Posted by Bill Levine at 1:52 PM
Because my brother and sister-in-law live in Sendai, Japan (and they're okay!), I've been a bit more focused on this recent disaster than I would be otherwise. Aside from the enormous first quake, there have been an amazing number of aftershocks, many of them quite large. To help myself visualize this, I created a graph (above; click for a larger version) that illustrates the magnitude of these earthquakes as a function of time, starting from the really big quake Friday afternoon until early-morning Sunday (Japan Standard Time). The y-axis is the moment-magnitude scale (MW), which is apparently the measure of choice among seismologists for measuring the intensity of earthquakes. The x-axis is time, with hourly increments. Each earthquake is a dot at a particular time and magnitude. The red line is at MW = 6.5, which the USGS uses as its cutoff for "significant" earthquakes. There are 178 earthquakes (!) represented in the graph over about 38 hours. I also added a trend-line (a 6th order polynomial; a sextic function) to help visualize the change in intensity over time.
The data are from the USGS website.
Posted by Bill Levine at 5:50 PM
Imagine that, some time in the future, you have the worst insomnia anyone in history has ever experienced. So you sit on your favorite chair and turn on the TV to pass the time, in hopes of finding Ferris Bueller's Day Off playing on TBS; sadly, it isn't. While you flip through channels, you notice a commercial for insomnia treatment drugs. In the commercial, which features images of beautiful people sleeping restfully in beds with the finest fabrics, a voiceover says that Brand A and Brand B were compared to see which is more effective. The voiceover continues and says that these comparisons indicated that one of the brands is more effective, so effective in fact that the FDA says that anyone who ever has trouble falling asleep should take this drug now!
But it doesn't tell you which one works better.
After you throw a slipper at the TV, the voiceover then continues and says that the test of Brand A and Brand B was carried out on both men and women, and that the brands worked differently for men and women.
But it doesn't tell for which group the brands work better or worse. Just that the effectiveness of the brands differs for the groups.
After you throw your other slipper at your pet, you realize that you should write a note to that stats teacher you had years ago and apologize for saying that main effects and interactions are significant without saying anything more. And then you cry a little, wishing that the commercial were more informative. And eventually, finally, slumber ensues, but your dreams are filled with a voice saying the words significant effect ... and nothing else.
Please help your statistics teacher keep his or her slippers on, and from abusing any pets.
Posted by Bill Levine at 11:30 AM
This picture (click it for a full-size, easier-to-read version)
represents an attempt by Kitty Burns Florey (in an article on Slate) to diagram one of Sarah Palin's sentences from Palin's interview with Charles Gibson a few weeks back. The original: "I know that John McCain will do that and I, as his vice president, families we are blessed with that vote of the American people and are elected to serve and are sworn in on January 20, that will be our top priority is to defend the American people." I hope this kind of thing catches on; diagramming sentences for Mrs. DiPego back in 7th grade was no fun at all, but nowadays it feels to me like as much fun as Sudoku (you should read no irony in that statement; I mean it earnestly).
Posted by Bill Levine at 12:14 PM
Sarah Palin can't name a Supreme Court case besides Roe v. Wade.
And she can't name a single newspaper that she reads.
You've got to be fucking kidding me. Videos are linked because Facebook's note importer sucks.
Posted by Bill Levine at 8:21 PM
contains a report based on this ArmyTimes article, which is just plain scary. Is there really a need for trained killers to be patrolling US soil? Some quotes:
Posted by Bill Levine at 9:33 AM
Anyone who has read snippets from or actually seen Sarah Palin's interview with ABC News's Charles Gibson must know by now that she's completely unqualified to be any kind of executive officer, much less Vice-President. Jack Shafer on Slate put it succinctly:
Without being smarmy about it or unfurling gotcha questions, ABC News anchor Charles Gibson demonstrated that he knows volumes more about national security and foreign policy than does Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin.If you've not seen any of this, do yourself a favor and watch it, and then make sure that you make an informed choice in November, and do NOT vote for McCain-Palin.
Posted by Bill Levine at 1:14 PM
My friend and colleague Elizabeth Hellmuth (Lisa) Margulis had a nice press release from the University of Arkansas today. She briefly addresses some of the silliness about the so-called Mozart effect and how pleasure from listening to music both is and isn't like that derived from sex and chocolate (one, the other, or both).
I've written about stuff like the Mozart effect before (e.g., Baby Bee Bright), and this kind of thing deserves to be mocked, poked, and tortured at every chance. Nosing around the Web for Mozart effect and similar products turns up astonishing crap, like a book called the The Mozart Effect: Tapping the Power of Music to Heal the Body, Strengthen the Mind, and Unlock the Creative Spirit by "music visionary Don Campbell" (those four words in quotes produce 57 hits when Googled); Mr. Campbell as pusher-of-the-Mozart-effect is briefly discussed here by a less credulous source. The CDs you can purchase to accompany the book have music that "has been specially selected, sequenced, edited, and mastered to realize the transformative powers found in Mozart’s compositions." The different CDs have different magical powers. One Strengthens the Mind. Another Heals the Body. Others are to Unlock the Creative Spirit and for Focus and Clarity. Awesome stuff!
Posted by Bill Levine at 9:56 AM
For those who are pro-choice and considering voting for McCain, please note the following from The New Republic:
by Sarah Blustain
Stop kidding yourself: John McCain is a pro-life zealot.
Post Date Wednesday, August 27, 2008
Moreover, say advocates, he is not open to dialogue. "Whether it's abortion care, birth control, or comprehensive sex education, McCain is not moderate or a maverick," says Donna Crane, policy director of NARAL Pro-Choice America and a key lobbyist on these questions. "We never ask--and we never hear pro-choice Republicans question--whether McCain will be with us on a vote. He's always on the wrong side."
Posted by Bill Levine at 2:27 PM