Saturday, June 27, 2015

Hyperbolic Coffee Drinking

I used this really awesome online tool to generate a hyperbolic image of me drinking coffee.

(Tip of the cap to MoMath: The National Museum of Mathematics.)

Friday, June 26, 2015

A Huge Victory for Equality

In a landmark Supreme Court decision, gay marriage is now legal throughout the United States. This is a huge victory for equality. Also: it's about time.

Also read the awesome closing paragraph of the decision.

This New York Times article recounts highlights of the recent progress.

(Tip of the cap to Rachel Levy for the link to the closing paragraph and to too many people to mention for the news.)

Taylor Swift Will No Longer Review Articles for Nature

Apparently, musician Taylor Swift will no longer review papers for the journal Nature because they are not paying her for her services.

She should probably consider reviewing for Scientific Reports instead, as then she can get paid for her referee reports.

(Tip of the cap to Sang Hoon Lee.)

Thursday, June 25, 2015

"Every State Flag is Wrong"

I love the snarky explanations about why every state flag is wrong (though different ones are wrong for different reasons). I am amused. (Tip of the cap to somebody, who I have forgotten.)

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Tales from the ArXiv: Analysis of Data from School Shootings

Kudos to Peter Dodds and his collaborators for analyzing data from school shootings using a systemic approach.

I haven't looked in detail at the article (i.e., I am not vetting specific scientific choices and calculations), but I am glad that Peter Dodds and his coauthors are making efforts to look at this data and hopefully come up with something useful.

Sadly, such studies continue to be "timely".

Monday, June 22, 2015

Nonprofit Foundation to Preserve the Word "Schmuck"

Well, not really. But it would be pretty cool, wouldn't it? And naturally, Mel Brooks would have to play a major role in it.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

What Happens in Brighton Stays in Brighton

Tomorrow afternoon, I'll be heading on the train to "Bright"on to attend the "Sun"belt conference on social network analysis! As you can see from the program, I helped organize a three-part session on multilayer networks.

Time to hang out with some of my sociologist peeps!

Here is an appropriate theme song for my trip.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Groups of Fire

Johnny Cash sang about a "Ring of Fire".

Big Country sang about "Fields of Fire".

Clearly, somebody has to record a song about Groups of Fire. It would provide a sense of completion.

This is what I think about when I am dazed, and I am seeing rings and other algebraic structures show up in a talk. It also reminds me of comments I made as an undergrad about Killing fields.

Update: Also, "ring of functions" naturally makes my mind blurt "ring of fire".

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

PhDTree: Visualizing Academic Genealogies

PhDTree is now visualizing academic family trees like the Mathematical Genealogy Project (MGP) used to. (You can still find textual listings there but it seems like one now has to pay money to order a visual tree.) Also, PhDTree isn't focusing on mathematicians. On the negative side, I have heard people discussing errors that they found in it. So we seem to have the common tradeoff of more comprehensiveness because the information comes from an algorithm rather than manual entry at the cost of more errors as a byproduct. (That said, one can also do subsequent manual edits in PhDTree to fix one's genealogy.)

Here are my PhDTree and MGP listings.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Mike Sweeney Memorial All Stars

Right now, 8 (count 'em!) Royals are scheduled to start the All Star Game for the American League.

Well, this is a far cry from the days (years) of the Royals having a single token representative that I eventually started to call the "Mike Sweeney Memorial All Star".

Update (6/16/15): Here is Rob Neyer's take on the situation. (I certainly agree that the current situation will lead to some changes in the All-Star selection system.)

Update (7/06/15): At the end of the day, "only" 4 Royals were voted in as starters.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Friday, June 12, 2015

OCD + Art + Everyday Objects = Win!

Wow, some of Emily Blincoe's artistic OCD arrangements of everyday objects are stunningly gorgeous! I approve!

You can see more of them on Emily's page.

(Tip of the cap to Maria Satterwhite.)

Research Word Cloud

Tagxedo has the largest variety of options among the word-cloud generator that I have ever used. Here is a word cloud that I created from my Research Synopsis web page.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

New Meme: #distractinglysexy

The new meme #distractinglysexy is a fantastic response to Tim Hunt's stupid comments.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

"All Possible Humanities Dissertations Considered as Single Tweets"

The New Yorker has very kindly presented all possible humanities dissertations considered as single tweets. I am highly amused. :)

(Tip of the cap to Bruno Gonçalves.)

"Biology, With a Beat"

The option of submitting a biological music video instead of taking a final for Caltech's Biology 1 class this year is very clever. I would love to try something like this in a class that I teach. I approve!

Topps Baseball Cards of Will Ferrell

In commemoration of Will Ferrell's Spring Training stunt, Topps now has issued Will Farrell baseball cards using designs from years gone by (and one from 2015 for Ferrell's last hurrah with the Dodgers).

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

"College is Not a Commodity. Stop Treating it Like One."

Former Cornell University president Hunter Rawlings has written a brilliant essay called "College is not a commodity. Stop treating it like one." about what the role of universities (and professors) and, especially, students play in getting the most out of the experience of going to university --- about what it really means to get an education. I can't make the points any better then he did, so I'll simply express my heartfelt agreement and encourage you to read the short essay.

