Monday, January 29, 2018

"Compass Grass" (aka "Clock Grass")

This is amazing.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, Vladimir Guerrero, and Trevor Hoffman Elected to Baseball Hall of Fame!

Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, Vladimir Guerrero, and Trevor Hoffman have been elected to Baseball's Hall of Fame! This follows the pre-announcement polling, which I have been following carefully. They join Alan Trammell and Jack Morris, who were inducted last month by the Modern Era Committee.

Jones and Thome were in their first year of eligibility, Guerrero was in his second, and Hoffman was in his third. I thought Thome might squeak through this year, but I wasn't sure if he'd make it in his ballot debut, and he ended up sailing through with close to 90% of the vote. Jones was on 97.2% of the ballots; this is one of the highest totals in history and doesn't come as any surprise at all. Guerrero jumped to more than 90% of the vote (similar to Roberto Alomar's 2nd-year entry to the Hall years before), so it seems there were a bunch of writers who feel he's a Hall of Famer but not somebody who should enter on the first ballot. Trevor Hoffmann ended up with 79.9% of the vote.

Several people made great gains. Importantly, Edgar Martínez squeaked just past 70% of the vote, and it looks like he'll finally make it in 2019, his last year of eligibility through election by the writers. Mike Mussina jumped from the low 50s to 63.5%, and I think he has an outside shot to make it next year (and he'll certainly make it in 2020). Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds went up a bit, and the only reason they're not in already is because of their extracurricular activities. They will have to wait for some other mechanism, as they're only inching upward. Curt Schilling got back over 50% of the vote, and he'll eventually make it. Both he and Mussina should have been elected to the Hall of Fame years ago, but the writers seem not to be very good at recognizing the quality of many starting pitchers.
Omar Vizquel, who got about 37% of the vote, will get to become the new Jack Morris, so people will be arguing about him for many years. He'll eventually make the Hall, but I don't think he deserves it. Larry Walker got a nice jump to 34.1%, but he's in his 8th year of eligibility, so I think he'll have to wait for some sort of veterans committee. I think he'll make it eventually, and his path is resembling that of Alan Trammell, though it looks like Walker is on the way to doing slightly better than Trammell on his final vote totals.

Among the newcomers who are expected to be in the 2019 Hall of Fame ballot, Mariano Rivera will obviously make it on the first ballot. He's the only newcomer who clearly is going to get elected next year. Roy Halladay deserves to make it and will get a bunch of votes, but I think he'll have to wait a bit, especially with his relatively low win total and how tough it's usually been for starting pitchers to get elected during the past couple of decades. It will be interesting to see how many votes Lance Berkman and Roy Oswalt get. I think Roy Oswalt, who doesn't deserve entry, will not even get the 5% to stay on the ballot. I suspect that Berkman will be underappreciated, but I think he had a Hall of Fame peak (though he falls short on peak length and counting numbers). Miguel Tejada is another interesting player to watch; I think he'll get enough votes to stay on the ballot, though I think he falls short of meriting a spot in the Hall. I think that Todd Helton belongs in the Hall of Fame, but I suspect it's going to take some time. (He may end up with a similar road as Larry Walker, and I think both will ultimately enter the Hall of Fame.) There's also Andy Pettitte, who will probably get a nontrivial (though not horribly high) number of votes, though I don't think he deserves to make it. Maybe he'll become the new Jack Morris?

Update: Here is David Schoenfield's list of winners and losers from today's Hall of Fame results.

Monday, January 22, 2018

How Not to Write a Mathematics Paper: Snarky Edition

Here are some brilliant tips for aspiring mathematics authors!

I don't think I've ever encountered this page before. It's hard to find a favorite. There's also lots of great snark in the explanatory notes.

Here is one bit of snark: "One practical criticism applies to this book as well as a large part of contemporary mathematical production: the various statements are called by different names, such as Lemma, Theorem, Proposition, Corollary; the first three are numbered independently of each other, while the numbers assigned to corollaries are functions of several variables; in addition, numbered formulae have their own separate numeration. The strain placed on the reader by this partial ordering is obvious, but apparently readers seek vengeance on other readers when they turn into authors."

