Nomological Net

Stray thoughts from here and there. The occasional concern for construct validity. No more logic. Fish.


faults in the clouds of delusion

Wednesday, January 30, 2008



Update: more of the same

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Null hypothesis or null effect?

So... the flaw must be at the experiment end of things, right?

Via Drek.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Pure as the huh?

Driven snow is not pure. It's violated. It has been pushed aside from where it lay, lifted up in a shovelful, and dumped in a heap on the side of the path. I know, because I did it myself. Twice today, for a total of forty minutes, plus I watched the lady across the street doing it herself. By the time snow is driven, it's old, wasted, used, scattered, and utterly unromantic.

There is nothing pure about driving snow either. You have to bend, you have to be crooked, you have to run the sidewalk with your weight on your shovel, you have to cause yourself pain in your sides and your palms, and you have to do it repeatedly. It is annoying and it is unproductive.

Fallen snow only looks pure. It is not. It carries the deceptive facade of shimmering innocence but it is evil. It clogs sidewalks and driveways, creeps into cracks in windows, and ices up your windshield wipers causing you to risk scratching. It wisps its way under your overcoat and through its buttons and settles on your carefully wrought outfit causing patches that reveal their dampness only after you are far, far away.

Who makes these dumb metaphors up, anyway?

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Taking care of business

Up she popped, as is her wont, and asked why I haven't been posting. My response - been bloody busy - didn't quite cut it. Yet her generosity allowed her to be sympathetic. And I thought maybe I should keep things moving -- for instance by taking care of a couple of tags.


So for Lekhni, here's a list of five things I hope to achieve in the next five years:
- Tenure
- Lots of citations (300 sounds like a nice round number)
- New relationships
- A long road trip with friends
But mainly
- Stability

And one of five things I miss:
- Being able to see my friends whenever I wanted
- Going downstairs to play
- Sleeping by the hum of the giant khus-filled desert cooler
- That sense of absolute security
But most of all, and more than anything else, I miss
- Those who have gone


And, for Szerelem, a special photo that I clicked last year.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

When Diebold appeals, you call for the Third Umpire

Here's an interesting new twist to the New Hampshire story:

Could someone have messed with the vote in New Hampshire?

That is what some people are wondering, after looking closely at the totals in the votes for surprise Democratic primary victor Hillary Clinton, and for Barack Obama, who placed instead of winning as all the polls had predicted he would. And thanks to candidate Dennis Kucinich, we are likely to find out. Kucinich today filed a request, and a required $2000 fee, to order up a manual recount of the machine ballots cast in the state.

Polls taken as late as the day before the Tuesday vote showed Obama up by 10 to 15 points over Clinton, whom he had just beaten the week before in Iowa, but when the votes were counted, Clinton ended up beating Obama in New Hampshire 39.4 per cent to 36.8 per cent. In a replay of what happened in Ohio in 2004, exit polling reportedly also showed Obama to be winning the New Hampshire primary.

(Kucinich for President, man. He's the only one who's left of center.)

What has had eyebrows raised is a significant discrepancy between the vote counts done by voting machine, and the ones done by hand.

The machine tally was Clinton 39.6 per cent, Obama 36.3 per cent - fairly close to the final outcome. But the hand-counted ballot count broke significantly differently: Clinton 34.9 per cent, Obama 38.6 per cent.

It really isn't rocket science.

"The trouble is, whenever you have a surprise result in an election, and it runs counter to the polls, the media always say the problem is the polling, not the counting." But he adds, "The thing is, these things always work in one direction-in favor of the more conservative candidate, and that defies the law of quantum mechanics."

Watch for this story to sink without a trace.

Monday, January 07, 2008


Many, many years ago, during recess in a schoolyard in Sydney, two kids from the grade below mine jumped me and tried to beat me up. For a good five minutes till someone separated us, we were rolling around on the concrete and I was trying my best to give as good as I got. But I clearly remember that all during that time, even while I was fighting as hard as I could, my primary emotion was not one of anger or fear, but instead of surprise. Because, while they were hitting me, those two misbred marsupials kept repeating the word: Nigger. And I couldn't believe that someone could get things so wrong. Perhaps even on purpose.

Today I know better.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Why do we do this to ourselves?

Last night, I dozed off on the couch. It was for the second night in a row, and that makes it very unusual. I've been waking preternaturally early all year, which is also highly unusual, and maybe this was a consequence. Weirdest of all is the fact that I was watching cricket while it happened -- both nights I decided to give the rest of the day's play a miss, went upstairs, and slept.

This morning I find that Australia won the game. That I had half-expected. What I was less prepared for was the way in which it happened. Reading how Dravid was given out caught off his pad made me upset, but what really got my goat is the description of Ganguly's dismissal. There is nothing untoward about a fielder claiming a 50-50 catch -- what is bizarre is that the umpire would not check with the other umpires, but instead refers to the fielding captain. Who himself has no way of knowing except that the fielder in question told him it was a fair catch. And that fielder, Michael Clarke, being one who had not exactly covered himself with glory just the previous day. As Peter English puts it in his Cricinfo report: "Why should Clarke be trusted to rule on a potentially match-turning catch when he stayed at the crease on day four after edging a ball to first slip?" But that was exactly what happened, Ponting raised the finger to serve as judge and jury on Ganguly, and due process died a sorry death. (Speaking of which, is there anyone else here who thinks Ponting looks exactly like Bush? Which would make Benson the lame duck Supreme Court, right? How apt.) In his defense, Ponting says he can be taken at his word because he didn't claim a non-catch earlier in the game. Excuse me? What a masterly application of the Trussst in me snake-oil line. By this logic every criminal is innocent of his first crime. Mr. Ponting, your words have even less credibility than your actions.

But that is not the point of my rant. Upset as I am, I am most upset about something that has not yet happened. (And no, it is not that the BCCI will let this go without a whimper -- that is something that one expects anyway.) The fact is that, come next week, there will be another Test against this same Ponting's team, and one more the week after, and then an overdose of the hit and giggles. And while the Australians are an excellent cricket team, the fact is that sport is worth watching only when it is a contest, and a fair one at that. For all their woes, the Indians can indeed put up a good show on occasion, as this Test demonstrated. But if the dice are so loaded, and the opponents so criminally calculating, then there really is no pay-off to watching the game live. If all I'm going to get from it is the beauty of individual strokes and deliveries, be they from Laxman or Tendulkar or Hussey or Lee, then I might as well catch some highlights and save myself the misery.

But I don't. Even though I have found that I can happily survive without the cricket on in the background, as for instance happens when I'm traveling, if I find myself in the vicinity of a computer or a friendly television, I have to have it on. And this is what is frustrating me right now. Next week, when the third Test starts, I know I will be following it live. Our cricketers aren't the best, although they can be very good, and this series has in my eyes degenerated to a farce. So why will I go back to it?

Such a crock of shit.