What’s With The Numbers?

From The Dispatch:

As of Sunday night, 1,486,757 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the United States (an increase of 18,961 from yesterday) and 89,562 deaths have been attributed to the virus (an increase of 808 from yesterday), according to the Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 Dashboard, leading to a mortality rate among confirmed cases of 6 percent (the true mortality rate is likely lower, but it’s impossible to determine precisely due to incomplete testing regimens). Of 11,499,203 coronavirus tests conducted in the United States (422,024 conducted since yesterday), 12.9 percent have come back positive.

I noticed last week the deaths seemed to be generally curving downwards, having dropped from 2000+ to 1100 to 700, but then curving back up towards the end of the week (an anomaly that I think must be explained by methods of counting and aggregation and when things happen more than date-of-death).

But the numbers I’m thinking about are cases of COVID-19 and some of how all this is reported.

For example, with The Dispatch we always get the mortality rate of 6% with the caveat it might be lower.

But never the “confirmed” cases percentage against population, which, as I calculate it, is 0.4%.

Or the overall fatality rate of deaths/population. Which as I calculate it would be .02%.

And that’s assuming all those deaths should be attributed to Coronavirus. As Colorado dropped a number of COVID-19 deaths from their count due to attributing mortality to other causes, there is clearly still some variation as to how Coronavirus deaths are actually assessed.

My point being, the fact that “confirmed” cases (not always the result of testing, but sometimes diagnosis by symptoms) being 0.4% seems like a relevant number, but it never seems to be put that way. Just as the overall fatality rate within the entire population being 0.02%.

The news gives us all sorts of comparisons to help people think of numbers when, saying, reporting on the national debt or a drop in the stock market or something other event or issue that involves complicated numbers. I’ve heard the national debt measured in dollar-bills around the earth or reaching to the moon or in contrast to stars in the galaxy and so on and so forth.

There doesn’t seem to be a similar urge to contextualize the coronavirus numbers. There also has been little discussion of how these numbers are achieved. Are cases all the results of tests, or assessed by symptoms, or a mix of both? Is it the same from state-to-state or country-to-country? It seems clear coronavirus deaths are not being assessed the same state-to-state.

So when we talk about surges or spikes, are we talking about real changes or maybe changes in how numbers or counted, or when data is recompiled, or something else?

From the John Hopkin’s dashboard to official state numbers, it feels to me as everything is being presented as being much more concrete and standardized and, frankly, accurate than it really is.

Just a Monday morning observation. Hope everyone is having a great (and safe) day!

The Lessons To Be Learned from This Election – 11/09/16


First, a disconsolate victory lap for the predictions I got right. I believed Trump would take Florida, and he did. I believed he could win the election, although as election night neared I decided he would not. So, I ultimately was swayed by the polls and my general sense of his awfulness as a candidate. So I was mostly wrong, but at least I foresaw the possibility that he would win.

I warned a few very cocky liberals and Democrats at the Plum Line to be careful what they wish for. During the Republican primary, they were talking about crossing party lines, even temporarily registering as Republicans to vote for Trump. They were excited about the possibility of Trump being the nominee, because he was clearly the most easily defeat-able Republican.

No small number of liberals helped Trump to win the Republican nomination. Those few cases where I interacted with them, I warned them to be careful what they wished for. So, did I call that, or what? I called it when there were still 14 Republican presidential hopefuls.

It was the same thing I said during 2008, when excited Republicans were calling into Rush Limbaugh to report how they had crossed party lines and voted for Barack Obama. Tee-hee-hee! There’s just no way Barack Obama could possibly win. Limbaugh doesn’t tend to bring up his campaign to make Barack Obama the Democratic nominee in 2008, but he did it.

Be careful what you wish for. I would always recommend folks vote for what they want, not to game the system. But people will always want to be too clever by half. Human nature.

So, that’s lesson 1 (other than always listening to me, because 60% of the time I’m right all the time): be careful what you wish for. You might get it. And then keep getting it, even though you want it to stop now.


I think lesson number 2 is the demographics isn’t destiny, at least not yet.

It might be, 8 years from now or 16 years from now or 24 years from now, but not yet. The corollary lesson is: impatience is not a virtue. Demographics looks to be the critical factor in American elections in the future, but it isn’t yet, and saying “But I want it now” like Veruca Salt doesn’t make it happen.

