Last Wednesday I made a trip to Di Fara in Midwood, Brooklyn. Since that place is wellcoveredandlauded I won’t talk about the pizza, as amazing as it is.
I gave Dom a copy of my thesis (pdf) on NYCpizza and he loved that his place was one of the few pizzerias mentioned by name (along with Lombardi’s and Otto Enoteca, two of my favorites) in the paper. My friend captured these great photos and I’m extremely thankful to Dom for letting me in his kitchen.
And to make the trip all the more surreal, Avenue J was lined with lulav and etrog vendors trying to clear out stock before Sukkot started. The juxtaposition of Di Fara and the surrounding Orthodox neighborhood was striking and really shows the beauty of New York City.
After years of waiting a new Artichoke Basilles our dreams have been answered. The new spot, which hasn’t even been updated on the website yet, is at 17th and 10th opened this weekend. Unlike the original location this one has seats and wait service and only sells pies, albeit smaller than the originals. There is a side shop where they sell slices, but I didn’t venture in there.
The pie, seen below in the blurry iPhone shot, is just a smaller version of the pies at the original shop and were just as tasty. One pie was too much food for a friend and me, so figure one pie ($17) for 2.5 to 3 people.
Additionally, they have a larger selection of pies and non-pizza food, such as salad and the sorts. They don’t have beer or liquor yet, but should soon.
The first thing to note is that there are only 16 data points, so multiple regression is not an option. We can all thank the Curse of Dimensionality for that. So I stuck to simpler methods and visualizations. If I can get the raw data from Slice, I can get a little more advanced.
For the sake of simplicity I removed the tomatoes from Eataly because their price was such an outlier that it made visualizing the data difficult. As usual, most of the graphics were made using ggplot2 by Hadley Wickham. The coefficient plots were made using a little function I wrote. Here is the code. Any suggestions for improvement are greatly appreciated, especially if you can help with increasing the left hand margin of the plot. And as always, all the work was done in R.
The most obvious relationship we want to test is Overall Quality vs. Price. As can be seen from the scatterplot below with a fitted loess curve, there is not a linear relationship between price and quality.
Within a few hours of them posting their initial results the work spread across the internet, even getting written up in Wired’s Danger Room. Today, they got picked up by the New York Times where you can see the animation.
The bulk of the work was, of course, done in R. I remember talking with them about how they were going to scrape the data from the WikiLeaks documents, but I am not certain how they did it in the end. As is natural for these guys they made their code available on GitHubso you can recreate their results, after you’ve downloaded the data yourself from WikiLeaks.
Briefly looking at their code I can see they used Hadley Wickham’sggplot and plyr packages (which are almost standard for most R users) as well as R’s mappingpackages. If you want to learn more about how they did this fantastic job come to the next R Meetup where they will present their findings.
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 socialscientists 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.