this week i

live near the frog hotpot corridor.  if you want to eat snake, you'll have to cross long bien.

thought i left this shit behind.

understand vietnamese girls dislike tans.  but not how to disentangled second- from third-person pronouns.

got caught in a rainstorm.  i found shelter under an awning.  he stuck it out with his cargo.

sometimes wonder if, in all this world travel, it's really just new york city i seek.

read a farewell to arms.  hemingway's novel set on the same front that my grandfather fought in the first world war.  hemingway uses alcohol as an ever-present literary prop the same way gabriel garcia marquez uses sex.

"you will be decorated.  they want to get you the medaglia d'argento but perhaps they can get only the bronze."  "what for?"  "because you are gravely wounded.  they say if you can prove you did any heroic act you can get the silver.  otherwise it will be the bronze.  tell me exactly what happened.  did you do any heroic act?"  "no," i said.  "i was blown up while we were eating cheese."

it was dark in the room and the orderly, who had sat by the foot of the bed, got up and went out with him.  i liked him very much and i hoped he would get back to the abruzzi some time.  he had a rotten life in the mess and he was fine about it but i thought how he would be in his own country.  at capracotta, he had told me, there were trout in the stream below the town.  it was forbidden to play the flute at night.  when the young men serenaded only the flute was forbidden.  why, i had asked.  because it was bad for the girls to hear the flute at night.  the peasants all called you "don" and when you met them they took off their hats.  his father hunted every day and stopped to eat at the houses of peasants.  they were always honored.  for a foreigner to hunt he must present a certificate that he had never been arrested.  there were bears on the gran sasso d'italia but it was a long way.  aquila was a fine town.  it was cool in the summer at night and the spring in abruzzi was the most beautiful in italy.  but what was lovely was the fall to go hunting through the chestnut woods.  the birds were all good because they fed on grapes and you never took a lunch because the peasants were always honored if you would eat with them at their houses.  after a while i went to sleep.

i did not know what we had against austria but it seemed logical that they should declare war on turkey.  i said that was doubtful.  turkey, i said, was our national bird but the joke translated so badly and they were so puzzled and suspicious that i said yes, ye would probably declare war on turkey.

one had so many friends in a war

"put some cognac in the glass" we touched glasses and drank.  rinaldi laughed at me.  "i will get you drunk and take out your liver and put you in a good italian liver and make you a man again."

"to-morrow we'll be in udine.  we'll drink champagne.  that's where the slackers live.  wake up, piani!  we'll drink champagne to-morrow in udine!"  "i'm awake," piani said.  he filled his plate with the spaghetti and meat.  couldn't you find tomato sauce, barto?  "there wasn't any," aymo said.  "we'll drink champagne in udine," bonello said.  he filled his glass with the clear red barbera.

"all right.  good luck, tenente."  "good luck.  we thank you many times."  "you won't thank me if you get drowned."  "what does he say?" catherine asked.  "he says good luck."  "good luck," catherine said.  "thank you very much."

i sat in the stern with my coat on and the collar turned up and watched catherine row.  she rowed very well but the oars were too long and bothered her.  i opened the bag and ate a couple of sandwiches and took a drink of the brandy.  it made everything much better and i took another drink.

that was what you did.  you died.  you did not know what it was about.  you never had time to learn.  they threw you in and told you the rules and the first time they caught you off base they killed you.


this week i

found a bug in the replicate weights of the 2011 american housing survey.  they fixed it and released version 1.4 promptly.

learned that household plumbing designs originated in alcohol consumption restraint: cross-section.

haven't a clue what he's saying.  know exactly what he's saying.

thought up the best border sign possible: now entering yolo county.  no cats allowed.

wish quantitative people would stop wasting their lives.  example: pain index of bee stings?  i do not care what your research indicates, i would still prefer to take one in the nostril rather than on the shaft.  study something that's not hollow clickbait ffs.  the lengths people go for tenure: professor intentional penis bee-sting.  shit.

think i'd like restaurants to post how much their employees make in the front window.  i'm not sure.  maybe.  the end of tipping in this bc restaurant got me thinking.

live in an amazing world.

spotted in this city.

quote: to be happy you must build something.  it is the only way.


this week i

published our biannual state of the privatized medicare market.  it's getting bigger.

had a long, cool conversation with howard.  you know, just about life.  in the middle of his emergency room rotation, i asked why he wouldn't want to match in canada: "we have no guns there, eh."  he also taught me (finger) and (headbang) skype emoticons, useful for usmle prep sessions.

published code to analyze the 2010 brazilian census microdata.  with djalma.  notice how much fun we are having.

don't have a solid answer to the "why are you in hanoi" question.  these things are in hanoi.  will that suffice?


