Archive for October, 2012

Puzzling typo

27 Oct 2012

There’s a nice op-ed in the NY Times about the crazy conviction of seven Italian scientists for failure to warn about an unpredictable earthquake. But I spent quite a while puzzling over the following typo:

The third highlighted line should be in the middle of the fourth one, to give “…who allow flimsy buildings to be built…” I’m not sure how such an error can occur.

Here’s a PDF of the full article.

Open access, animated

25 Oct 2012

Here’s a great interview with Jonathan Eisen and Nick Shockey on open access publishing, nicely animated by Jorge Cham, who does the Piled Higher and Deeper comic.

Helmets and bike sharing programs

23 Oct 2012

There was an interesting article in the New York Times several weeks ago about helmets and bike sharing programs: That cities are giving up on encouraging people to wear helmets as that will just discourage people from biking. One point that’s made is that promotion of helmets suggests “a sense of danger that just isn’t justified.” And, of course, there’s discussion of the higher frequency of biking and lower frequency of helmet-wearing in Europe.

My wife and I each bought extra helmets to keep in our offices, so that we could always have a helmet when we use the local bike sharing system, Madison Bcycle. But I must admit that I sometimes use a Bcycle without a helmet. To me, it’s not about the sense of danger, but that lugging about a helmet can be inconvenient.

The article would have been better if there had been more precise information about the risks and about the protection helmets provide.

Several years ago I’d read an article about how helmet use might actually make biking less safe, as people might adopt less safe behaviors with a helmet. I’m not convinced, though I have observed that people bike much more slowly in Europe and especially China. If we were in less of a hurry, biking would be inherently safer.

Wired on statistics

23 Oct 2012

Wired magazine had a short article last month on how to read a scientific report, which basically was about how to interpret the statistical results. It’s reasonably well done.

Web-enabled publishing environment

23 Oct 2012

Karl Rohe has an interesting commentary in Amstat News this month, on how our current publishing system is obstructing research progress, and what a better future might look like.

The future of personalized medicine

11 Oct 2012

“Scientists” ripping people off by selling them basically useless genetic information with a bullshit report: a genetic test for exercise.

Curved arrows in R

11 Oct 2012

I briefly investigated how to draw curved arrows in R. Here’s a small piece of the figure that I ultimately created:


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