BibTeX bleg

I have written a little standalone script in python that parses a LaTeX file with \cite{} commands and the relevant BibTeX file and produces:

  • formatted HTML suitable for dropping into your homepage
  • individual .bib files for each paper
  • linking to archival versions via a DOI reference or URL
  • linking to a local pdf via the local-url field

The point was to make updating the publications on your homepage just epsilon more difficult that updating a BibTeX file/your CV. Of course, this is moot for people who have other folks to update their pages, but for us plebes, it could save a little hassle.

Clearly you could customize the output format to your needs. However, at the moment it’s not very robust (or efficient, or pretty). I’d like to test it out on likely readers of this blog’s personal .bib files to make it useful before sticking it on github. A subset of readers of this blog are likely to be people who might use such a thing, I’d like to know what your .bib files look like. Because BibTeX has a fair bit of variability, I am pretty sure that I did not catch most of the corner cases in my regexps.

So if you are interested, please do send me a representative file to my TTIC address. Thanks a ton!

Concert bleg : ¡Viva España!

I’m in this concert next week, which should be fun (and different) — early music from the Iberian peninsula. Fans of chaconnes will approve.

¡Viva España!

Early Music Ensemble
David Douglas and Ellen Hargis of the Newberry Consort, Directors

Tuesday, May 22, 7 PM
Fulton Recital Hall
1010 E. 59th Street
Goodspeed Hall, 4th Floor

Free Admission

Music by Victoria, Padilla, Arañés, and Flecha

Fair use for excerpts

Via Inside Higher Ed I learned about a case in which university presses brought a suit against Georgia State over fair use for excerpts in course readers and online course materials:

Her challenge, she writes, is to determine what size excerpts are “small enough” to justify fair use. Here, after reviewing a range of decisions, Evans settles on 10 percent of a book (or one chapter of a book) as an appropriate measure, allowing professors enough substance to offer students, while not effectively making a large portion of the book available.

I guess this is how sausage is made — 10 percent seems like a nice round number, let’s go with that one. By the way, that’s 10 percent including front and back matter, not 10 percent of the text.

It’s a 300+ page decision, but there has been some analysis already.


The Education of a British-Protected Child (Chinua Achebe) – A collection of essays over the years by noted Nigerian author Chinua Achebe. On the one hand, one might say he has a number of central issues he raises over and over again, but on the other, it might be said that he repeats himself. This is not surprising — these essays were written in different contexts and for different purposes (op-eds, speeches, and so on) and represent a set of concerns Achebe has about the relationship between himself and Nigeria, the Biafran conflict, Joseph Conrad, and the effects of colonialism. One of the more interesting pieces is a strong disagreement with Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s decision to write only in Gikuyu — Achebe views denying the use of English as a kind of sticking one’s fingers in one’s ears and saying “LALALALALALA.” Reading the collection, one is reminded that the easy distinctions we make here between revolutionary and conservative are just insufficient for understanding how one negotiates the legacy of colonialism. Worth a read!

The Taming of Chance (Ian Hacking) – A fantastic book and a must-read for those who care or are interested in the history of probability and statistical thought. A major point in the book is that as printing got cheaper and people were able to measure things, there was an explosion of publication of tables of counts — like how many loaves of bread were sold each week in a city, or the heights of soldiers, or… basically anything. People would survey and measure and publish all sorts of data. To make sense of this data deluge, people developed new ways of seeing populations in terms of aggregates. Individuals began to conceive of themselves in relation to the population. Notions of “statistical law” and “deviance” were a result of this process. It’s really fascinating stuff.

Tigana (Guy Gavriel Kay) — This book was extremely long and epic and I think would appeal to more literary minded Game of Thrones fans, but I found it too… consciously “aching” as it were. It’s a novel about loss and memory, and while that’s a rich field to plow, the book to me got a bit over-trodden (and overwritten).

Tomatoland (Barry Estabrook) — A rather depressing (but ultimately hopeful?) look at the tomato industry in Florida. Florida is not a great place to grow tomatoes, but it’s warm enough in the winter to supply mealy flavorless red baseballs to industrial kitchens further north. Estabrook spends a lot of time with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a group that tries to get better conditions for agricultural workers. You know, things like not being enslaved, or being paid by the hour instead of by the bucket, or not being sprayed with pesticides because growers don’t want to spend the time to clear the field of workers. Little things like that. It’s harrowing but worth reading.

Debt: The First 5,000 Years (David Graeber) — Graeber gives an engaging and far-ranging discussion of the notion of debt and credit. He’s trained as an anthropologist and has an axe to grind against economics. I found it to be an important book to read for anyone who cares about how we got to the society we have now. Some major theses : human relations are structured around communism (sharing), exchange, and hierarchy, and the interplay of these is complex and drives notions of debt. Credit systems have been around for a long time and in many cases predate “money” as we think of it. Current credit systems are backed by the coercive power of the state. People take issue with how starkly he puts the last point, but I think that as an anthropologist, Graeber has a much better vantage from which to look at and critique where we are now. It seems daunting, but he’s a clear expositor.


Posting has been nonexistent this week due to being busy and incredibly tired. Hopefully the improved spring weather will thaw me out. On the upside, I’ve been reading more.

The ongoing problem of race in young adult literature (via Amitha Knight)

Speaking of race, the Chronicle of Higher Education published a piece mocking the whole field of Black Studies based on reading the titles of (proposed) dissertations (and a paragraph description). Tressie mc had a trenchant response. The faculty and students also responded.

And segueing from race via race and statistics (and eugenics), most of Galton’s works are now online.

Dirac’s thoughts on math and physics.

A touching film about 9/11 from Eusong Lee from CalArts.