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Digits in Netflix’s Connected Series

I found Latif Nasser’s  exposition on Benford’s (also known as the Newcomb-Benford) Law in the Digits episode of his Connected Netflix series a fascinating exploration of the topic. Yes, it’s about the non-intuitive, nonrandom frequency distribution of leading digits in many real-world numerical datasets, but trust me, Latif makes it kinda fun and interesting.

2020-08-24T12:54:42-05:00August 24th, 2020|HomeRecommended|

Trump and the GOP

I think Adam Jentleson has it right ( What if Trumpism Is the G.O.P.’s Natural State? ) when he concludes that Republicanism is no longer (if it ever was) ideologically aligned with classic conservatism; rather, it now comprises a base aligned with reactionary, authoritarian, nescient, sectarian/racist and non-compromising attitudes that are unlikely to change even if Trump is defeated in November. And Charlie Warzel has it right again. 

2020-08-24T12:27:37-05:00August 18th, 2020|Home, Musings|

His Latest Assault on Democracy

The Washington Post has a story on how Trump’s now just come out and admitted it – he’s attempting to starve the US Postal Service in order to prevent mail in voting. They quote (and have video from his interview on Fox) him as follows: “Now, they need that money in order to make the post office work, so it can take all of these millions and millions of ballots..Now, if we don’t make a deal, that means they don’t get the money. That means they can’t have universal mail-in voting, they just can’t have it.”

2020-08-13T16:25:42-05:00August 13th, 2020|Home, Musings|

Uber and Its Labor Force

I had a chuckle when I read this, from John Gruber’s Daring Fireball, re. Uber’s threat to halt service in Cali if the state reclassifies its drivers as employees: Noah Smith: “Whatever you think of the employee/contractor issue, it seems clear that if Uber can’t survive except by classifying drivers as contractors, it was never as valuable of a business as people thought.”
These two things can both be true:
1) Uber saw how terrible traditional U.S. taxi services were, and created a much better alternative that people love to use, entirely based on the key insight that ubiquitous smartphones could and should change the game. Hailing, mapping, location tracking, payment, driver/passenger rating — all of it enabled via phones.
2) The idea that this business model was worth tens or even hundreds of billions of dollars was based almost entirely on exploiting a gray area in labor law, and thus the company’s workers.
3) The founder was an enormous jackass.

OK, that’s three, but they’re still all true.

2020-08-13T16:16:18-05:00August 13th, 2020|Home, Musings|

Fighting the Urge to Rush Headlong…

• Alas, more complicated than simple town v. gown politics would suggest, the unfortunate – albeit somewhat understandable – urge to treat desperately ill COVID patients with unproven therapies has resulted in significant delays in understanding which therapies actually work and under what conditions they might do so. It’s done this by in many cases making it very difficult to recruit adequate numbers of patients to randomized, blinded, prospective controlled studies that should have given us more answers by now. (Headlong rushes to preprint publication haven’t helped.) This NYT article by Susan Dominus is illustrative: The Covid Drug Wars that Pitted Doctor vs. Doctor

2020-08-13T16:10:09-05:00August 5th, 2020|Home, Musings|
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