Wednesday, December 31, 2008
Monday, December 29, 2008
To be fair, and I do try to be fair, it’s not just Republicans who do this. My point is that it gains Republicans nothing to be known as the Party of Cruelty and Shame. Come on Reps, you should not allow your party to be represented in this way, because you can be better than that. If you are really interested in reforming your party, you must be.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
After you are done with that, go out for a night on the town (lab?) with Pink Rabbit and Friends at the Disco! :-)
Friday, December 26, 2008
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Merry Christmas everyone. I am pondering a post on the reciprocity of snow removal, but it just didn't happen today. Perhaps tomorrow, or maybe I'll take a few days off.
Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Back in Skinny Jeans]
Tuesday, December 23, 2008
An old friend of mine just wrote in reply my Mathematics and Magicians post yesterday. He couldn’t post his comments directly to the blog site, so he emailed them to me. With his permission, I present it to you here in full (I did add the first two links for reference):
I read one of your blog entries, and I got so worked up that I furiously banged out a reply. Then the silly thing wouldn't let me post it, probably because it was too long. So I'll just email it to you. You can ignore it or delete it or post it yourself....but at least I will have had my say! And for the record, I'm griping with the author you cite, not you...so we're on the same side.
Here's my reply to your entry "Magicians and Mathematicians":
Having worked in the financial arena for about 15 years now, I'm here to tell you that the term "human side of finance" is as big of an oxymoron as "sanitary landfill" or "military intelligence" or "compassionate conservative". If you want that touchy-feely crap, go down the hall to HR and cry them a river. The finance people have work to do, thank you very much.
All businesses which are traded in the public markets exist for one purpose: the pursuit of profit for shareholders. How the "quants" apply their profit mandate to their daily tasks is merely a matter of corporate policy. It's shockingly naive to assume that anyone in a financial capacity would ever "appreciate...the unintended consequences" of their individual actions or even give a hoot for that matter.
Sounds like a bunch of academic rubbish to me. It would also be foolish to subscribe to the notion that this is a relatively new phenomenon (ref. the managers with history degrees – as if to say “back in the good old days”). The Spanish conquistadors directly or indirectly caused the deaths of millions in the pursuit of profit (unbridled imperialism). The Bolsheviks made a naked power grab in the early 20th century and wreaked 70 years of financial, ecological, and social havoc, all under the pretense of making a better life for the masses (rampant socialism/communism). Wall Street capitalists speculated themselves into quite a mess in 1929 (runaway capitalism).
Greed is an intrinsic part of human nature, and unfortunately greed is also part of the group mentality of "quants" which are otherwise known as "people". It seems the article's author is the one who has lost his "human side".
P.S. I resent being identified as a mere "quant", which sounds suspiciously like “quantum”, especially since the definition of THAT word would be even more dehumanizing.
Ahh........I feel better now.......so it's back to clearing general ledger errors for me!
I will have to investigate if there is a limit to comment length, but after reading Rick's reply I rather suspect that it was a hardware failure instead (his keyboard probably melted!).
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Paul Wilmott writes about Magicians And Mathematicians, and I might have a bone to pick.
Quantitative finance and risk management are not just about the numbers. Numbers play a part, but so does the human side of the business. When analyzing risk it is important to be able to think creatively about scenarios. Unfortunately the training that most quants get seems to actively discourage creativity.I certainly agree,
This is really a question about whether modern risk managers are capable of thinking beyond maths and formulas. Do they appreciate the human side of finance, the herding behaviour of people, the unintended consequences, what I think of as all the fun stuff. And this is a nice question because it very quickly sorts out different types of thinkers.
[The emphasis is mine. ]
Once you start thinking outside the box of mathematical theories the possibilities are endless. And although a knowledge of advanced mathematics is important in modern finance I do rather miss the days when banking was populated by managers with degrees in History and who'd been leaders of the school debating team. A lot of mathematics is no substitute for a little bit of commonsense and an open mind.
How can we get quants and risk managers to think beyond the mathematics? I'm afraid I don't think we can, the way the majority of them are currently educated.
I'm OK with the part about training the quants to understand these things, and it's somewhat criminal that they were not required to understand these things before being allowed to play in that particular sandbox, thus precipitating a financial meltdown. However, this in no way removes the problem from the "box" of mathematics. It's still math, but it has to be applied in a consistent and conservative way, and founded in a basic knowledge of the subject area. -- And now I'm going to contradict my self -- It is more than math, it is statistics. It was once suggested to me that the difference between math and statistics is the manner of application (of stats), which might fairly be described as an art. A herd of quants well versed in the application of statistics ought to have realized the most obvious error (dependencies among risks).
