Category Archives: Random Musings

This is a Bit More Rambly Than Normal

A person on Twitter suggested a recent paper might be of interest to me due to its use (or believed misuse) of statistics. I wasn't going to talk about it, but while reading it, I saw this line:

When it comes to the impact of AGW seriousness and existence beliefs on environmental attitudes and partisan identity, Republicans would be expected to be more likely to engage in motivated reasoning than Democrats.

I can't ignore that. This isn't about statistics. I'm not even going to talk about math today. Today, I'm going to just talk about some basic matters of logic. Because honestly, if you think one side of an argument is more likely to engage in motivated reason than your side, you probably need to rethink the fundamentals of your views.
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The Meaning of Yellow

I recently ran a post about "building bridges" with people with whom you do not get along. The discussion it provoked was interesting, with several people showing up to effectively demonstrate why attempts at finding common ground and building bridges can fail. Yesterday, I had a similar experience when I commnted at The Blackboard. It might be my fault as I am told:

You might want to think about how hostile and petty your contributions sound from the get go.

I'll admit I can be hostile and petty at times. As such, I won't rule out the possibility that statement is accurate. People who care can judge for themselves how petty and hostile this comment is:

I happened to see this post and felt I needed to point something out. I get the analysis in this post is hypothetical, but I feel it is important to note Oregon doesnt require a car clear an intersection to avoid being given a ticket for running a red light. I dont know of any state which does. There may be some, but in the case of Oregon, you only run a red light if you enter the intersection after the light has already turned red.
I couldnt find Jarlstons analysis with a quick search so Im not sure what assumptions he used, but based on the formula this post provides for his analysis, it would appear he has made a non-trivial error. The W/v term should not be included in any analysis of yellow light timing in Oregon.
For what its worth, I tried searching for states where this scenario accurately describes the traffic laws. I couldnt find any. Someone else might be able to. If not, it would appear all red light cameras (in the United States, at least) are triggered only if a car has entered the intersection after a light turns red.
Incidentally, red light cameras generally have a small grace period between the light turning red and them starting to trigger. Ive found reports of them ranging from .1-.3 seconds. I dont know if thats worth including in ones analysis.

As well as the tone of the follow-up comment I posted 15 minutes later:

As a quick follow-up, I found this document providing detail on the analysis in question. I see I was mistaken to say that term shouldnt be included in timing of yellow lights. The reason Mat Jarlston includes that term is because it is relevant for safety purposes. You want vehicles in an intersection while on red to clear the intersection before the next green light comes on.
That just has nothing to do with running red lights. You only get a ticket for it if the light is red when you enter the intersection. If you cant safely stop at a yellow light, you shouldnt get a ticket for running a red light.

I don't think these comments exhibit a great deal of pettiness and hostility. Maybe readers will disagree. I'm not going to worry about that in this post. You see, I've become a bit fascinated by the subject matter discussed in those comments. Originally, I only spent a little time researching this topic. When I wrote those comments, I thought they'd just be taken as a minor point of interest that wouldn't go anywhere.

That wasn't the case. Because of how the discussion played out, I wound up spending quite a bit more time reading up on traffic lights. I even talked to a couple family members who are over for the holiday weekend about traffic lights in a casual discussion. What I came to realize is there is a lot of justified uncertainty and confusion about what traffic lights mean. Given that, today I'd like to discuss a simple question, "What does a yellow light mean?"
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Another Grammatical Interlude

I am not a great writer. I like to think I'm okay though. You can judge for yourself with a new eBook I wrote:

Yes, that was a moment of shameless self-promotion. Don't worry. It'll be the last one for this post. For the rest of this post I'll be discussing an issue of grammar because of a humorous example I came across earlier today. If you don't care about grammar, I suggest skipping this post.
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Building Bridges

I have long believed people, no matter how great their disagreements, should be able to understand one another. One of my favorite fictional relationships is the one between Professor Xavier and Magneto of the X-Men franchise, where the two men (quite literally) violently disagreed with one another yet held each other in great esteem.

