Office hours / Clefable

I’m going to hold office hours tomorrow, Friday 27 June 2014, from 1:15 – 2:45 in our regular classroom (Melville W4550). 



I guess I’ve been a little remiss with the emails for this course, insofar as I’ve been talking about cheese and art but not so much about music. Yesterday in class I mentioned Eric B. and Rakim, so if you’re not already up on them then you have some work to do. Paid in Full and Follow the Leader are absolute, stone-cold classic albums. I can’t tell you what a bummer it is that Korn’s album of the same title comes up  first when you google “Follow the Leader”. That’s a sad state of affairs in this world. There’s really no other rapper like Rakim (he ain’t no joke — actually his only flaw might be his lack of a sense of humor), and Eric B. has turntable skills of the kind you just don’t see nowadays. I love the DJ break interlude on their records, like “Eric B. Never Scared” from Follow the Leader. Plus The R is from Long Island (Wyandanch, to be precise), so if you are, too, you have to give him props. You don’t have a choice in the matter. 

But you don’t want to hear about the old joints. You want to know who’s on the come up in 2014, because you’re impatient and immature. I know how it is. I was your age, too, long ago. So what’s good these days? Well there’s this band called Broods from New Zealand who are pretty good; their song “Bridges” is probably ready to blow (for some reason there are three different music videos from the song on the band’s YouTube channel), though it’s been out for a few months already and hasn’t gotten too much heat yet. New Zealand’s not a tiny country so you might think it’s a bit facile to compare Broods to Lorde, but if you listen to “Coattails” you’d be hard-pressed not to see the resemblance. And it’s not suprising, as both artists share a producer in Joel Little. Their full-length is due out in a few months, so be on the lookout. 

If you’re more into classic soul sound, Curtis Harding has that in spades on his début LP Soul Power. It’s not a perfect record, though I get the feeling he could’ve made a more straightforward album if he’d wanted to, but instead chose to balance some pristine Curtis Mayfield-esque tracks (I mean, check the production on “Heaven’s on the Other Side“) with a few more unusual ones in order not to be simply a pastiche of the past. 

Ghost Beach are pretty good if you’re into the 80s and don’t take yourself too seriously.

I know a lot of you aren’t SBU students, but for those of you who are and maybe happened to go to the recent Diplo concert, perhaps you got into Jamaican dancehall music while listening to Major Lazer in preparation for the event. Well Popcaan is an actual Jamaican and recently released his début album Where We Come From. There’s a good track called “Hustle” on which Pusha T aka King Push aka the Virginia powder don (okay, I made that last one up, but it sounds plausible!) features. If you missed Pusha T’s first solo album (he is one-half of Clipse) last year, then you missed one of the better rap albums of recent years.

If you’re into slow R&B-type joints with snares on the two and four at like 80 bpm, maybe take see what’s good with FKA Twigs (who just dropped a new track from her forthcoming début LP1), or Nisha, or Wet (if that song is too spare for you, holler at the remix, though Spank Rock’s verse on it is a bit weak), or Oscar Key Sung (here’s the pretty strange music video for his song “All I Could Do”) . If dancing until 7am is more your thing, with the World Cup going on now is a good time to revisit Guy Gerber’s classic “Stoppage Time“.



Final grades posted / Ernie Banks

The semester is over, y’all. It’s in the past. Let us give thanks for what he have learned and how we grown over these past few months, and let us prepare ourselves for much merriment and well-earned festivities.

Your course grades are available on Solar. Take a peek when you feel like it.


HW 11 solutions / exam iii material / final exam note / archaeopteryx

The solution set to the Exam III review a.k.a. Homework 11 a.k.a. your favorite homework’s favorite homework is now up in the DOCUMENTS tab. (That was an accidental caps lock, but I’m leaving it.)

Exam III will cover all the material from the posted lecture notes, plus all the material from sections 4.2 and 5.3 in the textbook that we covered in class. If you weren’t in class, either get the lecture notes from someone or read all of each section to make sure you know everything you need to know.

You do NOT have to memorize the formulae for finding q and r in the regression model y = qx + r. Please don’t memorize them. That would be a colossal waste of time.

