Saturday, January 09, 2010

How not to do statistics

Let me start by saying that i like The Painted Area blog. However, they have cooked up a stinky statistical stew that I suggest you do not eat:

We've found examining a team's rebounding margin is a quick, simple way of projecting playoff was no surprise that strong rebounding is a key component to winning titles. But we found it interesting that out of the 40 teams to make the Finals in that 20-year span between '87 to '06, only four teams had a negative rebound margin for the regular season. We also found that the +1 rpg margin threshold seems to be a strong indicator if a team can win the title....Currently (stats as of 1/6/10), the Lakers (+2), Magic (+2.6), Cavs (+3.8) and Spurs (+4.1) are in good shape in the rebound margin department.

Ok, people got that? Rebound margin = playoff success and look, the best teams this year seemingly have a good margin.

Or do they?

Well folks, the league leaders in rebounding margin (as of 1/8/10) are the Memphis Grizzlies at 5.3. Interestingly the blog does not mention them as playoff contenders, but does mention the number 2 and 3 teams in the league which are the Spurs and the the Cavs. They also do not tell you that Portland and Chicago also have rebound margins higher than the LA Lakers.

Regarding the magic +1 margin as the cut off for greatness, there are 10 teams in the Association with such a mark and 6 of them are Memphis, Portland, Chicago, Detroit, Oklahoma City, and Utah. Will any of these teams win a playoff series this year? 

The other four are indeed Spurs, Cavs, Magic, and Lakers, but this test clearly has way too many false positives.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Man! Lance Armstrong has really let himself go

Life imitates art

As previously noted, Jayson Williams appears to be a devotee of "Arrested Development", while this rascally miscreant clearly is a big "Seinfeld" fan:

UNIONTOWN, Pa. – Police say a Pennsylvania man in a hospital gown stole $50 from his ex-girlfriend at Wal-Mart, then tried to flee on a store-owned motorized shopping scooter.

Thirty-two-year-old Craig David Jr., of Smithfield, was charged Wednesday with robbery and disorderly conduct.

State police Cpl. Chuck Frey says David had just been released from a hospital for injuries in a domestic dispute Jan. 1. Frey says David had been hit with a frying pan and table leg.

David was still in a hospital gown Tuesday night when he met an ex-girlfriend who agreed to pay for his prescription medication. Instead, police say he grabbed $50 from her and scooted away.

David remained jailed Thursday. He does not have an attorney.

No word yet on whether the Playnow corporation will still honor the rest of David's contract.


Thursday, January 07, 2010

Stupidity Bowl

Wow, I am watching the BCS championship game and it's like watching a rousing game of Russian roulette!

While Alabama made two idiotic plays that led to two Texas field goals (a pathetic fake punt on the first series of the game and then the failure to field the ensuing kick-off which resulted in the worlds longest onside kick), Saban still looks like a freakin' genius compared to Mack Brown.

Brown decides to take his super-star, his indispensable man, QB Colt McCoy and have him run a sweep. 'Bama defender drills him, McCoy heads to the locker room for x-rays, and now Texas has no offense.

People, Mack Brown is a moron! 

You could go pick some dude out of any LA barbershop or Pilates studio to coach Texas and they wouldn't send McCoy plunging into the line in a million years.

I picked Texas to win this game but now, I don't think so.


***** UPDATE******

Nice time-out there right before the half too, Mack. Just what you needed, to have your deer in the headlights backup shovel a pick 6. That poor kid was crying when he came off the field.

This week's sign of the apocalypse

From Billboard: Lil Wayne to be cartoon Jesus!

I hate to break it to the Mayans, but if this actually happens we 
probably won't even make it to 2012!

Stupid Okie tricks

I wonder how many KPC readers are familiar with this quaint Oklahoma New Year's tradition:

Oklahoma City police arrested a Midwest City man early New Year's Day after his ex-girlfriend said he kicked in her door, fought with her current boyfriend and used his rear end to smash her television set.

Gives new meaning to the term "buns of steel", eh?

Hat tip to Jack Hobson and his facebook friends.


Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Not quite how I remember it

I am a fanatic for the late lamented Unicorns. "Who will cut our hair when we're gone" is a classic of the 'aughts. Some of them are now in a good but not great group called Islands, and Islands have put out an awesome video with Micheal Cera.


Smells Like Clean Spirit

The Smell of Virtue: Clean Scents Promote Reciprocity and Charity

Katie Liljenquist, Chen-Bo Zhong & Adam Galinsky, Psychological Science, forthcoming

"Two experiments demonstrated that clean scents not only motivate clean behavior, but also promote virtuous behavior by increasing the tendency to reciprocate trust and to offer charitable help...The link from cleanliness to virtuous behavior appears to be a nonconscious one: in neither experiment did participants recognize an influence of scent on their behavior, and in Experiment 2, perceived cleanliness did not differ by condition nor correlate with the effects. These findings carry important implications for environmental regulation of behavior...By demonstrating that the association between morality and cleanliness is bidirectional, the current research identifies an unobtrusive way – a clean scent – to curb exploitation and promote altruism...The current findings suggest there is some truth to the claim that cleanliness is next to godliness; clean scents summon virtue, helping reciprocity prevail over greed, and charity over apathy."

