My friend Cynthia her friends have a tumblr on inclusivity in STEM. See also the quarterly Model View Culture, which I think I had seen an article from but didn’t realize it was a whole journal. Thanks to Lily Irani for the link.

This list of streamable Errol Morris movies is dangerous.

Maybe when I am in Bangalore I will get to learn more about The Ugly Indian.

How Chicago’s neighborhoods got their names. It does not explain Mr. Wicker’s crazy hat though.

Alex Smola gave a talk at DIMACS recently where he talked about the alias method for generating biased random variables. I think he even snagged the figures from that website as well…

A week later, a response from Ventra

I wrote to Ventra a week ago to ask them if there was any way for me to get an automated notice when it would charge my bank account. This was a nice feature of the Chicago Card — by letting me know when it added another $20 I could get a rough sense of my transit usage. A week after asking, I got the following response:

Dear Customer,

I am very sorry, but at this time, we do not have any alerts set up to notify customers when their card is auto loaded with value. If you have transit auto load set up, you just have to be aware that when your balance gets to $10.00 and below, that is when the funding source you have on your acct is charged for what ever value preference you have selected to be added to your card. Or if you have Pass auto load set up, then you just need to be aware that it will always charge your funding source for the pass you have chosen and add it to your acct, three days prior to your existing pass expiring. You can keep track of your balance via your web acct on the internet or can call us to check your balance, and can also check your balance at any Ventra Vending Machine as well. We do apologize for any inconvenience this may cause, but if you have any further concerns, please feel free to contact us for assistance. Thank You And Have A Nice Day.

The old CTA system would even flash your current balance and how much was being debited when you went through. On each transaction you could tell your balance, at least at train stations. Given that I have had to tap my Ventra card 10+ times (no hyperbole) to get through a turnstile at a CTA station, I have almost no confidence that the system is charging me the correct amount. Add to that Ventra’s penchant for charging debit cards in people’s wallets without informing them, there’s only one conclusion: Ventra is wholly set up like a scam. They say “give us your bank account information and then log into our website (with its awful UI) periodically to verify that we are not overcharging you.”

I guess it’s all moot since I’m leaving Chicago, but still… arrrrrrrrrgh.


A rather pretty video of an L-system made by my friend Steve.

LACMA, which I finally saw with a friend in February, has decided to offer high-resolution downloads of many of the items in its collection. This Ganesha has a pretty impressive belly. Via MeFi.

This may answer David Bowie’s question.

This slideshow makes me want to go to Slurping Turtle again.

Sometimes I wish we could just name p-values something else that is more descriptive. There’s been a fair bit of misunderstanding about them going on lately.


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.

Linkage (Chicago Edition)

The City of Chicago has a big open data initiative, and they are putting data online at the City of Chicago Data Portal. Lots of interesting stuff here, and some potential to get data sets for machine learning tasks.

A really touching video about Tamale Lady in Chicago.

The voices of the CTA. Reminds me a bit of the article on the Voice of the MBTA.

How to visit Chicago like a Chicagoan (h/t Mimosa) — warning, it’s pretty profane.

Ta-Nehisi Coates interviews Harold Pollack of the UChicago Crime Lab.


An animation of integer factorizations. Goes well with music. (h/t BK).

Graphics from the Chicago L (via Chicagoist)

Tony Kushner is kind of a tool. I find this unfortunate. But I still want to see Lincoln.

Aaron Roth reports that the DIMACS tutorial videos have been posted. A perfect time to brush up on your differential privacy!

An analysis of the Thai government’s menu served to President Obama.

A Choose Your Own Adventure version of Hamlet, from the creator of Dinosaur Comics.

The ACME Catalog, for your roadrunner-catching needs.


Somehow, I had never heard of the Arnold cat map. Meow.

I am definitely guilty of reading and walking at the same time.

Serious Eats Chicago ate all the things at Hot Doug’s, to which I have still not gone.

The Bombay Royale is an Australian band that covers 60s era Bollywood tunes. They have a new album and a video for the title track. You can also get the mp3.

PZ Myers takes Kevin Drum to task for lazy utilitarian arguments.