Category Archives: Rant

A plea to the left

So I was driving home today at around 5PM in Atlanta and, those of you who have been to Atlanta will know, I was gridlocked in traffic for a good 30 minutes. As I was stuck in traffic, I decided to browse a little reddit and read up on some happenings of the day (bad habit, I know). I then came across this gem:

I was raped. Thanks to Republicans, I could be denied insurance for surviving.

Please read it.

Go. I’ll wait.

Now.

What the actual fuck?

If this isn’t left wing sensationalist news, I do not know what is (I get that this was an “opinion” piece, but it still riles me up as this is the “leading” perspective on what the new Trumpcare bill is about). If you feel like I have already offended your sensibilities at this point, please feel free to stop, but I will implore you to continue and have a discussion with me.

First, having worked in the insurance industry for so long, let me explain to you what insurance is about. Insurance is basically the pooling of money so that if any person in that pool were to experience a significant life event, they would be able to tap into that pool and help themselves get through it. A big piece of that is that the pool needs to have enough money so that after enough events, the pool can still survive and provide for the participants of the pool. As such, there a huge emphasis on the government to protect the solvency of that pool (the insurance companies). Now, here is where the balancing act happens (and why I think actuaries are one of the greatest professions). If you price too cheaply, you will not collect enough money for the pool and run the risk of exhausting the pool from these significant life events. If you price too high, no one will contribute to the pool except the most risky (since they know their contributions will be less than what they take out of the pool) and again, your pool will not be big enough to cover those life events. If you charge everyone an equal price but another pool doesn’t, you run the risk that you soak up all the bad risks because the other pool figured out who is good and bad and gave discounts to the good. All in all, its a fine art to balance prices so that you can persist on providing that pool and providing the financial safeguard to the participants in that pool.

Inherently, as individuals, we have “good” risks and “bad” risks – namely, people who tend to take more out of the pool than put in (“bad”) and people who tend to provide more for the pool than take out (“good”). Uncertainty (thank god for statistics, plug #2) is what binds us together. Now remember, we built this pool so that we can protect people when bad things happen in their lives, so naturally, we would like the pool to be as big as possible – attempt to provide financial safeguard to the most people we can. However, the “bad” risks tend to jeopardize that goal. They tend to use up more of the pool than they put in, so, in many ways, they limit the number of people we can attract to join our pool. So now, I think the next natural step is to ask ourselves – why don’t we limit entry of these “bad” risks in (if we can somehow identify them) or perhaps charge them a much higher rate so that they carry more of their own individual burdens? That way, we can get more “good” and “slightly bad” risks in and overall protect more people.

And now, we are back at the article. Prior to Obamacare, rape and domestic violence were, in many cases, considered pre-existing conditions. Obamacare prohibited insurance companies from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions and thus widened the coverage net to more people. However, all of this does not come without a cost. In the pool example above, this means that now all the “bad” risks (perhaps “bad” is too stigmatizing, what I just mean is that the people who tend to use the pool more than they contribute) are allowed to enter the pool and utilize the pool. What does that mean? Well, the good risks were already all in there (mostly) because they were not banned from the pool in the first place, so now, the pool is upside down since we just allowed an influx of  habitual drawers of the pool in to draw from the pool. So I guess, that means we all gotta contribute more to the pool. I think this is all fine, as I believe there is a social benefit to having more healthy people (just as there is a social benefit to everyone having auto insurance – so that you don’t get as many hit and run situations), just hard to quantify. However, I do think that there are probably some conditions that are prohibitively expensive to cover in the pool and that we need to tread lightly and think hard about whether or not that is something the pool will cover. And this, is why I think this article is of the utmost stupidity.

In an effort to get people to sympathize, she basically proves that rape is prohibitively expensive and taxes the other participants greatly. To me, when reading this article, she is basically saying “rape is expensive, i was a victim, it was not my fault, and therefore you all should pay to cover me for any medical expenses, please don’t take that away from me.” Rape is horrendous, no doubt, but this is an asinine argument to shift blame from a failing judicial system onto the financials of a healthcare system. While I agree that she is the victim of a horrible deed and should not bear the brunt of that event, I also believe that the people who are putting money in to cover medical expenses due to disease and other mishaps (perhaps less egregious) should not either! In fact – the fight is with the judicial system in punishing the rapists much more heavily into payments that cover these expenses! Rape is one of those things in which you tend to actually have a responsible party (e.g. cancer is not) – why the hell are you promoting an American institution to lighten the load of that responsible party to spread that out to people seeking healthcare due to fortuitous events?! In fact, wouldn’t this alleviate the pressure in forcing the judicial system into taking just action when it comes to rape? You’re basically creating an excuse to potentially have the rapist pay less for their crimes!

