I'm doing some research for a paper on "Property Rights and Contract Enforcement in the Post-Zombie Apocalypse." Seriously.
In the process of trying to learn more about zombies, I ran across this interview with Max Brooks, in which he says,
I have railed relentlessly in the past about "Storm Porn" and about how forecasters and mediots so often focus on worst-case scenarios --- forecasters because they don't want to be held responsible if things turn out to be worse than forecast [someone called it CYA forecasting]; mediots because drama sells and pumps up ratings. [see this, this, and this]
For the storm this weekend that hit the U.S. middle east, forecasters got it wrong on the low side, though. From the NYTimes, this is the map of how much snow was being forecast on Friday afternoon.
And this is how much actually fell over Friday and Saturday:
That storm was MUCH worse than anticipated. And now these places have to figure out how to remove so much snow and then where to put it all!
King Banaian (aka Sparky) and I have known each other for about 25 years, ever since the early days of rec.sport.baseball. We finally met up at an economics convention a few years after meeting online, and then we had a chance to meet face-to-face again several years ago as I was driving through St. Cloud Minnesota.
King is a very bright guy with an amazing, quick mind. I've appeared in numerous podcasts with him in the past as well as exchanged blog posts and citations with him over the past decade.
He has asked me to appear on his radio programme this morning. He says he wants to talk about curling because I used to write a blog (with the late Alan Adamson) about curling. But he also says the half-hour conversation could go anywhere. I'm fine with that. I trust him.
You can listen anywhere via the internet:
Go to the homepage of the station http://www.twincitiesbusinessradio.com/ and you will see a Listen Live button near the top-center third of the page. Opens a new window with a player, runs a 15-second ad first.
He says the programmes are also available as podcasts, and so I'll post the link as soon as I get the precise link.
That's less than two hours from now! OMG!!!!
The CRTC has published a report showing recent trends in communication in Canada. It is fascinating. One thing for sure: our children and grandchildren have adjusted more and more quickly to the newer technologies than have we "under 90s".
I think I could go without television for quite some time (especially now that the Trono Blue Jays have been eliminated in baseball playoffs). And I could quite easily dispense with the landline (though giving important people our cell phone numbers could be a mess). I might even be able to give up our wifi, though I'd rather not.
But cell phone service with a good data plan is crucial for me. I love being on the internet -- reading news, checking blogs, reading email, and following so many friends on Facebook. As you know, I wrote at length about how important the internet is for me last spring when I tried not to use it for 48 hours.
Overall, we fit the trends outlined in the CRTC report: we have the television on quite a bit, we bundle our services to get discounts, we spend a lot on telecommunications, and we are considering giving up our landline.
For a good time, listen to radio AM980 from London at 1pm today. Here is the link to their netcast.
I gather there were some interesting confrontations during the interview Lawton conducted with Suzuki. It was supposed be a press conference but only Andrew showed up!! ;-)
What if they gave a press conference and nobody came?
[disclaimer: I have known Andrew, though we are not close friends, for several years.]
For those of you who don't keep abreast of Canadian affairs, we are having a federal election next month. We have a parliamentary system, which means we will vote only to elect an MP (Member of Parliament) in our riding (voting district), nothing else.
My perceptions may be incorrect, but I expect I'm right. Ms. Eclectic says she has the same impression.
It seems so jarring to me when newscasters refer to some politicians by just their last names. And the tone is quite different (or so it seems to me) when they say "Harper" vs when they say any of the other names.
I'd venture a guess (though I have no idea how to test this) that no more than 5% (if that) of all television newscasters would support Stephen Harper.
At least that's the impression I get before I mute the news.
From Terence Corcoran:
Maybe you missed the news last week, which is that Canada under Stephen Harper’s Conservative government has just regained its title as the most reputable nation in the world. According to the Reputation Institute’s annual report, Canada remains at the top of a 55-nation list for perceived trust, admiration and respect, based on a survey of 48,000 people around the world.
