24 November 2007

Astounding Arrogance at CBS

UPDATE (5 Dec 2007): Kudos to CBS!

CBS updated their methodology webpage concerning their report on veteran suicides. I found the updated page via a post on their blog, Primary Sources.
...
Anyway, bottom line is this is an awesome response by CBS! Kudos!


VA's Back-Of-The-Envelope Calculation
We have great confidence in the accuracy of our data and how it was collected and analyzed. Look at our methodology for more information on the care we took in gathering and reporting our data.
I read the methodology posted by CBS. I watched the dramatic reporting. I've criticized it and think they should have great concern - not confidence - about the accuracy of their data, how it was collected, how it was analyzed and how CBS reported it.

I don't believe CBS has any confidence in their report and CBS demonstrates this by withholding the data and analysis from any outside peer review. I also don't believe CBS will make the data and analysis available for review, which is a shame since the data collected alone could be useful in more knowledgeable hands. [I would very much like to be proved wrong on this, CBS, if you're listening.]

I do think that structural bias, "trust me" and "fake but accurate" rules the day at CBS.

Related:
More Fun & Games With Stats
Done well, [journalism] has the potential to help us understand our world, our place in it, and how we can operate within it to achieve our personal and collective goals. Done poorly, it can hurt or kill; it can blind us to the truth and cripple our personal and collective abilities to cooperate and achieve.
Previous:
Seems right to me
Sensationalizing Suicide II
Sensationalizing Suicide

22 November 2007

Thanksgiving

I've read a couple Thanksgiving Day posts on blogs. I'm thankful for many things: my family, the people I work with, ....

I'm also thankful for many people I've never met, including some I only know by tagline online.

But this has to be one of the best Thanksgiving posts today: Final Fundraising Totals

The standings remained unchanged from the preliminary totals, with Team Army taking the prize this year (more about that, later). But most importantly, our final totals are very good:

$192,193.02!
Previous:
Valour-IT: Congrats Army Team!!

Moebius Transformations Revealed

Möbius Transformations Revealed is a short video by Douglas Arnold and Jonathan Rogness which depicts the beauty of Möbius transformations and shows how moving to a higher dimension reveals their essential unity. It was one of the winners in the 2007 Science and Visualization Challenge and was featured along with the other winning entries in the September 28, 2007 issue of journal Science. The video, which was first released on YouTube in June 2007, has been watched there by more than 375,000 viewers.


18 November 2007

Gail Pletnik, Rick Haney & Anthony Capuano

Arizona Revised Statutes

3. "Explosive" means any dynamite, nitroglycerine, black powder or other similar explosive material, including plastic explosives. Explosive does not include ammunition or ammunition components such as primers, percussion caps, smokeless powder, black powder and black powder substitutes used for hand loading purposes. [my emphasis]

4. "Firearm" means any loaded or unloaded handgun, pistol, revolver, rifle, shotgun or other weapon that will expel, is designed to expel or may readily be converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive. Firearm does not include a firearm in permanently inoperable condition.
Arizona Department of Education:
Destructive Device: A category of firearm that includes an explosive, combustible or poisonous gas. This includes bombs, grenades, mines and rockets. Any type of weapon (other than a shotgun or a shotgun shell which is generally recognized as particularly suitable for sporting purposes) which will, or which may be readily converted to expel a projectile by the action of an explosive or other propellant; and which has any barrel with a bore of more than one-half inch in diameter, and any combination of parts either designed or intended for use in converting any device into a destructive device or from which a destructive device may be readily assembled. The term “destructive device” shall not include any device which is neither designed nor redesigned for use as a weapon. (Paraphrased from: 18 USC 921) [my emphasis]
Willow Canyon High School Student Handbook
Dangerous Instruments/Explosive Devices means anything that under the circumstances in which it is used, attempted to be used, or threatened to be used, is readily capable of causing physical injury.
17-year-old disciplined for shotgun shells at school
To beat the bell, she said she took a shortcut and parked in a visitors-only lot closest to the school. The guard spotted the shells while ticketing her for parking in the non-student area....

"They searched me and they searched my car," she said.

Searchers discovered that Peters had cigarettes in the car, an offense also punishable by suspension. Though Peters technically violated three school rules, she was punished only for the shells, according to a Dysart disciplinary-incident form sent home with Peters.
Dad wants skeet-shooting daughter cleared
The father of an accomplished Willow Canyon High School skeet shooter has filed a formal complaint with the Dysart Unified School District regarding his daughter's suspension for mistakenly leaving shotgun shells in her car.