In fact, it might end up with your candidate being determined a bad egg and getting memory-holed by a reclusive serial child-abuser disguising himself as a chocolatier.


Lesson 3 is that polls are not worthless, just almost worthless.

In the lead up to the election, while Trump was complaining that the vote would be rigged, there was some interesting discussing on the Plum Line about how elections weren’t rigged, but Republicans only won when they rigged elections.

The primary example given was 2004, where exit polls predicted a clear Kerry victory, but somehow George W. Bush stole the election. Although an incumbent president who replaced a president of the opposite party almost always wins re-election. But never mind, it was stolen, because the exit polls said Kerry won. Kerry did, briefly, mull a challenge to the results based on those exit polls.

But the problem wasn’t that Bush stole the election, the problem was that the exit polling was bad. This time, almost all the polling was off. The polls captured growing momentum as election night neared, but in no way captured the scale of Trump’s electoral victory.

Another way to restate this lesson: don’t trust the polls.


Lesson 4 is a lesson for both parties and political sides, but I think it’s particularly applicable to the Democrats and liberals in this cycle: name calling is fine, if it’s your opponent or common enemies of the people. It’s bad when it’s potential voters.

Making everyone who disagrees with you into a hopeless racist sexist bigot homophobe beyond redemption is a losing strategy. And will continue to do so, until demographics finally do become destiny. Until then, insisting there is no reason not to call a spade a spade, and you will, in principle, stand tall and strong and call everyone who doesn’t agree with you a Nazi, is not a winning strategy.

There is a deeper dive into the risks of playing identity politics that could and should be had, but that’s a future lesson.

Insulting the voters also applies to the Republicans, of course, but I think it’s pretty clear who had the lower opinion of rural folks, flyover country, and middle-town America in this election. Not to mention what Democrats apparently think of folks south of the Mason-Dixon line.


Lesson 5 is mostly for the Democrats: when playing identity politics, stick with race, not gender. An important part of identity politics ultimately has to be that the candidate reflects the identity of the class of people you want to vote for you. Ergo, Obama was a successful candidate in terms of identity politics. He got African-Americans to turn out and vote Democrat in unprecedented numbers and, importantly, vote for him specifically.

Hillary was unable to do that with women, and I’m not sure any woman could. Could Sarah Palin? Carly Fiorina? I don’t think so. Not every potential grouping of humanity is susceptible to identity politics-style appeals. Whichever woman finally does become president, in other words, it’s not going to be because she is a woman and “it’s time”.


Lesson 5? Money doesn’t buy electoral victories.

This will be lost on most of the left, I expect, but it’s simply true. Demonstrated repeatedly. Donald Trump didn’t spend as much as Clinton. His supporters didn’t spend as much on him as Romney’s did on their candidate. The PACs weren’t as flush with cash. Jeb! Bush had far more money, and spent far more money, in the primaries than Trump, and went nowhere. Meddlesome billionaires poured cash into the election, and not just in ads, but into support networks and astroturfing and on and on. The result? Rich jerk who occasionally said positive things about the working class, and actually would do a little fighting for them, sort of, won the election. Oligarchs who plowed money into the election like their lives depended on it lost.

As corollary, I would say another lesson, to be learned or ignored, is this: in a democracy, the elites and oligarchs ignore the proletariat and the common man at their peril.


Lesson 6? Presidential debates just aren’t that important.

Might be becoming less important as time goes on. Neither performed that well but Trump was generally seen as the loser. My own observations were that he did not come off as presidential, and sometimes not even as competent. He missed obvious opportunities, was not articulate, and mostly HRC more than held her own against him. Ultimately, none of that seemed to matter that much.

Predictions now?

  1. Hillary will not go to jail, despite Trump’s implying that she’d be in jail under a Trump presidency.
  2. There will be more turn over in the Trump cabinet than is typical. This may not be a bad thing.
  3. Deportation will become self-deportation, perhaps a beefing up of e-Verify.
  4. There will be no wall.
  5. He will urge the house to repeal ObamaCare. It will become something similar with a different name. I don’t believe pre-existing condition coverage will be going anywhere. Now that the Republicans control everything, Obamacare will cease to be a huge issue.
  6. Many on the left will rend their garments and tear out their hair, predicting that abortion will be outlawed, all Mexicans forcibly deported, Muslims shot on site at airports, etc. None of this will happen, but nobody will be called out on their crazy predictions.
  7. Democrats will continue to make a serious push for an end to the electoral college, especially if they get the house or the senate in midterms, but will make no headway.
  8. The filibuster, if used much, will get the nuclear option. For reals, this time.
  9. And, my far out prediction? Trump puts some fairly well-known Democrats in his cabinet, and maybe plays identity politics (minorities edition) with some of his choices.
  10. And, along with that, keep in mind that Trump is less partisan than he is Trumptastic. He will continue to make enemies amongst Republicans and Democrats. It won’t matter, he’ll still win re-election in another close race in 2020.

