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As Gas Prices Soar So Does City Biking

urbazewski A comment from Shakespeare (342 comments)

"Teach thy necessity to reason thus: There is no virtue like necessity" Richard II, Act I, Scene iii

more than 2 years ago

American Grant Writing: Race Matters

urbazewski Detailed look at review process/Sample size (464 comments)

I am mystified by number of commenters saying that you can't draw conclusions because of the small sample size. This is not a small sample size. The results are robust in part because the data set is so large: 83000 observations.

One of the interesting points of TFA is that it pinpoints where in NIH's two-tier process of review black researchers are eliminated. They are more likely to be eliminated in the first round of peer review than in the second "scoring" round. This is not consistent with them submitting, on average, less worthy projects. If that were the case, they should have the same or a higher attrition rate at the second level of review. Black researchers are also less likely to resubmit grants, which could be a simple lack of mentoring or communication from the NIH.

From TFA:

We find it troubling that the typical measures of scientific achievement—NIH training, previous grants, publications, and citations—do not translate to the same level of application success across race and ethnic groups. Our models controlled for demographics, education and training, employer characteristics, NIH experience, and research productivity, yet they did not explain why blacks are 10 percentage points less likely to receive R01 funding compared with whites.

more than 3 years ago

American Grant Writing: Race Matters

urbazewski Re:Junior management and blacks (464 comments)

The middle-aged incompetent white managers brought into the startups were dumb enough to say racist things out loud.

And they preface their statements with "I'm not a racist but..." or "Don't take this the wrong way but..." or the ever-popular "Some of my best friends are black, but..."

more than 3 years ago

American Grant Writing: Race Matters

urbazewski Re:Statistics (464 comments)

This is based on a data set with 83000 grant proposals from about 40000 researchers, every application made to the largest NIH program over a 5 year period. This is not a small sample and it is not a single point in time. If you flipped a coin 83000 times and got heads 49,800 times I'd say the coin is biased in favor of heads, oh, by about 60%.

more than 3 years ago

American Grant Writing: Race Matters

urbazewski Re:Perpetuating it (464 comments)

The NIH paid for the study.

more than 3 years ago

American Grant Writing: Race Matters

urbazewski Re:Not convinced. (464 comments)

I certainly agree that the analysis does not say what the cause is, but the data set has 83000 grant applications and 40000 different researchers. That is not a "small sample size." It's every grant submitted the NIH's largest program over a 5 year period.

more than 3 years ago


urbazewski hasn't submitted any stories.



Foldplay: fun for your photos

urbazewski urbazewski writes  |  more than 6 years ago foldplay is my newest project: an online sandbox where your digital photos can come out to play, without the sand. Map four of your own photos (or four of ours) onto an endlessly rotating paper sculpture called a kaleidocycle. Check it out.


anybody but bush in 2004

urbazewski urbazewski writes  |  more than 10 years ago This is straight from my blog. Also, check out the earlier entry about Nader, via rdewald.


say it with me...
ah-nee-bah-dee but bush

moveon.org is collecting pledges of time to counteract bush's enormous war chest of cash. 6407940 hours have been pledged so far, 36 by me (I pledged one hour a week until the election).

Take Back the White House!

President Bush has already raised hundreds of millions for his bid. Our great hope is in our collective power to get out the vote. We'll work via the Internet, the telephone, and face-to-face conversations with voters. And we'll take back our democracy, city by city, block by block, and voter by voter. Are you in? Sign the pledge

short on time? how about donating some money?

john kerry for president

moveon's political action committee

geov parrish at working for change lays it out so clearly that I've excerpted most of his column here. bush & co. used a relentless campaign of innuendo, slander, deception, and outright lies to fabricate support for their invasion of iraq, we would be foolish to expect different from them in the battle for the presidency: we're in for a long ugly fight.

This year's presidential race is going to be the most important the United States, and the world, has seen in decades. At least. And it is going to be very, very nasty. Liberals had better stop being nice, stop being complacent or cynical or despairing or disengaged, and take your gloves off. Now.

Like it or not, the president who came in promising to unite us has created, in only three short years, the most polarized and the most bitterly politically divided country since Reconstruction. His team has created more anti-American hatred around the globe than has ever previously existed in history. Those same political strategists have shown that they will stop at virtually nothing to gain and exercise power, and will do so almost exclusively to enrich their hyperwealthy friends and feed their warped ideological crusades -- crusades that, if presented honestly, would be rejected by the vast majority of their countrypersons and the rest of the world.

