Archive for New York

Tierras Centro Americanas [journal of the NYC weekend]

Posted in Books, Kids, pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 27, 2022 by xi'an

Upon my arrival at JFK, Queens, Andrew took me to have unbelievable tortillas in this Guatemaltec restaurant, soft and yummy, almost like pancakes! Along with great food altogether. We also had a pleasant stroll walking through Queens’ lively Jamaica district. Including coming upon a just extinguished fire in a row of shops! On the opposite, I did not see much of New Brunswick, apart from walking by the Harvest Moon brewery where I got a beer (and a tee-shirt) on my earlier visit there.

Read Truthwitch, another disappointment in the series (of recent books), as the universe building could have been great (despite being heavily inspired from Western Europe geography and culture, and in particular of Venezia. Again, I presume I was missing the YA label when I first picked this book! Scenario is rather terrible, full of last second rescues, new and convenient forms of magical powers, while interactions about characters are artificial and predictable, definitely not recommended. (And there are five books in the series!)

Watched The Silent Sea a short Korean TV serie taking place mostly in a Korean infected base on the Moon. While trying to solve the water crisis on a drying Earth (looking red from the Moon). The ending is quite disappointing while the original idea was most appealing. The science (fiction) behind the story is however terrible. (E.g., never use guns in space! And why would astronauts rely on cheap, handheld, lamplights to explore dark tunnels?! And how can you hide stealthy visits to a Moon basis from Earth?! &tc.)

Bill’s 80th birthday

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

David Cox (1924-2022)

Posted in Books, Statistics, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 20, 2022 by xi'an

It is with much sadness that I heard from Oxford yesterday night that David Cox had passed away. Hither goes a giant of the field, whose contributions to theoretical and methodological statistics are enormous and whose impact on society is truly exceptional. He was the first recipient of the International Prize in Statistics in 2016 (aka the “Nobel of Statistics”) among many awards and a Fellow of the Royal Society among many other recognitions. He was also the editor of Biometrika for 25 years (!) and was still submitting papers to the journal a few month ago. Statistical Science published a conversation between Nancy Reid and him that tells a lot about the man and his amazing modesty. While I had met him in 1989, when he was visiting Cornell University as a distinguished visitor (and when I drove him to the house of Anne and George Casella for dinner once), then again in the 1990s when he came on a two-day visit to CREST,  we only really had a significant conversation in 2011 (!), when David and I attended the colloquium in honour of Mike Titterington in Glasgow and he proved to be most interested in the ABC algorithm. He published a connected paper in Biometrika the year after, with Christiana Katsonaki. We met a few more times later, always in Oxford, to again discuss ABC. In each occasion, he was incredibly kind and considerate.

`Paris is in anarchy’ [cycle woes]

Posted in Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 7, 2021 by xi'an

An overblown view of the cycling war in Paris, from New York! I read with amusement the report on how Xing a Parisian street is a matter of life or death, when anarclists go through red lights while shouting at pedestrians… Actually, the figures show that the number of accidents involving cyclists (as victims or culprits) has only gone up by 30% when the traffic has increased by 70%. And I could not find an online trace of a pedestrian killed by a cyclist over the past years. Based on my weekly 130 kilometer biking average, mostly to and from Paris Dauphine, I do not perceive a major tension between pedestrians and cyclists, maybe because I am not entering the centre of town (and give priority to pedestrians at both green and red lights). The danger in my experience comes rather from other cyclists’ unpredictable paths, (psychopath) mopeds that run on cycle paths, and cars turning right without checking for bicycles. But I concur with the point made in this article of a poor network of cycle paths, with too many discontinuities, bad surface, inexistent maintenance (esp. in winter months when wet leaves accumulate there and all year long for broken glass and metal parts), and the deadly pavés! Which are unpleasant for road bikes (ask the Paris-Roubaix runners!), slippery, esp. when frosted (speaking from experience), and damaging to tubes and ties. As it happens, I have had thee tube punctures over the three past weeks, two of which were due to running over a particularly uneven pavé or entering a cycle path with a very high step. (And a total of six since April. Making me reconsider using an heavier mountain bike instead. After switching unsuccessfully to anti-puncture road tyres…)

sampling with neural networks [seminar]

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , on March 29, 2021 by xi'an

Tomorrow (30 March, 11am ET, 16 GMT, 17 CET) Grant Rotskoff will give a webinar on Sampling with neural networks: prospects and perils, with links to developments in generative modeling to sample distributions that are challenging to sample with local dynamics, and the perils of neural network driven sampling to accelerate sampling.

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