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So, I did a course on demography the other day. Nothing too taxing, but interesting to learn about the various techniques we use for population estimates etc. At one point we compared three different projections for Australia's future population, based on three different assumptions about Net Overseas Migration.

Only, it was acronymised, so the first column of the table read: "NOM NOM NOM".

Then we looked at Indigenous population estimates between Census years. Problem here is that while we get reasonably good estimates for the Census years, the birth/death records aren't reliable enough that we can just tally up the difference - while most Indigenous births/deaths do get recorded, a lot of them aren't identified as Indigenous. However, we do have moderately good estimates of Indigenous birth rates and death rates* for each age group. So, if we want to estimate the Indigenous population for (say) 2004, we get better data by taking the Census estimates from 2006, and then applying the birth/death rates in reverse.

Or, as the lecturer put it, "we go back in time and bring people back to life!"

*which, in case you're wondering, are pretty depressing - about three times the national average for most age groups, up to six times for the 35-44s. Detail p. 73 here.
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Only eleven years after starting my PhD, I finally have a published paper. (Nothing to do with the PhD subject, but you can't have everything.)

...and of course, after days of proofreading, the moment I look at the published version I discover a Stealth Typo. I should know better.

Edit: The actual paper is under the 'Downloads' tab.
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Probably of interest only to a very few on my f-list (if anybody), but: a while back I talked about the 'remoteness' classifications we use for places Australia. The method used to determine those classifications is a bit complicated, based on road distance to townships etc. of various size; see here if you want the gory details.

But the short version is: if you live in or near a city of at least 250,000 people, you're RA 0 ('Major Cities of Australia'). And even if the largest nearby town is only 5,000 people, you're no worse than RA 3 ('Remote Australia').

Here is a map of what Australia looks like, rated on that scale. Those tiny red bits you can barely see, on a few spots around the coast? That's where more than half of the Australian population lives.

The big white bit that covers most of the map... well, you probably wouldn't want your car to break down in there.


Mar. 29th, 2008 01:17 pm
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Two things that irritate me about MBTI (which I've just had to do as preliminary for upcoming training):

- False-dichotomy questions like "Do you prefer theories or facts?" NO. They are complementary: theories require facts, theories allow us to discover more facts.
- Being asked the same questions (with very slight variation) over and over again. My inner cynic wonders whether the point here is to make sure the responses are well towards one end or other of the four scales, with very little in between, in order to make it easier to believe that people can be neatly divided up into sixteen basic archetypes.

FWIW, I believe archetypes can be useful tools for thinking - even 'earth, air, fire, water' can help people realise what their options are - but IMHO, classifying people into archetypes often turns into a substitute for actually thinking about issues. "You're a Pisces, so we're made for each other!" and so on. Don't even get me started on 'Mars and Venus'.

Exercise: 20km (? - lost track somewhat over Easter), total 190km/114mi: night 8 from Rivendell.
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Note to self: must resist temptation to rephrase the message "$FANCY_NEW_TECHNIQUE will not produce desired cost savings due to $IMMUTABLE_MATHEMATICAL_CONSTRAINTS" as "no, you can't have a pony" when dealing with other departments.

Must... resist...

Exercise: 20km, total 150km/90mi: night 6 from Rivendell, walking along clifftop.
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Prompted by a recent gift from [livejournal.com profile] asagwe and [livejournal.com profile] shadow_5tails:

Scenario: You open a brand-new jigsaw puzzle (or, I guess, an old one that's been finished and returned to the box). You discover that some of the pieces are still joined together.

[Poll #1140215]

Unrelated, it turns out that doing a mandatory full-day training course for stuff I already know how to do is a good way to get my project done - I still have network access, and management don't know where I are so they can't 'help' :-)
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Some days, proving a mathematical result is like building a Rolls-Royce engine, every piece perfectly shaped and meshing precisely with the next.

Some days, it's like patching up a battered Volkswagen with duct tape and chewing gum, in the hope that it can go just a little further before it falls apart.

Guess what sort of day I just had.

(At least I didn't quite end up having to pee in the radiator.)
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So, have been working long hours and scratching my head a lot the last three days over a tricksy little problem.* After several false starts I finally figured out the right way to approach it, did something sneaky with inventing people who don't exist and then ignoring them**, and got a mucking big ugly-looking expression.

Hey, I can cancel those bits...
...and those bits...
...and those bits too...
...and everything else, leaving zero.

I'd never realised it was possible to be pleased and disgruntled at the same time.

*Tricksy to me, anyway. I'm fairly sure there's a standard result, but I'm a reinvent-the-wheel sort of guy.
**This actually made some sort of sense at the time.
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Whee, specs for the project still changing. Spent large chunk of today rewriting stuff accordingly. Oh well, it's a good opportunity to rack up some extra hours that will translate into extra leave over the Christmas break, and it's not like it's the first job where I've had to deal with that stuff.