This is a war. It's being fought like one, whether or not we participate, and we are all targets. We'd better start acting like our asses are on the firing line. They are.

I don't hate George W. Bush; I do hate what he has done and is still doing to our country and to my planet, and I do intend to do everything in my power to ensure he and his cabal don't have another four years to abuse their public trust. But now comes the hard part. The excitement and headlines of the Democratic primaries are over. It will be a long, hard slog to November, interrupted only by two party conventions/infomercials and the power of the White House to control the headlines of a news media whose critical thinking muscles are atrophied beyond recognition.

We can already see how this will go. If you have any doubt how the White House will attack John Kerry, look at its last great sales job: the invasion of Iraq. For months, we were besieged with exaggerations, accusations, planted stories, and outright lies. No fib or rationalization was too ridiculous; as soon as one was disproven or shot down, three more were trotted out. Eventually, some stuck, for a while. But more to the point, the White House wore down public skepticism just enough, and just long enough, that their raw power could do the rest. If it all turned out to be a fraud, who cares? This is what ruthlessness looks like.

John Kerry has decades' worth of votes and public statements from which this sort of malicious playbook can be stocked, and the attacks have already begun. The question is one of perspective: by virtue of sheer scale and audacity, George Bush's crimes against the public trust dwarf any policy reversal John Kerry, or most any other politician, has ever contemplated. But if Kerry and his supporters wring their hands and spend the next eight months answering every charge and talking nobly of future public policy, they'll deserve to lose. The issue this year is nothing other than George Bush's attack on 300 million of us, his betrayal of what is best in and about America: front, back, and center.

Defense doesn't win wars. And that's what this is: war, one we didn't start, for nothing less than the future of the country, the world, even. The six billion of us without any trust funds to finance our tickets to Mars are pretty well stuck with this one planet. We'd better start acting, all of us, like no one government, let alone one politician who says he talks regularly with God, has the right to recklessly endanger it and the lives of so many of the people on it. Get angry about it. You should be.


beat geek

urbazewski urbazewski writes  |  more than 11 years ago I'm including a comment I made in the discussion of Kurzweil's poetry generator in hopes of getting more feedback. Thanks!


I've been working on a project (nicknamed "beat geek" in my head) that uses the digital equivalents of dada/beat cut-up techniques and other forms of randomness in or artificial generation of language.

For example, I have a program called autopoem (written by Bill Sethares) loosely based on an idea from Shannon's original paper on information theory.

Suppose you took all the words in the English language and calculated how often the character "s" is followed by the character "t", the character "e", and so on. You'd end with a table of transition probabilities that showed how often each letter is followed by any other letter (or punctuation mark or space) and starting with a single seed letter you could generate "english-like" words randomly. The output using the probability that a single letter is followed by another letter doesn't actually resemble English much, nor does the output using probabilities based on two letter combinations (how often is "th" followed by "e", by "a", and so on) but by the time you get to 3 letter combinations, (how often is "the" followed by "a" or by "s") the output starts to look a lot like "twas brillig and the slithy toves", like ye olde englishe with very creative spelling.

The scheme I described above is difficult to implement in practice, because the table of probabilities gets big fast as the number of letters used to determine the next letter gets longer. Autopoem uses a particular text as a source and instead of generating a table of probabilities it scans the text looking for the next of the letter sequence, say "the", and then selects whatever letter or punctuation mark comes next, say "a", then it continues scanning until it finds the next occurrence of "hea", and selects the following letter, and so on. the longer the sequence of letters, the more likely it is that whole words or phrases from the original text will appear in the output. An alternative version, requiring a reasonably long text, applies the same principle on the word level, how often is the word "red" followed by the word "hat" or "dog" or so on.

Here's some autopoem output:

Your strip of entirely
tired witches scarecrow me at night
That reached the next
He witches at and glow in a cruel head
Done behind the mark

Nothing but the Land of blue
And the green wizard answer with sharp teeth

(anyone care to guess the source text?)

Other ideas/algorithms/programs that fall into the same genre are dilbert's corporate values generator (now defunct?), eliza (especially when she interacts with zippy), madlibs (I don't know of a computer application), scott reynen's poetry and prose generators, rob malda's poetry generator (currently offline) & googlism.

Any suggestions or links to related ideas or programs would be greatly appreciated --- anything having to do with language generated digitally would be of interest.