As an additional brief note, it is my role as a professor (and College tutor) to try to put my students in what I think is the best position for them to succeed. This need not be --- and reasonably often is not --- the same as what they think is the best position for them to succeed.

(Tip of the cap to Aaron Clauset.)

Monday, June 08, 2015

RIP Hermann Zapf (1918–2015)

Hermann Zapf, who designed several well-known fonts (e.g., Zaph Dingbats, Palatino) died on 4 June. I don't think I had ever seen his font Zapfino before; it's really nice! I have used Palatino on many occasions.

(Tip of the cap to Jimmy Lin.)

Sunday, June 07, 2015

"MuxViz: A Tool for Multilayer Analysis and Visualization of Networks"

One of my papers, which was published as an "advance access" paper last October, finally has its assigned page numbers, so I'm blogging about it. It is software to visualize and do computations for multilayer networks. You can download the software, which was created using R, from this website.

Title: MuxViz: A Tool for Multilayer Analysis and Visualization of Networks

Authors: Manlio De Domenico, Mason A. Porter, and Alex Arenas

Abstract: Multilayer relationships among entities and information about entities must be accompanied by the means to analyse, visualize and obtain insights from such data. We present open-source software (muxViz) that contains a collection of algorithms for the analysis of multilayer networks, which are an important way to represent a large variety of complex systems throughout science and engineering. We demonstrate the ability of muxViz to analyse and interactively visualize multilayer data using empirical genetic, neuronal and transportation networks. Our software is available at

High School Chalkboard Writing from 1917 Unearthed

Some chalkboards with writing from 1917 were recently unearthed (figuratively) during a high school's renovation. They're pretty cool.

Saturday, June 06, 2015

"Inelegant Mathematics and Worse Social Science?"

A 1974 article by Hayward R. Alker called "Computer Simulations: Inelegant Mathematics and Worse Social Science?" seems very apt in these days of complex systems, agent-based models, and so on.

It seems that, back in the day, some people that computer simulations would soon reproduce the nuanced behavior of social systems, and Alker pointed out that it wasn't so easy. Quoting Alker: Moral, political, philosophical and pedagogical issues derive from the empirically provisional nature of all simulation versions of frequently controversial social theories, the frequent mystification of mathematical/computerized 'results', and the uneven practical utility and accessibility of social simulations.

At least people don't still make those kinds of mistakes. Oh wait...

What Happens in Singapore Stays in Singapore

This evening, I'll be taking my first trip to Singapore. I'm going to give a talk in a workshop on protein interaction networks, and I also made arrangements to get together with a fellow Lloydie who I have only seen once (in 2007) since 2000. It should be fun!

Friday, June 05, 2015

Major League Baseball's First (Full-Time) Switch-Pitcher of the Modern Era!

Now here is some awesome news: Pat Venditte, the first (full-time) switch-pitcher of the modern era, was called up to the Majors today by the Oakland Athletics. Sweet!

Now you might be wondering what would happen if Venditte goes up against a switch-hitting batter? Well, there is a rule as to how much each of them is allowed to switch during a given at-bat (possibly because of this hilarious incident, which you definitely want to watch). Back when I was growing up, Greg Harris once pitched using both arms in one game, but for Venditte this is a regular thing. So awesome!

(And tip of the cap to Pravesh Patel for the link to the video on YouTube.)

Update (6/09/15): And for his next trick, perhaps Venditte will also try pitching underwater. (Tip of the cap to Jonathan Adams for this link.)

Update (3/19/18): Tony Mullane was a pre-20th century switch pitcher. (Thanks to Tom Maccarone for that information.)

Inaugural Inductees into the World Video Game Hall of Fame

The inaugural inductees into the new World Video Game Hall of Fame are Pong, Pac-Man, Tetris, Super Mario Brothers, DOOM, and World of Warcraft.

The other games that were part of the final field of 15 considered for the inaugural induction were Minecraft, Sonic the Hedgehog, Pokémon, The Sims, FIFA, Angry Birds, The Legend of Zelda, Space Invaders, and Oregon Trail.

As a brief note, there are some major factual inaccuracies in the article to which I linked (e.g., the debut of Tetris occurred before the Gameboy version).

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

"Caltech: Where America Goes to Hide."

Yes, really.

See item #11 on this list of 15 survival tips that we learned from The Rock in the movie San Andreas.

Sadly, the article spelled "Caltech" incorrectly.

Also, "Caltech: Where America Goes to Hide." should be the university's new slogan. That is such an awesome slogan!

(Tip of the cap to whoever posts to Facebook for California Institute of Technology.)

Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Rewrite the Future: Marlins Versus Cubs Edition

The Marlins' Rewrite the Future marketing campaign this year, which pays homage to Back to the Future, Part II is awesome! I approve!

In Back to the Future, Part II (which came out in 1989), a fictional American League team based in Miami loses the 2015 World Series to the Chicago Cubs.