Er I turned up to another talk:

Taubman Center Luncheon Speaker Series
“Spatial Inequality in Boston: Implications for Linking Schools and Neighborhoods”, James Jennings, Professor of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning, Tufts University

The thesis seemed to be “bad schools are in poor neighborhoods.” There seemed to be a false premise that policymakers were unaware of this and he needed to bring it to light. Some graphics had high lie-factor (cf. Tufte). Geographers seem to be really proud of, which seems like another name for ‘entropy maximation.’ Has to remind self that at one point, computer scientists and governments (“how can we maximally disrupt railroads during wartime?”) did work together.

exercise left to the reader

3/12, noon: Understanding Spam Economics – Chris Kanich, UC San Diego; Brown CS Dept.

Got to use unrestricted corporate gift funds to make purchases (category: “men’s health”) from foreign pharmacies for the sake of science. Distractingly great pocket square / tie.

3/15: 7pm: Czech It Out: Talk on Language Corpora and Czech – Dr. Vaclav Cvrcek, Czech National Corpus; Brown Language Society

“Vaclav Havel? Milos Forman? If you have not heard of those, you have at least heard of — and this is what Czechs themselves care about — beer.” Endearing. I would fail so hard at “Třista třicet tři stříbrných stříkaček stříkalo
přes třista třicet tři stříbrných střech.” Apparently, corpora must be static (so cannot be ‘the internet’).

title: “for the sake of completeness”

on my chair


It’s kind of weird to stand on a chair, reach up as high as you can, and not be able to touch the ceiling. Somehow I’d gotten the idea that the ceiling is always so near.

Story/Time – Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company “Story/Time” at The Vets

Summary: This was amazing / your mind will be blown / absolutely go see it, or you will have missed out on ideas that you never would have thought of.

I decided to watch dance instead of going to a dance, and I think I made an excellent choice.

The stage is divided into 12 rectangles, 3 rows by 4 columns, each numbered. The choice of twelve evokes a sense of archaicness (counting by dozens, for example), but also the more obvious connections with 20th century composition, where the twelve semitones in the octave become equal players, instead of giving the tonic, dominant, subdominant, and leading tone privileged positions. You permute the 12 tones to get a ‘tone row,’ and then apply transformations to the sequence.

[if anyone went to the Ruth Simmons concert, this is probably what the student speaker meant by “21st century mathematics and <earlier> century <something>.”]

Spoiler alert. You really probably shouldn’t read beyond here, since no one deserves to be robbed of the  experience. To me, watching this performance was like jetskiing over a lake of ideas, exhilaration spraying everywhere, skin and senses barely able to hold on much less absorb it all.

[this is not a completely ‘random’ analogy. I went jetskiing for the first and only time on Lake Dunmore, on an excursion with the chamber music camp I went to that summer, Point CounterPoint. During those three weeks, I was also eaten alive by mosquitos, read The Grapes of Wrath, and picked strawberries; because I could read alto clef, and, ok, was a total music theory nerd, I got placed into the ‘highest’ theory cabin with Tim Whitehead, who introduced me to Ligeti.

Two weeks after that program, I went to Bellingham, WA for Marrowstone Music Festival, met Messrs Mahler and Bruckner, had Sinnamon Ice Cream at Mallard’s, and dipped into the Pacific Ocean for the first time. Who knew that I’d be jumping into Puget Sound four summers later?]

Ok. If that digression didn’t take away your gumption to continue, I suppose you may read on.

Continue reading

Dr. Paxon, President of Brown: a comparison of the coverage

Dear old Brown has a new university president, and her name is Dr. Christine Paxon.

News reports of this has been flooding my newsfeed, and I’ve read all of them. Most state that Paxson currently is the Dean of the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs and is the Hughes Rogers Professor of Economics and Public Affairs, and that she founded a program in health policy at the WW school, the Center for Health and Wellbeing (CHW).

However, various news sources differ in what they say about Paxon /after/ the basic facts.

Brown Daily Herald

While dean, Paxson also ended selective admissions to the Woodrow Wilson school. Until then, the school was the only part of Princeton that undergraduates had to be admitted to specifically , the Daily Princetonian reported. Paxson attracted media attention in 2006 when she co-authored a study arguing that tall people earn more money because they possess superior cognitive abilities.

The paper: Stature and Status: Height, Ability, and Labor Market Outcomes

New York Times

A 1982 graduate of Swarthmore College who earned her graduate degrees at Columbia, Dr. Paxson is married to Ari Gabinet, executive vice president and general counsel of Oppenheimer Funds. They have two sons, Nicholas, 22, and Benjamin, 14.

At first, I was going to cry ‘irrelevant! why does it matter that she is married and fertile?’ But then I looked at the NYT coverage of Dartmouth’s recently appointed president, Dr. Jim Yong Kim, and that article mentions his marriage and virility as well.

Go Local Providence

// an entire section on Ruth Simmons
// an entire section on past presidents