Monthly Archives: July 2016

Republican National Convention: Info, Live Blog, Open Thread

I have no idea if this will be of interest to this community of science oriented and smart readers, but a group called The Republicans is having a big convention this week.

Here’s the basic schedule:

Mon 18 July 1:00 PM EST: Convention Opens
Tue 19 July 5:30 PM EST: Resume convention
Wed 20 July 7:00 PM EST: Resume convention
THU 21 July 7:30 PM EST: Resume convnetion.

Funny how every day they start a bit later.

Here are some of the speakers expected to attend. This information is culled from the NYT.

Watch the RNC Convention Live Here


Pam Bondi

Florida attorney general who had an interesting conversation on CNN with Anderson Cooper after the Orlando massacre. Like this:


Eileen Collins

Collins is the first woman to command a space shuttle mission. Why is she speaking at the convention of the anti-science party that would just as soon shut down NASA?

Here is the only info I could find addressing that, from SpaceNews:

Collins, a retired U.S. Air Force colonel who has publicly criticized the way the Obama administration canceled NASA’s Constellation return-to-the-moon program, is scheduled to speak July 20, the day before Donald Trump, the GOP’s presumptive nominee, is due to give his acceptance speech.

In February, she testified at a House Science Committee hearing on long-shot legislation that aims to restructure NASA’s management by, in part, creating a board of directors to choose a NASA administrator who would be given a 10-year term. Currently, NASA administrators are nominated by the White House, confirmed by the Senate and serve at the pleasure of the president.

Testifying alongside former NASA Administrator Mike Griffin — a Bush administration appointee who stepped down when President Barack Obama took office in January 2009 — Collins told the committee she and NASA colleagues were “shocked” by the administration’s 2010 decision to cancel Constellation, saying the timing of the decision, so close to the shuttle’s 2011 retirement, left the agency with few options.

SourGrapesBetWhine“I believe program cancellation decisions that are made by bureaucracies behind closed doors, without input by the people, are divisive, damaging, cowardly and many times more expensive in the long run,” she testified.

Obama’s April 2010 decision to cancel Constellation and direct NASA to send its Orion crew exploration vehicle to an asteroid instead of the Moon followed months of public debate about the future of the U.S. human spaceflight program by a presidential commission. That commission, led by former Lockheed Martin chairman and CEO Norman Augustine, concluded that Constellation was unsustainable and should at least be revamped.

Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin

Some background on Fallin’s politics, from her Wikipedia article:

Fallin was criticized for bias after ordering state-owned National Guard facilities to deny spousal benefits (including the provision of identification cards that would allow them to access such benefits) to all same-sex couples.

Fallin_Botched_Execuation_Of_Clayton_LockettUnder Fallin, Oklahoma has pushed for increased use of lethal injection as a means of ending life in capital punishment, Fallin pushed strongly for the execution of convicted murderer Clayton Lockett to proceed in spite of the lack of tested drugs to use for lethal injection… Lockett’s execution was attempted on April 29, 2014, but was abandoned when he could not be sedated and was left writhing in pain. Lockett died 43 minutes later of a heart attack. Fallin appointed a member of her staff to lead the investigation into the botched execution….

Fallin was a supporter of a controversial Ten Commandments monument that had been erected on the Oklahoma State Capitol grounds in 2012.

During her term as governor, Fallin has signed 18 anti-abortion measures into law. In April 2015, Fallin signed into law a measure banning a common second-trimester abortion procedure, except when necessary to save the life of the woman. In May 2015, Fallin signed into law a measure that tripled the mandatory waiting period in Oklahoma for an abortion, extending it to 72 hours. The measure also included other anti-abortion provisions.

Fallin is part of a group of Republican governors who have said that they will refuse to comply with Environmental Protection Agency regulations to reduce carbon emissions and combat climate change.

In April 2014, Fallin signed into law S.B. 1023, which prohibits cities in Oklahoma from establishing citywide minimum wages or sick-leave requirements….

In May 2015, Fallin signed into law a measure prohibiting Oklahoma local governments from enacting local bans on oil and gas drilling. …

In April 2015, Fallin signed into law a measure that expanded charter schools statewide

Iowa Senator Joni Ernst

Some background on Ernst culled from Wikipedia:

Constitutional and federal issues[edit]

Ernst has proposed eliminating the Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Education, and the Environmental Protection Agency

Ernst has expressed her support for allowing law-abiding citizens to “freely carry” weapons but abide by rules against carrying in public buildings like schools.

Joni_ErnstErnst co-sponsored resolutions concerning state nullification of federal law. One such bill asserted that Iowa could ignore any federal laws which “are directly in violation of the Tenth Amendment”…

… said that Obama had “become a dictator”, and that if he acted unconstitutionally, he should face the proper repercussions as determined by Congress, “whether that’s removal from office, whether that’s impeachment.” …

… opposes the federal minimum wage…

On the subject of global warming, Ernst has stated: “I don’t know the science behind climate change, I can’t say one way or another what is the direct impact from whether it’s manmade or not”, and believes that any regulatory role by the government to address it needs to be “very small”…

warned … a 1992 United Nations voluntary action plan for sustainable development, could force Iowa farmers off their land, dictate what cities Iowans must live in, and control how Iowa citizens travel from place to place….