(Nod to Kevin L)

Just do it?

An interesting new NBER working paper by Aizenman and Marion (ungated version here), tries to figure out how much we will use inflation to reduce the debt to gdp ratio, which is predicted to hit 70, 80 and 100 percent in 2019 by the OMB, CBO and IMF respectively.

They argue that shorter debt maturities weigh against using inflation while increased debt holding by foreigners increases the attractiveness of using inflation and come up with a 5% inflation semi-prediction:

"When economic growth is stalled, the U.S. debt overhang may trigger an increase in inflation of about 5 percent for several years."

Go Ben, get busy.....????

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Here's an update on Jayson Williams:

He's been charged with DWI now.
He's probably going to get his bail revoked.

and, despite video and eyewitness evidence, he's still claiming that he was not the driver of his car when it crashed!


BTW, if you think you had a bad 2009, consider these other Jayson Williams facts from last year:

"His wife filed for divorce, and police used a stun gun on him in a New York hotel after a female friend said he was acting suicidal. He was charged with assault in May after allegedly punching a man in the face outside a North Carolina bar, but charges were dropped. In November, Williams' father, E.J., with whom he owned a construction business, died in South Carolina."

How to make a bad impression

Say that you are ex-NBA player Jayson Williams. Your original murder trial partly cleared you, and now you are just chillin' waiting to be retried for reckless manslaughter. 

You have some time on your hands so.... why not go out, drive drunk and crash your SUV

Sure, that's the ticket!

The funniest part of the story is that when police arrived at the scene, Williams was sitting in the passenger seat as if someone else was driving. However witnesses told the cops that he was the only one in the car the whole time. 

I guess he's a fan of Arrested Development.

Who knows, this may work out for him by making jury selection in his retrial impossible.

Lord Acton was, and is, correct

Power Increases Hypocrisy: Moralizing in Reasoning, Immorality in Behavior

Joris Lammers, Diederik Stapel & Adam Galinsky
Psychological Science, forthcoming

Abstract: Five studies explored whether power increases moral hypocrisy, a situation
characterized by imposing strict moral standards on others but practicing less strict moral behavior oneself. In Experiment 1, compared to the powerless, the powerful condemned other people's cheating, while cheating more themselves. In Experiments 2-4, the powerful were more strict in judging others' moral transgressions but more lenient in judging their own transgressions. A final study found that the effect of power on moral hypocrisy depends on its legitimacy: When power was illegitimate, the moral hypocrisy effect not only disappeared but reversed, with the illegitimate powerful becoming more strict in judging their own than others' behavior. This pattern, which might be dubbed hypercrisy, was also found among low-power participants in Experiments 3 and 4. We discuss how patterns of hypocrisy and hypercrisy among the powerful and powerless can help perpetuate social inequality.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Best dancing in a music video

I've been thinking about this for a while and I have it narrowed down to two choices:

The first is this gem for the song "Praise You" by Norman Cook (Directed by Spike Jonze):

The second is this classic by OK Go:

What do y'all think? Which is your favorite? Or suggest another contender.

Economic Competence of the Parties

An excellent reason to trust Libertarians, because our party
is NEVER in power!

Partisanship, Political Control, and Economic Assessments

Alan Gerber & Gregory Huber
American Journal of Political Science, January 2010, Pages 153-173

Abstract: Previous research shows that partisans rate the economy more favorably when
their party holds power. There are several explanations for this association, including use of different evaluative criteria, selective perception, selective exposure to information, correlations between economic experiences and partisanship, and partisan bias in survey responses. We use a panel survey around the November 2006 election to measure changes in economic expectations and behavioral intentions after an unanticipated shift in political power. Using this design, we can observe whether the association between partisanship and economic assessments holds when some leading mechanisms thought to bring it about are excluded. We find that there are large and statistically significant partisan differences in how economic assessments and behavioral intentions are revised immediately following the Democratic takeover of Congress. We conclude that this pattern of partisan response suggests partisan differences in perceptions of the economic competence of the parties, rather than alternative mechanisms.

