Categories ▸ Misc

## Going Viral

In case you were wondering who the go-to sources on l’affaire Strauss-Kahn are, at least according to Twitter: The consequences of getting retweeted all over the place mostly involve being introduced to the range and sophistication of twitter spam and followbots.

## Parents CAN rid campuses of Communists

These days the bow tie signifies the opposite, of course. Which only shows their disguises have improved.

## I Predict the Gifted will Foresee the Punchline

Here is a very old joke. A soldier is captured during a long-running war and thrown into the most stereotypical prison cell imaginable. Inside the cell is another solider. He has an enormous, disgusting-smelling beard and has clearly been there a long time. The young soldier immediately sets about trying to escape. He is resourceful and possessed of great willpower. He bribes a guard with his emergency supply of cash. The guard gets him into a supply truck and he makes it to the prison garage, but is found during a routine vehicle search while exiting the compound.

## Advice on Talks from Leslie Lamport

Speaking of LaTeX, its author Leslie Lamport provides a guide to How To Present A Talk. It was written in 1979, but modulo a couple of changes its advice applies equally well today. For instance: WHAT TO SAY 1. Describe simple examples rather than general results. Try to make the examples much too simple—you will not succeed. Don’t use formalism. If your results cannot be described simply and informally, then there is no reason why anyone should be interested in them.

## Sure in this country you'd be known as MicheÃ¡l Luas

Via Tyler Cowen comes a Michael Lewis thumbsucker about Ireland. Lewis is a great writer, but I do wonder whether he should have listened to his driver a bit less: When I went looking for some Irish person to drive me around, the result was a fellow I will call Ian McRory (he asked me not to use his real name in this article), who is Irish, and a driver, but pretty clearly a lot of other things, too.

## Testing MathJax

Suppose the true relationship is $$y=f(x_1,…,x_k),$$ with $(x_1,…,x_k)$ factors explaining the $y.$ Then the first order Taylor approximation of $f$ around zero is: $$f(x_1,...,x_k)=f(0, ... ,0) + \sum_{i=1}^{k}\frac{\partial f(0)}{\partial x_k}x_k + \varepsilon,$$ where $\varepsilon$ is the approximation error. Now denote $\alpha_0 = f(0,…,0)$ and $\alpha_k = \frac{\partial{f}(0)}{\partial x_k})$ and you have a regression: $$y=\alpha_0+\alpha_1 x_1 + ... + \alpha_k x_k + \varepsilon$$

## Cognition and Comic Sans

Here’s a paper that will provoke a wave of denial in type nerds everywhere. Short version: setting information in hard-to-read fonts, including Comic Sans Italic, led to better retention amongst research subjects because of “disfluency”. When you have to work harder to read it, you remember it better. Abstract: Previous research has shown that disfluency – the subjective experience of difficulty associated with cognitive operations – leads to deeper processing.

## Every Mixed Metaphor has its Fifteen Minutes in the Sun

So, the World Cup’s most famous precognitive German cephalopod, Paul, has predicted from his tank in Oberhausen that Spain will beat Holland on Sunday, leading to various death threats, offers of state protection from the Spanish government, and a proliferation of calamari recipes circulating amongst my Dutch friends on FaceBook. All of which means, surely, that it really is true that some people are hoping that the fascist octopus has sung its swan song.

## England's Finest

No, not that lot, obviously. (I hope Rooney put a downpayment on that caravan.) But even I have started to feel just very slightly bad about the recriminations and self-hatred engulfing English football writers at present. So here, as evidence of the sort of thing England is really quite good at, is The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain. One more:

## The Case of the Disappearing Teaspoons

Morning and Afternoon Tea are the twin social hubs of Australian academia, so it’s only natural that a disturbing tearoom phenomenon would be noticed, investigated and subsequently published in the British Medical Journal: The case of the disappearing teaspoons: longitudinal cohort study of the displacement of teaspoons in an Australian research institute. Objectives To determine the overall rate of loss of workplace teaspoons and whether attrition and displacement are correlated with the relative value of the teaspoons or type of tearoom.