this week i

unlocked the survey of consumer finances, with as much art as science.

guess you could say they're zany, but let's clarify something: learning statistics is boring, difficult.  present this material straight, and the only successful students will be the ones who are dead inside.  the world needs creative statisticians, not more accountants.  zazz that shit up.  serious.

subscribed to the data.gov rss feed.

owe much of my success in life to philanthropists.  currently, henry j.  before that, mikey b.  and long ago, stephen girard.  here's my father narrating his first day at the orphanage, 1949.  the admissions office recommended that prospective mothers tell their sons there would be ponies to get them to cooperate.

could go into the sas-to-r translation business.  one dollar per semicolon.

had a drink or four.

1/31

this week i

lectured at the bureau of labor statistics on consumer expenditure survey analysis with r in the morning, then at the national institutes of health on medical expenditure panel survey analysis with r in the afternoon.

have come a long way, huh?  the indecision of youth.

scrolled through three months of chuck grassley's twitter feed.  my (1) (2) (3) favorites.

would like to do a song of great social and political import.  happy birthday, janis.

see you yawning, sasha.

wouldn't move to baltimore, but if i did, wouldn't open a bar, but if i did, would name it, "the flask of amontillado" in deference to poe.

watched two more by jordan peterson.  on self-deception..

human health is a matter of moral action, perhaps more than it is a matter of anything else.

we found out..if you took undergraduates into a lab and you sort of motivated them to cheat, if there was a picture of someone staring at them on the wall, they're much less likely to cheat.

the only thing that distinguishes the average person from hitler is that hitler was an organizational genius.  that's the distinction, it's not the bloody motivation, it's the ability.  there's no shortage of tyrants in families.

..and redemption.

what are we doing here?

continual minor adjustments as a consequence of paying attention

why does god want burnt lamb smoke?

if what you're aiming at is of sufficient profundity, it's worth an awful lot of misery to participate in the process of bringing it about.

the redeemer takes on the sins of the world.  what does that mean?  well it means all human beings are nazis, and human beings are the maoist red guard, and human beings are the slaughterers in rwanda.  and you're all human beings.  and so to take on the sins of the world means to realize that all those things that characterize the human capacity to turn earth into hell characterize you.  and that in order to live properly you have to live in a manner that addresses those elements of your nature.  and again, that's a terrible responsibility.  well first of all, who wants to admit that.  second of all, who can stand looking at it.  and third, who's going to take on the burden of solving it.  well it better be all of us, or we're just going to keep doing it.  so redemption, what does it mean?  it means we're not in a state of grace.

i believe that what is outlined in narrative form in the new testament is psychologically correct.  i believe that the idea that endless microdeath and renewal produces a state of proper adaptation to being, and that the prerequisites for that that are laid out in the narrative structure that underlies the new testament are fundamentally correct.  so to be redeemed is to aim at the highest value.  to sacrifice what's no longer useful and valid in yourself.  and to tell the truth.  and the consequence of that is existence in a deep state of meaning that justifies the tragedy of being, and the possibility of transforming your own life in the most beneficial positive direction while simultaneously doing that for the people around you.  and that's redemption.


grew up in this public use microdata area.

1/24

this week i

spoke at the washington dc r users group about, well, everything.  jerzy wrote up a summary, here's the flowchart, some called it 'excellent' others called it 'torturous' - decide for yourself:




page rank first in the google search anthony damico.

unearthed moondog matinee, just because.  levon helm grew up in turkey scratch, arkansas

listened to jordan peterson, the leader of my church..

one of the things i've learned..being a clinical psychologist..is that lack of virtue makes people ill

we make the assumption that the fundamental constituent elements of reality are material.  we fail to notice that the fundamental constituent elements of reality are not material.  they're emotional, they're motivational, they're dreams, they're visions, they're relationships with other people, they're conscious, they're dependent on consciousness

you look at genesis..there's a strange sequence of events that befalls adam and eve..a snake gives them an apple, and that wakes them up.  well there's a good book by a southern california primatologist that was just published last year that suggests that the reason that humans have such great vision - way better than most animals except for raptors, birds - is because our visual systems were designed to detect predatory snakes.  and the way she discovered that was by comparing the populations of predatory snakes around the world to the visual acuity of the primate groups that lived in those areas.  and what she found was essentially a one-to-one correspondence.  our visual system..the snake gave that to us, because we had to pay attention to predatory things that were after us for tens of millions of years.  and fruit, that's interesting.  we have color vision because we were fruit eaters.  our color vision is precisely evolved to detect ripe fruit.  so that part of the story's right.

solzhenitsyn said there are as many centers of the universe as there are individual consciousnesses

because things are fundamentally unfair.  and even more deeply, why shouldn't you conclude that things should be eradicated, because fundamentally they're unfair.  i think that's what hitler concluded, i also think that's what stalin concluded.  the evidence suggests that stalin was gearing up for the third world war.  he had hydrogen bombs, he'd already killed thirty million people..i think that all those people who participated in those processes used their rational utopianism as a cover story for their willingness to participate in the atrocity.

