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January 25, 2015

"Messi-To-Neymar Is As Beautiful As Soccer Gets"

You just don't see things like this every game.

"NFL Draft Experts Hated The Draft That Turned The Seahawks Into The Best Team In The League"

Worth remembering if you read those "expert" evaluations of NFL drafts.

The 2012 NFL Draft is the biggest reason why the Seattle Seahawks have been the best team in the league over the last two years. . . .

They drafted five players that have become a part of their core, and got many of them in the late rounds . . . 

"Chickens Today Are Shockingly Bigger Than They Used To Be"

That's one big chicken.

January 24, 2015

"Churchill embodied Britain's greatness"

Friday was the 50th anniversary of Winston Churchill's death. Here's a fine tribute to him.

"Math Explains Likely Long Shots, Miracles and Winning the Lottery"

A fine, useful piece.

For a shorter version, see Persi Diaconis's remark that if you look at a big enough sample long enough, "almost any damn thing will happen".

"New Products From Ruger"

". . . [last month] the gun manufacturer announced the addition of three new offerings to its already expansive product line."

January 23, 2015

"Science journals screw up hundreds of times each year. This guy keeps track of every mistake."

Good for him. May he live long and prosper.

"The Jewish tie salesman"

Via Economic Job Market Rumors.

A fleeing Taliban terrorist, desperate for water, was plodding through the Afghan desert when he saw something far off in the distance. Hoping to find water, he hurried toward the mirage only to find a very frail little old Jewish man standing at a small makeshift display rack - selling ties.

The Taliban terrorist asked, "Do you have water?" The Jewish man replied, "I have no water. But would you like to buy a tie? They are only $5."

The Taliban shouted hysterically, "Idiot Infidel! I do not need such an over-priced western adornment. I spit on your ties. I need water!

"Sorry, I have none, just ties - pure silk, and only $5." "Pah! A curse on your ties! I should wrap one around your scrawny little neck and choke the life out of you but . . . I must conserve my energy and find water!" "Okay," said the little old Jewish man. . . . It does not matter that you do not want to buy a tie from me, or that you hate me, threaten my life, and call me infidel. I will show you that I am bigger than any of that. If you continue over that hill to the east for about two miles, you will find a restaurant. It has the finest food and all the ice-cold water you need. Go In Peace.

Cursing him again, the desperate Taliban staggered away, over the hill. Several hours later, he crawled back, almost dead, and gasped, "They won't let me in without a tie!"

"Find The Farthest City On Earth From Anywhere Else"

I'm unsure why anybody needs this, but if you do . . . 

January 22, 2015

"Ten Ways Men Oppress Women with Their Everyday Behavior"

Beautifully done.

1. Broplimenting

This is when a guy says something nice to you without asking for your consent first. Men should always ask. “Do you consent to me complimenting you?” before saying anything nice or else it’s assault. No, nonverbal cues don’t count – he still has to ask for explicit consent before offering that kind of affection.

"Quotation of the Day"

Thomas Sowell, via Don Boudreaux at Cafe Hayek:

Metaphors about how “society” should “arrange” this or that result evade the institutional reality that someone must be empowered to constrict other people’s freedom – and thus evade the need to weigh whether the expected value of the result being sought, given the chances of achieving it, is greater or less than the expected value of the loss of freedom that this effort entails.

"Beware Of Heavily Traded Stocks"

From The Economist:

As a control, the authors combined the popularity measure with another well-known effect, related to the volatility of individual stocks. Stocks that are more volatile than the market (rising or falling 10% when the index moves 5%) are described as having a "high beta;" stocks that are less volatile than the market are "low-beta."

. . .

The authors of the new paper combined the popularity and beta characteristics. They found that popularity was by far the dominant effect: whether a stock was popular was more important when determining its return than whether it was volatile. The same was true when controlling for other factors, such as the size of the company and the starting valuation.

Interesting. But of course if it's true--a big if--the effect has probably already gone away by now.

"Why 'Dad Rock' Became 2014's Put-Down Du Jour (Sorry, Bruce and U2)"

This is true:

Fifty years ago, baby boomers adopted the edict “Never trust anyone over the age of 30,” so it’s hilarious to see youth-oriented publications form a de facto Revolutionary Tribunal and attack boomers by reprising their own credo.

So is this:

He omits a big reason for music’s current turn: the dad-rock 
way—learning to play and sing well enough to record without digital editing and 
pitch correction—was harder. While harder doesn't mean better, it deserves note.

Link via Michael Greenspan.


January 21, 2015

"Where Bars Outnumber Grocery Stores"

Guess. Go ahead, guess.

"A Child With A Baseball Bat Could Total A Tesla Model S"

The allegedly supercool Tesla S may have some problems.

"How Did Jane Austen Write Great Novels Without Much Life Experience?"

"She's a miracle, basically."

"This Is The Only Summary Of Pride And Prejudice You Need To Read"

Concise as heck.

UPDATE: Link fixed now. Thanks to the commenters.

January 20, 2015

". . . it is effulgently suicidal."

In an already distinguished career as a writer, this column is the best by Jonah Goldberg I've read yet.

I don’t dispute that Islamist terrorist attacks threaten to give Islam a bad name. (Actually, that ship probably sailed a long time ago for lots of people.) What I don’t get is why Muslims should have blanket immunity from the rules that apply to everyone else. If Israel does something bad, Jews are expected to condemn it — and they do. When a pro-lifer goes vigilante and blows up an abortion clinic, you can be damn sure that pro-life leaders are expected to denounce it — and they do. More to the point, the entire liberal establishment gets their dresses over their collective heads about the need to hold larger communities accountable. Just ask tea partiers, Evangelical Christians, gun-rights advocates, and my other fellow Legionaires of Doom.

