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Causation’s Mistreated Sibling Correlation

This is why I love XKCD, though surely the best part of this strip was the mouseover: “correlation doesn’t imply causation, but it does waggle its eyebrows suggestively and gesture furtively while mouthing, ‘look over there’.”

Illinois Declares Pluto a Planet

Here’s democracy at its worst: astronomy is being revised according to the popular vote in Illinois. It’s particularly fascinating to see that the goal for this change is to increase the number of scientific accomplishments contributed by the people of Illinois.


Cause to be grateful: Washington is now the second state to allow its citizens the right to suicide. I think we are finally moving away from the moral prohibition of suicide that Christianity forced upon humanity as a countermeasure after having given humans every reason to wish to die.

The Bipartisan Demand for Buying American

The Bipartisan Demand for Buying American

Part of the reason I find it difficult to take our two party system seriously is that Americans from both parties tend to hold very similar beliefs — often on precisely those issues over which I wish there were more disagreement. As a case in point, consider today’s Pew report on attitudes towards “buying American”: […]


We Americans have a reputation as being unworldly. Given the results of the most recent Pew survey, perhaps we deserve it. Evidently, the majority of us never move out of our home states.

Do You Want to Live Forever?

If you want to live forever, it seems that you may want to be rebuilt out of molecules that resist oxidative stress. It seems to be working for the naked mole rat.


The New York Times has a remarkable story up about a New York school teacher who went missing for almost a month after suffering from a case of dissociative fugue. I particularly enjoy how the article portrays the fragility of a self and the potential for massive disconnection from our memories. Also fascinating is the […]

Click Tracks and Beat Detection

Being a drummer, a programmer and a fan of statistical analysis, this post on the (unnaturally) perfect timing of drum parts recorded to a click track was a real delight to me. Of course, many claims in the post are odd: it seems hard to imagine that a person recorded the drums for Britney Spears. […]

Color Schemes for R Bar Plots

Color Schemes for R Bar Plots

A recurrent source of irritation for me is the absence of a good default behavior in R for choosing the color scheme for bar plots. A stacked bar plot looks only as good as the color scheme you use. In hope of finding a usable scheme that I could settle on as a personal default, […]