That there is an essential art to understanding financial markets I do not doubt. It's too bad so many people forgot, or were blinded to that fact by greed.
[UPDATE: The rant continues here!]
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Get your kids addicted to cephalopods!
Is nothing safe? It appears that calamari may have addictive properties similar to tomatoes!
Science and Math Defeated -
Probability (part one) "Probability is false"
Darn that NotedScholar! He's going to put me put of a job at this rate.
From TED -
Malcolm Gladwell: What we can learn from spaghetti sauce
It's got tomatoes in it, so it must be dangerous too!
Wednesday, December 17, 2008
Sooner or later you're going to have that conversation with your child, the one about how it all works "down there."
By down there, I mean Illinois.
Children are curious and you can't protect them forever from the harsh realities of life. Maybe the news will be on TV, and they'll turn to you all wide-eyed and say, "What the bleep is a bleeping Blagojevich?"
You need to be prepared. Calmly explain to your child that mommy and daddy love you very much, but there are things that happen to the south of us that are not very nice.
Definitely a Wisconsin perspective - Click through for the full column.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
UK TV station defends plans to show man's death
LONDON (AP) — A British television channel plans to show a film about an American man who commits assisted suicide at a Swiss clinic, reigniting debate over an issue that strongly divides opinion in Britain. Opponents called the broadcast a ratings-grabbing stunt.
I could not find the program online to listen to it again, so excuse me for doing this off the top of my head. The participate representing the government position argued that (among other things) it was inappropriate to show an "intentional death" on television. This reasoning is just wrong. How can anyone say that a peaceful intentional death is inappropriate when the media is full of so much violent intentional death, either real or fictional? I can think of other reasons to object to this program being broadcast, but this matter of intent is a totally bogus, and not a reason to disallow this program as part of the larger debate on assisted suicide.
Monday, December 15, 2008
I had a great time during the election when a good topics were low-hanging fruit, but this also distracted me from my purpose (such as it is) of humorous commentary on science and statistics. This was not intended to be a political blog, but I have come to the realization that some of my topic are politics (ID, among others) so I should admit that politics/opinion will have a large part to play here. ID itself is a topic I'd like to leave behind - except that I'm not quite done with it yet (I have a take on Irreducible
New Topic: I will be starting a series on posts on aging issues. This has become an important personal issue for me over the past few year, and I think I can contribute useful opinion on a personal and professional basis. Expect a few outright rants on this topic too.
I'm considering some chances to the general appearance of the blog; some color adjustments and perhaps a new banner. I have a secret dream of commissioning Phil Foglio to create a banner and associated icons/images for me. That would be WAY cool.
I have created a new email address for the purpose of blog related management and communications; TomatoAddict42 (presumably Tomato Addicts 1 through 41 have already succumbed to the ill effects). I will monitor this new email from my regular Gmail, so this should be a transparent change.
I may start also posting on others blogs as "Tomato Addict". It's not like I really need another online handle, or that I want to conceal my identity, but in order to establish myself as a blogger I think it helps to have a unique identifier (and "Dan" is far from unique).
I'm also hearing really good things about Wordpress, but having just got settled in on Blogger I'm not ready to pick up and move.
There is one final small addition; I've added my Favicon to my post template so it can appear at the end of every post, as I've always intended.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Saturday, December 13, 2008
“Following her [Britney Spears] wardrobe malfunction — where she was snapped nearly popping out of a very low-cut dress at her 27th birthday bash, below — scientists, undies experts and mathematicians have been trying to figure out where the decency perimeter lies. And here we can exclusively reveal the formula to work it out.”
Ben Goldacre discusses this equation and other important mathematical findings at Bad Science.
Thursday, December 11, 2008
It was a rousing good argument back on the SciAm.com blog pages - back when they had blog pages - that started off with comments on an article about Ben Stein's movie and continued on for months in an evolution versus ID free-for-all. Those were truly glory days.
Something surprising happened along the way, amidst the endless argument; I made a friend on the other side. A man of education, intelligence, interest in science, and a deep conviction in his faith. A man with whom I have a very fundamental disagreement on the very basis of science, but one whom I could respect and share an honest conversation. He reminded me that people have a basis for what they believe in, and if you are able to really communicate with them, it is possible to reach common ground. At least you can do this with people who are open and honest, and this man is among the best. We still trade notes and news on a regular basis.
Funny things happen - This post started off as another poke at ID, a boost for a fellow blogger and kindred spirit, and a remembrance of how I got started blogging. Somehow my thoughts were turned to the positive experience I got out of my early evolution/ID discussions, completely off-track from what I had intended to write. That is the nature of blogging I suppose, to share your thoughts, and I'm glad I took the time to share this.
