36 Chambers – The Legendary Journeys: Execution to the max!

August 29, 2014

100% of the people reading this post are reading this post (and other lies about statistics)

Filed under: Economics, Schooled!, Science!, Specific Stupidity, Technology — Tony Demchak @ 5:10 pm

A friend recently shared an article about the Ice Bucket Challenge that claimed only 27% of the money raised is going towards research. Here’s the article. 

Here’s the headline: 

ICE BUCKET CHALLENGE: ALS FOUNDATION ADMITS LESS THAN 27% OF DONATIONS FUND RESEARCH & CURES

$95 Million Later: Only 27% Of Donations Actually Help ‘Research The Cure’

I was pretty angry. The tone of the article is really awful too, slamming the ALS foundation for these heinous crimes. Yet, there’s some additional facts tucked away in a pie chart that give the lie to the headline. 19% of the funds raised go to patient and community outreach; a viable use of funding, don’t you think? 32%, the largest chunk of the funding, goes to public education. How dare they spend the money trying to make people aware of the disease and its effects! That’s what Wikipedia and webMD are for! Oh, and the $95 million figure they quote isn’t what they actually break down in the chart either — it’s only the expenses for the year ending January 31, 2014.

Given that pie chart, in fact, 79% of the donations go directly to aiding sufferers of the disease or increasing awareness; that’s pretty good. The foundation is rated very highly by Charity Navigator too. 

The salary for the CEO is pretty insane — $300k+ is nuts for a non-profit. However, it’s only a tiny slice of the total pie, and not nearly as bad as scaremongers would have you believe. If we, in the United States, don’t want to use tax dollars to contribute to health care, funding of organizations like this one is a great way to contribute. 

August 28, 2014

Josh Gordon is better than an air traffic controller

Filed under: Science!, Specific Stupidity, Sports — Tony Demchak @ 3:46 pm

I’m not surprised that Josh Gordon’s 1 year suspension was upheld. Here’s what I did find surprising, courtesy of Dawgs by Nature:

ESPN’s Outside the Lines first broke the story of the impending suspension on the second day of the NFL Draft back in early May.

 

Later report near the end of July revealed that Gordon had tested positive for marijuana, but that the level of THC metabolites were 16 nanograms per millimeter (barely over 16.01 parts per billion) in one of his samples and above the league’s absurdly low threshold of 15 ng/ml to consist of a “positive.”

 

That threshold is higher than any other major sport, including the very strict IOC, which stands at 175 ng/ml. Even air traffic controllers can have a level up to 50.

 

However, due to what effectively equates to a coin flip, the NFL’s standard testing procedure is to randomly select one of the two samples provided by the player. The first one is tested and if it comes up positive, above the threshold, the second sample is tested merely for the presence of the same banned substance, without regards to the threshold. If the first sample comes up negative, below the threshold, the second sample isn’t tested.

 

Gordon’s first 16 ng/ml sample sparked a test of his second sample. The second one came up 13.6 ng/ml. Based on this procedure, it confirmed what the league considers a “positive.” And the rest is history.

Well, it’s good to know he’ll be able to find a job directing air traffic while he’s suspended. A much less stressful job than catching footballs, apparently. 

May 31, 2014

Josh Gordon is a professional grade moron

Filed under: Specific Stupidity, Sports — Tony Demchak @ 3:54 am

I begin my day, as always, by going to Facebook. A friend comments that Josh Gordon has done something stupid again. I sigh and look it up. There are two problems with this scenario.

1) Dude, you’re trying to appeal a suspension for using marijuana. How about, I don’t know, putting down the marijuana for a while? I get that THC is addictive, but it’s considerably less so than caffeine or alcohol or nicotine or any of a dozen other drugs.

2) There are many, many places in the US where going 15 miles an hour over the speed limit will not get you a ticket. Northeastern Ohio is not one of them. Even doing 10 over is pushing it. I know that the highway speed limits are stupid. I was young once, and fancy free, and earned myself a speeding ticket or two doing much what you did. However, I was not (and am not, sadly) a phenomenal athlete who could become a millionaire. I was a dude driving a Buick or Ford Focus (depending on the occasion in question).

So, if for some reason you’re reading this blog, Josh Gordon, find a cave somewhere. A cave where there is no marijuana. A fully modern cave, with an awesome TV, broadband, video games aplenty, all the food you can eat — I’m not a monster — but no marijuana. Live in this cave, and do not come out until the appeal is reviewed. Then, go back into the cave, and stay there for the rest of your NFL career. At least, the portion of it that involves the Browns.