Easy to miss, that story, since few media picked it up. Instead, the Canadian media complex is in the grip of Harper Derangement Frenzy (HDF), which is an upgrade to hurricane status from Harper Derangement Syndrome, identified several years ago by Lorne Gunter as “an ideological hatred of Prime Minister Stephen Harper that is so acute its sufferers’ ability to reason logically is impaired.”
A table in the column shows:
Yes, the clocks are going to be reset Tuesday night to realign our clocks with sun time. This reset, which occurs now and then, according to this article, is called a "leap second".
But will the clocks be set ahead by one second? or will they be set back by one second?
The CBC headline reads,
Leap seconds: Why our clocks are being set ever-so-slightly ahead
But the subheadline and the article imply the clocks will be set back by one second:
Leap second being added around the world on June 30
and from the article,
Just before midnight Greenwich mean time on June 30, official timekeeping bodies around the world will add a single second — the so-called leap second — to the clock.
While the time-shift seems too infinitesimal to matter to the average person, there are very good reasons for it.
A leap second is an extra second that is added to an agreed-upon day every few years in order to keep Co-ordinated Universal Time (or UTC, the modern replacement for Greenwich mean time), the world standard for regulating clocks, in sync with Mean Solar Time, which marks the passage of time based on the sun's position in the sky.
It means that the last minute UTC of June 30 will actually be 61 seconds long.
Wouldn't setting the clock ahead subtract a second from our time? And wouldn't adding a second require that the clocks be set back, not forward, by one second?
My take on this is that to get 61 seconds into that minute, when the clock hits midnight, it will have to be set back one second so that it will strike midnight again one second later.
I confess to having some confusion, and the aphorism, "spring forward, fall back" doesn't help here.
CBC: our tax dollars at work. The other media seem to understand this (see links below).
Update: CBC has changed the headline to read "back" now.
Two weeks ago, the baseball world was outraged that so many players from the Kansas City Royals were millions of votes ahead in the voting for the All-Star game.
Well, I just voted 105 times (35 times from each of my 3 email addresses). And there wasn't a single player from Kansas City on my ballots.
And it turns out that Trono 3B Josh Donaldson is now within only 33K votes of being the #1 3B player on the ballot. He has a good chance of being voted in. The other BJ who should be voted onto the team is Russell Martin at Catcher.
I find the willingness of students to go into massive debt to finance college and university living to be puzzling and astounding. Why accumulate debts of up to $100K or more to attend a college or university only to study topics that have little-to-no marketable value? Do these students have no idea what they are doing?
Perhaps more articles like this opinion piece in the NYTimes, despite its whiny self-centered tone, will help more students and parents make better-informed decisions in the future. I read most of the comments there and fully agreed with the ones that took the writer to task for everything said in the piece.
By the end of my sophomore year at a small private liberal arts college, my mother and I had taken out a second loan, my father had declared bankruptcy and my parents had divorced. My mother could no longer afford the tuition that the student loans weren’t covering. I transferred to a state college in New Jersey, closer to home.
Years later, I found myself confronted with a choice that too many people have had to and will have to face. I could give up what had become my vocation (in my case, being a writer) and take a job that I didn’t want in order to repay the huge debt I had accumulated in college and graduate school. Or I could take what I had been led to believe was both the morally and legally reprehensible step of defaulting on my student loans, which was the only way I could survive without wasting my life in a job that had nothing to do with my particular usefulness to society.
I chose life. That is to say, I defaulted on my student loans.
The writer is Lee Siegel, a successful journalist/author. If it's the same Lee Siegel as in the Wikipaedia link, he can afford to repay the loans. He sounds more like a creep than an exploited student. For example, from Wikipaedia,
In September 2006, Siegel was suspended from The New Republic, after an internal investigation determined he was participating in misleading comments in the magazine's "Talkback" section, in response to criticisms of his blog postings at The New Republic's website and vicious attacks on his character. The comments were made through the device of a "sock puppet" dubbed "sprezzatura", who, as one reader noted, was a consistently vigorous defender of Siegel, and who specifically denied being Siegel when challenged by another commenter in "Talkback". In response to readers who had criticized Siegel's negative comments about TV talk show host Jon Stewart, 'sprezzatura' wrote, "Siegel is brave, brilliant, and wittier than Stewart will ever be. Take that, you bunch of immature, abusive sheep". The New Republic posted an apology and shut down Siegel's blog. In an interview with the New York Times Magazine, Siegel dismissed the incident as a "prank".
