Archive for Ireland

The Quaker [book review]

Posted in Books, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 6, 2021 by xi'an

I ordered The Quaker, a book by Liam McIlvanney mostly because Liam is the son of WIlliam McIlvanney, whose Glasgow’s Laidlaw trilogy I found stunning. I was intrigued by the attempt at following in his father’s Tartan Noir steps. To make the link stronger this book won the 2018 (William) McIlvanney Prize for crime book! While there are many similarities between the stories, if only because they both take place in Glasgow in the 1960’s, where slums were gradually demolished to become high rises (themselves demolished much later in one of Ian Rankin’s stories, if in Edinburgh), where the police was partly corrupted by local gangsters, and where (im- and e-) migration was spinning the demographics of the city, the styles are different and The Quaker does not read as a clever pastiche. It is definitely a unique and brilliant book, from the vivid depiction of the Glasgow of these times (possibly helped by the fact that many locations were familiar to me from my several visits at the University of Glasgow), to the pretty convincing plot, to the psychological depths of many (male) characters. The women in the story are indeed mostly victims of the serial killer or witnesses, possibly towards reflecting the state of gender inequality in the 1960’s (as far as I remember there were more women at the fore in WIlliam’s books), with the inclusion of a victim of the Magdalene asylums. The outlying nature of the main detective is another feature common to father and son: while McCormack does not carry philosophy books to work, he remains apart from the other detectives, including a secret that threatens both the case and his career.

Bayes @ NYT

Posted in Books, Kids, Statistics, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on August 8, 2020 by xi'an

A tribune in the NYT of yesterday on the importance of being Bayesian. When an epidemiologist. Tribune that was forwarded to me by a few friends (and which I missed on my addictive monitoring of the journal!). It is written by , a Canadian journalist writing about mathematics (and obviously statistics). And it brings to the general public the main motivation for adopting a Bayesian approach, namely its coherent handling of uncertainty and its ability to update in the face of new information. (Although it might be noted that other flavours of statistical analysis are also able to update their conclusions when given more data.) The COVID situation is a perfect case study in Bayesianism, in that there are so many levels of uncertainty and imprecision, from the models themselves, to the data, to the outcome of the tests, &tc. The article is journalisty, of course, but it quotes from a range of statisticians and epidemiologists, including Susan Holmes, whom I learned was quarantined 105 days in rural Portugal!, developing a hierarchical Bayes modelling of the prevalent  SEIR model, and David Spiegelhalter, discussing Cromwell’s Law (or better, humility law, for avoiding the reference to a fanatic and tyrannic Puritan who put Ireland to fire and the sword!, and had in fact very little humility for himself). Reading the comments is both hilarious (it does not take long to reach the point when Trump is mentioned, and Taleb’s stance on models and tails makes an appearance) and revealing, as many readers do not understand the meaning of Bayes’ inversion between causes and effects, or even the meaning of Jeffreys’ bar, |, as conditioning.

Xi’an street food [jatp]

Posted in pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , , on October 27, 2019 by xi'an

and another step forward for Ireland!

Posted in pictures with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 28, 2018 by xi'an


Posted in Kids with tags , , , , , , , , on May 24, 2018 by xi'an