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September, 2010 Monthly archive

From ESPN

The phone number is supposed to connect callers to Feed the Children, which benefits from sales of “Ochocinco’s”. But because the box has the wrong toll-free prefix, they get a seductive-sounding woman who makes risque suggestions and then asks for a credit card number.

Cincinnati-based Kroger Co. said Thursday it was pulling all Ochocinco cereal boxes from its grocery shelves because of the error. Some local stores had them on special display after the launch about a month ago.

Tara Sands of Reading, Ohio, told WCPO-TV and the Cincinnati Enquirer that her family called the number on the box hoping to learn more about the charity.

“We don’t need anything to give our Bengals a bad name, especially Chad,” Sand told WCPO. “He’s obviously trying to do something great by doing this [for] ‘Feed The Children.’ ”

Ochocinco told WCPO that the number was clearly a mistake and he’s sure that the maker will fix the problem.

A woman who answered the phone at Pittsburgh-based PBL Sports, which specializes in such limited-edition products featuring star athletes and their favorite charities, told the Enquirer that the company is looking into the situation.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Doug Flutie was a family man.

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Nate Silver wrote a really excellent article yesterday on confidence intervals, and it really describes very well a pet issue of mine: probabilities and our brains.  Probabilities play a very large role in our decision making processes and are specifically very important when performing risk assessments, but I think, as humans, we are naturally ill-equipped to handle probabilities in a meaningful and precise way.

Nate writes:

With due respect to our reader, Skeptical Sam, I’m not sure that people’s intuitions are all that good when it comes to estimating confidence intervals. Most people probably know, almost to the minute, how long their commutes to work take them on average. But if I asked you to tell me how often your commute takes 10 minutes longer than average — something that requires some version of a confidence interval — you’d have to think about that a little bit, and you might wind up being pretty far off. Calculating the average amount you expect your family to spend on groceries in a month, likewise, is easier than estimating the risk of some catastrophic event that will cause you to go bankrupt.

[...]

Finally, there’s some evidence from behavioral economics that human beings are bad at estimating probabilities out at the tail ends of the bell curve. We’re pretty decent at telling a favorite from an underdog, but we’re not so good at telling an 8:1 underdog from an 80:1 underdog or an 8,000:1 underdog, even though those are huge differences statistically.

All of these are good reasons not to trust your gut.

This also reminds me of an excellent Radiolab episode on a similar topic: Stochasticity.

I think the only real way to combat the counter-intuitive nature of these concepts is more education, and I think there’s some very real opportunities to beef up high school math curricula when it comes to probabilities. I remember spending a very short amount of time on the subject, and it being particularly uninteresting (red and blue marbles…). I think a larger amount of time spent on particularly the larger concepts of what probabilities actually mean would make for a more informed populace.

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From ESPN

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Kassim Osgood leapt out a second-floor window to escape a gun-wielding man who attacked him and a 19-year-old woman.

According to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, the armed intruder exchanged gunfire with his ex-girlfriend, Mackenzie Rae Putnal, after putting a gun to her head on Monday night.

Police say Osgood, 30, sustained some minor bruises during the attack and while fleeing.

Coach Jack Del Rio says, “He’s fine. I’m aware of it. I really can’t comment on that whole deal. He’s doing OK.”

Police say Julian Armond Bartletto, 20, of Jacksonville, was arrested on charges of aggravated battery, false imprisonment, armed robbery, burglary and violation of an injunction. He’s being held without bond at the Duval County Jail.

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Artist: Bruno Mars
Song: Just The Way You Are

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Here’s a collection of work by a true innovator in animation. His name is David Daniels and his medium of choice is clay. Except not your everyday Aardman cartoon. He forms his materials out of clay and then CUTS THROUGH IT to reveal the flat image at the edge. It’s like animating images from an MRI. Take a look:

Check out this article at Art of the Title for a little more insight if you feel so inclined to find out more. There are videos that explain a little of his process as well.