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
This is getting old. I tried last month to unsubscribe from your newsletter, and still it comes. I am not surprised. I did not sign up for the newsletter either. A close acquaintance signed up (not knowing any better) and Goodreads SPAMMED her entire address book, causing a great deal of grief and embarrassment. Now all these people (and me) continue to receive Goodreads monthly SPAM too; It's the gift that keeps on SPAMMING, and just in time for Christmas.
So, Mr. Goodreads, does this by any chance look familiar?
Do you send unsolicited emails or direct mail?
Goodreads absolutely, positively does not use the emails it collects as a source for unsolicited emails.
Your registration pages still guide people into giving you access to their address books, and actually require extra effort (canceling pop-ups AFTER deselecting the check-box) to avoid this to avoid this step. In short, despite your claims that you have improved you practices, there is no evidence of this change.
If Goodreads is serious about changing their ways, and maybe correcting for past wrongs, then they had better get busy.
[Never reveal your email login and password to any program or internet service that you do not absolutely trust, and even then you should be very suspicious. Most certainly do not trust Goodreads to protect your privacy.]
Monday, December 8, 2008
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
Probability, Statistics, Evolution, and Intelligent DesignBy Peter OlofssonPosted November 24, 2008
In the last decades, arguments against Darwinian evolution have become increasingly sophisticated, replacing Creationism by Intelligent Design (ID) and the book of Genesis by biochemistry and mathematics. As arguments claiming to be based in probability and statistics are being used to justify the anti-evolution stance, it may be of interest to readers of Chance to investigate methods and claims of ID theorists.
[See the full article at Talk Reason]
I'd like to give this article more attention, but not today because I'm packing for vacation!
Saturday, November 22, 2008
[from OpenCulture.com and MetaFilter and Cosmic Variance and Cynical-C and (maybe originally?) Pablompa]
That seems to have been recorded shortly before his death from cancer. Here's is an older video of a bongo player in his prime.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
For anyone who likes having fun with words, Wordsmith.Org offers this, the original Internet Anagram Server. Enter any short text you like, and the Anagram Server will twist it around and spit out a list of anagram for you to peruse. Some of these can be quite entertaining. Here are a few from their Hall of Fame:
Dormitory = Dirty Room
Dictionary = Indicatory
Elvis = Lives
Listen = Silent
Clint Eastwood = Old West Action
Western Union = No Wire Unsent
Evangelist = Evil's Agent
Postmaster = Stamp Store
The cockroach = Cook, catch her
Desperation = A Rope Ends It
The Morse Code = Here Come Dots
The Great New York Rapid Transit Tunnel = Giant Work in Street, Partly Underneath
Tom Cruise = So I'm Cuter
Mother-in-law = Woman Hitler
A Rolling Stone Gathers No Moss = Stroller on Go, Amasses Nothing
The Check is in the Mail = Claim "Heck, I sent it (heh)"
Software = Swear Oft
Christmas tree = Search, Set, Trim
The Earthquakes = That Queer Shake
Barbie doll = I'll bare bod / Babe I'd roll / Liberal bod
Statue of Liberty = Built to Stay Free
Much more, and you can always make your own. Go see!
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Do you send unsolicited emails or direct mail?"Liars" just doesn't seem to cover it. "Liar liar pants ablaze with thermonuclear fire"`is a little closer to the mark. Consider: Does the screen capture below look like an invitation to SPAM everyone in your address book?
Goodreads absolutely, positively does not use the emails it collects as a source for unsolicited emails.
[Image from Microformats Wiki, which has a related discussion.]
Can you read the small text at the bottom that reads:
*This feature is entirely optional and is only used to allow you to access your address book. You can select which friends to invite on the next page. We do not store your password.LIARS! No sooner had an acquaintance signed up than her entire address book was SPAMMED. This being a trusted friend I started to sign up to see what was so interesting. I got suspicious when Goodreads asked for my password. A little internet searching quickly revealed numerous complaints about Goodreads and its practice of address book SPAM. While I also find some indications that Goodreads is working to improve their practices, I remain suspicious. Very suspicious.
Good News: OAUTH may be the answer needed to better protect our privacy.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
Friday, November 14, 2008
Thursday, November 13, 2008
...the second rule of moral psychology is that morality is not just about how we treat each other (as most liberals think); it is also about binding groups together, supporting essential institutions, and living in a sanctified and noble way. When Republicans say that Democrats "just don't get it," this is the "it" to which they refer.
To briefly summarize: It is an amazingly well written article, it's not going to turn me into a Republican, but it might help me understand their position a little better. Understanding is a good thing, and we could all do with a bit more of it.