You should, however, know the formula for calculating q in the model y = qx, and also be able to derive it using the pseudoinverse.

I will hold my usual office hours tomorrow from 11-1 in my office. I will send out an email at some point with details about next week’s office hours.

If you do well on the final exam (i.e., better than your average for the first three exams), then it will count for 37% of your final grade (HW will be 20%, Exam I: 11%, Exam II: 16% and Exam III: 16%).


Review problems / chortles

Dear y’all,

I’ve posted some review problems in the Documentz tab. The solutions to hw 10 are also there. Also, I have posted a drawing of a giant squid battling a sperm whale, with a couple of sharks swimming about nearby. Do with that what you will.

I will go over some of the review problems on Tuesday, but bring any other questions or concerns you have about any of the material from this part of the course. If we have extra time I’ll probably just rap the first verse from “Get Down” by Nas, so come prepared to prevent that eventuality.


Homework 8 / dirty pop

Your next assignment is posted in the Assignments tab. It’s due a week from today, on Thursday, 17 April 20.

In honor of the announcement of Robyn’s next NYC concert, today’s email is about pop music. I used to catch a lot of flak from my friends for listening to Robyn around the time her Body Talk albums were coming out, because she was seen as a 90s one-hit wonder (“Show Me Love” wasn’t too bad as far as 90s pop goes, but it’s not as good as the song of the same title by Robin S. from earlier in the decade). People have come around, though. Watch Robyn’s brilliant, one-take music video for “Call Your Girlfriend“, and then watch Taran Killam’s version thereof. Then watch them side by side!


I can’t help but enjoy Betty Who, an Australian who makes some of the catchiest music this side of Katy Perry. Her first hit was “Somebody Loves You“, but her latest EP (which just came out this past Tuesday) is better. There’s a very Perry-esque song called “Alone Again” that I like but a good version of which does not seem to exist on YouTube. The lead single is called “Hearbreak Dream“, and it’s also pretty good.

I hear a bit of Charli XCX’s melodic sensibility in “Heartbreak Dream”. Charli’s most recent single “SuperLove” is way more uptempo than her début album True Romance, and in my opinion not as good as the highlights of that LP. I liked True Romance a lot and honestly thought it was going to catch on more in the States than it did, but her new direction will probably raise her profile. She also sings on Iggy Azalea’s single “Fancy“, off of the latter’s début full-length The New Classic, which is coming out in three weeks and will probably be something of a big deal. The music video is a Clueless homage, which is pretty tight.


One of the most annoying things about pop music is how long it often takes after a single drops for the LP containing it to be released. Just as True Romance included songs like “Stay Away” and “You’re Not The One” that were released a year or more before the album, The New Classic will include old songs like “Work” (I quoted from “Work” in Puccini and Leoncavallo’s imagined conversation in the last email) and “Change Your Life“. That’s just the way it goes, though, and I guess it’s mostly just for début albums.

Tove Lo seems to be gaining some traction with the release of her Truth Serum EP. I’m not totally convinced she’s the real deal, but that’s mostly because the Hippie Sabotage remix of her song Habits is way better than the original. That’s not her fault, though. She does seem to have a pretty good voice, and she’s from Sweden, so I’ll be looking out for more from her. Speaking of Sweden, there’s this Swedish artist Snoh Aalegra who’s just a ridiculous babe but in a totally un-Scandinavian way. She’s signed to No I.D.‘s label and he produced her song “The Fall“, which is solid. Here’s another tune of hers called “Burning Bridges” that has an actual music video; the production isn’t as good but it’s more of a showcase for her vocals. Her music isn’t on Spotify so I don’t listen to her too much, but she looks like a cross between Natalie Portman and Eva Mendes and can actually sing, so I’m keeping an eye on her.

