Monday, September 29, 2014

NYT bot misstates football chances

From the NYT 4th Down Bot:
Simply put, going for it on fourth down is often the best way to maximize points, whether the play succeeds or not. Your odds of success are too good, and the field position you gain by punting is too modest.
No, it is not the best way if the play fails. Punting is better than a failed 4th down.

I guess he is trying to say that the 4th down gamble is a worthwhile one, but erred in saying "whether the play succeeds or not."

The column says it is written by a bot, but I doubt it. A human made this error.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Drunk women a threat to fraternities

The NY Daily News reports:
Forbes magazine has sacked a contributor over an online column arguing that drunk party girls were the "gravest threats" to the livelihood of fraternities, the Daily News has learned.

The column by contributor and MIT-grad Bill Frezza titled "Drunk Female Guests Are the Gravest Threat To Fraternities,"
The deleted article is here, with feminist criticism here and here.

The article asks why drunk female students are not held accountable:
Yes, boozed up males also show up at parties, sometimes mobs of them disturbing the peace on the front steps. But few are allowed in, especially if they are strangers. Plus, it remains socially acceptable for bouncers to eject drunk and rowdy males because our society rarely casts them as sympathetic victims, as opposed to the irresponsible jerks that they are. In our age of sexual equality, why drunk female students are almost never characterized as irresponsible jerks is a question I leave to the feminists. But it is precisely those irresponsible women that the brothers must be trained to identify and protect against, because all it takes is one to bring an entire fraternity system down.
I guess he got his answer -- feminists are opposed to holding them responsible for anything.

I post this as info about things you cannot say. You can certainly say that drunk men should be kept out of parties, or that drunk men should be responsible for their sexual behavior. But feminism resists any controls on female sexual freedom, so you have to say that drunk girls have the right to sexual encounters as they please, and the right to cry rape if they have regrets the next morning.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Offit uses Hollywood story to promote vaccines

Paul A. Offit is the USA's most famous vaccine advocate. He holds patents on vaccines, and has served on the CDC advisory committee on vaccine mandates. He had to sign waivers, because he has collected 6-figure sums for vaccine industry lobbying. He has written books and articles promoting vaccines. He has also promoted quackery like homeopathy.

Now he writes The Anti-Vaccination Epidemic in the WSJ:
Almost 8,000 cases of pertussis, better known as whooping cough, have been reported to California's Public Health Department so far this year. More than 250 patients have been hospitalized, nearly all of them infants and young children, and 58 have required intensive care. Why is this preventable respiratory infection making a comeback? In no small part thanks to low vaccination rates, as a story earlier this month in the Hollywood Reporter pointed out.
He is supposed to be a leading scientist in the field, and he relies the Hollywood Reporter? Was the outbreak caused by low vaccination rates or not? Offit is apparently unwilling to give his own opinion.
The conversation about vaccination has changed. In the 1990s, when new vaccines were introduced, the news media were obsessed with the notion that vaccines might be doing more harm than good. The measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine might cause autism, we were told. Thimerosal, an ethyl-mercury containing preservative in some vaccines, might cause developmental delays. Too many vaccines given too soon, the stories went, might overwhelm a child's immune system.

Then those stories disappeared. One reason was that study after study showed that these concerns were ill-founded.
He should admit that those were legitimate concerns, that he voted to approved inadequately-tested vaccines, and that several of those vaccines have been taken off the market for safety concerns.
Another was that the famous 1998 report claiming to show a link between vaccinations and autism was retracted by The Lancet, the medical journal that had published it. The study was not only spectacularly wrong, as more than a dozen studies have shown, but also fraudulent. The author, British surgeon Andrew Wakefield, has since been stripped of his medical license.
The lesson is that you can lose your license for opposing vaccines. Now no physicians publicly oppose vaccines. Does that convince you?
But the damage was done. Countless parents became afraid of vaccines. As a consequence, many parents now choose to delay, withhold, separate or space out vaccines. Some don't vaccinate their children at all. A 2006 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that between 1991 and 2004, the percentage of children whose parents had chosen to opt out of vaccines increased by 6% a year, resulting in a more than twofold increase.
Deceptive use of statistics. So 1% opted out one year, and 1.06% opted out the next, not 7%.
Who is choosing not to vaccinate? The answer is surprising. The area with the most cases of whooping cough in California is Los Angeles County, and no group within that county has lower immunization rates than residents living between Malibu and Marina Del Rey, home to some of the wealthiest and most exclusive suburbs in the country. At the Kabbalah Children's Academy in Beverly Hills, 57% of children are unvaccinated. At the Waldorf Early Childhood Center in Santa Monica, it's 68%, according to the Hollywood Reporter's analysis of public-health data.
Apparently he cannot link the outbreak to the low-vaccine areas. Or the Hollywood Reporter cannot.
Parents might consider what has happened in other countries when large numbers of parents chose not to vaccinate their children. Japan, for example, which had virtually eliminated whooping cough by 1974, suffered an anti-vaccine activist movement that caused vaccine rates to fall to 10% in 1976 from 80% in 1974. In 1979, more than 13,000 cases of whooping cough and 41 deaths occurred as a result.
That Japanese movement was against an inferior vaccine being used. The vaccination rate went back up when the authorities agreed to use the safer acellular vaccine.

