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Category: General

This Is Why Fred Hiatt Guarantees Everyone Two Fainting Couches

[ 50 ] April 10, 2014 |

Shorter Ruth Marcus: I guess I support the Paycheck Fairness Protection Act, but I’m much more upset about how Democrats aren’t supporting it in the right way.

It’s also worth nothing that the oft-cited 77% figure is only misleading if you assume that women have an equal opportunity to get the same jobs on the same terms as men, an assumption which is (to put it mildly) implausible.

Much more from Monica Potts.

How do you make a white person become conservative?

[ 248 ] April 10, 2014 |

Tell them about a future in which their people are in the minority

…which is exactly what the GOP has been doing for years. It almost makes you think they might believe in science.


Technology Will Save Us

[ 97 ] April 10, 2014 |

Since a cow isn’t an animal but an industrial product, I’m sure these plans will be totally successful and we will be able to continue on our ecologically destructive diet.

The Obama administration’s launch last month of a plan to curb methane emissions has given fresh relevance to climate-friendly technologies for cattle that range from dietary supplements and DNA gut tests to strap-on gas tanks.

Juan Tricarico, director of the Cow of the Future project at the Innovation Center for US Dairy, an Illinois research institute, said the initiative had boosted his quest to create the “star athlete” of the bovine world.

C-Lock, a South Dakota company, sells a feeding station that gives animals dietary supplements such as basil to cut methane production and measures the content of their breath by pulling it towards trace gas sensors with a vacuum.

Patrick Zimmerman, C-Lock’s founder, says prices start at $45,000 but stresses the economic benefits of improved efficiency. “Of the energy the animals eat, 3 to 15 per cent is lost as methane and that’s a waste,” he says.

At Argentina’s National Institute of Agricultural Technology, scientists have created backpacks that collect gas via tubes plugged into cows’ stomachs. A typical animal emits 250-300 litres of methane a day and researchers say this could be used to power a car or a refrigerator for a day, but Jorge Antonio Hilbert of the institute says the tanks’ use on a large scale is “totally improbable”.

Jonathan Gelbard of the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental group, says: “Anyone who can come up with a cost-effective way to harness that methane is going to make a lot of money.”

Ilmi Granoff of the Overseas Development Institute said an alternative to controlling cattle emissions would be to cut the number of cows.

“Forget coal, Forget cars. The fastest way to address climate change would be to dramatically reduce the amount of meat people eat,” he said. “But that involves cultural preferences and they are difficult to touch.”

Where’s the pitchforks and torches! Someone needs to get that traitor Ilmi Granoff for suggesting something so crazy. He must be a food Luddite to suggest that we can’t engineer our way out of these problems!!

Shaving and Masculinity in the Gilded Age

[ 25 ] April 10, 2014 |

Good stuff here on shaving and masculinity in Gilded Age Britain. In an era when shaving could be a real health risk, crazy beards made sense. The situation, both in its gendered and public health facets, is quite similar in the U.S. and in fact the advertisements shown in the linked post were also seen in the United States and in fact are in primary source readers for U.S. history survey courses.

Trailer Park Boy

[ 30 ] April 10, 2014 |

Via our own Origami Isopod…

So, I guess I don’t get what’s going in Canada these days. Have Canadians decided that the position of mayor of Toronto is purely symbolic or is there something else going on? This isn’t Japan, so I assume the office hasn’t secretly been automated and the city is now being run by a sexy robot. Unless Toronto’s idea of a sexy robot is Rob Ford, in which case MAJOR FAIL, TORONTO.

Is Henry Aaron the Real HR King?

[ 100 ] April 9, 2014 |

I join the opinion of Justice Marchman. I also love this comment:

Bonds’ 762

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should have an asterisk beside it, and that asterisk should reference a note at the very bottom of the list, and that note should read “762 is greater than 755″.

…and as commenters note, Craggs and Posnanski are also excellent.

Dead Horses in American History (XI)

[ 22 ] April 9, 2014 |


Pile of horse and human bones, the aftermath of

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the Battle of Little Bighorn, 1876.

Data is Not Objective

[ 132 ] April 9, 2014 |

This takedown of a FiveThirtyEight article on Venezuela is pretty complete and damning. Once again, data is in no way “objective” and Silver’s belief that it is has lead to some pretty bad articles at the new site.

Jim DeMint on How Slavery Ended

[ 327 ] April 9, 2014 |

Obviously I need to change the way I teach my Civil War course. Since Jim DeMint has the ear of God, we know his view of history is also correct.

DeMint: This progressive, the whole idea of being progressive is to progress away from those ideas that made this country great. What we’re trying to conserve as conservative are those things that work. They work today, they work for young people, they work for minorities and we can change this country and change its course very quickly if we just remember what works.

Newcombe: What if somebody, let’s say you’re talking with a liberal person and they were to turn around and say, ‘that Founding Fathers thing worked out really well, look at that Civil War we had eighty years later.’