… Ernst indirectly endorsed Paul Ryan’s partially privatized Medicare model … supports replacing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act…

… co-sponsored a failed bill to amend the Iowa constitution to have marriage legally defined as between one man and one woman. She opposes same-sex marriage.

… voted for a fetal personhood amendment in the Iowa Senate in 2013 and has said that she would support a federal personhood bill.

Melania Trump


Other Speakers

African American Jamiel Shaw Sr., who’s son was “killed by an undocumented immigrant” will speak. Darryl Glenn, running for Colorado Senate may speak. Highly conservative former football player Tebow may speak, as well as “ultimate fighter” Dana White.

And now …

What do you think of this: Cleveland Police Ask For Emergency Suspension Of Open Carry Laws During Republican Convention

Screen Shot 2016-07-17 at 1.49.56 PM

Ohio is an “open carry” state which allows gun owners to carry them in plain sight. People have been exercising this right around the site of the Republican convention…Strangely, in the area around the convention, “tennis balls, metal-tipped umbrellas or canned goods” are prohibited. But AR-15s or other firearms are not. But now, the Cleveland Police Union has made an emergency request to suspend open carry for the duration of the Republican convention.

Story is here.

Will there be a convention bump for Trump?

There is usually a convention bump. Four years ago, the bump thing was interesting (see this post).

Here is the starting point for this year’s bump-tracking:

Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 10.48.18 AM

Will Trump pass Clinton in polls after the convention?

Monday’s RNC Convention Speaker

Today’s speakers include but are not limited to:

  • Melania Trump
  • retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn
  • Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst
  • Montana Rep. Ryan Zinke
  • veterans activist Jason Beardsley
  • Willie Robertson of “Duck Dynasty”
  • former Texas Gov. Rick Perry
  • actor Scott Baio
  • Navy SEAL Marcus Luttrell
  • Sen. Tom Cotton
  • Sen. Jeff Sessions
  • former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani
  • Which of these speakers will end up in a Trump cabinet, and in what position?

    Pokemon Go at the RNC Convention?

    Apparently it is a thing, tough I’m not sure what it all means.

    Will convention delegates be playing Pokemon Go during the convention?

    Hey, wait a second!

    Gun mayhem fails to develop so far

    Screen Shot 2016-07-18 at 4.09.45 PM
    Cleveland Gun Rights Rally on RNC Eve Fails to Draw Crowd

    Protests Erupt Over Rules, Chair Rules Against Roll Call Vote


    NBC covers it here.

    War Hawks

    The Republicans seem bent on entering a major war in the middle east. Or somewhere.

    Also, they are calling for the end of the Geneva Convention. They seem to prefer the “war criminal” method of “defending ourselves.”

    Who are all these anti-war war mongering republicans?

    The Republican Nominating Convention First Night: How did it go?

    I just watched all the clips from last evening’s coverage, mainly on MSNBC. Here is what happened.

    Bla bla bla BENGHAZI! Bla bla bla bla bla BENGHAZI!!! Bla Bla. Bla Bla Benghazi BlaH! Bla bla bla bla bla BENGHAZI!!! Bla Bla. BENGHAZI!!! Bla Bla. Bla bla bla BENGHAZI! Bla bla bla bla bla BENGHAZI!!! Bla Bla. Bla Bla Benghazi BlaH! Bla bla bla bla bla BENGHAZI!!! Bla Bla. BENGHAZI!!! Bla Bla. BENGHAZI!!! Bla Bla. BENGHAZI!!! Bla Bla. Bla bla bla. BENGHAZI!!! Bla Bla. BENGHAZI!!! Bla Bla. Bla bla bla. Bla Bla. Bla Bla Benghazi BlaH! Bla bla bla bla bla BENGHAZI!!! Bla Bla. BENGHAZI!!! Bla Bla. Bla bla bla BENGHAZI! Bla bla bla bla bla BENGHAZI!!! Bla Bla. Bla Bla Benghazi BlaH! Bla bla bla bla bla BENGHAZI!!! Bla Bla. BENGHAZI!!! Bla Bla. Melania Trump Plagiarizes Michele Obama.

