I’m sick today so here are some links.

Click That Hood, a game which asks you to identify neighborhoods. I was lousy at San Diego, but pretty decent at Chicago, even though I’ve lived here for half the time. Go figure.

For those who care about beer, there’s been some news about the blocked merger of Inbev and Modelo. I recommend Erik’s podcast post on the structure of the beer industry (the three-tier system) for those who care about craft beer, and (with reservations) Planet Money’s show on the antitrust regulatory framework that is at work here.

Remember step functions from your signals and systems course? We called them Heaviside step functions after Oliver Heaviside — you can read more about him in this Physics Today article.

Did you know that Pad Thai’s “birth and popularity came out of the nationalist campaign of Field Marshal Plaek Pibulsongkram, one of the revolutionary figures who in 1932 pushed Thailand out of an absolute monarchy?” Neither did I!

I need this album, since I love me some Kurt Weill. I can also live vicariously through NPR’s list of SXSW recommendations.

The Bach Collegium San Diego, a group with whom I sang on occasion has a Kickstarter going to fund a tour. Please consider helping them out!

The Bach St John Passion is truly coming full circle for the BCSD, as it was our debut concert in 2003. This year marks our second annual performance of this work. We are seeking to establish an annual tradition of performing a Bach Passion (and other Passion Music) near Holy Week and Easter leading to an eventual Easter Festival.

In order to help bring this annual tradition to reality, we’re asking that you consider helping to sponsor the 16 singers who will form the dynamic vocal ensemble that will propel this dramatic work. The size of the donation is not as important as the interaction and participation of our those who believe in our mission and work. We thank you in advance for your generosity and we look forward to seeing you at the performances in April!

It’s been a while since I’ve posted, and I am going to try to post more regularly now, but as usual, things start out slowly, so here are some links. I’ve been working on massaging the schedule for the 2012 ITA Workshop (registration is open!) as well as some submissions for KDD (a first for me) and ISIT (since I skipped last year), so things are a bit hectic.

Chicago Restaurant Week listings are out, for the small number of you readers who are in Chicago. Some history on the Chicago activities of CORE in the 40s.

Via Andrew Gelman, a new statistics blog.

A paper on something called Avoidance Coupling, which I want to read sometime when I have time again.

Our team, Too Big To Fail, finished second in the 2012 MIT Mystery Hunt. There were some great puzzles in there. In particular, Picture An Acorn was awesome (though I barely looked at it), and Slash Fiction was a lot of fun (and nostalgia-inducing. Ah, Paris!). Erin has a much more exhaustive rundown.

This is my last concert in San Diego, schade! It should be a good one!

In Memoriam: Marking the tenth anniversary of 9/11

W.A. Mozart : Requiem in D minor, K 626 (Levin completion)

Bach Collegium San Diego
Ruben Valenzuela, dirigent

Claire Fedoruk (Soprano)
Angela Young Smucker (Alto)
Pablo Corá (Tenor)
Mischa Bouvier (Bass)

St. James by-the-Sea Episcopal Church
San Diego, California
Friday, 16 September 2011
7:30 PM

Pt. Loma Nazarene University: Crill Hall
San Diego, California
Saturday, 17 September 2011
7:30 PM

Tickets available online.

The fog in San Francisco (h/t Erin Rhode).

A general approach to privacy/utility tradeoffs, with metric spaces! A new preprint/note by Robert Kleinberg and Katrina Ligett.

Max breaks it down for you on how to use the divergence to get tight convergence for Markov chains.

The San Diego Asian Film Festival starts on Thursday!

Apparently China = SF Chinatown. Who knew? Maybe the fog confused them.

On Thursday I went to the last preview performance of Mo’olelo Performing Arts Company‘s production of Yellow Face, by David Henry Hwang. If you live in San Diego, go see it! It opened last night and plays through the end of the month.

Yellow Face poster

The play is a fictionalized autobiography, with Hwang as the main character, played by Greg Watanabe. Searching for an actor in his new play Face Value, Hwang casts Marcus G (Brian Bielawski), whom he thinks might be Asian. When he discovers Marcus is white, Hwang tries to give Marcus a backstory as a Siberian Jew (and hence Asian), but eventually fires him. The play flops weeks later, and Marcus and Hwang go their separate ways. Years later, Hwang discovers that Marcus has started to pass himself off as Asian and has become active and a bit of a celebrity in the Asian-American community, especially for political causes. Hwang finds Marcus toxic; he berates his ex for dating Marcus, he feels isolated. Hwang’s father and Marcus both become persons of interest in a congressional probe into Chinese financing in the US. In the end, of course, everything has to come out in the open.

In part, I read the play as Hwang dealing with the discomfort of being the spokesman for Asian-American theater and the expectations that come along with that. It also brings up the discomfort felt by Asian Americans (or anyone, really) when their struggles or concerns are co-opted by well-intentioned but overzealous white people. The historical context encompasses three moments in the 90′s : the casting in Miss Saigon of Jonathan Pryce, a white actor playing in yellowface, the 1996 campaign finance investigations into “Chinese influence” in US elections, and the 1999 railroading of Wen Ho Lee (the program has some dramaturgical notes in case you were asleep or too young in the 90′s). The play uses these events to frame Hwang’s vacillation between caring about the issues and being repulsed by Marcus’ involvement; Marcus uses his “yellowface” for good ends, but in the end he’s a poseur.

