Archive for Oxford (Mississipi)

a war[like] week

Posted in Books, Kids, pictures, Running, Statistics, Travel, University life, Wines with tags , , , , , , , , , , on April 29, 2015 by xi'an

crossbThis week in Warwick was one of the busiest ones ever as I had to juggle between two workshops, including one in Oxford, a departmental meeting, two paper revisions, two pre-vivas, and a seminar in Leeds. Not to mention a broken toe (!), a flat tire (!!), and a diner at the X. Hardly anytime for writing blog entries..! Fortunately, I managed to squeeze time for working with Kerrie Mengersen who was visiting Warwick this fortnight. Finding new directions for the (A)BCel approach we developed a few years ago with Pierre Pudlo. The workshop in Oxford was quite informal with talks from PhD students [I fear I cannot discuss here as the papers are not online yet]. And one talk by François Caron about estimating sparse networks with not exactly exchangeable priors and completely random measures. And one talk by Kerrie Mengersen on a new and in-progress approach to handling Big Data that I found quite convincing (if again cannot discuss here). The probabilistic numerics workshop was discussed in yesterday’s post and I managed to discuss it a wee bit further with the organisers at The X restaurant in Kenilworth. (As a superfluous aside, and after a second sampling this year, I concluded that the Michelin star somewhat undeserved in that the dishes at The X are not particularly imaginative or tasty, the excellent sourdough bread being the best part of the meal!) I was expecting the train ride to Leeds to be highly bucolic as it went through the sunny countryside of South Yorkshire, with newly born lambs running in the bright green fields surrounded by old stone walls…, but instead went through endless villages with their rows of brick houses. Not that I have anything against brick houses, mind! Only, I had not realised how dense this part of England was, this presumably getting back all the way to the Industrial Revolution with the Manchester-Leeds-Birmingham triangle.

My seminar in Leeds was as exciting as in Amsterdam last week and with a large audience, so I got many and only interesting questions, from the issue of turning the output (i.e., the posterior on α) into a decision rule, to making  decision in the event of a non-conclusive posterior, to links with earlier frequentist resolutions, to whether or not we were able to solve the Lindley-Jeffreys paradox (we are not!, which makes a lot of sense), to the possibility of running a subjective or a sequential version. After the seminar I enjoyed a perfect Indian dinner at Aagrah, apparently a Yorkshire institution, with the right balance between too hot and too mild, i.e., enough spices to break a good sweat but not too many to loose any sense of taste!

MaxEnt 2013, Canberra, Dec. 15-20

Posted in Mountains, pictures, Statistics, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , on July 3, 2013 by xi'an

inversion building over the Australian Capital Territory from Black Mountain, Aug. 14, 2012Just got this announcement that MaxEnt 2013, 33ième du genre, is taking place in Canberra, Australia, next December. (Which is winter here but summer there!) See the website for details, although they are not yet aplenty! I took part in MaxEnt 2009, in Oxford, Mississipi, but will not attend MaxEnt 2013 as it is (far away and) during O-Bayes 2013 in Duke…

Oxford, Miss. [Le Monde travel guide]

Posted in Books, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , on February 18, 2012 by xi'an

The weekend edition of Le Monde has a pseudo-travel guide written by a local writer about his or her town. It is necessarily partial and subjective, but often interesting. It also sometimes mentions towns one would never dream of visiting. This week (18/02/2012), this tribune most unexpectedly focus on Oxford, Mississippi, that I visited two and a half years ago for MaxEnt 2009. (The writer in charge is Tom Franklin. Not that I ever heard of him…) I find it quite puzzling that Le Monde spends two pages on this little town where the only attraction worth mentioning is Faulkner’s family home, now turned into a museum, and where the (decent) local bookstore is the only place in town one can buy the New York Times. Unsurprisingly, the highlights are local bars and cafés… I wonder if any Le Monde reader will be induced by the guide to travel to this place.

Oxford, Miss.

Posted in Travel, University life with tags , , on July 7, 2009 by xi'an

The town of Oxford is much smaller than the Wikitravel entry would have let me guess: “The Square is the center of downtown” actually means that this is downtown! Some of the houses on this Square are nice examples of late 19th southern architecture (since the town was burned during the Civil War), but this does not deserve more than 10 minutes of contemplation! Much less than the time spent in Square Books, which is an independent bookstore with a lot of personality (if not an immense selection of books). Since this is the summer recess at the University of Mississippi, the town also feels mostly deserted, the campus being almost completely empty. On Sunday morning, everything was closed and getting the Sunday edition of The New York Times was a major endeavour!

Before coming to Oxford, I had not realised that the University of Mississippi was the place where racial riots occurred when the first black student was accepted. James Meredith managed to break the racial segregation in the southern universities but had to remain under permanent police protection during his studies! This was in 1962, so things have drastically changed since then. The university website mentions “19 percent of students are minorities” (without further details). But this makes the emphasis on rebels (like the memorial obelisk for confederate dead at the center of the campus, a few steps away from the Jame Meredith memorial!, and the confederate cemetery, on the campus as well) that seems present everywhere there difficult to understand: The primary purpose of the South secession that led to the Civil War was to maintain slavery, not for a “just and holy cause”


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