    Then, this morning, I watched and listened to news and social media to see what impacts the RNC had. And this is what we have:

    Melania Trump Plagiarizes Michele Obama. Melania Trump Plagiarizes Michele Obama. Melania Trump Plagiarizes Michele Obama. Melania Trump Plagiarizes Michele Obama. Melania Trump Plagiarizes Michele Obama. Melania Trump Plagiarizes Michele Obama. Melania Trump Plagiarizes Michele Obama. Melania Trump Plagiarizes Michele Obama. Melania Trump Plagiarizes Michele Obama. Melania Trump Plagiarizes Michele Obama. Melania Trump Plagiarizes Michele Obama. Melania Trump Plagiarizes Michele Obama. Melania Trump Plagiarizes Michele Obama. Melania Trump Plagiarizes Michele Obama. Melania Trump Plagiarizes Michele Obama. Melania Trump Plagiarizes Michele Obama. Melania Trump Plagiarizes Michele Obama. Melania Trump Plagiarizes Michele Obama. Melania Trump Plagiarizes Michele Obama. Melania Trump Plagiarizes Michele Obama. Melania Trump Plagiarizes Michele Obama. Melania Trump Plagiarizes Michele Obama. Melania Trump Plagiarizes Michele Obama. Melania Trump Plagiarizes Michele Obama.

    So, that’s how it went!

    Here is the moment on MSNBC when Melania Trumped Benghazi:


    And, continuing:

    Public Service Announcement:

    How to not get caught plagiarizing!

    Exploding Catturday

    I just came across this and realized it was essential to tell you about it. Or, maybe, I’m the last person to learn of it.

    Exploding Kittens: A Card Game About Kittens and Explosions and Sometimes Goats.

    Apparently …

    Exploding Kittens is a card game for people who are into kittens and explosions and laser beams and sometimes goats.

    In this highly-strategic, kitty-powered version of Russian Roulette, players draw cards until someone draws an Exploding Kitten, at which point they explode, they are dead, and they are out of the game — unless that player has a Defuse card, which can defuse the Kitten using things like laser pointers, belly rubs, and catnip sandwiches. All of the other cards in the deck are used to move, mitigate, or avoid the Exploding Kittens.

    Created by Elan Lee (Xbox, ARGs), Matthew Inman (The Oatmeal), and Shane Small (Xbox, Marvel), Exploding Kittens is the most-backed Kickstarter project ever, and the most-funded game in Kickstarter history.

    Apparently, there is also Exploding Kittens: NSFW Edition (Explicit Content).

    Am I the last person to now about this?

    Anyway, happy Catturday!

    Venomous: How the Earth’s Deadliest Creatures Mastered Biochemistry

    You can read this book review, or you can just go HERE and listen to our interview with author Christie Wilcox. I promise you in advance that you will want to read her book!

    But, if you want to read the book review, here it is…

    Did you ever do anything that hurt, then you had to do it again and you knew it would still hurt, and you didn’t like that? Like getting your teeth cleaned, or licking a nine volt battery. OK, maybe you didn’t have to lick the nine volt battery, but you get my point.

    When I was working in the Ituri Forest, in the Congo, taking a walk in the forest was one of those things. All sorts of things hurt. Your feet hurt because of jungle rot combined with sandy gritty stuff permanently indurated in your shoes. The leaves and branches you would have to move through hurt because it was early in the morning and they were cold and wet. And so on.

    But one of the things that was not inevitable, but nearly daily, was being stung by a venomous beast of some kind. The most serious threat, of course, was snakes but that never happened to me. Much more common, but more common a night, was to be bitten or stung by a venomous ant. But that only happened, maybe, once a week or so. But nearly every day, if I would walk far enough in the forest (hundreds of meters) especially early in the morning, would be the venomous caterpillars.

    Cute little caterpillars with some extra long furry thingies sticking out of them. When you brush against them, there is instant local pain, a bit like a bee sting (but different) followed quickly by shooting pains from the site of contact to the nearest major lymph node (usually the arm pit), followed by pain in the lymph node. The pain would eventually go away, after minutes, sometimes a bit longer. Most gentile urbane suburban or urban dwelling Americans and Europeans can go for years between envenomations. But if you are a human, or some other creature, living in certain environments, the risk of envenomation is not only constant, but the actual smaller scale, not deadly, envenomation events are a regular occurrence, and the threat of The Big One (such as a Black Mamba bite or a Cobra strike) is always there.

    In Venomous: How Earth’s Deadliest Creatures Mastered Biochemistry, Chritie Wilcox explains why this is important. We tend to think of the interaction between animals, within or between species — those interactions that have to do with sexual competition, feeding, or predator avoidance — as involving tooth, nail, squiggly appendages, and all that. But these interactions also involve, very often, some sort of envenomation. Also, using venom isn’t always about stinging, paralyzing, or killing. Mosquitos use venom to make blood sucking possible, as the chemicals used to stop their host from feeling the bite, and to make it easier to suck the blood, etc., are venoms. Indeed, the parasites we know to be so commonly associated with mosquitos get into the host by hanging out with the venom, free riding with the injected biochemicals.

    So, the evolution and diversification of venom and strategies of attack or defense, and other things, associated with venom co-evolved with anti-strategies to avoid the pain, paralysis, to avoid the bite or sting or brush of the venomous hair of the caterpillar. Indeed, understanding the evolutionary history and patterns of adaptation associated with the use of venom is just as good as any syndrome of interaction or behavior for the study of how evolution itself works.

