2 3 live&learn&rejoice: May 2011

May 30, 2011

Data mining, text mining, topic modeling

From today's NY Times - http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/05/29/of-monsters-men-and-topic-modeling/

"Topic modeling is a probabilistic, statistical method that can uncover themes and categories in amounts of text so large that they cannot be read by any individual human being."

Researchers at the Digital Scholarship Lab at the University of Richmond have applied topic modeling techniques to articles published in the Richmond Daily Dispatch from 1861 through 1864.  What they've found is that there are patterns among article topics that occur at particular points in time during the Civil War.  These topics had a point of motivating Southerners to join the Confederate Army and risk their lives and families.  Among other things, researchers found an association between anti-Northern diatribes and articles on patriotism and poetry.

"The remarkable similarity in the signatures of these two topics is striking. If one appeared relatively frequently in the paper at any given moment, the other would appear frequently too. The close association of these two topics — which would be difficult, maybe impossible, to see without this topic model — suggests that they were always two sides of the same coin ...

......those appeals needed to be made at particular points in time. We see the steady rise of patriotic poetry and vitriolic attacks during the secession crisis and the early months of the war. Later we see the sharp jump following the implementation of the draft in April 1862. And we see the last gasp of Confederate patriotism and nationalism at the very end of the war, as Southerners made one final attempt to rally the troops and salvage their cause.

These were the moments of great stress for the Confederate army: as it was just being built, as it struggled for adequate manpower, and as it faced final defeat."

All from data/text mining.....

queen caroline

portrait of the queen

because of tough competition, queen caroline's marriage to the prince regent (future george IV) does not even rank in the top 10 of most salacious royal marriages.

hats off to the british. nobody does pomp, manners, and royal scandal any better.

will william and kate be able to continue the legacy of their ancestors?

May 27, 2011

From nails to Howard Hughes to Mormons

At his death, Howard Hughes employed, among others, a group of 6 men, 5 of whom were Mormon, his executive assistants.  The executive assistants monitored Hughes 24 hours/day and were compensated with high salaries (maybe as much as $110,000/year).  Hughes was a germaphobe and took elaborate precautions to avoid contact with others and things.  When he died, he weighed only 91 lbs....on a 6'4" frame.  He had five broken off hypodermic needles in one of his arms.

bad is the new good

After conversating with an edgy coed who could care less about emerging artists and was disinterested in anything unrelated to her diva tendencies, I realized it was about exactly 3:45 pm -- actually the clock read 3:42 pm. I anxiously awaited the delivery of my first paycheck, expected at 4:00 pm. This check was especially significant because I had spent the last two weeks as the go-to gal for a ginormous ego maniac genius who graduated college just ten years ago and had already grown a successful company selling paintings. The business was not such a creative endeavor as it really just merged together existing methodologies to maximize efficiency and take advantage of low hanging fruit. In any event, I honestly believe that due to the hugely impactful benefit my work had to the corporate success, the powers-that-be potentially could get pushback for applauding my efforts at wearing many hats by awarding me a whopping bonus. Whatever, it really is a win-win situation since so many companies and recruiters are trying to woo me. Being an uber-wordsmith really makes life less worrying instead of worrisome.


May 26, 2011

commuting entertainment

See how fast you can repeat this:

The sixth sick sheik's sixth sheep's sick.

social business

social media are the tools used. social business is the practice. a social business uses social tools to achieve goals.

just as
a hoe and a rake a garden do not make
so to
a fb page and a twitter account a business do not mount

May 25, 2011

More on nails....and Howard Hughes

Perhaps not surprisingly, the length of Howard Hughes' fingernails at his death is of some dispute.  

From Time Magazine (http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,918526-2,00.html) - "His fingernails were two inches long, and his toenails grew and grew until they resembled yellow corkscrews."  Entertainment Weekly, on the other hand, claims that he had "foot long fingernails." (http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,190166,00.html)

I suppose we really don't care.

an excellent question

whatever happened to prussia?


a question

Q:  what do grey's anatomy and ballet have in common?

A:  sdoɹd ʇnq ƃuıɥʇou sɐ uǝɯ ǝsn ɥʇoq


as long as i don't have to spell the capital city's name before visiting,
this is the area i'm daydreaming about today  . . . http://www.lonelyplanet.com/india/kerala

May 24, 2011


.... of the hand and feet variety....

Fingernails grow three times as fast as toenails; as we age, nail growth slows; nails on the hand that predominates (i.e., left or right) grow faster than on the one that doesn't; nails grow faster in summer than they do in winter; men's nails grow faster than women's; and the rate of growth increases during a woman's pregnancy.

