## Sunday, 29 July 2012

### You're one of my kind

As my friend Mark said the other day, the best place to spot Italian tourists in London is just outside Lillywhites in Piccadilly, and you can tell them from the other million tourists because of their insane gesticulating and yelling at each other, and their Invicta backpacks

But, of course, if you're Italian too, then you don't even need to see what backpack they have or hear what language they speak; for some reason, you can almost always tell whether somebody is your nationality, just by looking at them. I'm experiencing the same with all the statisticians here in San Diego. Yesterday the flight from Atlanta was packed with "us" and it was funny to see people scrabbling variance formulae, or working on their laptops running simulations.

But not just that: while I was taking a walk around San Diego's old quarter in search for a nice place to have dinner before finally succumbing to sleep, I came across at least a dozen of them. And each time, there was that weird eye-contact, implicitly acknowledging each other, something like "I know you're on of us too". In fact, when I finally sat down to get a sandwich the two blokes at the next table were chatting away discussing generalised linear models $-$ not your typical chat up phrases, but they seemed to have become quite friendly with the waitress, so who knows? May be GLMs are the next "howyouddoin?"...

Today the conference is officially open, although the morning is dedicated to registration and general mingling. This thing is huge: there are 2000 sessions (most sound really interesting, of course the most interesting $-$ including a one-hour talk by Judea Pearl $-$ are at the same time as my talk).