Failing that, give me the cave. I kind of want to live there now. There’s broadband and TV!

May 28, 2014

Stratfor: Disband the CIA and NSA, it’s all the intelligence gathering you’ll ever need!

Filed under: (In)Security, Specific Stupidity — Tony Demchak @ 2:01 pm

A friend pointed this out to me on another website. We have this brilliant tagline:

Best-selling author George Friedman founded Stratfor in 1996 to bring customers an incisive new approach to examining world affairs. Under his direction, Stratfor taps into a worldwide network of contacts and mines vast amounts of open-source information. Analysts then interpret the information by looking through the objective lens of geopolitics to determine how developments affect different regions, industries and markets.

So, they Google stuff on the internet and watch CNN. And calling geopolitics “objective” is hilarious.

Their vision:

Stratfor’s vision is to be the foremost provider of predictive geopolitical-based intelligence services.

Stratfor’s core philosophy is that transformative geopolitical events are neither random nor unpredictable. Building on nearly 20 years of experience as the world’s premier geopolitical intelligence firm, Stratfor develops constraint-based narratives for key trends around the globe — placing today’s events in context and forecasting tomorrow’s new developments well before they appear in the headlines.

This reminds me of this Dilbert comic. Wally has a ponytail because he’s discovered it makes people give him venture capital. Ah, 1999.

The core philosophy is bold, I’ll give them that. I love the idea of “constraint-based narratives,” which makes me think of unconstrained narratives. “We predict that giant robot whales will develop nuclear technology, but we think Aquaman will try to calm them down, until he realizes whales are mammals and not fish. ESPECIALLY robot whales, who are clearly robot mammals.”

Of the three experts they champion, the one thing they all have in common is that they’ve sold a lot of books. That means they’re good at convincing people to believe their bullshit, which is not the worst qualification for running a geopolitical intelligence firm, you have to admit.

You can check out their methodology, which successfully proves that they have at least one graphic artist. Oh, one of the award winning reports they author?

The very first sentence is complete horseshit.

Like nearly all of the peoples of North and South America, most Americans are not originally from the territory that became the United States.

Since you’re using “are” — indicating present tense — I would argue the exact opposite: most people who are Americans did come from the United States since, you know, no matter how bad illegal immigration is, it has yet to reach over 50%. Even if you include legal immigrants, it’s still way less than 50%. According to the Brookings Institution, it’s actually less than 20% (although it is not clear whether or not this figure includes illegal immigrants, they link to a paper I could read if I cared to break it down.)

It takes a special kind of stupidity to achieve almost complete incoherence one sentence into a flagship paper. One more insane sentence, which leads off the second paragraph:

The American geography is an impressive one.

“One?” One of what? Are you trying to say, “The American geography is an impressive geography?” Because that’s moronic. “Geography” — specifically, the science of studying the earth, or physical location on the earth of some natural feature — cannot be impressive. Would you call the “Grand Canyon an impressive geography of America?” No. You could say “the Grand Canyon is an impressive feature of American geography.” But geography, in and of itself, cannot be impressive. I’m theoretically paying damn good money for your nonsensical advice. Try to make it coherent nonsensical advice!

Oh, and a free tip (the next one is $100,000): nothing is inevitable, in a historical sense. Only Marxists think that. Wait a minute… you aren’t a big Commie, are you, Stratfor?

February 6, 2014

Spoiler alert: Ken Ham is an idiot, not delicious

Filed under: Specific Stupidity — Tony Demchak @ 7:55 am

I’ve been looking for a transcript of the Nye/Ham debate, but it isn’t available. (C’mon internet — HK-47 and Bastila flash fiction, but no transcript of this debate?) Here’s the next best thing.

Ken Ham is either an epic troll or the most stupid individual of whom I have ever heard. Here’s his entire argument, in one sentence: the Bible is true because it was written by people who were actually there.

What.

The.

Fuck.

Creationists, couldn’t you find somebody who at least knew the book he was supposed to using as his evidence? Especially when he says that the “most true” part of the Bible is Genesis. You know, the story of creation. Was written by somebody who was actually there. Of course, that would be a hell of a trick, since WRITING HADN’T BEEN INVENTED YET.

Unless, of course, you are suggesting that Gob himself wrote the Bible. In which case, Gob is a moron because he writes a bunch of contradictory stuff. You lose either way, Ken Ham.