    Christie Wilcox’s book is one of the better science books I’ve read in some time. This is an area I should know something about, as a biological scientist, and as a person who has lived for years in the venom-rich rain forest. But I still found myself learning something new with every page turn. Wilcox has studied venom for years — this is her area of specialty — and her text is enriched with well placed and well told stories of her own sometimes harrowing experiences.

    The book is very well written and very well documented with copious notes.

    A fascinating subtext has to do with human evolution and experience. There is a theory that primates generally are tuned to venomous creatures, especially snakes, and some of the key primate evolutionary adaptations are shaped by the experience of living in trees where large venomous snakes hunt. In the present day, there is what looks to me almost like a cult of self envenomation, found among people who keep venomous snakes (mainly), who inject themselves with venom regularly in order to stay, maybe, immune in case of an accidental bite. But they seem to be doing something more than this, almost using the venom as a sort of drug or, fascinatingly, as an elixir to extend life. On top of this, there is even an expanding practice of using snake bites, or ingesting the powdered form of snake venom, as a recreational drug. This set of not too unrelated human stories sits intriguingly amid myriad stories of venom use among a wide range of animals, including several mammals, fish, cone snails, snakes and lizards, etc.

    I get the impression that bad scientific knowledge (generally older), folk stories, and meemish yammering about venom is among the most widespread form of falsehood in our parascientific discourse. As I read this book, I remembered may instances of hearing or reading this or that thing about this or that venomous animal, or category of animal, that turned out wrong as more recent science exposed what was really happening. For many years, scientists were not sure if the platypus was venomous (it is) or why (it is all about sex for them). How does the Komodo Dragon kill large prey such as the Water Buffalo? If you look it up, you may find out that the Komodo Dragon maintains a bacterial flora in its mouth that causes necrosis in a bite victim. That is not true. Read Christie Wilcox’s book to find out the real story! And so on.

    Venomous: How Earth’s Deadliest Creatures Mastered Biochemistry is out in August, but available for pre order.

    Mike Haubrich and I interviewed Christie on the Ikonokast podcast, and it turns out to have been a fantastic interview. Listen to it here!

    Christie Wilcox blogs at Science Sushi.

    Wasabi wannabe and the chemistry of the hot green sushi substance

    It is sad that most sushi lovers will never have real wasabi. I had assumed that I had sampled real wasabi when I spent several days eating sushi morning noon and night in Actual Japan. But even then, there is a good chance I never tasted the stuff.

    The reason that most “wasabi” is fake, and the agronomy and chemistry of wasabi, turn out to be really interesting.

    Here is the background info references in the video.

    Arduino Project Handbook

    Huxley and I like to make Arduino projects. If you know what that means, your geek cred is good. If not, I’ll explain briefly.

    Arduino is an Italian based project that produces circuit boards that are controllers.

    A controller is a small highly specialized computer thingie that can be programmed to have various inputs and outputs. You can connect devices (sensors) to the inputs and other devices (actuators of some kind, or lights or whatever) to the outputs. The programming can be fairly sophisticated. If you hook up enough of the right stuff to an Arduino board (of which there are several models, the most common being theUNO) you can have a robot, a fancy wether station, an alarm clock, or a small device that randomly turns a light on and off.

    So far we’ve done very well with turning lights on and off, measuring basic environmental conditions, and so on. Lately, we’ve had to put the Arduino project matériel away because we are about to move and had to pack some stuff up. But we have plans. Big plans.

    Our first project after the move may be a lightning detector. Not so much to tell if lightning has gone off. That’s kind of obvious. Big flash of light, bang, etc. Rather, we’ll be counting the frequency of lightning events in storms that pass by. Why? No reason.

    We will also be building other weather related sensors and displays. And, we intend to replace the really annoying Trouble game dice roller with a digital roller. We might even program that device to produce more number 6s than random, to make that game even less annoying!

    I’m also looking forward to making an UNO board from scratch, just for fun, a device to tell us when to water the plants, and a device that decodes a secret door knock. And, of course, we will build a device that detects the cat and deploys a cat toy when she is near and moving.

    We will find the instructions and code to deploy most of these projects, or at least, versions that we can modify, in Arduino Project Handbook: 25 Practical Projects to Get You Started, which just came out, but, as I understand it, is selling so fast that they are running out. (Don’t worry, they are printing more.)

    I’ve read quiet a few Arduino project books. There are two kinds. The intro book, such as the one being reviewed here, that provides a large number of projects that illustrate how the system works, while at the same time, providing a number of practical projects mixed in with some that are just for fun but that show important physical and programming principles. the other kind are more specialized, and cover how to use this system to build, say, environmental sensors, or robots, or to work with Lego Technic, or whatever.

    All the intro books that don’t suck (some suck) are similar, give you similar tools, similar information, etc. But this new book, Arduino Project Handbook: 25 Practical Projects to Get You Started, is better than the other intro books for two simple reasons.

    First, the instructions themselves are VERY clear and have EXCELLENT illustrations to show the wiring.

