“Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness…

Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun”

After an excess of “dang muggy” days, as a friend puts it, autumn has begun to insinuate herself, the leaves beginning their fading blaze, cool mornings, and if not Keats’ poetic mist, a certain amount of companionable rain after a long summer.

Some seasonal lines and images.





It is a storm-strid night, winds footing swift
Through the blind profound;
I know the happenings from their sound;
Leaves totter down still green, and spin and drift;
The tree-trunks rock to their roots, which wrench and lift
The loam where they run onward underground.

The streams are muddy and swollen; eels migrate
To a new abode;
Even cross, ’tis said, the turnpike-road;
(Men’s feet have felt their crawl, home-coming late):
The westward fronts of towers are saturate,
Church-timbers crack, and witches ride abroad.

—Thomas Hardy, c 1925






It was early in October when the sky was terribly uncertain that I decided to set out on a journey. I could not help feeling vague misgivings about the future of my journey, as I watched the fallen leaves of autumn being carried away by the wind.

From this day forth
I shall be called a wanderer,
Leaving on a journey
Thus among the early showers.

You will again sleep night after night
Nestled among the flowers of sasanqua.

Basho, from “The Records of a Travel-worn Satchel”






The last leaf that is going to fall has fallen.
The robins are là-bas, the squirrels, in tree-caves,
Huddle together in the knowledge of squirrels.

–Wallace Stevens, from “An Ordinary Evening in New Haven”


Commonplace Book: NYTimes Book Review Tidbits

Actually had time & inclination to read most of the NYTimes Sunday Book Review today. (Editing standards have gotten a tad rickety there of late, but this issue was enjoyable.)

Three quotes to share:
From a review of a new bio of socialite and Bunny Mellon by Meryl Gordon comes this tidbit,

“I don’t really come here to pray,” Mellon once told the rector of an Episcopal church in the Norman medieval style that she financed and help designed. “I come in to talk with God because he’s a dear, dear friend of mine.”

Second, a Q&A wherein it is revealed that the real Roz Chast is just like the characters she draws. Q: “What kinds of books bring you the most reading pleasure these days?  A: …Right now I’m listening to “The Old Curiosity Shop.” Listening to a book while working on a craft project, like hooking a rug or embroidering, is my idea of a really good time.”

That it sounds good to me too (minus the crafty part) is perhaps TMI.

Finally from John Williams’ column, pegged to podcasts and a book by Marc Maron of WTF fame:

“Talking about his own tumultuous relationship with his dad, Bruce Springsteen told Maron: ‘People don’t end up in my circumstance who generally had these very placid, loving, very happy fulfilled lives. It’s not how you become a rock-and-roll star.”

Vinyl Rarities

Trying to do some research on liquidating a large collection of classical LPs (“good luck with that” is what I keep hearing), I happened on this fascinating list of valuable vinyl. No idea how up-to-date or authoritative it is, but fun to browse.


Not surprisingly, unusual pressings of The Beatles figure prominently, but there is something even rarer, a single pressing of a 1927 blues recording that will set you back a cool 60K, if you can find it. But like the famous “Inverted Jenny” or  Edgar Allan Poe’s “Tamerlane and Other Poems,” likely to be rare on the ground..

Screen Shot 2017-10-05 at 1.15.42 PMInverted_Jenny.tamerlane


Nerd Words: Fallacies of Data Science

Good piece  by Shane Brennan on Medium about the realities of data science in day-to-day working life (in contrast with how it’s taught).

His ten fallacies:

1. The data exists.
2. The data is accessible.
3. The data is consistent.
4. The data is relevant.
5. The data is intuitively understandable.
6. The data can be processed.
7. Analyses can be easily re-executed.
8. Where we’re going we don’t need encryption.
9. Analytics outputs are easily shared and understood.
10. The answer you’re looking for is there in the first place.

I have always considered Excel primarily a medium for creative expression!

He is writing about a business context–for instance where Google Analytics, and its attendant woes, are likely to play a big role in answering a client’s marketing strategy question. But what struck me about his fallacies is their aptness in worlds I hang in–journalism and education. Data journalism is, of course, the flavor of the week, month, and year, and no doubt it is of value–but it is sometimes seen like a magic toolbox that can be used without an hypothesis, without a real data set, and, most importantly, no clear idea of what would actually constitute a newsworthy answer to the query.

I know there are data journalism efforts that don’t fall pray to Brennan’s list,  but I wonder how many. In particular, overcoming that last point in the affirmative is a high bar. Is the information really there for the finding? Reminds me of a quote from Confucius.

“The hardest thing of all is to find a black cat in a dark room, especially if there is no cat.”–Confucius

(As for education, I’ll save my gripes about use and misuse of data for another day.)

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