I’m going to Cornell University on Nov. 17 at the invitation to give a lecture to Sinan Unur’s economics policy class on my adventures in climate. Oddly enough, I’ve never given a presentation to a university class in my life. It wasn’t something that you did in math classes in the olden days. My only previous invitation from a university came from KTH in Sweden for their seminar in September. (My presentation at Vreij University in Amsterdam was sponsored by Natuurwetenschap & Techniek, rather than the university.)
Cornell has an excellent statistics and economics program. Vogelsang, who I’ve cited in connection with regression, is from Cornell.
I visited Cornell once before in 1968 – my fraternity had a chapter there. One of the guys on our trip to Ithaca was nicknamed Moose – it sounds like an ancient movie. For some reason, I can remember the tune to a doggerel version of the Cornell school song – “Far above Cayuga’s waters, ….”.
Over the years, I’ve known 5 people who’ve played on Cornell teams. I remember going out to play football when I was about 9 or 10 with my father and a fellow, Bruce Pattison. who went on to become captain of the Cornell hockey team, who was already a great athlete. My father who was then about 33 or 34 prided himself on being able to punt with either leg. Showing off, he punted with one leg and got a charley horse; not to be deterred in front of the young prodigy, he kicked with the other leg, got a charley horse in it and could barely walk home.
Ken Dryden, the hockey player, went to Cornell. After playing in the NCAA tournament one year, he was called up by Montreal and was the outstanding player in the Stanley Cup final in the same year. He won the Conn Smythe before he won the rookie of the year. Our sons played baseball together about 10 years ago.
Sam Amukun [update: Sam was at Colgate, not Cornell] was a geologist originally from Uganda who worked down in Guyana for one of our small exploration companies, who died tragically of Guillain-Barre syndrome about 5 years ago. When I met him, he was about 55 years old, about 5 foot 8 or 9 and about 220 pounds. Someone told me that he’d been in the Olympics; I assumed that he’d been a wrestler or something like that. It turned out that he’d been a 100-meter sprinter who’d been to two semi-finals (Rome, Tokyo) against the likes of Bob Hayes and Harry Jerome. He still held the Ugandan record as of a few years ago. His getting to Cornell sounds like the movie where Kevin Bacon went to Africa. An American coach came out to his little prep school and lined the kids up at one end of the soccer field. He won easily and ended up in Cornell, where he was later captain of their track team and in their Hall of Fame.
Subsequently he went to the University of Manitoba to take a masters in geology, where he married a beautiful Jamaican girl. After graduation, he got a job with Falconbridge at the Kilembe mine in Uganda, where he was employed at ex-pat salary, so he was doing very well in Uganda terms. One day, Idi Amin came to visit the mine and noticed Sam’s wife. Just after lunch, someone in the Ugandan secret service phoned Sam and told him – Don’t go back to your desk; get Daphne and drive through back roads to Kenya; don’t pick up any pictures or papers; go right now. Idi Amin was going to take Sam’s wife as a concubine and throw Sam into jail as a supposed spy.
Needless to say, my preparations haven’t been helped by my computer crash (it’s working again now, but it’s cost a couple of days that I’d not bargained for.)