A slight digression, but a worthwhile one: the Bible is not a primary source. We don’t even know who wrote most of it (spoiler alert: not Gob). Historians have to use the Bible as a primary source in an ancient history for a very good reason: nobody else thought the early Israelites were worth writing about. (I’m not saying they were right, you understand, but it’s true.) This is like using a German or English source for the history of Luxembourg in World War II; there are no 15 volume studies of Luxembourg in World War II. I don’t even know if there’s a one volume study of Luxembourg in World War II.  For the record, here is a one sentence history of Luxembourg in World War II. The Nazis were coming, they shit their pants, and surrendered without a fight. They were 100% right to do this.

Some of the stuff in the Bible is backed up by other sources. Some of it isn’t. Some of it isn’t even backed up by other parts of the Bible. The literary effect on the modern world is profound, and there are some good messages in there. There’s also a lot of nonsense. It’s important to know the difference. If you understand and accept that difference and continue to believe in whatever flavor of religion you do, more power to you. I think you’re wrong, but we’ll agree to disagree. If you do not understand and accept that difference, you’re either incredibly naive, a moron, or a fraud.

Purely from a historical standpoint, the Bible is slightly more reliable than certain parts of Herodotus. The parts with giant ants, for instance, or where he insisted the Persian army had 100 million soldiers in it or something. I think Herodotus asked a couple of guys, drunk on resina, “how many guys were there in that fight?”, and they responded, “like, millions, man. MILLIONS.” Herodotus thought “seems legit” and it becomes history. This is why any time somebody calls Herodotus the father of history I want to punch them in the face. Maybe him too, but he’s dead, so some of the challenge is gone.

 

 

February 3, 2014

Hey Hoynsie: you’re an idiot

Filed under: Specific Stupidity, Sports — Tony Demchak @ 9:50 am

Paul Hoynes, beat writer for the Plain Dealer, has a regular mailbag feature called “Hey Hoynsie”, in which he answers fan mail. I approve of said concept. He mostly has good information and is usually coherent. Then there’s this gem:

Hey, Hoynsie: In a recent column, you said that you think Jack Morris is a Hall of Famer considering his 254 wins. Some people would argue that wins by a starter are a meaningless stat. So many variables that are outside of his control go into recording a win (i.e. run support, fielding, relievers in some situations). Given that I think we should stop paying attention to wins by pitchers. What is your position? -– Joseph Tablack, Youngstown.

Hey, Joseph: Wins are still the most important stat in baseball and a starting pitcher who is a consistent winner is still one of the most important players on a team. Just ask his manager. Jack Morris did that for the entire decade of the 1980s. That’s why he’s a Hall of Famer in my mind.

I call Hoynes an idiot here because he completely evaded the substance of Joseph’s question. Joseph wasn’t saying “wins are meaningless”. He said “we should stop paying attention to wins by pitchers.” You know, since they’re slightly more useful than RBI. Was Jack Morris a durable innings eater who played on some very fine teams? Yes, absolutely. The “winningest pitcher of the 1980s?” Only if you cherry pick. Quick: in the entire 1980s, how many times was Jack Morris in the top ten in wins? 6. That’s not very good.

Hoynesie, get rid of the Morris fetish. It serves nobody.

January 7, 2014

Ken Gurnick: So stupid, it’s actually beautiful

Filed under: Beautiful and Sublime, Specific Stupidity, Sports — Tony Demchak @ 2:28 pm

MLB.com shared its ballots today, and a number of them have Bonds and Clemens on there, which makes me happy. Then, of course, there’s Ken Gurnick. Here is his ballot.

KEN GURNICK, Dodgers beat reporter
Morris

Morris has flaws — a 3.90 ERA, for example. But he gets my vote for more than a decade of ace performance that included three 20-win seasons, Cy Young Award votes in seven seasons and Most Valuable Player Award votes in five. As for those who played during the period of PED use, I won’t vote for any of them.

That’s not a highlight of his ballot — he literally only voted for Jack Morris. Take a moment to reflect on the stupidity. Then, Rob Neyer counterattacked. The salient points is (with more profanity, because Rob Neyer is nicer than I am): “Hey, fuckwad, Jack Morris pitched during the PED era. You make Murray Chass look like a goddamned Bill James fan.” Neyer’s “correction” was hilarious and to the point:

Morris has flaws — a 3.90 ERA, for example. But he gets my vote for winning a lot of games and pitching one really big game, even though I know the rules say you’re not supposed to elect a guy because of one really big game. As for those who played most of their careers while I was actually sort of paying attention to steroids, I won’t vote for any of them. Or Alan Trammell, because I just don’t understand that he was a great player.