Afternoon Report – 9/1/16


R2-D2 is joining the Dark Side for Rogue One. Not really, but it sure looks like a black R2-D2.

It’s good to be the King. Or an ex-king. Apparently, money allotted by the Former President’s Act (a program created largely after the time when a president’ dying in penury was actually a potential problem) has been used to pay salaries and benefits to Clinton aides.

But even as the Clintons got rich and grew their foundation into a $2 billion organization credited with major victories in the fights against childhood obesity and AIDS — while paying six-figure salaries to top aides — Bill Clinton continued drawing more cash from the Former President’s Act than any other ex-president, according to a POLITICO analysis. The analysis also found that Clinton’s representatives, between 2001, when the Clintons left the White House, and the end of this year, had requested allocations under the Act totaling $16 million. That’s more than any of the other living former presidents — Jimmy Carter, George H. W. Bush and George W. Bush — requested during that span.

Well, isn’t that special?

Mel Brook’s “It’s Good to be the King Rap” ended up with Mel Brooks being the first white artist to land a rap song on the R&B charts.

Life gets a little more like cautionary science fiction every day: Scientist’s Using Light to Reprogram Brains.

French police make woman wearing too many clothes take some off at the beach. Well, that’s one way to belatedly deal with their immigration policies. Probably not the best one.

Trump went to Mexico. Not exactly Nixon in China, but, you know, it happened.

I want to unload my dad’s house. Anybody got any warnings or useful info regarding HomeVestors and We Buy Ugly Houses?

The UK is working on how to extract itself from the EU (or maybe not), but as to how it’s going to extract itself from the caliphate is another story entirely.

An oldy-but-a-goody: Tear gas in parliament. An average day of politics in Kosovo.

So what’s up with you?

Scott Adam’s is a Fascist 6-8-16

Today, Amanda Marcotte published an article in Salon maintaining that Dilbert has Gone Fascist.

As an interesting aside, I discovered this when I was typing in the words “scott adams” into my search bar to get to Scott Adams blog. Google and/or Apple is apparently heavily invested in making sure that everybody who wants to go to Scott Adam’s blog gets a chance to read Amanda Marcotte’s wisdom on Dilbert’s/Scott Adams’ embrace of racism.


Anyway, onto Marcotte:

In the real world, Trump has off-the-charts unfavorability ratings, but in the world of Scott Adams, Trump is  a svengali of politics, headed for a landslide in November, due to the enormous persuasive power of racist cracks and non sequitur ramblings. If you read enough of Adams’s blog, it becomes quickly apparent that the only reason Adams thinks this is because he himself is persuaded to vote for Trump. And, like his fellow narcissistic Donald Trump, Adams mistakes his views for the majority.

I think this is a legitimate objection to Scott Adams’ insistence that Trump will win by a landslide in November. Specifically, what I have not seen Adams address is the difficulty of persuading entrenched opposition. Persuasion and branding are powerful things, but their effects are also often semi-permanent to permanent. Once successfully persuaded to buy fully into something from a car brand to a computer ecosystem to an ideology, it’s very difficult to brand and persuade someone out of it.

If you’ve been buying Apple Macintosh computers for years, your next one is likely to be an Apple Macintosh, and no amount of compelling persuasion techniques by Lenovo or Intel or Microsoft is going to change that. No matter how good. This is why Trump’s powerful persuasion techniques identified by Adams’ are unlikely to result in a landslide for Trump in November. This is not a competition between two brand new products in an entirely new category. There is already a lot of baked-in brand loyalty, and a good advertising campaign may move the needle, but the shift will not be seismic.

However, things like this are awesome:

Despite claiming not to support anyone, Adams has largely handed his blog over to defending Trump from his critics.

He doesn’t really do a lot of defending Trump from his critics. He’s asserting that Trump’s dispensing of facts and logic in favor of persuasion techniques, intentional or accidental, is superior to what anybody else is doing in the campaign, and that certainly proved to be true as far as the Republican primary went.