Exercise: 20km/10 pages: up to page 27 of Council of Elrond. Everybody agrees Ring must be thrown into Mt. Doom, except for NeilBoromir, who wants to use it.
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I now have a room, a bed, and a desk. Also, I have backed a trailer uphill without causing property damage.

The desk was... interesting. I bought it sight unseen off the work social database because a $40 desk in reasonable condition is not to be sneezed at. It turned out to be one of those "they don't make them like that any more, because the people who made them died of hernias" beasts - great big non-dismantleable heavy thing that would probably work pretty well as an anvil.

It took five of us to wrangle it through the front doorway, up the stairs, around another corner, and through my bedroom door (which involved hoicking it about four feet off the floor and twisting it around there, because there was a balcony in the way). I think when I move out I will leave it there as a gift to the next occupant, and a puzzle to whoever tries to remove it. Looks like it'll be a very serviceable desk, mind you, but I suspect the sellers were glad to find somebody who'd pay for the privilege of hauling it away...

Will set up the bed and do the rest of the moving next week, probably on 'Family And Community Day'.

Meanwhile, work progresses. I'm feeling vaguely idle at the moment, because I've finished my bit of coding, the other people on the project are frantically busy, and I can't do much more on my bit until I have the data they're trying to acquire, so I'm taking the opportunity to do a bit of swotting up and try to add some bells and whistles to my stuff. Might as well keep busy...


Aug. 29th, 2007 10:41 am
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Have arrived in Canberra with a week's worth of clothes and excessive quantities of Wife Cake. Canberra put on an eclipse of the moon to welcome me back, which I thought was awfully decent. Welcome function to new work at 3pm today, then official start tomorrow morning. Spent the taxi ride to the station yesterday discussing error analysis with the driver, which seems auspicious.

Some happy news yesterday, but I can't share it quite yet, so I'll just hint mysteriously :-)
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It's not just that KoL has a "vampire duck-on-a-string" as a weapon. It's that it produces hit messages like this one:

You dig through the ditches and burn through the witches and slam her in the back with your duckula, for 75 (+12) damage.

Edit: In other news, after having been told I'd get a second interview for the interesting-sounding job I applied for a few weeks back, have now been told that I won't after all because they've already picked somebody. *grumble*
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Today I convolved some data. For the uninitiated, this is pretty much the signals-processing equivalent of sex, only uncomplicated by other people.

Then later on, I deconvolved some other data. I'm not sure what this is the signals-processing equivalent of.

And yesterday I finished painting a figure I've spent ages on (Sir Stephen Swift, to those following the Aramia game; he makes an appearance in [livejournal.com profile] edward_dujean's imminent summary). I'm very pleased with how he came out. The face and eyes (always fiddly) turned out well, with very little effort on my part; the blacklining, shading & highlighting on his armour came up very nicely, and the basing isn't too shabby. I'm tempted to enter this fellow next time there's a novice contest; I can see one or two spots where he'll lose marks (I didn't entirely succeed in getting all the casting lines off, and my freehand on his shield is a bit wobbly), but I'd be interested in commentary on the rest of it. One of these days I will get a camera with a decent macro mode so I can bore you all with my miniatures in better focus.

Incidentally, it is entirely a coincidence that one of the major ethnic groups in my setting just happens to have the same rather dark skin that I've found easiest to paint ;-)
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I just saw the invitations for our work Christmas party...

The theme is '80s Prom'.

*rubs hands together evilly*
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Mixing up variable names just caused my left eyeball to expand to roughly 8x103 kilometres in diameter. Now I'm kinda glad Nature doesn't make that sort of mistake.
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SMH article, snipped for length:

A search is under way for a man missing since a crocodile grabbed him from his canoe in Queensland's Cape York Peninsula. [At this point, when they say 'missing', they mean 'we hope to retrieve the body'; there's no real doubt as to the poor beggar's status.]

...National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) rangers combed the area, which is well sign-posted with crocodile warnings, but there was no sign of the man. A search of the Normanby River is continuing. Cairns police Superintendent Mike Keating said the man had been trying to push the crocodile away from the boat when it grabbed him by the arm.

"They were moving throughout the water hole and at some stage they noticed a crocodile," he told the Nine network. "It approached the canoe and as a result of that the canoe has turned over and the man is now missing. He was taken out of the canoe by the arm as he tried to fend the crocodile off."

...Local crocodile hunter Mick Pitman said the area where the man disappeared was a known crocodile habitat and well sign-posted with warnings. "I've never gone up nowhere near an estuarine river where there's crocs because the first thing he'll do is come up and give you a walloping," Mr Pitman told ABC Radio.

I feel sorry for the guy and his wife, but I really wish people would reduce the amount of sorry-feeling I have to do by READING THE SIGNS. Almost every crocodile fatality that happens in Australia seems to happen to people who ignored warning signs and/or local advice; the only exception I can think of offhand is one where a tour guide was subsequently charged with manslaughter for telling tourists an area was safe when it wasn't.