    When you build an Arduino project, generally, you use hookup wires to connect the controller to various sensors, lights, etc., via breadboard. A breadboard is a plastic thingie with a lot of holes in it, and the holes are, in turn, hooked up to each other in a specified pattern. So you can hook up the “electricity in” wire to one hole and all the other holes in a particular lines will now have electricity in them. (I oversimplify.) Then you stick lights or motors or whatever into the various holes so they are now hooked up properly to the controller (which supplies both input and output logic and power).

    The problem is that it doesn’t take a very complicated project to require a lot of connections, a lot of wires, various resistors, etc. The projects are visually complex and confusing.

    These projects are illustrated with a combination of photographs of a properly assembled board and controller and parts, and a diagram that is very seeable and readable and folowable.

    Other project books have good diagrams as well, but this book is a notch above the best and a few notches above the average.

    The second reason this book is good is that it is current, new, up to date. This is the most current project book available, so if you are looking to get started with Arduino, this is the one you want today. In six months or a year, maybe not.

    Another nice thing about this book is that the author, Mark Geddes, is pretty straight forward and helpful in specifying parts and equipment needed. There is a list of parts right at the beginning of the book that you will need for all of the projects, and a list of ideal tools and other items. He suggests alternatives, and provides enough added information with the project instructions that you can know where to vary the specifications. There is a detailed well illustrated appendix that shows and describes the parts, so you will not be confused or stymied when searching for parts on line, or, for that matter, trying to figure out which part is which in that box you threw all the parts in last time you were messing around with your Arduino.

    Naturally, the code for each project, which you upload to the device via your computer using a USB connectors, is available at the book’s web site for download.

    If you are going to start messing around with Arduino projects, this is the book to start with, and it will get you quite far.

    Can a computer replace J.K. Rowling?

    Not yet.

    As you know, JK Rowling is the author of the famous Harry Potter series of books (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, etc.), and more recently, of a series of really excellent crime novels (if you’ve not read them, you need to: The Cuckoo’s Calling, The Silkworm, and Career of Evil, with a fourth book on the way, I hear).

    Intuit’s Max Deutsch fed the seven Harry Potter books to a computer and told it to write a new chapter. It did. It came out as gibberish.

    However, it isn’t just random gibberish. When you read the new text, you can see that the dialog for each character is styled somewhat like Rowling’s original characters. The fact that a large number of the sentences make no sense at all, and that many are agrammatical, kinda ruins the flow. It might have been a good idea to run the output from this computer through a grammar checker.

    And, of course, other than the random novelty one gets when flipping coins, there is nothing new, no interesting plot elements, new characters, or novel magical tropes in this new text.

    Here is an example:

    “He’s cheer to their advantage,” Moody retorted suddenly.

    “Sorry,” Harry shouted, panicking?—?“I’ll leave those brooms in London, are they?”

    “No idea,” said Nearly Headless Nick, casting low close by Cedric, carrying the last bit of treacle Charms, from Harry’s shoulder, and to answer him the common room perched upon it, four arms held a shining knob from when the spider hadn’t felt it seemed. He reached the teams too.

    “You believe if we’ve got friendly to come down and out of the library. I think I’ve found out Potter, I asked you he had . . . me. I think he’s not telling Dobby if yeh get with our Hogwarts …”

    “What are you doing, Harry?” said Hermione, staring down at her. “Would Malfoy let me easier?”

    “Professor Karkaroff slipped down the steps to get the second row of silver hair?”

    Harry stared at the shadowy clearing, and pointing to a long, old grin. But she had been many times more like having cards, standing all around and began to sob down the steps over the brakes and Control of Magical Creatures class just pushed with gold.

    I think J.K. Rowling gets to keep her job for a while longer…

    The Manga Guide to Regression Analysis

    Manga is the Japanese sounding but not used so much in Japan term for a form of cartooning art that has its roots from before World War II but that emerged in its common form during the post war Occupation period. Early used in political cartooning, Manga style drawing is now used for a wide range of expression, and has a place in illustrating a wide range of products, read by Japanese citizens of all sorts and ages. Outside of Japan, Manga is the starting point for the wildly popular Anime style of expression, which of course brings us to…

    Pokeman go

    But, we are not here to talk about Pokeman go. We are here to talk about Regression Analysis.

    No Starch Press has been producing Manga Guides for some years now. They cover many area of math, science, and technology. (I’ve provided a list below.)

    The most recent Manga Guide is The Manga Guide to Regression Analysis by Shin Takahashi and Iroha Inoue.

    This book presents the story if Miu, a young woman who is having some trouble understanding regression analysis. But she has a love interest to inspire her, and a brilliant coworker to guide her, and with these motivations and tools embarks on a learning journey to grasp such concepts as how to calculate the regression equation and check it’s accuracy, how to use correlation coefficients, test hypotheses, conduct analyses of variance (and analysis of variance is mathematically identical to a regression analysis), predict odds ratios, and do a few parametric statistics to boot.

    This is the book that a graduate student who needs to know regression, but is not in a highly mathematical field and skipped college Statistics, will read, learn from, and later claim belongs to his younger brother. Or, that a science-oriented non scientist who is tired of glossing over the statistical parts of the science she reads can use to get up to speed. Or, that a business person or political junkie who wants to use basic regression tools to spot trends or predict primary outcomes might find helpful.

