Archive for January, 2011

Mathematical Malpractice Watch: Life on the Streeet

Monday, January 31st, 2011

Former call girl Maggie McNeill, using some very basic assumptions, debunks the idea that there are 300,000 underage prostitutes in America.

I have yet to see where that 300,00 figure comes from or how that number was calculated. I suspect it’s a matter of the most hysterical claim getting the most attention.

I also think I’m adding McNeill to my RSS feed.

Monday Morning Linkorama

Monday, January 31st, 2011

Non-Political Links:

  • The 12 worst colleges for free speech. Colleges should be more free than the rest of the country, not less. Especially when they’re wasting so damn much money.
  • Even TSA isn’t this stupid.
  • You know, it says something about our culture when Cracked online does better reporting and news analysis than fucking CNN.
  • Via the Agitator, via Reddit: what kind of world do we live in when a wikipedia article on toilet paper orientation is so long and well-documented?
  • Political Links:

  • I must confess that I don’t understand the complaints about me too drugs. Since when is competition a bad thing?
  • I love this idea for getting the Fed out of the mortgage game.
  • Why, Newt, why?
  • Why the wealth gap is overstated.
  • Thursday Linkorama

    Thursday, January 27th, 2011

    Non-political Links:

  • Commie Monopoly. I love it! Americans may have forgotten the evils of communism. But the Poles have not.
  • On the one hand, this story, about child opium addicts in Afghanistan, is horrifying. On the other hand, 19th century western societies routinely dosed their kids with laudanum so that they’d sleep better. And sometimes they slept for good. So we’re in a bit of glass house here, saying, “We don’t drug our kids! Anymore! Well, not with opium, anyway!”
  • Political Links:

  • The continuing attention to Donald Trump is mystifying. He’s Paris Hilton without the looks.
  • Yes, the CBO was manipulated.
  • Sometimes it’s fun to be a libertarian. It drives the more ignorant parts of both Left and Right completely mental.
  • This is what happens when you let the government direct energy policy.
  • And this is what happens when they direct development.
  • Saturday Long Form Linkorama

    Saturday, January 22nd, 2011

    Non-political links:

  • The abandoned Project Buran. The photos of the cockpit are particularly striking.
  • I was going to respond to the absurd charge that the information age has not improved our economy. Fortunately, Sully’s readers got there first. From my perspective, the information age has created an explosion of astronomy, multiplying our productivity by orders of magnitude. The mission on which I work would not have been remotely possible 20 years ago.
  • Meh. I’m not surprised that many gain little from college. College has become very hit or miss. It’s possible, if you work hard, to get a great education in just about any college or university. It’s also possible to spend four years drinking and partying and learn nothing.
  • Political Links:

  • Just a friendly reminder of why the GOP should not be put back in charge of the War on Terror. And another of why Obama is little better. This too.
  • Stuff like this is why I’m really warming to Chris Christie.
  • Greenwald tears into Joe Lieberman. I would agree with most of it and add, from my conservative-libertarian perspective, that Lieberman is also an uber Nanny-Stater who despises personal freedom and see few limits to the power and scope of goverment. I never understood his popularity with the Right.
  • Read how Ohio’s green energy initiative could have lead to deforesting the state. This is why the government should not run energy policy.
  • Another perspective on the “agreement” between the Obamas and Walmart on healthy foods. Always follow the money.
  • Heartache in Tucson

    Thursday, January 20th, 2011

    This may be the most heart-breaking thing you read all day. It’s about the guilt felt by the neighbor who took Christina Green to see Gabby Giffords on that fatal morning. Just a friendly reminder of who the real victims are of this terrible tragedy.

    The Year Of Smarm

    Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

    We’re already 20 days into 2011, so it seems pointless to look back over 2010. I thought, however, I’d take a second to look back at what I said last year, throw out some parting thoughts about 2010 and look ahead to 2011.

    I was right about the economy improving without jobs. I was a little off on the election — the GOP took the House. Sarah Palin did not begin to fade, although I see her star waning now. My sports predictions weren’t too bad — at least the Colts and Rangers made the final. My foreign policy predictions were way off: Iran seems stronger than ever and Afghanistan is still a mess. But I was right that it would be a so-so year in TV and film. And I was right about science. We saw a fantastic year in science, including several knock-out blows delivered to the anti-vaccine nonsense.

    When I look back at 2010, what really crosses me is the sense of smugness so many seemed to radiate. There were so many people making smug smarmy remarks from false confidence. It was a year when people who were wrong about everything loudly and arrogantly talked about how right they were. No one exemplifies this more than the aforementioned Palin, whose every speech drips with condescending sarcasm and arrogant ignorance. But she wasn’t the only one. Bad climate skeptics proclaimed Global Warming to be dead based on incorrect analyses of Climategate and an inability to read declarative English sentences such as “this study on ocean level rise has been withdrawn in favor of studies favoring more ocean level rise”. Tea Party critics dismissed legitimate concerns about the direction of the country, branding the Tea Partiers as racists and extremists. Pro-torture advocates ignored the established record of civil trials and proclaimed civilian justice was a failure in the wake of Ghailani trial. And, in the sports, the Sports Media Twerps were as arrogant, condescending and wrong as ever — ranging from OSU arrogantly asserting that their eight home games proved their toughness to the HOF voters covering up their complicity in the steroid scandal by refusing to vote for suspected users.

