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Lies, Damn Lies, and Data Mining

In the wild (i.e., when we're not talking about contrived examples), data mining involves significant amounts of statistics. There are two common quotes that come to mind when talking about statistics:

There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics. (Popularized by Mark Twain/Samuel Clemens, who attributed it to Benjamin Disraeli, but with uncertain provenance.)


The old saying is that “figures will not lie,” but a new saying is “liars will figure.” It is our duty, as practical statisticians, to prevent the liar from figuring; in other words, to prevent him from perverting the truth, in the interest of some theory he wishes to establish. (Carroll D. Wright, a prominent statistician employed by the U.S. government in 1889)

If money were speech

I was thinking some about the equivalence that has been made in the Supreme Court between money and speech. What if money actually were speech? What would that mean?

Tom Udall for Vice President?

OK, to start with, this is meant partly tongue-in-cheek. But… only partly.

As you may recall, in 2008 there was some name calling within the Democratic party as to whether you were a racist (if you were a Clinton supporter) or you were a sexist (if you were an Obama supporter). Obviously, I'm hand-waving quite egregiously, but I trust that everyone remembers what I'm referring to, even if I am being a bit glib about it.

Desperation Recipes

Sometimes, good, novel recipes are borne out of desperation. I had that happen to me recently when I found myself with only one egg and needed to make a two egg omelet. In lieu of the other egg, I substituted Greek yogurt (which I had on hand).

The recipe is as follows:

2011 Elections, part deux

I don't really have much to add to my previous post on the 2011 elections TOMORROW, but since it is TOMORROW, I wanted to throw this back up on the front burner to help remind people that they need to vote TOMORROW.

My question for today is, will you vote tomorrow, and if not, why not?

I'm attempting to add this as a poll:

2011 Elections

Next Tuesday is the second Tuesday in November, and so for many of us (most of us?) this means that there are local and/or state elections to think about. These are the types of elections that those supporting the various Occupy movements should approve of: typically little money is invested in campaigning and politicians who are frequently known by their supporters or at least only one or two degrees separated.

Outrage and Inner Peace

A friend of mine once said to me:

There's a fine line between contentment and complacency.

Now, my friend's point was meant as an argument against being complacent, but I happen to think it cuts both ways. It's been decades since I was a teenager, and over that time I've worked more and more on establishing inner peace, and as a result I am a more peaceful man.

Am I too peaceful? Maybe so.

Space hotels

As some of you know, I love science, and I care about the environment. Sometimes, these two interests are in conflict, as in the case of space hotels. Alas, my romantic side wants the space hotels to win, and any time my environmental, logical side speaks up about how much fuel will be required for such ventures, my romantic side punches him in the face and steals his lunch money.

Parties and salamanders

I've recently stumbled onto the YouTube site of an unsung genius. He also has a web-site with much of the same content, only with text added.

There's a lot of great content there, but to get you started, I want to highlight these three bits:

First Past the Post

The Alternative Vote



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