Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Farty fish

I knew that herring are spectacularly weird in that they communicate via farts (FRTs), but this article was sent to me on Gmail as Whales Slap Flatulent Prey and I have to say that it is something special to light up anyone's day.

what does a herring fart sound like, you ask - oooo tee hee

Friday, June 16, 2006

living in a snotty neighborhood

So we have the delightful designation of living in a Potrero Hill zipcode. However, we definitely live in the Mission. I stumbled across something billing itself as a neighborhood guide to Potrero Hill, and enjoyed immensely the picture of a stretched limo reaching understanding of "hill".

Sunday, June 11, 2006

the value of alpha - this is a rant for sure.

I find myself wrestling with nerdly things... stats until 2 in the morning. No, the quality of my work does not actually improve with reading too many articles about stats, rather I become less and less enamoured of the habits of 'good scientists' who use overly complicated models of strangely transformed parameters to fit the data with a good p value. (sorry that's p value).

Having followed some methods to derive an interesting measure, one famous author publishes in Ecology saying this was above 0.9, and is thus close to 1, whereas 0.85 is not. I dutifully use 8 times the data and ooh, throw the same idea at a t-test - is it different from 1? p says no. But are the other measures that are similar but different also different than 1? p says no. So are the bigger ones (0.88, 0.87, etc) closer to 1 than 0.83? Can't tell. Therefore reviewers will throw me out - this is not significant. So should I thus just report that things are 'closer' or 'farther' from 1? Should I bootstrap, jackknife, simulate and monte carlo my way to significance? Is it okay to say wwwwell my friends, a p of 0.06 is hella less likely than p of 0.3?

Non parametric you say? I saw the sign, and it opened up my mind, I saw the sign... thanks, Ace of Base. Wilcoxon, he says this is much more sensitive. I find the article "the allure of nonparametrics" most pleasing.

Or should I instead befuddle my reviewers and put it all in a likelihood framework? Ah well, yes, friends, let us be brothers, my AIC value is much smaller when this model is used, rather than this one. Do you not know that this is therefore a superior model of what is going on? Even better, shall I disregard any significance and use F-ratios?

And many of my more egg-headed stats-loving friends will say - go Bayesian dude, it changed my world - as though it's some kind of tripped out drug where you achieve knowledge of the prior and thus have universal visions of ecology.

There's a time and a place, my friends, but I'm still a fan of saying hey, this could be a really interesting story. Go out there, collect more data, prove me right or wrong, or find a more sophisticated way to probe this. But wouldn't you like to know?

Friday, June 02, 2006

Animal Health for the Environment And Development

sometimes you go to meetings, and people say lots of stuff, and not a lot ever comes of it. I went to a great meeting in March in South Africa with the WCS AHEAD people, and it got written up in the Kruger Park Times as heralding a new vision and good things to come. Read the article here. This is crazy times for transfrontier park issues.
Also, I found out that I'm in this book - buried amongst co-authors on an abstract. Does this lend me cred?

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Cats in Sinks?

No, now it's kittenwar it's like those ugly baby contests