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Monday, 30 December 2019

TOWARDS ANNO DOMINI TWENTY-TWENTY,a poem for 2020 by Tom Leonard

                                                                               


                                             


The Goddess Fortuna rolls her now heavily loaded die

And fires rage in the hinterland

While fascist India freezes.

While the icecaps melt,

And they still play Test cricket on their sticky Aussie wickets!!

The run amok neo-libs nevertheless taunt  and tease the Iconic Child.

And the high priests and wasteful jet set princelings? 

They play hanky spanky with Winnie the Pooh.

And the politicians turn totally belligerent and insane

As Capitalism rents itself asunder;

The Eugenics of Galton is upon us

As the fat cats simply know they are superior

And wanna burn chavs

And grind the 'deficient' for mincemeat

For food banks.  

Impeach and incarcerate all the tricky dickies,

Lest Twenty-Twenty becomes the Year of Planetary Doom

Or we'll be sending our beloved children to a hot and freezing tomb!!



Saturday, 21 December 2019

WISHING YOU A VERY MERRY SATURNALIA



















   

                                                                       Wikipedia

Saturnalia was an ancient Roman festival in honour of the god Saturn, held on 17 December of the Julian calendar and later expanded with festivities through to 23 December. The holiday was celebrated with a sacrifice at the Temple of Saturn, in the Roman Forum, and a public banquet, followed by private gift-giving, continual partying, and a carnival atmosphere that overturned Roman social normsgambling was permitted, and masters provided table service for their slaves as it was seen as a time of liberty for both slaves and freedmen alike.[1] A common custom was the election of a "King of the Saturnalia", who would give orders to people, which were to be followed and preside over the merrymaking. The gifts exchanged were usually gag gifts or small figurines made of wax or pottery known as sigillaria. The poet Catullus called it "the best of days".[2]

Role reversal[edit]

Saturnalia was characterized by role reversals and behavioral license.[5] Slaves were treated to a banquet of the kind usually enjoyed by their masters.[5] Ancient sources differ on the circumstances: some suggest that master and slave dined together,[42] while others indicate that the slaves feasted first, or that the masters actually served the food. The practice might have varied over time.[7]
Saturnalian license also permitted slaves to disrespect their masters without the threat of a punishment. It was a time for free speech: the Augustan poet Horace calls it "December liberty".[43] In two satires set during the Saturnalia, Horace has a slave offer sharp criticism to his master.[44] Everyone knew, however, that the leveling of the social hierarchy was temporary and had limits; no social norms were ultimately threatened, because the holiday would end.[45


                                                                      History.com

People decorated their homes with wreaths and other greenery, and shed their traditional togas in favor of colorful clothes known as synthesis. Even slaves did not have to work during Saturnalia, but were allowed to participate in the festivities; in some cases, they sat at the head of the table while their masters served them.Instead of working, Romans spent Saturnalia gambling, singing, playing music, feasting, socializing and giving each other gifts. Wax taper candles called cerei were common gifts during Saturnalia, to signify light returning after the solstice

                                                                      History today


Saturnalia saw the inversion of social roles. The wealthy were expected to pay the month’s rent for those who couldn’t afford it, masters and slaves to swap clothes. Family households threw dice to determine who would become the temporary Saturnalian monarch. The poet Lucian of Samosata (AD 120-180) has the god Cronos (Saturn) say in his poem, Saturnalia:
‘During my week the serious is barred: no business allowed. Drinking and being drunk, noise and games of dice, appointing of kings and feasting of slaves, singing naked, clapping … an occasional ducking of corked faces in icy water – such are the functions over which I preside.’





