Work discussion with my boss this morning:

– So, for this project, I think we should use the Cox regression model.
– Yes, let’s go with Cox.
– But the dimension of the data means we will need to adjust the model.
– Right, bigger Cox.
– That could work. Or perhaps smaller input.
– How about multiple Cox with wider input?

Don’t let the title on the door fool you: in my head, I am still in Junior High School.

You could be on your way to a beach.

A beach where the sand plays koto with the crashing waves for backup singing, you could be meeting up at the front gate of Kyoto Estación with your icebox, your sun hats, enough ice to build an igloo and bags upon bags of useless 100en beach toys, you could be riding a train small enough to fit in your childhood railway model kit, diving through mountains and popping out along the coast, you could be walking a deserted country trail down to your very own 10 acres of pristine white sand, swimming the warm waters of the Sea of Japan in August, you could be preparing fresh guacamole in the sunset with a piña colada in your hand, you could be barbecuing tandoori chicken in the dark, you could call on to your cro-magnon roots and be the Master of Fire for a night, you could sit around a bonfire, burning your fingers trying to melt marshmallows on chopsticks, you could be laying back on a beach, sand in your hair, skies in your eyes, noticing the Great Starry River for the first time since you started living on an island of neons and streetlights: for every late Summer shooting star you catch out of the corner of your eye, drink your tequila and bite a lemon, if you missed it: drink anyway because it is damn good stuff and made from cactus so it can’t be bad for you, you could start running along the beach, throw your underwear at random and dive headfirst into the sea for midnight skinny dipping, you could light up the sky and wake up the fishes with fireworks until you run out of lighters or energy, whichever comes first, you could be playing poker with a flashlight and a stash of one-yen coin and realise that beachwear makes for very quick rounds of strip poker, you could be falling asleep with the sound of waves crashing at your feet, you could be eating chocolate on bread for breakfast with an aftertaste of salt on your lips, you could be making fresh yakisoba with grilled slices of pumpkin for dessert, you could be spending your day playing in the waves or napping in the shadow, you could be listening to the sand singing under your feet, you could be doing a thousand other things under the sun…

Of course, you could.

Happy birthday to me. Another year of backward aging and waning maturity on the way back to infantile bliss.

If, like me, you delight in advance at the possibility of one day being diagnosed with an incurable disease linked to a gene named after the world’s most famous blue hedgehog, feel free to circulate the following petition:

Dear fellows at the HUGO Gene Nomenclature Guidelines Committee,

It has recently come to my attention that you have decided to do away with names deemed “inappropriate or offensive” found in the existing international gene nomenclature.

I couldn’t agree more: I always thought that the officially registered name for gene kill-all-the-Jews-and-drink-their-blood was a bit politicised for a scientific setting.

Whatever you do, however, keep your hands off gene SHH, otherwise officially known as sonic hedgehog homolog (Drosophila) gene. We like it the way it is (blue, spiky and running very fast). Beside, what better way to break the news of some potentially fatal gene mutation disease to a kid, than by introducing a beloved computer game mascot!

PS: and for chrissake, drop the Comic Sans font: it makes your world-class gene database website look like it was coded by a 1st year CS student in 1991 (yes, I know: it probably was).


At its current rate of lazy, never-ending cheap self-one-upmanship it calls a plot, Heroes probably won’t make it past mid-season before its characters have all been made into equally indestructible super-human beings with god-like abilities. What then? Do they settle it with a tickle fight.

Is this show written by teenage nerds on ritalin, or did they just post a poll on the back covers of sci-fi mags?

In today’s Guardian (emphasis mine):

In a rare interview, Rob Wainwright, international director of the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (Soca), told the Guardian […]

Meanwhile, somewhere, there’s an international director of the Funny and Organised Crime Agency (Foca) who feels like nobody takes his job seriously…

Seriously, is anyone still reading this?

For the couple tenacious lost souls still around, here is the perennial pointless “Oops, has it been a month already?” post. Insert usual excuses here.

Unfortunately, I cannot even promise you any improvement for a while (possibly two whiles and a half, depending on how things go). However, more as a way to remind myself than anything, here are a couple things I may (or may not) devote a post to, in the (very) near future (OK, I’m typing some of these as I type this):

  • French Politics Part 2 and Ms. Ségolène Royal (I’m nearly done writing it, I swear).
  • Bug-ridden Apple Mail program and why I really, really hate its guts, after it annihilated my inbox and those past 4 months of received emails I hadn’t backed up yet.
  • Incidentally, why you may want to send again any mail you’ve sent me in the past 5 months (particularly if I haven’t replied to it yet).
  • Why Russell Crowe makes a very poor substitute to studying for my Game Theory test.
  • The so-called “Turing” Test: why it is meaningless, pointless and not all that interesting in the end.
  • Complexity classes and NP-completeness. What is it and can it mow your lawn? With extra special bits on primality testing, combinatorial explosion, and my very own personal position on the great P versus NP debate.
  • Cryptology, Encryption algorithms, DES and why they are indeed out to get you.
  • Possibly: what I will be up to, come this Summer, if things go according to the plan (they never do).

Alright, now that I’ve made a bunch of loose promises for new content, I will be going back to actually writing it.

