Thursday, November 17, 2016

Let's Talk About Fake News

Nobody seemed too concerned about fake news back when CNN and the Clinton campaign worked together to stage a fake town hall for Hillary.

I guess #Gosnell is a fake news story as the mainstream media refused to cover it.

Who will be the arbiter of what news is real and what is fake? CNN, Brian Williams, Dateline NBC?

Facebook should hire Dan Rather as a consultant to weed out these fake news stories. Dan would know all about questionable news stories.

To me it comes across as pining for simpler times like the 1970s when News came from the big 3 TV networks, major daily papers like the New York Times, and Time/Newsweek. And that was it, that was the message. It's basically demanding Facebook, Google, YouTube etc., fall into line and join the mainstream media elite and do a better job of managing and filtering the stories, and delivering an expected narrative.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

The Peril of the Baseball Wild Card Game

I didn't even realize it until this year with the Toronto Blue Jays. Apparently baseball expanded the playoffs to five teams from four. Previously it was the three division winners and a wild card. Then it seems in 2012 the playoffs were expanded to a second wild card team, which plays the higher wild card team in a 1 game playoff.

The addition of a wild card game definitely changes the dynamics of the playoffs. There is more emphasis now on winning the division and avoiding the jeopardy of a 1 game playoff. Anything can happen in one game.

Right now the Blue Jays are in good shape having swept their division series. But they were in a lot of danger in the wild card round. They were only 1 game better than Baltimore during the season, they were 11-16 in September, and Baltimore had won 2 of 3 off Toronto in Toronto just a week before. I'd say going in this game was pretty much a toss up or maybe with home field Toronto was at best a slight favourite to win this game.

It did get me thinking about the 1, 5, and 7 game series. The wisdom is that a longer series favours the stronger team. How much of a cushion does the 5 and 7 game series provide the better team. With a couple of reasonable assumptions it's not too difficult to actually calculate it.

Suppose x is the chance that the team we are hoping for will win any given game over the other team. So x then is a real number between [0, 1].

We know then that the other team's chance to win any game in the series is (1 - x).

For a 1 game series it's easy. The chance of our team winning the series is x.

For a best 3 out of 5 it is a bit more to think about. Our team can win the series in 3, 4, or 5 games. If you notice that our team always wins the last game, then you don't really care about what happened in the earlier games, you just count how many ways to get to that point before the decisive game. We only have to determine the number of ways to win the series. In any other outcome the other team wins and we lose.

So for a 3 out of 5, the chance of our team winning the series is
f(x) = x3(6x2 -15x +10)

In a 4 out of 7, it's the same process, this time we can win in 4, 5, 6, or 7 games. In a 4 of 7, the chance our team wins is
f(x) = x4(35 - 84x + 70x2 - 20x3)

Remember x is the chance that we win any given game.

With the formulas, we can plug them into a spreadsheet and see how much if any the longer series helps the better team.

This table shows the percentage chance that our team wins the series of that length for a given x.

x 1 game 5 game 7 game
0 0.0 0.0 0.0
0.50 50.0 50.0 50.0
0.55 55.0 59.3 60.8
0.60 60.0 68.3 71.0
0.65 65.0 76.5 80.0
0.70 70.0 83.7 87.4
0.75 75.0 89.6 92.9
0.80 80.0 94.2 96.7
1 100.0 100.0 100.0

So the longer series in fact does help the stronger team and there are fewer upsets. This is especially true when the better team is 60% or more to win a given game. There are a couple of things to note about this table.

Going from a 5 to a 7 game series doesn't help the better team a whole lot. Only about 3 times more per hundred series than they would win a 5 game series. So basically when the NHL and NBA made the first round 7 games it was just greed to have more games, not to help ensure that the better team advanced.

Also we can see why baseball changed the world series from 9 games to 7. The extra games don't materially affect the "discovery" of which team is actually better.