                                                                       Britannica

The influence of the Saturnalia upon the celebrations of Christmas and the New Year has been direct. The fact that Christmas was celebrated on the birthday of the unconquered sun (dies solis invicti nati) gave the season a solar background, connected with the kalends of January (January 1, the Roman New Year) when houses were decorated with greenery and lights, and presents were given to children and the poor. Concerning the gift candles, the Romans had a story that an old prophecy bade the earliest inhabitants of Latium send heads to Hades and phota to Saturn. The ancient Latins interpreted this to mean human sacrifices, but, according to legend, Hercules advised using lights (phos means “light” or “man” according to accent) and not human heads.


                                                           

The Temple of Saturn in Rome

Thursday, 19 December 2019

ERITREA, LAND OF THE MILLION YEAR OLD HOMINIDS



























                                                                  BRITANNICA

                                                                    WIKIPEDIA

                                                    ASMARA IS A JEWEL (GUARDIAN)


                                         THE RED SEA PORTS OF MASSAWA AND ADULIS

                                                                        KEREN






                                                                         



Prehistory[edit]

Buya in Eritrea, one of the oldest hominids representing a possible link between Homo erectus and an archaic Homo sapiens was found by Italian scientists. Dated to over 1 million years old, it is the oldest skeletal find of its kind and provides a link between hominids and the earliest anatomically modern humans.[30] It is believed that the section of the Danakil Depression in Eritrea was also a major player in terms of human evolution, and may contain other traces of evolution from Homo erectus hominids to anatomically modern humans.[31] During the last interglacial period, the Red Sea coast of Eritrea was occupied by early anatomically modern humans.[32] It is believed that the area was on the route out of Africa that some scholars suggest was used by early humans to colonize the rest of the Old World.[32] In 1999, the Eritrean Research Project Team composed of Eritrean, Canadian, American, Dutch and French scientists discovered a Paleolithic site with stone and obsidian tools dated to over 125,000 years old near the Bay of Zula south of Massawa, along the Red Sea littoral. The tools are believed to have been used by early humans to harvest marine resources such as clams and oysters.[33]
At According to linguists, the first Afroasiatic-speaking populations arrived in the region during the ensuing Neolithic era from the family's proposed urheimat ("original homeland") in the Nile Valley.[34][35] Other scholars propose that the Afroasiatic family developed in situ in the Horn, with its speakers subsequently dispersing from there.[36]




                                               ERITREA  TRAVEL


Eritrea wows visitors with its scenery, from the quintessentially Abyssinian landscapes – escarpments, plateaus and soaring peaks – to the deserted and desertified beaches of the Red Sea coast. Culturally, Eritrea is a melting pot. It might be a tiny country by Africa's standards, but it hosts a kaleidoscopic range of ethnic groups. It also features a superb array of archaeological sites that tell volumes of history. The cherry on top is Asmara, Eritrea’s delightful capital and a whimsical art deco city.
Despite the tough political and economic situation, and the odd travel restrictions, this country remains one of the most inspiring destinations in Africa, particularly for travellers that want something a little different.








Adulis Archaeological Site

Archaeological Site in Eritrea


Adulis was once the primary port of the Aksumite empire and a few impressive architectural remnants of this heritage remain. Most notable is the foundation of a large 5th-century Byzantine basilica. Archaeological work at Adulis (begun in 1840!) is ongoing, but moves slowly for a month or two each summer





Leaflet | Map data © OpenStreetMapcontributors, CC-BY-SA, Imagery © Mapbox





Local Saho tribal legends say that the name 'Adulis' originates from the words for 'white water', a testament to the settlement's proximity to the Red Sea and the Aksumite-era prosperity as a major port and trade link between the Roman empire and India. Aside from the basilica, most of the ruins are still quite buried and a healthy dose of imagination is necessary to make the most of a visit. All of the artefacts that have been recovered from the site are currently housed at museums in Asmara and Ethiopia, though look for a large pottery dump southeast of a large warren of excavated walls the original function of which are still unknown. Access to the site is free, but the suggested tip for the mandatory local guide is around nfa400.
It's around 50km from the mainland side of the causeway in Massawa to the village of Faro, which is the last spot to stock up on water or food. From Faro follow the highway until it descends to the river, then turn left into the desert on an extremely rough and poorly marked desert road.
A few kilometres south of the Adulis site is Zula village, full of traditional Tigre ethnic group houses and a 150-year-old well built by the Ottomans. It's worth stopping by on your way to or from the ruins.