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
"The Great Debate," as it was billed, was sponsored by St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in Fort Worth, Texas. It featured a four-way roundtable format, with a participant from each quadrant of the atheist/theist and pro-ID/anti-ID axes. I was there along with some fellow members of the North Texas Church of Freethought primarily to see Dr. Lawrence Krauss (atheist/anti-ID) and also, somewhat guiltily, to see Dr. David Berlinski (theist/pro-ID) in action. The field was rounded out by Dr. Denis Alexander (theist/anti-ID) and Dr. Bradley Monton (atheist/pro-ID). The debate was held at the Will Rogers Memorial Auditorium, and I would estimate about 1000 people in attendance.Click through for the full post at Goose The Antithesis
This sort of debate is getting to be a bit predictable, as rational and coherent arguments do well in any rational and coherent discussion, and the ID proponents end up frustrated.
While I'm on the topic, PZ Myers gives anti-evolution arguments based on the second law of thermodynamics a swift kick in the shorts. AND [update] Jason Rosenhouse follows up with a complete depantsing.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
[typo edit: don't use them on people you will ever wee again either]
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Monday, November 3, 2008
[edit: link removed, picture inserted, incomplete sentence left as-is]
...presenting a comparison of McCain and Obama tax plans. I didn't think too much of it at the time. I did, however, post this note on my wall in response to an anti-Obama sermon someone else had posted (No kidding, the present "The Parable of the Talents" as an argument that Obama's tax plan is not biblical!):
Dan Eastwood is fairly certain the world will not come to an end when Obama gets elected, but snickers a bit at the people who whine about it so.
To which a good friend of mine replied:
"I, too, am pretty sure the world won't end... Of course there's a bit of distance between "world ending" and "hey, get your hand out of my pocket!"
I was about to write back something about "hands in pockets" and that hands of taxation are already in everyone's pockets, so I searched "tax plans" for ammunition, and how this article from Freakonomics: Competing Tax Plans: Two Perspectives.
Voila! The same misleading graph appears again, along with two other ways of presenting the same data that look very different, and a nice discusion. A little real information is better than a pointless argument any day. Rather than repost all that here, I urge you to go read the the Freakonimics article, it's short and well worth the effort. Or, if you are ambitious, go read this newly released report by the Tax Policy Center.
And who IS John Galt, anyway? (Thanks Matt!)
Indeed! Woe unto those who assume all events are independent, and distribution well known. Click through to Edge for more. There is a technical appendix too.---THE FOURTH QUADRANT: A MAP OF THE LIMITS OF STATISTICS ---
Statistical and applied probabilistic knowledge is the core of knowledge; statistics is what tells you if something is true, false, or merely anecdotal; it is the "logic of science"; it is the instrument of risk-taking; it is the applied tools of epistemology; you can't be a modern intellectual and not think probabilistically—but... let's not be suckers. The problem is much more complicated than it seems to the casual, mechanistic user who picked it up in graduate school. Statistics can fool you. In fact it is fooling your government right now. It can even bankrupt the system (let's face it: use of probabilistic methods for the estimation of risks did just blow up the banking system).
Sunday, November 2, 2008
It really was not my intention to put many political topics on this blog, but with the current election fever it's just hard to avoid. 538 does have some really nice statistical model though, perhaps I can dig into those and post about them when the current fuss is all over.
The sales pitches start out innocuous enough. This is your local police and you have always been a supporter of ours. Would you donate to our domestic violence fund? Well, that is a cause I support. Sure. I would be glad to make a donation. Can we put you down for $500 then? Wait a minute, I teach college. I don't have that type of money. How about $20? OK, we will send you a $20 bill in the mail but you may not deduct this off you taxes as a donation. Was I just fleeced?
Then came the endless calls with the robovoice, "This is the Replubican National Committee calling to tell you why you should not vote for Barack Obame." Wait a minute, I am on the no call list and this is my private phone number. Why am I getting 5 or 6 of these calls a day. I am trying to work. I am not going to pay extra money on my telephone bill to make sure who is calling me. I have phone calls I need to answer so I am not going to take my phone off the hook. I guess I have been fleeced again.
Then I went to the mall. Something I avoid doing at all costs. But I had an item I wanted. I went straight to the store I like. Enjoyed my shopping there. Then headed to my car. The next thing I know a salesman has grabbed by hand and started buffing my nails. Well, this is certainly a new version of sticking your foot in the door. I was stupid and ended up buying a Seacrest Nail Care Kit. The original price was $59. But when I balked at that, the price dropped to $29 and then when I balked at that it became 2 for $29. I figure this was still overpriced but I would be free. I paid and the next thing I know my hand is grabbed again and I have mud slathered on my arm. I was getting upset now. I said I have a doctor's appointment I have to go. Oh, this will only take a moment. Some 20 minutes later and endles products applied to my arm I was offered 3 small boxes and 1 free gift for only $529. No Way! Well, just for me the price was dropped to $279. No way! Then 4 boxes were piled up and 2 other boxes placed on the side. You can get all this plus 2 free gifts for only $279. This is less than 1 dollar a day for you very important skin care. No way! Well let me show you something. Here, finally he made a mistake. He left my side. I was out of that mall so fast.