Don’t worry, guys — only one more day before the HOF ballots are done, I can write my last piece about it, and we can forget about until next year.

 

January 2, 2014

Latest enemy: Murray Chass

Filed under: Enemies, Specific Stupidity, Sports — Tony Demchak @ 5:26 pm

Murray Chass has, for a long time, been an old coot. However, then I saw this from Deadspin.

I’ll emphasize what Deadspin emphasize, because it’s fucking sick.

Finally, an announcement that will disappoint Neyer, Calcaterra and the reader who, like those two bloggers, said they were delighted that this was the last time I would be voting for the Hall of Fame. Sorry, guys I never made it definite.

I said “barring a change in my thinking,” this could be my last vote. My thinking has changed, and all of you critics can blame yourselves. How could I relinquish my vote knowing how much it annoys you? I plan to vote a year from now even if I just send in a blank ballot. You would love that.

This makes me sick to my stomach. I mean, instead of making this argument what it should be — who deserves to be recognized amongst baseball’s all-time greats — you’re going to fuck over everyone so you can troll Rob Neyer. Can we please kick this pompous asshole out of the BBWAA?

 

December 31, 2013

I leave the Internet for one stinkin’ day…

Filed under: Specific Stupidity, Sports — Tony Demchak @ 5:34 am

We begin our story, Sunday, with a defeat of the Browns by Pittsburgh. Bothersome, but not surprising. Pittsburgh was playing for the playoffs — the Browns were playing for nothing. Or were they? (Spoiler alert: They were.) Am I saying that if they beat Pittsburgh, Chud doesn’t get fired? Yes. Yes I am. But, this level of stupidity deserves more analysis. Here’s Terry Pluto.

I do know that Chud looked pretty good when he had a respectable quarterback in Brian Hoyer.

That’s right, Internet — you just saw “respectable quarterback” and “Brian Hoyer” in the same sentence. CLEVELAND! Terry Pluto, quite rightly, says this is a matter of the front office not knowing what it wanted. I still think they don’t know what they want, but at least they are categorically convinced it isn’t Chud. Maybe. However, this is the Browns. There can’t be just the one reason (the front office fucked up). What do you have to say, Tony Grossi?

The coaches became unsatisfied with the front office’s response to holes in the roster. For example, management wanted to blend in more younger players and expected the coaches to get them up to speed. When the toll of additional injuries taxed the roster, Chudzinski was expected to win with a threadbare roster. [...]

At one point, Chudzinski was urged by Banner to “shake up” the locker room by cutting wide receiver Greg Little or guard Shawn Lauvao. Chudzinski declined, and that was interpreted as Chudzinski not holding players accountable for their failings.

In recent weeks, a disagreement arose about a future role for receivers coach Scott Turner, the son of coordinator Norv Turner. Chudzinski, a source said, wanted to switch Turner to running backs coach. Norv Turner objected and the brushfire became another strike against Chudzinski.

I have to put the blame squarely on Chud here. When he was hired, it was clear that he was just expected to be the Xs and Os guy. And, to be fair, the team sucked. Since we had more Pro Bowlers (5) than wins (4), obviously the front office did a great job, so it must be that the coach sucked. Fire his ass!

Bill Livingston, Old Coot, tried to work in a Ghostbusters reference that, really, really didn’t work. The column’s kind of rambling, but that’s the big take away I got.

Mary Kay Cabot had the analysis of the press conference with Haslett and Banner.

[Haslett] noted that it was an “expensive move” to fire Chudzinski, who’s still owed $10.5 million.

“We’re not only just saying it, we’re talking with our pocketbook here,” he said. “So these are not cheap moves to make, and I’m not saying that should be the guiding factor, but we’re doing everything we can to get this right.”

Excuse me while I shed a single tear of sympathy for you having to pay for your own incompetence. Okay, I’m done. So, in the immortal words of pro wrestling’s Goldberg: “Who’s next?”

Mike Tanier, Sports on Earth:

Cleveland Browns

What Went Wrong With the Last Guy: Rob Chudzinski could not win with Jason Campbell at quarterback and guys like Fozzy Whittaker at running back. In other words, he was neither Vince Lombardi nor Alexander the Great.