We can quick check the equations with the known cases of x= 0, 1, ½. When x is 0 the team has no chance and f(x) is of course 0. When we plug in x=1 the team is a lock and of course wins every time and the chance to win the series is of course 100%, as they win every game.

When x is one half, then each game is a coin flip. Playing extra games doesn't change anything. The result f(x) for the 1, 5, and 7 game series is exactly 50%.


From this we can see that there are cases such as x=0, that the chances in a 5 or 7 game series is the same as a 1 game series. that is f(x) = x.

Now for f(x) = x then f(x) - x = 0. For the 3 of 5 series this is

x3(6x2 -15x +10) - x = 0

This is a quintic equation so there are 5 roots. I was wondering about the other two roots. Since we know 0, 1, and ½, we can factor them out and with not too much work determine the remaining quadratic. It comes to

x(x - 1)(x - ½)2(3x2 -3x -1) = 0

The quadratic formula can be plugged in to yield the other two roots (3 ± √21) / 6. The roots are all symmetrical about x = ½.

These other two roots are in decimal approximately -0.26 and 1.26. So real numbers, but outside the defined probability range [0, 1].

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Hillary's deplorables

So Hillary considers half of Donald Trump's supporters to be deplorables. So if 44% of Americans support Trump then basically Hillary regards 22% of Americans with contempt.

Very well, she is entitled to her opinion. One one level, at this point what difference does it make? Those 22% weren't going to vote for her, and nor will any of them vote for her in 2020. So whatever. In that sense she loses nothing by discarding them and speaking her true feelings.

Still it's disappointing. Looking across America, a great and beautiful country. And for her to feel that way about 1 in 5 Americans. A president is supposed to lead all the people, including those who voted for someone else. And she just outright discards 1 in 5. The lack of civility, and open disrespect to 22% of the citizens of that nation is not presidential.

We can only speculate who these 22% deplorables are

  • live in flyover country
  • make a living working outside, working with tools, or industrial work
  • your car is a truck
  • gun owner who enjoys hunting and fishing
  • shop at wal-mart

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Hillary's health from 3 AM to today

Remember 2008 and Hillary's 3 AM phone call ads. In those ads the phone rings at 3 AM, it's some kind of national crisis. But no worries, Hillary is there to respond. Up and alert and ready for action at 3 AM.

I also remember the informal campaign theme song. I am woman hear me roar. It seems such a long time ago now eight years. Recently I chanced to see a 2008 photo of Hillary. She was noticeably thinner and still had blonde hair then. 

Today there's no talk of roaring, late night phone calls or anything about Hillary's vigour and energy. Walking pneumonia and needing considerable assistance getting into the van. Well she is 68, and basically looks and seems 68. Hillary's moment, her pinnacle, really was hear me roar in 2008. Then somehow something happened and here we are today eight years later. This really should be Hillary's sendoff into history after completing her historic term. But instead she slogs on, spurred ahead by her vanity, ego, and oversized sense of entitlement. Remember it was not that long ago she promised she would not seek public office again?

Consider the decline in Hillary's health and vigour between 2008 and today. Then she wants to be president, a very demanding role. Now apply even 4 years of the demands of that office to the projected decline that would have happened anyway in the next 4 years. Doesn't look good or inspire confidence.

Friday, September 09, 2016

Ben Johnson former Windsor Spitfire New Jersey Devils prospect case

I noticed a couple stories go by about a pro hockey player Ben Johnson link  link being convicted of sexual assault.


The first thing I thought was, what's a 16 year old doing in a bar? I've mentioned before the drinking age is 19 for a reason. Bars are not safe places. Hard people, criminals, and smooth operators frequent them. She should not have been underage drunk in a bar, especially when she was on medication to begin with. Her sister and the others with her should have kept a better eye on her, especially around the more worldly and sophisticated big time OHA players.

Ben Johnson was convicted of a crime so he is responsible for what he did. Still these are crimes of opportunity and it's important to avoid being vulnerable and in situations where bad people can do bad things.


