Tracks : Wiping the mat

A mix for Celeste LeCompte. I always come back to some tracks, but this has more new songs than old, I’d say.

  1. Rain on a tin roof
  2. The Evil One – James Blood Ulmer
  3. No One Gonna Honor Kill My Baby (But Me) – The Kominas
  4. Chaal Baby – Red Baraat
  5. American Dreamin’ – Jay-Z & Music Without Borders
  6. Desafinado – Ryuichi Sakamoto and Paula Morelenbaum/Jobim
  7. Survive It – Ghostpoet
  8. The Part You Throw Away – Tom Waits
  9. The Green Pastures – William Tyler
  10. 1445 Blue Lead Fences – Loch Lomond
  11. If I Had A Million Dollars – Miss Erika
  12. Cornbread And Butterbeans (Album Version) – Carolina Chocolate Drops
  13. Just squeeze me – Ella Fitzgerald
  14. All Night Long – Pert Near Sandstone
  15. Kithkin – Ampersand
  16. You Go Running – Deep Sea Diver

The value-add from Elsevier?

I got an email today from Elsevier:

It is our pleasure to inform you that your publication has been cited in a journal published by Elsevier.

Through this unique service we hope we can offer you valuable information, and make you aware of publications in your research area.

The service is called CiteAlert. It sends you an email every time you’re cited!

Clearly, it’s little touches like this that justify the price gouging and subscription bundling. Kind of like the little chocolate on your pillow at the expensive hotel.

The Early History of the SVD

I recently read G.W. Stewart‘s little paper On the Early History of the Singular Value Decomposition (free tech report version is at UMD). It talks about how Beltrami, Jordan, Sylvester, Schmidt, and Weyl all had different approaches to finding/proving the SVD. It’s worth a quick skim, because goodness knows it appears everywhere under all sorts of names. Part of the problem is characterizing the SVD, and the other is calculating it. Since numerical analysis was never part of my training, I don’t have as much sophisticated appreciation for the algorithmic aspects, but I certainly benefit from having efficient solvers.

One point Stewart makes is that we really shouldn’t call the approximation theorem for the SVD the Eckart-Young Theorem, since Schmidt was really the one who showed it much earlier in the context of “integral equations, one of the hot topics of the first decades of our [the 20th] century.” I’ve been guilty of this in the past, so it’s time for me to make amends. I suppose I better start saying Cauchy-Bunyakovsky-Schwarz too.

What was weird to me is that as an (erstwhile?) signal processor, there was not much mention of the Karhunen–Loève transform, even in the little paragraphs on “principal components.”


Links to videos and a special chair.

James Baldwin debates William F. Buckley, Jr. I’ve only seen part of it so far, but it’s pretty interesting (via Ta-Nehisi Coates).

I’ve heard quite a bit about the treatment of agricultural workers in Florida, particularly in tomato farming, but this video with a representative of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers is a good introduction to what is going on there (via Serious Eats). The book Tomatoland is on my reading list.

I didn’t know the origin of the term swizzle-stick until now.

I’m a big fan of Cowboy Bebop, and Shinichiro Watanabe has a new show out called Sakamichi no Apollon (via MeFi). I watched the first episode, and the Art Blakey album Moanin’ features prominently, so I think I’m going to like this show quite a bit. It’s being streamed in a ad-heavy format on Crunchyroll.

That’s a lot of pendulums. That’s right, pendulums.

Why don’t you relax a little in the bear chair?

Concert Bleg : Chicago Chorale performs Vierne, Bach, and Schoenberg

I will probably repost this later, but I am singing with the Chicago Chorale in a few weeks. Luckily for me, I sang the two shorter pieces on the program in San Diego, but the centerpiece of this concert is the Vierne Messe Solennelle, which is a real showcase for the organist.

Voices Aloft

Sunday, May 13, 2012. 3:00 p.m.
Thomas Weisflog, Organ
Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, 5850 S. Woodlawn Avenue

Ticket Pricing
Reserved $35, General Admission $25, Student $20
Reserved and GA tickets will be $5 more at the door

The centerpiece of the concert is Louis Vierne’s Messe Solennelle, for choir and organ, composed in 1899. The greatest organist of his time, Vierne played and composed for the great Parisian organs of St. Sulpice and Notre Dame. As the Messe is one of the grandest compositions of the Golden Age of French organ composition, no organ in Chicago is more suited to this repertoire than the recently restored E.M. Skinner organ at The University of Chicago’s Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, now the largest organ in Chicago. Nor is any organist more suited to perform the work with Chorale than the Chapel organist, Thomas Weisflog. A heartfelt and sincere work, it also utilizes all of the sonic fireworks that the instrument and the choir are capable, entirely filling the Chapel with sound.

This concert will also feature two ethereally beautiful a cappella works: J.S. Bach’s double choir motet, Komm, Jesu, komm, and Arnold Schoenberg’s Friede auf Erden, utilizing the extraordinary acoustic properties of the chapel’s choir loft.

A.D. Sarwate’s Own Tangelo Bitters

A couple of weeks ago I started a batch of Tangelo bitters, using a couple of recipes I cobbled together from the web as guidelines. To be honest, I can’t even remember which recipes I used, but the closest one is the Serious Eats version. I had not yet obtained the book Bitters, but I figured it would be a fun experiment and I could always foist off the resulting stuff on my friends. The recipe uses two infusions — spices and peel into clear liquor and bittering agents into rye.

Continue reading

Juking the stats in academic publishing

I heard recently of a case where someone got a paper back with revisions requested, and a deadline for said revisions. They ended up asking for a week extension, but then the journal said they would have to do a fresh submission and redo the whole review cycle. I found this baffling — but then that person pointed out that the journal has built a reputation on fast turnaround times, and so to keep their “sub-to-pub” numbers low, they don’t want to give any extensions to the authors. It’s better to do a resubmission than to continue with the same “paper ID” in the system.

This is a classic example of juking the stats:

I just got a rejection from KDD 2012 which smacks of the same ominous reasoning:

We try to notify authors once a decision on a submission is concretely made, and hope that the early notifications can reduce the average review turn-over time.

But the real kicker is that “due to technical constraints” they can’t give us the reviews until May 4th. So I’m not really sure what I am supposed to do with this information — I can’t really start on revisions without the reviews, so this “early notification” thing is really just to make them feel better about themselves, it seems. Or perhaps they can then report that the reviewing was “more efficient.”

In any case, no harm is done, per se. But optimizing metrics like “sub-to-pub” seems to be as misguided as teaching to the test. What do we really want out of our peer review process? Or should we abandon it?