Archive for Penn State University

The New Yorker [April 4, 2022]

Posted in Books, Kids, pictures, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , on April 30, 2022 by xi'an

I had not bought a paper issue of The New Yorker from a newstand for ages, possibly decades, so I jumped on the opportunity on my way back from Rutgers! This April 4 issue contained several impressive articles, which I read over the following weeks. (As I discovered during the lockdown, one issue a week is too much material, even during lockdown!) The most moving one is about Mackenzie Fierceton, a brilliant Penn University graduate, who escaped familial abuse to purse  sociology studies at Penn, to the point of receiving a most notorious Rhodes scholarship in 2021 to start a PhD in social policy at the University of Oxford. Only for the scholarship to be rescinded by the Rhodes Trust, after action from Penn. While I cannot judge of the facts and arguments based on this sole article (which 12 pages are definitely impressive in their detail and careful depictions of the whole story), the corporate-damage-control attitude of Penn in this affair is appalling.  And revealing of a awfully biased perception of abuse and psychological damage being limited to low-income classes. All the best to this student, in the pursuit of her studies and ideals.

Bruce Lindsay (March 7, 1947 — May 5, 2015)

Posted in Books, Running, Statistics, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on May 22, 2015 by xi'an

When early registering for Seattle (JSM 2015) today, I discovered on the ASA webpage the very sad news that Bruce Lindsay had passed away on May 5.  While Bruce was not a very close friend, we had met and interacted enough times for me to feel quite strongly about his most untimely death. Bruce was indeed “Mister mixtures” in many ways and I have always admired the unusual and innovative ways he had found for analysing mixtures. Including algebraic ones through the rank of associated matrices. Which is why I first met him—besides a few words at the 1989 Gertrude Cox (first) scholarship race in Washington DC—at the workshop I organised with Gilles Celeux and Mike West in Aussois, French Alps, in 1995. After this meeting, we met twice in Edinburgh at ICMS workshops on mixtures, organised with Mike Titterington. I remember sitting next to Bruce at one workshop dinner (at Blonde) and him talking about his childhood in Oregon and his father being a journalist and how this induced him to become an academic. He also contributed a chapter on estimating the number of components [of a mixture] to the Wiley book we edited out of this workshop. Obviously, his work extended beyond mixtures to a general neo-Fisherian theory of likelihood inference. (Bruce was certainly not a Bayesian!) Last time, I met him, it was in Italia, at a likelihood workshop in Venezia, October 2012, mixing Bayesian nonparametrics, intractable likelihoods, and pseudo-likelihoods. He gave a survey talk about composite likelihood, telling me about his extended stay in Italy (Padua?) around that time… So, Bruce, I hope you are now running great marathons in a place so full of mixtures that you can always keep ahead of the pack! Fare well!

 

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