Like no, dude. We’d all be in someone else’s car.

These guys really need to get a better ad agency:


It’s OK.  The more folks think we’re uneducated doofuses, the fewer of ’em will move here and mess it up.

Update (August 9):  I haven’t seen one yet, but I’m eager to get my own "Keep San Antonio lame" t-shirt.  My wife caught the KSAL guru Aaron Forland on TexPR’s Texas Matters this past weekend; apparently it’s one of those hip-to-be-square gags.

Another Update (August 9):  Updated the KSAL link above, so you can get the t-shirt.

Yet Another Update (August
11):  My lovely wife managed to snag the last remaining KSAL
t-shirt Tuesday afternoon.  Aaron, get busy printing more!


Omigawd, They Learned Something!

This has been a pleasant week for my students in the summer semester.  One of our department’s old friends, Dr. Debasis Kundu,
is visiting from India to do research, and he took some time out to
give a colloquium talk.  We love big audiences, so the boss and I
bribed students to attend the talk; Dr Kannan
provided pizzas and I gave extra credit points for notes.  The
talk concerned an improved model for stepped stress levels in
accelerated life testing; it was right at the limit of what my
students–especially the biologists–could understand.  Still,
several students had good questions after the talk, indicating they had
learned something.  The
notes turned in for extra credit told pretty much the same story; they
didn’t grasp the whole talk, but they did pick up a few good
ideas.  So everyone was happy, and we declared the effort a

Coincidentally, my biologists have been working on a simple diagnostic
model in their statistical methods class.  They’re analysing data
from a Dutch study that explored a possible link between lung cancer
and pet birds in a large group of cigarette smokers.  In addition
to some basic demographic data, there is data on each individual’s
smoking history, but only a yes/no indicator showing whether the
individual has a pet bird.  When a logistic regression model is
fitted to the data, the pet bird indicator is highly significant, with
a large odds ratio, suggesting that owning a bird increases the risk of
lung cancer about as much as 25 years of smoking!

Naturally, these two threads came together yesterday when several of my brighter students thought about their results:  how long had the smokers been exposed to the birds? 
We have no information about that at all, and now our conclusions are
suspect.  This was such a nice case study, but now it’s just
junk.  BUT,
I’ve got some students who’ve done some good critical thinking–like
practicing statisticians–and that’s the whole point of teaching the
course.  Dr Kannan and I have done the happy dance, and will get
more pizza for the fall semester.

Energy Crisis? What Energy Crisis?

Thursdays are cycling days, so this morning the bike*
and I were out at the UTSA campus at 7am to ride with my bike buddies
Jaime and Mario (I’m often San Antonio’s token gringo).  While
warming up, waiting for the guys to show, I noticed a fellow in an
oversized 4×4 diesel pickup with the engine idling; it’s 6:58.  No
big deal, MYOB, I continued riding in circles while my guys arrived and
unloaded their bikes.  After the usual chit-chat, tire pressure
checks, and a false start when Jaime forgot his water bottles, we were
ready to go.  But before we left,  I checked the time —
7:18.  I noticed the guy in the pickup was still idling his
engine, sucking down a Starbucks,  window rolled down,  with
the radio and A/C blasting.  W. T. F.?  Last time I checked,
diesel fuel was $2.17 in S.A., and this bohunk was burning it up and
getting zero miles per gallon.  My wife has a word for this kind of behavior: piggy.

*Jaime, just back from rubbernecking the TdF,
told me that Orbea is the new must-have bike in Europe.  I checked
out current prices, and I can no longer afford my own bike!

Orandum est, ut sit mens sana in corpore sano. –Juvenal

LA Times columnist Jonathan Chait outs himself as the kind of kid I would have wanted to beat up when I* was in school:

My guess is that Bush associates exercise with discipline, and
associates a lack of discipline with his younger, boozehound days. "The
president," said Fleischer, "finds [exercise] very healthy in terms of
… keeping in shape. But it’s also good for the mind." The notion of a connection between physical and mental potency is, of course, silly.
(Consider all the perfectly toned airheads in Hollywood — or, perhaps,
the president himself.) But Bush’s apparent belief in it explains why
he would demand well-conditioned economic advisors and Supreme Court

Bush’s insistence that the entire populace follow
his example, and that his staff join him on a Long March — er, Long Run
— carries about it the faint whiff of a cult of personality. It also
shows how out of touch he is. It’s nice for Bush that he can take an
hour or two out of every day to run, bike or pump iron. Unfortunately, most of us have more demanding jobs than he does. [my emphasis]

Yeah,  writing whiny crap for a failing newspaper is lots more demanding than being the elected leader of the free world. What a loser.

* And I wasn’t a jock, I played tuba in the band.

Another great tip from K-Lo at The Corner.