Thursday, 5 December 2019

LOVE STRIKES AWAY THE CHAINS OF FEAR (Maya Angelou)


                                                                             




                                                                         






                                 LOVE STRIKES AWAY THE CHAINS OF FEAR


                                                          FAMOUS POEMS



          Touched by An Angel by Maya Angelou
We, unaccustomed to courage
exiles from delight
live coiled in shells of loneliness
until love leaves its high holy temple
and comes into our sight
to liberate us into life.

Love arrives
and in its train come ecstasies
old memories of pleasure
ancient histories of pain.
Yet if we are bold,
love strikes away the chains of fear
from our souls.

We are weaned from our timidity
In the flush of love's light
we dare be brave
And suddenly we see
that love costs all we are
and will ever be.
Yet it is only love
which sets us free.

                                            POETRY FOUNDATION


An acclaimed American poet, storyteller, activist, and autobiographer, Maya Angelou was born Marguerite Johnson in St. Louis, Missouri. Angelou had a broad career as a singer, dancer, actress, composer, and Hollywood’s first female black director, but became most famous as a writer, editor, essayist, playwright, and poet. As a civil rights activist, Angelou worked for Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. She was also an educator and served as the Reynolds professor of American Studies at Wake Forest University. By 1975, wrote Carol E. Neubauer in Southern Women Writers: The New Generation, Angelou was recognized “as a spokesperson for… all people who are committed to raising the moral standards of living in the United States.” She served on two presidential committees, for Gerald Ford in 1975 and for Jimmy Carter in 1977. In 2000, Angelou was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Bill Clinton. In 2010, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor in the U.S., by President Barack Obama. Angelou was awarded over 50 honorary degrees before her death.

Monday, 2 December 2019

HISTORY OF REGENT BAR, EDINBURGH, AND NEIGHBOURING BUILDINGS ON ABBEYMOUNT


                                                   
                                                                                     

Alan Joy and his partner Colin opened the Regent Bar on Montrose Terrace, Abbeyhill, Edinburgh in 2003 as an alternative to the more earthy and slightly dodgy LGBT bars on the Top of Leith Walk, and the more pretentious New Town Bar on Dublin Street. The place on Montrose Terrace was closed before Alan and Colin started up, though it had been open as the Regent Buffet during the 1950s. Alan and Colin were previously the proprietors of  the Blue Moon Cafe on Broughton Street, in Edinburgh's Pink Triangle, and later the proprietors of the Nom de Plume restaurant, further down Broughton Street and above the LGBT centre in the basement,






EDINBURGH LGBT BAR RE-OPENS

The bar closed on 23rd March 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic, but re-opened on 4th August 2020 at 4pm. It is very safe and convivial there, averaging about 12 customers at any one time. It's good  to see the usual bar staff again.


                                                           REGENT CINEMA (Cinema Treasures)


                                                           

     QUOTE:Converted from Youngers;St. Anne’s Brewery buildings, the Regent Cinema opened on 1st August 1927. It was a project of independent operator Graham Youll and the conversion was carried out by architect T. Bowhill Gibson. In March 1928 it was taken over by General Theatre Corporation (GTC), who were taken over by Gaumont British Theatres in May 1928. Late in 1929 it was fitted with a British Acoustic sound system. The Regent Cinema had a 30 feet deep stage, a Compton 2Manual/6Rank theatre organ was installed and there was a tea-room for patrons.
Later operated by the Rank Organisation it was closed on 2nd May 1970 with “Carry On Again Doctor” and Oliver Reed in “The Trap”. It was used as an occasional Fringe theatre and also a live rock concert venue for a while, but this proved to be not very successful and the building was standing derelict in 1984. It was subsequently demolished.
Contributed by Ken Roe


