Tuesday, November 25, 2003

1. Makassar, twenty years ago. Eid Day -- the end of Ramadhan festivity -- had always been awaited big time, especially by children. Even schools were closed for the whole month prior to the Eid Day, the day of glory. Evening time was always paradise to children. It was the time for the toy of the month: explosives. No, nothing to do with terrorism, mind you. This is simply child's play, amid a little danger content: but who likes to play with safety? Those boys cut some bamboo trees then used the pipe as a cannon to explode some kerosene or gasoline put inside it, lid by a small fire on the other end of the pipe. It exploded with banging sound. The louder it was the happier those lads were. We competed on who could come up with the loudest cannon. We tried to be up all night, just to be able to fire our cannon at four o'clock in the morning. Yes, to wake up adults from their sleep. So they could have their sahoor on time. Wasn't it good? A ten year old boy thought it was.

2. Makassar, fifteen years ago. Some teenagers always thought that Ramadhan was the time for motor racing on the beach. Who could resist the temptation to motorskiing between cars, buses, and trucks? Ramadhan was perfect since many people broke their fast on the beach while enjoying the sunset. They were captive market. To show up our "talent" to. Of riding motorcycle at 100 kmph in a crowded traffic. The happier you were when your bike could roar very loud. Or you could simply came with glaze-machined motorcycle. Girls liked it. You would be the star. Danger is not to worry.

3. Somewhere across the ocean, thousands of miles away from Makassar. The then-ten-year-old-boy- turned-racing-teenager is now twice his adrenalin-junky age. He just learned the true meaning of Ramadhan. Now, the night of Eid Day he is contemplating. He wants to go back...

4. To fix things up. Would that be...

5. Possible?

1. Snow. Really cold. It's 25 degrees outside, with wind chill of 9 degrees. Can hear the wind banging on the windows...

Monday, November 24, 2003

1. Thanksgiving Week. Started with rainy, gloomy day. Works ahead: no holidays deserved.

Wednesday, November 19, 2003

1. Have to go home-office back and forth. Am doing simulation with PC at home -- have to, since computer at office is slow and doesn't have enough memory. Using laptop is no solution, too, since it gets heated quickly. Well, this is the cost you have to pay for playing with huge data set, amid doing simulation. The data set is 15,000 by 30 cells. The simulation needs at least 10,000 repetitions per observation, with at least 100 iterations. This is taking so much time. Not to mention I am a novice in GAUSS programming. Hope everything works.

2. Urbana has been wet for 3 days. But rain is beautiful.

3. Happened to turn on the TV last night (after abandoned sooo long). PBS was airing a documentary on the Kennedys. It was good and very informative (am considering to purchase the DVD). I learned something *new* about that famous dinasty. That Joe, JFK's father, was FDR's main campaign donor. That JFK was nicknamed Jack (hey, I'm no American, don't laugh at my ignorance!). That JFK plagiarized but got Pulitzer for that. That RFK was small and thin. And Ted was problematic drunkard. But Jackie was always the same: Beauty.

Monday, November 17, 2003

1. It has been a superhectic week. Had to present the research at the Second Annual ACE Graduate Student Research Celebration (my god, why do they use such a long, terrible name?). The presentation was fine, but not as good as I had expected. (And hey, no evaluation form this year?). It was just a report of previous results plus some motivation for the next stages. I was so hoping to include some welfare calculation based on a simulated estimation, to compare with the classical, non-simulated previous result. But, what could I do, the program did not converge until 10 hours before the presentation! In fact it has not converged till now, for crying outloud.

2. DSB raised an interesting point in my presentation. I mentioned a study by Lichtkoppler and Blaine for Ashtabula County as a comparison to my estimation. Their welfare figure, after being scaled up to community level-- is well below ours. I was alluding that it might be due to the form of their survey: they used a tax-referendum contingent valuation, asking directly how much tax increase respondents are willing to bear in order to enjoy a better particular condition. I am afraid that kind of survey invites protest responses, for I have found such sentiment all over the comment/suggestion box in our returned surveys. But DBS implicitly contended that WTP as espressed through referendum might be the unbiased one. Well, I think I would disagree. As JBB said afterward, the central issue here is who should pay for the cleanup of legacy pollution. Confronting respondents with referenda would definitely induce protest bids -- and thus downward biased welfare measures. However, I agree that our numbers might also be overestimated since embedding effect might have played some role. Need to check on this further.

