Quotulatiousness

April 30, 2017

Minnesota Vikings 2017 draft – third day

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

After no activity on the first day of the draft, the Vikings war room did a lot of things on the second day, including two trades to move up in both the second and third rounds (drafting running back Dalvin Cook and centre Pat Elflein), and then two trades to move down in the later rounds. At the end of Friday’s trading session, these were the seven draft picks the Vikings had in hand:

  • Fourth round, No. 109 (from San Francisco)
  • Fourth round, No. 120
  • Fourth round, No. 132 (from Kansas City). Traded to Philadelphia for pick 139 in the fourth, and a seventh round pick (215th overall). The 139th pick was then traded to Kansas City for two picks in the fifth round (170th and 180th overall).
  • Sixth round, No. 199
  • Seventh round, No. 219 (from San Francisco)
  • Seventh round, No. 232
  • Seventh round, No. 245 (from Kansas City)

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Fight For Air Supremacy – Bloody April 1917 I THE GREAT WAR Special feat. Real Engineering

Filed under: Britain, Europe, Germany, History, Military — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Published on 29 Apr 2017

Check out Real Engineering and their video about WW1 airplanes: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MI08NGCgISE

Meet us and see original WW1 airplanes: http://bit.ly/TGWStowMaries

“Bloody April” was the result of two competing aviation strategies: The more defence oriented German Luftstreitkräfte and the more offensive oriented British Royal Flying Corps. The RFC needed air reconnaissance for the Battle of Arras and the Germans needed to deny them them. With the superior German Albatross D.III fighters, the German Jagdstaffeln inflicted heavy losses on the RFC.

[p-hacking] “is one of the many questionable research practices responsible for the replication crisis in the social sciences”

Filed under: Health, Media, Science — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

What happens when someone digs into the statistics of highly influential health studies and discovers oddities? We’re in the process of finding out in the case of “rockstar researcher” Brian Wansink and several of his studies under the statistical microscope:

Things began to go bad late last year when Wansink posted some advice for grad students on his blog. The post, which has subsequently been removed (although a cached copy is available), described a grad student who, on Wansink’s instruction, had delved into a data set to look for interesting results. The data came from a study that had sold people coupons for an all-you-can-eat buffet. One group had paid $4 for the coupon, and the other group had paid $8.

The hypothesis had been that people would eat more if they had paid more, but the study had not found that result. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, publishing null results like these is important — failure to do so leads to publication bias, which can lead to a skewed public record that shows (for example) three successful tests of a hypothesis but not the 18 failed ones. But instead of publishing the null result, Wansink wanted to get something more out of the data.

“When [the grad student] arrived,” Wansink wrote, “I gave her a data set of a self-funded, failed study which had null results… I said, ‘This cost us a lot of time and our own money to collect. There’s got to be something here we can salvage because it’s a cool (rich & unique) data set.’ I had three ideas for potential Plan B, C, & D directions (since Plan A had failed).”

The responses to Wansink’s blog post from other researchers were incredulous, because this kind of data analysis is considered an incredibly bad idea. As this very famous xkcd strip explains, trawling through data, running lots of statistical tests, and looking only for significant results is bound to turn up some false positives. This practice of “p-hacking” — hunting for significant p-values in statistical analyses — is one of the many questionable research practices responsible for the replication crisis in the social sciences.

H/T to Kate at Small Dead Animals for the link.

French Cleat Wall System and Lots of Boxes

Filed under: Technology, Woodworking — Tags: — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 14 Aug 2015

Subscribe for weekly projects! French cleats are a really great organization system and in this video I show how I added them to my shop to organize tools, nails, screws and my shop vac. I got to use my box joint jig as well to make 43 boxes.

Blog Post about French Cleats
http://www.darbinorvar.com/darbin-blog/2015/8/14/french-cleat-wall-system-for-organizing-everything

Table Saw Cross Cut Sled
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dnBaoRYDBLg

Variable Box Joint Jig
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t2qwQqW1d68

QotD: Famous for being famous

Filed under: Britain, Media, Quotations — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 01:00

Every country that has television, which is all of them, must have celebrities who are famous for almost nothing. The U.K. practically specializes in this. But the “almost” is important. Even the weird layer of U.K. celebrity that subsists on the old country’s old-fashioned panel and reality shows normally tends to demand that a celeb have been a member of Parliament or received a surgically enhanced bosom. If possible, both.

Colby Cosh, “On the ignominious downfall of Jared from Subway”, National Post, 2015-08-20.

