Blog posts

2021

RAGE: an incident response framework

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A few years ago, I was on a family vacation, when we got into a situation. We had rented boats in the morning, when weather conditions were good. By the afternoon, conditions had deteriorated, but everyone was feeling happy after lunch. There were some family dynamics at play that made it hard to for us to realize that conditions were no longer good, and we all trotted along on our plan or re-embarking. The situation steadily became more heated, until a boat capsized, at which point it was clear that was a true emergency.

Economics of healthcare

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I recently read Case’s and Deaton’s Deaths of Despair, a book about how America’s working class (more specifically: white, non-college-educated, middle age people) are suffering an increase burden of “deaths of despair” like alcoholism and drug overdose.

Git 'er done

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As a sort of side hobby, I’ve started thinking about how political speeches could have been delivered better, or just differently. So I imagined how Biden’s speech about vaccination in spring and summer 2021 would have sounded like, if written by Larry the Cable Guy:

The Supreme Court is funny

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I’m reading Legislation and Regulation, a law textbook about, among other things, how judges interpret written law (or “statutes”). I’ve been surprised by (1) how many important cases hinge on the reading of a single word in the text of a law, (2) how devoted the Supreme Court is in to trying to understand that single word, and (3) how funny they can be about it.

2020

What's wrong with Ubuntu on my laptop

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I’ve been a many-years user of Macs, and so I was a little deflated when my job sent me a Windows machine, a Lenovo T490S. So I immediately installed Ubuntu as a dual-boot, hoping that I could live forever in Linux-land and closely approximately my Mac experience. Here was the result:

Croissants in DC/Arlington

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My wife and I are budding croissant fans, and we’re trying to remember the places in DC/Arlington where we’ve had the best ones.

Mixed models for COVID antibody data

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This summer, as the COVID-19 pandemic hit the 6-month mark, there was concern that immunity to SARS-CoV-2 would begin to wane, since immunity to other coronaviruses appears to wane at around 6 months after infection.

Comparing power of statistical tests

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As a graduate student and a postdoc, I often saw scientists deflated by statistics. All their delicate thinking and theorizing and all their very careful and painstaking experimentation has to, at some point, be subject to statistics, and the most commonly-used statistical tests simply ask, “Is this group of numbers bigger or smaller than that other group?”

Cleaning MARC train schedules

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I’ve ridden the MARC train between DC and Baltimore a few times, and I got frustrated with clicking through the “Schedule” and “Timetable” interfaces to see train times. There’s a pdf, but it’s a pain to read: I only want to know which trains go between DC and Baltimore, and what times they leave/arrive.

A pamphlet for the Greek Orthodox marriage service

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My wife and I were married in an Orthodox ceremony in Thessaloniki, Greece this past summer. Many of our guests were not Orthodox, so we wanted to give them some context about the 30 minutes of ceremony in an unfamiliar liturgical language that we asked them to sit for.

2019

2018

purrr for analysis in R

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In my postdoc work, I was running a lot of models on data. I found R really useful to doing the models, but I often struggled to write nice code around running many models. Until I discovered purrr.

2017

2016

The origin of the “transient” skin microbe concept

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There is a growing appreciation that microbes are not all pathogens. Some of them are important to our health, and many of them seem simply irrelevant to our concerns. It was only a matter of time before Purell put the following question and answer on their webpage’s FAQ:

Trump and Tribunes

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I was delighted and dejected when reading this interview (titled “Trump: Tribute of Poor White People”) with J. D. Vance, who wrote Hillbilly Elegy. Vance came from a poor white family, spent time in the Marines, and is a Yale Law graduate.

2015

A polemic on pronouns

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English speakers used to distinguish between thou, a word used to address a single person, and you, a word used to address more than one person. Just as kings used a royal, plural we when referring to one person, English speakers came to use a flattering you when addressing a single person. The Quakers retained thou to avoid elevating anyone with you. To non-Quakers, this standing on principle sounded antiquated and pedantic.

Using git with Word documents

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I like git, and I like to use it with most of my projects. But I mostly need to use Word to write manuscripts because it what and my co-authors and journals know how to work with.