And I wondered why I don't like to go to the mall. At least at home I can hang up the phone.
Skin Care: Expensive. Privacy: Priceless.
Saturday, November 1, 2008
My other blog starts off with a ranking of 2,620,513, probably because I linked to myself.
Also, DTA now has a co-author. You should be hearing from her soon.
FactCheck.org has a nice article about the biggest political lies and misrepresentations of the campaign year, and also an update to that article here.
The Whoppers of 2008
The Whoppers of 2008 -- The Sequel
My search to find something that resemble honest political news seems to be making slight progress. Of course, now it's only 3 days to the election and it hardly matters. Oh well. I already voted too. Oh well again!
FactCheck.org has been added to my (Newly Reorganized) blogroll.
* The complete non-sequitur at the beginning of this post is a function of how my mind works. I find this sort of thing amusing and you can expect more of the same if you visit here regularly. ;-)
My first thought was "well that's pretty
Group seeks Bush sewage 'tribute'I would be honored to have such a facility named after me. No ... really, I think it would be cool! This plant would be performing a great public service to the entire community for years, probably even many years after I am gone, and I would be well remembered for generations to come.
A citizens group in San Francisco wants to pay an ironic tribute to President George W Bush when he leaves office - by naming a sewage plant after him.
My concern is this really isn't an appropriate tribute. After all, President Bush has demonstrated far greater ability to create messes than ability to clean them up. Therefore, I would like to suggest some alternate tributes:
George W Bush Marine Salvage Service (for those sunken ships of State)
George W Bush Roller Derby Arena and School of Foreign Policy
George W Bush Plumbing (specializing in economic bail-outs)
George W Bush Memorial Landfill, so the last eight years can be buried and forgotten.
Please feel free to add to the list! [and thanks to Christian for the tip!]
Friday, October 31, 2008
Note: Not to be confused with Giant Battling Robots.
Update: I've just gotten two more robo-calls in the past 20 minutes. This isn't legitimate campaigning, this is an attempt at voter intimidation.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Tourist Pictures presents ...
The history of warfare, told with food
Click through for more, it really is worth it.
Food Fight is an abridged history of American-centric war, from World War II to present day, told through the foods of the countries in conflict. Watch as traditional comestibles slug it out for world domination in this chronologically re-enacted smorgasbord of aggression.
[via Improbable Research]
Monday, October 27, 2008
"GoodReads is EVIL SPAM"
"GoodReads.com is EVIL SPAM"
"www.GoodReads is EVIL SPAM"
"GoodReads is EVIL SPAM"
"GoodReads is EVIL SPAM"
"GoodReads is EVIL SPAM"
"GoodReads is EVIL SPAM"
"GoodReads is EVIL SPAM"
"GoodReads is EVIL SPAM"
Take THAT search engines!
Here is someone Jackie Danicki's discussion of it, including a response from "Otis", founder of GoodReads.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
|From DTA: Hawk1|
|From DTA: Hawk1|
Then something really amazing happened. A curious squirrel came right up the the hawk to investigate it. We were astounded that a squirrel would be so bold, and of course just a moment before the camera battery ran out. I scrambled for the spare, but by the time I got back it was too late.
Then I got really lucky ...
|From DTA: Hawk1|
Saturday, October 25, 2008
The graphic is pretty telling. Bars close and accidents happen, if you are generous enough to consider drunk driving an accident.
Friday, October 24, 2008
DRINKING just three cups of coffee a day can make women's breasts shrink, researchers say.The article in question (I think):
Nearly 300 women were surveyed about their bust measurements and how many cups of coffee they drank in an average day.
According to the Swedish researchers, three cups a day was enough to start making breasts shrink, with the effects increasing for every cup drunk.
They said there was a clear link between drinking coffee and smaller breasts, as about half of women possessed a gene shown to link breast size to coffee intake.
"Drinking coffee can have a major effect on breast size," said Helena Jernstroem, a lecturer in experimental oncology at Lund University in Sweden.
"Coffee-drinking women do not have to worry their breasts will shrink to nothing overnight. They will get smaller, but the breasts aren't just going to disappear.