And herein lies the issues I have with the left-wing media. From the way this article was written and from all the news that came out regarding Trumpcare and rape, the left-wing media is trying to sensationalize the public in getting Trumpcare reversed. For all of the people who got angry at the passing of Trumpcare – how many of them ACTUALLY know the tenets of the bill? How many actually care? Are we all going to just stick by partisan lines and vote against Republican laws? Isn’t that what the Republicans did during the Obama administration?

I know we constantly complain about the “bible belt” and the religious silo driving a big portion of the Republican votes. However, it is evident from this election, we suffer from the religious silo of “bleeding heart” liberalism and sympathy socialism. We tend to make quick snap judgments when we hear the things like “rape” or “abortion” or “tax cuts for the rich” or “the aclu hates this.” We don’t actually research deep enough to figure out if the policy actually makes sense. Why should the rich carry a much heavier burden on healthcare when they tend to be more healthy? The decrease in the corporate tax could help small companies avoid the heavy double taxation (35% on the company side and then ANOTHER 35% on the personal side once they take it out as salary) as well as the large corporations – are we sure that will not spur growth of the smaller corporations? Why shouldn’t we be more careful with our country’s money and service funding by cutting funding or altering coverage to certain social services with a lot of fat? Have we not learned from government plans like Social Security and NFIP in terms of how inadequately that was funded and how much that is costing our nation? I get it, we all want to be good people, but socialism IS NOT THE ANSWER (I’m looking at you, Bernie). Perhaps if we actually take the time to think and analyze when presented an issue (instead of just sticking to our partisan guns), we can come together and find the answer. Until then, all we have to go on to heal this nation is exactly what we had a year ago:

Crooked Hillary vs Racist Trump.

The Race Card

So randomly browsing through my facebook this morning, i found something interesting through the facebook grapevine:

UCLA Race Card

Granted that I am not that familiar with any racial situations in UCLA, but this guy seems to be desperately playing the race card. People need to understand that one-sided statistics, coupled with fancy rhetoric does not incite change among your educated masses. You might be able to incite a reaction from your typical college student, but this video leaves a lot of question to be answered. To me, this is the spin doctor.

Until people learn to drop the fancy, biased rhetoric (the analogy to the palette of colors is interesting, but almost COMPLETELY irrelevant) and start learning how to compare statistics, think critically, and dig deep for the root of questions (is it really true that African American students are not graduating due to lack of financial aid? California does not have affirmative action – does that mean its not a level playing field?), videos like these just serve to undermine your credibility on these issues.

I am disgusted by this video – the ineptitude to provide relevant information only seeks to mar the purity of your cause. 

Dear Modern Day Statistics Student

I’m sure most of you guys have heard of the whole BART strike fiasco up in the Bay Area for the last couple of months. While the issue itself is immensely interesting, it also led me to things like this:

http://enjalot.github.io/bart/

Now, on initial glance, the hidden statistician and truth seeker in all of us will rejoice at the data and information at our hands. We will play around and hover over each bubble trying to figure out what story each visualization has to share.

And herein lies the problem.

These visualizations tell us no stories. Well, maybe thats not fair. These visualizations have stories to tell us – its just that the authors and creators have made them mute. I get it. These visualizations look nice. These visualizations are not made from simple excel bar charts and pie graphs but are rather made from fancy javascript where bubbles get bigger when you hover over them. These visualizations are what I would have put in a 5th grade science fair project to wow all the asian parents into comparing their sons and daughters to me. But honestly, that is exactly what I think it is – shiny, 5th grade art.

Now, to clarify, I am not against creative data visualization. I think the very act of visualizing data not only helps emphasize our insights into the data, but can also instill those very insights into our minds. To be able to creatively illustrate a point is like the milk to your statistical cookies (sorry, lactose intolerant people you’re going to have to imagine this). But this? This is all wrong. This is like pouring milk, thinking you have cookies only to realize that you actually have no cookies. Then you just stand there thinking why in the world you poured the milk.

Lets take the first graphic for example “How Much Do BART Employees Earn?” When I look at these dots, I have no idea what kind of conclusion I am supposed to draw. Okay, predominantly the people who make the most money, most contributions to pension, most any kind of benefits are those not in Unions. So what? This tells me nothing about the BART organization. This tells me nothing about whether or not the Union is justified in making demands. This just tells me about a comparison that gives me no context to the issue. But man, look at how those circles move when you change that drop-down.

Okay, so lets go a bit further down to “are the demands reasonable?” Here, we have a fairly standard graph with 4 lines. At initial glance, what hops out at you is that MAN THOSE UNION PEOPLE BE RIDICULOUS. Then you start to ask yourself. What is “Index”? What does that measure? Do I generally want to stay above the index or below the index? Is it only the slope that matters or do the actual values matter? Nope, no information. Luckily there is a link below about the “fairness in transportation” that uses the same graph. Clicked-in, found some blog with some fairly large words and complex ideas (which, by the way, are fairly interesting), yet still no explanation of the what the graph is trying to show us.