it's not good to be self-conscious, right?  it loads on neuroticism.  it's a negative emotion.  we think of it as a higher-order cognitive function, but people find it unpleasant.  you tend to be self-conscious when you're false or shamed.  if you're deeply engaged in something your self-consciousness disappears.  so engagement in something meaningful seems to make self-consciousness vanish.  it also makes time vanish, right?  because if you're doing something that's intrinsically meaningful, then the sense of passing time disappears.  and so that temporal limitation that plagues you vanishes..practice that, above all else.

i see people who are in hell all the time.  you can see them if you walk down bloor street.  i'm not kidding, it's no joke.  if you walk by someone in hell, you can't look at them.  you won't look at them, you'll give them a wide bearth, and if you look at them and you really look at them, they'll either become aggressive or ashamed because they do not want you to see where they are, because they don't want to see where they are.

the kingdom of heaven is spread out on the earth, but men do not see it.  so this is what i would say about virtue.  virtue, first, is the attempt to see that heaven.


it's your creative capacity and your exploratory courage that allows you to extract information from the world.  you need that information to build your character.  you need to build your character because life is hard.  it's tragic.  it's tragic because we're vulnerable.  and if you don't take full advantage of everything the world offers you in terms of information you make yourself weak.  so every time you shy away from something you should explore, every time you shy away from your own intrinsic sense of meaning you weaken your own personality.  literally.  i don't mean metaphorically.  i mean you weaken it.

1/17

this week i

published the r code to analyze my first and favorite - the medical expenditure panel survey.

believe: the math will set you free.  oh and might get you out of traffic.

watched hitchcock's vertigo.  as captivating as movies made in 1958 get.

call this one, "how about a little milk with your honey?"

okay. so. people who talk shit about america: you're not for real. i mean seriously. seriously? do you like airplanes? we did that. oh what's that flag on the moon? america's. um we invented the internet. the in.ter.net. this isn't two tin cans and a piece of string here, it's humanity's greatest accomplishment of the times thanks. sorry? you read some statistics that americans live two fewer years than norwegians or americans aren't as good at math as estonians? oh cool and what year are those numbers from? what's that? you found a source from 2009? oh really? because i am pretty sure that ten generations of tired, poor, huddled masses just spent four hundred years leaving everything they'd ever known, crossing a treacherous ocean, landing in a brand new world where they didn't speak the language, intent on building a society that would become everyone else's ideal of what's possible. but thirteen year old estonians tested better at trigonometry so you think we should raise a white flag? fascinating. you might wanna reconsider the weight you give to nations of immigrants. uhhh, yes, we've made some mistakes. andrew jackson doesn't belong on the twenty, we shouldn't have dropped the bomb on nagasaki, our confederates were backward hooligans - but give us a little credit, we went to war to end that evil. so have you ever been to new york? humanity's greatest city. while you're there, try discriminating our rich from our poor - hmmmmm not as easy as you thought, is it? you should come visit utah or california or louisiana sometime, we would love to have you. hey did you know that our president's name is barack hussein obama? do you see new zealanders electing a maori or indians voting for a dalit or germans choosing a turkish chancellor? not in your lifetime? oh yeah, ya know why? because americans are the future, and we're not handing over the keys.


read through dr. lumley's lecture notes from his presentation at the 2011 joint statistical meeting.

# nicely formatted svyby results
ftable( svyby( ~var1 , ~byvar , design , svymean ) )

# complex raking for the employer health benefits survey
rake(
        dclus1 ,
        sample =
            list(
                ~stype+sch.wide ,
                ~stype+comp.imp
            ) ,
        population =
            list(
                pop.table ,
                pop.table2
            )
    )

# weight trimming for the employer health benefits survey
calibrate(
    dclus1 ,
    ~stype + api99 ,
    c( pop.totals , api99 = 3914069 ) ,
    bounds = c(0.5,2) ,
    trim = c( 2/3 , 3/2 )
)
37 weights were trimmed


1/10

this week i

lived out of a backpack.

checked into a hotel carved in stone.

created a makeshift laundry bag with two shower caps.

hiked isalo national park.  the highlight of the trip, the season, the year..

four-eyed mountains

fearsome species you'd thought were extinct
video

fuchsia dragonflies


sprouting silver bulbs

..oh hello.

spotted all three daytime lemurs, just monkeys in spacesuits.

video




video






secured a car to the capital, felt just like janis joplin when she rode all the way to new orleans.

tried anyway.  okay, just mint.

found the cutest child on earth, hope she takes care of that smile.  by the way: johnson & johnson has discontinued dinosaur-shaped wild flossers.  time to corner the children's flossing market with more suitably-named flossiraptors™ - profitable public health campaign, anyone?

noticed the hollywood sign.

admired the architecture.

am a sucker for good data visualization..