So this guy is basically a schmuck who is trying to use the plight of students today to justify not repaying his student loans from 30 years ago?
Read the comments on his piece. They are mostly devastating.
As I said, I hope young high school students today will learn from him. But I hope they will learn to look ahead and carefully assess their decisions about higher education, course majors, and student loans. I hope they will not take this piece as a justification for borrowing big and not repaying the loans.
Eric mentioned in the comments to this post that the Yankees have had a female radio announcer for over a decade. We get many of the Yankee telecasts here in London, Ontario, but not their radiocasts.
Eric then sent me this link, providing the biographies of the Yankee broadcasters.
An award winning journalist, Suzyn Waldman joins John Sterling in the radio booth as the Yankees' color commentator on WCBS-AM radio in 2005, becoming the first woman to hold a full-time position as a Major League broadcaster. Waldman has spent the greater part of two decades overcoming all the obstacles that go along with being a female sports broadcaster, and has risen to the top of her profession. ...
Waldman's life and struggles have been the subject of hundreds of magazine and newspaper articles, and chapters in books, including the "MacMillan Book of Baseball Stories," "You Go Girl" and "That's Outside My Boat" both by Charlie Jones and Kim Doran. She has been profiled on the Today Show, CBS Evening News with Dan Rather, ABC's 20/20 and NBC's Dateline.
But check out her other interests: economics and theatre! Sportscasting, baseball, economics, and theatre: a perfect combination! But I haven't been able to ascertain her views on sabremetrics yet.
A native Bostonian, with a degree in Economics from Boston's prestigious Simmons College, Suzyn spent 15 years on the Broadway Musical Stage, and is proudest of her two years starring opposite Richard Kiley in "Man of La Mancha."
Why are there no women in the broadcast booths for Major League Baseball? There are many who could do the job, and do it better than some of the talking heads that are there now. [See this].
Back when I did radio play-by-play for the AA London Tigers, I worked with many different people as co-announcers. Despite my strongly worded suggestions to the station manager that we find women to co-broadcast in the booth, it never happened.
Women doing play-by-play; women doing commentary and analysis. I see no reason why it shouldn't and won't, eventually, happen.
There are two women whose names come to mind immediately for me.
Christina Kahrl. Christina was also a regular on rec.sport.baseball. She and I corresponded a couple of times back then, and we are Facebook friends. I have no doubt she could do the job well. From the website cited above, "Her credentials: Want someone who can tell a good anecdote but also understands sabermetrics? Karhl, a co-founder of the analytical website Baseball Prospectus and an ESPN writer/editor, would be a good catch. She’s also a vocal transgender activist and has spoken about how baseball eased her transition."
Sadly, I'm not sure it will happen anytime soon. For one reason, most viewers/listeners seem disinclined to pay attention to solid numerical analysis. And for another reason, I cannot see most viewers/listeners overcoming the unfortunately deeply ingrained sex biases in sports and sportscasting.
In today's story about the Danish shootings, the New York Times headline reads,
Terror Attacks by a Native Son Rock Denmark
One might reasonably be led to believe that the most important characteristic of the shooter was that it was a Dane who shot up the free-speech meeting and the synagogue.
It is not until the 6th and 7th paragraphs that we read,
Though the gunman’s name and basic biographical details were still unclear late Sunday, he appears to have shared some traits with at least two of the militants responsible for the Paris violence, notably a criminal record and an abrupt transition from street crime to Islamic militancy.
The Danish news media identified him as Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein, but the Copenhagen police did not confirm his name. [emphasis added]
A native son, maybe, but also an Islamic militant.
Yup, the storm going up the east coast of North America moved slightly to the east with the result that many areas received considerably less snow than the media warned might happen. See this, for example. People made plans and purchases, etc. that they wouldn't have made if they'd had a better idea what would happen.
