A post on Slashdot caught my attention.  It was about a microchip from Lyric Semiconductor that does calculations using analog probabilities instead of digital bits of 1’s and 0’s.

The article says that this will both make flash storage more efficient and make statistical calculations quicker.  I doubt it will help with fitting simple regressions where have a fixed formula, but the first thing that came to mind were Bayesian problems, especially a Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC).  Using BUGS to run these simulations can be VERY time consuming, so a faster approach would make the lives of many statisticians much easier.  The article did mention that the chip uses Bayesian NAND gates as opposed to digital NAND gates, but I don’t know how that relates to MCMC’s.

I reached out to my favorite Bayesian, Andy Gelman, to see what he thinks.  I’ll report back on what he says.

I’m a few days behind on my posts, so please excuse my tardiness and the slew of posts that should be forthcoming.

A-Rod finally reached 600 homeruns a couple weeks ago.  While that may have relieved pressure on him, now people are looking toward Jeter’s 3,000th hit.  The Wall Street Journal ran a piece predictingthat Jeter should hit the 3,000 mark around June 6th next year.

They looked at his historical numbers and took into account the 27 other players to hit that number and determined that Jeter should get a hit every 3.66 at-bats next season.  I’m not sure what method they used to calculate 3.66, but I would guess some sort of simple average.  Then, based on how many hits he needs (128 at the time of the article), his average number of at-bats per game, the average number of games he plays a season and the Yankees typical schedule, they determined the June 6th date.

I don’t really have much to add other than that this seems like a solid method.  What do the sabermetricians think?  By the way, that looks like an awesome cast.

Eye Heart New York has a post with a graph showing the distribution of health code violations and the letter grades they received.  Kaiser at Junk Charts takes the original data and makes a few graphs of his own.  Based on those visualizations it seems that there is not much difference by borough or by cuisine.

This is similar to a system in LA and Singapore, though something tells me an ‘A’ in NY is still only a ‘B’ in Singapore.  The picture below is from an ‘A’ restaurant in Singapore which was so clean that I had no problem eating off a banana leaf.

New Yorkers, known for being tough, might not be deterred even by ‘C’ grades.  Commenters on Serious Eats seemed to relish eating in a ‘C’ joint as it lends greasy, authentic goodness to a place.

Turns out the Census cost less than expected.  I’ve always admired the Census Bureau for their good work, but now in this time of runaway government spending they came in 11% (NY Times) under budget.  That’s truly good work.

According to the Times, the massive advertising campaign helped get people to mail in their forms.  The lack of natural disasters and epidemics helped too.  Now we can look forward to the deluge of data that social scientists will probably go to town on, so I imagine.

Both the Journal and the Times reported on a studyabout New York City traffic which someone has called the “most statistically ambitious ever undertaken by a U.S. city.”  That just sounds awesome to me, both as a statistican and a pedestrian.  According to the report, New York is one of the safest cities in America to travel in but trails a number of major European and Asian cities.

One takeaway from the report is, that contrary to common belief, taxis are responsible for very few accidents.  This was always my feeling since cabbies are the experts of New York City streets and are under heavy scrutiny from the police and T&LC.  They have more incentive to be alert and cautious than private drivers.

It also found that Manhattan is more dangerous than the other boroughs.  I hope that doesn’t encourage congestion pricing though.  That’s an idea I still can’t get behind.

The Bloomberg administration is likely to use the report to further its (popular) street reforms.  As a biker, I like the dedicated bike lanes that use a column of parked cars–and sometimes a concrete median–to separate cyclists from moving traffic.  As a pedestrian it’s the countdown cross signals that are already in place near Union Square and Greenwich Avenue.  Hopefully Union Square will also be getting its own pedestrian plaza.

The New York Times has a couple pieces today about ice cream.  The one that really caught my attention (thanks to Pat Kiernan) is on the skyrocketing cost for a scoop of ice cream.  I had somehow gotten used to paying three, four or more dollars at places like Cones, L’Arte del Gelato or the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory (I still need to get a t-shirt from there).  Even trucks, which you think would be bargain prices, are charging north of \$4 for a scoop.

