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Saturday, March 28, 2009

Confirmation Bias

Some lady named Angela Keaton over at the Antiwar.com blog claims that the media in Missouri have identified affiliation with Antiwar.com as an indication of terrorist proclivities:

"Alas, you can’t fool KMOV St. Louis, Channel 4. They know an enemy of the state when they see one; one of the bumper stickers they prominently featured marking an American citizen as some sort of potential terrorist was from... Antiwar.com. Yes, no one is as dangerous to the state as an advocate for peace."

Wow, so station KMOV came out and said that an Antiwar.com bumper sticker marks you as a terrorist? Pretty scary, huh?

Except the scariness is all in Angela's mind. The station did not claim that the Antiwar.com bumper sticker indicated a terrorist threat! They were interviewing a libertarian who said she thought the police might target her because of her bumper sticker. So this lady's paranoid fantasies are now being used as evidence that Antiwar.com is considered a terrorist threat!

And not one commentator at the blog even spotted this. This is eerily reminiscent of the extreme paranoia of many of Ron Paul's supporters last year, where even a slight hesitation in an otherwise favorable article was evidence that the reporter "hated" Paul.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A treat from 1989

Go here and click on track 14. It's the Grateful Dead performing Marvin Gaye's 'What's Going On', with Clarence Clemons on sax, and vocals by... well, listen (no fair peeking in the comments!) and try to guess who is doing the vocals!

Monday, March 16, 2009

My Body of Work on My Resume

I love the NCAA tournament, but I find this phrase everyone uses lately at seeding time annoying -- here's an example: "UConn had the better body of work on the season."

Isn't that exactly equivalent to saying "UConn had the better season," except, of course, for being longer and more awkward? "Body of work" is an annoying addition some guy on the selection committee started using that now gets spliced into every attempt to say "better season." Ugh!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

More Evidence

You are causing your kid's peanut allergy.

Wetware, Software, All Around the Town

I was think about the classical writer who demonstrated that dogs reason (because of this post), and so I Googled for "dogs reason syllogism fork road" and the second hit was this.

This illustrated something I've long held to be true -- computers are not some sort of proto-minds of their own, they are mind extensions. As my (wetware) memory gradually fails, I place my thoughts in silicon storage and then look them up again later. But nowhere on the Internet do I find any thoughts not put there by a human!

(This, by the way, is nothing new in human history -- we have been extending or body with tools for a long, long time. The blind man's cane is a classic case -- his hand is only touching the top of the cane, but that's certainly not what he's carrying it around to learn about! Polanyi noted this long before me.)

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Victimize Me

Of course, those predatory lenders were victimizing the poor by giving them loans they couldn't really afford to pay off, but it seems they weren't preying on enough black people.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Oh My My

Folks, I was just privileged enough to watch one of the greatest games in the history of basketball, the second longest in NCAA history, and one in which my team lost, but the effort of the team that beat them makes me teary for the beauty of the human spirit. Syracuse had never had a lead through the first five overtimes, and there were many points where it looked like UConn had the game in hand. We don't have a TV at home, but I was checking the score on ESPN.com, and when I saw it was close I shot out to my local with eight minutes left in regulation and $15 in my pocket, thinking that would easily be enough to get a couple of pints and see the end of the game. But no, I had to go to the ATM, and by the end of the game I was asking the owner of Cody's if he was offering loans to patrons if the game kept on going. Syracuse managed to win the game with four out of their five starters fouled out, playing people who had played something like thirty minutes during the entire season. As I said, I wanted UConn to win, but my admiration for the Syracuse players who pulled this off is unconditional.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Math Puzzle!

OK kids, here's the deal. An economist who shall remain nameless (but he writes for the NYT) thought he blew up the theory that the recession was due to a misallocation of labor across sectors, because the change in unemployment from Dec-07 to Dec-08 was high in several states that didn't experience a big housing bubble.

I thought that was an odd measure, and so I ranked states (A) by their change in unemployment rates from Jun 06 to Dec 08, and then I ranked the states again by (B) their percentage change in house prices from 2q 06 to 4q 08.

I found that 5 of the top 6 states in column (A) were in the top of column (B). So that seems like a very strong relation.

Can someone talk me through how I would compute the chance that this just happened randomly?

For extra credit, how do we deal with the fact that after I saw the results, I came up with the best way to describe them? In other words, I originally looked at the top 10 states in both lists. But since there were no more matches in the 7th through 10th slots, I just dropped them and reported "5 out of the top 6 match." So I'm thinking this cherry picking after the fact may be contributing to the impressiveness of my result, but maybe not?

Friday, March 06, 2009

An American Soldier Shows How to Win Hearts and Minds!

Assinine Quote of the Day

From Palm investor Roger McNamee:

“You know the beautiful thing: June 29, 2009, is the two- year anniversary of the first shipment of the iPhone,” McNamee said today in an interview in San Francisco. “Not one of those people will still be using an iPhone a month later.”

Right Roger. Every single iPhone user will switch to Palm within one month. And gold bricks will drop out of your ass, as well.