A commenter says:
How many cases of whooping cough were started by illegal aliens who are unvaccinated bringing the disease with them?
I don't know about that, but I believe that most of the cases are from teenagers whose vaccinations have worn off, and all of the measles cases are from foreigners. Since these diseases and vaccines are so closely tracked, officials should be able to tell us directly the empirical benefits and harms

Sunday, September 21, 2014

For and against citizenism

Radical libertarian economist Bryan Caplan writes:
In the past, I’ve argued that Steve Sailer’s citizenism is a moral travesty. Advancing the interests of your in-group should always play second fiddle to respecting the rights of out-groups. But recently, he presented what sounds like a universal argument for citizenism:
“We live in a world of about 200 countries, a world that for all its flaws, is relatively peaceful and prosperous. And the basis of that order has been a set of assumptions about what the purpose of government is that both Caplan and myself call citizenism… The difference between Caplan and me is merely that he wants to take this order based on citizenism and blow it up, while I don’t.”
Charitably interpreted, Sailer’s saying something like: “Citizenism isn’t just great for us; it’s great for mankind. Vigorous pursuit of national self-interest leads to great global outcomes.” An interesting claim, but is there any reason to believe it? Steve’s only argument seems to be that (a) most countries on earth rest on citizenist principles, and (b) the modern world is, by historical standards, awesome.

This argument is painfully weak. ... What’s novel about the modern world is precisely that aggressive pursuit of national self-interest is finally widely recognized as a vice, not virtue.
It ia amazing how libertarians can cite these goofy ideals with so little argument about either the justification or the consequences.

Human civilization has been historically based on citizenism, and it is not clear that any other way is possible. Caplan advocates open borders on the theory that foreigners should be treated the same as citizens. Has any nation ever succeeded with such thinking?

Libertarian economics and philosophy is based on individuals, families, businesses, and corporations acting in their self-interests. We all benefit from the invisible hand, and the associated freedoms and prosperity. The same benefits accrue when nations act in their self-interest.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

More harassment claims

Sexual harassment claims are all over the news, including football, firemen, judges, and scientists. But sexual harassment (in the case of scientists) is defined to include inappropriate nonsexual remarks, comments about beauty, and jokes at any time in a career. I am surprised that the rates are not 100%.

This is just the stupid liberal fad of the day, with the news media piling on.

Update: Add women's soccer:
Solo, one of the biggest and most marketable stars in women’s sports, is facing domestic violence charges from an episode over the summer in which she is accused of punching her sister and her 17-year-old nephew at a late-night party. ...

Celebrating Solo’s achievement right now is like allowing running back Adrian Peterson, who has been accused of child abuse, to continue to play for the Minnesota Vikings — and then awarding him the game ball for his next 100-yard game.

If that wouldn’t happen in the N.F.L., it shouldn’t happen in women’s sports, either.
The news media is taking their personal lives way too seriously.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Very weak evidence for fairness in animals

I expressed skepticism about studies claiming to find fairness in monkeys and other animals. Now a study also says that those animals do not show fairness, but that chimps do:
On the flip side, when two unrelated chimps put side by side were presented with a tasty grape and a less tasty carrot, the chimp with the grape sometimes threw it away. "I would say that the most likely cause was either fear of retribution or just general discomfort about being around an individual getting less than you," says Brosnan. Differences in the social hierarchy also played a role, she says. Dominant chimps were angrier when they were on the receiving end of a lesser reward than those lower in the pecking order.