Enter The Meatrix

urbazewski urbazewski writes  |  more than 11 years ago I haven't seen the latest installment of The Matrix yet, but Free Range Graphics did a great job with this flash Matrix parody:

The Meatrix

Take the red pill and let Moopheus open your eyes to the reality of factory farming.


more updates

urbazewski urbazewski writes  |  more than 11 years ago I just redid the alt.personae writing/photo index at my website, adding a couple of essays that I wrote when I was in grad school.

The main page of blog-O-rama is as always but I've added a b & w version for people who don't think that purple-on-purple is the coolest color scheme ever.

Recent entries include:

the erector shrine
recounts my attempt to overcome childhood trauma by building my own space station. with photo-documentation.

marie osmond saves the day
describes how my blog entry went pfft! and how marie osmond got it back for me.

I had an actual weekend. really.

smart people are stupid
my comments on the 'preferred upgrade' poll I submitted to /.

From the archives:

what do ladybugs eat?

Thanks for checking it out.



urbazewski urbazewski writes  |  more than 11 years ago I submitted the current poll:

Preferred Upgrade?

20% smarter
20% happier
20% richer
20% more whuffie
20% better looking
20% larger hard drive
20% larger
20% more karma

except that my version had the last option as:
20% more like CowboyNeal.

Looks like it's generated some good discussion already, no shortage of folks hanging out at slashdot on Friday night.

But for some reason, the poll was listed as "rejected" on my "submit stories" page. Oh well, next time I'll remember to slap a creative commons tag on my submissions.


blog-O-rama update

urbazewski urbazewski writes  |  more than 11 years ago I finally knuckled under and archived my blog. I still haven't made an index, but at least the whole thing isn't one huge file anymore.

So what's new?

telecommunication breakdown describes the text book that bill spent the last two summers working on, it should appear this fall.

a visit with my mother describes, um, a visit with my mother and includes links to some pictures of a steam train ride through a redwood forest.

normal blog entry is an accounting of one week of my life, coffeeshops and my laptop feature prominently.

margaret mead on iraq consists of political ranting, mainly other people's.

awesome describes my recent scuba diving adventure at point lobos.

all the blah-blah-blah that's fit for cyberprint!


the problem with travelling....

urbazewski urbazewski writes  |  more than 11 years ago I've had moderator points disappear into the ether twice in the past month. On the positive side, using other people's internet connections has gotten much much easier. Mostly I plug in the ethernet cable, guess smtp.name-of-service-provider-.net for outbound mail and it works.

Not too much excitement over at my blog, but I've posted Part I of my comments on A Reader's Manifesto (link to essay version) at blog-O-rama.



urbazewski urbazewski writes  |  more than 11 years ago


They say that if you play a Windows Install CD backwards you hear satanic messages. That's nothing. Put it in forwards and it installs Windows.


blog-0-rama updates

urbazewski urbazewski writes  |  more than 11 years ago ...

My long neglected blog has finally been updated --- today's topics are "weight loss the slow boring way" and "Q-Turn," a game from Looney Labs.

Haven't had anything to contribute to /. discussions lately. I was suprised at the lack of responses to Dan Gillmore's book proposal yesterday, but seeing as I didn't have anything to add myself I can't fault really other people for their lack of insight. I think 43 comments is the least I've ever seen on a story on the front page (and a good proportion of those were off-topic abusive rants about the war).


broadband abroad

urbazewski urbazewski writes  |  more than 11 years ago woohoo!

plug & play broadband at my friend Liz's apartment in Bologna, Italy, and I guessed her smtp server on the first try. It's nice to kick back a bit after 4 days of hardcore tourism, plus a wedding, in Paris. I took the TGV from Paris -> Bologna, advanced technology compared to amtrak's old beasts of burden, but they still didn't have electrical outlest on the train. I read Mrs. Dalloway instead of spending quality time with my laptop, not a good exchange really. .


happy pi day

urbazewski urbazewski writes  |  more than 11 years ago Here's my (rejected) submission for today:

Today is Pi Day. Find where your birthday, or any other sequence of numbers, appears in the first 100 million digits of Pi. Eat some pie and sing some really awful Pi day songs at 1;59 PM. Or make a Pi necklace.

