“I can’t pick out a nail polish now without a pendulum!”

Call me old-fashioned, but I think I can skip a $1500 shamanic closet cleanse.  I’ll stick with the milk crate I toss my gently-(ab)used and out-of-date clothes into.  I’m so square.

Tip from Ed Driscoll, trying to make sense in a world gone mad, at the Instapundit.

The Vinyl Detective

If you’re a fan of British TV sci-fi, you’ve probably seen several episodes of Dr Who written by Andrew Cartmel.  Now he’s gone full geek at right angles with a new mystery series, The Vinyl Detective.  Our unlikely hero is a jazz aficionado who ekes out a living buying and selling rare vinyl recordings, and lives in that peculiar subculture of collectors and traders who haunt thrift shops, estate auctions, and jumble sales.  Having dwelt there for a few years myself, Cartmel’s characters and places ring pitch perfect, with plenty of arcane background knowledge–both real and fictional–to back up the stories.

First outing is Written in Dead Wax,  which establishes the major characters

WrittenInDeadWax

and the sequel, The Run-Out Groove proves that the first novel wasn’t a fluke.

TheRun-OutGroove

The third effort, Victory Disk, is expected in May 2018.  Don’t miss it.

Time for some Doubleplus Ungood Badthink

The Brat Pack of science fiction has concocted a cynical ploy to disturb the genre’s Purity of Essence; they’re giving away e-books.

Wrongthink

I wasn’t too sure about this until I read John Scalzi’s pithy recommendation. “This is bullshit” exactly sums up my opinion of his latest strawman social-justice snoozer Locked In.  So he’s become my anti-oracle.

R Tutorial: the non-linear equation solver

Need a numerical solution to simultaneous non-linear equations?  The nleqslv package is just what you’re looking for!  The coding required is minimal; just define the equations you want solved in a function, set some initial values, and let ‘er rip.

Here’s an example that uses the method of moments to estimate the parameters of a beta-binomial distribution.

Some Hard Stats about University Teaching

Thinking about becoming a university professor?  Read Kevin Birmingham’s “The Great Shame of Our Profession” before making definite plans.

A 2014 congressional report suggests that 89 percent of adjuncts work at more than one institution; 13 percent work at four or more. The need for several appointments becomes obvious when we realize how little any one of them pays….

According to the 2014 congressional report, adjuncts’ median pay per course is $2,700. An annual report by the American Association of University Professors indicated that last year “the average part-time faculty member earned $16,718” from a single employer. Other studies have similar findings. Thirty-one percent of part-time faculty members live near or below the poverty line.

queueingtheadjuncts

It’s amusing to think of all the underpaid university adjuncts striking for a “living wage.”  Unfortunately, the pool of potential “scabs” is way too deep for any strike to be effective for more than one semester.

Of course, not all disciplines have the same problems.  My department is chronically desparate to find enough statisticians to teach all our courses, and I’ve been comfortably esconced in a non-tenure track job for over 15 years.  But statisticians are rare birds, and everyone I’ve talked to allows as how it’s far too late for them to swot up on their math and stats to become employable.

Tip from the Instapundit, who knows exploitation when he sees it.