                                           More about     REGENT CINEMA

"The Regent Cinema at Abbeymount opened in August 1927.  The Architect was T. Bowhill Gibson, and the original seating was for 1,700.
The cinema was sold to GTC (Gaumont) in March 1928.
It closed in May 1970 and has now been demolished.  There is a garage on the site of the old cinema."
Gordon Barr
                   
                During 19th Century cinema was instead


                                       PALACE BREWERY  (ARCHIVES HUB)



        Nearby was

                                STEWART'S BALLROOM

                           
Stewart's Ballroom was situated at Abbeymount Edinburgh, and was originally owned by councillor John F Stewart, who apparently lived in the large house you can see just beyond the Astoria entrance in the black and white picture below.  Later it would become the Astoria and play host to many punk and new wave acts.  The final guise of the Astoria was "The Good Time Emporium" pub/restaurant

Friday, 22 November 2019

IS THERE A CIRCLE JERK IN BAYESIAN STATISTICS?







Definition a 'circle jerk' is a group of  people participating in group onanism
Is there one in ISBA, the International Society for Bayesian Analysis, which I helped found in 1993?



,






                                                                                 


During late November. I received, by e-mail from Michele Guindani an announcement of the forthcoming webinar (on Nov 27th) of the following article, which has already been published in  Bayesian Analysis. [Michele is the editor in chief of this online journal]

Latent Nested Nonparametric Priors"
by
Federico Camerlenghi, David B. Dunson, Antonio Lijoi, Igor Prünster, and Abel Rodríguez



                                                                  
                                        This has something to do with the ISBA 2018 Conference in Crete
                                                   




Upon reading the mind twisting paper, I, with the greatest of respect, found it to consist of a vast amount of high quality, relatively useless, blither, much too brilliantly complex in mathematical terms, and with scant chance of computing any Bayesian solution. Here is my subsequent slightly nutty correspondence with the Bayesian Analysis, Editor in Chief Michele Guindani:


Hi! I won't be here for the webinar discussion. Could you possibly insert this comment in the discussion? Thank you Tom


I helped initiate  Bayesian semi-parametrics in the 1970s with my papers in Biometrika 1973 and JRSSB 1978, which complemented Ferguson's 1973 paper in the Annals of Statistics ,I was very interested to see how the subject had advanced during the last 46 years. Upon reading the paper I conclude that it has regressed at least 200 years!!!. While highly complicated and doubtlessly brilliant mathematically, in true Dunsonian style, the authors seem to simply be spinning their wheels without prospect of useful applications [ WITH POTENTIALLY PRECISE PRACTICAL BAYESIAN CONCLUSIONS]. However, I am 71 and getting a bit senile. Maybe I'm missing something profound, When I published my Personal History of Bayesian Statistics with Wiley in 2014, I thought to myself (and kept a bit quiet about it while praising too many people to bits) that DIC was the only useful addition to our previously wonderful subject during the current century, together with the brilliant work by Burkert and Evans on the resolution of Lindley's paradox which still seems to be ignored by everybody who still falls into the standard Bayes factor traps. Now I'm wondering why so Bayesian papers and non-convergent simulation procedures are getting churned out willy nilly, even now and without apparent purpose, But maybe it's something to do with this new-fangled Big Data Analysis. Is Big Data a catch word or is it just something else to justify your meal tickets?