    I think that Manga is a medium that many people relate to and find comfortable, and for such individuals, all of the Manga guides, to various math and science concepts, are great. If you have a high school student in your life who is facing a stats course, this is a good gift. Even though the book focuses on Regression, you should know that regression analysis incorporates, or in some way relates to, the vast majority of statistical techniques. When I’ve taught or tutored graduate level stats, and I learned this from the famous Mark Pagel, I’ve always focused on regression because it is very intuitive, yet powerful, and touches on everything. In other words, if you are going to learn one advanced statistical technique, make it (multiple variable) regression.

    Interestingly, The Manga Guide to Regression Analysis is a great introduction, but it is not confined to basic regression. The material in this book takes you through a number of different ways to do regression, and will bring you to the point where you should be able to understand and swap in any of the numerious alternative modeling approaches that are out there and available in various statistical packages.

    An appendix provides a guide to using Excel to do regression analysis.

    Other Manga Guides

    <li><a  href="">The Manga Guide to Physiology</a><img src="//" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" /></li>
    <li><a  href="">The Manga Guide to Physics</a><img src="//" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" /></li>
    <li><a  href="">The Manga Guide to Electricity</a><img src="//" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" /></li>
    <li><a  href="">The Manga Guide to Linear Algebra</a><img src="//" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" /></li>
    <li><a  href="">The Manga Guide to Statistics</a><img src="//" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" /></li>
    <li><a  href="">The Manga Guide to Biochemistry</a><img src="//" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" /></li>
    <li><a  href="">The Manga Guide to Calculus</a><img src="//" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" /></li>
    <li><a  href="">The Manga Guide to Databases</a><img src="//" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" /></li>
    <li><a  href="">The Manga Guide to Relativity</a><img src="//" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" />
    <li><a  href="">The Manga Guide to the Universe</a><img src="//" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" /></li>
    <li><a  href="">The Manga Guide to Molecular Biology</a><img src="//" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" /></li>

    Calling out the Koch Brothers

    Just got this media release:

    Washington, DC – Today, Monday, from 4:45 p.m. to 6:45 p.m., tomorrow, Tuesday, from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., and throughout the week,* 19 Senators will take to the Senate floor to call out Koch brothers- and fossil fuel industry-funded groups that have fashioned a web of denial to block action on climate change.

    Despite polling that shows over 80 percent of Americans favor action to reduce carbon pollution, Congress has failed to pass comprehensive climate legislation. The Senators will each deliver remarks detailing how interconnected groups – funded by the Koch brothers, major fossil fuel companies like ExxonMobil and Peabody Coal, identity-scrubbing groups like Donors Trust and Donors Capital, and their allies – developed and executed a massive campaign to deceive the public about climate change to halt climate action and protect their bottom lines.

    As part of their effort to draw attention to the web of denial, Senators Whitehouse, Markey, Schatz, Boxer, Merkley, Warren, Sanders, and Franken are introducing a resolution describing and condemning the efforts of corporations and groups to mislead the public about the harmful effects of tobacco, lead, and climate. The resolution also urges fossil fuel corporations and their allies to cooperate with investigations into their climate-related activities. Congressman Ted Lieu (D-CA) is introducing the resolution in the House this week.

    Use #WebOfDenial and #TimetoCallOut to follow the speeches on Twitter.

    EVENT: Senators to call out Koch brothers- and fossil fuel-backed web of denial blocking climate action


    Senator Harry Reid (D-NV)
    Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
    Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL)
    Senator Jack Reed (D-RI)
    Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY)
    Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD)
    Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)
    Senator Tom Udall (D-NM)
    Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)
    Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR)
    Senator Al Franken (D-MN)
    Senator Chris Coons (D-DE)
    Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)
    Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI)
    Senator Martin Heinrich (D-NM)
    Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA)
    Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
    Senator Edward Markey (D-MA)
    Senator Gary Peters (D-MI)


    Monday, from 4:45 p.m. to 6:45 p.m.
    Tuesday, from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

    *Several Senators will also deliver their remarks during the day on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. Follow #WebOfDenial and #TimetoCallOut for specific times.

    Police unnecessarily kill a third black man this week, threaten to kill more

    Police had cornered a murder suspect. There were negotiations and there was exchange of gunfire.

    Normally this stand off would have been maintained as long as possible. The way these things end, usually, is that the suspect gives up, the suspect kills themselves, there is what the police would call a “fair” exchange of gunfire* and the suspect is wounded or killed, etc.

    But the police had a new tool they could use to shorten the time span for such standoffs. They blew the suspect up with a bomb delivered specifically for that purpose. A robot drove over to the suspect, got the bomb near him, and blew him up.

    This means that the police had a method of killing people that involved bombs ready to go. They would not think up a new technology and deploy it in a high profile case unless they already had a method of deploying it and a reasonably good idea it would work.