Don’t worry, that’s a trick photo; she’s not really a conjoined twin

Closer to home and poised for big things in 2014 is Banks, who has overcome the obstacle of a generic, initially un-Googleable name (a quandary solved by Chvrches with their novel spelling) to build a strong following. Her song “Waiting Game” is in a Victoria’s Secret commercial, so she probably got a bunch of dough for that. Good for you, Banks! Way to live up to your name! Ha, ha, ha!  Her most recent offering is called “Brain“, which is a pretty bold name for a pop song. Actually, Banks isn’t really very poppy. I guess this email kind of got off track from super poppy music to just music by female artists. Sorry about that. Also, confession, I mentioned a few of these artists in emails to last semester’s class. But I didn’t copy/paste anything, so I don’t feel too bad.

Continuing Stateside, Sky Ferreira put out a great album last year, but I still like her old song “Everything Is Embarrassing” best, I think. The LP has some good cuts, though. (Incidentally, Dev Hynes, who co-wrote “Everything Is Embarrassing”, put out an excellent album last year as  Blood Orange, but since he’s a dude he gets reduced to a parenthetical in this email. Sorry, Dev. Go back to boot camp.)

I like Chloë Howl, too, and her hat.


Also I was reading Jack Nicholson’s Wikipedia page earlier and the Pop artist Ed Ruscha was quoted praising Nicholson’s art collection, so here’s a picture of a Ruscha painting that’s in the MoMA, and a postcard of which you may have seen in my office:


And Broad City is a show you should be watching. This scene is really short but really great.

Finally, here’s a cool Web site if you like Beyoncé a.k.a. if you are a human being.

“I believe in making the world safe for our children, but not for our children’s children, because I don’t think children should be having sex.”

Exam 2 information

I’ve posted a practice exam in the Documents tab, along with the solutions. You should go to Slava’s review session today; it’s going to be a hoot, and also very helpful. 

Maybe you caught Sam Smith’s performance on SNL this past week (Louis C.K. hosted; it was one of the stronger episodes of the season, not least because of the continued prominence of the Good Neighbor Stuff crew. Kyle Mooney has been pretty much my favorite comedian for a while now. My friends have mostly gotten used to my forcing them to watch Kyle videosThey’re just so good. Now that Kyle and Beck are on SNL they don’t really update their YouTube channels, but I remember being so excited when a new video would drop. It was like Christmas (sometimes literally!)).

But anyway, Sam Smith is a pretty cool dude. I was hoping he’d play the acoustic version of his breakout single with Disclosure, “Latch,” on SNL but he didn’t, so whatever. It’s quite a lovely tune, though, all stripped down. Interestingly, both videos I just linked feature dudes in shirts with the top button buttoned (and no necktie). It’s a strong look. I like it under a blazer or a cardigan, but I usually get too worked up teaching to be comfortable rocking it during class. Need that neck space, nahmean? Gettin loose with it.

In unrelated news, broccoli rabe is a fairly underrated vegetable:

broc rabe

Homework 7 / Exam 2

Your next exam will be on TUESDAY, 8 April 2014, in class (NOT Thursday 3 April 2014, as was tentatively planned). Questions will be drawn from all the material that we’ve covered from Ch. 3; I’ll send out a detailed list of topics after next class, after which we’ll have covered everything that’ll be on it. 

Your next homework assignment is due Thursday, 3 April 2014. It’s posted in the Assignments tab.

Your next rent check is due Tuesday, 1 April 2014 (note: this only applies to those of you who rent your own living quarters and also has absolutely nothing to do with AMS 210).

Here’s the HW7 assignment:

Section 3.3: 25, 26a, 28, 33ac, 35

Section 3.4: 6bc, 7a (only go up to the 3rd power of D — you may use a computer program (or calculator) to do the calculation, but be sure to show the setup for each part), 14ab

For the system in number 13, do part (a) in the book. Then set up the system in the form x’ = Dx’ + b using the change-of-variables method (as we did in class and as done in Example 5 of the text). Solve this system by iteration as described in Theorem 2, going up to the third iterate of x’ (don’t forget to start at the zeroth iterate). 

Due Thursday, 3 April 2014, in class. Don’t forget to staple, remove ragged edges, etc. Thanks for not bringing up papers in the middle of class today (or doing it really surreptitiously so that I didn’t notice), I appreciate it.

