Yep, I’m finally back from my wanders. A week in St. Andrews, followed by a week celebrating the 100th anniversary of the t-distribution. Recall that the inventor, “Student” worked for Guinness. You can work out the rest.
Of course, I now have 13 neat ideas I want to try out, and there is lots of new work to read up on. The biggest news is that Håvard Rue thinks we don’t need to use MCMC to fit most Bayesian hierarchical models. Yep, really obscure stuff. It’s why statisticians are worth having around: we keep you from needing to know about Gaussian Markov Random Fields.
Lots more could be said about the conferences, locations, choice of when to start the sessions etc. (half an hour after breakfast starts is not sensible), but I’ll leave that for later.
On my return, I sorted through all the stuff that had accumulated in my letterbox. The only interesting thing was a book of bus timetables. My email was better: I’ve gone for a three-stage process of sorting it: (1) scan through and delete the spam and irrelevant stuff (job ads etc.) and reply to anything urgent, (2) go through the stuff that’s easy to sort, i.e. press reply and respond appropriately, (3) finally go through the stuff that needs real work, e.g. manuscripts that need revising. I’m still on the third sweep.
The blogosphere seems to have gone on as before whilst I was away. A creationist wrote something stupid. John Wilkins blogged about his latest paper, and the response was firstly to point out an error, and then start a discussion about whether psychology is a subset of medicine. And apparently things are so bad for American college professors that one had to “beg his blog readers to send him some wafers”http://scienceblogs.com/pharyngula/2008/07/its_a_goddamned_cracker.php, so he could feed his family. A lot of Catholics were naturally upset at this display of poverty, and sent emails to his university asking him to sort this out.
I’ve also just been given an award by an A-list science blogger:
I’m so proud.
Finally, I have yet to be reunited with The Beast (*sigh*). I’ll pick him up tomorrow. The last I heard he was being united with a chicken drum-stick, so I guess he’s doing OK.