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Archive of posts filed under the Art category.

It’s not about the snobbery, it’s all about reality: At last, I finally understand hatred of “middlebrow”

I remember reading Dwight Macdonald and others slamming “middlebrows” and thinking, what’s the point? The classic argument from the 1940s onward was to say that true art (James Joyce etc) was ok, and true mass culture (Mickey Mouse and detective stories) were cool, but anything in the middle (John Marquand, say) was middlebrow and deserved […]

Hokey mas, indeed

Paul Alper writes: The pictures which often accompany your blog are really “inside baseball” and I frequently fail to see the connection to the accompanying text. For example, when I click on today’s picture, I get: This happens to interest me because our granddaughter, who is now two years old and attends a Spanish-speaking daycare, […]

Things that sound good but aren’t quite right: Art and research edition

There are a lot of things you can say that sound very sensible but, upon reflection, are missing something. For example consider this blog comment from Chris G: Years ago I heard someone suggest these three questions for assessing a work of art: 1. What was the artist attempting to do? 2. Were they successful? […]

What makes a mathematical formula beautiful?

Hiro Minato pointed me to this paper (hyped here) by Semir Zeki, John Romaya, Dionigi Benincasa, and Michael Atiyah on “The experience of mathematical beauty and its neural correlates,” who report: We used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to image the activity in the brains of 15 mathematicians when they viewed mathematical formulae which they […]

Top 5 movies about scientists

In this NYT interview, Philip “Stanford Prison Experiment” Zimbardo gives his list: 1. “Madame Curie,” 1943 2. “The Seven-Per-Cent Solution,” 1976 3. “Awakenings,” 1990 4. “The Insider,” 1999 5. “The Imitation Game,” 2014. Not a very impressive list. But that’s the point, I guess: there haven’t been many good movies about scientists. I was racking […]

Plaig! (non-Wegman edition)

Mark Vallen writes (link from here): What initially disturbed me about the art of Shepard Fairey is that it displays none of the line, modeling and other idiosyncrasies that reveal an artist’s unique personal style. His imagery appears as though it’s xeroxed or run through some computer graphics program; that is to say, it is […]

Why couldn’t Breaking Bad find Mexican Mexicans?

Watching “Breaking Bad” . . . I’m told on good authority that may of the actors playing Mexicans are not actually Mexican; some of them can barely speak Spanish at all. Whassup with that? How hard is it to find a Mexican actor in LA or Albuquerque??

Lauryn’s back!

Really, no snark here. She’s got some excellent tracks on the new Nina Simone tribute album. The best part’s the sample from the classic Nina song. But that’s often the case. They wouldn’t sample something if it was no good. P.S. Let me clarify: I prefer Lauryn’s version to Nina’s original. The best parts of […]

Wikipedia is the best

“It is not readily apparent whether Boo-Boo is a juvenile bear with a precocious intellect or simply an adult bear who is short of stature.”

Statistical significance, practical significance, and interactions

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: interaction is one of the key underrated topics in statistics. I thought about this today (OK, a couple months ago, what with our delay) when reading a post by Dan Kopf on the exaggeration of small truths. Or, to put it another way, statistically significant but […]

Some art so far

In response to my request #1 (“Gone Fishing” T-shirt), Ed Witt sent in this: I thanked Ed and asked if it would be possible to take the image and add to it so it’s clear that the “.05” is being drawn from a sea of other numbers, also with a little bucket next to the […]

Artist needed!

We have some great ideas but none of us can draw. We need your help with designs and art for any or all of these projects: 1. “Gone Fishing” T-shirt A person is standing in a boat, fishing. The lake is full, not of fish but of little numbers: “.14”, “.31”, “.08”, etc etc. And […]

Wow—this is much more impressive than anything Frank Flynn ever did!

This is what I call a rogue sociologist.

My short career as a Freud expert

I received the following email the other day (well, actually it was the other month, as we’re still on blog-delay): Dear Prof. Andrew Gelman, The ** Broadcasting Authority, together with ** – a well-established production company, are producing a documentary about Freud. The documentary presents different points of view regarding Freud’s personality and theories. At […]

What happened to the world we knew?

I was unlocking my bike, with music turned on low, and a couple of high school kids were lounging around nearby. One of them walked over and asked, « Qui est-ce qui chante? ». I responded, “Stevie Wonder” (not trying any accent on this one). The kid said, « Ees good ».

Peabody here.

I saw the trailer for the new Mr. Peabody movie and it looked terrible. They used that weird animation where everything looks round, also the voice had none of the intonations of the “real” Peabody (for some reason, the trailer had the original English voices, maybe they didn’t get their act together to make a […]

Objects of the class “Objects of the class”

Objects of the class “Foghorn Leghorn”: parodies that are more famous than the original. (“It would be as if everybody were familiar with Duchamp’s Mona-Lisa-with-a-moustache while never having heard of Leonardo’s version.”) Objects of the class “Whoopi Goldberg”: actors who are undeniably talented but are almost always in bad movies, or at least movies that […]

Data visualizations gone beautifully wrong

Jeremy Fox points us to this compilation of data visualizations in R that went wrong, in a way that ended up making them look like art. They are indeed wonderful.

Give me a ticket for an aeroplane

How long are songs? Gabriel Rossman discusses the two peaks, one at just under 3 minutes and one at just under 4 minutes. He quotes musician Jacob Slichter: In anticipation of “crossing over” the single to radio formats . . . Each mix had to be edited down to under four minutes, an important limit […]

“How big is your chance of dying in an ordinary play?”

At first glance, that’s what I thought Tyler Cowen was asking. I assumed he was asking about the characters, not the audience, as watching a play seems like a pretty safe activity (A. Lincoln excepted). Characters in plays die all the time. I wonder what the chance is? Something between 5% and 10%, I’d guess. […]