April 29, 2017

Minnesota Vikings 2017 draft – second day

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

With no pick in the first round on Thursday, Minnesota fans didn’t get too excited about the draft’s first day, although lots of comment was directed at Chicago (swapping a bunch of picks to move up to second overall and selecting their quarterback of the future in Mitch Trubisky from North Carolina). On Friday, the Vikings started the evening with three picks in hand (the 16th in the second round, and the 16th and 22nd in the third).

I admit I was surprised at the Vikings’ first pick: running back Dalvin Cook, Florida State (obtained by trading with Cincinnati, swapping 2nd round picks and giving up one of their two fourth round picks).

From the fan sites, I had the distinct impression that Cook’s character and medical issues would make him an undraftable prospect for Minnesota. Clearly the team successfully disguised their interest in Cook (the two Oklahoma running backs were each strongly rumoured to be the Vikings’ target at that position). The Vikings provide this overview of Cook:

Florida State has had a slew of talented running backs over the past 30 years, but Cook was the first to break the 1,000-yard barrier in his first season with the team. The next two seasons have only gotten better, ranking in the top 10 by breaking 1,600 yards (1,691 in 2015 ranked sixth in the FBS, 1,765 in 2016 ranked fifth), scoring 19 times as a rusher, and earning first-team All-ACC accolades each year. The speedy and shifty back was also named 2016 first-team All-American by the Associated Press and Walter Camp Foundation, among others. NFL teams will be interested in his medical checks, though, because of the hamstring issues he had throughout the 2015 season and the three shoulder surgeries he’s had since high school. Cook tore his rotator cuff in high school, then tore the front part of his labrum in 2014, and the back part of the labrum in 2016. He’s also had run-ins with the law, starting in high school (robbery in 2009, charges dropped; firing and possessing a weapon on school property in 2010, charges drooped) and then again in 2015, where he was charged with misdemeanor battery outside a bar (found not guilty).

That’s quite a medical record … and rap sheet! While I’m certain that the team has taken every precaution, this seems on the surface to be an uncharacteristic risk for Rick Spielman and Mike Zimmer. Nobody appears to question Cook’s on-field skills — it’s his off-field life choices that raise the questions.

In the third round, I’m pleased to report that my mock draft at least did get this pick right: Pat Elflein, Centre, THE [dramatic pause] Ohio State University. (This was another trade-up situation, swapping picks with the New York Jets to move up nine spots and throwing in the Vikings’ fifth-round pick, 128th overall).

The Vikings’ overview of Elflein:

Elflein (pronounced ELF-line) naturally wanted to be a Buckeye after growing up in Pickerington, Ohio, a suburb of Columbus. The all-state pick (and four-year wrestler) was certainly coveted by Ohio State, as well. He didn’t get on the field much in his first two years (redshirted in 2012, reserve with one start in 2013), but then met his promise starting as a sophomore. Elflein earned the first of his three first-team All-Big Ten seasons that year, starting three times at left guard and 12 on the right side. In 2015, he received second-team Associated Press All-American status while dominating at right guard in every game. The team needed him to move to center as a senior, and his play resulted in first-team All-American recognition from various media outlets.

Rather than exercising their second pick in the third round, the Vikings traded the 22nd pick (86th overall) to the Kansas City Chiefs in exchange for KC’s third (104th overall), fourth (132nd overall), and seventh round (245th overall) picks. Then, just because it hadn’t already been confusing enough to track the Vikings’ picks, they traded the 104th pick acquired from KC to San Francisco in exchange for pick 109 and 219. If you’re following along at home, this means the Vikings’ day three picks are (pending even further wheeling and dealing on the part of “Trader” Rick Spielman):

  • Fourth round, No. 109 (from San Francisco)
  • Fourth round, No. 120
  • Fourth round, No. 132 (from Kansas City)
  • Sixth round, No. 199
  • Seventh round, No. 219 (from San Francisco)
  • Seventh round, No. 232
  • Seventh round, No. 245 (from Kansas City)

100 Days of Trump: Three Best and Worst Moments of Presidency So Far

Filed under: Liberty, Politics, USA — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Published on 28 Apr 2017

Reason presents the three worst—and the three best—achievements of President Trump’s first 100 days.
____________________________________________

Third Worst Moment: Replace and Repeal FAIL.

Along with his pledge to build a wall on the southern border and deport illegal immigrants en masse, Trump’s campaign was all about ramming through the “Repeal and Replace Obamacare Act,” which would have cut red tape, gotten rid of the individual mandate, and created a true marketplace for medical insurance. Instead, thanks to the president’s own lack of savvy and GOP dithering, it didn’t even get a proper vote in Congress.

Third Best Moment: The nomination and confirmation of Neil Gorsuch.

