Archive for Montréal

off to BNP!

Posted in Mountains, Statistics, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 23, 2022 by xi'an

Today I am off to Chile, to attend the 13th Bayesian non-parametric conference, BNP13. Which follows BNP11 that took place in Paris. And BNP12, which took place in Oxford (just prior to O’Bayes in Warwick, which in retrospect was the wrong strategy as most attendees did not extend their stay…). The programme is quite diverse and exciting, plus involving a lot of friends I had not seen for quite a while (as they weren’t at ISBA in Montréal). And the location is fabulous, sitting by Lake Llanquihue [whose waters may prove too cold!] and facing the [tantalizing] volcán Osorno (2652m). Which was observed by Darwin on his second trip, during a 1835 eruption. (The last eruption was in 1869, hopefully staying the same for the whole week!)

in defense of subjectivity [sound the gong]

Posted in Books, Statistics, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 13, 2022 by xi'an

When browsing the IMS Bulletin [01 October] a few days ago, I saw that Ruobin Gong (from Rutgers) had written a tribune about Subjectivism. In response to [IMS President] Krysz Burdzy’s presidential address at the IMS Meeting in London a few months earlier. Address that I had missed and where he was calling for the end of the term subjective in statistics… (While ironically attending the Bayesian conference in Montréal!) Given the tone of his Search for Certainty book, which Andrew and Larry and I discussed a while ago, I am not at all surprised by another go at Bayesian statistics, but I will not indulge into another response, since Krysz found my earlier review “venomous”! Especially since Ruobin has produced a deeply argument ed and academically grounded criticism of the presidential address (which, if I may mention it, sounds rather rambling away from statistics). In particular, Ruobin introduces Objectivity³ as “an interpreted characterization of the scientific object”, which reminds me of Nietzsche’s aphorism about physics. And where personal and collegial inputs are plusses, even though they could be qualified to be “subjective”. This was also Poincaré’s argument for Bayesian reasoning. In conclusion, I think that the London call to cease using the term in statistics was neither timely (as the subjective-versus-objective debate has sort of dried out) nor appropriate (in that it clashed with the views of part of the IMS community).

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.

the strange incident of the bottle in the fridge

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 1, 2022 by xi'an

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!

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