Why are such things known?

All from the NY Times' science pages - http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/24/science/24qna.html?ref=science.

on this day in 1813

. . . jane austen writes a letter about seeing a painting of how she imagines Jane Bennet, who marries Mr. Bingley at the conclusion of Pride and Prejudice. "Mrs Bingley is exactly herself, size, shaped face, features & sweetness; there never was a greater likeness. She is dressed in a white gown, with green ornaments, which convinces me of what I had always supposed, that green was a favourite colour with her." Scholars suspect that the painting she refers to is the Portrait of Mrs Q by the French portrait painter François Huet-Villiers. Harriet Quentin was a mistress to George IV when he was prince regent. William Blake's 1820 engraving reproduces the portrait.

thank you morgan library & museum for this tidbit, http://www.themorgan.org/home.asp

May 23, 2011

insights from a duchess*

Dear girl! She is so fond of photographs of Switzerland. Such a pure taste, I think.

*aka Oscar Wilde in Lady Windemere's Fan

May 22, 2011

To procrastinate....

... is to sin.  Or so says a 17th century sermon delivered by a Reverend Walker.  But, per a Carleton College (Ottawa) website (http://http-server.carleton.ca/~tpychyl/prg/research/research_history_term.html) , procrastination was not always viewed so poorly.  The Egyptians observed both a good kind of procrastination (not doing what was unnecessary) and a slothful sort of procrastination ("laziness in a task required for sustenance").  Modern uses of procrastinate seem to associate the task eventually and tardily performed with less than adequate performance.  

That same Carleton College sponsors a Procrastination Research Group (http://http-server.carleton.ca/~tpychyl/prg/about/about_research_group.html).  I wonder how they get anything done.


lovely east texas clouds,
unlovely dirty camera lens
software as a service (SaaS, typically pronounced [sæs]), sometimes referred to as "on-demand software," is a software delivery model in which software and its associated data are hosted centrally (typically in the (Internet) cloud) and are typically accessed by users using a thin client, normally using a web browser over the Internet, per wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Software_as_a_service

for more go, not to the clouds, but to http://www.infoworld.com/d/cloud-computing/blogs

fake clouds
do not make up for
a dirty lens

May 21, 2011

pardon me?

-The fan placed near the heart: You have won my love.
-Half-opened fan pressed to the lips: You may kiss me.
-Hiding the eyes behind an open fan: I love you.
-Opening and closing the fan several times: You are cruel.
-Fanning slowly: I am married.
-Fanning quickly: I am engaged.
-Twirling the fan in the left hand: You are being watched.

May 20, 2011

binocular rivalry

seeing may be believing
but perception is where it's at

May 19, 2011

kingly pr tips

inheriting a small country was bad enough, but having a parliament and a people not interested in acquiring colonies was simply unacceptable. step in creative thinking, the best way to get through life if you insist on doing it your own way.

to convince the commoners that occupying an african land was a good thing, king leopold ii of belgium first orchestrated an elaborate ruse by establishing the association internationale africaine dedicated to humanitarian projects. how very noble, who could object?

turns out rubber production in the congo became extremely lucrative for the king. also turns out the king's methods for rubber production were notoriously brutal for the natives. even before twitter, news of the atrocities committed on behalf of the king of belgium leaked.

next step was to use those kingly pr skills to convince other countries that belgium rule of the congo was a good thing,

so the people of the congo worked for the king, died for the king, starved for the king -- population of the congo declined approximately 50% during king leopold's "humanitarian" reign.  it was not until the king had acquired something like $1 billion in profits that at last public pressure forced him to give up his holdings.

so the king who had inherited a small country adverse to engaging in colonialism exceeded expectations on the pr front and that is what the monarchy of belgium is based on. everybody okay with that?

May 18, 2011

interest mining

another blogundant entry, this time an abbreviated recap of the May 10, 2011 Bazaarvoice blog online at http://www.bazaarvoice.com/blog/

social media variation of data mining is INTEREST MINING whereby companies target product placement based on the information provided in a person's tweets

& beyond . . . study a company's twitter followers and develop a stronger brand profile. . .  "learn more about them to deliver more of what they want"

starbucks case study at http://www.briansolis.com/2011/02/the-interest-graph-on-twitter-is-alive-studying-starbucks-top-followers/

May 17, 2011

beer and diapers

the purpose of data mining: serves to discover (hidden, non-trivial) patterns in large amounts of data records in order to be used very effectively for (ex post) analysis and (ex ante) forecasting. . . . this, according to easydatamining.com
easydatamining.com gives lots of practical examples to highlight the value added in data mining (presumably available by purchasing their software). data mining shows a correlation between diapers & beer purchases for example (details only available on easydatamining.com). possibilities for datamining also pretty exciting for medical field.
....but isn't the datamining software only as good as the data input? who inputs the data? who classifies information? how often is the data updated?wouldn't the keywords used/not used determine the results?