Trump makes a blatantly racist remark about Judge Gonzalo Curiel being “Mexican” and therefore, in Trump’s opinion, unable to render an impartial verdict in the Trump U case? Adams says that Trump critics must therefore be saying Curiel is a “robot” because “100% of humans are biased about just about everything.”

She includes a link to the original blog post which makes it pretty clear Adams is writing a satirical piece on the absurdity of identity politics and the concept of impartiality (in his opinion), and analyzing Trump’s strategy from his perspective on the art of persuasion:

Curiel looks human on the outside, and he has passed as human for decades. But Cooper made it clear in his interviews yesterday that while science understands that 100% of humans are biased about just about everything, this robot judge is not susceptible to being influenced by his life experiences. It sounds deeply implausible, but no one on CNN challenged Cooper’s implication that Judge Curiel is the only bias-free entity in the universe. Ergo, he must be a robot.

Anyway, lots of folks on Twitter are asking me why Trump would accuse the robot judge of being “Mexican” when that is obviously a racist thing to say. Did Trump make a huge mistake, or is it some sort of clever persuasion thing?

Clearly, Adams is defending both racism and fascism. It is not possible to reach any other conclusion.

The nut of Adams argument (as with pretty much all his Trump posts) and basically untouched on by Marcotte, who tries to use her own lame skills at persuasion to convince us that Adams only wants to slavishly defend Trump and was only using the above blog post to assert that Trump critics were saying the judge, Curiel, is actually a robot (literal, much?) … and, where was I? Oh, yes, the nut of Adams argument regarding Trump and Curiel:

1. Trump wins in court, in which case, Trump wins.

2. Trump loses in court, in which case, Trump says Democrats rigged the system to give him an unfair trial. We’re already primed to believe it.

From a legal perspective, race is not a reason to remove a judge. I haven’t heard anyone argue otherwise. But from a persuasion perspective, Trump is setting the stage for whatever is to come. So yes, it is smart, albeit offensive.

Not quoted by Marcotte, of course, presumably to avoid her readers being offended by reading what Adams actually said, instead of her skewed interpretation of it.

Adams writes a whole blog post sneering at the very idea that one is capable of predicting a person’s future behavior on their past record.

Except, of course, Adams is demonstrably correct in his actual assertion. Also, there are no quotes, of course, because things like this would erode her primary assertion:

So, how did President Obama do on the job? Was he a good president?

If you have an answer in your head – either yes or no – it proves you don’t know how to make decisions. No judgement can be made about Obama’s performance because there is nothing to which it can be compared. No one else in a parallel universe was president at the same time, doing different things and getting different results.

I’m not a fan of everything our president has done, but I feel as if historians will rank him as one of our best presidents. Definitely in the top 20%.

Wait, what? Am I crazy?

Many of you think Obama nearly destroyed civilization. You and I can’t both be right. But both of us can be irrational in trusting our opinions. We are literally comparing Obama’s actual performance to imagined alternatives that exist only in our minds. Maybe you think the imaginary president in your mind is way better than the real one, whereas I think the real one did well compared to my imaginary alternative.

That isn’t thinking. Science is pretty clear on that.

Marcotte never mentions that this Trump-infatuated sycophant thinks Obama will be ranked in the top 20% of US Presidents. Hmmm.

I will not dive into the plenitude of evidence that people are horrible at prediction, and wildly overestimate their own ability to predict the future, their own future behavior, and the future behavior of others beyond the simplest degrees of complexity.

Back to Marcotte:

Now Adams has a real doozy of post, where he pretends to endorse Clinton, but of course it’s a cover story for his real endorsement: Trump. In the post, Adams literally accuses Clinton of trying to get Trump killed because, “once you define Trump as Hitler, you also give citizens moral permission to kill him.”

I understand that when people lampoon our sacred cows, we don’t find the humor funny. However, I am prone to believe that Marcotte doesn’t understand that part of what Scott Adams is doing is parody. I find it also ironic (and interesting un-self-aware) that Marcotte does not seem to associate that post as using an inversion of the same logic Trump’s critics do when they blame him for violence at his rallies.

Obviously, this is not a Clinton endorsement. The purpose of this is to try to convince people that Clinton is some kind of dangerous fascist demagogue who will send her brownshirts into the street to force people into compliance with violence. This opinion, of course, has nothing to do with the real life Clinton and everything to do with Adams’s fantasy version of her.

