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12 May 2010 to 4 February 2010

Percentage of baby names that were used for both sexes.
I suggest listening to this solo album by Jónsi of Sigur Rós while pouring through this writhing index of World Cup stats.
I was doing some more analysis on Encyclopaedia Metallum data, as I seem to end up doing one way or another most weeks, and it occurred to me to add in country populations so I could do bands per capita. This is not a rigorous statistic, since for some regions of the world it probably says more about the EM contributor-base than it does about the actual distributions of musicians, but the top of the list was pretty striking:  

1. Finland - 471 bands per million people
2. Sweden - 330
3. Norway - 239
4. Iceland - 189
5. Denmark - 113  

Yes, I have rediscovered the existence of Scandinavia statistically!  

For comparison:  

28. United States - 49
29. United Kingdom - 46  

And way down at the very end (among countries with at least 10 bands, at any rate):  

87. China - 0.097
88. India - 0.068  

There are a fair number of places that have, as far as EM knows, no metal bands at all, but I've got all the populations in place, so if anybody starts a band on Pitcairn or Wallis et Futuna next week, I'm ready.  

(Interesting, too, that Finland leads the world in both metal bands and Winter Olympic medals per capita.)  

(In the interest of accuracy, I should note that if you include all countries, Liechtenstein actually comes in third with 251 bands per million people (by which we mean 9 bands for ~36,000 people). Liechtenstein is one of only two countries in the world where there are more Gothic Metal bands than any other style. The other place is Kuwait, where Gothic Metal bands outnumber all other styles, put together, by a commanding margin of 1 to 0. The band is called Nocturna.)
My week to pick three albums for the new ILX Metal Listening Club. Like a book club, but for metal albums. All are welcome to join us in contemplation of Fates Warning's Parallels, Cradle of Filth's Nymphetamine and HIM's Screamworks: Love in Theory and Practice.
I have a post on my work-blog about why geeky-sounding data-modeling issues matter to even simple-looking data.  

The post uses some Oscar-award data as an example, as I just put together a Needle version of Oscar History, so if you ever wanted to be able to answer some obscure statistical question about the Oscars, now you can. (Or you can ask me, and I can...)
From Revisiting HTTP based Linked Data:
What is Linked Data?  

"Data Access by Reference" mechanism for Data Objects (or Entities) on HTTP networks. It enables you to Identify a Data Object and Access its structured Data Representation via a single Generic HTTP scheme based Identifier (HTTP URI). Data Object representation formats may vary; but in all cases, they are hypermedia oriented, fully structured, and negotiable within the context of a client-server message exchange.

If there's anybody in the universe (who isn't already a Semantic Web expert) who reads that and thinks "Yes! I gotta get one of those!", I'd be very surprised.  

For that matter, if there's anybody in the data business, other than the writer, who reads that and thinks "Yes! That's the Grand Quest to which I have given my Life and Loyalty!", I'd be almost as surprised, and rather suspicious.  

Contrast this:
What is Whole Data?  

Whole Data is a method of storing and representing your data so that you can explore it as easily as you browse the web, and examine or analyze it from any perspective at any time. It gives you and the computer a common language for talking about your data, so that the computer can answer your questions by examining your data the way you would, but way faster.

I'm not saying this is the same level as "We hold these truths to be self-evident...", or "I'm not going to pay a lot for this muffler", either. It's a technical appeal, not a Radio Free Earth broadcast. But it's closer to comprehensible, at least, isn't it?
If you'd rather see a glimpse of Needle, my work project, involving sports instead of music, I just did a quick chomp through the medal-winner data from the Vancouver Olympics. Tables, breakdowns, cross-tabulations, etc.!  

Needle - Vancouver 2010 Olympics
There's a startup called Etacts whose software can import your email (headers), and give you a view by person instead of by message. This is pretty obviously something you'd like to be able to see, if you have any significant volume of correspondence or correspondents. And it's pretty obviously a large leap of faith to give some random startup the ability to log into your email account.  

But, even more, this is a perfect example of something you ought to be able to do, at least basically, with your data without needing any extra application. Etacts provides some unique contact-management features, but the fundamental function of rotating data to some other axis is, I contend, rightfully a property of the data. You already own the view of your email by recipient, because it is immanent in your email. But your email service probably doesn't let you see it. I would like it to be the responsibility of a data-holding service to give you full logical access to that data.  

This is a huge part of why my work project matters to me. It is my attempt to design a universal data-modeling paradigm, and associated query-language, that could be a candidate standard for what it means to provide "full logical access" to data.
Usage Notes  

"In lieu of" means "instead of", with the general implication that the object of the phrase is absent or unavailable. So "I ordered onion rings in lieu of fries" if they were out of fries and you were forced to choose something else, but "I ordered onion rings instead of fries" is better if it's just your choice. "In place of" works for both, too.  

"In light of" means "as a result of", with the sense of having changed something because you observed (thus the "light", by which you see) something else. So "In light of the overwhelming shift in demand from fries to onion rings, I recommend we reduce our potato order." Or just "Let's get more onions instead of so many potatoes. Everybody hates potatoes now, apparently."  

"In favor of" means "in place of", like "instead of" but in the opposite order, with a sense of some kind of trade-off. "We reduced our potato order in favor of more onions to satisfy rampant onion-ring demand." Or "We bought more onions instead of potatoes, because everybody is ordering onion rings for some weird reason now. Did somebody on Chowhound post something good about our onion rings? Or bad about our fries?!"  

In light of frequent misuse, in lieu of specific needs I recommend eschewing all three in favor of saying what you know you mean.
Now that Needle, my work project, is finally no longer secret, I'm starting my slow seditious campaign to subvert the entire Semantic Web establishment. "Entire" is maybe a big word for a small world that not very many people care about, but part of the reason I care is that I think more people would care about the problems this community is addressing if the nature of the problems weren't so obscured by the prevailing ostensible solutions.  

I'll be taking this argument on the road, albeit only a couple blocks down it, for a short talk at the Cambridge Semantic Web Meetup Group, next Tuesday night (9 Feb, 6pm) at MIT.
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