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saidsimplesimon

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Member since: Sun Sep 16, 2012, 11:48 AM
Number of posts: 7,671

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Statistical illiteracy isn't a niche problem. During a pandemic, it can be fatal

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/opinion/statistical-illiteracy-isnt-a-niche-problem-during-a-pandemic-it-can-be-fatal/ar-BB1aouhg

The Guardian

Carlo Rovelli

10/26/20

Statistical illiteracy isn't a niche problem. During a pandemic, it can be fatal

In the institute where I used to work a few years ago, a rare non-infectious illness hit five colleagues in quick succession. There was a sense of alarm, and a hunt for the cause of the problem. In the past the building had been used as a biology lab, so we thought that there might be some sort of chemical contamination, but nothing was found. The level of apprehension grew. Some looked for work elsewhere.

One evening, at a dinner party, I mentioned these events to a friend who is a mathematician, and he burst out laughing. “There are 400 tiles on the floor of this room; if I throw 100 grains of rice into the air, will I find,” he asked us, “five grains on any one tile?” We replied in the negative: there was only one grain for every four tiles: not enough to have five on a single tile.

We were wrong. We tried numerous times, actually throwing the rice, and there was always a tile with two, three, four, even five or more grains on it. Why? Why would grains “flung randomly” not arrange themselves into good order, equidistant from each other?

Because they land, precisely, by chance, and there are always disorderly grains that fall on tiles where others have already gathered. Suddenly the strange case of the five ill colleagues seemed very different. Five grains of rice falling on the same tile does not mean that the tile possesses some kind of “rice-­attracting” force. Five people falling ill in a workplace did not mean that it must be contaminated. The institute where I worked was part of a university. We, know-­all professors, had fallen into a gross statistical error. We had become convinced that the “above average” number of sick people required an explanation. Some had even gone elsewhere, changing jobs for no good reason.

Life is full of stories such as this. Insufficient understanding of statistics is widespread. The current pandemic has forced us all to engage in probabilistic reasoning, from governments having to recommend behaviour on the basis of statistical predictions, to people estimating the probability of catching the virus while taking part in common activities. Our extensive statistical illiteracy is today particularly dangerous.

We use probabilistic reasoning every day, and most of us have a vague understanding of averages, variability and correlations. But we use them in an approximate fashion, often making errors. Statistics sharpen and refine these notions, giving them a precise definition, allowing us to reliably evaluate, for instance, whether a medicine or a building is dangerous or not.
……snip (long article, more at link)
Posted by saidsimplesimon | Tue Oct 27, 2020, 12:33 PM (3 replies)

Americans Are Losing Sight of What Fascism Means

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/opinion/americans-are-losing-sight-of-what-fascism-means/ar-BB1amXfk

The Atlantic

Americans Are Losing Sight of What Fascism Means

Shadi Hamid
10/25/20
……snip
Words matter because they help order our understanding of politics both at home and abroad. If Cotton is a fascist, then we don’t know what fascism is. And if we don’t know what fascism is, then we will struggle to identify it when it threatens millions of lives—which is precisely what is happening today in areas under Beijing’s control. Chinese authorities have tightened their grip on Hong Kong. And while the world watches, they are undertaking one of the most terrifying campaigns of ethnic cleansing and cultural genocide since World War II in Xinjiang province, with more than 1 million Muslim Uighurs in internment camps, as well as reports of forced sterilization and mass rape.

For morality to operate, moral proportion is required. Unfortunately, the Trump era has badly damaged our ability to see what’s right in front of our noses.
[Read: Saving Uighur culture from genocide]

Today, the United States is consumed by internal divisions, which means that the flow of ideas is the reverse of what it otherwise might be. Instead of solving problems through the very democratic institutions that once gave inspiration abroad, we now import foreign notions from Europe’s dark past in an attempt to comprehend what seems incomprehensible here in our own country. Donald Trump’s election led to a whole cottage industry of thinking that fascism is near, right here at home. It has grown steadily, reaching its culmination in the lead-up to the November election. In the past month alone, readers have seen Mussolini comparisons from eminent historians, explainers on what it’s like to live through a civil war, and an endless stream of warnings about Reichstag fires and a “fascist coup.” Here, Trump deserves some of the blame. He has a knack for bringing out the worst in his opponents, giving them license to use the very hyperbole and distortion that they criticize in others. This is one of many reasons to hope he is voted out of office.

If America doesn’t descend into fascism—and Joe Biden wins by a comfortable margin and Republicans accept the result, however reluctantly—then Americans will be able, once again, to gain a proper perspective on their long, four-year episode of unreason and myopia. Sometimes, life is elsewhere. In some places, democracy, or what’s left of it, is truly under threat. One of those places is Hong Kong.
….snip
Posted by saidsimplesimon | Tue Oct 27, 2020, 12:29 PM (6 replies)

Black Lives Matter Co-Founder Was Targeted in Armed White Supremacist Plot

https://truthout.org/latest/

Democracy Now!

