Humour

On statistics

Statistics — to paraphrase Homer Simpson’s thoughts on alcohol — is the cause of, and solution to, all of science’s problems.

Andrew Gelman

Of chaos, storms and forking paths: the principles of uncertainty

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Take that, capitalism !

There are, of course, reasons why tattooing is different from other fine arts. First is the medium: human skin. Then there is the fact that a tattoo, unlike a painting or sculpture, cannot be sold on. “To a degree, the fine art world has jumped on it. But a tattoo has no resale value. That is crucial,” said London-based tattoo artist Alex Binnie.

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How the Nobel are fallen

As John Hammerbacher, Facebook’s first research scientist, remarked: “the best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads… And it sucks.”

Quoted in Stand Out of Our Light, James Williams

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Transfer

A not wildly unsurprising comment to anybody in the ‘modern’ university.  A comment Russ Roberts made in an interview with David Epstein.

I want to share my favourite course evaluation when I used to teach in the classroom. So, I got a 1 from this student, on a scale of 1 to 5 (where 5 is good and 1 is bad)…. a 1 is really demoralising. So, I look at it:

What does the student say? “This course was very unfair. Professor Roberts expected us to apply the material to things we had never seen before.”

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Changing your mind — and how to avoid

The economist J.K. Galbraith once suggested that when people are “faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof”

The market is dead: long live the market | Wonkhe | Comment

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Too old, too fat, too lazy and too rich

by reestheskin on 31/05/2019

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Quite a motto to live by, but David Hume saw things more clearly than the rest of us.

Hume’s ironic wit and humour make him a biographer’s dream. After his History of England proved to be a tremendous critical and popular success, his publisher entreated him for another volume, only to receive the memorable rebuff:

 

“I have four reasons for not writing: I am too old, too fat, too lazy and too rich.”

 

When at a last dinner before Hume’s death in 1776, Smith complained of the cruelty of the world in taking him from them, Hume said: “No, no. Here am I, who have written on all sorts of subjects calculated to excite hostility, moral, political, and religious, and yet I have no enemies; except, indeed, all the Whigs, all the Tories, and all the Christians.” There are many other such stories.

 

How Adam Smith would fix capitalism | Financial Times

The information society

by reestheskin on 27/05/2019

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This is a little old, but I snapped it as I was passing through a hospital. It speaks volumes about the state of learning and engagement in the NHS.

A diagnosis not to miss: email apnea

A phenomenon that occurs when a person opens their email inbox to find many unread messages, inducing a “fight-or-flight” response that causes the person to stop breathing.

James Williams, ‘Stand Out of Our Light’

I wonder when this will be recognised as a bona fide occupational disease.

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You need a wallet biopsy

“However, if a wallet biopsy – one of the procedures in which American hospitals specialise – discloses that the victims are uninsured, it transfers them to public institutions.”

In Paul Starr, ‘The Social Transformation of American Medicine’.

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Why wait so long?

Apparently, on average, doctors interrupt patients within eighteen seconds of beginning their story. When we tell lawyers about this, they wonder why their medical friends wait so long.

Quoted in the ‘The Future of the Professions

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“There’s a classic medical aphorism,” he recalls. “‘Listen to the patient, they’re telling you the diagnosis.’ Actually, a lot of patients are just telling you a lot of rubbish, and you have to stop them and ask the pertinent questions.”

Jed Mercurio: ‘Facts used to have power. Now stupidity is a virtue’ | The Guardian

The question is when?

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All in the stars

The story is about the ‘approval’ by the Norwegian higher education regulator of courses in astrology. The justification is interesting, relying on the fact that “astrologers had good employment prospects”. So that is alright then. To be fare the regulators argue that the can only enforce the ‘law’, as is. You can find similar such goings on close to the homes of many of us in the UK. (Time Higher Education, 28th March, 2019).

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‘Joy’

Not the word I usually associate with student descriptions of their emotional state on being taught (except after the exam). Sadly. But the word featured in a teaching management meeting today. Made me smile.

Contrast this with the quote from a book on reforming engineering education, “A Whole New Engineer

Go into the bathrooms at the Massachusetts Institute ofTechnology (MIT) and you will see an acronym scrawled on the walls of the stalls: IHTFP. It means “I Hate This F** king Place.” (IHTFP is also found in the service academies and other elite engineering programs.) Whether this remains the true sentiment of MIT students today or merely a tradition handed down from generation to generation isn’t clear….

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De Selby’s numerical calculations

My experience of Irish government state employees at the ‘border’ is that they aim to be the antithesis of ‘hostile’. It is not a bad USP. Passing through Dublin or Cork is an enjoyable experience: “Welcome home Jonathan’, is not the most formal salute; or, in the case of my wife, “Lisa — from Mulfulira—I remember you”. But this aside in the Economist, brings a little of the Flann O’Brien to the party.

In the 1970s, when contraceptives were still banned in the Irish republic, a family-planning campaigner went south with 40,000 condoms in his station wagon; his insistence that they were all “for personal use” was met with good-humoured banter by an Irish police patrol.