"However, anyone who thinks they can tell which women are coffee drinkers just from their bra measurements will be disappointed. The problem is that there are two measures for a bra - the cup size and the girth - so you wouldn't be able to tell."
It was not all bad news for women, as the researchers also found that regular hits of caffeine could help to cut the risk of breast cancer.
Greg Lloyd attended the Northern Kentucky University mock trial of evolution/creation, and sent back a report. The scenario was that a teacher tried to advocate creationist theories in a public high school classroom, was fired for it, and is trying to sue for reinstatement. Here's Greg's account of the event.
Click through for the full account and comments.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
The National Center for Science Education created the Exelled Exposed website to help set the record straight, and you can find it here:
Scientific American also provides Six Things in Expelled That Ben Stein Doesn't Want You to Know... which is where I had participated in my first ID vs evolution discussion/argument/head-bang-on-table. Most of that discussion went away with the rest of the SciAm.com blogs and is now lost forever --- or at least until I pull it out of the zip file where I saved all that fun stuff.
Greetings to the Imprisoned Citizens of the United States. We are Unitarian Jihad. There is only God, unless there is more than one God. The vote of our God subcommittee is 10-8 in favor of one God, with two abstentions. Brother Flaming Sword of Moderation noted the possibility of there being no God at all, and his objection was noted with love by the secretary. Greetings to the Imprisoned Citizens of the United States! Too long has your attention been waylaid by the bright baubles of extremist thought. Too long have fundamentalist yahoos of all religions (except Buddhism — 14-5 vote, no abstentions, fundamentalism subcommittee) made your head hurt. Too long have you been buffeted by angry people who think that God talks to them. You have a right to your moderation! You have the power to be calm! We will use the IED of truth to explode the SUV of dogmatic expression! People of the United States, why is everyone yelling at you??? Whatever happened to … you know, everything? Why is the news dominated by nutballs saying that the Ten Commandments have to be tattooed inside the eyelids of every American, or that Allah has told them to kill Americans in order to rid the world of Satan, or that Yahweh has instructed them to go live wherever they feel like, or that Shiva thinks bombing mosques is a great idea? Sister Immaculate Dagger of Peace notes for the record that we mean no disrespect to Jews, Muslims, Christians or Hindus. Referred back to the committee of the whole for further discussion. We are Unitarian Jihad. We are everywhere. We have not been born again, nor have we sworn a blood oath. We do not think that God cares what we read, what we eat or whom we sleep with. Brother Neutron Bomb of Serenity notes for the record that he does not have a moral code but is nevertheless a good person, and Unexalted Leader Garrote of Forgiveness stipulates that Brother Neutron Bomb of Serenity is a good person, and this is to be reflected in the minutes. Beware! Unless you people shut up and begin acting like grown-ups with brains enough to understand the difference between political belief and personal faith, the Unitarian Jihad will begin a series of terrorist-like actions. We will take over television studios, kidnap so-called commentators and broadcast calm, well-reasoned discussions of the issues of the day. We will not try for “balance” by hiring fruitcakes; we will try for balance by hiring non-ideologues who have carefully thought through the issues. We are Unitarian Jihad. We will appear in public places and require people to shake hands with each other. (Sister Hand Grenade of Love suggested that we institute a terror regime of mandatory hugging, but her motion was not formally introduced because of lack of a quorum.) We will require all lobbyists, spokesmen and campaign managers to dress like trout in public. Televangelists will be forced to take jobs as Xerox repair specialists. Demagogues of all stripes will be required to read Proust out loud in prisons. We are Unitarian Jihad, and our motto is: “Sincerity is not enough.” We have heard from enough sincere people to last a lifetime already. Just because you believe it’s true doesn’t make it true. Just because your motives are pure doesn’t mean you are not doing harm. Get a dog, or comfort someone in a nursing home, or just feed the birds in the park. Play basketball. Lighten up. The world is not out to get you, except in the sense that the world is out to get everyone. Brother Gatling Gun of Patience notes that he’s pretty sure the world is out to get him because everyone laughs when he says he is a Unitarian. There were murmurs of assent around the room, and someone suggested that we buy some Congress members and really stick it to the Baptists. But this was deemed against Revolutionary Principles, and Brother Gatling Gun of Patience was remanded to the Sunday Flowers and Banners committee. People of the United States! We are Unitarian Jihad! We can strike without warning. Pockets of reasonableness and harmony will appear as if from nowhere! Nice people will run the government again! There will be coffee and cookies in the Gandhi Room after the revolution.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
In an effort to balance out my reading (politics-wise anyway) I have added The Next Right to my blog roll and Reader subscriptions.
Friday, October 17, 2008
Rose George's book The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters examines the ins and outs of sanitation; this excerpt explores the cutting edge of toilet technologyBy Rose George
It's an interesting read ... honest!