The problem is twofold:Point estimates instead of interval estimates, and loss-minimization tactics.
Point estimates vs interval estimates:
We all know that weather models are imperfect. But the media don't want to take the time to say (as an example for the recent storm) "There's a 15% chance of 12" of snow, a 50% chance of 10", a 30% chance of 6", and a 5% chance of only 2" over the next 24 hours, depending on which way the major air masses drift." And I really wonder if many listeners/viewers would want that much detail. I have lots of friends who would respond, "Yah, yah, so what's gonna happen?"
However, the reports could present graphs of probability density functions showing the probabilities of expected precipitation, expected temperatures, etc. And given that different forecasting models spit out different probability density functions, it might even be useful to more than a few of us stat-type geeks to see a graphic showing the probability density functions from several different models.
Essentially this distinction was one of the errors made by forecasters in their submissions of information to the media and by the media in their presentations to the public. [see this, from WaPo]
When a forecast is so sensitive to small changes (eastern Long Island, not far away, received 30-plus inches), it is imperative to loudly convey the reality that small changes could have profound effects on what actually happens. ...
But the general lack of information provided about the forecast uncertainty is a major disappointment considering both the state of weather forecasting and the efforts some have made to improve how we communicate the forecast.
For many years, the need to express forecast confidence and communicate different scenarios during complex, high-stakes forecast events has been discussed and stressed in the weather community.
And that brings up the second problem,
Imagine if the weather services and the media had indeed presented interval estimates and probability density functions about the east coast snow storm, something like what I suggest above. Imagine further that New York City had received an unanticipated heavy snowfall of, say 18" [following the numbers used in the above example, this would have had probably only 2% probability attached to it.]. Imagine the outrage if the public and public officials hadn't been prepared. And especially if they hadn't been prepared for bad outcomes.
So what happens is that weather services shade their forecasts to allow for "what's the worst that might happen?" If they get it wrong on the extreme side, that imposes far lower costs and losses on the public (and hence on themselves) than if they don't place enough emphasis on the extreme outcomes. From the CBC link at the top of this post,
Kimbell said meteorologists at Environment Canada have the leeway to err on the side of caution, particularly when issuing warnings when public safety is at stake.
"It's better to say there is going to be a bad storm and save lives than to minimize it and be wrong on the other side and actually it's worse and the impacts are severe," he said....
"I would rather, if there is a lean one way or another, lean towards safety because I have seen the consequences the other way and it gets very frightening very quickly," said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
[CBC meteorologist] Scotland said forecasters cannot always err on the side of caution, because if they do people may start to take warnings of dangerous conditions less seriously in the future.
Exactly. Most of us are familiar with "The Little Boy Who Cried Wolf".
At the same time, exacerbating the problem, the media love "Storm porn" [see here and here]. And because of this tendency within the media, a couple of years ago I really tore into The Weather Network (aka the Storm Porn Channel):
Open Challenge to The Weather Network
aka "the Storm-Porn Channel"
You were forecasting 30-40 cms of snow in this storm for the Southwestern Ontario corridor. And some of your announcers couldn't restrain themselves, saying (with drool running down their chins), ".... and it could be more in some areas." How much did those areas actually receive?
I understand that you never, never want to be accused of under-forecasting the seriousness of a storm, but over-forecasting the seriousness of storms consistently means that people develop an immunity to your warnings.
Can you at least start providing us with decent confidence intervals instead of only dire warnings? Please? Do you have any announcers who dare to say, "... but it might be quite a bit less, too..."?
Addendum: Keep in mind that the storm did, indeed, drop tonnes and meters of snow on some places on Long Island and in New England.That it did not leave so much snow in New York City and that that is what became the major news story reflects the NYC-bias of the major media.
No, I'm not going to write about sports bras, thongs, long shorts, tight shorts, or whatever. This piece is a comment on the increasing use of neon yellow by top players.
Have you noticed how many top tennis players these days are wearing neon yellow as part of their outfits? Some players still do some original designs, though, and many players have not made the switch.
