Archive for Iceland
The next AISTATS conference will take place in Reykjavik, Iceland. On April 22-25, 2014. This conference “is an interdisciplinary gathering of researchers at the intersection of computer science, artificial intelligence, machine learning, statistics, and related areas.” The deadline for paper submissions is November 1, 2013. And there is a deadline for late-breaking poster abstract submissions, namely January 24. Given my heavy travel schedule next year, I am not sure I can attend, but I am definitely tempted! Esp. since I missed AISTATS 2013 in Phoenix, where I was kindly invited, due to The Accident…
While I usually never find enough time to watch series (or even less telly!), I took advantage of those three weeks at the hospital to catch up with Game of Thrones and discovered Sherlock, thanks to Judith. As I have been reading George Martin’s epics, A Song of Ice and Fire, from the very beginning in 1991, I was of course interested to see how those massive books with their intricate politics and complex family trees could be made into 50 minutes episodes. Glimpses caught from my son’s computer had had me looking forward to it. After watching the entire second season and the earlier episodes of the third season, I am quite impressed by both the rendering of the essentials of the book and the quality of the movies. It is indeed amazing that HBO invested so much into the series, with large scale battles and medieval cities and thousands of characters. The filming locations were also well-chosen: while I thought most of the northern scenes had been shot in Scotland, it actually appears that they mostly came from Ireland and Iceland (with incredible scenery like the one above beyond the Wall!). The cast is not completely perfect, obviously, with both Jon Snow (Kit Harington) and Rob Stark (Richard Madden) being too shallow in my opinion and Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) lacking charisma, but most characters are well-rendered and the Lannisters are terrific, Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) being the top actor in my opinion (and Arya (Maisie Williams) coming second). I was also surprised by the popularity of the series at the hospital, as several nurses and doctors started discussing it with me…
Sherlock Holmes is a British series, set in contemporary London, and transposing some of Sherlock Holmes’ adventures in contemporary Britain. While I had not heard about this series previously, I was quite taken by it. It is quite innovative both in its scenario and its filming, it does not try to stick to the books, the dialogues are witty and the variety of accents quite pleasant (if hard to catch at times), and… Watson has a blog! It is also a pleasure to catch glimpses of London (Baker Street is actually Gower Street, near UCL) and the Hound of Baskerville takes place on Dartmoor. I do not think I will continue watching those series once out of the hospital, but they were a pleasing distraction taking me far, far away from my hospital room for a few hours!
During my trips in the recent weeks, I managed to read a few books, although nothing spectacular:
Arnaldur Indriðason’s Outrage (Myrká in Icelandic) is a thriller in the Erlandur series, where inspector Erlundur does not appear at all but is replaced with inspector Elinborg who deals with the murder of a drug rapist. And her family problems. The book got a prize in France and its focus on women issues makes it more interesting than the polce story itself, which meanders quite a lot and relies on too many coincidences. But I do like the stuffing no-exit (huis clos) atmosphere. (The above image is the critique in French from Le Canard Enchaîné.) Given that Erlundur has disappeared, this book stands in between other Indriðason’s books, Hypothermia (Harðskafi) and Black Skies (Svörtuloft).
I had mentioned my uneasiness about Hoffman’s The Left Hand of God a few months ago, both because of a very uneven style, a plot borrowing so much to real events and locations, and a highly ambiguous central character. I nonetheless read the second tome, The Last Four Things, following a request from my son. My impression has definitely not improved, mostly again for a high rate of borrowing from existing facts and places (like Chartres used for the papal seat). The title itself is found in many books and comes from a painting by Bosch I missed in Madrid last time I visited El Prado. The characters are mostly the same ones as in The Left Hand of God and they remain shallow and unconvincing. The political plot(s) are of no interest whatsoever. The reunion between Cale and Arbell is botched, to say the least. (And still some people love it!)
Another thriller I quickly read is Susanna Gregory’s Mystery in the Minster, the 17th chronicle of Matthew Bartholomew… In line with the recent chronicles in the series, the book is not worth any level of recommendation. The plots get thinner and thinner, the dialogues and settings less and less realistic for their 14th Century environment, and the resolution is rushed with no even a pretence of disguise for the massive infodump in the Epilogue! It feels like I have already seen it all in previous books: the trip away from Cambridge to gather an uncertain inheritance, the flow of new characters taking an unreasonable interest in Michelhouse affairs, an endless sequence of deaths, poisons, “wanton” nuns, attractive women turning into insane murderesses, fights for life in an abandoned and crumbling church, &tc. Among the many implausible facts in the current volume, the vicar-chorals’ obsession with shoes, speaking of “intelligent, liberal people” as in a 21st Century society, or hiring an actor to play the role of a (long dead) priest for more than a month… I will for certain abstain from buying the incoming 18th chronicle, appropriately planned for April the 1st!
When ordering books from amazon.fr for my daughter, I added Ascension, a manga by Shin’ichi Sakamoto about climbing. I was however quite disappointed by the result, both for the silly plot and for the lack of realism in its climbing connection!
An announcement for an Icelandic meeting next September, meeting I would have loved to attend (darn!)… This meeting is sponsored by the BayesComp session, of course!!!
We are pleased to announce that the University of Iceland will host the 3rd Workshop on Bayesian Inference for Latent Gaussian Models with Applications (LGM).
The workshop will be held in Reykjavik, Iceland, on September 12-14 2013 at Harpa ~V Reykjavik Concert Hall and Conference Centre:
The emphasized topics of LGM 2013 are:
-Spatial and spatio-temporal modeling
-Latent Gaussian models
-The workshop is not restricted to these topics
The invited speakers are:
-Matthias Katzfuß at Universität Heidelberg
-Bani Mallick at Texas A&M University
-Peter Müller at University of Texas
-Michèle Sebag at INRIA Saclay, CNRS
-Matthias Seeger at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
-Christopher Wikle at University of Missouri
Early bird fee before May 21th ~@ 375
Registration fee after May 21th ~@ 440
Student fee ~@ 250
Detailed information on the scientific program, conference field trip, organizing committee, scientific committee and meeting registration is available on the conference web-site: