Website Wednesday: Models and Data

Website Wednesday is a (mostly) weekly feature in which we highlight one (or a couple) of sites from the Billions floating around the Intertoobz that just might help you with your Herculean task of educating inquiring minds. Any and all suggestions for future editions are welcome.

Here in week 7 of our semester, I’m a little less far behind than usual for some reason, but a little further behind than I was last week owing to a cold and so I didn’t have enough time to put up the post I’d planned (maybe next week!). Instead, in keeping with Kamran’s theme, I offer you three gifts:

~a truly great (and short) read called, “The Deception that Lurks in Our Data-Driven World,” that includes stories about bathroom scales, the German “Normalbaum” disaster that ensued from human efforts to make an unruly ecosystem easier to quantify and an overabundance of faith in their understanding of they system they were quantifying, and the sentence “Raw data is an oxymoron;”

~an even shorter, quicker read on one example of what happens when a model (even a good one) is mistaken for reality; and

~this fun, heretical presentation on “Big Data” (you can skim through the slides and summarizing text by clicking HERE if you don’t have time for the video):


And when you’re done, go read Kamran’s piece…

College Night at The Goodman: Disgraced

Sam the Intern writes with the following information:Disgrace Flier

My name is Sam S., the marketing intern at the Goodman Theatre. With our season starting up, the Goodman would like to invite you to attend our upcoming College Night for our show Disgraced on Tuesday September 29th starting at 6PM. Join us for pizza, a discussion with actor Behzad Dabu, and a performance of this straight from Broadway play all for $10!

Click here for a PDF version of the flier if you’d like to hang one in your class or office.

Otherwise, help spread the word!


Website Wednesday

The (poorly named) World Series starts tonight! If you love baseball, you already know that. But if you don’t love baseball (yet), perhaps it’s because you don’t have a full understanding of the game.

Well, I can’t fix that with a Web site, but, just in case, you might find one or more of the following interesting enough to encourage you to watch a few innings and maybe learn something (or at least have something to look for) as you watch the drama unfold.

First up, a site that is all about contemporary examples of “the code”--the so-called unwritten rules of baseball. If you don’t know what they are, you can get a quick primer on some of them here.

But that’s not all, there’s the pleasures of transgressing and defying authority, as well as occasional dissemblance in order to satisfy the demands of the audience, a kind of game within the game, as here where, according to the participants, there was more showmanship than argumentativeness. Trickery! Just in time for Halloween.

And, there’s always the human drama, as here, in the story of Thurman Munson. I remember when he died. I remember being kind of sad about it even though I wasn’t a Yankees fan and didn’t really know much about Munson or baseball. This summer, reading this, I came to think that I was right to be sad about his death way back then.

Enjoy the Series, if you watch sports. Give it a shot if you don’t.






Annual Football Picking Contest

Yes, yes, it’s late (sorry everyone), but it’s ready for you! Last year, Ephrem Rabin rode the chalk all the way to the last week before an untimely vacation stole his championship. The year before, a rookie from a distant land stole our hearts while nearly stealing the title (despite her confusion about what is and isn’t “football”).

What will this year’s story be? Sign up for the Harold Lounge Braggin’ Rights Challenge to find out. Fancy prizes for winners this year! A snazzy certificate for your office if you win! A whiteboard eraser if you come in second! Old Halloween candy if you come in third!

New this year is a confidence rating system–you make your picks (straight up-no line) and then rank them from 1 to 14, earning the points associated. Highly confident in some pick? Well if you hit it you get 14. But if you lose it, well…you get the idea.

Anyway, if you have an account already, you can go straight to the CBS Sports site, sign in and search for “HL13″(password: HL13) or try this link.

UPDATE: New hosting site. Go HERE. You’ll have to make an account, but it should be quick, and then you can make your picks. If it asks you for a password (I don’t think it will, but still…if it does, then type in HL13.

And, regardless of what the name of the website implies, this is NOT a pool. Entry is free for all participants and so in now way, shape, or form can be construed as gambling. It is a game, with your only prize being glory and ever-lasting fame.

The first game is tonight, but if you don’t get signed up today, don’t worry–you can still make picks for Sunday right up until 11:55am. Don’t wait, though.

(And if you try it and have trouble, please let me know in the comments. It’s been a few years since I’ve done this and I don’t remember exactly how the set-up works.)

Weekend Reading

Weekend Reading is a regular feature with three links to fascinating, provocative, or particularly well-written, (usually) long-form pieces that I have found and collected over the last three years. You should expect that each of the links will require some time to explore.  There will not be a test, but there may be a theme.

Charlie Trotter’s Kitchen: Charlie Trotter is back in the news, which brought to mind this excellent, three-part series from last year on his restaurant, his influence, and his approach to ‘teaching.’ There are some amazing stories in here from (now) top chefs in Chicago about how they got started (sometimes just by showing up and working for free) and how they got fired or left and how they feel about him and their time with him. You have to give the Tribune an email address to be allowed to see the “Digital Plus” articles, but it’s totally worth it. I never ate there, but I used to live a couple blocks away and it was always fun to walk by and see the day’s menu. There never failed to be something on there (usually multiple things) that I’d never heard of. Amazing that it changed every day. Just in case, here are links to the separate parts:  Part One . Part Two. Part Three.

Marissa Mayer: Probably a Packers a fan. Almost a teacher. The bio is interesting. So interesting that it’s spawning interesting analysis, too.

Steve Jobs: As assessment, almost a year after his death. Subtitled: “An Inspiration or Cautionary Tale?”

Tabula Rasa Sunday

The summer break is officially over startin’ tomorrow. So says the contract. The new contract.

Me, I’m gonna keep squeazin’ more summer activities into September and October (to make up for April and May).

Care to reflect on what you did/accomplished since classes let out in May? Seems like more than three months ago, right?

Did you do some travelin’ or stayed home and watched your garden grow?

Saw some old friends? Made some new ones?

Broke from your summer routine? Started a new one?

Lookin’ forward to the start of the Fall semester?

Got some new ideas you want to try out in your classroom?

Decided you’ll post more than just your syllabus on Blackboard?

Introducing a new text or book in a class? Thinkin’ about Kamran’s games for your class?


Have your say…