Welcome to my blog! Here, you will mainly find me writing about whatever interests me at the moment. Since I am a predictably simple man, most of my posts are about sports, science, and programming, with an occasional foray into politics if I'm really bored. My favorite posts include:
All my other posts are listed below, in chronological order.
Chris Stucchio wrote an article about the differences between basic income and basic job policies, based on relatively straightforward math. Briefly, basic income says give everyone money with no strings attached and get rid of other forms of welfare. Basic job is the same, except anyone who can work is mandated to work, either in a normal job like today or in a New Deal-style government works program.
Chris’s main conclusion was that basic job came out looking way better than basic income. Additionally, a major purpose of his post was to encourage other people to play around with the math as well rather than just bloviating. Since I’m a big basic income proponent and have some quibbles with how he came to conclude that basic income doesn’t look too good, I will follow his lead and play around with the math.
If you like hip hop and you want to laugh, check out this thing I made.
Otherwise, please move along.
If an NBA player gets a jump shot blocked, does it change the way he plays the rest of the game? You can imagine there could be a psychological effect like a loss of confidence, or a conscious/subconscious decision to try harder to avoid being blocked again which could harm shooting efficiency. Basketball statistics legend Dean Oliver recently Tweeted that claim it has a big effect on Steph Curry and basketball players in general. But is it actually true? And how big is the effect? Let’s look at some data.
The Large Hadron Collider is a marvel of modern technology. It is also an endless source of juvenile amusement, since the word “hadron” is very similar to “hardon”. The Large Hadron Collider was built by the European research organization CERN (“CERN” means “science” in European). At CERN’s official website, there are currently 141 articles which mistakenly use the word “hardon” instead of “hadron”. The first result is the title of one poor fellow’s PhD thesis.
One of my main scientific goals is the application of mathematical models to find interesting insights into biological systems. This is a really broad goal, as depending on the area, there may be very different ways to gain insight. Here, I want to discuss one example, an interesting paper by Sriram and coworkers that was published in PLOS Computational Biology last year entitled “Modeling cortisol dynamics in the neuro-endocrine axis distinguishes normal, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in humans”.
Despite miraculously recovering from ACL surgery and successfully leading his team for the playoffs, Adrian Peterson tragically missed the all time rushing record by 9 yards.
…or did he?
Let’s think about how the NFL measures yardage. They take the difference between where the ball was before the play and where the ball is after the play, and then they round to the nearest integer. So what happens if you rush for half a yard? It’ll get recorded as either 0 yards or 1 yard. Spread out over an entire season, and this kind of rounding error can have a big impact.
7 years ago, I was an undergrad moving into my first apartment with a kitchen. Two of my roommates had a crazy idea. They wanted to not get meal plans and instead just cook all our food. My other roommate and I thought that was ridiculous, but we were at least willing to give it a try. That turned out to be a fortuitous decision for me, as I found that cooking allows me to make healthier, tastier, and cheaper food and it’s actually pretty fun.
Vote or die? Or, vote and die?
Here is a calculator that will compare the odds of your single vote swinging the 2012 US presidential election with the odds of you dying on the way to your polling place.
Update: June 2013: Previously, this post contained information about how to access RSS feeds of Twitter user timelines so that you could read them in whatever RSS reader you wanted to. But now, those RSS feeds are completely deleted because Twitter is evil. However, it is still possible to recreate the RSS feeds if you jump through some hoops. Probably the easiest way is described in this blog post. It’ll take a couple minutes to set up, but then you can easily get an RSS feed for any Twitter timeline.
I like to read old scientific papers. They give me a broader perspective on how things became as they are today. So when I came across this paper from 1977 in the reference list of a more recent paper, I knew I had to read it. Unfortunately, even with my university-provided access to most journals and most certainly to a journal like Nature, the evil overlords at Nature Publishing Group do not include papers as old as from 1977 in our site license. So I had to send a request to the library and wait a few days for someone to scan in a copy of the paper and email it to me, a relatively minor inconvenience.
In the mean time, I read the abstract, all that was available at the time. I noticed the affiliation of one of the authors: Rutgers, my undergraduate alma mater and current graduate school! Awesome, I’m all for school spirit! Except, the affiliation didn’t actually say “Rutgers”, it said “Butgers”. A humorous typo… or something more sinister?