Linkage : Black Friday edition

This is an amazing video that makes me miss the Bay Area. (via Bobak Nazer)

Also via Bobak, we’re number 8 and 10!

Since it’s holiday season, I figured it’s time to link to some profanity-laden humor about the holidays. For the new, The Hater’s Guide to the Williams-Sonoma Catalog, and the classic It’s Decorative Gourd Season….

A Game of Food Trucks. (via MetaFilter)

Larry Wasserman takes on the Bayesian/Frequentist debate.

LCD Soundsystem + Miles Davis youtube mashup.

My friend Erik, who started the Mystery Brewing Company, has a blog called Top Fermented. He is now starting a podcast, which also has an RSS feed.


The ITA Workshop is here! Blogging will happen, I hope, but probably not as extensively as before.

An important look at 6th Street in San Francisco (h/t Celeste).

You got that right, Arnold Schwartzenegger.

Werner Herzog is sometimes off-puttingly weird, but this critique (until around 3 min) is on-point (h/t B.K.).

The Death of the Cyberflâneur (h/t Mimosa). I am looking forward to being a flâneur in Chicago. The mild winter has helped, but I am rather looking forward to the spring for it. For now I suppose I am more of a cyberflâneur… Also, I hate the prefix “cyber.”


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.

the bad part of the evening

Dinner was great fun, but the part where it took me almost 3 hours to get home, 2.5 of which were spent stalled in traffic to get through the detour onto the bridge was not so fun. Ironically, I decided to drive because a late dinner in the outer Richmond would have possibly meant missing the last BART and having to take the transbay bus back, but given that I got home at 3, the bus would have been faster. Plus, I could have at least read something.

I don’t understand why they don’t post a sign when you go in to the city warning you that construction will be happening that night. Furthermore, it took the cops nearly 2 hours to get out onto the streets to regulate traffic. I overheard a cop talking to a construction guy, and it seems like the cops had no idea of the duration of the construction, which is mind-boggling. Why is this whole process riddled with incompetency? Had I known it what was going to happen, I would have just skipped the whole detour thing and gone down to San Mateo and back over. I would have gotten back in time that way.

Why oh why can’t we have better managed infrastructure upgrades?

Sita Sings The Blues

On Saturday I saw a sneak preview of Sita Sings The Blues, an animated film by Nina Paley. It was an amazing piece of work. Having seen only some of the musical clips (from waaaaay back in the day), I was not prepared for how many different animation styles she used in the film. The film uses several narrative voices to tell the Ramayana story as Paley understands it.

The film is semi-autobiographical, and the ties between events in Paley’s life and treatment of Sita at the hands of Rama in the story are what lend the film and its implicit critique of Rama their weight. The main story is narrated by three shadow puppet figures, whose lines are taken from unscripted interviews with three Indians who try to hash out how the story goes, with minor disagreements and added embellishments along the way. The figures in this part of the story are painted cutouts that reminded me of the covers of Amar Chitra Katha comic books. As the story progresses there are also a number of musical numbers animated in the style visible in the stills shown on the film’s website. This is where Sita sings the blues in the voice of Annette Hanshaw.

The part of the story that seems to have gotten under Paley’s skin is Rama’s constant second-guessing of Sita. After rescuing her from Lanka, she has to prove her purity, and then after overhearing the dhobi beating his wife, Rama has Sita banished to the forest while she is pregnant. Having tried my own hand at finding a modern critical angle on some Hindu stories, I found this film delightful. Nina Paley is trying to get enough money to print the film to 35mm — hopefully she’ll be able to do that so people can see it in theaters.

unlocked networks

KQED‘s Forum program had an hour on Verizon’s new decision to unlock its network and the future of consumer wireless technologies. The first part is more about business and consumers, but the conversation wends its way later to issues of unloading cellular traffic to WiFi networks (much as Blackberries do now, I guess). The whole “femtocell” idea is an interesting one, as is the mesh network that Meraki and others are proposing. Of course, the hardest part is convincing consumers to adopt/use the changes, but there are plenty of research questions in there as well, and even good theory questions.

As an added bonus, a caller towards the end named Rajiv who is a “researcher in mobile internet” called in to say that these changes are not really “new innovation.” At the time I thought, “maybe that’s Rajiv Laroia,” but I doubt it.