If, like me, you strive to achieve excellency in any field you put your mind to, be it risk assessment and investment banking or complete world domination through evil masterplan, here are a few useful pointers to being an efficient and successful Evil Overlord, plucked from the canonical Evil Overlord Guide:

2. My ventilation ducts will be too small to crawl through

5. The artifact which is the source of my power will not be kept on the Mountain of Despair beyond the River of Fire guarded by the Dragons of Eternity. It will be in my safe-deposit box. The same applies to the object which is my one weakness.

12. One of my advisors will be an average five-year-old child. Any flaws in my plan that he is able to spot will be corrected before implementation

28. My pet monster will be kept in a secure cage from which it cannot escape and into which I could not accidentally stumble.

35. I will not grow a goatee. In the old days they made you look diabolic. Now they just make you look like a disaffected member of Generation X.


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Today: a Game!

A real game. With winners, losers, gladiators, wild beasts and blood. Lots of blood!

OK. Perhaps no blood, to start with. But we are hard at work incorporating this element for further installments…

The Rules

Perhaps you noticed there was a strange air of déjà-dit to my last pre-logged post. In fact, one single person noticed it: I’m slightly disappointed in you, dear readers, I thought we were all playing at a higher plane, already… somewhere high above the clouds and the mass of the vulgar and the ignorant. Apparently not.

For the thick and obtuse, let me cut it out clear as crystal meth:

The previous entry (italicized introduction excepted) is entirely composed of lyrics stolen from miscellaneous musical pieces performed at some point during the past 2000 years or so.

Your mission, if you accept it, is to find which musical pieces were used. All fairly popular tracks. By “fairly popular”, I’d say most, if not all, proudly boast at least a Gold Record status…

Now, put back that Google where you found it: it won’t help you none (just try if you don’t believe me). It won’t help, because the pieces of this wonderful little riddle span over six (6) languages (in no particular order: Spanish, Greek, English, Italian, French and German). Translations were furthermore adapted a little, both to fit my fancy and preserve you from the all too tempting Google option.

That’s thirteen (13) fragments (only twelve tracks, as two fragments could be considered part of the same), covering quite a wide array of musical genres.

One last time for those who slept through: the riddle is HERE.

The Prize

Yes, there is a prize. No, I’m not kidding.

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Picture faceanalysis.png Yuki recently blogged her experiments with It sounded fun, I decided to go see for myself.

FaceAnalyzer is a website that claims to be able to give you, from a mere picture, an automated breakdown of your “race” (which, may I remind you people, in the case of humans, is mostly a social construct, with hardly any ground in biology), along with an estimate of your “Intelligence”, “Ambition”, “Risk” (whatever the hell that may be), “Gay Factor”… complete with, I kid you not: Income bracket

Now I know what you think: quite a bit of pseudoscience, mixed in with a whole lot of outright quackiness…

Only one way to know, right?

Upon submitting a fairly broad sample of my likeness, in various states of drug-induced haze, hair color and cheekiness, the results were rather mitigated:
While I can certainly accept the possibility that I may have a fair share of East-Indian or Chinese blood in me (please no “ever had some [insert ethnicity] in you?” joke here), I find it a bit harder to accept that I’d be a woman (as the system insisted on pointing out, in every single case)… Although that would explain a certain fascination for lace undergarments and a secret passion for knitting I always attributed to my deviant morals… But in that case, wouldn’t all the lesbian action give me a “Gay Factor” at least somewhat above average?

Obviously not very conclusive. But science makes mistakes… One should not draw hasty conclusions and bluntly discard such breakthrough technology as “money-making snake’s oil scheme” without at least a second chance…

So I bravely submitted a picture of my brother’s cat, and I must say the results are troubling.

  • Indeed, the cat is FEMALE! Most definitely has a good deal of middle-eastern ancestry, in fact, her lineage can probably be traced to every other urban slum of the Eurasian continent, with the odd pedigreed tomcat here and there…
  • Frankly not sure about that “Low Promiscuity” rate: I mean, before she got spayed, the girl could be quite a little trollop around the neighbourhood.
  • It is a bit disappointing that she only displays “Average” ambition, but I guess we will have to find solace in the fact that she is destined to make at least $30,000 a year… not bad for a cat who doesn’t even have her high-school degree.

I’ll be contacting my brother shortly and urge him to stop wasting her talent on stupid things like chasing rats and rummaging around the neighbourhood: that cat has potential (Beta Academic potential!), she needs to be put to work!

By the way, physiognomy is not a new idea. It hasn’t been given the slightest bit of scientific credibility over the past 50 years, though.

As for how the website gets its “uncanny” success rate regarding geographical phenotypes: any first-year computer science student can get the same results with a big-enough sample database and some very low-grade face-matching algorithm. Any rating merely suggest a match with existing pictures of a certain ethnicity, which is well below the crease of scientific procedure, hence the wild margin of error. In fact a properly trained neural network would probably give vastly superior results on some criteria (such as gender, for example).

Needless to say that detection of personality traits such as “Gay Factor”, “Promiscuity” or even “Intelligence”, through face analysis, is complete and utter bullcrap. The last people with an academic background to have given it some sort of scientific credence ended up cracking capsules of cyanide in their mouth, approximately sixty years ago.