Boss Rating: D. From the Trent Richardson trade to Brian Hoyer’s depth chart leapfrog to the Chud firing, Mike Lombardi (no relation) and Joe Banner have established themselves as impatient hands-on executives trying to win back-to-back Super Bowls in early October. At times, it appears that Lombardi acts quickly so he can beat Banner to a decision, or perhaps it’s vice versa. The Browns may be Lombardi’s team, they may be Banner’s, the execs may duke it out in the parking lot, or the IRS may confiscate the whole shebang if owner Jimmy Haslam’s diesel receipts don’t add up. But they will never be the head coach’s team, unless he wades into the Game of Thrones.

Quarterback Situation: C-minus. The Browns have two first-round picks and Brian Hoyer, a steady young journeyman with a little upside who is also Lombardi’s pet project. The franchise has 14 years of experience making dismal quarterback controversies out of first-round picks and pet-project journeymen.

Building Blocks: B. Two first round picks, the best deep threat receiver in the NFL in Josh Gordon, and Jordan Cameron, a cross between Antonio Gates and Jason Witten at tight end.

Young Talent: B-minus. There’s a sprinkle of young stars and solid prospects around the roster, from Gordon and Cameron to Joe Haden. Mitchell Schwartz, Phil Taylor and Barkevious Mingo. There are also glaring deficiencies, starting with an entire backfield in need of replacement.

Salary Cap Situation: A-minus. The Browns will eat $6 million of Trent Richardson’s dead money next year, but should clear the cap by at least $25 million, giving them wiggle room to extend Gordon and/or Cameron, pursue a free agent or two, or cut bait on Brandon Weeden without choking on the cap hit.

Free Agent Issues: B-plus. Center Alex Mack and safety T.J. Ward are the biggest names; Mack will likely be prioritized. The Browns have the space to play ball with any lower-tier free agents they like.

Quick Turnaround Potential: C-plus. Enough rebuilding took place in 2013 to allow two top rookies and an upgraded quarterback situation to make a difference, but the AFC North schedule remains an endurance marathon against three challenging opponents.

Overall Desirability: C-minus. The next Browns coach is the fifth in seven years, and he walks into a power struggle above him which is likely to undermine the roster below him. Cap money and draft picks are nice, but there is little evidence that the next coach will have any say in how they are used.

Terry Pluto says much the same, but with less snark, here.

At the end of the day, this is nothing less than a catastrophic failure. I don’t care what Haslett and Banner say — it began and ended with Chud wanting some control over the roster. Banner and Haslett wanted the football equivalent of Joe Torre — do what you’re told and shut up. Of course, Joe Torre had a great roster, and being a baseball manager is more about dealing with personalities.

I wish you all the best, Chud, if you’re reading this blog (and I know you aren’t.) To the Browns front office: You handled this better than Dan Snyder did with Mike Shanahan. That is the nicest thing I can say.

 

December 27, 2013

Murray Chass: Professional moron

Filed under: Specific Stupidity, Sports — Tony Demchak @ 6:32 am

I can’t properly call Murray Chass a curmudgeon, because curmudgeons are at least somewhat loveable; Chass is just an idiot. Rob Neyer has the latest.

If you want to claim that steroids is cheating now, I can’t disagree — there’s a punishment for it and everything. But to exclude players solely on the basis on the fact that they used steroids is lunacy. It’s lunacy because no one — NO ONE — honestly thinks of Eric Gagne or Paul LoDuca as Hall of Famers whether they used steroids or cybernetic arms. (Okay, maybe for cybernetic arms.) Eric Gagne was a pretty great closer for a couple of seasons. Paul LoDuca was an above average catcher, like 60% of Ivan Rodriguez. Neither of them are even borderline Hall of Famers, unless your definition of “border” says that the USA borders on Brazil. I mean, okay, we share the Atlantic Ocean. That’s pretty much it.

Also, Jack Morris isn’t a Hall of Famer. He just isn’t. I’ve already written on that.

But perhaps the sentence that pisses me off the most is this one:

These non-exes won’t get my vote because they were proved to have cheated, admitted they cheated or are strongly suspected of having cheated.

If we go with the mass hysteria over the alleged steroids era, that means every. single. player. in the 1990s used steroids. That includes you, David Eckstein, you fucking steroid junkie. You too, Darren Erstad. No wonder you were also a punter! IT WAS THE ‘ROIDS. I’m exaggerating slightly, but “strongly suspected of having cheated” is pretty much carte blanche to ignore an entire era. I’m sorry, but any human being who can say with straight face that Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens are not two of the greatest baseball players in the history of this planet is an idiot.

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