Category Archives: Rant

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.