13 August 2007

links for 14 August

The "is the new" diagram attempts to document all instances of "X is the new Y", which is a fairly common phrase, with an arrow from X to Y. Not surprisingly, the node of highest indegree appears to be "black". You can try to make a partial order here, assuming that if X is the new Y and Y is the new Z, then X is the new Z; for example, local is the new kosher (local is the new organic, organic is the new kosher) -- but there aren't any really large components in this graph. It seems like most of the time, when people say "X is the new Y", nobody has ever made a statement "X is the new Z" or "W is the new Y" before. It's interesting to see if you can get why these things are true -- why is Ohio the new Florida? gadget bag the new man purse? individuality the new conformity? And isn't this last one impossible by definition? Is it really individuality if everyone's doing it? (Via information aesthetics.) It would be interesting to see how this network evolves with time; eventually people will start talking about things that have already been talked about and larger components will start to emerge.

[edit, 9:18 am: a particularly perplexing entry here is "Canada is the new Estonia". If you google this phrase, you get a lot of confused people, but eventually you find the beginning of a New York Times article from 2005, which says "America's next top model? she's [sic] likely from canada.Canada is the new Estonia - at least when it comes to modeling." I didn't realize Estonia was the old Estonia.]
Bad countries come with long names, from Social Science++, via Language Log. The theory is that a country with a good-sounding name like "Great Socialist People's Libyan Arab Jamahiriya" or "Democratic People's Republic of Korea" probably has something to hide; it seems to be borne out, although the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland would probably disagree. This is related to a pet theory of mine that restaurants advertising "authentic X cuisine" probably have something very far from authentic X cuisine. If you really were a democratic country, or you really served authentic food, you wouldn't go to the trouble of advertising it; building up a reputation would be enough. (But how is reputation built? This is a question I wouldn't mind studying from a mathematical perspective.)

Atle Selberg died, from Terence Tao; a mathematical obituary. Selberg and Erdos produced the first elementary proof of the prime number theorem; the story goes that Erdos got the lion's share of the credit, to the point where someone walked up to Selberg (not knowing that it was him) and said "did you hear that Erdos and some Scandinavian came up with an elementary proof of the Prime Number Theorem?" Then again, that seems like the sort of thing Erdos himself might have done; supposedly late in life he forgot who people were, even the people he collaborated with often.

The Quant Bloodbath, at Secret Blogging Seminar: how will the current crisis on Wall Street affect the job market for quants? Will Wall Street decide it doesn't need mathematicians after all (because the quantitative models don't seem to be working), or will it decide that it needs more mathematicians to make better quantitative models?

Ken Jennings (yes, that Ken Jennings) writes about Pic-Tac-Toe puzzles, in which nine images are arranged in a three-by-three grid, and the images in each of the three rows, three columns, and two diagonals have a common theme. An alternative is if you're given eight of them and you have to fill in the ninth; see this example from the 2003 MIT Mystery Hunt.

Science after Sunclipse has launched MathSciJournalWiki, which is what it sounds like -- a freely editable source of information about scientific journals. Also of interest is Scientific Publishing: A Mathematician's Viewpoint, by Joan Birman, from the July 2000 issue of the Notices of the AMS.

Yesterday I wrote about men having more sex than women?; over at Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science they're going on about the inaccuracies of the NYT article I mentioned there, which conflates the mean and the median. Not surprising, since they're statisticians over there; I still think that people lying about their sexual activities is the big thing, though.

1 comment:

Max said...

Canada is the new Estonia? wtf? :P