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Class action on Foreign Credit Card Use

Sunday December 30, 2007

Filed under: general — jackman @ 6:20 pm

We got our form letters asking whether we wanted to join this class action settlement re over-charging on foreign-use of credit cards (and it also seems that foreign ATM transactions are covered).

It was an interesting exercise tallying up my foreign credit card use, re-living the last 10 years through my credit card statements (ahhh, that trip, that hotel, that dinner, that bookstore, etc).

Oh those halcyon days of yore when the Australian dollar was around 50 US cents…Tetsuya’s…! If we get the 1% to 3% refund they are talking about with the class action settlement, we might just be able to afford a meal there, again.

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Bye Bye Oscar

Tuesday December 25, 2007

Filed under: general — jackman @ 11:33 am

Oscar Peterson died last night. New York Times. Lulu’s Back In Town (48M mov file) from my KZSU set.

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Harvard is very funny

Saturday December 22, 2007

Filed under: general — jackman @ 10:33 am

Sure, the undergrads go on to become writers for late night comedy etc, but what about the PhD students?

A colleague altered me to this:

Very uneven, but the frames from 7:25 to 7:40 are pretty funny (as is the outtake)

the holiday presentation from the Harvard gov dept!

http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-3833875541020589090&hl=en

The outtake is perhaps the most hilarious part. Good one, Nancy. But the 3rd flash card is also good. See here, too.

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NYTimes does Silicon Valley

Friday December 21, 2007

Filed under: computing,general,type — jackman @ 4:05 pm

The New York Times maps Silicon Valley for you. Thumbnail below, original here, and story here. I note the handiwork of Vu Nguyen.

Picture 4-1

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Sydney flights in Winter

Thursday December 20, 2007

Filed under: flight nerdery — jackman @ 7:30 pm

Winter weather in Northern California and KSFO uses departures off the 10s. The Sydney flights (UAL and QF) pass close by on these kind of evenings, by far the loudest (non-military) aircraft movements we encounter here. Here they are in close proximity on flightaware.

That 140 knots for the Qantas flight seems awfully slow, but that is a ground speed, so who knows?

Picture 1-1

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John Edwards trailer & horserace musings

Filed under: Australian Politics,politics — jackman @ 5:04 pm

I heard the audio for this on NPR today, took me a little while to realize it is a parody of a movie trailer. The on-line video makes that pretty clear, as does the tagged title (“Caucus Trailer”).

My read is that IA has a little bit of “make-or-break” about it for Edwards on the D side, and similarly Huckabee on the R side. McCain and Gulliani are expected to fare stronger in NH than in IA, as will Romney. The Huckabee Rise hasn’t translated into poll traction in NH, perhaps because he simply was off the radar until recently, had very little going in the way of fund-raising, and so perhaps very little on-the-ground presence in NH. Huckabee’s IA trend looks good, as does polling elsewhere, but having become candidate du jour, will need to deliver big time on those expectations in IA.

Edwards has been camped out in IA forever, and if he can’t translate that into a good showing, then questions about “how long until Edwards exits the race” will start immediately. South Carolina on Jan 26 is another test for Edwards, but currently polling again suggests he is a distant 3rd there too.

In 2004 IA Dem caucuses went Kerry 38, Edwards 32, Dean 18. That, plus The Scream, was the end of Howard Dean. The IA-Dem poll summaries don’t suggest things will cleave that neatly this time in IA.

Weird for there to be this much politics, this close to the holidays. John Howard could still be prime minister of Australia if he’d decided on a January election. If only Sydney were more like, um, Des Moines…

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Clem Jones

Filed under: Australian Politics,general — jackman @ 4:12 pm

Clem Jones passed away on December 15 2007. He is widely recognized as the Lord Mayor who started Brisbane’s transformation from big country town into, well, whatever it is today. Curbing, storm water culverts, sewerage is what most people remember about his administration.

My fondest memory of Clem Jones is in his days helping to curate the Gabba. This must have been around 1975 or so, probably while Clem was still Mayor. North Melbourne and Richmond were playing an exhibition Australian Rules match at the Gabba (the only type of decent Rules you’d see in Brisbane in those days). It had been raining off and on all day, and the playing surface wasn’t looking good. I remember Clem and the ground staff were out there doing their best to fix things, and finally got the surface in a game ready state. Soaked and dirty, they headed off the field. I was all of 10 years old, but the adults around me were politely applauding, with a few “on ya Clem” type acclamations. Clem raised a hand to acknowledge the applause. Nice one.

Decades later, I was engaged in a conversation with some University of Queensland staff about how Australian universities haven’t really cracked philanthropic giving the way that American private universities have. One of the locals said “here are two things you probably don’t know”: (a) Clem Jone is one of the wealthiest people in Brisbane; (b) he approached UQ re a bequest, but UQ managed to let it fall through the cracks (presumably, in an era when UQ knew less about philanthropy than it does now, trying googling UQld and Atlantic Philanthropies).

Anyway, see this report from Crikey on Jones’ wealth (thumbnail below the fold). I wonder where it is going.
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solid rocket boosters (very cool video)

Filed under: flight nerdery,general — jackman @ 3:30 pm

Every wondered about the solid rocket boosters that are jettisoned from the Space Shuttle after launch? Watch this, perhaps with headphones on. So awesome. Reminds me of a Bill Laswell soundscape.

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informal voting (and Bennelong, again)

Tuesday December 18, 2007

Filed under: Australian Politics — jackman @ 9:43 pm

The usual suspects appear to be drivers of informality in House of Reps voting this time around: (a) proportion of an electorate’s residents that are from non-English speaking households (NESH), (b) ballot length, plus (c) whether we’re in NSW or Qld (states with optional preferential voting in their state legislative assembly elections).

You put these three factors together in a regression (with a quadratic term for NESH) and you explain about 2/3 of the variation in informality across electoral divisions. A summary of the regression fit appears at the bottom of the post (over the fold, as they say).

See the graphs below (thumbnails). I wrote on this re 2004 in a short note here.

This does give us yet another take on the McKew effort in Bennelong. She drew 13 on the ballot paper, which was not only the bottom of the ballot paper in Bennelong, but the lowest position on any House of Reps ballot in the country (i.e., Bennelong had the largest number of candidates, and McKew drew slot 13). Bennelong also scores quite high on NESH (36.3%, 16th highest in the country). With the long ballot and the confusion caused by NSW having optional preferential, we see a 6.22% rate of informality, compared with average informality rate of 3.95%, and a 4.96% average informality rate in NSW seats. The model described above predicts an informality rate of 6.57% for Bennelong.

Many of those informal ballots were likely votes intended for McKew (i.e., NESH votes skew Labor), perhaps shaving a percentage point off the vote total she might have got with a shorter ballot?

Informalnes
Informalballotlength

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JAGS 1.0.0

Filed under: computing,statistics — jackman @ 7:10 pm

JAGS (Just Another Gibbs Sampler) is a portable engine for the BUGSlanguage written in C++. JAGS 1.0.0 is now available from http://mcmc-jags.sourceforge.net

Also available is the R package “rjags” which provides an object-based interface to the JAGS library from within R. This has not beenthoroughly tested so I need beta-testers.

Enjoy

Martyn Plummer

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