I’m not sure she understands satire. Or irony. There has been a constant and ongoing comparison of Trump to Hitler and his supporters to brownshirts for the more hyperbolic elements of the left and the Democrats. Did Marcotte miss that?

It’s a fantasy version of Clinton that is quite obviously a direct result of Adams’s own bizarre hang-ups about women. Adams has a long history of being obsessed with the idea that women have grown too powerful and they are pushing hapless men around in our new feminist dystopia.

Oh, well. Of course she missed it. When you are a hammer, I suppose everything looks like a nail.

For instance, there is the classic post where he argued that ours is a “female-dominated” society, because, in what he clearly believes is a grave injustice, “access to sex is strictly controlled by the woman.” They are allowed to turn you down even if you pay for dinner first. And you ladies think you have it bad just because you get paid less, are far likelier to be raped, and have to endure politicians trying to force childbirth on you against your will.

Some of that she’s just making up. An important part of that post that Adams’ perhaps should have emphasized is this:

Now compare our matriarchy (that we pretend is a patriarchy) with the situation in DAESH-held territory. That’s what a male-dominated society looks like. It isn’t pretty. The top-ranked men have multiple wives and the low-ranked men either have no access to women, or they have sex with captured slaves.

He’s arguing that a real patriarchy looks like ISIS or the Taliban or Saudi Arabia. Yet she asserts that Adams is suggesting the fact that America isn’t run by the Taliban is a “grave injustice”.

About another post, in which Adams suggest there’s really no middle ground in the war between the sexes, either men or women will win (and he seems, to me, to think it’s sad that men can’t win, but it’s better for humanity that women do) , Marcotte writes:

 He concludes that the only solution to this problem is to “come up with a drug that keeps men chemically castrated” and eliminate all copulation, because clearly, in his mind, the only way men can express themselves sexually is by abusing women.

Always comes to the same thing with feminists. Men and women having sex = abusing women.

I gotta say, she needs to work on her persuasion skills.

Misunderestimating Donald Trump 5/27/16

I feel like Donald Trump has a good chance of winning the Whitehouse for two major reasons: his populism (a novel campaign strategy in this day and age), and the Democrats’ and the left’s lack of understanding as to what his appeal actually is (arguably, this is why his Republican opponents in the primaries lost, as well).

From the Plum Line this morning:

Donald Trump just made an extremely important promise. It’s one of his worst yet.

Believe it or not, Donald Trump has now made a very important policy statement. Introducing what he billed as an “energy plan,” Trump promised to “cancel the Paris Climate Plan.” Unlike so much of what comes from Trump on policy, this is a genuinely clarifying moment, with potentially enormous long-term implications.

Of course, Greg Sargent thinks this is an awful idea, one that dooms any hope Donald had of being president, if in no small part because it means Bernie and Hillary will totally definitely team up to stop Trump now, and that’s all it will take: Bernie and Hillary teaming up. The part where cancelling the Paris Climate Accords actually appeals to a lot of people, and increasing domestic energy production appeals to even more . . . that doesn’t seem to enter into it.

I think that’s just wrong. And the more the Democrats allow themselves to be painted as (or paint themselves as) the side where “it’s sad domestic energy production is losing all those jobs, but, eh, what can you do?” versus Trump’s promise of increasing domestic energy sector jobs and production (never mind the specifics, it’s magic!), the more I think they are mistaking what makes the difference between victory and defeat in November.

I also think it’s interesting that, for Greg Sargent, the significant thing about Trump’s “energy plan” (so-called) is how it will impact the Hillary/Sanders dustup. That’s the take away. Not that Trump’s own dismissal of climate change as an apocalyptic inevitability might actual appeal to Independents or swing-voters, not to mention his promise of supporting domestic energy production.

I don’t think Anthropogenic Climate Change is a big winner for the Democrats. Independents and Republicans can be peeled away by lots of things, such as talk of jobs (green energy jobs!) or ending of perpetual military engagement or promises of financial benefits to the middle class, but I think the prioritization of Climate Change as the Most Important Thing Ever is not the political talisman many seem to think it is. And Donald saying he’s going to pull America out of the Paris Climate Accords (pretty much just posturing bullhockey anyway, good for politicians to preen over and little else) is not going to send shockwaves and fear and disgust through the American electorate.