Related note: Am I imagining it, or do Australian police have an odd tendency to squeeze a superfluous 'has' or two into what should be basic perfect-tense constructions? "It approached the canoe and as a result of that the canoe has turned over" instead of "the canoe turned over", "a white male has approached the teller and an exchange of gunfire has taken place", that sort of thing. Not in the it-just-happened context where I usually expect to hear that construction, but in describing events afterwards. I *think* the term for this is 'imperfective aspect', but I'm not certain.

Unrelated note: To those who read yesterdays locked post - eyes feeling happy again today, after another eyebath and early bed last night. Interesting to do once, but would just as soon not do that again in a hurry.


Aug. 3rd, 2005 09:59 am
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Arthur asked me to give him a hand with a mathematical problem the other day. Good news: on investigation, there's a single-line Matlab command that will do what he wants. Bad news: he needs to do it in Excel. (Eventually solved, but rather more work that way.)

Via [livejournal.com profile] usekh, this hurts my brain. Still trying to figure out whether it's intended tongue-in-cheek; I suspect so, but it looks as if some of the subjects are taking it at face value. Reminds me of Kim Newman's Pitbull Brittan, a stirring tale of a Thatcherite superhero who goes around walloping striking miners and combating evil unionists.

CBC story, by way of [livejournal.com profile] james_nicoll: "...a spokesperson with the Greater Toronto Airports Authority said lightning was causing technical problems with the airport's lightning-detection system".

Also, lovely octopus icons! And I have yet another Girl Genius icon, too.

Also, goddamn earworms! (See current music, below.) At least there's this site to 'help'.

Also also, I am disturbed to read this passage on Wikipedia: Badger Badger Badger, not for its content but for its implications: "The audio doesn't match up exactly with the visuals. This becomes plainly discernible after 30 minutes of continuous playing. At this point, the audio is at the twelfth "badger" in the first line while the visuals show the mushroom. Over the next few hours, the visuals continue to play faster than the audio, achieving maximum separation at 4 hours 12 minutes. Thereafter the gap begins to close, and becomes synchronized again at about 8 hours 30 minutes. This process continues cyclically."

Also also also, somebody at the Onion feels the same way I do about the age-old "how do I write female characters?" issue.


Jul. 14th, 2005 11:42 am
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A quote I came across on the web today:

According to the gun designer of The Matrix.
Larry & Andy Wachowski: Who uses a .50 Desert Eagle?
Gun Designer: A wanker.
Wachowskis: No, who are they made for?
Designer: Wankers.
Wachowskis: Our wankers in this film want Desert Eagles.
Designer: Your film.

And for just about all of you, a beautiful image about work frustration here.

Still trying to track down an eyeball-moulding kit so we can take a cast of my eyeballs. They don't seem to be in common use these days. So far, all three people on the 'might have one' list turn out to have been old optom classmates of my supervisor, which is handy, but we may have some difficulty finding what we're after.

(No, I am not going to use plaster of Paris if I can't find the proper stuff.)

And I, for one, welcome our new parrot overlords. And our squid overlords, too.

Also, creepiest webpage ever. (Link points to a page with description & pointer to cached ick, rather than directly to the creepyness.)
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I knew I'd forgotten some...

4. If you are exposing something, you 'bare' it. If you're putting up with it, carrying it, or just about anything else, including grinning-and-etc, you 'bear' it.

5. A large pile of treasure is a 'hoard'. A large pile of Vikings - or indeed Mongols, Visigoths, Huns, Orcs, Chaos Warriors, or sysadmins - is a 'horde'. To help remember the difference: pirates go "ARRR!" when they find treasure, peasants go "EEEE!" when they see Vikings approaching.

6. That mischievous lass stealing your wallet is a 'rogue'. The makeup she applies to her face is 'rouge'. Do not confuse the two. Not even as deliberate irony, because it's been done to death already.

7. I love helping people with mathematical problems. Really I do. But if you come to me asking "if I add two numbers together and then square the result, is that the same as squaring each of the numbers and then adding them together?", and you already hold a science-related degree, I reserve the right to weep tears of blood after you leave.

- Apropos of nothing in particular, when did people stop pronouncing "Los Angeles" with a hard 'g' (like 'angle')? I noticed American actors doing this in an old Hitchcock movie tonight and it threw me, because I don't think I've ever heard it IRL.

At My Work

Jun. 17th, 2005 10:56 am
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Simon just walked into our office, declared "I love the kind of science that needs knives!", and walked out again brandishing a box-cutter meaningfully :-)

Staff meeting the other day. Uberboss was in a cheerful mood, so cheerful that he has apparently found a way to violate Maxwell's laws. But since I actually made money from a chain letter the other day*, I guess anything is possible.

*It arrived in the mail, and started with "I am so sure this scheme is worth the time it will take you to read it that I'm taping 5c to this letter as a sign of good faith!" At which point I pocketed the 5c and trashed the rest unread, although I noticed Dave Rhodes' name is still on the things.


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