    It was a frustrating year, but one we could see coming. I said 2009 was the Year of Fantasyland. No one is more smug than the person who is being proven wrong day after day.

    2011 is shaping up to be a year of reality. It will be a year when the Tea Party is going to have to actually govern instead of complain. It will be a year when the free markets, free trade and regulatory sanity will be absolutely critical. It will be a year when we have to shrug and grimly put our shoulders to the boulder. I think this will happen. Because I am, at heart, an optimist.

    Specific predictions:

  • Sarah Palin’s influence will continue to decline. By the end of the year, there will be serious questions about her Presidential bid. We’ve already seen the facade crack in the conservative commentariat turning on her. It’s going to be interesting to see who wins control of the GOP. Will it be the religious nuts or those beholden to them (Palin, Huckabee, Pawlenty)? Will it be the sane conservatives who actually want to govern (Christie, Daniels)? Or will it be the talk radio idiots? My optimism the sensible guys win this one. And as they do, more of the dunderheads will come back to sanity.
  • Obama will have to take the lead on the budget battle. There’s simply no other way. Expect tax reform to be a big part. As far as 2012 goes, Obama will not be challenged from within the Democratic Party, no matter how much they bitch about him. This is especially true if his poll numbers rise because…
  • The economy will show more and more signs of life, with unemployment slowly coming down. Any predictions go out the window, of course, if Congress crashes the debt ceiling. And I’ll go ahead and make a 2012 prediction: if the economy improves and the debt comes down, Obama will be re-elected easily.
  • In sports, I already said Patriots over Bears, a prediction now halfway wrong. But I’ll also say Red Sox over Phillies, a big-time playoff flop by the Miami Heat and another year of parity in college football. Maybe this is the year that TCU makes the championship game.
  • Movies? Ugh. When your most anticipated movies include Green Lantern, a pointless remake of Red Dawn, X-Men 75, Captain America, Cowboys and Aliens and host of pointless sequels (Scream 4?, Transformers 3?, MI4? Why, God, why?) … well, I think I’ll spend a lot of time catching up on my netflix queue. Source Code might be interesting. And I think Thor may surprise us (Joe Straczynski is involved). And yes, I’ll have my 2009 year-in-film up soon.
  • TV will continue to stink.
  • Science will continue to rock.
  • Oh well.

    The Lady or The Tiger

    Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

    This was published about a week ago and I’ve been pondering it since. After careful consideration, I’ve decided it’s mostly rubbish.

    A lot of people wonder how Chinese parents raise such stereotypically successful kids. They wonder what these parents do to produce so many math whizzes and music prodigies, what it’s like inside the family, and whether they could do it too. Well, I can tell them, because I’ve done it. Here are some things my daughters, Sophia and Louisa, were never allowed to do:

    • attend a sleepover

    • have a playdate

    • be in a school play

    • complain about not being in a school play

    • watch TV or play computer games

    • choose their own extracurricular activities

    • get any grade less than an A

    • not be the No. 1 student in every subject except gym and drama

    • play any instrument other than the piano or violin

    • not play the piano or violin.

    A bit of background here. Amy Chua, the author of the piece, is a Professor of Law at Yale. Her daughters are highly successful, being musical prodigies and excelling academically. The article claims that this is a result of parenting that was obsessive, almost abusive, doing such things as calling her daughters “garbage” and threatening to burn her daughter’s stuffed animals if she didn’t learn a difficult piano piece. The article contrasts these methods against “western methods” that are more laid-back.

    Chua is now backing away from her comments, claiming the WSJ only published the most extreme excerpts of her book, that she had a great relationship with her daughters, that much of the quoted article was tongue-in-cheek, etc., etc. I’m assuming that the WSJ article would not have run without her approval. If it was taken out of context, it was done so on purpose to provoke book sales.

    Still, the general point about parenting is being discussed everywhere. Did her strict parenting make her children successful?

    (more…)

    Tuesday Linkorama

    Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

    Non-political links:

  • Happy Birthday, wikipedia, our generation’s version of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
  • A nice story about good deeds in the face of unthinkable tragedy (also; WTH was wrong with the airport personnel?)
  • Political Links:

  • The best response to the “MLK would have supported the WOT” nonsense? TNC, of course.
  • The War on For-Profit Colleges continues.
  • Jeez, who could have predicted this.
  • PZ Myers is an idiot. What is with some people and their bizarre straw-man definitions of libertarian? Neither of his descriptions is remotely accurate. What’s the matter, PZ? Bored with stomping on communion wafers?
  • It doesn’t surprise me that he biggest slow in cyber-warfare so far was struck by us.
  • Evolution of a Meme

    Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

    This is why I’ve gotten so sick of the Right Wing Echosphere lately. Some blogger mistakes a closed-captioning system for a prompter. The entire RWE repeats his “discovery” then later has to admit he was wrong.