The Border: The Legacy of a Century of Anglo-Irish Politics. By Diarmaid Ferriter. (reviewed in the economist)

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Noting that 1,500 people had travelled to Davos by private jet to hear David Attenborough talk about climate change, he said he was bewildered that no one was talking about raising taxes on the rich.

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Econ101

by reestheskin on 30/01/2019

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Seen in George Square. I get the Econ101 bit, the 1984 reference, but… And no, I can’t manage crosswords either — although I shared a flat with somebody who, as a student, refused to leave his bed until he had completed the Telegraph crossword. There were studies, and then those other studies.

Skin centre

by reestheskin on 30/01/2019

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Not that sort of….

Talking 22nd Century Skills: All Steamed Up.

by reestheskin on 17/01/2019

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Talking 22nd Century Skills with @realpbanksley – Rick Hess Straight Up – Education Week

I noted that he seems to be one of the leading thinkers in the push to rebrand STEM as STEAMED (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math, and Everything Delightful).

A well argued and evidence based article like this will get you nowhere. This is Britain. Better to put some bollox on a bus.

A comment from theSwedish Chef’ on the FT.

The last desperate stand of virility….

by reestheskin on 06/01/2019

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She crossed to his desk and shook his hand. Noticed the telltale transplant plugs dotting his scalp, sprouting hair like little tufts of yellow grass in a last desperate stand of virility. That’s what you deserved for marrying a trophy wife.

[from Body Double; Tess Gerritsen]

New Year’s Day with attitude

by reestheskin on 01/01/2019

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Yes, Carrot weather continues to insult me. Or does it know something I don’t ?

On relaxing and distressing

by reestheskin on 28/12/2018

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Yep, that time of year. This is how Irvine Welsh puts it. Remember: art is not a mirror; art is a hammer.

I’m generally pretty relaxed and very rarely suffer from stress. I see my role as more of a “stress enabler” in others. The last thing I would do if I was stressed would be to read a book. I’d rather write one.

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Fairytale of New York

by reestheskin on 25/12/2018

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Well, the excellent FT series says this — “The Fairytale of New York”,  by the Pogues with Kirsty MacColl — is the Christmas song for people who hate Christmas songs. I dissent. I like Xmas records, but agree this is maybe the best. And cynicism is necessary at this time of year, too.

“I could have been someone.”

“Well, so could anyone.”

But cynicism only gets you so far into the human condition. If you need to laugh, check out the Christy Moore version ‘Live at the Point (‘I was looking for the Shannon..’).

Merry Xmas

JLR has been seriously mismanaged in recent years.

Agreed. But this one is about the car manufacturer rather than yours truly.

Jaguar Land Rover set to cut thousands of jobs in new year | Financial Times

Never knowingly relevant

by reestheskin on 11/11/2018

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A few words from Melvyn Bragg about his radio programme ‘In our time’

He insisted that the programme should be “never knowingly relevant” and jumped wildly from the gin craze of the 18th century to the Palaeocene-Eocene thermal maximum. He expected to be out of a job in six months

The Economist | Sweetness and light

In times like ours, not a bad motto to live by.

Rebel’s lament

by reestheskin on 17/10/2018

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To punish me for my contempt of authority, Fate has made me an authority myself.

This is a validated Einstein quote (many claims of what he did say, appear mistaken).

Einstein quotes

Inverse mentors and inverse role models

by reestheskin on 16/10/2018

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I do not like the term mentor. It is a perfectly fine word, it is just that I have a suspicion of the people who tend to use it. I prefer to think about people I would like to be like; or not. And think about how some people can help me; or hinder me. But the following exchange between Nassim Taleb and Tyler Cowen is fine.

Nassim Nicholas Taleb on Self-Education and Doing the Math (Ep. 41 – Live at Mercatus)

TALEB: I don’t know, but I know how to find inverse mentors.

COWEN: How do you do that?

TALEB: People — you know they’re doing something wrong, and you figure out what makes them do something wrong. There’s a fellow I worked with, and I knew that he was a complete failure but a nice person. When he would do something wrong, he was always caught into details. I realized that there’s only one set of details. You cannot get into more than one set of detail. So that’s one thing I learned.

Also, I find inverse role models, people you don’t want to be like when you grow up.You pick someone and you go with it. You have an instinct to know what you don’t want to look like. Look at what they’ve done, what they do, and then you counter-imitate. You do a reverse imitation, and it works.

On having a Welsh Temperament

by reestheskin on 13/10/2018

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Some tidy words from a Master

Anthony Hopkins: ‘Most of this is nonsense, most of this is a lie’ | Film | The Guardian

When I was at the National all those years ago, I knew I had something in me,” he says, “but I didn’t have the discipline. I had a Welsh temperament and didn’t have that ‘fitting in’ mechanism. Derek Jacobi, who is wonderful, had it, but I didn’t. I would fight, I would rebel. I thought, ‘Well, I don’t belong here.’ And for almost 50 years afterwards, I felt that edge of, ‘I don’t belong anywhere, I’m a loner.’ I don’t have any friends who are actors at all

Millennials

by reestheskin on 06/10/2018

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As the joke goes, everyone hates millennials until they need to convert a PDF document into Word.

Edward Luce.

A tool for water sharpening?

by reestheskin on 03/10/2018

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It just puzzled me…