## New York City trip

Posted in pictures, Running, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 8, 2022 by xi'an

While the Sampling, Transport, Diffusion workshop at the Flatiron Institute kept me happily busy, and while I did not stay any longer, spending a few days in New York City was a treat and I took advantage of my early hours to go running along the river sides, first south of the Flatiron building, then north to the Queensboro Bridge and over it, and last north along the Hudson River. The East River side is much less convenient for running as the path is repeatedly blocked by construction / storage sites and Xing the Queensboro Bridge gave a great view of Manhattan, albeit at the risk of being hit by a bike / scooter / moppet, as the path was shared with [an endless flow of] speeding electric bicycles. As I had never been to this part of the city, I was unaware of the cable car / gondola to Roosevelt Island (surprisingly called tram), which I would have taken given an extra day. Came by uponchance over a Trump Tower, which I ignored was so inappropriately close to the UN Headquarters! Running on the uninterrupted Hudson River trail was much nicer (and busier) despite the freezing wind that day.

For once (!) I stayed in an hotel, reserved by the Flatiron, and for the three nights I was there it was most tolerable, except for the usual background noise found in hotels, both from heating fans and patrons discussing in the corridors after hours. But the staff was helpful to the point of purchasing a kettle for my early morning tea. As the workshop provided an enormous amount of food at all times (and there was a true matcha tea provider around the corner!), it did not matter in the least.

## 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.

## Le Pen in her own [damning] words

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 23, 2022 by xi'an

Je pense également qu’il faut cesser de rembourser l’avortement. Il existe suffisamment de moyens de contraception aujourd’hui. La X, 14/02/2011

…l’avortement n’est pas interdit en Pologne. Le Monde, 31/03/2021

La peine de mort doit exister dans notre arsenal juridique. Sud Ouest, 08/01/2015

Je pense que la France n’est pas responsable du Vél d’Hiv. RTL, 09/04/2017

Les migrants, c’est comme les éoliennes. Tout le monde est d’accord pour qu’il y en ait mais personne ne veut que ce soit à côté de chez lui. RTL,

Clairement, la victoire de Donald Trump est une pierre supplémentaire dans l’émergence d’un nouveau monde, qui a pour vocation à remplacer un ordre ancien. BBC, 13/11/2016

Je ne crois absolument pas qu’il y a eu une annexion illégale: il y a eu un référendum, les habitants de Crimée souhaitaient rejoindre la Russie. RMC, 03/01/2017

La Crimée n’a jamais été ukrainienne. Izvestia, 17/01/2017

Le combat contre les éoliennes est un combat majeur, parce que les éoliennes sont une véritable catastrophe, visuelle, écologique, économique. Le Monde, 26/05/2021

Il faut retrouver la maîtrise de nos frontières, et comme je crois que l’Union européenne est totalement impuissante à nous protéger, il faut passer un accord bilatéral avec l’Espagne et avec l’Italie pour permettre à nos marines de préserver nos eaux territoriales et repousser dans les eaux internationales les migrants qui voudraient entrer en Europe. Le Point, 25/02/2011

## Georgia on my mind

Posted in Books, Kids, Statistics, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , on May 12, 2021 by xi'an

The riddle of this week was inspired by the latest presidential elections when one State after another flipped the winner from Trump to Biden. Incl. Georgia.

On election night, the results of the 80 percent who voted on Election Day are reported out. Over the next several days, the remaining 20 percent of the votes are then tallied. What is the probability that the candidate who had fewer votes tallied on election night ultimately wins the race?

Assuming many votes, perfect balance between both candidates (p=½), and homogeneity between early and late ballots, the question boils down to the probability of a sum of two normals, X+Y, ending up being of the opposite sign from X, when the variances of X and Y are α and 1-α. Which writes as the expectation

$2 \mathbb{E}_\alpha[\Phi(-X/\sqrt{1-\alpha})]$

equal to

$\frac{2}{2\pi}\left(\frac{\pi}{2} + \arctan\{\sqrt{\alpha/(1-\alpha)|}\}\right)$

which returns a probability of about 0.14 when α=0.8. When looking at the actual data for Georgia, out of 5 million voters, at some point 235,000 ballots remained to be counted with Trump on the lead. This means an α about 0.05 and implies a probability of 7% (not accounting for the fact that the remaining mail-in-ballots were more favourable to Biden.)

## M cover

Posted in Books, pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , , on January 17, 2021 by xi'an