Wednesday, January 30, 2008

waxing nonsensical

I once had a professor who likened the ubiquitousness of the statistical standard deviation to a goddess he called Normalina, whose purview it was to impose order on chaos in the form of a single, universal standard deviation. I immediately seized upon this idea for my magnum opus of notebook marginalia, one of my more impressive undergraduate achievements. In my mind (and alongside my notes for, e.g., Introductory French or Biological Anthropology), the Goddess Normalina had a standard-deviation-shaped hat, and she would peer down from the heavens, scanning the world for chaotic data sets, which she would then cram, unceremoniously, into her upturned hat, you know, really putting her arm into it. And then she would dump out the newly reformed contents back onto the earth, like Jello sliding out of bundt mold. Sweet, delicious math Jello....

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