It's also Albert Einstein's birthday. Between Einsein and Pi, March 14 has a lot of geek credibility already. Maybe we can have it declared "Geek's Day", I mean "IT Personnel Appreciation Day." Instead of the flowers and candy that show up on Secretary's Day and even Bosses' Day people could show their geek appreciation with boxes of chocolate covered donuts and cases of Mountain Dew.


resilience of life support systems

urbazewski urbazewski writes  |  more than 11 years ago

. . .

I love deadlines ---
I love the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.

Douglas Adams

I'm working on a paper that uses a hybrid (discrete and continuous) model of a generic water revitalization system to develop and test new measures of system resilience to component level faults. One key idea is that resilience is a dynamic property of the system that cannot be understood in terms of the fault probalities or MTBF (mean time before failure) of individual system components. I've been working on these ideas on and off for a couple of years, starting with a small award from the Director's Discretionary Fund when I was working as a contractor at the NASA Ames Research Center.

One novel method of measuring resilience that we developed estimated the transition probabilities of a Markov chain on the two states "nominal -- demand for clean water met" and "performance failure -- demand for clean water not met" and used the ratio of those parameters as a measure of resilience. Paper available.

The current paper will take a broader view of competing ways to measuring resilience. It's titled: "Alternative Metrics for Evaluating the Resilience of Advanced Life Support Systems" Ann Maria Bell, Orbital Sciences Corporation; Richard Dearden, Research Institute for Advanced Computer Science; Julie A. Levri, NASA Ames Research Center. Abstract:

Ensuring the safety of the crew is a key performance requirement of a life support system. However, a number of conceptual and practical difficulties arise when devising metrics to concretely measure the ability of a life support system to maintain critical functions in the presence of anticipated and unanticipated faults. Resilience is a dynamic property of a life support system that depends on the complex interactions between faults, controls and system hardware. We review some of the approaches to understanding the robustness or resilience of complex systems being developed in diverse fields such as ecology, software engineering and cell biology and discuss their applicability to regenerative life support systems. We also consider how approaches to measuring resilience vary depending on system design choices such as the definition and choice of the nominal operating regime. Finally, we explore data collection and implementation issues such as the key differences between the instantaneous or conditional and average or overall measures of resilience. Extensive simulation of a hybrid computational model of a water revitalization subsystem (WRS) with probabilistic, component-level faults provides data about off-nominal behavior of the system. The data are used to consider alternative measures of resilience as predictors of the system?s ability to recover from component-level faults.

So far so good, now all I need is a paper to go with the abstract.

The deadline for submitting the first draft of the paper was March 7.



urbazewski urbazewski writes  |  more than 11 years ago

. . .

Today the Lysistrata Project is coordinating over 1000 readings of Aristophanes anti-war play Lysistrata in 59 countries. I'm planning on attending a reading here in Madison, WI.

Yesterday's blog-O-rama has an update on what's going on at Rivendell, the housing cooperative that I live in.


class action settlement deadline on monday

urbazewski urbazewski writes  |  more than 11 years ago The proposed settlement of a class action suit that accused record companies of price fixing includes a possible 5-20$ payment for anyone who claims to have purchased a prerecorded cd between 1995 and 2000. The amount of the award to each individual depends negatively on the total number of claimants.

The deadline to file a claim online is Monday March 3, it doesn't take long but you have to provide your date of birth and the last four digits of your social security number. The website to file a claim is:


This appeared on slashdot back in January, but the discussion was pretty feeble.


Quote UnQuote

urbazewski urbazewski writes  |  more than 11 years ago

"Depressing as it is to acknowledge, it now seems clear we are witnessing the tantrum of a woefully untutored and inexperienced president whose willfulness rises in direct proportion to his inability to comprehend a world too complex for his grasp."

Robert Scheer


State of The Universe

urbazewski urbazewski writes  |  more than 11 years ago Swami Beyondananda has given his "State of The Universe" address for 2003:

Meanwhile ... the issue facing the United States, and indeed the world is, will George Bush give in to his Big Iraq Attack and order up a war? Latest reports say that a war to force a regime change in Iraq will cost $200 billion. It is puzzling to me why some of those fiscal fitness fanatics in the Republican Party haven't tried to find a cheaper way to do it. Maybe if they offered the Iraqis half -- $100 billion -- they could do it themselves.

Then we'd still have $100 billion left to spend on regime change in this country.

Because -- and I have to be blunt here -- the folks we have in charge are fossils fueled by fossil fuels. And in the reptilian brain, problems aren't solved, they're attacked.

read the full address, it's quite funny.

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