Friday, March 26, 2010

Just showin' off

This is a meta-post, a post about the blog. I started nearly two years ago, and I'm still having fun (after more than 400 posts!). I sincerely hope someone else out there in the ether is enjoying it too, or will some day in the future, though I confess to wondering about this from time to time. I have written some posts explicitly for my son, but he doesn't seem to be ready yet.

I appreciate that the eclectic choice of topics is likely to be a distraction for people, but I am pretty impulsive by nature---and I thoroughly enjoy my lack of discipline.

The blog is a way for me to try to record the little bit of understanding that I have gained on some point of interest (usually very recently). I am also stockpiling posts on topics that I plan to provide for students of my bioinformatics class, if the day ever comes when I teach that class again. I guess the main point I'm trying to make now is that I'm enjoying myself, but often feel like I'm broadcasting in a vacuum.

So I was quite surprised to find a very generous comment from Joe Felsenstein here the other day. In fact I went to find my wife so I could brag to her about it. It made me incredibly happy. But I also felt guilty, because I had made a thoughtless negative comment in the post, for which I need to atone.

So here you feel like Metropolis-Hastings MCMC has the feel of something really, really important, but you don't quite understand it? Me too. While I don't feel totally confident about it yet, I did achieve a kind of mathematical satori about this while reading Chapter 18 in Inferring Phylogenies. For the serious student, his book is the place to start. On this and many other topics. Thank you, Professor Felsenstein.