Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Movie Notes : Magritte : An attempt at the Impossible

from the movie Magritte : An attempt at the Impossible (2007)

E.L.T. Mesens on left and Louis Scutenaire on the right

Narrator : "Louis Scutenaire (known as Scoot) …"the enemy of poetry is work." He was employed in the Ministry of the Interior."

Saturday, June 11, 2016

bad graph : Washington Post's abortion map

The lesson of this bad graph is don't just look at the graph but read the text.

from the Washington Post is this 2013 article by Sarah Kliff.

1. Before the Roe decision, most states did not allow legal abortion.

while the map does paint a certain picture by referring to "repeal" and "reform" of abortion laws. and the subhead says "most states did not allow legal abortion" the text walks that back considerably :
...Through the mid-1960s, 44 states outlawed abortion in nearly all situations that did not threaten the life or health of the mother. States began liberalizing their abortion laws in the 1960s and 1970s. This map shows the situation in the early-1970s, when Roe was decided.

The four maroon states legalized abortion in nearly all cases before the fetus was viable. The 14 pink states allowed abortions in some circumstances. Nearly all others continued to ban abortion in most cases.
This source lists the reformed group as : Colorado, North Carolina, California, Georgia, Maryland, Arkansas, New Mexico, Kansas, Oregon, Delaware, South Carolina, Virginia and Florida. I only count 13 which is also the count on the map.

The part I bolded hollows out the headline. So, the subhead should read "1. Before the Roe decision, most states DID allow legal abortion."  And the map should look different.

Note that unlike Kliff I include both a map showing an accurate representation of the subhead and also a map detailing what abortion laws actually looked like.

note that I haven't looked into  the specific restrictions of Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and New Jersey's laws outlawing "unlawful" or "unjustified" abortions and what a lawful or justified abortion would be.
Note #2 : I'm not sure what the previous laws in Wisconsin and Texas were. Texas, where Roe v Wade originated, did include an allowance for rape.
Note #3 (added Oct 2016) : Washington DC, which I didn't place on the map would be black like Texas and Wisconsin (abortion laws had been invalidated by the courts pre-Roe vs Wade)

Sunday, June 5, 2016

movie notes / Bad statistics : Philomena (2013)

Philomena (2013) starring Steve Coogan and Judi Dench.

The son's sister : "He wasn't too happy the last years of his life, working for Reagan. He was pretty messed up about it."
Steve Coogan's character : "The Republicans withdrew funding for AIDS research because they blamed the epidemic on the gay lifestyle."
And yet the budget went up every single year (table below from linked pdf).

Monday, May 30, 2016

They're not egalitarians : Gender Gap Report 2015

The WEF Gender Gap Report 2015 (the report has been previously mentioned)

Russia is still at the top of the list (page 62) when it comes to equality of life expectancy. That is to say that there is an enormous gender gap between men and women but since the gap favors women the authors count that as "equality"

Australia (page 90) is still a sexist, misogynistic hell-hole because the Healthy Life expectancy is 74 for women and 71 for men. Of course, the Gender Gap Report defines this as the 3 year gap suffered by men as a gap where women are behind as they only count it as "equality" if women live 6% longer than men or longer.

Kazakhstan's sex ratio data (p216) is still wrong. The ratio shows male:female ratio while is is supposed to show female: male.

Note that the vertical dashed line indicates "equality." Since women do better than men they truncate the score at the "equality" benchmark because they don't want anyone to think men might fall behind (see page 5 of the report).  So, if you look at the 6th column of numbers you can see 1.06 is for sex ratio at birth and Healthy Life Expectancy is 1.14 but in the second column shows the truncated scores of 0.94 and 1.06 respectively.

They do 3 things with the data to generate the category score:
1) the convert to ratios to focus on differences between males and female scores

2) they truncate the data at their "equality" benchmark (ie with Healthy Life Expectancy they define equality as women living 6% longer than men; therefore with the Russian Life Expectancy Ratio at 1.20 they truncate the score to 1.06.) They don't want anyone to know if there is a gender gap where men suffer. "We find the one-sided scale more appropriate for our purposes, as it does not reward countries for having exceeded the parity benchmark."