Ms Eclectic disagrees with my own perception that more players are wearing some neon yellow during their matches. She pointed out that not one of the six players we were watching at the time I made the observation was wearing neon yellow; nevertheless both Federer and Raonic had been wearing neon yellow in their matches; and so had Serena Williams and Azarenka (time for a foundation grant to study this!).
The reason they wear neon yellow (I surmise) has nothing to do with fashion trends. Rather it is for the same reason that some baseball pitchers try to keep some white undershirt sleeves showing.
Having some clothing the colour of the ball might make it a mite more difficult for one's opponent to pick up the ball when it is coming at them. I expect the neon yellow wristbands do an especially effective job with this.
Having outfits the same colour as the tennis ball surely affects how one's opponent(s) sees the ball coming at him/her/them.
What surprises me is that more of the players are not wearing neon yellow outfits. The fact that they do not suggests that this ploy yields marginal benefits at best. But with so many of the top players moving to neon yellow distractive clothing, I expect more will follow.
The extreme: tennis apparel with blue backgrounds and neon yellow circles roughly the size of tennis balls. I haven't seen this yet, though.
Long-time readers of EclectEcon know that I am a global-warming skeptic. Not a denier but a skeptic. I just don't know what to believe, given all the spin put on things.
For example, both the Washington Post and the NYTimes recently published stories about how NASA scientists say the earth is warmer. But then yesterday, the Daily Mail published a piece saying there is considerable uncertainty about the numbers used for that report.
In a press release on Friday, Nasa’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) claimed its analysis of world temperatures showed ‘2014 was the warmest year on record’.
The claim made headlines around the world, but yesterday it emerged that GISS’s analysis – based on readings from more than 3,000 measuring stations worldwide – is subject to a margin of error. Nasa admits this means it is far from certain that 2014 set a record at all.
Yet the Nasa press release failed to mention this, as well as the fact that the alleged ‘record’ amounted to an increase over 2010, the previous ‘warmest year’, of just two-hundredths of a degree – or 0.02C. The margin of error is said by scientists to be approximately 0.1C – several times as much.
As a result, GISS’s director Gavin Schmidt has now admitted Nasa thinks the likelihood that 2014 was the warmest year since 1880 is just 38 per cent. However, when asked by this newspaper whether he regretted that the news release did not mention this, he did not respond.
In other words, maybe. Or maybe not. And the misrepresentation of the data just adds to one's skepticism.
Numerous cartoonists have reacted to Islamic terrorist murder of the staff at a French publication that wrote satire, criticizing Islamic extremists. Many are summarized in the Washington Post.
My favourite captures the essence of the attacks on "Freedom of Expression".
Ok, I'm not hearing the beeps during the NLCS, so why was it there during the ALCS?
And another question: why are we not seeing the pitch-tracker (computerized graphic showing where pitches were relative to the strike zones) during the league championship series?
I'm watching baseball's ALCS on the international telecast via Sportsnet in Canada. Near the top of each half inning, there's a beep, rapidly repeated four or five times. It's not always before the first pitch; sometimes it is after one or two pitches have been thrown. Does anyone have any idea what that is about?
The old CBC business model is broken. Television viewers and radio listeners have zillions of options via cable and the internet. Viewership is down and hence so are advertising revenues. The result? The CBC essentially wants to move toward the BBC model: charge everyone a fee (i.e. another tax) to support them, regardless of whether we watch, like, or listen to what they produce.
It is time for a massive shakeup at the CBC, not a massive shakedown of consumers and taxpayers. As Terrence Corcoran says,
The business model is broken, advertisers won’t support content, government subsidies are shrinking, so let’s ding consumers directly with a no-choice option. Never mind “pick and pay” TV. The CBC wants “we pick, you pay” TV.
The CBC does little to provide national news that is not otherwise available through Global, CTV, Sun, etc. And it is expensive. We are no longer getting our money's worth.
Most supporters of the CBC are people who want other taxpayers to support a medium that the supporters won't pay for themselves. My solution: If the CBC "can't afford to be free", put it on pay channels and see what happens.
Corcoran has much more. Read the whole thing.
