February 2005


Unfortunately, I have no time to read all of these books right now, but I am now inundated with new reading that I can’t wait to get into, thanks to my friends who know how much I love me some books…

Hallucinating Foucault, by Patricia Duncker (from Sin)
The Line of Beauty, by Alan Hollinghurst (from Sin)
Middlesex, by Jeffrey Eugenides (from Christy)
Perdido Street Station, by China Mieville (from myself)
Buddha’s Little Finger, by Victor Pelevin (from myself)
Carnet de Voyage, by Craig Thompson (from Allie)
Kafka on the Shore, by Haruki Murakami (from Vespremi)

I expect them to all be wonderful in different ways. Man, it will be good to read again.

From the comments over at Crooked Timber comes this great quote from de Toqueville:

All free nations are vainglorious, but national pride is not displayed by all in the same manner. The Americans, in their intercourse with strangers, appear impatient of the smallest censure and insatiable of praise. The most slender eulogy is acceptable to them, the most exalted seldom contents them; they unceasingly harass you to extort praise, and if you resist their entreaties, they fall to praising themselves. It would seem as if, doubting their own merit, they wished to have it constantly exhibited before their eyes. Their vanity is not only greedy, but restless and jealous; it will grant nothing, while it demands everything, but is ready to beg and to quarrel at the same time.

If I say to an American that the country he lives in is a fine one, “Ay,” he replies, “there is not its equal in the world.” If I applaud the freedom that its inhabitants enjoy, he answers: “Freedom is a fine thing, but few nations are worthy to enjoy it.” If I remark on the purity of morals that distinguishes the United States, “I can imagine,” says he, “that a stranger, who has witnessed the corruption that prevails in other nations, would be astonished at the difference.” At length I leave him to the contemplation of himself; but he returns to the charge and does not desist till he has got me to repeat all I had just been saying. It is impossible to conceive a more troublesome or more garrulous patriotism; it wearies even those who are disposed to respect it.

It’s amazing to me how much is as true now as it was then…

I have wasted about 4 hours of my life now just trying to get the camera-ready copy of my paper uploaded to the IEEE website. They have an autoconvert-to-PDF script which will take my LaTeX/DVI files and convert them in theory. In reality, it spews horrible errors. There’s almost no documentation on how to make your LaTeX compliant other than vague warnings about Type 3 fonts, and when I emailed them I was told that my fonts were bad and pointed to a website which had no information on it regarding what to do if you have “bad fonts.”

So I’m left to debug my code using their autoconverter to the tune of around 5 minutes per test. I’ve been here a few hours, and just missed the curtain of a play I was going to see with Deb. Just now I “exceeded the quota” of allowable revisions. I thought that was the end, but then scrapped the whole submission and started a fresh one so I’m back to debugging now.

The deadline is midnight tonight.

My wrath cannot be compassed at this time.

Update (9:30 PM): Problems solved — there were two offending lines in the file, of the form \psline[linestyle=dashed](-40,40)(40,-40). Those are commands for the pstricks package, a set of postscript macros. IEEE doesn’t like the [linestyle=dashed] property. Once I worked around that the IEEE program would make a PDF, but with all of the large symbols missing. For example: integrals, sums, square roots, large delimiters like parentheses, and so on were all absent. As it turns out, the problem is that the IEEE program doesn’t like the package amsmath, which has a lot of little features and special characters that make life a lot easier when typesetting math. Total time spent: 6+ hours.

The paper is done now, but I am still full of ire.

At first, there was a lonely fruity box, singing a song to itself:

And then it found a friend who could help it sing out to the world:

Thanks to my brother for the awesome speaker dock. Huzzah!

I got this seminar announcement:

We will introduce a family of partition-valued Markov processes called exchangeable coalescent processes, and we will discuss four applications. We will explain how these processes describe ancestral processes in a discrete population model, how they describe the genealogy of continuous-state branching processes, how they can be used to model the effect of beneficial mutations on a population, and how one example called the Bolthausen- Sznitman coalescent is related to Derrida’s Generalized Random Energy Models.

Now, I wonder how many people who do probability know Derrida the critical theorist also know Derrida the statistical physicist. And vice versa, of course. Perhaps someone (Sokal?) should try applying generalized random energy models to texts.

Paradise City by Guns’N’Roses is a great song. Take me home.

Now I have to make sure there isn’t too much overlap between the papers…

We are pleased to inform you that your paper listed below has been accepted for presentation as a Regular paper in session WA6 at the 2005 Conference on Information Sciences and Systems. “Estimation from misaligned observations with limited feedback”

I am a bit more excited about going to Baltimore, however.

And the stupid beast saw his shadow. Take that, East coast! I live in Sunny California ™, where we don’t have seasons!

And actually, it is a beautifully warm and sunny day.

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