The entire edifice of supposedly sophisticated left-wing thinking is about collective responsibility. . . .

We’re breeding generations of citizens who think attacking left-wing college administrators from the left is bold and courageous and denouncing Islamic extremism is racist. We apologize for the “root causes” that lead to actual violence, while we theorize endlessly about how ultimately we’re really to blame. Our military heroes are terroristic and the terrorists are misunderstood. That’s not merely dazzlingly idiotic; it is effulgently suicidal.

"Botched environmental predictions for 2015"

This is a great project for somebody: keep track of the Left's record on predictions.

You’ve heard the warnings: Global warming could doom humanity. Overpopulation and deforestation will destroy the planet. We’re going to run out of energy.

It isn’t happening right now, experts say, but it could happen in a few decades.

Yet, decades ago, experts warned that many catastrophes would happen now – by the year 2015. Yet they have not. found five predictions that went astray.

"Sorry, liberals, Scandinavian countries aren’t utopias"

Kyle Smith reviews The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia.

Smith's conclusion is consistent with other work I've seen: even if Scandinavians really were terrifically happy, they are key features of their societies that wouldn't transfer well to other countries, particularly the U.S.

"More Is More: Why the Paradox of Choice Might Be a Myth"

From the first time I heard about the famous experiment, I thought it was baloney: the stakes were low, the situation not representative of the choices people actually face, and the sample was almost surely unrepresentative. The corollary worry that increasing choices were therefore bound to make us sad and crazy failed to recognize the significant increase in tools people now have for making choices.

So the recent failure to replicate the results is of little importance to me, but your mileage may vary.

See this for Barry Schwartz's reply. But also see this remark of his:

It’s just that sometimes choice is paralyzing, and sometimes it’s liberating, and we don’t know what determines which direction it’ll go in, yet. So I don’t think we can say unequivocally that too much choice is bad, because we don’t know the limits to that.

I'd give him an A for honesty, but a D- for the scientific importance of his theory.

"Ezekiel Emanuel: Go Ration Yourself'

David Catron does a fine job smacking yet another really dopey pronouncement from Mr. Emanuel. This is especially nice:

. . . he probably doesn’t experience much cognitive dissonance when suggesting that, in order to forestall the physician shortage caused by a program he helped design, right-minded people should forego a “benefit” they were coerced to purchase.

"Is rewarding straight-A students a problem?"

Of course. What would you expect from a modern public school?

A Maryland middle school has sparked heated controversy by holding an end-of-day pizza party for high-performing students. As Donna St. George reported in yesterday’s Washington Post, Eastern Middle School in Silver Spring only invited straight-A students to the final period celebration, while allowing B and C students to join after school. Students with less than a C average (306 of Eastern’s 865 students) weren’t invited at all. 

January 19, 2015

"The Year of Piketty"

Bloomberg columnist Clive Crook concisely summarizes the major attacks on Piketty's work and concludes with this vicious, mostly accurate swipe at how the social sciences work:

Attention, social scientists. Don't worry about being wrong, just be wrong in a big way. Be wrong because you over-reach. Be wrong the way Marx was wrong (but maybe hope for less collateral damage).

"Here’s How To See What College Admissions Officers Wrote About You"

Hoo boy, this could really shake things up. Watch Congress pass an amendment to FERPA in world-record time.

A group of Stanford students have discovered a way to access their own confidential admissions files — including comments by admissions officers, criticisms of their applications, and information about how their status as minorities, athletes, or legacies affected their applications.

"A New Study of the Conservative Alternatives to Obamacare, and What's Missing From It"

I agree wholeheartedly with Veronique de Rugy:

This demands, as he puts it, that health-care policymakers discard their “Fortress” mentality and adopt a “Frontier” attitude that tolerates calculated risks and welcomes competition from diverse practitioners and disciplines. . . .

The bottom line: To fix American health care, we need a new way of thinking about it, a new focus away from the demand side – away from the provision of health insurance toward the supply side of health care.

By the way, don't be suckered by those claims that Obamacare is "working". See Michael Tanner's piece.

"Scientists balk at ‘hottest year’ claims"

Not that I'm in the habit of trusting the mass media on heavily politicized stories, but this discussion still proved surprising and enlightening.

UPDATE: See also "The Most Dishonest Year on Record".

"Spin won’t stop the pension wrecking ball"

An editorial by Union Tribune, San Diego.

The debate in the Golden State over government pensions has been distorted for years by union-funded groups like Californians for Retirement Security and their allies. Not only do they deny pension costs are soaring, they consistently depict reformers as driven by animus toward unions and envy over a benefit they won’t get to enjoy.

But two recent U-T stories show the real reason reformers keep trying to scale back public employee retirement benefits: their immense cost.

See also "UC's Pension Fiasco".

"Simple Economic Growth Won't Fix the Middle Class"

Robert Samuelson:

The great middle-class fear today is that the connection between personal aspirations and societal opportunities is breaking down.

Personally, I'd ascribe that fear to an educational system that does too little and a federal government that does too much.

"How computers will replace your doctor"

I like my doctors, but the more stuff I can do for myself the happier I'll be.

For example, look at the future of the general practitioner of medicine. This is considered the epitome of the high-skilled, secure, remunerative job. Four years of college! Four years of medical school! Internship! Residency! Government-protected cartel membership!

And yet, this profession is going the way of the dodo bird.

To understand why, the first thing you need to understand is that multiple studies have shown that software is better able to diagnose illnesses, with fewer misdiagnoses. Health wonks love this trend, known as evidence-based diagnosis, and medical doctors loathe it, because who cares about saving lives when you can avoid the humiliation of having a computer tell you what to do.

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