In high school, one day a teacher stopped me in the halls and was going to lecture me because he thought he had heard me curse. A classmate of mine was nearby and he immediately stopped and said, "I don't like Brandon at all, but he never curses." That moment has always stuck with me because this classmate didn't like me, yet he was willing to speak up in my defense because he understood me.

The reason I bring this up is I published a new (short) eBook just a day or so ago. The point of it is to show how "Skeptics" in the global warming movement don't exhibit actual skepticism. Amongst other things, I thought this eBook might help some people find common ground with one another. Today, I'd like to discuss a reason that might now work.
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Another Year

Yesterday I received an e-mail from DreamHost, the company which hosts my website. It began:

Hello, Brandon.
This is a friendly reminder that your DreamHost account... will be rebilled $119.40 in the next five to seven days.
DreamHost billing details:
$119.40 for a 1 year renewal of "Izuru Hosting".
If you need more time to pay, don't worry! There's a 60-day grace period on all bills.

I hadn't realized another year had passed. I don't know how to feel about that. While having a site I can host this blog is nice, I could have kept it on WordPress servers. The main reason for this site is so I could host things like:

1) The Skeptical Science forum which was broken into then publicly disseminated. Plenty of people had copies of these files, but I wanted to host them in a way which would let people share links to specific material.

2) The Consensus Project data files. The (in)famous Skeptical Science paper claiming to find a 97% consensus has received a great deal of attention. The authors have hidden data used for the paper. I discovered some undisclosed data on a publicly accessible web page and saved a copy (they claimed this was hacking). I thought this data was useful, particularly as it includes rater remarks explaining why they claimed individual papers endorsed the consensus. (These remarks have received less attention than they deserve and can be found via this index).

I use the site for other things as well, and I'm glad I have it. I think $120 a year is a bargain to be able to make material like this accessible. I hope I can keep this material (and perhaps more material in the future) available for many years to come. I dread the day I cannot afford or cannot run this site any longer.

I'm not going to worry about that right now though. For now, I'd like to celebrate another year in this site's existence. As part of that celebration, I am happy to say I have a new eBook coming out this week. I'm just waiting on Amazon to approve it for sale.

Woot.

Camping

I want to state something that's been on my mind for some time. Living in a mobile home is not camping. Taking a mobile home out to camp grounds where you are slightly closer to nature is not camping. Hot dogs cooked over an open fire are amazing. That is all.

Next post will be online tomorrow when I get home. In the meantime, Happy Mother's Day!

Don't Share This Without Permission

Hey guys. As you guys may be aware, I am working on a new eBook which is slated to be finished by the end of the month. I'm happy to say I am on schedule with it. Unfortunately, it is taking up quite a bit of time so I haven't been as active in posting as I would like. To show I haven't forgotten about this place, I thought I'd share something silly and amusing.

Unfortunately, I lost the letter I got about changes at the DMV. I was going to take a picture of the letter as an Easter joke because the letter instructed me on how I needed to provide proof if any of my information hs changed, such as my name, address, social security number or... date of birth. The joke was going to be, "If you are reborn, does that change your date of birth?"

I can't find that letter though so I found a different image for your amusement.
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Do the Laws of Probability Mean Anything?

Hey guys, as you may have picked up on from my last couple posts, I was fairly sick this week. I'm not completely over it, but I have had the energy to do more than lie around all day doing nothing. Naturally, one of my top priorities has been playing Rock, Paper Scissors (RPS).

I'm not going to re-visit the history leading up to today's post. You can read the last post I wrote on this subject here. The short version is it seems no matter what I do, I keep beating a computer opponent that makes random choices. This shouldn't be possible. The odds of winning, losing or tying in RPS should be 1/3 when one opponent picks options at random.

Today's post is about an update to my methodology and the results it leads to. I've played 10,000 matches after the update, and I have won 3,454 of those matches. That gives me a win rate of 34.54%, a result that is "statistically significant" at the 99% level.
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