Maybe the problem lies with how most people view statistics. Most people view statistics as a way of aggregating knowledge. It takes millions and millions of numbers and letters and otherwise seemingly unrelated things and ties them together for us to see. I disagree. Statistics is a way of parsing out all the noise in the world for us to see truth. It allows us to absorb and quantify millions and millions of occurrences of events so that we can being to formulate an opinion about what is truth. And that is what is different. Statistics is not a reporting tool; Statistics is a tool allowing us to dig and claw and reassess our knowledge of truth. And, honestly, the only subtle difference between the two is the story we glean from the statistics.

So. Statistics students of the modern age. I challenge you to be proactive with your statistics. Use your analysis and data visualization to challenge (or reaffirm) your view of the world. Use it to elucidate, to influence, to persuade others with what you see as truth. The numbers do not speak – you will have to be the orator for the single most powerful pool of knowledge in the information age.

Just remember: Statistics is a contact sport – do not be a passive onlooker.

Work this Week

My Calendar for this Week

Effective time to do work ~zero.

 

Edit: Uploaded a “safer” photo. You get the point.

Dear Republicans,

How can you guys be voting for these candidates? Is it just me or did the whole republican party just go full retard? If you’re Republican based on morals, know that the morals of the country will not disappear in 4 years (especially with the Supreme Court the way it is right now), but your Republican candidates are seriously putting the economic future of the nation in jeopardy. Please don’t perpetuate ignorance in America.

——————————————————————————-

On a lighter note – Swype for some good laughs:

Andrew Lee: Badajoz
Andrew Lee: LOL wtf
Me: that would be the easiest to manage nutrients
Andrew Lee: Hahaha became badajoz
Me: LOL
Me: wtf is that
Andrew Lee: What the hell is a badajoz and whys it in my dictionary
Me: wtf are you typing to people
Me: oh shit
Andrew Lee: Rofl
Me: its the capital of the province of badajoz
Me: in the autonomous community of Extremadura, Spain
Me: WTF is this
Andrew Lee: LOL
Andrew Lee: Swype is so smart
Andrew Lee: Wed
Andrew Lee: Wtf
Me: i swear you have just discovered a lost continent

Can people really be this stupid?

Click here to lose faith in humanity.

I thought we were past this 50 years ago.

How can people have such conviction on something so wrong just purely based on one sentence in a book? I know we are often blinded by our beliefs but this has got to take the cake. I can’t believe these people have the same vote as I do when in comes election time.


—- EDIT —-

So thanks to Andrew, we have found that this is all just one big parody. Quite a scare there. Saved me from raging in front of my computer.

Dear People of China,

The pedestrian crosswalk and the pedestrian sidewalk are for pedestrians. While this may come as a total shock, please keep cars and motorcycles off of them. Thanks.

Cheers,
Alen

I don’t get how stores work anymore.

So, I was at my local Rite-Aid trying to find some AAA batteries. Since I basically only needed the batteries to test something and our house was out of AAA, I decided to just grab whatever the cheapest AAA batteries were. So first, I saw 4 Rite-aid brand AAA for $3.99 and was gonna grab that; however my eyes browsed a little further and I saw an 8-pack of the same batteries for $3.99. And just as I was gonna grab those, i saw a pack of 8-pack with 4 bonus batteries (12-pack) for $3.99 right next to them. So now i’m just thinking what the hell so I double checked the price tag with each corresponding pack and, yep, each pack matched. So now, confused by what the store is trying to sell me, I picked up the 12 pack and went to pay at the cashier. However, instead of ringing me up, she took out this newspaper coupon that had a 12-pack of Duracell batteries for $7.50 and tried to convince me that it was a better buy.

“Are you sure you don’t wanna buy these, they’re just a dollar more for 4 more batteries!”

So now I’m just really confused thinking: that’s a 12-pack, I have a 12-pack. Unless shes gonna slip me 4 more batteries under the table, I really don’t see what shes talking about. But since she said it was a $1 more, I was thinking oh, so these Rite-Aid batteries were priced incorrectly or something. I thanked her and went with the cheaper batteries since I didn’t really need them for anything extreme (and had no idea what she was trying to sell me). So after a bit more of “you sure you don’t want these?”, she rings me up…

… and it was $3.99. WTF IS GOING ON.

So, maybe to conclude:

1) You can’t sell a 4 pack of batteries, an 8 pack of batteries and a 12 pack of batteries for the same price. There has to be some law on this.
2) $7.50 – $1 = $6.50 =/= $3.99
3) 12 = 12, 12 =/= 12 + 4.

Venture capitalism in China is a joke. The lack of patience completely eradicates any capability for solid research.