You don’t have to be rich

I understand the argument that there are reasonably middle-class people who are worth over a million dollars. I am sympathetic to the notion that their lives are different quite different from those of the Koch brothers or Bill Gates. But Bieber, Mary, and Joseph, this is some unconvincing shit, even for Kaplan:

Though the average American family is rich beyond the wildest dreams of the average family in Bangladesh, where per capita income recently rose above $700, it’s not much compared with those who summer on beachfront properties in the Hamptons. When John D. Rockefeller learned in 1913 that the late J.P. Morgan had left an estate of $60 million, including a fabulous art collection, he reportedly said: “And to think — he wasn’t even rich.”

This what has gone wrong with conservatism: it has been savaged by the soft bigotry of low expectations. Wingers can put the dumbest arguments they want into Kaplan opinion pieces and they’ll get published. Winger candidates can show complete ignorance of any and all issues and they’ll still get elected. Once in, they can lead the country into catastrophic wars and be re-elected.

There is simply no incentive for a winger to be anything other than a complete fuck-up, a blithering drooling idiot whose arguments wouldn’t pass muster with your average 12 year-old.

CNN Tea Party Audience Cheers at Idea of Letting Sick Uninsured Man Die

Stays Klassy.

The CNN debate last night was wretched. It was everything that is wrong with this country — including feckless media and pundunces who should be ashamed for mainstreaming Teabilly bullshit — crammed into a studio so laden with patriotic lights, flags, and other Americana that even the creators of South Park and Team America were likely shocked and awed.

Then came the “cheering for Rick Perry’s high execution rate” moment: The Tea Party audience cheered — actually cheered at the notion of letting an uninsured man die if he didn’t decide for himself to buy Liberty Health Insurance from Liberty Health Associates, using his Liberty cell phone:

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Death becomes them

TPM has footage of the applause for the death penalty:

That’s who the Republican base is. They are who we thought they were.

They may not even be kill-crazy maniacs at heart, they just like tough talk from a cowboy. Steve M. got it right, the base wants I’m the kind of winger who’s built to last, you fuck with me I put my foot in your ass. That’s what this primary is about.

statistics bleg

I am someone who is coming to statistical literacy fairly late in life, or late in education, anyway. I was a humanities guy who is becoming a social science hybrid, and learning the last five years about research methodology, quantitative research, and similar topics has been a challenging and satisfying endeavor. But I’m still very green, so I’d like a little help from the BJ community on a statistical question.

This piece on angry unemployed and underemployed Millennials from the Atlantic drove me crazy, even though I’m predisposed to be sympathetic to their plight. One of the emailers writes, as part of an exhausting whinge,

Much of my rage is reserved for a predatory system of higher education and the failures of a generation that came before. I’m angry that a “state” university costs as much as it does. That many, if not most of the students who attend, treat the experience like a 4-year version of MTV’s Spring Break. Massive grade inflation means one less standard deviation between myself and those who don’t try. Lax entrance standards means that even in smaller classes, half of the students do as little as possible, have nothing to contribute, and see learning as a necessary evil, if even that. These “state” universities are more interested in funding nice football stadiums than maintaining up-to-date libraries or modern classrooms. They are more interested in your tuition than your education. And will continue to hound you for Alumni contributions long after graduation….


I pursued a “Liberal Arts Degree” in communications rather than a B.S. in engineering or computer science. I spent all four years at a state university rather than the first two at a community college. I worked in the summer instead of getting an internship. I worked harder at my classes than making contacts and networking with professionals. Not everyone is suffering in this economy, and if I were going to college for the first time this fall I’d know how to prepare. But I didn’t at the time and now I’m left to face the consequences. I want to blame the universities and “grown-ups” who I feel should have known better. They were the ones, after all, peddling the mantra of “go to college, study hard, get a job.”

Instead, egotistical like the rest of my me-first, entitlement ridden generation, I blame myself.  (emphasis mine)

Aside from the sense of entitlement, the paranoid style that assumes forces are working against this relatively privileged person, the non sequitur about his hard partying peers, the reliance on the commonly assumed but unsupportable claim that liberal arts students are disadvantaged economically, the odd use of scare quotes around “state” (is the idea that, secretly, his college wasn’t a public university?), his assumption that he would have gotten that computer science or engineering degree had he tried (those are tough fields!), the lack of evidence that his particular school has high grade inflation, the mathematical evidence that even high grade inflation doesn’t prevent discrimination between similar students, and worst of all, the fact that he makes a show of blaming himself when his email makes clear that he most emphatically does not really blame himself….


Isn’t his claim about grade inflation and standard deviation exactly wrong? Wouldn’t grade inflation, as it is usually understood, compress the scores themselves but leave the distribution in standard deviations unaffected?  I mean,  as I understand it, that’s part of the point of using standard deviations to evaluate a distribution. I’m asking genuinely here, and I could easily be wrong, so pipe up in comments. I would love an explanation from someone who really knows their stuff.

If I’m wrong, I’ll buy this poor kid a steak.

Over the Fucking Line, Donny

I’m treating tonight like Friday as this is a four day week-end, so if you expect something substantive from me, move on. I do want to pass on this little tale:

A repeat public indecency offender has been arrested for allegedly engaging in “sexual activity” with a pink inflatable swimming pool raft, according to Hamilton police.

Edwin Charles Tobergta, 32, was arrested at his Harmon Avenue home early Sunday after he was spotted in the act in an alley in the 1800 block of Howell Avenue behind a residence, a police report shows.

A male witness, who owns the raft and lives in the home near the alley, told Hamilton Police Officer William Thacker he shouted at the suspect to stop.

Tobergta took the raft and fled, the report states.

When police caught up with him, he admitted to the crime and begged for help, according to police.

Putting aside the sadness factor of him begging for help, I’m not sure what is my favorite part of the story. That he was having sex with a raft, that it wasn’t his raft, or that when he was caught, before running, he made sure to take the raft with him. But wait, it gets better:

According to court records, he has four other public indecency charges in Hamilton Municipal Court and another in Butler County.

In one public indecency case in 2002, he was caught having sex with an inflatable pumpkin that was part of a Halloween display.

What happened in the eight years that made him go from a pumpkin to a raft?

And if all you are going to do is tell me I am horrible person and should not be snickering at this, I completely agree. I’m a horrible person.