Sunday, 31 January 2016

Small-town Hockey Phenomenons

There is a book on my shelf, Passionate Minds, full of interviews of top scientists in their fields. Chapter 5 contains an extended passage from biotechnologist Leroy Hood that caught me.
...important were the opportunities that I had in the form of three outstanding High School teachers in a very small town in northern Montana...what was unusual about these teachers is they all cared about students as individuals...Maybe this is a consequence of just small towns, but if you're good in a small town, everybody knows it and you have enormous self-confidence about, gee, this is wonderful, I can really do all these things.
His second observation moves from my later talking points, but it's worth noting nonetheless:
I get [the best students] from small towns...Or I get them from places like New York City where, if they're number one, they know they're the best. I never got anybody that was any good from suburbia...There isn't a push to excel; there isn't the positive reinforcement.
My intrigue lies mainly in that first quote. But ironically enough, scientific talent is rather hard to quantify. I had the idea had to search where all the best scientists come from. But that fell flat, as the concept 'best scientist' is too subjective (and often too historical; Newton, Einstein, etc). Contemporary lists of sorted scientific talent are rare, and I hate using h-indexes (as secretly everyone does).

Sports is another matter. Rankings are all modern, and critics do not shy away from choosing favourites. I live in Canada, and, moreover, hockey is a sport at which Canadians excel. Consider the number of Canadians on the all-time points list (only 3 of the top 20 are from other countries). Roughly half of the league is Canadian; it was notable when at the 2015 season debut, it was revealed slightly less than half of the NHL was Canadian the first time, ever. Hence we dominate both in quality and quantity.

Since I am more familiar with Canadian geography than other places, I chose NHL to use as an example finding out, where exactly does the talent come from.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Update, etc

It appears I haven't been writing much lately. But appearances, they do deceive sometimes. Long story short: I got offered a chance to be part of the Canadian Running Magazine online posts.

I've already written print pieces for them, but soon I'll have my name added to their blog roll too.
UPDATE: here is is. It's not a full-time gig, but it does give me incentive to stay on schedule. I tend to thrive on deadlines, and wither without.

If all goes to plan, the piece I wrote a few days ago will appear on their homepage (about correlations between indoor race times and XC). I'll then upload my version of the same piece later on. There will be a lag between the two, but eventually there will be no difference save for the latest post.

My life is relatively simple by most standards. Although my take on running is perhaps more complex. Unlike most bloggers encamped in the field of training or pure analytics, I'm somehow part of each. By example, I'm racing an indoor 3000m tomorrow, but today I'm playing with data.  So it goes. They feed well off each other, and somehow running analytics comes easily to me.

What will I write about for CR? Perhaps regional and temporal trends in Marathon Canada's data. Looking forward to the running USA 2015 annual report (coming in March). I'm interested in learning more about drugs and doping, though finding good data there is a challenge. And I want to try more joggling this year.

What I will do is continue browse the world of athletics data, seeking interesting tidbits. A distraction of late is my interest in markets and stocks. There's so many numbers and I've never explored them much until now. With markets down across the board and the Canadian dollar undervalued (compared to its PPP), seems like an interesting time to invest. Mostly it's a new curiosity, and partly practical planning the future. Nevertheless, it won't stop me from writing here. Cheers.