And it’s just one way they seem to be misunderestimating The Donald.

Planning for Old Age

Anybody have advice/experiences to share in regards to an elderly parent losing their ability to function, yet being entirely uncooperative about doing anything about it?

Right now, we’re struggling to get my dad to the doctor. He doesn’t want to go. We’re trying to get his house to be a little friendlier to his inability to move around, and trying to convince him to put bills on autopay so there’s nothing to forget, and the power won’t get cut off. Again, not very cooperative.

He’s got two dogs he never lets out, and he cleans up after them some if they go to the bathroom in the living room but two of the back rooms were a mess, and we’re going to have the carpets replaced (that in itself will be a challenge . . . his house is very dirty, and crammed with crap). My sister will be putting pee pads down in one of them (already is, and will presumably continue to do so after the carpet is replaced) and is now checking on him daily. He really needs to be in some sort of nursing home, but he is adamant about not having that, and I’m fairly confident all that will accomplish is to kill him quicker. And right now, he’d have to cooperate on that. And he won’t.

My Uncle Don had him doing the accounting for his building company for about 30 years, and now needs information for taxes, and my dad is being uncooperative there as well (and likely does not know where it all is). He has about sixty or seventy baskets in the house (in desk baskets) spread all over the house, filled with all the paperwork from the last few years. Nothing particularly organized. He grows very hostile if someone tries to start going through it, however. Ultimately, I guess that battle will be up to me. Not looking forward to it.

Looking around for an Eldercare lawyer to consult that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg. Also trying to get my ducks in a row as to what sorts of contacts we’ll need. In addition to getting the carpets replaced we just found out he needs a working tub, so we’re likely to replace one of his tubs with a walk-in shower or walk-in tub. Additionally, he could clearly use some strategically placed grab bars. And he definitely needs someone to come in and radically reduce the clutter in the house, but is stubborn about it.

My father at least had the foresight to put my sister’s name on one of his bank accounts, so there’s some access to money (I think the idea was to have money to cover funeral and other related expenses, though, not to provide assisted care, but there should be enough money to cover some of the fixes that have to be made to his house, among other things). But nothing else is planned for. So, good lord, do your children a favor and assume there may come a point where they need a lot of help taking care of you, but you’ll be hostile to letting them, and provide for it. I could do with a list of accounts and bills and necessary numbers and whatnot right now.

My mother, fortunately, is younger, in much better shape, and has planned her estate out to the nth degree. So, I’m likely only going to have to go through this once but still—sheesh, what a pain in the ass.

At some point soon, I need to do a little planning to try and make things easier if I kick off unexpectedly. List of bills and accounts and URLs where I pay them and logins and passwords, that sort of thing. Or I’m going to end up like my dad.

So the lesson is: get your kids set up to take care of your before you start getting dementia!

Any wisdom would be appreciated. Thanks!

Not The Morning Update

Why, exactly, is climate not weather?

Today, on the day Paul Krugman tells us that a bunch of politicians getting together and posing for photographs and brunching excessively has saved the planet, I feel motivated to ask this question:

What do people mean when they tell us, repeatedly, that climate is not weather? Or if you wonder how we’re predicting the climate and its effects 100 years from now, when we can’t reliably predict the weather 12 hours from now, and sometimes cannot accurately predict the weather as it’s happening, why does someone shake their head sadly about what a moron you are and explains: weather and climate are not the same thing, you sad, mentally-limited man-child.

I mean, why is the answer to the observation that we are not good at predicting the future for complex systems even in the near term essentially: “Well, the stock market is not the same thing as a large river with many tributaries”. I am aware that a watermelon is not a football, but if I want to say something about the shape of the football, the watermelon might still have some relevance. Just saying: “a watermelon is not a football” does not suddenly make a watermelon a trapezoid.

The official explanation is that climate is simple while weather is complex. Which, summarized thusly, seems an absurd statement. What they actually say, in their own words:

Weather is chaotic, making prediction difficult. However, climate takes a long term view, averaging weather out over time. This removes the chaotic element, enabling climate models to successfully predict future climate change.

… isn’t much better. There is very little evidence that climate models are able to successfully predict future climate change. And I find it interesting that a site that calls itself “skeptical science” blithely asserts that the climate models are predicting the future without the most basic evidence—the actual prediction of the future.