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
William Timmons, the Washington lobbyist who John McCain has named to head his presidential transition team, aided an influence effort on behalf of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to ease international sanctions against his regime.and
Moreover, there was a major financial incentive at play for Timmons. The multi-million dollar oil deal that he was pursuing with the two other lobbyists would only be possible if their efforts to ease sanctions against Iraq were successful.
Vincent, an Iraqi-born American citizen with whom Timmons worked most closely, pleaded guilty to federal criminal charges in January 2005 that he had acted as an unregistered agent of Saddam Hussein's regime. Tongsun Park, the second lobbyist who Timmons worked closely with, was convicted by a federal jury in July 2006 on charges that he too violated the Foreign Agent Registration Act.
Click here for the full story.
Here's is my take, and my self-assessment of my own understanding of this story:
- Corruption is bad. Timmons at least appears to be subject to corrupting influence. I'll hold off judgment on whether or not Timmons is actually corrupt.
- Representing Iraq, or at least Iraqis as part of the Oil for Food program is legitimate work and needed to be done. It was likely an almost thankless task.
- I have no clue what it means to be in violation of the Foreign Agent Registration Act, or how this might apply to Timmons.
So what is this story? An October surprise? Obama's campaign hardly needs such a tactic at this point because it's hard to see McCain's campaign being much worse off than it already is. Maybe this is a story of corruption, but the Oil-for-Food scandal has already run its course, and Timmons role in that has been investigated (and he is not in jail). What is left, political sniping? Perhaps. I really think this story won't be around too long. (Go ahead though, prove me wrong).
Proof that 2 = 1
Start with: X = Y
multiply both sides by X: X*X = X*Y
subtract Y^2 from both sides: X^2 - Y^2 = X*Y - Y^2
do some factoring: (X+Y)*(X-Y) = Y*(X-Y)
divide both sides by (X-Y): (X+Y) = Y
substitute Y for X: (Y+Y) = Y
divide by Y and simplify: 2 = 1
There you have it, a mathematical proof that two is equal to one!
Monday, October 13, 2008
Nate Silver of 538.com writes:
Something is a little bit funny when Matt Drudge is treating 1-2 point gains for McCain in the Rasmussen and Zogby tracking polls as "BREAKING" news. Naturally, Drudge ignores other results like the just-released ABC/WaPo poll that show Obama continuing to gain ground.More!
Friday, October 10, 2008
In addition to email delivery, there seem to be a related market for after-rapture pet care.
Do I detect Poe's Law at work?
Thursday, October 9, 2008
Waukesha: McCain and Palin will appear at the Center Court Sports Complex, 815 Northview Road. The event begins at noon. Doors open at 9:30 a.m., but all advance tickets have been distributed.Is it just me, or do both the Presidential candidates look tired? This is not surprising given the requirements of the campaign, but it appears to be hitting McCain especially hard (also not surprising, given his age). While I don't intend to vote for McCain, I would like to see him to stay healthy and active in politics for a long time. McCain is a voice of reason in the Republican party - someone a lot of Democrats could vote for in other circumstances - and I think he still has much he can contribute.
A nice game of racquetball might be just the break he needs.
[Image: Big Time Attic or http://www.bigtimeattic.com/]
Monday, October 6, 2008
Saturday, October 4, 2008
The 2008 Ig Nobel Prize Winners
The 2008 Ig Nobel Prizes were awarded on Thursday night, October 2, at the 18th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, at Harvard's Sanders Theatre. We will soon post video of the ceremony.
NUTRITION PRIZE. Massimiliano Zampini of the University of Trento, Italy and Charles Spence of Oxford University, UK, for electronically modifying the sound of a potato chip to make the person chewing the chip believe it to be crisper and fresher than it really is.
REFERENCE: "The Role of Auditory Cues in Modulating the Perceived Crispness and Staleness of Potato Chips," Massimiliano Zampini and Charles Spence, Journal of Sensory Studies, vol. 19, October 2004, pp. 347-63.
PEACE PRIZE. The Swiss Federal Ethics Committee on Non-Human Biotechnology (ECNH) and the citizens of Switzerland for adopting the legal principle that plants have dignity.
REFERENCE: "The Dignity of Living Beings With Regard to Plants. Moral Consideration of Plants for Their Own Sake"
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Urs Thurnherr, member of the committee.
ARCHAEOLOGY PRIZE. Astolfo G. Mello Araujo and José Carlos Marcelino of Universidade de São Paulo, Brazil, for measuring how the course of history, or at least the contents of an archaeological dig site, can be scrambled by the actions of a live armadillo.