The nomination of an intellectually powerful and highly respected jurist to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court demonstrated that President Trump isn’t the flake that many critics figured him to be. Neil Gorsuch might not be libertarian, but he is, in the estimation of Georgetown Law’s Randy Barnett, a serious thinker who believes that government power is and should be limited.

Second Worst Moment: The Country That Bombs Together.

The one action for which President Trump has received bipartisan praise was the bombing of a Syrian government air base to protest the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime. Even opposition leaders such as Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer signed on to a starkly humanitarian intervention that served no greater purpose than rallying voters here in America.

Second Best Moment: Deregulatory appointees at the FDA, FCC, and EPA.

There’s no question that Trump has picked some terrible cabinet members—Attorney General Jeff Sessions has openly talked about ramping up the war on pot in states where it’s legal, for instance. He also defends asset-forfeiture abuse and has hinted at reviving federal porn prosecutions, too. But picks such as Ajit Pai at the Federal Communications Commission, Scott Gottlieb at the Food and Drug Administration, and Scott Pruitt at the Environmental Protection Agency are serious deregulators who are already starting to prune back regulations that accomplish little but cost taxpayers and innovators lots of time, money, and resources.

Worst Moment: Muslim Travel Ban.

The president has issued two executive decrees calling for a moratorium on travel from several majority-Muslim countries and the suspension of America’s refugee program. Both have been stayed by federal courts and it remains unclear if one will ever become the law of the land. Regardless it’s anti-American to effectively establish a religious test for travelers and migrants here—and it also undermines attempts to reach out to the vast majority of Muslims who are the primary targets of Islamic fundamentalism.

Best Moment: He’s Getting Real.

Every new president enters office thinking they can direct the course of human history via his pen or, in the case of Trump, his Twitter feed. For all his bluster and lack of self-awareness, he’s also learning that the world is more complicated than he reckoned. He’s pushed back deadines for all sorts of projects, from funding for his stupid and useless immigration wall to a timeline for tax reform, which shows that he is living in the real world at least. To the extent he realizes that his best path forward is in cutting economic regulations rather than vilifying immigrants, renegotiating trade deals, and starting new wars, he’ll not only be a better president—he’ll create a better America too.

Written by Nick Gillespie. Produced by Paul Detrick and Alexis Garcia.

“Don’t count fat; don’t fret over what kind of fat you’re getting, per se. Just go for walks and eat real food”

Filed under: Health, Science — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Earlier this week, Colby Cosh rounded up some recent re-evaluations of “settled food science”:

Their first target was the Sydney Diet Heart Study (1966-73), in which 458 middle-aged coronary patients were split into a control group and an experimental group. The latter group was fed loads of “healthy” safflower oil and safflower margarine in place of saturated fats. Even at the time it was noticed that the margarine-eaters died sooner, although their total cholesterol levels went down: the investigators sort of shrugged and wrote that heart patients “are not a good choice for testing the lipid hypothesis.” Their data, looked at now, shows that the increased mortality in the margarine group was attributable specifically to heart problems.

The team’s reanalysis of the Minnesota Coronary Experiment (1968-73) is more hair-raising. This study involved nearly 10,000 Minnesotans at old-age homes and mental hospitals. The investigators had near-complete control of the subjects’ diets, and were able to autopsy the ones who died. But much of their data, including the autopsy results, ended up misplaced or ignored. Some of it disappeared into a master’s thesis by a young statistician, now a retired older chap, who helped with the 2016 paper and is named at its head as one of the authors.

In the Minnesota study, replacement of saturated fats with corn oil led, again, to reductions in total cholesterol. This finding was touted at major conferences, and it became one of the key moments in the creation of the classic diet-heart myth. This time nobody but the guy who wrote the thesis even noticed that the patients in the corn oil group were, overall, dying a little faster. The 2016 re-analysis uncovered a dose-response relationship: the more the patients’ total cholesterol decreased, the faster they died.

The Sydney and Minnesota studies themselves may have caused a few premature deaths, which is a possibility we accept as the price of science. But the limitations and omissions of the researchers, and the premature commitment of doctors to a total-cholesterol model, helped create a suspicion of saturated fats. This flooded into frontline medical advice and the wider culture, and it put margarine on millions of tables, pushed consumers toward deadly trans fats, and put millions of people with innately high cholesterol levels through useless diet austerity. The scale of the error is numbing, unfathomable.

If Walls Could Talk The History of the Home Episode 4: The Kitchen

Filed under: Britain, History — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 2 Feb 2017

QotD: Ayn Rand’s recurring “moment”

Filed under: Books, Liberty, Quotations — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

Last week, The Guardian reported with predictable snark that Ayn Rand’s work has been added to the U.K.’s politics A-level curriculum. They note that Rand is “achingly on trend” and “having a moment.” Oh, dear. By my amateur estimation, Rand’s “moment-having” has been reoccurring every seven or eight years since the end of the Second World War, yet is always heralded with the same air of surprise and alarm.