The results among the chimps are indicative of highly cooperative societies, where relying on someone else is especially crucial. This may be why chimpanzees and humans will avoid inequity, Brosnan suggests, to have long-term cooperation from friends.

However, she cautions against calling it fairness exactly: "Fairness is a social ideal" she says. ... [The animals] don't have social ideals in the same sense [that people do]." Her research reveals behaviors that may look like a push for fairness; but that doesn't mean strategic, higher-order thinking is driving it. The explanation may be much simpler, based more on emotion, Brosnan says: "When my social partner gets upset, I give them something that makes them happy."
As you can see, fairness is the rich anthropomorphic explanation, but there are also leaner explanations.

People often talk about chimps and other primates as being social like humans, but they are not at all. It is true that they often live in groups, but they do not cooperate on tasks as humans do, so they are not really social.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Barry Bonds may still be cleared

I had to admit being wrong about the Barry Bonds conviction being upheld, and now I find that the case is still pending:
Reviving Bonds' legal arguments, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed earlier this year to reconsider a ruling upholding the conviction. A majority of the 9th Circuit's 29 full-time judges had to vote to rehear the case, a signal of some doubt within the court about the outcome.

"It's got legs," said Rory Little, a former federal prosecutor and Hastings College of the Law professor. "But I wouldn't predict this one." ...

Bonds was indicted on a charge of lying to the grand jury in December 2003 about whether he used steroids while chasing baseball's all-time home-run records.

A jury more than three years ago deadlocked on perjury charges against Bonds but convicted him on an obstruction charge for his rambling answer to a question about whether his former personal trainer, Greg Anderson, had ever supplied or injected him with steroids.

The answer included musings about being "a celebrity child with a famous father" and other remarks jurors later said were meant to evade questions about his steroid use.

In last year's ruling, a unanimous three-judge 9th Circuit panel rejected Bonds' legal arguments that he was convicted of simply providing a rambling answer that did not amount to a crime. The judges found the testimony "evasive" and "misleading."
I am going to predict again that the Bonds conviction is reversed.

Bonds was acquitted on the perjury charge (lying about using steroids), and only convicted on the sole charge of obstruction of justice, on a theory that he gave one evasive answer to one question.

It appeared to me that Bonds misunderstood the question, and that the prosecutor was satisfied with the answer. The defense says that the question was answered elsewhere in testimony, and that even a false answer can be cured by correcting the answer. The state still maintains that Bonds committed perjury, and that should be held against him on appeal, even tho the jury did not agree.

Appeals courts are usually pro-prosecution and sometimes concoct weird rationales to uphold a conviction, but the case against Bonds is just too weak. I think that he will be cleared.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

New Apple products are expensive

In case you are following Apple, the new iPhone with the big screen costs $950, and the one with the smaller screen is $850. Or you can sign up for a 2-year contract costing thousands of dollars. (I am quoting the larger memory model, since the phones are not expandable with memory cards.)

The wrist watch will not be out until next year, and start at $350, possibly without the wristband or any decent battery life. It requires an Apple iphone, and may not even be able to tell time without one. But of course the Apple fanbois like the style and the Apple lock-in.

The Reality distortion field lives.

Update: I missed this recent Apple statement:
Our customers’ privacy and security are of utmost importance to us. After more than 40 hours of investigation, we have discovered that certain celebrity accounts were compromised by a very targeted attack on user names, passwords and security questions, a practice that has become all too common on the Internet. None of the cases we have investigated has resulted from any breach in any of Apple’s systems including iCloud® or Find my iPhone.
This is dishonest. Apparently attackers were able to get Apple passwords by pretending (pretexting) to be an actress who lost her password, and bluffing Apple into account access to the nude pictures by answering some security questions. If so, then iCloud security certainly was breached. Those users had no idea that Apple was so sloppy about allowing access.

Update: This museum statue is funny. Looks like someone anticipated modern fangirls. Or maybe one religious icon has replaced another.