(1) ukraine weeks before the overthrow

yanukovych "lost his chance to swap a gangster's reputation for a statesman's"

ukraine's most interesting emerging leader is vitali klitschko, a heavyweight boxing champion who also goes under the name dr. ironfist

(2) mining ourselves 

the chief statistician for target

politicians are major clients of marketing agencies and data brokers

imagine how a health insurer might react to viewing your caloric intake on my fitnesspal, the number of steps you walk per day tracked by fitbit, how often you check in to your local gym using foursquare, and what you eat based on the pictures of your meals that you post on instagram

someday, not too far in the future, if you're at duane reade, aimlessly staring at a giant shelf of shampoo trying to figure out which to buy, the shelf will track your eye movements and which bottles you pick up and examine in more detail.  using this data, duane reade can algorithmically generate a coupon for a particular brand of shampoo, which you can then print from the shelf.  i watched an experimental application that tracks the movements of individuals through a mall, based on the unique identifiers, or mac addresses, of their cell phones, kept in purses or pockets but available to wireless tracking devices

while closer scrutiny of the nsa is necessary and needed, we must apply equal pressure to private corporations

(3) the economics of an extinction

in a manner of about four decades, the billion-member flocks were reduced to george and martha

the carolina backcountry..natives in the area used pigeon fat the way europeans used butter

one theory as to why scarcity did not save the passenger pigeon is that scarcity itself was the problem.  some have speculated that the birds to their signal to breed from other birds, so as the huge nesting colonies disappeared, the remaining pigeons essentially lost interest in sex

in 1913, congress approved the weeks-mclean act, which gave the federal government power to regulate the taking of migratory birds

deliberate destruction counts less than the perfectly ordinary, seemingly benign actions of 7.2 billion people

(4) how mao secured power

since class categories were often so arbitrary, and the instigators of violence usually came from the outside, people were in effect set upon one another, friends upon friends, children upon parents.  this was the point of the exercise.  through organized violence, the party made everyone complicit in the mayhem it stirred up.  the aim was to tear apart the fabric of traditional chinese life, leaving the party as the only permitted focus of loyalty

(5) the uncertainty in our history books

texting and smartphone photography inflamed millions from the moment when the self-immolation of the tunisian vendor mohamed bouazizi on december 17, 2010, ignited the arab spring..information has always been flammable, even in societies where it operated by word of mouth

copy out excerpts, she says.  not one or two, but's a kind of marinating

one of the most fascinating surprises concerned a traffic jam of the kind that often occurred in eighteenth-century paris, because streets were narrow and there were no rules about keeping to one side.  a passenger in a cabriolet lost his temper when a carriage blocked his way.  after a furious argument with the coachman of the carriage, he drew his sword and ran it through the belly of the coachman's horse.  he was the marquis de sade



this week i

ran some statistics on everyone affected by medicaid expansion decisions, not just people in the coverage gap.

assume this song is about sex and drugs.  otherwise why would candy-eating belgians need to be restrained?

feel that we're far from winning this data revolution not because there's more to be captured, but because even college-educated people struggle with high school math and programming 101.  getting government to disclose information isn't half as hard as convincing our population to master a skill with near-zero instant gratification.

confirmed the legend is true.

used to live a few blocks from the national mall, now i live a few blocks from vietnam's version.


(1) iranian nuclear diplomacy

the us and ussr prompted china to go nuclear.  china prompted india to do so, which in turn prompted pakistan.  brazil and argentina began to cross the line together and stepped back together.

a 'christmas present' for iran

a vehicle for expressing unquestioning support for israel, rather than a deadly serious national security decision for the united states

(2) weed

cannabis is one of the oldest psychotropic drugs in continuous use.  archaeologists have discovered it in digs in asia that date to the neolithic period, around 4000 bce

reported use was lowest in the people's republic of china, 0.3 percent, and highest in the united states, 42.4 percent, with new zealand close behind

to put it bluntly, marijuana works

(3) polio in the war

(4) the day after the 2016 election, start the #pardonsnowden campaign

the news story of the year, or the decade: the revelation that america's biggest spy agency, the nsa, has information on every phone call made in the continental united states as well as abroad; that it claims to have direct access to the servers of google, yahoo, facebook and all the other major web companies; that gchq, the nsa's british equivalent, is siphoning off the entire internet and storing some of it for thirty days; that online encryption has been subverted and nothing is safe from government spies