If you weren’t in class today, you missed some quality prattling (is that an oxymoron?). I’m not going to mention the artists I talked about, though. Sorry bud. Take your tears to another rodeo, sad clown!

Speaking of sad clowns, “Vesti la giubba” is one of the dopest arias in the game. It’s from Pagliacci by Ruggero Leoncavallo. The melodic line that comes in at around 1:49 in this recording will make you shudder (don’t just fast forward to it though, ya bum). Leoncavallo was pretty successful (Pagliacci is a standard in the opera repertory), but he wasn’t a real big dog like his contemporary Giacomo Puccini. Legend has it Leoncavallo once told Puccini he was working on a new opera based on Henri Murger’s Scènes de la vie bohème, and offered him a complete libretto (Leoncavallo was one of the few composers who were also librettists) to which Puccini could compose the music. The exchange went a bit like this (translated from the Italian by me, with inspiration from Claudia Cardinale in 8 1/2):

LEONCAVALLO: Hey, Giacomo, I’ve been working on this libretto, I think it’s pretty good. Do you want to write some music to it? I think we could have a hit on our hands! People are really digging the whole Bohemian thing.

PUCCINI: Nah b, I’ve been working on my own ish! Gonna shock the world.

L: Well do you have a libretto yet?

P: Hell nah. I’mma get my man Illica to write it. Maybe let Giacosa get in on the action. That dude is ill with the pen.

L: Hmm. Do you want to take a look at mine? I think it’s pretty good, I really tried to capture the vivacity of the human spirit that shines through in the bleakest of circumstances. These people have so little but they feel so much! It’s really —

P: Walk a mile in these Louboutins! No money, no family! Sixteen in the middle of Miami!

At that point Leoncavallo was really confused so he just went ahead and wrote the music for his version of La Bohème. Of course, Puccini came out with his own Bohème, which became one of the most popular operas of all time, while Leoncavallo’s version is now hardly ever performed. Just another opera-world anecdote that validates Omar Little‘s maxim “You come at the king, you best not miss.”

Puccini’s La bohème is performed so often for a reason — it’s ridiculously good. I was a quite a fan of Rent in my younger days, and I still like it, but now that I know La bohéme so well, a lot of the music in Rent is just silly. Not to mention the fact that Roger and Mark are so stupid for not just taking Benny’s offer of free rent and use of his dope future studio. Are you kidding me?? “You wanna produce films and write songs / You need somewhere to do it” — exactly, Benny! Yet these dudes couldn’t just swallow their pride. I still love Rent, though. What can I say? I’m a sucker for rounds

Anyway, La bohème is great. Listen to some tunes. The 1972 production with Luciano Pavarotti as Rodolfo is my favorite opera production ever. I got that ish on wax, son! I also have the 1946 NBC Symphony Orchestra recording, conducted by the legendaryArturo Toscanini; it’s notable for being the only recording of a Puccini opera by its original conductor. (Toscanini was just 28 when he conducted La bohème’s 1896 premiere at La Scala in Milan.) My copy is not in great shape, though, so I don’t play it too often. Bummer. Toscanini was basically a household name in the  States in the 40s and 50s thanks to his gig conducting the NBC Symphony Orchestra. (Incidentally, Brad Pitt’s character (who is not a professional musician, just a regular 1950s dad) in Terence Malick’s The Tree of Life talks about how much of a perfectionist Toscanini was. You should watch that movie. You might not like it, but you’ll probably have a strong reaction to it, and even if you hate it you’ll be unable to deny its moments of rapturous beauty.) They used to broadcast performances from Studio 8H at 30 Rock, which Weekend Update fans will recognize as where Saturday Night Live is now taped.

I find it wonderful that a major network used to air weekly concert broadcasts. I wish they’d bring it back; it would be much preferable to the nonsense that’s on NBC, et al., during daytime on weekends nowadays. What the heck am I supposed to watch while I do my Saturday-afternoon ironing during the college football offseason? Of course, the nonsense is much cheaper to produce, and probably garners similar ratings to what a classical concert would, so I’m not holding my breath for a sea change. Actually, I am holding my breath right now, just for kicks. But I’m not putting off exhaling until live-recorded classical comes back to the airwaves. Okay, I just exhaled.