There’s a lot going on, and director Seema Sueko does a great job of keeping all the balls in the air while maintaining the narrative thread. The play is a farce, and while the madcap energy that the actors bring to their performances felt a little too extreme initially, in the end it felt necessary to keep the momentum going. I found the text a little uneven; the major climactic scene in which Hwang has it out with the yellow journalist from the NY Times is almost too measured and serious. Perhaps it’s the political climate we live in now — in a muckraking environment, an argument about blatant bias feels real, rather than absurd (or even hyperreal).

However, this production works well. All the technical details: the set, use of video projection, sound, lights, and so on, are well-suited to the space they have there. The ensemble (Albert Park, Michelle Wong, Jacob Bruce, and Maggie Carney) really work their butts off providing the diversity of performance and characterization needed to tell a decades worth of political and personal stories. Sueko uses the physical space of the theater to great effect, heightening the absurdity of situations, and using physical distance to complement and accent other sorts of “distance.”

So if you’re in San Diego, see this show — you’ll learn something!

UPDATE : I edited a bit above and realized that you could describe the NY times reporter as practicing “yellow journalism.” An implicit double entendre? I laugh!

As I went for a walk this morning I passed the Bank of America on University – usually a pretty deserted stretch but today brightly colored by the contents of an upended Monopoly set, bright yellow Community Chest cards and 10 dollar bills scattered on the sidewalk. In front of the doors, face up, a salmon “Get out of jail free.” A homeless man reaches down for the top hat.

As a bit of a break from ISIT blogging, I am singing in this concert at the end of the week — the repertoire is a bit different than my normal fare of “high classical,” so if you’re in the area and like Bono more than Bach, this might be more up your alley.

WHITE HORSES: Heroes & Hope
Saturday June 26th, 2010
8 p.m.
Copley Auditorium, San Diego Museum of Art
$20 General Admission ($15 in advance) / $12 Students & Museum Members / $10 Seniors & Military

Following the success of their sold-out concert in November of 2009, SACRA/PROFANA returns to the San Diego Museum of Art with a program exploring the unique synergy of poetry, art and music. In conjunction with the Museum’s exhibition Heroes: Mortals and Myths, this genre-bending vocal ensemble will perform modern musical settings of timeless verse by such beloved poets as e.e. cummings, Emily Dickinson and John Keats. The poignant words of the great poets are given new life by the dynamic voices of modern composers- including Minnesota composer Joshua Shank, winner of the 2009 SACRA/PROFANA Choral Composition Contest.

I will be singing with a chorus in the Mainly Mozart Festival here in San Diego on opening night. We’re doing the Beethoven Choral Fantasy, Op. 80, which is like a piano concerto that ends with a mini-sketch of the 9th Symphony’s last movement: universal brotherhood of man, the ennobling power of art, blah blah blah. It will be a rollicking good time. The piano soloist will be John Lill CBE, and we’ll be conducted by David Atherton. Our chorus was ably prepared by Krishan Oberoi.

It’s a good chance to dust off the old tuxedo; all the other concerts I’ve been singing in San Diego seem to go for the “all black” dress code.

A pediatrician friend of mine pointed out this bit of news in Pediatrics on the January 2008 outbreak of measles in San Diego:

The outbreak began in January 2008 when a 7-year-old boy whose parents refused to vaccinate him returned to the U.S. from Switzerland. Before symptoms appeared, he infected his 3-year-old brother and 9-year-old sister. Neither was vaccinated.

Neither were 11% of the boy’s classmates, whose parents shared similar beliefs that a healthy lifestyle protected against disease while vaccines were riskier than the illnesses they prevented.

In the end, 839 people were exposed to measles. Eleven were infected, and 48 exposed kids too young to be vaccinated were quarantined — forbidden to leave their homes — for 21 days. Jane Seward, MBBS, MPH, was the CDC’s senior investigator for the outbreak.

Despite the extraordinary efforts of health workers, what really ended the San Diego outbreak wasn’t quarantine or post-exposure vaccination. It was the high vaccination rate in the rest of the community that kept the outbreak from becoming an epidemic.

This is the summary of the study:

The importation resulted in 839 exposed persons, 11 additional cases (all in unvaccinated children), and the hospitalization of an infant too young to be vaccinated. Two-dose vaccination coverage of 95%, absence of vaccine failure, and a vigorous outbreak response halted spread beyond the third generation, at a net public-sector cost of $10376 per case. Although 75% of the cases were of persons who were intentionally unvaccinated, 48 children too young to be vaccinated were quarantined, at an average family cost of $775 per child. Substantial rates of intentional undervaccination occurred in public charter and private schools, as well as public schools in upper-socioeconomic areas. Vaccine refusal clustered geographically and the overall rate seemed to be rising. In discussion groups and survey responses, the majority of parents who declined vaccination for their children were concerned with vaccine adverse events.

CONCLUSIONS Despite high community vaccination coverage, measles outbreaks can occur among clusters of intentionally undervaccinated children, at major cost to public health agencies, medical systems, and families. Rising rates of intentional undervaccination can undermine measles elimination.

The medical and public health community needs to really get going on this. The article ends by saying the researchers met parents with “real fears” about the risk of autism from vaccines. I’m sure their fears are real, but how on earth do you convince them otherwise?

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 904 other followers