..less so for cheap, creepy mannequins.

greased a moth.

chilled out in style.  hey wait, where's the bathroom wall?  lots of waiting outside.

visited a croc farm.


scared 2,500 babies at once.
video

identified chamelia.


fed the fossa.
video



went home.

watched a fiery debate between jordan peterson and some philosopher guy on the sacred.

the dialogue between evolutionary biologists and people who theorize about religious beliefs has barely even begun.  and the reason it hasn't yet begun is because the evolutionary biologists and the rationalists don't know a damn thing about religion.  and their way around that is to make the most pathetic straw man possible out of the complex structure of ancient beliefs, attribute them to someone who has the mental capacity of a thirteen year old, and then proceed to use their high iq to crush their opponents.  well, that's just not going to work because systems of thought that are derided by evolutionary biologists and rationalists are complex beyond belief.  and they haven't spent the time unpacking them.

goodall discovered that, lo and behold, chimpanzees did territorial raiding and killed their enemies.  now unless you're willing to believe that chimpanzees are doing that for religious purposes, you're pretty much stuck with having to deal with something that could arguably be more fundamental than motivation for killing the evil other than anything religious.  and this is a real tough point, right?  lots of things died with goodall's discovery.  and one of the things that died was the idea that the reason that people were warlike was because of what they believe.  it's deeper than thatif you take a rat out of his dominance hierarchy, and you wash him so he no longer smells like a rat, and you put him back in to the rat hierarchy that's composed of his loving family, the other rats will immediately tear him to pieces.  and the probability of them doing that because he's a heretical rat is pretty much zero.

the sorts of things that you accuse the religious of doing are so fundamental that they precede religion.  the facts are already in guys, there's no more debate about this.

the fact that you can think psychologically about sacrifice is a consequence of eons of work done by your progenitors in the attempt to solve an unbelievably difficult problem.  and although they might have made some mistakes along the way..they certainly got us to where we are now.  and you tell me whether or not you believe that if you sacrifice the right things in the present that god the transcendent reality is more likely to shine his face on you in the future.

the sense of meaning that evolution..has blessed you with is precisely the pre-rational mechanism that allows you to do that kind of maneuvering.  and i would say that attending to that is actually a sacred duty.  how about that.  and i think you guys know that.  do you like to do meaningful things or not meaningful things?

1/3

this week i

celebrated the end of the world, in both place and time.

calculate that - compared to madagascar - sydney might be a thousand miles further, but don't measure by crude distance.  everyone's furthest from home (digging straight down) measures about 12,500 miles - mine would dunk me in the southern indian ocean, eight hundred miles off the coast of western australia.

abstained from computer use for 168 hours.  not too impressive, though.  pre-historic man used to do it for thirty, even thirty-five years.  oh and six weeks sans razor makes for a decent steve jobs impersonation.

met emma at the airport (inbound from nairobi), bought the only tickets leaving antananarivo.  toliara it was.

waited out our monsoon-delayed flight in the first place we found shelter.



landed at 4:30a, slept till noon.

hired a taxi north.

didn't sweat him smoking over the engine.  after all, the gas tank is here on the inside.

drove formerly-paved roads.

broke down..

..in the wildest of places.

walked through spiny forests..

my first baobabs, insanitrees.







sorry, my photo isn't coming out.  can you hold this 8.5x11 paper so i can see better?

mating season - romance in the air

headed back to town..

ooh free movie



..then hit the rn7.

read gabriel garcia marquez's news of a kidnapping.  clumsy translation..

her health improved so much that she ignored the rules and spoke in her natural voice, which was beautiful and well modulated

 ..and pablo escobar felt too much like grendel..

to confront escobar and negotiate, santanderean to antioquian, in a hard and equal contest

i know everything will work out, and that you will bear me no grudge, because your battle to defend your family has the same objectives as the one i am waging to defend mine.

a letter from pablo escobar threatening to set off fifty tons of dynamite in the historic district of cartagena

..otherwise terrible & terribly exciting.

we prefer a grave in colombia to a cell in the united states

journalism-which is, fortunately, power without the throne

this is a negotiation, not a game to find out who is clever and who is stupid

watching that program in captivity was like being dead and watching life from the next world without taking part

"who knows, maybe they're going to release me!" she said.
without arranging it ahead of time, maruja and beatriz each decided that, regardless of marina's fate, the most christian thing was to deceive her.
"of course they are," said beatriz.
"that's right," said maruja with her first radiant smile.

one, through malice or stupidity, said goodbye one night with words whose double meaning almost scared them to death: "don't worry, ladies, it'll be very quick."

the unbreakable antioquian custom of discussing nothing but the food

the autopsy showed earth in his lungs, and this was interpreted to mean that he had been buried alive

12/27