Sunday, June 29, 2014
With today's victory over the Cardinals and the Giants' loss to the Reds, the Dodgers are now tied for first place in the National League West. Yay! We were dragging our feet for so long this season and were already 9.5 games back only three weeks ago (with the Giants playing extremely well), and this season felt lost for a while even though it was early. Anyway, it was early. The Dodgers have overcome their deficit and are now tied for first place. Awesome!
Saturday, June 28, 2014
Thursday, June 26, 2014
yes it is. (Thanks to Aaron Clauset for graphical wizardry with the picture of the trophy.) And, as a bonus, this is the first time that I ever embedded a picture on this blog. I should have done this for several previous entries for which I relied on links instead. Once CafePress starts obeying, I'll add this design to The Power Law Shop. Update (6/28/14): A design is now posted in the Power Law Shop in case you want t-shirts or other swag.
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Yes, really: criminals are getting stupider. If you're going to rob somebody, I think getting caught because you logged onto Facebook on their computer and forgot to log off is pretty "awesome". (Tip of the cap to Andrea Bertozzi.)
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
The five inaugural recipients of the Breakthrough Prize in Mathematics have now been anounced, and the list includes some very familiar names. :) It's really great to see new prizes like this that highlight fundamental research. (Tip of the cap to Facebook posts from Physics Today, Mariano Beguerisse Díaz, and others.)
Monday, June 23, 2014
You know you need sleep when... You read "parity-time" in the paper title "Gap solitons and symmetry breaking in parity-time symmetric microring CROWs" as "party-time". Let's have a ball!
I am at the airport to head to the Snowbird Ski Resort in Utah (in --- gasp! --- an even year) to help run a Mathematics Research Community in Network Science. Maybe there is even a future recipient of the coveted Karate Trophy among the network of network scientists that we'll be cultivating?
Sunday, June 22, 2014
Saturday, June 21, 2014
I love the phrasing "a quantitative phrase of deliberate vagueness" that this very interesting article on Yasiel Puig's defection uses to describe the phrase "a number of", which is something that I find irksome when it is used as a descriptor in scholarly articles. The sentence in which this phrase appears is the following: A story has emerged from Despaigne's affidavit, the lawsuit, and its proceedings. It spawned a five-month investigation by The Magazine that included analysis of an array of legal documents and interviews with more than 80 people: Cuban baseball players in the U.S. both retired and active, talent scouts, sports agents, former MLB and players' union executives, federal law enforcement personnel, former Cuban government officials, former Cuban and American spies, Miami lawyers who have represented and are representing alleged smugglers who were and are the targets of criminal investigations, and --- to use a quantitative phrase of deliberate vagueness --- a number of smugglers themselves, who agreed to be interviewed under conditions of anonymity motivated by obvious fears. Additionally, the article title refers to an old baseball expression that has been used for decades to describe the often-legendary impatient while batting of many foreign-born Hispanic baseball players (especially those from the Dominican Republic). It apparently goes back at least as far as Rafael Ramirez in 1986, though baseball prospects in the Dominican Republic appear to have used it long before then. I really like the article title, as it takes an old baseball expression and then changes its meaning in an interesting way.
Friday, June 20, 2014
Thursday, June 19, 2014
Thanks to my Somerville undergraduates for the very nice gift and card that they brought to today's leavers party. (The game is called Squint.)
Well, I slept through most of it (except for a few minutes), but Clayton Kershaw has pitched a no-hitter! The Dodgers' Josh Beckett also pitched a no-hitter less than a month ago. Yay! Also, we're playing well now and have crept back within 4 games of first place. Also, Kershaw had 15 strikeouts and no walks in the no-hitter --- this was one of the all-time great pitching performances!
Tuesday, June 17, 2014
If I ever go into space, I am going to insist on taking a zero-gravity espresso machine along with me. (Tip of the cap to whoever posts for Physics Today on Facebook.)
Monday, June 16, 2014
Today we have lost a baseball legend: batsman extraordinaire Tony Gwynn has died. Gwynn was way too young (and I have been writing way too many obituary blog entries lately, because too many people that I consider iconic or are connected to in some way have died). He was a fantastic hitter. He was also a class act. Update: Jayson Stark put some of Gywnn's hitting achievements into perspective. Update 2: At the bottom of this article by Jayson Stark, we can note additional amazing batting feats by Tony Gwynn. The comparisons between Gwynn and Adam Dunn are interesting when looking at strikeouts. Take a look at Gwynn's stats to see how little he struck out, and compare that to what the game is currently like. Just soak it in.
Casey Kasem, whose soothing voice presented weekly top 40 songs when I was a kid (and for many years before then), died yesterday. One thing I hadn't realized is that Kasem was also the voice of Shaggy in the cartoon Scooby-Doo! Another recent death is that of Ann B. Davis (1926 –2014), who played the character Alice on The Brady Bunch (whose reruns aired when I was a kid).
Friday, June 13, 2014
Well, I hope that the scientific article that describes this study has an allusion to Sir Mix-a-Lot. If I were a coauthor on the article, it certainly would have. (Tip of the cap to Erik Bollt.)
Thursday, June 12, 2014
Here are a bunch of very nice pictures from Sicily. (Sadly, my camera lens has an issue, so I need to buy a new camera, but I still like the pictures a lot. The place is very pretty.) Update (6/17/14): Here is a group photo from last Thursday's excursion at the summer school. The random dog photobombed us. (Tip of the cap to Sang Hoon Lee.)
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Damn! Now that is a nice throw! So is this one from last year. In the first link above, Rob Neyer also discussed some other good throws and outfield arms more generally. (Tip of the cap to numerous sources for this year's throw.)
Just about two hours ago, I finally made it to the remote village of Malfa on the remote Sicilian island of Salina. The first Mediterranean School of Complex Networks is being held here, and I'll be giving one of the "cocktail talks" that go with the school. I didn't get any sleep last night, I took the coach from Oxford to Heathrow at 4am. Then I flew to Rome, and then to Catania. Then I took a 2-hour bus to a port city, though at some point the bus broke down in rural Sicily and we were stranded in a gas station for 45 minutes before a replacement bus came. And then I missed my 1.5-hour hydrofoil trip as a result of that, though it turns out that it was cancelled anyway. Then my backup hydrofoil to Salina (the last one of the night) was almost cancelled due to its malfunctions but was an hour late instead. And then the cab driver who was arranged to pick me up dropped me off first at the B&B and then at the restaurant where the summer-school banquet was in progress. I'll take pictures of the place later. It's a pretty island, and the village is basically located on a volcano. Update (6/12/14): An alternative---and arguably better---title for this blog post would be "What Happens on a Remote Mediterranean Island Stays on a Remote Mediterranean Island".
Tuesday, June 10, 2014
An analysis of the words in my Facebook posts comes up with the descriptors "inventive", "reserved", "efficient", "analytical", and "sensitive". I can't argue with the results. (Tip of the cap to David Williams.)
Former Dodger Bob Welch died on June 9th (i.e., yesterday, given that I haven't gone to bed yet), supposedly of a heart attack. You can read more about Bob Welch, who also had a great deal of success with the Oakland Athletics, on his Wikipedia and Baseball-Reference.com pages. Welch won an epic battle against Reggie Jackson early in his career --- in the 1978 World Series --- and he was the last pitcher (1990; 27-6) to win 25 or more games in a season. Seeing this news makes me think of Don Drysdale's death in 1993. Their ages were very similar (and way too young).