October27, 2020

Black Lives Matter Co-Founder Was Targeted in Armed White Supremacist Plot
By Amy Goodman

Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza says President Trump is “stoking fires he has no intention of controlling.”

This election season, Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza says President Trump is “stoking fires he has no intention of controlling” and inciting far-right extremists. She was recently approached by the FBI after agents found her name on a list in the home of a white supremacist in Idaho who was arrested on weapons charges. “Racial terror has always been used as a form of control, particularly during periods of people fighting for social change,” she says.
TRANSCRIPT
This is a rush transcript. Copy may not be in its final form.
…snip much more at link
Posted by saidsimplesimon | Tue Oct 27, 2020, 12:24 PM (0 replies)

The Pandemic Election: Combatting Chaos

I really miss Bill Moyers on PBS. The title is taken directly from the source of the article.

https://billmoyers.com/story/the-pandemic-election-combatting-chaos/

The Pandemic Election: Combatting Chaos

BY STEVEN HARPER | OCTOBER 27, 2020
….snip

Deceive the Public
In 2016, almost 139 million people voted. As of October 26, 2020, more than 40 million voters had already mailed in their completed ballots. When election night ends, millions of mail-in ballots will not yet have been counted.

Because Democrats’ requests for mail-in ballots vastly outnumbered requests from Republicans, most of those uncounted votes will be for former Vice President Joe Biden. That means Trump could be ahead on election night based on reported in-person and partial mail-in vote totals. He might declare himself the winner, even though Biden had won a landslide victory based on the mail-in votes not yet tallied.
There’s nothing new about this post-Election Day “Blue Shift.” “On election night in 2012, Barack Obama trailed Mitt Romney by some 30,000 votes at the moment Mr. Obama was projected to win his re-election bid,” The New York Times editorial board reminded us recently. “By the time the votes were tallied, Mr. Obama had five million more votes than Mr. Romney.”

In 2018, the phenomenon was even more pronounced. As polling places closed and states reported vote totals, the anticipated “Blue Wave” for Democrats in Congress seemed absent. The party’s net gain in the House was only 26 seats. But by the time all mail-in votes were counted a few weeks later, the Democrats had flipped 41 seats.

Litigate the Outcome
…snip
Posted by saidsimplesimon | Tue Oct 27, 2020, 12:20 PM (0 replies)

"Handmaids Tale" protest across US

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/people-across-u-s-wear-handmaid-s-tale-cloaks-to-protest-amy-coney-barrett-s-supreme-court-nomination/ar-BB1aprZy?ocid=Peregrine

Newsweek

10/26/20

People Across U.S. Wear 'Handmaid's Tale' Cloaks to Protest Amy Coney Barrett's Supreme Court Nomination

Rebecca Speare-Cole
…snip
Protesters in red cloaks and white bonnets took to the steps of state government buildings and courthouses, in cities such as Boston, Little Rock, Madison and Fort Myers, in a silent demonstration against Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee.

It comes as the Republican majority in the U.S. Senate swiftly moves Barrett towards confirmation to fill Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's seat on the court.

Although the judge's confirmation is probably a foregone conclusion, protesters took to the street to publicly oppose the appointment on Sunday.
….snip
Posted by saidsimplesimon | Mon Oct 26, 2020, 04:51 PM (0 replies)

Center for Artistic Activism

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/circus-performers-help-early-voters-head-to-polls-in-phoenix/ar-BB1anTPq?ocid=hplocalnews

Phoenix 3 TV/CBS 5

10/26/20

Clowns, jugglers and aerial performers led early voters to the polls on Saturday evening in Phoenix.
It was a normal day at Heritage Park until the Shazambulance pulled up and Clay Mazing got out. He was the main act in Cirque D'Vote.

"It's a very useful way to connect with people by providing this spectacle. All of a sudden all of the barriers between people just melt away," he said.

The self-described lifelong clown and founder of Emergency Circus is working with the Center for Artistic Activism to encourage people to vote.
…snip
https://www.emergencycircus.com/
(Non-Partisan) schedule of events
Posted by saidsimplesimon | Mon Oct 26, 2020, 04:46 PM (1 replies)

Scottsdale campaign sign for Jewish candidate vandalized with swastika

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/scottsdale-campaign-sign-for-jewish-candidate-vandalized-with-swastika/ar-BB1anTPp?ocid=hplocalnews

AZ Family, News 3 &CBS 5

10/25/20
Scottsdale campaign sign for Jewish candidate vandalized with swastika

SCOTTSDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - A campaign sign for an Arizona Senate candidate was vandalized with anti-Semitic graffiti. Seth Blattman, who is Jewish, is running for District 23 in Scottsdale. On Friday, he learned someone drew a swastika on his forehead on a sign near Loop 101 and Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard.