I was a bit surprised at the line the defence took in this case. They seem to agree that Ben Johnson and the victim were in the bathroom together and some kind of encounter occurred. But to say that it was unsuccessful oral, while offering no credible explanation for the physical evidence seems a hard case to prove.

I'd have thought if the defence was going to agree that an encounter had occurred in the bathroom, they should have just said yes we had sex in the bathroom. Then with the act out of the way, focus on whether there was consent to what they agree happened in that bathroom or not. If there wasn't consent that would mean that Ben Johnson basically followed her to the ladies bathroom without her knowing and pounced. That would have been a tougher burden and a less believable story for the prosecution to sell.

After all, name OHA hockey players are propositioned all the time in bars. Johnson would not have had to just randomly sneak up on an unsuspecting young lady when someone like Johnson would have had opportunity to "pick up" normally in a bar. So it would give credibility to a defence line that she either suggested or at least agreed to the encounter.

With the line the defence took they seemed to put the burden of proof on themselves to prove their story that came across as less believable. It also implicitly validated the prosecutions line that if there was sex in the bathroom then it was criminal. Anyway the defence knows more about the case and the facts then I do so they took the line they did. It was unsuccessful and Ben Johnson was convicted. I think Ben Johnson's chances on appeal aren't bad. The Lyle Howe conviction was overturned.


The line the Ben Johnson defense took did make me wonder a bit though, if there already is or is very close to some kind of precedent and case law about consent. Specifically this

Is it possible to consent and be too drunk to consent?

You're tipsy in a bar talking to a lady you met that evening who has also been drinking. Out of nowhere she or maybe it was you suggests you sneak into a nearby broom closet for an encounter. Both drunk, you two foolishly agree to this crazy idea and it happens. The next afternoon you have a hangover and a bit fuzzy memory but you're pretty sure it did happen. Could you be arrested by the police if the lady claims she was so extremely drunk and does not remember consenting and in fact was too drunk to consent (even if she actually did in her drunkenness, but does not remember doing)?

If so, that would seem to create a secondary requirement around consent. First is to get consent. Then to somehow verify that the consent is "valid", that the person is not excessively drunk or medicated or whatever. Looking at the Ben Johnson case I'm not sure what that could mean. Carry a pocket breathalyzer and somehow measure if a lady is actually "too drunk" to consent? Johnson was not a doctor and could hardly have known about factors such as the medicines she was taking before hitting the bar. Also in a bar a man typically would be drinking himself so is hardly qualified to determine if someone else who has given consent is actually too drunk, medicated, etc. to be capable to give valid consent.

If I get a chance I should ask a lawyer who knows about that "too drunk" consent where a person has become voluntarily drunk/high/medicated by their own actions and if there is a thing such as "invalid" consent. This is outside of say a drink being spiked unknown to the victim, that is of course invalid consent and a crime. For guys in bars, a wise rule for our times is to avoid being excessively drunk. Avoid encounters out of bars with ladies you just met who you do not know.


I know in other situations "I was too drunk. I don't remember" doesn't hold. You're still responsible. For example if you drive drunk and wrap your car around a tree you will still be convicted of drunk driving. A judge will not accept that you were too intoxicated to "agree" to drive the car, and you have no memory of driving it or the accident. Whether you remember it happening or not you are still responsible for your decisions and actions while drunk though you may regret what happened.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Submission by Michel Houellebecq

Continuing on the theme of French culture I read Submission. Another title I'd heard of here and there and had been meaning to read. After a short wait it appeared at the library. It was pretty cool of the library with Camp of the Saints. They didn't have it but special borrowed it from a university. I hadn't even asked them to to that. +1 for Halifax regional library.

Anyway Submission is modern, published in 2015. So there's Internet and all that. And lots of French culture. Delicious food, fine wine, beautiful architecture. The author Houellebecq describes the classic French culture in an inviting way. It made me want to go to France and take in the culture firsthand. oh well, perhaps someday anything is possible.