(Tip of the cap to @mathematicsprof.)

Saturday, January 20, 2018

It's Still Billy Joel to Me: H. P. Lovecraft Edition

I am highly amused by this connection between Billy Joel's "Piano Man" and H. P. Lovecraft's "Nemesis". Seriously, this is worth a listen. The top one is great!

Though it's still Billy Joel to me!

(Tip of the cap to Todd Wilkinson.)

Friday, January 19, 2018

Headline of the Day: Well Played

Look closely at the various ways that one can parse this headline. ;)

(Tip of the cap to David Kung.)

Monday, January 15, 2018

Bookstore Snark: I Approve!

Here's some really nice snark from the people who run a Cleveland bookstore.

XKCD: Memorable Quotes

I approve of the new xkcd!

Friday, January 12, 2018

"Synergistic Effects in Threshold Models on Networks"

One of my papers just came out in final form today. Here are the details.

Title: Synergistic Effects in Threshold Models on Networks

Authors: Jonas S. Juul, and Mason A. Porter

Abstract: Network structure can have a significant impact on the propagation of diseases, memes, and information on social networks. Different types of spreading processes (and other dynamical processes) are affected by network architecture in different ways, and it is important to develop tractable models of spreading processes on networks to explore such issues. In this paper, we incorporate the idea of synergy into a two-state ("active" or "passive") threshold model of social influence on networks. Our model’s update rule is deterministic, and the influence of each meme-carrying (i.e., active) neighbor can—depending on a parameter—either be enhanced or inhibited by an amount that depends on the number of active neighbors of a node. Such a synergistic system models social behavior in which the willingness to adopt either accelerates or saturates in a way that depends on the number of neighbors who have adopted that behavior. We illustrate that our model’s synergy parameter has a crucial effect on system dynamics, as it determines whether degree-k nodes are possible or impossible to activate. We simulate synergistic meme spreading on both random-graph models and networks constructed from empirical data. Using a heterogeneous mean-field approximation, which we derive under the assumption that a network is locally treelike, we are able to determine which synergy-parameter values allow degree-k nodes to be activated for many networks and for a broad family of synergistic models.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Up-Goer Five Text Editor

If any of you want to try explaining an idea using only the ten hundred most common words in the English language, you can try at this page.

(Tip of the cap to Lan Ma.)

Tuesday, January 09, 2018

What Happens at the Joint Mathematics Meetings Stays at the Joint Mathematics Meetings (2018 Edition)

I'm on the train to head to San Diego for the 2018 Joint Mathematics Meetings. I'm really excited about it! Among other things, there are more sessions related to things like networks and data than ever before at this conference. And I always like seeing my many peeps from the mathematics world, including friends who I don't get to see at conferences on more specific topics.

Update: Here is a short video of some nice scenery during my train ride from Los Angeles to San Diego. Below is a still shot that I took just before the video and also a picture of me and a statue of the late, great Tony Gwynn.

And, finally, here is my tweet after I arrived.

Saturday, January 06, 2018

Friday, January 05, 2018

For Good Weather, Call Jenny


(Tip of the cap to Bruno Gonçalves.)

Thursday, January 04, 2018

Also in Physics Today: Mary Somerville!

In my obsession yesterday with the article about the physics of croissants (which has a lovely picture of a croissant network) from the same issue, I failed to notice that the cover article in the January 2018 issue of Physics Today is about Mary Somerville. Here is the cover.

The Problem With Talking to People

There are two things that I really dislike about talking to people: (1) talking and (2) people.

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

The Physics of Croissants

The January 2018 issue of Physics Today has a short article about the physics of croissants. Yummy!

Also, check out the lovely contact network in the two-dimensional contact network that one can see in the picture.

Update: Great minds think alike!

Monday, January 01, 2018

Calligraphy in an Old Edition of The Lady of Shalott

I recommend looking at this calligraphy while listening to Loreena McKennitt in the background. (And this is one of her very best songs, which is saying a lot.)

(Tip of the cap to Sydney Padua.)