    This was the Dallas police department. I would like to know how many different police departments have bombs designed to kill suspects ready to go. How many police departments have the robots at the ready, how many have been engaged in training programs. I would like to see copies of the protocols for using bombs to kill suspects, and I’d like to know which legal or legislative authorities have been involved in developing those protocols.

    As far as I can tell, this is homicide. There were other ways to do this. There were no hostages being held. No one was being protected by killing this suspect at that time.

    I’m also a little concerned that during the same incident, the sniper shooting of several police officers in Dallas, that at least one, possibly two, other people were arrested or detained but released because they were found not involved. So, by my count, there was a maximum of a 3 in 5 chance that the police correctly identified suspects in this incident. Are we pretty sure the suspect that was assassinated by the Dallas Police Department, using the bomb, was not just some wigged out dude that wanted to be thought of as a suspect? I doubt that is the case, but one normally determines these things by some sort of due process. This was not that.

    As the events in Dallas unfolded last night, a police expert (former top cop guy of some kind) issued an explicit threat to all Americans. He said that given the assassination of several Dallas Police officers, police around the country were going to do two things.

    First, they would double up or get into larger groups, so there would be fewer units to respond to calls, and maybe some reluctance to respond to certain calls. So, forget about the police doing their jobs. In many areas they already don’t do their jobs. But in the few places they were doing their jobs, perhaps expect this to become a thing of the past.

    Second, he said they wold be much more trigger happy an more likely to kill when they do show up to do their jobs.

    Essentially the police response to being the rare victim (instead of perpetrator, as the commonly are) of random killing of innocent people is to stop protecting people from such violence, and increase the amount of such violence that they themselves carry out.

    So, that’s where we are at right now.

    If you see a cop, avoid them. If yo are not white and you see a cop, really really avoid them. If you have a reason to call 911 other than a dire medical emergency, do not call. You may end up being responsible for someone getting killed, because when the cops show up, anyone around who is not white is at serious risk, and actually, everybody is at risk.

    People are seeing the shooting of the Dallas cops as the most recent escalation in a very bad downward spiral of civilization. But it is not. The most recent escalation was the killing by the police of a suspect that they had cornered, using a robot and a bomb.

    Expect worse.

    *According to several cops commenting on Dallas, a the only fair way to have a gun exchange with the cops is for the non-cop to stand in the open and only shoot at cops that are facing them.

    Philando Castile’s Killing: Some geographic background

    Philando Castile told his mother that he was reluctant to carry his legal, permitted, firearm because he was afraid that if he had a run in with the police, they would simply kill him.

    Later that day, a Saint Anthony Village police officer pulled Castile over for a broken tail light, and then, at the first opportunity, fired several bullets into his arm and torso. A few moments later, Castile fell into unconsciousness, apparently dead. The police then apprehended Castile’s companion, who was in the passenger seat, and, treating her like a criminal, handcuffed her and stuffed her in the back of a police car. Later, it was confirmed that Castile was killed.

    I would give you a trigger warning for the following video, but I don’t care if it triggers you. I want it to trigger you. You and everybody else needs to see this.

    I used to live a block from this incident. It is a city called Falcon Heights, which is the location of the inaptly named “Saint Paul Campus” of the University of Minnesota, and also the home of the Great Minnesota Get-together, the Minnesota State Fair. In fact, the intersection at which this killing occurred is at the north entrance of the fairgrounds. This makes me think that it would be a good idea to put a monument there, a monument to how dangerous the police can be, for all the fairgoers to take note of when they go to the fair, from now on.

    Back in the old days, a few years ago and on back, when I lived walking distance to the fair and the site of this shooting, the police would be at this intersection in numbers, helping people cross the street, controlling traffic, keeping people safe, during the State Fair. Then, one year, there was a bogus terroristic threat against the fair, so the police apparently redistributed themselves and stopped protecting people at that intersection. Or, perhaps they changed their policy for some other reason. Crossing the street, pulling your car out, etc. was then a matter of every person to themselves. (There were always a few cops standing around watching the chaos, but not helping.) Now, that intersection is added to the ever growing list of American Police killing grounds. Yes, a monument, at this intersection, to remind the people and whatever police might remain controlling traffic during the two week long fair event would be appropriate.

    A couple of blocks from this intersection are two or three blocks or corners that are in Saint Paul and that have a bad reputation for crime. As I noted, I used to live there, and after I was no longer living there, my daughter lived there part time for several years. This is the school district she went to. I also worked on that campus for two years. I know the area, and the neighborhoods.

    The exact location of the shooting, and to the west and north, is a palatial residential community with small single family houses, and a few bunches of condos and apartment buildings, mainly down the street from where this killing happened. I should mention that Falcon Heights, as well as nearby Lauderdale, and Saint Anthony Village, are all patrolled by a sort of amalgamated police department. These various cities (which adjoin the well known Roseville, MN) share various such services, including police fire, etc. and tend to be umbilically connected to Saint Paul, where the major utilities come from.