May 16, 2011

trouble & strife

frog & toad = the main road
apples & pears = stairs
dog & bone = telephone
mince pies = eyes
weeping willow = pillow
fork & knife = life
twist & twirl = girl
Richard the Third = bird (ie girl)
gold watch = scotch
pig's ear = beer
Oxford Dictionary of Rhyming Slang

now it's your turn:
soggy feet = horse meat
hail & sleet = seat
green bean = queen
pain & torment = parent
friendly furrier = terrier
pencil & pen = win
tawdry whore = bore
  • The tawdry whore took a hail and whined about her pain & torment.
  • The green bean wanted the British players to pencil & pen at Wimbeldon.
  • My friendly furrier hogs the hail.
  • Beware: the kanji for soggy feat sushi looks much like that for raw chicken, probably tastes like it too.

May 15, 2011

beware the celtis laevigata

the celtis laevigata, aka hackberry tree, that appeared perfectly healthy couldn't hack it anymore and alas the green giant committed suicide in the backyard with no warning causing $5k worth of damage (and still counting).

how does a tree that appears healthy just collapse in a gentle thunderstorm? ah...today i know what i did not know yesterday...
[hackberry trees] are susceptible to a root fungus (Hypoxylon) that appears around the base of the tree as a black, crusty growth. This fungus does not appear to interfere with normal life processes and, other than the fungal growth, the tree appears healthy. However, the fungus weakens the roots and, following a wind storm, the tree may be found toppled over. Inspection of the root-base reveals a break between roots and trunk that is so clean that it appears to have been done with a chain-saw!

heart of darkness

May 14, 2011


was, by ancestry at least, Greek (in myth, if not in reality, descended from Alexander the Great).  She was married (on different occasions) to two of her little brothers and had at least one of them killed.

keep (east) austin weird

May 13, 2011

Swan Lake

...., the ballet, that is, may or may not be based, at least insofar as the story goes, on a Russian folktale titled 'The White Duck.'  What a difference a name makes.....

data mining

. . . data mining (sometimes called data or knowledge discovery) is the process of analyzing data from different perspectives and summarizing it into useful information - information that can be used to increase revenue, cuts costs, or both. Data mining software is one of a number of analytical tools for analyzing data. It allows users to analyze data from many different dimensions or angles, categorize it, and summarize the relationships identified. Technically, data mining is the process of finding correlations or patterns among dozens of fields in large relational databases.


May 11, 2011

Steppe on it

A steppe is a "vast, grassy plain" (http://autocww.colorado.edu/~toldy2/E64ContentFiles/SustainableEnvironment/Steppe.html).  There are steppes in Europe, Asia, and North and South America.  In Russia, the steppe is "dry, cold, and flat" with few, if any, trees (http://novaonline.nvcc.edu/eli/evans/HIS241/Notes/Geography/Steppe.html).   The steppe in Russia is the largest one in the world.  Cossacks lived on the Russian steppe - they were nomads (the soil of the steppe does not support farming) their fortified camps were called 'sich' (http://www.personal.psu.edu/zzz5019/blogs/zachary_ziobro/2011/02/the-cossack-era.html).

i challenge you to a duel

aleksandr pushkin was killed in a duel with his wife’s lover in 1837.
stephen decatur, American Naval Hero, lost his life in a duel in 1820. 
dueling is legal in Paraguay as long as both parties are registered blood donors.

Read more: http://wiki.answers.com/Q/In_Paraguay_you_are_allowed_to_duel_as_long_as_both_parties_are_registered_blood_donors.#ixzz1NdZGdQRi
....all you wanted to know (and more) about dueling at http://www.destreza.us/history/duels/index.html

May 10, 2011

18th century pr

catherine the great started life as a rather impoverished and inconsequential prussian named sophia. she had neither great looks as a child nor great promise. her intuitive pr skills -- long before the term public relations was coined -- would leave her known as "catherine the great."

while in her mid-teens, circumstances led to sophia being the chosen one to marry an imbecilic nephew of peter the great. catherine's instincts convinced her to immediately forgo her lutheranism and to forsake her prussian ways even before her marriage.

