Sunday, June 5, 2011

Slow blogging: NIPS

As NIPS program co-chairs, Peter Bartlett and I have just been deluged with 1394 paper submissions to steer through reviewing with 52 area chairs and over 600 first-line reviewers. I doubt that I'll have much time for much blogging in the next 3 months. A few quick links:

  • Peter Norvig wrote a very interesting essay on Chomsky vs statistical learning that has triggered a lot of commentary. I have thought about and written some on these issues, which Peter graciously notes, but I feel that there's something more to say, about contingency in language, which I hope to be able to at least blog about some time.
  • Stu Shieber keeps writing excellent stuff on open-access publication. Matt Blaze also wrote a great post that had some reverberations. And Wired Magazine had an interesting article on the topic. As NIPS PC co-chair, I'm more aware than ever that our pre-digital scientific communication systems are unsustainable. It's like watching a wet snow avalanche, which seems slow compared with the more photographed slab avalanches, but moves unstoppably and churns everything in its path.

May skiing

Between work and the actual skiing, I've not had time to post updates. In early May, I participated in the inaugural ASI/The Backcountry Spring Sierra road trip. The Backcountry's Mike Schwartz drove and provided great advice and help on and off the mountain, ASI guide Logan Talbott got us safely to beautiful summits and delicious corn skiing. Coincidentally, I had skied with two of the other clients, Jennifer and Justin, on a trip to Sol Mountain a few years ago. The whole group got along well, and made for a remarkably friction-free trip in sometimes cramped and improvised conditions. Here are some pictures by Logan and by me. I'll do it again!

Two weeks ago, Johannes, Jim stayed Friday night at a Kirkwood condo (the place was closed, spooky like a set for a scary movie), and went for a Saturday tour around Carson Pass. We had misplaced our Snowpark permits, so we parked at the unregulated Red Lake trailhead and skinned from there to Round Top. It's a longer route than the Carson Pass one, but it allowed us to discover some nice terrain behind Elephant Back. The day started blustery, overcast, with sprinkles and snow flurries, but cleared toward the afternoon. The timing worked fairly well, we got back without having to deal with the wet glop that is the main return hazard in spring days.