3) the subcategory score is calculated with weighted average. A weight of 0.693 for sex ratio and 0.307 weight for HLE.  I think they calculated the weights (page 7) without allowing for their defining the more significant number as less than one and consequently even with perfect scores it'll show women suffering inequality.

World Economic Forum logo -Committed To Improving The State Of The World
WEF logo - Committed To Improving The State Of The World (unless you are a guy)

Update :  Interestingly, they have been producing reports every year for 10 years and have gotten media attention with every report but no one noticed that the weighting was wrong. One would think it would be a clue when a country has men suffering a gender gap in health subcategories that they report that as women suffering a gender gap in the category. How depressing that they put so much effort into collecting the report each year and after all these years I seem to be the only person to take a close look at it. 

"The first is the sex ratio at birth, which aims specifically to capture the phenomenon of “missing women” prevalent in many countries with a strong son preference. Second, we use the gap between women’s and men’s healthy life expectancy."

The idea of "missing women," according to the abstract to the paper "Missing Women : Revisiting the Debate" referenced in the Gender Gap Report, is premised on "the number of females who had died as a result of unequal access to resources in parts of the developing world." Interesting that an "unequal access to resources" when it comes to men is seen as insignificant.

Update #2 (June 14, 2016) : I emailed some of the people listed on the report about this with no response after a week.

But I did notice that on page 11 they list the Health & Survival category and mark countries with a score of 0.980 as achieving parity (at least parity since the truncate the scores.) However, the chart they use to display each country's score in comparison to the sample average suggests that 1.0 is the standard of equality and Austria, for example is behind with regards to health.

I would also note that if the used equal values (ie a score of 1 for equality in each subcategory) then the weighting would work.

If the Gender Gap Report used the simple measure of life expectancy equality (results being equal to mean equality as opposed to insisting that women living 6% longer than men as "equality") then 138 out of 145 countries would have men suffering a gender gap, 4 would have equality and 3 would have women suffering a gender gap (page 62).

Thursday, April 21, 2016


Writer and the former editor of Popular Woodworking magazine Christopher Schwarz is an interesting, although at times, an idiosyncratic writer. I've read some of his work and he seems knowledgable, if opinionated, about his subjects.

Here, he relates a tale from his days as an editor at a large publisher :

A few weeks before the summit, Japan had been rocked by the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. Like many other companies, we’d helped the relief effort by donating a portion of all sales during a special corporate-wide event.

We were briefed on how much money went to relief efforts – plus how revenue had increased dramatically overall as a result of the additional sales in our online stores. Then the highest-ranking person in the room made a proposal, and that’s when the floor fell out below my chair.

“We should find one natural disaster per financial quarter and run a similar promotion corporate-wide,” he said.

My head spun and I started saying stupid things. I remember asking how many people would have to die for it to be counted as significant enough to hold a special promotion. Would domestic disasters be better than international ones? I’m not sure what else I said, but I should have kept my mouth shut.

in the comments he explains :

Lost Art Press says:
March 25, 2016 at 9:25 am
The reason to run the disaster promotion was to increase revenue, not to help people.

Chris deserves credit for being willing to admit that he opposed and mocked the idea raising money for people in need because, while the publisher did raise money for a good cause, the publisher had insufficiently pure motives. I'm sure people suffering from a disaster would rather go without than accept money raised by a publisher knowing that the publisher had also taken in additional revenue.

I suppose one solution to that would simply have been not to tell the suffering that the publisher had increased sales... but oh well. 

Hopefully, he isn't really a sadist and doesn't really hate the poor, the imperiled and the suffering. I suspect it is a case of hating someone (the boss) or something (the corporation) that overwhelmed his ability to consider other factors.

Friday, March 18, 2016

flashing light

A Yarra councillor wants to see more ‘green and red lady’ pedestrian signals installed across the inner city to promote gender equality. 
Yarra Council and VicRoads announced yesterday the silhouette of a woman would be installed at a new pedestrian crossing in Richmond. 
 Crossing the street shouldn’t be a problem. By the looks of her, she’s from an era that predates cars. Those skilled in the dark arts of photoshop are invited to submit a more modern design.

My submission : 
I figure if the light flashes it'll get people's attention (if it were animated it'd be even better).

Update: animated gif below the fold