    No one bothered to do any fact-checking. No one bothered to call the University of Arizona or the White House. No one even bothered to pause and think, “wait, does this make sense?” They instantly judged and vented.

    This a distressing pattern I’ve seen on innumerable “nontroversies” (especially on the subject of global warming). It’s why I’ve become skeptical of just about any claim I hear.

    Marshall Gone

    Tuesday, January 18th, 2011

    When I lived in Atlanta for a long time, Neal Boortz’s show was one of my favorites. He was always funny and helped shaped my libertarian views. His show was always the best in Atlanta, even when competing against a young Sean Hannity. That’s why I’m sad to hear that Royal Marshall has died at age 43. He was a wonderful presence on the show and his “Boo Got Shot” translation is one of the funniest radio bits ever.

    There Goes the Bride

    Thursday, January 13th, 2011

    I post this story in part because there’s a good point to debate over — whether someone who gets cold feet should be responsible for the cost of a wedding. I post it in part because you just fucking knew Gloria Allred would be involved with this. I post in part because it links to 13 disastrous weddings.

    But I post it mostly because of this:

    Dominique Buttitta wanted to get married in style, so she spared no expense on her upcoming nuptials: $30,000 to reserve a banquet hall outside Chicago; $11,000 for flowers and spot lighting; $10,000 for an orchestra; $5,000 on her wedding dress and veil.

    Is it just me or does this sound fucking insane? $10,000 was about the cost of my entire wedding. I spent $200 on a string quarter from local high school and another $1000 on a band. Some of these weddings are simply out of control.

    Update: And while I’m posting links from overlawyered.com, this is why we need a loser-pays system in this country (or at least each of the 50 states).

    Thursday Linkorama

    Thursday, January 13th, 2011

    I was posting plenty on the Arizona shooting over at the other site and planned to post some here. But after the President’s great speech last night, I really don’t feel there’s much more to say.

    Non-political links:

  • Another home run from Lenore Skenazy. Did I mention her awesome blog is linked to your right?
  • RIP, Dick Winters.
  • This may be the most awesome thing I’ve ever seen.
  • Political Links:

  • Why does it take two years to fire a teacher for branding a student?
  • It would appear that while the ocean plastic issue is a real concern, it has been overblown a bit.
  • Enjoy prison, you rotten corrupt jerk.
  • Are the Keynsians ever right? Nein!
  • Why I Hate Politics: Exhibit 743.
  • Weekend Linkorama

    Saturday, January 8th, 2011

    I’ll have my year-in-review, year-ahead post soon. Meanwhile…

    Non-political links:

  • Oh, Jesus. Someone wants to publish an edition of Huck Fin scrubbed of the racial pejoratives. Here’s a clue, guys. You are not “updating” Twain’s writing, you are censoring it. Mark Twain knew those words were racial pejoratives when he wrote them. That was the entire point.
  • The hysterics win again.
  • Now this is reporting.
  • Political links:

  • From the “Huh, What?” file: conservatives are mocking Obama for re-instituting duck-and-cover drills. Glenn Reynolds points out that these drills are actually a really good idea given the current threats.
  • I have to agree with Allahpundit. The GOP”s threat to not raise the debt ceiling is insanity. It’s crashing the economy for he sake of showing how tough you are instead of making actual tough choices (they’re already weaseling on promised budget cuts). I’m already beginning to worry about the Republicans. And they haven’t been in office more than a day.
  • Selective Use of Stats Watch

    Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

    Kerry Byrne claims that the Falcons can’t win in the playoffs because Matt Ryan only average 6.5 yards per attempt (as opposed to 8+ for others).

    OK. Let’s look at the past SB winning QB’s, shall we?

    2010 New Orleans – Drew Brees – 8.5
    2009 Pittsburgh – Ben Roethlisberger – 7.0
    2008 New York – Eli Manning – 6.3
    2007 Indianapolis – Payton Manning – 7.9
    2006 PIttsburgh – Ben Roethlisberger – 8.9
    2005 New England – Tom Brady – 7.8
    2004 New England – Tom Brady – 6.7
    2003 Tampa Bay – Brad Johnson – 6.8
    2002 New England – Tom Brady – 6.9
    2001 Baltimore – Trent Dilfer – 6.6

    The league leader for the past few years in yard per attempt has been Phillip Rivers, whose Chargers have wheezed out every year.

    A good downfield passing game helps win games. But it’s not a requirement.

    Byrnes also goes on to note that New England’s pass defense massively improved in their last six games. Maybe. But why don’t we consider the QBs on their schedule? Their first first ten games included Cincinnati, San Diego, Pittsburgh and Indy and the last six included Detroit, a collapsing Jets team and a Rodgers-less Green Bay. That can make a world of difference. This is why Football Outsiders adjusts their stats for the level of competition.

    (He does make a good point about Roethlisberger, though.)