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So this is probably the complete opposite of Brian’s post, but…

ay bay bay

This icon is supposed to represent “This site is down for maintenance”

To me, it just screams “Whatchooneedgirl…”

“There was definite…cupping” – Chandler Bing

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I think Jonathon Chait makes a really good point here:

Now, most elite Republicans understand that the red meat fed to the base isn’t exactly right. It’s useful to scare the daylights out of the activists, but writers for the Standard and the Journal editorial page understand that “freedom,” as most people understand the term, is not really at risk. They understand as well that politics is a little more complicated than “if Republicans stay true to conservatism, they cannot lose.”

But the conservative base is not in on the joke. And so Republican elites found themselves with just a few frantic days to undo the toxic and intoxicating effects of 20 months of relentless propaganda. Vote for the man who compromised with evil! The true conservative can’t always win! They couldn’t do it.

I won’t say that the Republican base strategy has been a total failure. But it is nice to see it blow up in the face of the establishment from time to time.

He’s a little more happy about this whole Christine O’Donnell scenario than I am, but I think this is important, and it reminds me of something President Obama said a while back when he visited the House Republicans at their retreat.

So all I’m saying is, we’ve got to close the gap a little bit between the rhetoric and the reality. I’m not suggesting that we’re going to agree on everything, whether it’s on health care or energy or what have you, but if the way these issues are being presented by the Republicans is that this is some wild-eyed plot to impose huge government in every aspect of our lives, what happens is you guys then don’t have a lot of room to negotiate with me.

I mean, the fact of the matter is, is that many of you, if you voted with the administration on something, are politically vulnerable in your own base, in your own party. You’ve given yourselves very little room to work in a bipartisan fashion because what you’ve been telling your constituents is, this guy is doing all kinds of crazy stuff that’s going to destroy America.

And I would just say that we have to think about tone. It’s not just on your side, by the way — it’s on our side, as well. This is part of what’s happened in our politics, where we demonize the other side so much that when it comes to actually getting things done, it becomes tough to do.

I think people generally underestimate the effect of conservative hyperbolic rhetoric.  It’s nice to sit over here on the left and think that every Republican in the Senate genuinely believes the crap coming out of Fox News, but the fact is that not all of them do.  I’m sure there are several Republicans who would love to compromise on legislation but are boxed in by this rhetoric.  And it’s not just Republicans either.  I’m sure that this also effects conservative Democrats like Ben Nelson too.

People have to realize that the vast majority of people don’t pay attention.  For those that do, a majority of them are watching Fox News, and are exposed to this hyperbole all day long, and it’s poisonous.  It stifles rational debate and fosters gridlock.

There’s a part of me that wants the Republicans to win the House so that they have to lay in the bed they made.  How can you pass a bill without compromising with the enemy?  But the other part of me knows how irresponsible the GOP can be and I can’t eliminate the possibility of utter gridlock on Capitol Hill.

One thing is for certain.  If the GOP wants to create any public policy in the near future, it will either have to tone down the rhetoric, or control the entire government.

For America’s sake, I hope it’s the former.

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One thing that I’ve learned working in a data-intensive field is that people don’t understand what you’re talking about unless you have a graph.  One good graph is worth about an hour of explanation.  This is why it always baffles me how little political media, and politicians themselves, utilize graphs as an effective means of communication, especially when talking about number-based issues, like tax rates for instance.

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So last month when I went to Kylie’s, we hung out at her husband’s brother’s house for a bit. He’s real heavy in to hardcore and metal. He was playing a lot of different stuff that I thought was worthless, but then he put on a song from “Animals as Leaders”. It’s considered Metal, technically, but it’s some of the most unbelievably beautiful and complex guitar playing and drumming I’ve heard in awhile.

I was told that the guitarist, Tosin Abasi, recorded every instrument in the “Animals as Leaders” album by himself because he couldn’t find people that could play what he was looking for. There are tons of videos of him talking about guitar theory, and he’s a genius.

The entire album is surreal, and I recommend that everyone give it a listen. I’ll throw it on Juice the Dropbox.

This is just one of my favorite songs. Some are more mellow, some are ballz-to-the-wallz. Enjoy.

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MORE METAL! : Animals as Leaders – Tempting Time

LESS METAL! : Animals as Leaders – Behaving Badly
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PAPERBOY – DITTY
Found at skreemr.org

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