& long before her vicious mother-in-law would succumb, young sophia -- rechristened catherine, not yet "the great" -- knew how to maneuver in the highly political courts of a foreign country without getting tripped up by the intrigues.

she bided her time. she learned. she cultivated everything russian.

she had some indiscretions -- words that never should have been put on paper, ill advised affairs, that sort of thing -- but overall she pursued presenting herself as a devoted russian. she remained quiet and [outwardly] humble. she says in her journals that she endured what would have driven other people mad. even as a lonely young wife ignored by an idiotic husband and bullied by a powerful empress, she stayed on point and on message.

and she read all the time. voltaire, montesquieu, and whatever russian literature she could find.

when the moment was right, she banished her insipid husband, the rightful heir to the throne, seized the title of Empress for herself, and insisted on a coronation beyond extravagance. she knew she had to make a strong impression on the peasants, on her rivals, and on foreign dignitaries.

catherine went on to earn the moniker "the great," a study of her life is a study of the transformative power of good public relations.

recommended read: Catherine the Great by Henri Troyat

to the victor goes the crown

May 9, 2011

That Millennium Challenge Corporation....

....was first established in 2004 by section 7703 of Title 22 of the United States Code.  The CEO is appointed by the president, with the advice and consent of the Senate.  The board of directors of the MCC is comprised of (together with the CEO of the MCC) the Secretaries of State and Treasury, the US trade representative, and the administrator of the US Agency for International Development.  The MCC is authorized to provide assistance to any country that enters into a Millennium Challenge Compact with the US.  Such assistance may not include military assistance or training, abortions, or involuntary sterilization.

To be eligible for assistance, countries must demonstrate 'just and democratic governance," "economic freedom," and "investments in [its] people."  Each Millennium Challenge Compact requires the signing country to agree to certain development objectives.


the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) is an innovative and independent U.S. foreign aid agency that is helping lead the fight against global poverty . . . hmph . . . have you ever heard of it before?

May 8, 2011


2,763,885 people live in Utah (or so the 2010 census tells us).  86.1% of those people are white alone, 1.1% are black or African-American alone, 1.2% are American Indian and Alaskan Native, 2% are Asian alone, 0.9% are native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islanders, and the rest are some combination of the foregoing.  13% are Hispanic or Latino origin.  The population of black or African-American people in Utah increased 65.9% from 2000 to 2010, and the population of Asians in Utah increased during that time period by 49%.

Nine counties in Utah had an increase of more than 25% in population from 2000 to 2010

As of 8:23pm PDT, May 8, 2011, the population of the United States is 311,316,626.

Surprising fact (from http://factfinder2.census.gov/faces/nav/jsf/pages/index.xhtml): "Irish was the nation's second most frequently reported ancestry, trailing only German."

death to powerpoint

this is how you do a slideshow folks . . .  note there is no mention of Microsoft nor PowerPoint because the medium is not the message. unless, of course, mr mcluhan was right & the medium is the message . . .

bee buzz

deseret means honeybee . . . utah state nickname, the beehive state.

utah official state insect, of course, is the apis mellifera, also known as the honeybee.

utah state emblem is a beehive.

utah state flag showcases a bald eagle above a beehive (symbolizing hard work), surrounded by sego lilies (representing peace) and two US flags.

ever wonder what albert einstein looked like to bees? you're in luck, go to http://pandora.nla.gov.au/parchive/1999/O1999-Sep-6/cvs.anu.edu.au/andy/beye/images/img17v.gif to get a bee-eye view.

May 7, 2011

Provo, Utah....

...is nestled between two mountain ranges, the Wasatch Range, to the east, and the Oquirrh to the west.  The largest missionary training center for the Church of Latter Day Saints is located in Provo, as is BYU, which has more than 30,000 students, mostly undergraduates.

Deseret was the state name bestowed upon the area by the Mormons.  When settlers proposed that name to the United States, they were refused and the Utah territory was born (1850).  Filmore was originally the capital, but Salt Lake CIty replaced it in 1858.

corn vadas

lovely recipes when you're in the mood for an out of the ordinary snack courtesy of times of india online  . . . http://idiva.com/news-work-life/delicious-snack-recipes-for-your-kids/4838


300 gms fresh corn kernels.
1 small onion
Corn flour as required
1/2 tsp coriander powder
2 green chillies
Few sprigs cilantro/ coriander
Salt to taste
Oil for deep frying


•Remove the husk, silk and chop off the corn kernels into a bowl.
•Mash them a little if they are soft else grind them a little without making into a paste.
•Peel, wash and finely chop onion.
•Remove stems, wash and finely chop green chillies.
•Wash and roughly chop cilantro/ coriander leaves.
•In a mixing bowl, combine mashed fresh corn kernels, chopped onion, green chillies, coriander powder, cilantro, a tsp of corn flour and salt into a somewhat tight paste. Add little more corn flour if required.
•Take 2 inch sized ball out of above corn mixture and flatten it a little with the fingers.
•Heat oil in a wok on medium high heat.
•Slowly drop the flattened corn mixture balls into the hot oil until the wok is full.
•Deep fry them until golden brown on both the sides.
•Drain on absorbent paper and repeat with remaining mixture.
•Serve hot with tamarind chutney.