Uhhh, Pavarotti though —  1:15 on in this video… my goodness. There’s a reason he is one of the few opera stars anyone’s ever heard of. For a more recent take, you can watch this film of the entirety of La bohème, starring Anna Netrebko as Mimì (she sings Musetta’s Waltz (“Quando m’en vo”) in an above link). The past few seasons the Met Opera has been absolutely plastering Netrebko’s face all over their promotional material because she’s such a babe, so you may recognize her if you spend a lot of time in the city.

In honor of Pagliacci and poor Leoncavallo, a relevant Deep Thought from Jack Handey:

“You know what would make a good story? Something about a clown who makes people happy, but inside he’s real sad. Also, he has severe diarrhea.”

Sorry for the crudeness, I was going to put a different one, but how could I end this email with another Jack Handey quotation when that one exists?


Homework 6

The assignment is this:

Section 3.2: 24

For the matrix in #22 of section 3.2: For what value of k does the system have no solution?

Section 3.3: 2af (you don’t have to follow the examples — just find the inverse, or else justify why no inverse exists), 7acf, 8acf, 9a (for the matrices in parts a, c, and f of #7), 18, 20, 24

Also: Prove that (AB)-1 = B-1A-1

Due: Thursday, 27 March 2014, in class.

Please staple your homework. Please remove ragged edges from pages torn from notebooks. Please hand in homework at the beginning of class or at the end — not during lecture. 

I forgot to mention in class that another reason why that spot The Beach in New Orleans is near to my heart. You know how every American over 55 or so remembers where they were when they heard that President Kennedy had been shot? Well, The Beach is where I was when I heard that Nate Dogg had died. The DJ slipped it in between cuts — “Yo RIP Nate Dogg” — and my friend (who’s from Long Beach, so you can imagine how hard the news would be for him) and I looked at each other incredulously, checked our phones to confirm the news, then poured out some of our drinks in silent remembrance.

Since I told you I’m going to Seattle next week, here’s a few hot tracks from Odesza, a duo who hail from the Emerald City (and this remix, which reminds me a bit of “Better Off Alone” by Alice DeeJay, which most of your should be old enough to remember, I hope).

One of Diego Velázquez’s best works (and that’s really saying something, as some (including Manet) believe he was the greatest painter of all time) is the Portrait of Pope Innocent X, which is the masterpiece of the Doria Pamphilj Gallery in Rome. It’s also one of the greatest potraits of all time. Legend has it Il Papa said upon viewing it “E troppo vero!” (It is too true!) but that might be apocryphal:


The collection is among the world’s finest in private ownership, and the palazzo that houses it is one of the grandest. There’s an interesting Pamphilj inheritance battle that was detailed in a Vanity Fair article that came out late last year. (I have the paper copy in my office if you are into physical artifacts.)The short of it is that Jonathan Doria Pamphilj, one of the two heirs to the massive estate, is married to a man, with whom he has two children who were born by surrogacy. Jonathan’s sister Gesine Doria challenged the two children’s right of inheritance based on the fact that they were born of a surrogate. The case was thrown out without a ruling, on the grounds that Princess Gesine (of course she’s princess) didn’t have grounds to bring the suit. In an interesting twist, neither Gesine nor Jonathan themselves are in fact Pamphilj by blood; they were adopted almost five decades ago from England by Orietta Doria Pamphilj, who was at the time the sole heir to the estate.

The great 20th-century Irish painter Francis Bacon (not to be confused with the English philosopher/statesman/scientist Francis Bacon, who was one of the most important proponents of the scientific method, and in 1603 became the first scientist to receive a knighthood) was greatly inspired by Innocent X, and created a number of works that engaged directly with Velázquez’s masterpiece, including this funky rendition:


Bacon was perhaps even more influenced by Sergei Eisenstein’s film Battleship Potemkin, particularly this face, seen during the famous Odessa steps sequence, which appears and reappears in various forms throughout Bacon’s oeuvre:


Brian DePalma paid homage to the Odessa steps in The Untouchables; more hilarious is the parody of DePalma’s scene that opens The Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult. RIP Leslie Nielsen.