The protagonist is a mid 40s tenured literature professor in Paris. His specialty is Huysmans, a 19th century French literary figure I personally have never read and know nothing about. The professor is tellingly unmarried and childless. He has something of a love interest, Miriam, a graduate student about 20 years his junior. Miriam is Jewish and decides to leave France for Israel in the face of a rising Muslim Brotherhood. In the book Miriam professes her love for the professor, but what she loves is in her words France. The professor is, France. The literature, the cheese, the meats, the wine and brandy, the secular humanism.

The author goes on a spiritual journey of his own, learning about Islam and exploring his own post Christian identity, spending time at a monastery. I did find a really interesting passage in the book defending polygamy that made me think. The argument is science-based, natural selection. The most successful males would naturally attract more female mates who would want to settle with him, even if he has one or more wives already. If this leaves the less successful males unattached and without children then that's the market, natural selection, which is consistent with nature. It was certainly a thought provoking argument. I'd never thought of polygamy that way I must say.

It was a good book. I recommend it. I think there are more themes in this book the author is getting at that I likely missed. So that makes it interesting as well. It would be cool to discuss the book with other readers.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

The Camp of the Saints by Jean Raspail

I finished another book. I'd had Camp of the Saints on my list for some time. It was an interesting book. I'm glad I read it. I found the ending satisfying.

The book is about a group of about 1 million refugees from Calcutta who board a ramshackle flotilla of 99 boats and make their way to Europe. After a long journey they eventually land in the beautiful south of France on the Mediterranean.

At times I found it remarkable that this book was written in 1973. Considering current events and the voluntary mass migration from the Middle East and Africa into Europe. Life imitates art and a number of events in recent months have unfolded pretty similar to in this book. The author touches a number of themes including demographic decline, and the erosion from within of Western confidence.

I gained an appreciation of French culture and food from this book. It would be cool to go to France some day and experience it firsthand.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

A Disgrace to the Profession by Mark Steyn

I finished another Steyn book. Always a treat. I read A Disgrace to the Profession. It's about the infamous "hockey stick" temperature graph from Michael Mann in 1998. The graph showed constant temperature from the year 1000 to 1800, then a spectacular rise in temperature coincidental to the start of the Industrial Revolution.

The graph made the cover of the 2001 IPCC report, as well as Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth. Mann along with his graph shot to international celebrity. Today Mann hangs out with James Cameron and Jessica Alba, quite the career for a university professor.

Over the years I'd kind of heard stuff damaging to the hockey stick, especially in the climategate email scandal. Something about some Canadian researchers McIntyre and McKitrick had discredited the hockey stick.

Steyn pulls together the data around the hockey stick from scientists around the world. The book is organized into 120 chapters of about 2 pages each. Steyn lets the scientists to the talking, and what they have to say about Mann and his hockey stick is devastating. Impressive and thorough. Still despite all the science Steyn organizes it into easy, enjoyable to read chunks.

This is an excellent book and anyone interested in the full story around the earlier years of global warming (since rebranded climate change), and it's infamous hockey stick would find this an enjoyable and very enlightening read.


Ok so what of it

The thing is, it seems to hardly matter today that the hockey stick has been discredited. Mann and the hockey stick had their moment, they served a purpose at the time. Since then everyone has just moved on. It doesn't matter if the hockey stick is good science or junk science.

global warming has been renamed to climate change, and suddenly per Gavin Schmidt, nobody cares what the weather was 1000 years ago. In fact nobody cares what the weather was like 10 years ago. There's been no warming since 1998, but no matter.

The magic of "climate change" is that environment activists no longer have to rely on something that can be measured like temperature. The problem with measurements is that you may not get the numbers you want. In fact they don't have to rely on those scientists at all with their "natural variance", "confidence levels" and "uncertainties". ain't nobody got time for that.