May 5, 2011

get ready to smile

tennyson & mickey mouse

assuming it is correct that "tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all" . . . a rather audacious assumption really, I mean, why should we trust alfred in these affairs, do we know that he knew this with any degree of certainty or it just sounded poetic so he jotted it down because that was the sort of thing people expected him to do?

. . .  leaving that troublesome consideration aside let us go forth and consider whether or not it would be correct to extrapolate and say it is better to have been interviewed for the dream job and lost than never to have been interviewed at all?

and this is difficult, folks, very difficult  . . .  because the interviewee gets so very excited about the tempting prospect seemingly within reach and then can any other position, any other organization, any other career opportunity in life ever compare to the fruit that was within reach but, alas, not reached?

or does everything afterward seem rather pale and Mickey Mouse?

. . .and really what's up with Disney --  the ultimate enforcer of all copyright and intelletual property rights and the powerhouse with reputation and image . . . how did they let the term  "mickey mouse" be equated with mediocrity? is that a PR plunder or what happened there?

the etymology, courtesy of "wiktionary": the adjective sense developed during the second world war, after a large quantity of low quality counterfeit mickey mouse watches flooded the united kingdom.

so here's hoping my interview today is not of that kind of "mickey mouse" quality.

May 4, 2011


. . . go electronic when brainstorming by using bubbl.us

May 3, 2011

Who knew.....

.... that there are now Mother's Day cards for sale (at Target, no less!) that are specially designed to be sent from dogs and cats to their human moms??

In related news... from http://www.dogpark.com/Hallmarks-Pet-Love-Cards.html:  "Hallmark cites research showing that 62% of pet owners sign cards and letter from both themselves and their pet.  55% view themselves as their pet’s parent..."


social conflict in africa database, #scad, indicates that an overly narrow definition of conflict and security -- one traditionally restricted to civil or international wars that involve a government -- does NOT give an accurate picture of the instability experienced in africa because the continent  experiences social conflict more frequently and more intensely than armed conflict.

the incidences documented in #scad show that social conflict in africa can be extremely violent and destabilizing &, further, extremely wet years result in more violence . . . which leads to a discussion of "the paradox of plenty," what wikipedia titles "the resource curse," http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resource_curse

. . . which goes back to the old thing about being careful what you wish for . . .

May 2, 2011

do we need more search engines? sure, why not.

yippy.com - google "define: yippy" and you'll get the very curious answer "Undead rabid poodles in clown attire."

i like it, i do. unconventional definitions for commonly used words is new to me, but i like the possibilities. maybe we'd all communicate a lot better if we kept switching out the meanings of words randomly and you were always confused (confusion often beats the alternative of when you actually understand what was just said . . . but that's a dark path to trod in the morning).

taking the more conventional approach, yippy might be overly enthusiastic for describing this search engine, but it is  welcome addition to the search engine club nonetheless. in japan the test of a sushi restaurant is the "tamago sushi," for me the test of a search engine is the word "dachshund" and yippy passed that test with lots of cute dog pictures . . . a much better way to start the day than worrying about undead poodles in clown attire.

and then there is addictomatic.com. i don't find it that addictive, but it promises the latest buzz on any topic so how can you go wrong?

May 1, 2011

epitaph revenge

Mary Ann Weems
Godmanchester, England
To the Young of both Sexes

This Stone is erected by public Subscription over the remains of MARY ANN WEEMS who at an early age became acquainted with THOMAS WEEMS formerly of this Parish this connextion [sic] terminating in a compulsory Marriage occasioned him soon to desert her and wishing to be Married to another Woman he filled up the measure of his iniquity by resolving to murder his Wife which he barbarously perpetrated at Wendy on their Journey to London toward which place he had induced her to go under the mask of reconciliation May the 7th 1819 He was taken within a few hours after the crime was committed, tried and subsequently executed at Cambridge on the 7th of August in the same Year

Ere Crime you perpetrate survey this Stone

Learn hence the God of Justice sleeps not on his Throne

But marks the Sinner with unerring Eye

The suffering Victim hears and makes the Guilty die


makes you wonder what should be on your epitaph, don't it?