Tag Archives: statistics

Truth of Ho

"Eve"- oil clay by Victoria Accardi

Sometimes I come across a group or order of words that strike me as particularly funny or apt. The “truth of Ho” was a little gem from my statistics textbook (for anyone whose memory is being jogged, yes- Ho and Ha hypothesizes).

What is the truth of Ho? As I see it, it is the constant battle we are all engaged in with regard to the pressure to sell ourselves. Some sell their bodies but most sell out our inner selves to serve some relative societal expectation. It’s a really rude awakening  when the schism between whom you present and who you truly are is exposed. When you have to deaden yourself to get through the day, why, it can make one feel something like a whore.

I watched The French Lieutenant’s Woman the other night and although I do love Meryl Streep when it came to the quasi eponymous line: “I am the French Lieutenant’s…WHORE!” I laughed out loud. Oh for God’s sake – what does that even mean? I suppose that’s the point of the book/film. The female is accused of being a whore when she is clearly not, while the male protagonist is busy selling his soul and future to his bitchy nitwit of a fiancé and a bourgeois ideal.

I find myself amused to distraction at how language is used in my statistics class. For instance- the null hypothesis: it is always assumed to be true. So, if the null hypothesis is not true, then the alternative hypothesis must be true. Still with me? Good, because here is the fun part – you can reject the null hypothesis or  fail to reject said hypothesis. Who said mathematicians are not philosophers? That takes some deep thinking: you don’t simply choose to accept the alternative hypothesis, rather, the choice is to reject or fail to reject. If that doesn’t sum up the majority of decisions made in a lifetime…

Eve -Victoria Accardi (bottom back view)

AGP seeking SWF

AGP - Ancient Greek Poets

     I was in the college library today working on my statistics homework, it was a good run. I have kind of fallen in love with my calculator, now that I know how to use 30% of the buttons it is quite another game. I was on my way out when I passed the computer consul of the library catalogue. I remembered that I needed a book for my book group, I had sent out an email in the morning reminding everyone of the book to get. I typed in Greek Lyricists and it told me it didn’t have any. A librarian came over to help me, she told me the computer was difficult and to come over to her desk. I felt a little stupid because I was looking for a specific book but didn’t really have the necessary information like: the author or 100% confidence that I even had the title right. I told her I was looking for Greek Lyricists and then out of my mouth came these words, “It was published by the University of Chicago Press.” My mouth clamped down as I wondered what nether region I pulled that fact from. But I was not done, “It’s translated by Richmond Lattimore.” My hand instinctively covered my mouth, Oh my God, my body has been inhabited by someone with a really good memory. How did this happen? Maybe there is something to this school thing after all. She sent me into the rows of shelves, but not for the Lattimore, they didn’t have that one. I didn’t want to disappoint her so I got a different version which will do just fine I’m sure. I came back to check it out, she was so happy, “It’s probably never been taken out,” she said sweetly, “Sometimes I feel so bad for them, they just sit there waiting…”
“Pick me! Pick me!” I offered lamely. She laughed.

micro metacognition

Maybe because I home schooled my children all of these years and spent a lot of time thinking about how individuals (my guinea pig children) best learn and get excited about learning, one of the things I really enjoy about my college experience is observing how the Professors come to this issue. How to get the students interested. I will leave aside my irritation at the necessity of this in college, but it is there: both the necessity and my irritation.
In one class the professor was talking about Aristotle and wanted to know if anyone knew who Aristotle’s student was. Silence. He would give us a hint – oh goody I thought, what sort of hint will he give? I tried to think of a hint that I might give. I waited, and then he said, “He was from Macedonia.” hmmm, okay…not the hint I might have offered and, apparently, not the hint that had any effect.  “Alexander the Great,”  I answered in the interest of – let’s just keep this moving. An hour and twenty minutes flies by.
I tried keeping my mind from reeling off into an examinational tangent considering how he came to choose that hint and how differently my neural path of breadcrumbs would have lead me. I failed of course and instead began to build a probability tree diagram in my mind. The “event” being, how to either jog the memory of the (largely) sleeping brain matter around us, or get them to an educated guess of Alexander the Great. Using the Fundamental Counting Principle you can imagine that there are a myraid ways to get there. Perhaps the first branch could consist of:
Ancient Greece, Philosophy, Conqueror, Macedonia.
And then the second branch:
AG (i.e. = Ancient Greece): Greek islands, Greek Gods, the Mediterranean;
P:  Plato, Socrates, Locke;
C:  Genghis Khan, Julius Caesar, Attila the Hun;
M: King Philip, Hellenistic greece, The Aegean Sea.
And so on, we will end up with an enormous sample set, but, if I can mix my statistical metaphors, where does the weight that we assign each piece of information come from? Is it merely a personal inclination (i.e. I like philosophy therefore it is a straight downstream flow: Socrates to Plato to Aristotle to Alexander the Great).  Or maybe you are keen on military conquests, then your flow would stem elsewhere. Or is it simply a frequency pattern? Maybe I’ve just heard of Alexander as Aristotle’s student more times than I have as Darius’ nemesis.
I looked out the window of my mind back to my professor, wondering what this all suggests about his mode of thinking and recall of information: how are we different, how are we the same. How come we that way?

The Blank Page

On ne fait pas d'omelette sans casser des œufs. Or gnocchi as the case may be....

As I turned the page to part 3 of 2666 (The Part About Fate) I thought back to when I used to wonder if my life would take on some sort of  stucture like a book. Would my story have parts, chapters, or would it be one long Anita Brookner novel. It was looking like the latter, but just when you think you’ve got a handle on a certain way of being, thinking, living, seeing, something happens and the rug is pulled out or pushed away.
That moment reading a book, when you turn the page and it’s blank, the next page says part___: That is where I am. I am in the whiteness. The blank page.

I spend an inordinate amount of time talking myself through the void. Just trying to get my mise en place on the counter so that I can get some plan or recipe going…but what do I want to make? I can get so involved in a conversation with myself that I don’t hear anything around me. I don’t think I talk to myself, but I do gesture to myself, which may be worse.

“if you’re worried that you’ve lost your mind, don’t worry, you haven’t, all you’re doing is having a casual conversation.” Roberto Bolaño 2666

Sometimes I do wish I would shut up however; be “etherised upon the table.” This may be why I really enjoy my (online) statistics class. With absolutely no previous indication of any sort of affinity toward maths, I find it quite relaxing. A break from myself. I don’t love math, I just like the hijacking of my brain. I’m internally confident in my other (on site) classes, but every time I speak or answer the questions in class my face burns. The only anxiety I have in statistics is in regard to our semester project whereby we have to do a statistical study of our choice. I have chosen to take a survey on the amount of books read by students at the college in the last 12 months; I don’t know what I was thinking because this will require that I actually have to talk to people, my fellow students, to collect the data. Shit. If only it wouldn’t be ridiculous to distract them from my awkwardness with a brownie or a bowl of gnocchi.

What’s the Frequency Kenneth?

I have begun my statistics class. As an older student I can not shake a feeling of coming at everything backwards. I already have half a life time of experiences and influences that shape my understanding of the world and the words I use with which to describe them. It could just be me, but I seem to have gotten to the age where, like President Clinton, I begin to need clarification on the meaning of “is.” All at once I am having to go backwards in my mind to shake away all of my idiosyncratic notions of what individual terms mean. In a near constant state of deconstruction, I have to remind myself that when a question, for example, asks me to describe the attributes of data I need to get very simplistic. It is only what it is. It is only understood in the narrowest of statistical terms. Don’t over think it. After all it’s math, not life: the answers really are either right or wrong.