“Someone that I have never met, never seen, hates me for a reason I can't control because of who I was born to be," said Blattman.

Blattman said he lost family members in the Holocaust. For him, seeing that symbol of violence on his face was painful.

"I had a great aunt that I remember as a kid asking what the number on her arm meant," said Blattman.
…snip
Posted by saidsimplesimon | Mon Oct 26, 2020, 04:43 PM (0 replies)

Scottsdale campaign sign for Jewish candidate vandalized with swastika

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/scottsdale-campaign-sign-for-jewish-candidate-vandalized-with-swastika/ar-BB1anTPp?ocid=hplocalnews

AZ Family, News 3 &CBS 5

10/25/20

Scottsdale campaign sign for Jewish candidate vandalized with swastika

SCOTTSDALE, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) - A campaign sign for an Arizona Senate candidate was vandalized with anti-Semitic graffiti. Seth Blattman, who is Jewish, is running for District 23 in Scottsdale. On Friday, he learned someone drew a swastika on his forehead on a sign near Loop 101 and Frank Lloyd Wright Boulevard.

“Someone that I have never met, never seen, hates me for a reason I can't control because of who I was born to be," said Blattman.

Blattman said he lost family members in the Holocaust. For him, seeing that symbol of violence on his face was painful.

"I had a great aunt that I remember as a kid asking what the number on her arm meant," said Blattman.
…snip
Posted by saidsimplesimon | Mon Oct 26, 2020, 04:41 PM (0 replies)

Montini-One Last Spread the Virus..Trip

Soon, we will be free of this assault on our citizens from the dim ones both rump and Ducey.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/one-last-spread-the-virus-barnstorming-trip-to-arizona-for-donald-trump/ar-BB1ap8UW?ocid=hplocalnews

Arizona Republic

One last spread-the-virus barnstorming trip to Arizona for …..rump

EJ Montini
10/26/20
Really, what is the point, other than vanity?
….snip
Sadly, however, there invariably will be infected individuals at such gatherings and, without masks, as Trump supporters tend to be, the infected are pretty much guaranteed to put more than a few of their brethren in the hospital in a week or two, and may well cause some to die.

What that means, I suppose, is that casting a vote for Trump might be among their last living acts for some of his supporters.I can’t imagine how their families will feel about that.

But I’m sure it’s fine with Trump.

Posted by saidsimplesimon | Mon Oct 26, 2020, 04:37 PM (0 replies)

Living abroad by Emma Brockes

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/opinion/if-youve-made-a-life-abroad-coronavirus-gives-homesickness-a-new-edge/ar-BB1akhKb

The Guardian

If you've made a life abroad, coronavirus gives homesickness a new edge

Emma Brockes
10/23/20

If you've made a life abroad, coronavirus gives homesickness a new edge
The longest I have gone without seeing England is two years, a hiatus taken after the birth of my children, when I couldn’t face the flight. I must’ve missed the place: I remember bingeing old episodes of Inspector Morse as if they were home movies. But like everything from that period not directly involving babies, I can’t quite retrieve the memory. Besides which, my homesickness was mitigated by one major factor: people came to visit me.

No one is coming to visit this time. For many of us with family living further than a drive away – particularly those living abroad – the advent of the holiday season marks the 12-month anniversary since any of us went home. It is one thing to stay away because you can’t be bothered to travel, and another to have that option removed. Technically, it’s doable; a few friends in New York have cracked and flown to see their parents in Britain, factoring in the two-week quarantine. But for most of us, even if we can overcome the fear of exposure on the flight, the restrictions on arrival aren’t practical. What’s the point of trekking home if you can’t see anyone when you get there?

The strange thing is that, viewed from New York, Britain doesn’t look like much of a destination at the moment. While the third wave rages across much of the US, in New York, a city still in shock from its experiences of the spring, virus numbers are low and, for the time being, stable. The schools aren’t back full time and no one’s throwing dinner parties, but some semblance of normal life has returned.
Or rather it has if you ignore the fact that no one with sense will be going home for the holidays. For those with young children, the months have clicked by, and with them a growing feeling of absence. Zoom doesn’t fill the gap where a grandparent should be, and one wonders how long it will take before the relationship is damaged. A year is a long time in the life of a five-year-old who refers to her own recent toddlerhood as “the olden days”.
…..snip
For adults, the sense of loss is less tangible but perhaps more alarming. It took me a moment to identify
….snip
dental patients in the city reporting serious jaw strain. Every day, he said, patients came in complaining of cracked teeth, jaw pain, excessive grinding and other expressions of stress, most of which came out in them while asleep, and far in excess of these complaints before the pandemic.
• Emma Brockes is a Guardian columnist
Posted by saidsimplesimon | Sat Oct 24, 2020, 06:24 PM (0 replies)
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