At ASA/ISM Joint Statistical Meetings


Watch this space for stories. (Updates to comments on other posts will be slow.)

Update: Tuesday night. This story, sent in by Jim D., is a must read. Statistical poetry! “I am proud to be a brick in the statistics building of the PRC”

Update: Wednesday morning. I went into a cigar store and met an elegantly dressed man: immaculate white linen shirt, white wool pants, a kind of pith helmet; perfect, if it can be believed. He said he had just returned from Barbados (where he has a shop called “Style 1”). He was searching for a cigar that “Put out smells the ladies love.” He did not approve of my CAO Brazilias telling me that I wanted to be a hit with the ladies, I should eschew them.

I told him that I needed to keep away from the ladies. He stopped short and peered into my eyes, then grabbed my arm. “I know. You need to ask to see their health cards. Any woman wants to be with me, she needs to show me her health card.” He then mentioned some other olfactory considerations regarding such transactions. So I said, “You care a lot about smells.”

“It’s my oils and smells that make me such a hit with the ladies.” And before I could understand what was happening, he reached into a leather bag he had around his neck and whipped out a vial which he swabbed across my cheek and then on my left hand. The name on the vial was “Jean Paul.”

“There. Now you’ll see. With your body heat interacting, you’ll walk out of here emanating smells the ladies just won’t be able to resist.”

He was right. I walked out, the air behind me shimmering slightly, and received looks from several ladies.

With all my scrubbing, it still took a day for Jean Paul’s effects to wear off.

Update: Thursday morning. I looked at every book in the exhibit hall. The good news: only two of the thousands were even closely related to the one I am writing. I’ll have little competition. The bad news: only two of the thousands were even closely related to the one I am writing. I’ll have little competition.

Dale Gilbert, in a guide to starting a used bookstore, advised locating your new store nearby other used bookstores. This idea appeared counter-intuitive to many because they feared the increased competition would be harmful. Far from it, a critical mass of bookstores in one location improved business; for one, by making it easier for customers to find what they want, by making the location a destination.

Same thing with books. Ten years ago, there was almost nothing on R; now publishers have entire tables set aside for these missives: R on Survival Analysis, R for SAS and SPSS Users (by my friend Bob Muenchen), Programming in R, Teaching with R, Me and My R, R and the Meaning of Life, and on and on and on. So you might think that writing yet another R book would get lost in the confusion.

I doubt it. I saw several people walk away with two, three, even four separate R titles. Obviously, then, there is still a market. I’ve got to find a way to work in R in my title…

Update: Later Thursday. My friend Tom sends this story, which asserts—what nobody seriously doubted—that statisticians are hot.


  1. Kevin

    Jitterbug perfume!

  2. JH

    He was searching for a cigar that “Put out smells the ladies love”.

    Ohhh, this is one of those English-is-not-my-native-language moments. I think, cigars of all brands would work fine for putting out (extinguishing) smells the ladies love. Unburnt cigars smell OK, but, (please pardon my honesty), a regular smoker stinks.

    I .. received looks from several ladies.

    Hilarious. And hence several ladies received looks from you. I wonder if they wore perfume.

  3. Rich

    Book title suggestion: “R Jim lad”, sub-titled “statistics for pirates by Matt Briggs”

  4. Mike B

    On the used bookstore thingy…not really counter-intuitive at all. I’ve worked advising retail clients for over a decade now, and this co-location thing is standard practice. Best Buy built accross the street from Circuit City (until CC went out of business). Lowe’s builds accross the highway from Home Depot. Longhorn Steakhouse tries to get right next door to Outback. PF Chang’s tries to get mall spots close to Cheescake Factory.

    That’s the great thing about the internets…all the retailers are right next door!

  5. Joy

    The ladies were being nosy! Who can blame them, what a spectacle! What with it being August,
    “The soul that can speak through the eyes can also kiss with a gaze.”
    How did Sgt Briggs know the man’s trousers were woollen; arm touching, eye gazing And All That Jazz? Then there’s the ambiguous Jean Paul interlude.

    I’m always suspicious of men wearing strong after-shave. It should be something one can only smell at very close range! Same for perfume, your train companions shouldn’t taste the top notes with their morning coffee.

    For JH’s nose only,
    I recommend Elemis lime and ginger scrub followed by Exotic Island flower balm instead of perfume.
    Frangipane de Chantecaille, although this has a cucumber/salad note, it soon goes off and settles to one of the most unusual fragrances. Being flowery it is lovely for summer. There’s nothing else like it. It has vanilla and Moroccan orange although why a Moroccan orange should smell different from a Majorcan orange is an interesting thought. Perhaps it does.

    I went into Marc Jacobs on Saturday in Audley Street to get out of the rain and once more sample his rose perfume, which is too pungent, and not as subtle as Stella McCartney’s. ‘Let It Be’ was playing therein.
    Life is full of coincidence. I sampled stone henge in July as well, nothing to report, of course.

  6. JH

    Joy, Darn, my computer failed to transmit the scent signals. I am writing them down, so I will remember what to look for when I go shopping. Thank you.

  7. Bernie

    Three points:

    1. Bookstore cluster thesis: Proof point is Hay-on-Wye, but bring your Wellies – it always rains.

    2. It is an iron law of professional association conferences – almost everybody thinks they are hot, especially the academics receiving salaries and other attendees who are not looking for a job!

    3. Just when I thought that a few qualified but out of work statisticians would finally have to work in climate science, somebody has to offer $125K as a starting salary in the private sector. (Please see Steve’s latest zinger post on smoothing at CA as evidence of the need!)

  8. JH

    Ouch, Bernie. You are one of my favorite commenters here. I think you are COOL. <⁄seriously>

  9. Bernie

    I am definitely not nearly as COOL as Joy.

    By the way, which point caused the Ouch? For me, it is newbies expecting to earn $125K!!

  10. JH

    Yes, Joy is hotly cool, and you are cool.

    It’s #2. The muscle of my humble ego (what an oxymoron) was injured, but it’s fine now after applying Hot-N-Cool therapy.

    A salary of $125K for a new Ph.D. graduate is wonderful. The more, the better.

    I do appreciate that fact that you recognize the value of qualified statisticians.

  11. Joy

    Ah, Bernie! JH! I’m blushing and you’re kind.
    Hay on Wye? The one near Hereford? I wondered where you’d gone.

  12. Bernie

    You’re welcome – (Probably one of the great American idiomatic additions to the English language that is equivalent to “Bitte”, “de rien” , “de nada”.)

    Certainly the one in Herefordshire and subject of a nice little book by Paul Collins – Sixpence House: Lost in A Town Of Books.

    I have been busy retiring! Now I am free to pursue my own interests, which will include learning R, researching General James Wilkinson and being a general PITA to those who confuse their beliefs with facts.

  13. Joy

    Happy retirement Bernie.

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