3. MK and AA questioned my stepwise elimination of insignificant parameters in order to get the most parsimonious specification for welfare measurement. Their main concern was the possibility of bias from variables omission. Admittedly, I had overlooked this issue. The reason I eliminated "unimpotant" variables one-at-a-time was to avoid obscuring the log sum formula of probabilistic welfare calculation. But, yes, I should have addressed this issue, too.

4. Urbana-Champaign gets colder. Wildly colder, though with no snow yet. One day the weather changed so extreme. In the morning it was 60 but it dropped to 23 in the evening.

5. Out of tiredness and boredom came desperation for new environment. To Borders I went (where else in this town, given limited time -- as tight as it can be?). No particularly interesting new books found. But got so tempted to buy Hilary Hahn's new album . And failed the temptation: In fact not only bought Hahn's, but added two more: Royal Philharmonic Orchestra interpretation of Andrew Lloyd Webber (have been loooongg time of waiting) and Best of von Karajan. Hope these new babies will help me speed up the dissertation, to say the least :-)

Sunday, November 09, 2003

1. Bush said he wants to "export American democracy to the world". Hahaha.
2. Subhanallah. Total lunar eclipse! The Earth was standing right in the middle of the Sun and the Moon, blocking the sunshine to reflect on the latter. We observed this great phenomenon, embedding it into the taraweeh.

Tuesday, November 04, 2003

1. Yesterday he asked us to kindly pray for her mother's recovery. She was in Pakistan, in critical condition after surgery following a heart attack. Just this evening he again asked us, his friends, to pray for the mother. She died this morning. Azeem, may your mother find a better home up there.

Monday, November 03, 2003

1. Refreshing on Bayesian. Two boxes of balls. First box has 10 red balls and 30 green balls. The second one has 20 reds and 20 greens. What's the probability of a person (randomly) choosing the first box? Yes, 50%. That's true if you haven't observed anything prior to answering that question. But, suppose you saw a person randomly chose a box (either one) then randomly picked a ball (either one), and as it turned out he got a green. Now, I ask you again: What's the probability of that person (randomly) choosing the first box? Now you become subjective. Conditional on your having seen him got a green, you will go: "Ehm, I guess it is more likely that he chose the first box, not the second box". That is, you're saying: it's more than 50% (because you know, the first box has more greens). Indeed, using Bayesian approach, it is 60%. Why? The conditional probability of randomly picking up a green from the first box is 75%, and from the second box 50%. The prior probability of randomly choosing each box is 50%. Bayesian Theorem says, the posterior probability (or, subjective probability, if you like) of choosing the first box, given that you saw him hold a green is the joint probability of (a priori-ly) choosing the first box and getting a green out of it, divided by the sum of both joint probabilities. That is, 60% = (50%*75%) : [(50%*75%)+(50%+50%)].

Sunday, November 02, 2003

1. Waiting for the break of day // Searching for something to say // Flashing lights against the sky // Giving up I close my eyes // Sitting cross-legged on the floor // 25 or 6 to 4 // Staring blindly into space // Getting up to splash my face // Wanting just to stay awake // Wondering how much I can take // Should I try to do some more // 25 or 6 to 4 // Feeling like I ought to sleep // Spinning room is sinking deep // Searching for something to say // Waiting for the break of day // 25 or 6 to 4 // 25 or 6 to 4.
(Chicago, "Chicago Transit Authority", 1969)

Saturday, November 01, 2003

1. Do I need to take anger management class?
2. "Be quick in the forgiveness from your Lord, and pardon (all) men - for Allah loves those who do good." [3:133-134].
3. "But indeed if any shows patience and forgives that would truly be an exercise of courageous will and resolution in the conduct of affairs." [42:43]