Bayesic Instinct

    Towards the late days of October, Huffpost's lead pollster started releasing polls claiming greater than 90% probability of a win, explicitly challenging Nate Silver of 538 and his "conservativism" or even manipulating the data. One commenter noted, "we'll know after Nov 8". It was all too funny and surreal, like a guy saying he knows all about carpentry and grasping the hammer head and nailing with the handle.

    No, you can't "know" anything from a single outcome, unless you predicted 100% that it wouldn't happen - that your certain hypothesis was refuted. Otherwise, you're simply left with false confidence in 1 data point - unless you bothered to research your outcome.

    As background, I'm pretty awful in probabilityand statistics - having the basics of dice permutations down, and getting the math of certain cross-correlations in dependent events, and doing enough damage in trying to model stochastic processes. But mostly I done forgot.

    But even if I hadn't, it might not matter. Just as the field of linguistics is going through a phase of rough and tumble re-evaluation after 30-40 years of certainty centered around Chomsky, probability and data analysis is getting an upgrade - perhaps not changing the science, but more how people use it as an art.

    In trying to make some sense from this awful year and a half, and draw some usable lessons from it (rather than another set of kneejerk platitudes and I-told-you-soes, I'm digging into both psychology and analytics in the new year to get some different insights - angles I wouldn't have thought of before.

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    Richard Day's picture

    THE NEW PC

    Okay, so we now have this irritant known as Political Correctness. Or PC.

    Now just to start off; Personal Computer seems good PC to me!

    But if we move on to Laptop. Well, to tell the truth, most folks have laptops with gigabytes so much more intensive than the old PC's....I mean I have a Laptop with four wires coming out of it and I never ever move it...
    .
    Anyhow, laptop does not seem so PC to me.
    Danny Cardwell's picture

    The Commerce Clause And Rising Oil Prices

    Article I - The Legislative Branch
    Section 8

    Clause 3:

    To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

    “The authority to regulate commerce includes the right to control nearly all areas of the national economy.”

    Chief Justice John Marshall 1824

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    On Knowing and Not Knowing

    In the beginning, God made us a deal - you chill, I'll do all the heavy lifting.

    Who was this God dude anyway? Didn't matter - the uncertainty was replaced by someone in charge. Our job was to do (and to enjoy), not to know, not to decide. Above our pay grade.

    And thus it continued till some damn woman stuck her nose in and said "hey, I hear there's another way".

    Another way for what? There we were, minding our own business, heading out to the fields every day....

    And then someone says, "How does it work?" OMG, zoots - how *does* it work?

    And suddenly the men are wearing suits and wielding slide rules and carrying briefcases and asking about rules.

    ("Rules?" the bad hombre says to Butch. "First thing is, there are no rules", Butch replies with a kick)

    Rules. How this, how that, what size, for how long, in what stages, what color...

    We got so good at reckoning and lugging stone, building grain pyramids, we started building to the sky - wheeee!!!

    And then it broke. No one knows exactly why, it just done broke.

    All that machinery wasted. So we went back to the fields, got ourselves a few feudal lords. And waited.

    A long time. A *really* long time.

    The Pied Pipers of the Left

    With Trump’s inauguration still weeks away, Robert Kuttner of the American Prospect is calling for progressives to begin building a public case for impeachment by “keep[ing] a running dossier [on Trump’s illegal actions] and forward[ing] updates at least weekly to the House Judiciary Committee.” Salon’s Heather “Digby” Parton is echoing Kuttner. It’s a terrible idea.

    There is no chance it will succeed. The only way to remove a president is first for a majority of the House of Representatives to vote for impeachment and next for two thirds of the Senate to vote for conviction. Given the extant evidence, neither the Republican House nor the Republican Senate will accede to the wishes of those seeking Trump’s removal.

    Summary - The Role of Money in Elections, 2016 in Particular

    When people talk about money in politics, they are usually referring to money expended on elections, but you [Peracles] show that that's just the tip of an iceberg of communications infrastructure the goes much deeper and wider below the surface. It's this infrastructure that creates the, how to put it? the group state of mind that drives many elections. Focusing on elections is focusing too late. By the time the election comes along, the battle is half over because the mental ground has long ago been prepared.