Not that I am an unalloyed fan of the woman. Of course, like countless conceited teenagers before and after me, I was relieved to learn of Rand’s very existence, let alone her staggering success — evidence, surely, that more of “us” were not only out there, somewhere, but right.

Especially for a particular variety of female, Rand’s mannish ambition and uncompromising idealism set a rare and welcome example. Unlike Florence King, who broke her braces trying to mimic The Fountainhead’s imperious heroine, I found Rand’s thick fictions impossible to swallow.

However, I eagerly read The Virtue of Selfishness while in high school. (I want to type “of course”; Could a book title better calculated to appeal to the adolescent mind possibly be conceived, other than perhaps 101 Ways to Murder Everyone Around You and Get Away With It?)

Kathy Shaidle, “The Danger of Ayn Rand”, Taki’s Magazine, 2017-04-18.

April 28, 2017

The Battle of Doiran – Turmoil In The French Army I THE GREAT WAR Week 144

Filed under: Britain, Europe, France, History, Military, Russia — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

Published on 27 Apr 2017

The Salonica Front had been quiet over the winter, but much like the recent battles on the Western Front, it erupted this week. The British Army tried to take the Bulgarian positions at Doiran – these positions might have been some of the best defences of the entire war. After the failed Nivelle Offensive, some French soldiers start to question the whole war.

Words & Numbers: Actually, Life is Pretty Awesome

Filed under: Economics, Media, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Published on 26 Apr 2017

This week, James and Antony take a brief departure from talking about the growing national debt, and our absurd tax system to discuss the numerous ways in which more economic and personal freedom has made people wealthier, more equal, and better off all over the world. We’re actually living in pretty amazing times.

Read more:
https://fee.org/articles/actually-life-is-pretty-awesome/

The 2017 NFL draft

Filed under: Football — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

As I say every year around this time, because I don’t follow college football, it’s difficult for me to get particularly excited about this or that draft prospect for my favourite team. I see some names pop up in mock drafts by the various fan sites, and I certainly read the enthusiastic paeans to the skills of this running back or that offensive tackle. This year, there’s been a hugely popular online draft simulator at http://fanspeak.com/ontheclock/, which offers a basic (free) version that anyone can use and a premium simulation that also allows trades.

It’s actually so easy to use that I figured it was worth displaying my draft ignorance to the world in my very first mock draft:

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What is a parallel universe? | Doctor Who Special | James May Q&A | Head Squeeze

Filed under: Science, Space — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 22 Nov 2013

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the very first episode of Doctor Who James has a very special video on what exactly a parallel universe is!

Some physicists believe that in a parallel universe all of our mistakes have been corrected. Rather than taking a take away for one in a cold miserable flat, we are, in a parallel universe, living with our one true love having the best life ever. Outside our own universe, the theory goes, that there are an infinite number of other universes.

However maybe we don’t have to travel beyond our universe to find a parallel. The Schrodinger’s Cat paradox basically is that a cat in a box with a device that can kill at random exists in both alive and dead states. More info on Schrodinger’s Cat here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/google/google-doodle/10237347/Schrodingers-Cat-explained.html

Thanks to Alyssa Ann for her portrait of Jeremy Clarkson: http://alyssamenold.com/

QotD: Tenure

Filed under: Quotations, Randomness, USA — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 01:00

What about tenure? We can imagine an alternate universe where academia is populated with various PhDs on equal footing. Since there would be a glut, their salaries would be very low to start, but low salaries would mean easy employment, and colleges would find a lot of room for them to do one-on-one tutoring, or low-level research, or something like that. Eventually some of them would become a bit more prestigious in their fields and could demand higher salaries from hiring institutions, and a few superstars like Nobel Prize winners and the like could demand millions. At no point would there ever be anything called a “tenure track”. It seems like the main difference between this universe and our own is that tradition plus the reasonable desire of professors to be free from political interference has created this dichotomous variable called “tenure” and caused it to replace the continuous variable of salary as the prize for success. In favor of that theory, top professors seem weirdly underpaid compared to eg top athletes or top artists, even though I would expect having one of the world’s top scientists or historians to be a big draw for a school. According to the List Of Highest Paid Professors, only five professors in the US make more than a million dollars a year, and all of those are professors of lucrative medical subspecialties or of finance, who presumably are being paid that much to compensate them for teaching instead of participating in the high-paying professions they are otherwise qualified for.

Scott Alexander, “Non-Dual Awareness”, Slate Star Codex, 2015-07-28.

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