Update: The NY Times reports that the cost of an Iphone 6 (small model) is about $650, if you commit to a 2-year contract.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

Feminism v civilization

Sophie Kleeman writes:
Women shouldn't have to curb their sexual behavior. Women should engage in safe and consensual sex with whomever they want, whenever they want, and they should be able to do so without worrying that they'll be raped. 
This is a reasonable definition of feminism. Constraints on female sexually have stemmed from religion, law, morality, marriage, pregnancy, childrearing, etc, and feminists seek to reduce them all and unleash hypergamy.
Hypergamy: a woman’s natural preference for a male that is of higher status than other men and also higher status than herself.
Feminism is sometimes defined in terms of equality, but most feminist demands have little to do with equality and many say that mammalian female instinctual preferences are for hypergamy.

Vox Day says that such feminism is a disaster (referring to the opinion of someone else):
Civilization depends entirely upon the restriction of female sexuality and the limitation of female power. It’s not the only factor, but it is a necessary one. The restrictions can be cruel and enforced primarily by men, as in the case of Islamic semi-civilization, or they can be soft and enforced primarily by women, as in the case of traditional Western civilization. Or something in between, such as she describes. But the restrictions must exist, be they self-imposed or externally imposed.

There is no equality. There never will be as long as young men are willing to build, steal, or kill for sex. Unless sex is primarily made available to young men by forcing them to jump through various hoops that help build and maintain civilization, it’s back to barbarism and grass huts for everyone. And that decivilizing process is exactly what she is describing.

The decline of civilization is the logical result of the Sexual Revolution combined with the Divorce Revolution. There were no winners and civilization lost.
Warnings about the decline of civilization are not new. For another view, Nikola Tesla, the inventor of AC power distribution, wrote in 1924:
The world has experienced many tragedies, but to my mind the greatest tragedy of all is the present economic condition wherein women strive against men, and in many cases actually succeed in usurping their places in the professions and in industry. This growing tendency of women to overshadow the masculine is a sign of a deteriorating civilization.

Woman’s determined competition with man in the business world is breaking down some of the best traditions–things which have proved the moving factors in the world’s slow but substantial progress.

Practically all the great achievements of man until now have been inspired by his love and devotion to woman. Man has aspired to great things because some woman believed in him, because he wished to command her admiration and respect. For these reasons he has fought for her and risked his life and his all for her time and time again.

Perhaps the male in human society is useless. I am frank to admit that I don’t know. If women are beginning to feel this way about it – and there is striking evidence at hand that they do – then we are entering upon the cruelest period of the world’s history.

Our civilization will sink to a state like that which is found among the bees, ants and other insects – a state wherein the male is ruthlessly killed off. In this matriarchal empire which will be established the female rules. As the female predominates, the males are at her mercy. The male is considered important only as a factor in the general scheme of the continuity of life.

The tendency of women to push aside man, supplanting the old spirit of cooperation with him in all the affairs of life, is very disappointing to me.

Woman’s independence and her cleverness in obtaining what she wants in the business world is breaking down man’s spirit of independence. The old fire he once experienced at being able to achieve something that would compel and hold a woman’s devotion is turning to ashes.

Women don’t seem to want that sort of thing to-day. They appear to want to control and govern. They want man to look up to them, instead of their looking up to him.
Update: Here is a NY Times letter, advocating maximal sexual freedom for women:
Ideally, women should be able to have the IUD placed the same day they make the decision to use it, but the high upfront cost and limited access prove to be continuing impediments for many women. Even women with insurance coverage often have to pay for it first, or wait for their doctor to order it.

IUDs and the implant are not right for every woman, but many women want them and cannot get them. Increasing access to all methods by eliminating barriers of cost and access will ultimately empower women to make the best decision for themselves and their families.
In other words, the woman should not have to pay or wait, and her family should accept whatever decision she makes.

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Nutritionists wrong about fat again

The NY Times reports:
People who avoid carbohydrates and eat more fat, even saturated fat, lose more body fat and have fewer cardiovascular risks than people who follow the low-fat diet that health authorities have favored for decades, a major new study shows.

The findings are unlikely to be the final salvo in what has been a long and often contentious debate about what foods are best to eat for weight loss and overall health. The notion that dietary fat is harmful, particularly saturated fat, arose decades ago from comparisons of disease rates among large national populations. ...

Many nutritionists and health authorities have “actively advised against” low-carbohydrate diets, said the lead author of the new study, Dr. Lydia A. Bazzano of the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. “It’s been thought that your saturated fat is, of course, going to increase, and then your cholesterol is going to go up,” she said. “And then bad things will happen in general.”

The new study showed that was not the case.
Do not believe those experts until they admit their mistakes.