Tattoo You

Body art, deviance, and American college students

Jerome Koch, Alden Roberts, Myrna Armstrong & Donna Owen, Social Science Journal, forthcoming

Abstract: This research examines the relationship between body art (tattoos and
piercings) and deviance. With the increasing mainstream presence of visible tattoos and piercings among entertainers, athletes, and even in corporate boardrooms, we wonder the extent to which long-time enthusiasts and collectors regard the phenomenon as encroachment. We use sub-cultural identity theory to propose that individuals with increasing evidence of body art procurement will also report higher levels of deviant behavior in order to maintain and/or increase social distance from the mainstream. We tested this proposition by surveying 1753 American college students, asking them to
report their level of body art acquisition and their history of deviance. Results indicate that respondents with four or more tattoos, seven or more body piercings, or piercings located in their nipples or genitals, were substantively and significantly more likely to report regular marijuana use, occasional use of other illegal drugs, and a history of being arrested for a crime. Less pronounced, but still significant in many cases, was an increased propensity for those with higher incidence of body art to cheat on college work, binge drink, and report having had multiple sex partners in the course of their lifetime.


Tattoo and piercing as signals of biological quality

Slawomir Koziel, Weronika Kretschmer & Boguslaw Pawlowski, Evolution and Human Behavior, forthcoming

Abstract: Tattoos and non-conventional piercings are used in many societies. There are several social reasons for which people use these forms of body decorations (e.g., marking social status or signaling membership within a subculture). However, it is interesting why only some people within a group that uses body decoration as a badge of membership decide upon such decorations. Since both tattoos and piercings can present health risks (e.g., due to blood-borne disease transmission risk), we postulate that people who decide to have such a body decoration might have relatively higher biological quality and that tattoos/piercings can be an honest signal of genetic quality. The possible opposite hypothesis is the “attractiveness increase hypothesis,” according to which people use body decorations to increase their own physical attractiveness or to hide some shortcomings in their appearance (e.g., low body symmetry). To test these hypotheses, we compared body fluctuating asymmetry, which is considered a good measure of developmental stability, between individuals wearing tattoos and/or non-conventional piercings (n=116) and a control group (without such body decorations) (n=86). We found that majority of the absolute and relative fluctuating asymmetry indices had significantly lower values in individuals
with tattoos/piercings than in the control group. This effect was strongly driven by males. Higher body symmetry of the men having tattoo or piercing indicates that this type of body decoration in the western society can be related to the honest signal of biological quality only for men. We did not find support for the “attractiveness increase hypothesis” for either sex.

This all seems rather odd to me. "Multiple sex partners over the course of a lifetime" is a sign of deviance? Maybe multiple sex partners at the same time, sure, but not over a lifetime.

And tattoos and piercings are signs of higher biological quality? But then men of higher biological quality are more to have had multiple female sex partners, if women use this signal correctly. And then it's the tatoos that cause the multiple partners, not the "deviance" that leads men to have tattoos.

(Nod to Kevin L, who has multiple tattoo partners)

Your Hugo Chavez update

As academics around the world emerge from the holiday and shuffle back to work, I know that one question is foremost in their minds: What's Hugo Chavez been up to lately?

Well here you go:

1. Chavez ordered that a Venezuelan judge, who released a prisoner that the Chavez government wouldn't put on trial or grant bail for two years, be sent to prison for 30 years. He helpfully suggested that she was lucky that he didn't have her shot.

2.  He put international automakers with plants in Venezuela on notice that they would be next on the nationalization list if they didn't start making the "right" kind of vehicles and stop worrying about profits.

3. He accused Colombia of sending drone aircraft into Venezuelan airspace as a preparation for invasion. When the Colombian defense minister said that it was probably just Santa Claus that the Venezuelans saw, Hugo didn't see the humor.

Meanwhile, Venezuela continues to deteriorate.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

TSA--Whoopsie Daisy

Oops! Sorry, man. Here's a new computer for you. (Did they lose the other one?)

As is usually the case in situations like this, the TSA hasn't admitted to doing anything wrong, and in a letter to Elliott's attorney, simply states that his subpoena is "being withdraw [sic] as no longer necessary."

(Nod to Anonyman, who also notes that it seems odd that confiscation was even an issue in a civil case, before there was a hearing.)

(UPDATE: Shawn notes, in comments, that this lady had her laptop "blown up" by Israeli TSA. And, it appears to be true. Yike!)

Development: It's a lot funnier than you might think

1. How to write about Africa. Here's a quick sample:

In your text, treat Africa as if it were one country. It is hot and dusty with rolling grasslands and huge herds of animals and tall, thin people who are starving. Or it is hot and steamy with very short people who eat primates.

2. Why your aid project won't work. For example:

Rich countries should open their markets to exports from developing countries. Therefore your aid project won’t work.

Rich countries do things which are very bad for poor countries, like erecting trade barriers, buying oil and enforcing intellectual property rights. This is unassailable proof that aid does not work.

3. Why your aid project will too work. Here's a taste:

Thousands of children die of X every day, so my project will work.
You may think my project to prevent/enhance/promote/incentivise/develop/reduce/empower X won’t work, but don’t you know that 1,000 children die of X every second (it’s a well established fact that Dambisa Moyo is now personally responsible for the death of every African child). Because so many people will die every day without our help, my project will work.