Incidentally, Francis Bacon’s triptych Three Studies of Lucian Freud recently sold for $142.4 million, a record price for a painting at auction.


Lucian Freud (grandson of Sigmund) was a pretty brilliant painter himself:


Though he caught some grief (for some reason, I distinctly remember this article (or at least the Daily Telegraph quote within), even though it was 12+ years ago and I’m sure I’d never heard of Lucian Freud at the time) for this portrait of Queen Elizabeth II:


“Troppo vero”, indeed.

“Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you’re a mile away and you have their shoes.”

Exam 1 / old homework

Some of you asked for a recap of the topics we’ve covered that might be on the exam. 

What we’ve done:
– Mathematical induction
– Transpose of a matrix, symmetric matrices
– Section 1.2 (systems of linear equations)
– Section 1.3 (Markov chains, dynamic models)
– Section 1.4 (linear programming, underdetermined systems)
– Section 2.1 (matrices, vectors)
– Section 2.2 (matrix multiplication)
– Section 2.4 (matrix algebra)
– Section 2.5 (norms and bounds, eigenvalues and eigenvectors)
If you’d like to pick up your graded homework assignments, they are in three piles on three chairs outside my office. My office is Physics A-149, but you can most easily access it by taking the elevator in the Math building to the 1st floor, exiting right and walking toward the Physics building. The door to my office is past a doorway on the left just at the beginning of the walkway between the Math and Physics buildings.

Here’s that LCD Soundsystem/Miles Davis video I mentioned in class today. And this xxyyxx album was in the list of videos on the right so I figure I might as well link it, too. The dude made that record when he was 16. If you dig electronic music you should listen to all of the artists mentioned in the second paragraph of xxyyxx’s Wikipedia page. Okay, fine, I’ll just copy and paste it here. “His style was also likened to Clams CasinoZombyBurialJames Blake and The Weeknd.[4][8] His musical influences include Lapalux, Star SlingerDisclosure and Shlohmo.”
And pretty much every artist on the Tri Angle label is worth a listen, too. I’ve also been bumping the Acid Arab collections lately. And old Julio Bashmore (his new track with Jessie Ware is aight). Okay I’ll stop now.
Wait one more thing — I meant to mention this on Tuesday but Schoolboy Q’s new album is out; it bumps.
Here’s a quick pintura negra by Goya to get things back on track. It’s called Riña a garrotazos, which translates, roughly, to “Boyfights with Baby Buster” 
Goya painted the Pinturas negras (Black Paintings) directly on the walls of his house outside of Madrid around 1819-1822, when he was in his 70s and just totally bummed out about the whole situation of like everything like Napoleon taking over and the Peninsular War and atrocities and stuff. They’re my favorite stuff of his, and in fact one of my favorite series of works by any artist; you can find them at the Prado in Madrid, to which they were transferred a while back (they’re on canvas now). 

Homework things, mostly

Tomorrow I’ll be doing review for half the class, so if you have questions bring them in. Solutions to HW 1-3 are posted in the Assignments tab.

A couple of notes on HW 4, which is due tomorrow:

Don’t forget to do problem 9 of section 2.5 for both systems.

For problem 11 of section 2.5, note that in the problem c denotes the measured value, whereas in Example 5, to which the problem refers, c denotes the actual value. To reduce confusion I suggest using p to denote measured population and pA to denote actual population. Of course, if you’ve already used different notation, that’s fine; just make sure what you have makes sense.

Paco de Lucía died today. His most famous song was “Entre dos Aguas.” Here he is playing the Adagio from Joaquín Rodrigo’s Concierto de Aranjuez with a cor anglais solo by an unknown homie. I first heard Aranjuez in Miles Davis’s version from the latter’s great album Sketches of Spain.  “Entre dos Aguas” was in the Vicky Cristina Barcelona soundtrack, which has some pretty dope Spanish guitar music, including a couple of pieces from Isaac Albéniz’s tremendous Suite Española, which I’m pretty sure is my favorite piece of classical guitar music.