    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Your Public Domain Update for 2017

    Happy New Year all! As every year, I'm writing a blog post for Public Domain Day, listing all of the old books, movies, pieces of music, and works of art that are leaving copyright to join the public domain today. And, as every year in the United States, that list contains nothing at all. Public Domain Day is for people in other countries.

    Traits of Despotism, Republican Party and Venezuela

    I was reading about the collapse of the Venezuelan health system here, and noted almost all the comments were gloating right wing Hillary, Obama haters who had no grasp of how similar the methods of the totalitarian Chavez/Maduro government of Venezuela are to those of the GOP.  And how dissimilar they are to the actions of the 8 years of the Obama administration. Including his in rescuing this nation from the last Republican engineered US economic collapse in 2007-8. Obama's actions, which were unambiguously opposed by the GOP, the Party that brought on the 'great recession' on their watch.

    Danny Cardwell's picture

    Netanyahu: America's Favorite Thug

    There’s been so much written about any potential influence Vladimir Putin could exert over Donald Trump that the influence Benjamin Netanyahu already has over him was largely ignored. The United Nations Security Council’s decision to call the Israeli settlements illegal, coupled with the incoming Trump administration's reaction to it, has pushed those of us still engaged in the political process back to our partisan cubbyholes on all things Israel. On Fox news, this story is being sold as President Obama’s final act of hostility against Israel: there might be some screw you aimed at Israel on the president’s part, but that doesn’t negate the principles that undergird the U.S. decision to abstain from vetoing Resolution 2334. The 4th Geneva Convention is the basis for the settlements being illegal. Our past UN vetoes have only emboldened Israel to keep building on contested lands. At the end of 2014 Israel begrudgingly slowed down the construction of settlements, but overall Israel has built more settlements during the Obama administration than during the Bush years. I’ve read articles and tweets from some very smart people who saw the UN’s decision as something to celebrate, but the reality is: the daily life of the average Palestinian and Jewish person affected by this decision is likely to get worse. 

    Money in Politics

    In 1994, Richard Mellon Scaife, a billionaire heir to the Pittsburgh Mellon fortune, embarked on a new $2.4 million effort to hobble the new liberal president called "The Arkansas Project" with fake news, eventually funding the Paula Jones' lawsuit as well that led to Clinton's impeachment, along with a couple "exposé" books on him.

    Scaife did not just embark on his endeavour unwittingly - his ex-OSS (pre-CIA) father had bought a news outlet to disseminate anti-Communist and pro-conservative propaganda worldwide, but had to shut it down once made public.

    Scaife's giving of $620 million by 1999 - worth billions in today's dollars - had from the 70's already created The Heritage Foundation and helped sustain such right-wing mainstays as the Hoover Institute, the Cato Institute, the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), later on NewsMax, FreedomWorks and ALEC. The term "Think Tank" does little credit to the destructively active role these orgs have played in American political life, and Scaife's focused conservative "philanthropy" was unusual for its time, helping to launch the Gingrich "revolution" in 1994 and propped up the new neocon movement post-2000.

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    Michael Wolraich's picture

    Mr. Trump, You're No Teddy Roosevelt

    “I think Donald Trump sees himself larger than life,” said former House Speaker John Boehner recently. “He kind of reminds me of Teddy Roosevelt, another guy who saw himself larger than life.”

    As a Roosevelt scholar, I beg to differ. Theodore Roosevelt did not see himself as larger than life; he was larger than life. We don’t celebrate him because of his ego; we celebrate him because he was a hero who embodied and championed the virtues that we Americans admire: honesty, courage, compassion, and resolve.

    Read the full story at The Daily Beast

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    Danny Cardwell's picture

    Thomas Sowell Retired: Bye Felicia

    Thomas Sowell Retired: Bye Felicia


    “But, to the race hustlers, black lives don't really matter nearly as much as their chance to get publicity, power, money, votes or whatever else serves their own interests.”                                                

    Thomas Sowell

     

     

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    The Unchangeable Hopelessness of Being

    [To Terry]. Eight years ago midnight New Year's Eve, I watched fireworks flying across the remote mountains with a queasiness in my belly as the world's economies melted down and Obama prepared to assume the presidency, and I meditated and prayed for his success as only an atheist can do, feeling that if the elements could pull together in some kind of Shakespearean concoction, we'd find a way out of this madness.