REFERENCE: "The Role of Armadillos in the Movement of Archaeological Materials: An Experimental Approach," Astolfo G. Mello Araujo and José Carlos Marcelino, Geoarchaeology, vol. 18, no. 4, April 2003, pp. 433-60.
BIOLOGY PRIZE. Marie-Christine Cadiergues, Christel Joubert,, and Michel Franc of Ecole Nationale Veterinaire de Toulouse, France for discovering that the fleas that live on a dog can jump higher than the fleas that live on a cat.
REFERENCE: "A Comparison of Jump Performances of the Dog Flea, Ctenocephalides canis (Curtis, 1826) and the Cat Flea, Ctenocephalides felis felis (Bouche, 1835)," M.C. Cadiergues, C. Joubert, and M. Franc, Veterinary Parasitology, vol. 92, no. 3, October 1, 2000, pp. 239-41.
MEDICINE PRIZE. Dan Ariely of Duke University, USA, for demonstrating that high-priced fake medicine is more effective than low-priced fake medicine.
REFERENCE: "Commercial Features of Placebo and Therapeutic Efficacy," Rebecca L. Waber; Baba Shiv; Ziv Carmon; Dan Ariely, Journal of the American Medical Association, March 5, 2008; 299: 1016-1017.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Dan Ariely
COGNITIVE SCIENCE PRIZE. Toshiyuki Nakagaki of Hokkaido University, Japan, Hiroyasu Yamada of Nagoya, Japan, Ryo Kobayashi of Hiroshima University, Atsushi Tero of Presto JST, Akio Ishiguro of Tohoku University, and Ágotá Tóth of the University of Szeged, Hungary, for discovering that slime molds can solve puzzles.
REFERENCE: "Intelligence: Maze-Solving by an Amoeboid Organism," Toshiyuki Nakagaki, Hiroyasu Yamada, and Ágota Tóth, Nature, vol. 407, September 2000, p. 470.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Toshiyuki Nakagaki, Ryo Kobayashi, Atsushi Tero
ECONOMICS PRIZE. Geoffrey Miller, Joshua Tybur and Brent Jordan of the University of New Mexico, USA, for discovering that a professional lap dancer's ovulatory cycle affects her tip earnings.
REFERENCE: "Ovulatory Cycle Effects on Tip Earnings by Lap Dancers: Economic Evidence for Human Estrus?" Geoffrey Miller, Joshua M. Tybur, Brent D. Jordan, Evolution and Human Behavior, vol. 28, 2007, pp. 375-81.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Geoffrey Miller and Brent Jordan
PHYSICS PRIZE. Dorian Raymer of the Ocean Observatories Initiative at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, USA, and Douglas Smith of the University of California, San Diego, USA, for proving mathematically that heaps of string or hair or almost anything else will inevitably tangle themselves up in knots.
REFERENCE: "Spontaneous Knotting of an Agitated String," Dorian M. Raymer and Douglas E. Smith, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 104, no. 42, October 16, 2007, pp. 16432-7.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Dorian Raymer
CHEMISTRY PRIZE. Sharee A. Umpierre of the University of Puerto Rico, Joseph A. Hill of The Fertility Centers of New England (USA), Deborah J. Anderson of Boston University School of Medicine and Harvard Medical School (USA), for discovering that Coca-Cola is an effective spermicide, and to Chuang-Ye Hong of Taipei Medical University (Taiwan), C.C. Shieh, P. Wu, and B.N. Chiang (all of Taiwan) for discovering that it is not.
REFERENCE: "Effect of 'Coke' on Sperm Motility," Sharee A. Umpierre, Joseph A. Hill, and Deborah J. Anderson, New England Journal of Medicine, 1985, vol. 313, no. 21, p. 1351.
REFERENCE: "The Spermicidal Potency of Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola," C.Y. Hong, C.C. Shieh, P. Wu, and B.N. Chiang, Human Toxicology, vol. 6, no. 5, September 1987, pp. 395-6. [NOTE: THE JOURNAL LATER CHANGED ITS NAME. NOW CALLED "Human & experimental toxicology"]
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Deborah Anderson, and C.Y. Hong's daughter Wan Hong
LITERATURE PRIZE. David Sims of Cass Business School. London, UK, for his lovingly written study "You Bastard: A Narrative Exploration of the Experience of Indignation within Organizations."
REFERENCE: "You Bastard: A Narrative Exploration of the Experience of Indignation within Organizations," David Sims, Organization Studies, vol. 26, no. 11, 2005, pp. 1625-40.
WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: David Sims
See: http://improbable.com/ig/winners/#ig2008 for more.
Video of the awards ceremony soon to be available here: http://improbable.com/ig/2008/webcast/