    The immediate neighborhood is occupied by many people who are connected with the University, a fair number of retired people, some students. Most are white, but there is a strong Asian presence, because this is one of the main neighborhoods into which the Hmong immigrated back in the day. Also, many apartment dwellers in the area are from countries all around the world, because the are connected to a major university. My daughter’s grade school, another block north of the shooting beyond where we lived, is famously international. Each year they hang flags representing all of the countries from which the students come, and there would always be dozens of them.

    So that’s the basic cultural context. A neighborhood where bad things don’t happen, filled with people who probably carry out their share of white collar crime (or who are academics, and thus have other problems) but otherwise pretty quiet. Nearby are the scary neighborhoods, the neighborhoods that are actually pretty typical urban zones, with varying degrees of charm, development, decay, all that. Nothing exceptional. But I have the sense that the people of Falcon Heights, Saint Anthony, Lauderdale, and this part of Roseville, a generally liberal and highly educated enclave, collectively identify, label, and talk about those other neighborhoods, which are blacker, crimier, scarier, bits of the “Inner City” (a term disdained by Twin City dwellers, just so you know) creeping out into the “better neighborhoods.”

    The victim, of course, was a school employee and citizen of good standing who didn’t live in any of those nearby scary neighborhoods, and was not part of an inner city creeping, even if such a characterization was valid (which it only barely is). But he and the others in the car were black, and they were driving down a street where the city police probably feel a duty to keep the Inner City away, keep the blackness away. One good way to do that is to encourage black people to avoid driving down that particular street, a major local thoroughfare, and instead, stay south and in the city. Let Saint Paul take care of its own problems. Don’t be driving through our quiet neighborhood. How do you do that? Pull over black people with broken tail lights, obviously. Then shake them down. Make them regret driving down that particular street.


    People who live in the area know that this is a zone where the cops pull people over all the time. For years I drove down that street twice a day or more, and very often saw people pulled over. The cops even have a trick with traffic speed postings, changing abruptly between 30 mph and 40 mph in a couple of places, allowing them to stop “speeders” more easily. I regard this traffic stop as part of that process, of the police policing the blackness impinging on a neighborhood of special snowflakes.

    It is rather shocking that a murder of a citizen by a cop on this street did not happen sooner.

    Here is a piece by Shawn Otto that you should have a look at.

    This also:

    Super Typhoon Nepartak

    This is a huge hurricane/typhoon heading quickly, and imminently, towards taiwan.

    The storm itself is roughly as wide as the island nation is long, so very little will be left unaffected.

    The storm is at the very high end of the range of storms in size, strength, etc. It is currently equivalent to a Category 5 hurricane. It may weaken a bit before landfall over the next few hours, but it may remain a Category 5.

    Winds, huge waves and coastal flooding from storm surges will be a big problem with this storm, but the largest problem may be the incredibly high rainfall, with about one meter of rain (3 feet) predicted in some locations. This could cause unprecedented and major flooding.

    Nepartak should be regarded as a global warming enhanced storm. The storm is made so large and strong because of extraordinarily high sea surface temperatures, which in turn is an effect of human caused global warming.

    Locally, the Green Island and the Taiwanese city of Taitung City are on or very close to the expected storm track. If the storm tracks a bit south, expect very severe storm surges in Taitun city. Either way, there will be major rainfall in the river basins, and the valley ousee north of Taitung City, which has several settlements in it, seems likely to be at major risk.

    Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 10.31.03 AM

    Here is the most current (10:34 AM CT) map from Weather Underground showing the relationship between the storm and Taiwan.

    Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 10.33.58 AM

    Climate Signals has info on the storm, and does a good job at evaluating the likely relationship between the storm and human caused climate change.

    On July 4 and 5, in just 24 hours, cyclone Nepartak intensified from a 70 mph storm to a Category 4 super typhoon with 150 mph winds, peaking with 1-minute sustained winds of 173 mph (150 knots) on July 6. Currently a Category 5 storm, Nepartak is forecast to strike Taiwan Thursday night, July 7, local time (midday Eastern time) before moving on to eastern China. The rapid intensification of Nepartak was driven by favorable climate conditions, including passage over unusually warm seas with some of the highest oceanic heat content readings observed in conjunction with a tropical cyclone. There is a documented increase in the intensity of the strongest storms in several ocean basins in recent decades, including the Pacific Northwest. And warming seas are offering more energy to passing storms. Extreme rainfall over Taiwan is expected to be intense, fueled in part by a warmer atmosphere, with total rainfall in some areas reaching well above 3 feet. The reach of Nepartak’s storm surge will be extended due to elevated sea levels driven up by global warming.

    Jeff Masters is covering the storm here. He discusses the very rapid development of this storm:

    Category 5 Super Typhoon Nepartak is steaming towards a Thursday landfall in Taiwan after putting on a phenomenal display of rapid intensification on Monday and Tuesday. Nepartak went from a tropical storm with 70 mph winds on Monday afternoon to a Category 4 super typhoon with 150 mph winds on Tuesday afternoon, in just 24 hours.