    It's been a maddening 8 years with occasional somewhat neutered success. The bailout that extended the tax breaks "stimulus" madness, retaining trader bonuses, forked stimulus cash straight to banks that never got used, diverged into largely unpunished mortgage theft after the dust had settled, and as a side-show had Washington bean counters combing over Detroit business trying to understand cars only in terms of cashflow, investors (gotta give the previous owners 100 cents on the dollar), and retirement plans. The health care that'd been derived from Hillary's campaign turned into an industry-friendly mixed cocktail, only after 2 years of favors and invites to all the objectors that never quite showed up in the end. That Nebraskan Senator who helped shove the no-abortion-benefits into the package and then got voted out of office anyway - all those Blue Dogs are gone now, but Obama still played the deficit scold compromise game with the Republicans that they largely won, tying hands for greater social programs. Rahm made it clear that unions no longer had a sure place at the table.

    A Visit from St. Vlad

    'Twas the day after Christmas and all through the site
    Not a blogger was stirring, no postings in sight.
    The comments were lined by the masthead with care
    With hopes for some non-Trump discussion as fare
    While readers rolled restlessly slumped in their beds
    Damning hangover headaches that chastened their heads.
    My alias and I had just poured a nightcap,
    thinking we'd hack out some politically motivated crap.
    When out in the blogosphere there arose such a natter,
    A tweetstorm with fake news that filled it with chatter.
    Off to my Facebook I flew in a rage
    To offer my musings on each open page.

    Ramona's picture

    In the Battle for America the Internet is our War Room


    It's been a while, I know, but I'm back in the saddle, ready to do my thing, hoping I can do it without an overabundance of whining or spitting at people. (Not that that's what I've been doing.) But first I need to say this up front and out loud:

    I despise everything Donald Trump says and does and what he stands for (whatever that might be at any given moment), and I'll never accept that he is anything close to what a half-way decent president of the United States ought to be.

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    Bring on the Lepers

    I stopped by an exhibit in the station this eve, a nice large format profile of dozens of homeless and the sheltered, their stories - the guy who finds out he's adopted when he finally gets his various documents on leaving high school, the woman who manages to free herself from an abusive husband only to lose her leg to disease and get thrown out of guest work in England, another who can't manage to stay off the juice, one's a mechanic who works hard but always finds himself on the wrong end of some scam or people who don't pay the bills. They describe their day, how they survive and pass the time. I see similar folks in front of the station, handing out their magazines trying to earn a few coins of respectable money in return for their soup and sandwich. Some have started giving tours to tourists and locals, showing the city from the homeless point of view, even though one's a struggling male prostitute with AIDS, others have different impediments that make it unusual for them to mingle and present their world.

    "There are a million stories in the naked city - this has been a few of them". A few that cut through.

    acanuck's picture

    Cleric is pawn in Trump-Putin-Erdogan power game

    Lots of people will feel lots of pain once the Trump administration takes power. Perhaps the first casualty will be Fethullah Gülen, a Turkish cleric now in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania.

    A moderate Islamist leading a popular movement, Gülen was once allied with Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. They split over accusations of government corruption. Since then, Gülenism has been branded a terrorist organization, Gülen followers were accused of staging July’s failed military coup, and hundreds of thousands have been rounded up, fired or arrested. Gülen denies any involvement, but Erdogan demands he be extradited to face trial in Turkey.

    Michael Maiello's picture

    The Rage and Outrage Economy

    The Daily Beast asked me to write about the relationship between Carl Icahn and Donald Trump.  I responded with a piece about how Icahn's decades of shareholder activism are the foundation for Trump's corporation-focused Twitter rants.

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    Danny Cardwell's picture

    The Hug Heard Round America

    On December 15th 79-year-old John Franklin McGraw plead no contest to a misdemeanor charge of assault that stemmed from the well-timed forearm shiver he delivered to 26-year-old Rakeem Jones at a Trump rally in March. He was charged with a misdemeanor for a crime that had felonious intent. North Carolina state law allows such offenses to be classified as misdemeanors, so I can’t blame him, but let’s be honest: he was sentenced to unsupervised probation for committing an assault captured on video. If you're reading this and believe Rakeem Jones would have received such a lenient sentence had their roles been reversed you should do a quick Google search of this continent's history.

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