(5) egyptian transitions of power

anyone carrying his picture to their grave would be ensured a safe passage through purgatory

no one suspects him of ataturkism

better to be accused of plotting a coup than be seen as impotent or in league with facists

(6) investor visas

it's one thing to be a prostitute, another to be a cheap one

(7) go back to palo alto

huge corporations are portrayed as agents of the counterculture

the industry came out of military contracting, and its alliance with the pentagon has never ended

the internet itself, people sometimes remember, was created by the military, and publicly funded research has done a lot to make the hardware, the software and the vast private fortunes possible.  which you wouldn't know from the hyperlibertarian language of the tech world's kings.  even the mildest of them, bill gates, said in 1998: 'there isn't an industry in america that is more creative, more alive and more competitive.  and the amazing thing is that all this happened without any government involvement.'

let someone else subsidize all that research

the nsa does it for intelligence, and silicon valley does it to make money

the corporations doing this are not the counterculture, or the underground or bohemia, only the avant-garde of an orwellian future

when a google bus was surrounded on 9 december, it made the news all over the english-speaking world.  though what the blockaders wanted wasn't so easily heard.  they were attacked as people who don't like carpools, by people who don't get that the buses compete with public transport and that their passengers displace economically vulnerable san franciscans.  it's as though death came riding in on a pale horse and someone said: 'what? you don't like horses?'

the google bus was typical of the neoliberal tendency to create elite private solutions and let the public sphere go to hell

(8) intelligence leaks

exploiting the fact that the law has not caught up to technology

manning's and assange's disclosures were for the most part not justified

leakers perform a critical, if troubled, function in deterring secrecy's misuse

(9) a physician in the icu

doctors now spend more time with their computers than at the bedside

in our health system, charges may have little relation to true costs, making such a discussion still more difficult to pursue


this week i

made footnote number one in the new york review of books.

averaged 120 unique visitors on in april.

summarized what we'll use to track the affordable care act for the next three years.  mostly just a beautification of census bureau tip sheets.

figured out that the secret to making great coffee is to not make very much of it.

incorporated " more scoobysnax" into my everyday vocab.

would say biking in hanoi is rad..

..even if my bicycle just lost my trust.

crafted this lil pup.
seven five seven
single-aisle aircraft or
inside out haiku

tested the next release of monetdb.r on, well, everything.

think locals exercise like big weirdos..

..and that the singapore sea lion can suck it.


(1) the long, cool story of julian assange

isn't facebook entirely ghosted?  isn't half of facebook?  isn't the world wide web a new ether, in which we are all haunted by ghostwriters?

from swedish whores to pentagon bores

there was an article in the washington times which showed my face with a target on it and blood coming out the back of my head

'maybe it should be experimental,' he said, 'like chapter one has one word; chapter two has two words...'

i noticed he tended to eat pretty much with his hands

at the time of the egyptian uprising, mubarak tried to close down the country's mobile phone network, a service that came through canada.  julian and his gang hacked into nortel and fought against mubarak's hackers to reverse the process.  the revolution continued and julian was satisfied, sitting back in our remote kitchen eating chocolates

'i want to give you a crash course in self-deprecation'

julian had a way of making himself, in his own eyes, impervious to the small matters that might detain others.  if you told him to do the dishes he would say he was trying to free economic slaves in china and had no time to wash up

it could be called assange by assange, before admitting this sounded too much like perfume

it may turn out that julian is not daniel ellsberg or john wilkes, but charles foster kane, abusive and monstrous in his pursuit of the truth that interests him

later that night he sent a 'statement' - i.e. a rant - to the associated press

all he needed at that point was a white cat to stroke

(2) the lhc

when it's filled with particles its interior is chilled to -271°c, which is colder than deep space; but when the particles collide the points of contact are the hottest places on earth

the toddler's technique of pounding small things together and picking through the wreckage

(3) the ocean's predator-prey differential equations out of balance

90 per cent of all large fish have disappeared

true biological immortality, as if a dead butterfly's cells had reformed into a caterpillar

perfectly poised to capitalise when 'ecosystems wobble'

a global tragedy of the commons is taking place in our time, which we ignore because it's underwater

(4) the wolf of wall street

he verbally echoes a famous line from the earlier film, 'i always wanted to be rich'

the reduction of success not to ruthlessness..but to relentless plausibility

what's haunting about the car scene is that both versions, scathed and unscathed, are horrible, and you can terrify yourself by thinking about either

(5) pacemaking

we've had a tendency to believe that from the chin down we are just meat and plumbing

when it fires it's as if a horse has kicked you back from the grave