Yellow journalism, Yellow science

During the global warming years science and activism were perceived to have become blurred. Hence the Climategate scandal and "hide the decline". When science produced the numbers and hockey stick graphs that activists, the UN/IPCC and the government bureaucracy that funded them wanted, everything was good. Anyway Ayn Rand warned about "government science" in Altas Shrugged and Climategate was pretty close to what Rand was warning about.

And so it continues. In the last Canadian federal election, shockingly, tenured scientists on the federal payroll, the "neutral" bureaucracy, shamefully came out openly campaigning against Stephen Harper and for Justin Trudeau. Right after Trudeau won the election, the scientists got their political payback, Trudeau has announced hundreds of new federal government jobs for scientists will be created. Everyone knows where Harper and Trudeau stand on climate change, so the scientists know what the expected result of their research will be. anyway nice work if you can get it.

What exactly is climate change anyway? How do we measure it? How can we possibly know if the "problem", if it exists, is getting better or getting worse. blah blah blah, the downfall of global warming is that temperature could be measured. With Golsteinism climate change, there's just perpetual crisis, indistinguishable from the course of human events or natural climate variability that were going to happen anyway.

Keeping it Going

After the hockey stick Al Gore got an Oscar and $500 million dollars. The IPCC got a Nobel Prize. Goldman Sachs can high frequency trade some carbon "market." There's so much invested in the current setup and so it has to be kept going.

In 2014 it came out in Australia a weather station was moved to a warmer place in order to produce higher recorded temperatures, and change the temperature number fed into the UN from a decline to an increase. Doing your part Australia science.

In the United States in 2015 NASA/NOAA magically changed stable temperatures into warming temperatures years after they were reported link link. You thought Mann's bristlecone pines were unreliable? So now even the modern temperature record can be altered after it was published in an Orwellian way to produce a desired political result.

Well what do you expect from The State Science Institute NASA, an agency of the federal government. Perhaps President Obama just stopped by one day, just happened to be casually holding his tire iron, and the just offand "suggested" to the head of NASA that they "review" their published temperature records from 1998 to the present to make sure the published numbers are "right".

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Tuesdays with Morrie by Mitch Albom

I finished another book recently. It was Tuesdays with Morrie: An Old Man, a Young Man, and Life's Greatest Lesson by Mitch Albom. It was okay. Not too long and easy read.

It's written by Mitch Albom, a name sportswriter and broadcaster. In the book Mitch frequently reminds us that he's a baby boomer at the peak of his career about age 40. The book is set against the backdrop of the OJ Simpson trial to date it. The writer indulges some baby boomer angst and he is comfortable speaking for his generation. It's a bit campy in parts. It sold 11 million copies.

It's a book about the final weeks of Mitch's sociology professor, a favourite from the writers time at Brandeis. Morrie Schwartz is dying of ALS and during his final months Mitch reconnects with the professor. The union is in strike and Mitch travels from Detroit to Massachusetts each Tuesday that fall to talk with Morrie about deep things like the meaning of life.

Morrie himself is a 60s university professor type. Strongly anti war. His sociology classes were more hands on. Morrie is in touch with his feelings. He enjoyed dancing before he got sick with ALS. While sick he continued to deal with the devastating illness in his 'in the moment' way. Some of it was a bit uncomfortable to read about Mitch describing how Morrie talked about his physical decline and loss of his legs and on upward march from the ALS.

The professor as well taken care of with outside help. Presumably anti wealth and consumerism, one wonders where the resources came from for the help and the house he lived in. The author alludes to sharing the royalties from the book toward the considerable costs of Morris's care at the end.

Sunday, May 08, 2016

The Great Equations by Robert Crease

I've finished another book. A Brief Guide to The Great Equations The hunt for cosmic beauty in numbers by Robert P. Crease. It's strange I just noticed that "brief guide" part now. Oh well.

It was a good book. Definitely nonfiction. There are 10 chapters, each giving a famous equation and some of the story that led to the equation, and some biography of the great thinkers and scientists who made these discoveries.