Also, you cannot reduce the complexity of a million or a billion inputs by averaging. Again, where are the skeptics (not to mention the mathematicians) at Skeptical Science? The assertion that climate can be accurately predicted (because averaging!) while the weather 12 hours from now, much less 3 days from now, cannot reminds me of that cartoon. You know the one.


I would also observe that every time there is a severe or unusual weather event, climate suddenly becomes the cause for the weather. Which, to me, begs the question why we cannot use our infinitely accurate climate models to start predicting the weather. Wait, I know! Because we’ve tried it, and it turns out those predictions were wrong, too.

I have come to the not unreasonable conclusion that climate ≠ weather in the context of anthropogenic climate change because we have ample, daily evidence that the behaviors of a complex system cannot be predicted with any degree of accuracy. The predictions of climate change are always far in the future, and evidence of inaccuracy of such predictions so far in the past they can be dismissed, or the data massaged. Harder the argue that, yes, it was sunny yesterday, even though the leaves are still wet from all the rain.

Tangentially related, even mainstream, largely liberal news organs like Time and Newsweek had to observe that the Paris talks were far less about climate or “saving the planet” than they were about making money, creating markets, and allocating capital.

Off the mainstream, WND says the same thing with more chutzpah.

Finally, How Climate Change Deniers Sound to Normal People:


Because anybody who doesn’t agree with me ideologically is abnormal. And sounds like an idiot to all the normal people. Conform, you abberants! Conform!

Apple Makes Racism Worse

Tell me again how WaPo is a right wing media organ?

Washington Post’s coverage of the new “controversy” regarding Apple’s update of available emojis updated the venerable set of default emojis to include people of color, so it is no longer the exclusionary sea of beige and yellow it was before.

Of course, it didn’t take long for it to become a problem, as now racists were able to use ethnic emojis in sharing their racist nonsense online. The correct take on this, is, of course: what did you expect? People are idiots. WaPo’s editorial take, however, is more nuanced:

Apple on Thursday introduced its new racially diverse emoji, allowing users to cycle through various shades of white and brown to customize their emoji’s skin colors.  Some rejoiced, with choruses of “We made it” flanked by newly black praise-hand emoji filling Instagram and Twitter. Some even professed to cry tears of joy over this sign of racial inclusion. But already, Apple’s well-intentioned gesture to human diversity has taken a turn for the worse. The emoji are being used to make racist comments on social media and insert questions of race in texts and tweets where it may never have arisen before. Instead of correcting its mistake — excluding people of color from emoji — Apple has, in some ways, made the situation worse.

Catch that? Apple has made things worse. This is Apple’s fault. Not the nutburgers and trolls using the new emojis in racist way, but Apple, for somehow not preventing it.

In trying to advocate for racial inclusivity in its iOS 8.3 update, Apple has allowed for further racial segregation with these new emoji. Because I’m black, should I now feel compelled to use the “appropriate” brown-skinned nail-painting emoji? Why would I use the white one? Now in simple text messages and tweets, I have to identify myself racially.

See what Apple has done! It’s forcing minorities to identify themselves racially in text messages. Apple did this. Not all the people who have been complaining it was racist that there weren’t ethnically-correct emojis. Apple.

The author goes on to suggest that Apple should have made the emojis even more ethnically identifiable, somehow, not just white emojis with a paint job. Yet I can think of no way to add additional ethnic identifiers to emojis and have that go over better. And it would certainly be used be racists to, you know, be racist.

… there’s nothing specifically “black” about an emoji with browner skin. Deepening the skin color of a previously white emoji doesn’t make the emoji not white. It’s just a bastardized emoji blackface. The blond-haired emoji man and the blue-eyed emoji princess are clearly white, but you can slip them into a darker-colored skin. These new figures aren’t emoji of color; they’re just white emoji wearing masks.

And, finally, the author blames Apple for the Political Correctness run amok:

 The company should’ve never made race a question, making the emojis raceless with yellow faces and leaving it at that.

Because Apple made it an issue. Cuz, you know. Capitalism. Or something.

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (The Special Edition)

Surely, you’ve seen the new trailer for the new Star Wars movie. A little bland, sure, but fortunately George Lucas is already hard at work at improving it with his own Special Edition:

Now, that’s going to be awesome!

Monogamy Is For Losers

Christopher Ryan explains why sexual monogamy is unnatural and we shouldn’t judge the polyamorous:

Relatedly, the second installment of Freakonomics on “Why Get Married?” is online:


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