The article points out Grom, in particular.  I recently visited the location on Bleecker and Carmine and paid \$5.25 for a small.  While the gelato was good, I’d rather walk down the street to Cones or L’Arte del Gelato where the prices are (slightly) lower and the gelato tastes better, at least to me.

What really gets me going is that on my trip to Italy last year I paid much lower prices.  Gelato in Venice only cost one Euro.  Even with the conversion rate at the time it was less than \$1.50.  Florence was a little more at two Euros and Rome hit the top costing between three and four Euros.  You would think those tourist heavy cities in one of the more expensive countries to visit would have more expensive gelato, but I guess not.

The other article is about egg free ice cream and how it helps pull out the flavor.  I love ice cream of all kinds so I can go either way, but the article should be an interesting read.

Last night I attended Amanda the Foodie’s ice cream crawl which is part of a series of food crawls she organizes.  I’m not good at estimating crowd size by sight (give me a few equations then sure) but I’d say 60 to 80 people showed up.  She had a break up into groups of 5 or 6 and go on different routes so the shops wouldn’t be overwhelmed with customers.  She also went so far as to negotiate discounts for us ahead of time.

I was there alone so I made new friends on the spot.  Our list of ice cream stations included Blackwell’s Oragnic Ice Cream Truck (the driver was very rude and did not honor the discount), Three Tarts (we had Rosemary and lavendar ice cream sandwiches), Miss Softee (we skipped because we all had her before), Roneybrook Farm (Cinnamon, Pumpkin) and L’Arte del Gelato (also skipped because a few of us were there yesterday).

My group decided to add The Big Gay Ice Cream Truck (Doug is awesome and has GREAT toppings) to the list so we hustled over to Union Square just in time to sample his wares.  We had the Salty Pimp, Monday Sundae and Vanilla with Sea Salt and Olive Oil.  I also gave the location to Amanda so she could tweet it to everyone sending a rush to Doug as he was trying to close.

Metromix covered the event and which is where I found that picture of me with the spoon.

The other day I found myself walking down 7th Avenue South, as is usual, and I decided to pop into Blecker Street Pizza.  I haven’t been there in years because of all the other great pizza in the neighborhood like John’s, Keste, Number 28 (which is claimed best by Citysearch), Risotteria (so I’ve heard) and Joe’s.

I remember not being a blown away by the place and I reaffirmed that this time.  It’s not awful but it certainly isn’t the Best Pizza in New York as the Food Network seems to think.  With all the good options around the area I think it will be a while before I pop back inside.

This makes me doubt everything the Food Network says.  I’ll be sticking to Travel Channel’s Man v Food starring Adam Richman who regularly shows his affinity for Lombardi’s with his t-shirts (as seen below) and loves L&B Spumoni Gardens.

Back in May I finally made it to L&B Spumoni Gardens and Slice was right, it is a Rite of Passage and totally worth the subway ride.

My friend and I got a sicilian pie (12 slices) half plain and half mushrooms.  They make it in an upside down style similar to New York Pizza Suprema, but it is the atmosphere that really makes L&B.  You can feel the ocean breeze as you sit at picnic style tables outdoors.  Quite an experience.

We finished off the meal with their signature Spumoni.  I forget what flavor I got, but as you can it was extremely tasty and a great way to top off the pizza.

It also gets approval from Man v Food’s Adam Richman who visited some time last season (or the first?).

Ok, I’m a few months behind on this one, but I saw this post by Adam Kuban on Serious Eats for a Shake Shack iPhone App and I had to mention it.  There have been many times that I wanted to check the Shake Shack line but didn’t have Flash on my iPhone.  The app has a lot of great features, but Adam covered them in his post, I just wanted to share my joy in discovering that I can now check the live feed from my phone and then decide to meander into line.