Archive for COVID-19

keep meetings hybrid

Posted in Statistics, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 30, 2022 by xi'an

I was reading the latest ISBA Bulletin and the tribune by ISBA President Sudipto Banerjee celebrating the return to the physical ISBA World meeting, along with worries about participants who caught COVID there. (Unfortunately, one good friend of mine experienced symptoms that went beyond the mild cold-like ones I zoomed through a few days ago.) This particular issue of creating a COVID cluster [during coffee breaks?!] provides [me with] one further argument for my supporting hybrid and multimodal meetings on a general basis. Which should [imho] appear in the proposals for the 2026 and 2028 World Meetings (deadline on 31 October)…(The 2024 meeting in Venezia will certainly involve hybridicity! As will BayesComp in Levi.) Discussing the topic with others in some scientific committees recently made me realise this was not such a shared perspective, from reasons varying from worrying about balancing the budget, to zoom fatigue, to the added value of informal interactions. Still, there also are reasons for hybridising our meetings, from reduced travel impact, to more inclusiveness,  on geographical, diversity, affordability, seniority grounds. Holding hybrid conferences with multiple regional mirrors allows for a potentially higher degree of interaction and local input.  And a minimal organisational effort.

a journal of the [tolerated] plague and [mostly] pestilence year

Posted in Books, Kids, Mountains, pictures, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 31, 2022 by xi'an

Read Among Our Weapons by Ben Aaronovitch, the ninth installment in the Rivers of London urban fantasy series. Which I found superior to the earlier volumes. As the ninth novel in the series, it obviously shows some signs of fatigue in the relatively thin plot that painstakingly connects a series of no-spoilers with the Spanish Inquisition, in the convenient so convenient appearance of a new kind of magical being, and in the convoluted uncovering of this connection in the final pages. However, the witty remarks of Peter Grant still make me smile and his move to becoming a father is rather charming. Recommended for the comforting feeling of being reunited with a familiar.

Over the four week summer period “everyone” was away (on vacations), I managed to deal with long delayed projects, keep my Biometrika slate mostly clean, and work on an incoming grant. Plus, made an uninterrupted series of compotes from my neighbour’s fallen apples and rhubarb sticks from the local market, as I found a much faster way to bake them in the microwave oven, with no danger for kitchen pans! Observing in the process a phase transition phenomenon where the contents very suddenly change structure and the bowl overflows, despite my frequent stirring. And I found time to lazily bike with my wife on weekends to traffic-free Paris, incl. light dinners outside (except during heatwaves), like a nice and perfectly spicy Korean bulgogi near Denfert. Had some DIY experiences as well, incl. changing my 2000 Twingo car battery, which had run flat after at least three months of idleness (now that our children no longer drive it)! Which as usual induced several (dreaded) trips to the DIY store…

Watched Extraordinary Attorney Woo, which is a Korean TV series following an autistic attorney at law, which has some original features but leaves me uneasy about its rather charicaturesque depiction of autism. At least, addressing discrimination and sexism (albeit with mixed results, as in the stereotyped representation of both female heads of the law firms). And The Soul, a Taiwanese horror + sci-fi + noir movie whose foggy atmosphere was rather appealing but alas following a terrible scenario.

the wgaf-value

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 8, 2022 by xi'an


While the special health council for the French Government is closing down, the number of cases here remains quite high, seemingly in a complete indifference or worse… When 25 000 persons died from COVID since January. But political parties are all (!) against any constraining measure, with some even calling in a most demagogic manner for reintegrating [the few hundred] unvaccinated public health personnel in the public health system… (As a single datapoint, take the counter-example of our thrice-vaccinated daughter who caught COVID last week, most likely when working at the hospital.)

a journal of the plaid [shirt] year [#2]

Posted in Books, Kids, Mountains, pictures, Running, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 3, 2022 by xi'an