The complaint could be heard and decided at the district board level....

The complaint would likely be decided on by Dysart Superintendent Gail Pletnick, according to district policy.

If deemed necessary, the district board would be called on to make a decision within 10 days of Pletnick's review.
17-Year-Old Future Olympian Disciplined For Shotgun Shells In Vehicle
The 17-year-old Peters -- one of only 18 athletes in the nation to attend this year's Junior Olympic shooting camp in Colorado Springs, CO -- practices 12 hours a week and has won many trophies. Peters said that her hectic practice schedule and the fact that she was running late on the morning in question were to blame for her forgetting to remove the shells from her vehicle.
Capuano could have disciplined her for cigarettes and parking in the wrong lot, but the only charge was based on two unopened boxes of shotgun shells locked in her vehicle? Haney could have swapped the reason for discipline and didn't?

This isn't even close. Pletnik, expunge her record. Now!

Education administrators can be the stupidest people.

Never attribute to malice ...

Have you been following the Cambridge/Boy Scouts story?

Cambridge National Guard Unit Heads To Iraq
(Video)

Local Boy Scouts Accused of Being Too 'Pro-War'

Patterson: Scouts learn hard political lesson on Election Day

But on Election Day, Marsha Weinerman, executive director of the Election Commission, removed the boxes from all the polling stations because one woman, a poll worker who does not deserve to be named, complained it was a political statement....

It is also worth mentioning here that when this woman first complained, the election warden from this precinct along with another poll worker, called two separate officials at the Election Commission and both said the same thing: Prior permission had been granted and the boxes and flyers were staying up....

The only half-hearted excuse the executive director gave, in the end, was that any and all flyers were not allowed and needed to be 150 feet outside polling areas or needed to be taken down. Yet at the location where this woman was complaining the flyer was on a bulletin board with 75 other flyers, including ones promoting Get Out of Iraq, Campus Green, College Democrats of America,China’s New Property Law, Save the Non-Proliferation Regime and Global Warming. The only flyer the Election Commission removed was those evil Boy Scout collecting things for the troops. And when asked about this, the executive director said that was another mistake on their part and that she was personally going to remove all the other flyers right then. But at 8 p.m. when the polls closed, one of our kids checked this bulletin board and saw no other flyers were ever removed.
There has been some back and forth since, but I have some more questions.

Where was the polling station? There were 33, which one was it?

Is there a picture of the bulletin board with the "75 other flyers?" Is the bulletin board still there? What's on it now?

Was the woman a poll worker? If so, was she paid by Cambridge? Was she a public employee at the time? Why has the paid poll worker/complainer been allowed to remain anonymous?

And please, send donations to:

Boy Scouts Of America
Troop 45
Po Box 38-1241
Cambridge MA 02238

UPDATE: Cambridge City Council: We do support the troops

The council voted Monday night to allow the Scouts to place their donation boxes in city-owned buildings around the city, including all of the fire stations, the police headquarters, City Hall and the City Hall annex.

“This is going to have a really tangible impact,” City Councilor Brian Murphy said.

Seems right to me

Occasionally, I come across a blog post that's so good it feels wrong to provide snippets and all I can do is link to it and recommend reading it from start to finish.

Here's one of those posts: On PTSD, or more properly, on Coming Home.

Related:
National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

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Sensationalizing Suicide II
Sensationalizing Suicide

Dumb Debates

CNN's Las Vegas Post Debate Analysis-- A Clinton Reunion

UPDATE: Even The New York Times and Daily Kos are reporting on the imbalance in the CNN post debate analysis... Now, that's bad!

It's hard to have a bad debate performance when:

** The audience is planted in your favor
** The questions are planted in your favor
** The questioners are your supporters
** The after debate spin room includes 2 former staff members and 1 current campaign analyst
CNN's six "undecided voters" were all Democratic operatives
UPDATES BELOW - CNN hits bottom and digs: All six debate questioners appear to be Democratic Party operatives. So much for "ordinary people, undecided voters". To paraphrase Junior Soprano, CNN is so far up the DNC's hind end, Howard Dean can taste hair gel.
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Bias Hunters and Presidential Debates
Doing the same thing ... and expecting different results?