The Elder of Ziyon links to a report from MEMRI [the Middle East Media Reports Institute] that as soon as the cease-fire was announced in Gaza, work on deeper tunnels was begun to prepare for renewed attacks on Israel.
A recent Al-Jazeera TV report took the viewers down into new tunnels dug by the Al-Quds Brigades, the armed wing of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, after the Gaza cease-fire. "We are getting these tunnels ready for the next battle, in order to launch attacks and fire mortars and artillery. These tunnels will also have other uses, which we will not disclose," said a masked militant. The report aired on September 4.
The Elder of Ziyon concludes,
Of course, any weapons Israel creates to destroy the deep tunnels will also cause severe damage to the surrounding areas, and the world will blame Israel....
My mother sent me this necktie back in the days when I was doing baseball play-by-play:
One out, nobody on. 5 to 4 and bottom of the 5th.
Yes, I brought the tie with me to Rogers Centre Hotel, from which Ms Eclectic and I will be watching the Trono Blue Jays play the Orioles tonight and tomorrow night.
Too many members of the baseball media spout silly cliches that have been rejected by systematic empirical studies; that's why people writing in the early 90s in rec.sport.bb dubbed them "mediots". Moneyball had an impact, but the non-thinking, non-analytical folks still have far too much influence.
It would really be something if mediots all took this course [ht JH]:
Sabermetrics 101: Introduction to Baseball Analytics
About this Course
This course will cover the theory and the fundamentals of the emerging science of Sabermetrics. We will discuss the game of baseball, not through consensus or a fan’s conventional wisdom, but by searching for objective knowledge in hitting, pitching, and fielding performance. These and other areas of sabermetrics will be analyzed and better understood with current and historical baseball data.
The course also serves as applied introduction to the basics of data science, a growing field of scholarship, that requires skills in computation, statistics, and communicating results of analyses. Using baseball data, the basics of statistical regression, the R Language, and SQL will be covered.
This course has been successfully taught at the Experimental College at Tufts University since 2004. Many of its former students have gone on to careers writing about baseball and working in various MLB baseball operations and analytics departments.
Geez, I might even take it myself!
It doesn't take long on Facebook to discover examples of most of these logical fallacies. You'll have to click on the link to see it, but the map and the links are thorough.
[via JR, my favourite drug dealer]
Below is a copy-and-paste from below someone's Facebook link to an article in The Onion.
Is Facebook saying that The Scientist, Publishers Weekly, The New York Post, and The Economist are all satire, full of made-up stories? I might believe it about some of the articles in The Post ;-)
A year or so a go, I wrote about "storm porn" and chided major news outlets for trying to over-dramatize every weather event.
I admit it. I have a ghoulish curiosity about storms. So do lots of people. Storm chasers are a good example. So are all the people who watch the all-news channels during storms and boost those ratings. But I tire of reporters leaning into the wind and rain, wading in the water, and shouting the obvious extreme cliches.
The latest version of storm porn comes from the East Coast of Canada and is called "The Double Bomb" Monster Storm.
No live shots of journalists braving the "double bomb" are necessary, folks. Numbers and videos from people who live there will tell a good enough story for me.
According to my analysis, the storm deepened from 1,008 millibars to 958 millibars in exactly 24 hours, between 9 a.m. Tuesday and 9 a.m. Wednesday, Eastern time, per the high-resolution NAM model. Even more impressively, the storm’s central pressure dropped by 24 millibars in just a six-hour period between midnight and 6 a.m. Wednesday—a deepening rate four times that necessary for a “bomb.”
Such an intensification rate has rarely occurred outside of tropical cyclones and is almost unprecedented for a winter storm.
The result is meteorological eye-candy for those not in the direct path. ...
In Canada, the storm will display its full fury: Meteorologists in Nova Scotia are already comparing it to “White Juan”—an infamous blizzard that buried the Halifax area under nearly three feet of snow in February 2004.
I couldn't believe this headline.
Further, it amazes and amuses me that it is still there, at 9am EDT, both in the headline and in the url.
Update: The headline has been fixed but the URL still says "are". See the link below! ;-)