenig is in trouble now for saying the following on page 57:
"Tell me how many Turks ever learned Armenian. None! Why did our mothers learn their language and not vice versa? Isn't it clear who has dominated whom? Only a handful of Turks come from Central Asia, right, and then the next thing you know they are everywhere! What happened to the millions of Armenians who were already there? Assimilated! Massacred! Orphaned! Deported! And then forgotten! How can you give your flesh and blood daughter to those who are responsible for our being so few and in so much pain today? Mesrop Mashtots would turn in his grave!"
Similarly, another character, Dikran Stamboulian, is in dire straits now for saying the following:
"What will that innocent lamb tell her friends when she grows up? My father is Barsam Tchakhmakhchian, my greatuncle is Dikran Stamboulian, his father is Varvant Istanboluian, my name is Armanoush Tchakhmakhchian, all my family tree has been Something Somethingian, and I am the grandchild of genocide survivors who lost all their relatives in the hands of Turkish butchers in 1915, but I myself have been brainwashed to deny the genocide because I was raised by some Turk named Mustapha! What kind of a joke is that ... Ah, marnim khalasim!"
As much as I believe in their vivacity, my Armenian fictional characters cannot go to court to be tried under Article 301. Instead of them, my Turkish publisher, Semi Sökmen, and I, will be there when the time comes. It will be a long legal battle from then on, and certainly a hassle and cause of stress. But, we Turkish writers are not pitiful or forlorn victims unable to go out into the street for fear of nationalist assault. After all, we do know, perhaps not intellectually but intuitively, that a similar clash of opinions between the progressiveminded and the closeminded xenophobes is under way almost everywhere and the world is not a safe planet anymore.
Commenting on this
idiocy, Walter Jon
Williams (one of my favorite authors) takes a break from blogging a
fascinating account of a trip to Turkey (now at
part eleven
and counting)
to write
"I would say something like, 'In solidarity with our literary siblings, let us
all insult Turkishness together,' except that I happen to like
Turkishness. It's just shithead Turkish politicians I despise."
Notunrelated, the Editors call for
the rectification
of names.
The Sarong Theorem
archive is "an electronic archive of images of people proving theorems
while wearing sarongs."
Ilya Nemenman
has put his
bibliography file online, with rather uninhibited remarks on the
papers concerned. Since Nemenman is very smart, this is a valuable resource
for anyone interested in scientific applications
of information
theory, and should be emulated.
Nothing is eternal
dep't: old
sand in the Taklimakan
Desert; old
rocks in the the Sierra Nevada.
Giant
ground sloths in Iowa.
Gary Farber reads
about crackpot Nazi science so you don't have to! (Unless you find that
sort of thing amusing, of course.) — Amygdala, by the way, is one of the
most consistently interesting, and broadranging, weblogs I've found; Gary
really does blog about almost everything three to six months before
everybody else does. Since contributions really do help keep
him on the air, it's a good idea to follow the links at the top of each page
and contribute a little, if you can.
I have far, far too many links to arresting images and offbeat ideas from
Geoff Manaugh's consistentlydelightful
BLDGBLOG, which is poised somplace
near the triple point of photography, urbanism and architecture. Without
pretending that these are the best, here the ones in my
folder: Mount
St. Helens of Glass;
When Landscapes Sing; or, London Instrument; Where Cathedrals Go to Die;
The Knot Driver;
the Mine,
the Rivers, the Caves
and Drainscaping
Nevada's
Gold; The
Scrap
Lung; Famous
Hulls of the Alaskan Sea; Silt; Optometric Metropolis; Urban Diptychs; The HedgeBridge; Landscapes Undone; Euclidean Agriculture; A Mars Supreme; glowing Oceans; Cities of Amorphous Carbonia; Earth Surface Machine;
The
Architecture of
Spam; Seal
Silo.
Linkage
Posted by crshalizi at April 08, 2007 18:37 
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