Read Kawabata’s Sound of the Mountain, which I also found in a Montréal bookstore. At first, I thought it was connected to the masterpiece House of Sleeping Beauties,  which I read eons ago, as dreams are also central to that (mostly) domestic and familial story, but this was quite another, more personal, and poignant reflection on aging and the irreversibility of time. As well as an unsuspected window into immediate post-war Japan. (With the realisation that abortion was completely acceptable then.) Also spotted Greg Bear’s Darwin’s Children in my Canadian cabin, which I started and finished later with a Kindle version. As I was unaware of a sequel to the fabulous Darwin’s Radio. Overall, I was almost as enthusiastic about it as I was with the first book, but obviously suffering from an academic bias as the author engages into speculative population genetics, which may prove too much for non-academics… (Imho, the end is wasted, though.) And (binge) read January Fifteenth on the flight back (leaving too early to sleep!), which is a short novel whose only speculative aspect is the move (by the US Government) to a universal basic income (UBI) for all individuals, and the consequences on several women’s live. This was indeed a very quick read, presumably due to the high proportion of dialogues, with (variably) interesting characters that avoid a direct take on the concept, but somewhat charicaturesque nonetheless. The implementation of the scheme is rather vaguely described: January 15 is the calendar day people pick their yearly UBI and they have to do it in person to avoid been coerced or scammed into transferring it to someone else. As someone rather interested in this societal propsal, this book did not modify my views on the concept or on its practical aspects, but shed light on some potential consequences of (one version of) it.

Had a great time in a Lac-Saint-Jean cabin, with direct access to the lake. Albeit requiring the emergency purchase of a neoprene swimming suit, as the temperature of the lake was rather low for extended swimming without it. But otherwise, having a swell time every morning, often running and swimming and biking. Before hiking. (The last week, farther south, next to a much smaller lake I could easily cross, did not require the suit!) Also appreciated very much the almost flat véliroute des Bleuets (blueberries) that run all around the lake (even though some sections are alas shared with cars). Has for instance an uninterrupted 15K connection to the nearest (genuine) bakery+cheese-mongery! Made an attempt at kouign amann, but using the wrong type of both flour and cassonade, plus an unknown oven and the poor substitute of baking soda for yeast predictably failed the experiment, even though the outcome was eatable (and eaten within a few days).

As usual (!), did not spot much wildlife, beyond groundhogs, pikas, squirrels, beavers and muskrats in our rental’s lake, moose tracks here and there, and a few Virginia deer in the Mauricie National Park. (Which made me realise that national and regional [Québec] parks co-existed in the area.) Had a few traditional hikes, reconnecting with Deet to keep mosquitoes and black flies at bay.

Watched nothing at all! In part due to my wife often borrowing my laptop for its Netflix connection, in part due to my early sleep caused by earlier rise, as light comes before 5am in this part of Québec we were staying, which made an ideal opportunity for very early run, swim, and… Biometrika editing!

interesting places [Xed]

Posted in Books, Kids, Mountains, pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 2, 2022 by xi'an

An article in The New Yorker about Square Books, The bookstore (chain) in Oxford, Mississippi, reminded of the visit I had made to that highly engaging bookstore during MaxEnt 2009. I found the bookstore had a lot of “atmosphere” (pardon my French!) and personality, with loads of signed books and a sort of homely feeling. I was thus most interested in reading in details how the booksellers, Richard and Lisa Howorth, had made the place an Oxonian institution, a fitting tribute to the town’s most famous son, William Faulkner. (I seem to remember I originally entered the bookstore on a Sunday morn to seek the weekend edition of the New York Times, but cannot remember if the bookstore had any.) I also learned a lot about their contributions to contemporary Southern literature, and to US culture as a whole, since Richard Howorth was a president of the American Bookseller Association (ABA) and on the board of the Tennessee Valley Authority, until Trump fired him!

Another recent article about a place I also visited was in The Guardian today and alas much more ghastly, namely how Shasta County, Northern California, turned into a far-right stronghold… We spent a few days in Dunsmuir in 2016, as I had hoped to climb Mount Shasta during a family Californian road trip, the year of the San Francisco half-marathon!, but failed to do so for poor planning (and too much driving). At the (pre-Trump) time, I had not realised how conservative the region is, to the point of supporting secessionism from the rest of California! Peaking with the antivax, antimask, antisafety measures, hysteria.

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