The book goes in time from Pythagoras through to the 20th century. The equations get progressively harder as the book progresses. It starts with the familiar Pythagoras theorem a2 + b2 = c2, and Newton's F = ma.

Toward the end it gets into tensors with Einstein's general relativity and second order partial derivatives with Schrödinger's equation. It loses me in the late chapters. I don't know what a tensor is in math -my bad. I haven't solved a second order differential equation in many years and it's basically lost to me. The discussions in the late chapters are also deep, going into configuration space which apparently contains i, and Hilbert space which is infinite-dimensional and that apparently "simplifies" things. oh well. I'm a layman with my limitations. I also didn't know what ontology and epistemology are. So I didn't get as much out of the book as some might have.

Throughout the book it's close to as much about philosophy as it is about physics and math. Which is a task to try to think about what the Heisenberg uncertainty principle "means" about the position and velocity of an electron, and free will or the future being already determined. I'm confident that it is not and there is true free will (though I offer no proof).

It was an interesting read. Harder than I thought it would be. It's good for the mind to try to grasp challenging concepts even if I don't grasp everything.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

No Canadian teams in the NHL playoffs this year

Well another regular season wraps up this weekend. Drama-free for the Canadian teams, none of them came close to making the playoffs and all were eliminated some time ago.

Well what to make of it? Is it a fluke or are the NHL teams from Canada systemically underperforming?

It's not difficult to calculate the random chance of no Canadian teams making the playoffs. There are 30 teams in the NHL and 7 Canada teams. 16 teams make the playoffs each year.

So there are 30C16 or 145,422,675 ways to randomly select playoff teams. There are 23 American teams so 23C16 or only 245,157 ways to select just American teams for the playoffs.

So the random chance of all 7 Canadian teams missing the playoffs is 0.001685824, or about 1 in 593.

hmmm 1 in 593. Well that's unlikely but not astronomically unlikely. So was this season really this crazy 600-to-1 longshot or is there other evidence of underperformance by the Canadian teams as a whole. There is a bit of data. If the Canadian teams as a group are underperforming then the odds of all of them missing the playoffs in a season is a lot better than 592-1.

The current 23-7 balance traces to 2011-2012, when the Winnipeg Jets became Canada's 7th team. So 5 seasons now. In a given season 16 of 30 teams get in the playoffs, so in general each team has about a 53% chance to make the playoffs. With 7 teams the expectation then would be about 3.7 Canadian teams in the playoffs each season. Over 5 seasons then we would have expected to have 18.67 Canadian playoff teams. Let's check the data.

Season Canadian Teams in NHL Playoffs
2011-2012 2
2012-2013 4
2013-2014 1
2014-2015 5
2015-2016 0
Total 12

So we can see that Canada is well below expectation. In the 4 years before this season the expectation was 15 playoff teams, so 12 of 15 is about 80% of the expected amount. Including this season we are now off by a third of where Canada should be. So it's a concern that the Canada NHL teams are systemically uncompetitive.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Moses and Joshua

I somehow didn't realize Joshua is a Jewish name. It's as Jewish as Moses. I wonder how many Joshua parents know that or have read chapters 1-11 of the book of Joshua. Oh well. Joshua succeeded Moses as leader of Israel.

Well Israel certainly got to work after the Lord stopped the Jordan river to get them across. It's impressive in it's own way, the uh, thoroughness. Everywhere they went, Jericho, Ai and beyond they put "all who breathed" to the sword. Everyone, kids, the elderly, pregnant women. It was what it was I guess.

It makes me think a bit, the people of Ai. They had their place in Israel's narrative as it turned out. Surely there were at least some good people in Ai. Maybe there's something to that. There is our own story, good things and bad things that happen, good luck and things that are hard to understand. Then there's the larger story, the tide of human events which everyone is pulled along in and influences in our own way. There is free will and people make our own decisions which causes outcomes. Still like the people of Ai we all have some place in the overall scheme.