Michele Guindani

Thu, Nov 21, 6:24 PM (20 hours ago)
to me
Hi Tom,

Thank you very much. My apologies for the late reply, it has been quite hectic for me over the past week. It is a pity you will not be able to make the seminar discussion. Although I am relatively young, I realize that there has been indeed a change of perspective in many respects, -----[THE REMAINDER OF PROFESSOR GUINDANI'S REPLY HAS BEEN DELETED FOLLOWING HIS CURIOUS INTERVENTION ON THE J ISBA FACEBOOK PAGE. HE APPEARS TO HAVE AGREED WITH ME A TOUCH MORE THAN HE WISHED TO MAKE PUBLIC. IN THE MEANTIME ANOTHER BAYESIAN COLLEAGUE CONTACTED ME TO SAY THAT ONE OF THE CO-AUTHORS OF THE FORTHCOMING WEBINAR PAPER HAD BEEN HEAVILY CRITICISED AT A RECENT CONFERENCE FOR HIS CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE PAPER. THIS IS ALL HIGHLY PERPLEXING]

Best,
Michele

Thomas Leonard leonardthomas70@googlemail.com

11:54 AM (2 hours ago)
to Michele
Hi Michelle,

             Thank you for your reply.I guess that I indeed might  have said something pertinent. I am taking a back seat now from ISBA, because of my declining heath and because the antics of Bernardo and Carlin and their likes have ruined my memories of conferences long ago, after I helped Arnold Zellner to devise ISBA in the first place. I am also scared of the (massive) way in which Bayesians are spreading their wings and its potential impact on the creation of misinformation and skewed information as the world spirals in its apparent irrational death throes, this followed the flawed leadership of Adrian Smith and Its acolytes during the 1990s and before. I hope this makes sense, Please feel free to repeat or publish any of my utterances which you might care to,

                                                  With all best wishes,

                                                                           Tom Leonard

      P.S. I don't know whether this poem is at all relevant. I composed it yesterday.  https://thomashoskynsleonardblog.blogspot.com/2019/11/bubble-blether-blither-abusive-pariahs.html


                                                                       

On the left ----ISBA's Three founders (Hotel Nikko, San Francisco 1993)
Tom Leonard, Arnold Zellner, and Gordon Kaufmann, with Carl Morris, secomd from right, and two other Bayesian Colleagues, Wesley Johnson and Shanti Gupta I thinlk


Most of Professor Guindani's methodologies invoke highly complex probabilistic models with the zillions of assumptions they entail. I doubt that  that many computationally feasible and at all close to convergent procedures,e.g. variations of MCMC,are available for analysing these models except in very special cases. I therefore draw into question, for future consideration, the scientific usefulness of this and any similar Bayesian research 

CONCLUSION

Given  my knowledge of  Bayesian research in general e.g. as reported on the Approximate Bayesian Computation Facebook Page, I tentatively conclude that there might  be a 'circle jerk' in Bayesian Statistics whose participants have some tendency towards publishing articles which are scientifically virtually useless, but which by camouflage appear to be of prize winning quality unless distinguished otherwise by a top and suitably assertive expert in the field. If the editors of our journals happened to be part of this circle, then Society as a whole would be in great trouble indeed. This is of course solely my individual, and highly individualistic perception, which could, given the frailties of my mind, be ENTIRELY MISGUIDED AND INCORRECT,

I do however definitely believe that circle jerks have existed during the history of Bayesian Statistics, though the De Finetti-style 'coherence' circle jerk of the 1970s differed in nature from the 'not really convergent Metropolis algorithm' circle jerk which was initiated, in Bayesian Statistics in 1992.


COMMENT FROM DR, EWART SHAW (WARWICK)


I've always been worried by the shift towards high-dimensional models with parameters far removed from identifiable properties of observables, and from human experience in general. The title "Latent Nested Nonparametric Priors" alone puts me right off with each successive adjective! High-dimensional space is astoundingly 'empty' (witness e.g. the number of directions in Euclidean space no closer together than 60 degrees, as shown by sphere packing). The human mind - mine at least - finds it 'challenging' to come up with appropriate possible models, parametrisations, interrelationships, priors, and representations + interpretations + communication of the resulting posteriors. Maybe I'm just a grumpy old man.