Archive for the Running Category

missing [thumb] category

Posted in pictures, Running, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , on January 2, 2018 by xi'an

I had a fairly uneventful trip to Kolkata today, except for a rather long wait at the e-visa station in Delhi where the young agent in the booth was at a loss on how to handle my missing thumb and kept returning to a senior agent for instructions! As they were speaking Hindi, I could not understand precisely the exchanges but he was told to enter “missing” and when this failed, “disabled” which worked out fine! The Indian Statistical Institute is locate quite a fair distance north from the centre of Kolkata and I searched in vain for a tea dealer in the immediate vicinity tonight. (Walking ten minutes in the street was most likely equivalent to smoking a full pack of cigarettes!!! I am glad I did not bring running gear as this would have been borderline suicidal… (On the flight back, the security agent was equally interested in my absent thumb, enquiring how I had lost it.)

back to Kolkata [শুভ নব বর্ষ]

Posted in pictures, Running, Statistics, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , on January 1, 2018 by xi'an

With high probability (!), I am off to Kolkata tonight, almost an exact year after I visited the city and the Department of Statistics of the University of Kolkata. On this occasion, I will attend a conference celebrating the 125th birthday of Mahalanobis and be staying at the Indian Statistical Institute, in another part of the city. Although I will only stay there for three days, I am looking forward meeting old friends and new faces, enjoying Bengali food and replenishing my reserves of Darjeeling tea. Shubho Nabobarsho (Happy New Year in Bengali)! As in the previous trip, I was also invited at a second conference at the Indian Association For Productivity, Quality & Reliability, on New Paradigms in Statistics for Scientific and Industrial Research, but decided against talking there for fear of being stuck for hours in the infamous Kolkata traffic.

cyclic riddle [not in NYC!]

Posted in Kids, R, Running, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 29, 2017 by xi'an

In the riddle of this week on fivethirtyeight, the question is to find the average number of rounds when playing the following game: P=6 players sitting in a circle each have B=3 coins and with probability 3⁻¹ they give one coin to their right or left side neighbour, or dump the coin to the centre. The game ends when all coins are in the centre. Coding this experiment in R is rather easy

situz=rep(B,P)
r=1
while (max(situz)>0){
 unz=runif(P)
 newz=situz-(situz>0)
 for (i in (1:P)[unz<1/3]) 
  newz[i%%P+1]=newz[i%%P+1]+(situz[i]>0)
 for (i in (1:P)[unz>2/3])
  newz[i-1+P*(i==1)]=newz[i-1+P*(i==1)]+(situz[i]>0)
 situz=newz
 r=r+1}

resulting in an average of 15.58, but I cannot figure out (quickly enough) an analytic approach to the problem. (The fit above is to a Gamma(â-1,ĝ) distribution.)

In a completely unrelated aparté (aside), I read earlier this week that New York City had prohibited the use of electric bikes. I was unsure of what this meant (prohibited on sidewalks? expressways? metro carriages?) so rechecked and found that electric bikes are simply not allowed for use anywhere in New York City. Because of the potential for “reckless driving”. The target is apparently the high number of delivery e-bikes, but this ban sounds so absurd that I cannot understand it passed. Especially when De Blasio has committed the city to the Paris climate agreement after Trump moronically dumped it… Banning the cars would sound much more in tune with this commitment! (A further aparté is that I strongly dislike e-bikes, running on nuclear power plants,  especially when they pass me on sharp hills!, but they are clearly a lesser evil when compared with mopeds and cars.)

the dark side of the “work hard party harder” spirit[s]

Posted in Mountains, pictures, Running, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , on December 20, 2017 by xi'an

Now, following the blogs of the past days about harassment at ISBA meetings, reposting Pierre’s blog about the strong unbalance between men and women attending these meetings, and then the ISBA first action towards making ISBA meetings safe(r), or more inclusive, here are some completely personal reflections on why I think the culture of “work hard party harder” that permeates these meetings needs to change. Towards “more Bayes, less booze”, to repeat from an email I received in the past few days… (As in every entry on this blog, except maybe those few pointing out factual mathematical errors, but this need be stressed, this is indeed a personal view on the topic, reacting to the news, for which I claim absolutely no expertise or superiority of any kind above other viewpoints. And certainly no representativity. Especially not of the safeISBA Task Force opinions. Comments more than welcome, more than usual!)

So… I have been attending five of the Valencià (pre-ISBA) meetings, from the early 1990’s till 2010, all located in Spanish coastal resorts, from Peñíscola to Benidorm. As is obvious to anyone having attended one of those meetings [and not being submitted to harassment or unwanted pursuits on their first and last experience there], there was a tremendous feeling of belonging to a community. An exciting, strong, exhilarating community unlike any other statistical meeting. Here were people working exactly in my field, ready to share ideas, discuss posters for hours, and possibly shred one another to pieces when diverging on a point of theory, while remaining good friends. Plus being party animals able to drink and dance the whole night, till the wee hours when I was myself getting out of bed for my morning run… Definitely impressive. (Actually, it is at one of these meetings that I first heard the motto “work hard party harder”.) All very exciting, with a size small enough that one could feel connected to all participants by more than science. With a blurry boundary between academia and social network, between work and party. Without truly realising on my part that the resulting freedom of discussions and actions in this environment was not absolute and definitely not the same for everyone. Even though the overwhelming majority of participants were and are fine individuals, and that many friendships and collaborations started there.

Academia offers this paradox of a sensation of great freedom (to teach, research, publish, discuss anything you wish) controlled by many others (like editors, publishers, grant committees, conference organisers) that you cannot afford to antagonise too much. And hence that the feeling of a single-happy-family-of-forever-friends bumps into this constraint of reality, especially when the positions of two participants differ by much in seniority or culture. Or, primarily, gender. Because as Pierre was saying, as a man, I was never the victim of any misconduct or abuse of power. And hence could continue enjoying long poster sessions and fierce discussions without any worry of staying too long other than impacting my running the next day… While some friends of mine rather remember unwanted attentions at their very first meeting, with harassment from some organisers as well…
There were many aggravating factors to this potential for harassment, from the deleterious atmosphere of beach towns like Benidorm, to having all participants located in the same (monstrous) hotel, to holding poster sessions late at night, with excessive drinking a strong possibility, even though, as a friend was emailing me last morning, “it is too easy to blame alcohol consumption” as the sole culprit, and the availability of nightclubs and bars for after-poster-sessions… To continue quoting from this friend, she rightly suggested “swinging the pendulum back to more work hard” and less institutionalised partying. While keeping ISBA meetings definitely fun and terribly exciting. And plain safe. I am thus looking forward to the policies being developed to ensure ISBA 2018 in Edinburgh [clearly not a beach town!] is meeting all terms, and regains its attractivity for all members. All of them.

U of T sunset [jatp]

Posted in pictures, Running, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , on December 14, 2017 by xi'an

red Capitol [jatp]

Posted in pictures, Running, Travel with tags , , , , , on December 12, 2017 by xi'an

sunrise over Colorado [jatp]

Posted in pictures, Running, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , on December 11, 2017 by xi'an