Thinking about her offset function ...

I’m way too busy at the moment to make substantial contributions to the internet[1]. I am snowed under trying to prepare two papers for publication, revise another, preparing a project connected to the health consequences of the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, and getting my first PhD student through the submission process. I got to spend an hour today doing actual stats – a proof of a result on calculating needle-sharing rates using Taylor-series expansions, and a very interesting application of generalized estimating equations, with some unexpected implications for health inequality in Japan. So, in honour of the joys of actually doing stats (instead of sitting around all day in meetings talking about them), here is a link to Ryan Gosling’s Biostatistics Tumblr. I’m willing to bet that my gentle reader(s) thought stats couldn’t possibly be sexy, but look at those pictures – there’s a man who knows how to pull chicks.

Here are a few other science-fiction/science-related topics completely unrelated to Ryan Gosling, that I stumbled on this week:

  • Apple’s Arcology: Apple is planning a new building in Cupertino, pictures available here, and it looks very much to me like a classic William Gibson-esque corporate arcology. You can trust our Hipster overlords to bring the cyberpunk hell right to our doorstep. Such a shame that I hate windows[2] but find Bill Gates’ politics infinitely preferable to Steve Jobs’s.
  • Tracking Twitter Riot Rumours: The Guardian has an excellent little interactive showing how silly rumours spread on Twitter during the London riots in August. I usually find the Guardian’s interactive data “analyses” pretty bland, but this one has some nice points, showing how rumours spread through Twitter, giving relative influence of the people involved, and distinguishing them by type of rumour. The rumours themselves are hilarious too.
  • Helping Categorize Whalesong: Scientific American and the Zooniverse[3] are running one of those crowd-sourcing thingies where they get visitors to compare whale songs and match them, in order to identify dialects of whale language. If you want to help, the website is here. Apparently humans can be much better than computers at matching images so if they present you with a set of images you’re likely to be able to find similar ones more effectively than a computer can. So they have turned songs into pictures, and they want you to match them. Anything that helps us communicate with whales is a good thing – though I note that the communication is with killer whales, primarily, who I reckon speak a debased version of Whale-ese that sounds more like Skaven: “quick quick kill kill! Seal must die die!” If we ever make meaningful contact with them I think their second sentence will be “we support the Japanese whaling fleet!” Because they’re bastards.
  • My colleague told me you can buy a translator for your cat or dog: she bought one for her dog, and it appeared to work. It’s available in toy stores and the cat version is called nyao-go or something. I’m going to get one and see what my cat really thinks of me. Want to place bets on his first words?

I have a review of a Warhammer 3 Adventure module and a piece on sex work to come. But right now, I need to sleep! Enjoy putting Ryan Gosling’s pick-up lines to work at your local bar or university!

fn1: an oxymoron, I know.

fn2: An interesting change in the computer world (for me at least) in the past 5 years has been that scientific computing has become much, much more pleasurable on a mac than a PC. I even have a mathematical modeling software package that doesn’t work properly on Windows 7 but does work on Mac OS X (actually, if you include R I could probably say I have two such packages; but R is so fucked that it’s unreasonable to claim it works on any platform: my windows version can’t handle column names in a matrix object, but my mac os version has RAM problems).

fn3: Do they know know what this name means?