Monday, February 29, 2016

Paradise Park

Today I made my second visit to Silver Springs, the old tourist attraction now run as part of a Florida state park. It is a fantastic place, about which more soon, but first: something I learned in the visitor center today. There was a nice wall of photos taken at Paradise Park, which the old resort opened in 1949 for "colored people," about a mile downstream from the spring. Blacks and whites swimming together in the crystalline spring-fed waters of the Silver River was not an option in Jim Crow Florida. In fact, Paradise Park would operate until 1969!

The photos make Paradise Park look like a pretty great place, and having seen those waters up close I imagine it was; this nostalgic feature article confirms it. Still, the symbolism of its placement downstream from the white folks was unlikely to be lost on the visitors. Perhaps it is nostalgia for that order of things that lies behind Donald Trump's refusal to repudiate the KKK?

Thursday, February 25, 2016


I own an Android phone, but I use it mostly for texts, emails, and reading the Times, so I can't say I would ever think of it in the same way I would think of, say, a Beethoven piano sonata. Regardless, this commercial is very cool. It's not just that they bothered to rebuild a piano with all the strings tuned to middle C, which is nifty. It's also that the rhythmic drive of Beethoven's masterpiece is compelling and exciting even when played in monotone. Of course your mind's ear is filling in the arpeggios...

Thursday, February 18, 2016

R lightning talks

More on the recent Bay Area meeting at which I presented (briefly!). I agree that the lightning talk format is quite engaging, even when the topic is something in computer engineering that I can't really make sense of...

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Monday, February 15, 2016


A more fitting title would have been "Interminable." I guess the problem is that while our fictional interstellar travelers were navigating the wormhole, time was stretching out back here on earth, so what seemed like 2-3 hours to the characters in the movie extended into what seemed like years for the terrestrial audience. Ah, the paradoxes of movie relativity. Having seen "The Martian" recently I was mildly amused when who should corn farmer Matthew McConaughey bump into on a distant planet but potato farmer Matt Damon! "There ain't but room 'nuff for one dude name Matt in this here galaxy."

Sunday, February 14, 2016


We watched Tangerine the other night. It's not the best movie ever made, but considering that it was shot on i-phones and stars mostly amateur actors, it is a minor miracle. The story is compelling, and the cinematography is often riveting: Hollywood never looked so beautiful, or alien. Mostly it is a funny, matter-of-fact narrative about the most "other" you could possibly be among American others: black, trans, and a sex worker. In the end, a Valentine: sweet, if sad. I wonder what Justice Scalia would have made of it.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Joanne Brackeen

An under-appreciated master.

Teaching Undergrad Econometrics with R

Slides from my presentation at the February Bay Area R Users Group meetup. Obviously I long ago got over any kind of anxiety about being perceived as a nerd...

Why Are Millennials in Love with Bernie Sanders?

Interesting post by Kevin Drum. Econometrics students take note: Diff-in-diff analysis can be done by eyeballing readily available data! He doesn't really have an explanation, but he casts doubt on some of the popular claims.

Friday, February 5, 2016


Very cool:
Though it does not breathe fire, the olm has several attributes fitting a creature of mythology. It can live as long as a hundred years and survive without food for 10. It is blind, but hunts using its incredible sense of hearing and smell, and it can detect electric and magnetic fields.
Photo by BoĊĦtjan Burger.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Buy this record!

So... Here we have one of the grizzled heroes of 70s underground avant-prog-rock, Fred Frith, of Henry Cow un-fame, teaming up with a great youngish trumpeter who can't quite decide between his Marsalis chops and his Bill Dixon aural yearnings, Darren Johnston. Frith's distorted guitar noodlings are, mysteriously, instantly recognizable, and Johnston is a worthy foil. The Bay Area is lucky to have adopted them both.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Cruz, Trump, Rubio...

... golly, I just can't decide!