DeMint: Well the reason that the slaves were eventually freed was the Constitution, it was like the conscience of the American people. Unfortunately there were some court decisions like Dred Scott and others that defined some people as property, but the Constitution kept calling us back to ‘all men are created equal and we have inalienable rights’ in the minds of God. But a lot of the move to free the slaves came from the people, it did not come from the federal government. It came from a growing movement among the people, particularly people of faith, that this was wrong. People like Wilberforce who persisted for years because of his faith and because of his love for people. So no liberal is going to win a debate that big government freed the slaves. In fact, it was Abraham Lincoln, the very first Republican, who took this on as a cause and a lot of it was based on a love in his heart that comes from God.

This is funny on so many levels but my favorite part of this “interpretation” that the federal government didn’t free the slaves is that in fact not only is this wrong, but doing so led to the largest expansion of the federal government in the nation’s history to that time.

Dumb upon Dumb

[ 84 ] April 9, 2014 |

Sadly today, as you have probably heard, a high school kid went ballistic with a knife in a Pennsylvania high school. Gun nuts are joyous–guns don’t kill people, people kill people!

Oh yeah, except that this kid didn’t actually kill anyone (at time of writing, word is everyone will survive) whereas he might well have killed dozens with a gun.

Of course, only a gun nut would celebrate school stabbings.

Hank Aaron likens Breitbart’s John Nolte to Klansman in a tailored suit

[ 93 ] April 9, 2014 |



I’m not sure what I find more amusing:

  1. Aaron’s actual statement, in which he likens the GOP to the KKK in “neckties and a starched shirt” instead of a “hood,” or
  2. John Nolte’s stuttered tweets about Aaron’s statement, all of which whine the same thing in the same words.

The comments at the Breitbart article — linked to in Nolte’s tweets, as I’d rather not directly provide him with any traffic — are priceless. There’s something about old white men saying that the black man who called them racist “needs to learn his place” just warms the cockles of my soul.

The Leafs Collapse And Hockey Analytics

[ 84 ] April 9, 2014 |

Happy Leafs Elimination Day! This year’s edition is especially entertaining, and of interest beyond NHL fans, because it represents another disaster for old-school media troofers who, as part of their identity, feel it necessary to attack even the most obvious insights derived from analytic methods.

Sean McIndoe’s Grantland piece at the beginning of the season did an excellent job laying it out. The core of the contemporary analytic view of hockey is an insight similar to Voros McCracken’s transformative insight about pitching. McCracken, and those that applied his findings, found that a pitcher’s strikeout rates and HR rates were better predictors of his ERA going forward than ERA itself, because what happens to balls in play is mostly beyond a pitcher’s control (essentially, it’s a combination of luck and defense.) Similarly, in hockey analysts found that a teams ability to maintain the possession of the puck predicts goal differential better than goal differential itself. In part, this is because shooting percentage isn’t really a skill, but is a combination of luck and goaltending. If you keep getting outshot when the game is on the line, unless you have Dominik Hasek in his prime or something you’re likely to lose in the long run.

One thing worth emphasizing is that the statistics that analysts use as a proxy for possession aren’t complicated or esoteric. Fenwick looks at unblocked shots for and against; Corsi includes blocked shots. The differentials, however, are most meaningful even strength when the games are close. When you see someone discuss a team’s Fenwick or Corsi close” this reflects the fact that the stats are only meaningful if you eliminate the garbage time. because when the game isn’t close it affects the shot patterns. (Just as, when analyzing football, you can’t put a lot of weight on yards gained by an offense in the fourth quarter of a blowout; it’s in the interest of the defense to trade yardage for time, so accumulating yards doesn’t prove much about your ability.)

The Leafs were a key test case because they made the playoffs last year (and made it to Game 7 of the first round) but were a terrible possession team. (I’ll present it ordered by Fenwick close because it was developed by a Flames fan, but as you can see the difference between the two are marginal.) The verdict of the analysts was clear: if the Leafs didn’t make actual improvements they were going to regress substantially. Adding to fuel to the controversy is that 1)the Leafs organization is as notably hostile to analytics as their media sycophants, and 2)this was reflected in their widely-mocked offseason moves.

For much of the year, there was a lot of crowing from the Murray Chass equivalents in hockey, since the Leafs seemed safely in a playoff spot. And this wasn’t because they actually improved. Their Fenwick close is 29th in the league: Worse than the disastrously rebuilding Oilers, substantially worse than the Flames, a poor organization in year one of a rebuild. Worse than everyone but a Sabres team with a historically bad offense. Their Corsi is also 29th. Did this prove analytics wrong? Nope — the Leafs’ success, such as it was, was built on exceptional goaltending and luck in the skills competition that the NHL idiotically uses to award points in regular season games. Their massive collapse at the end of the year, taking them all the way out of the playoffs, is what happens when the luck runs out.

So remember this when you hear that the Avalanche – a young team in the playoffs ahead of schedule despite terrible possession numbers — are defying the NERDS because of Patrick Roy’s coaching wizardry or whatever. Either they’ll actually improve, or the odds are overwhelming that they’ll be picking in the lottery again. But I, for one, hope the Leafs never change…

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