Project Wonderful

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Today I voted for Teddy Roosevelt

You gotta hand it to the Republican Party, everyone once in a rare while they actually have a good idea, (broken clock etc.) This time their constant looking to the past brought them to the idea of a straw poll for best Republican President in history. It can't come up with any worse than the yahoos they have running currently! Obviously, I voted for my main man, Teddy Roosevelt, but there are some other strong contenders like say...Abraham Lincoln. Republican wasn't always synonymous with regressive! I think it would be amazing if there was a coup and Harding ran away with it, but my guess is it's going to be Reagan or Lincoln.

In either case, if it got a hardcore Democrat like me to give them my contact info, it sure as heck was an effective list building campaign!

Here is the link if you'd care to make your voice heard!

Hillary Clinton Announcement Video!!!

Putting it up here for posterity more than anything! I am, of course, over the moon that she finally announced! Would you believe I just watched it? I could have been a monkey washing a cat and I still would have been all in for her, so seeing the actual video wasn't a huge priority.

For what it's worth though I thought it was extremely well done. It wasn't until 30 seconds into it that I realized the announcement video had started and I wasn't watching a commercial. I actually liked that about it because it felt different from what I was expecting and it was just one of those head on candidate talking to the camera announcements that I'm used to when someone announces over a video. In any case it is, as the kids say, officially on and I am definitely ready for Hillary!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Too Late to Rand Paulogize

Rand Paul just launched his presidential campaign and it is already a laugh outloud shitshow.

As the National Journal's Matt Berman points out there are a few issues with Paul's "Show Your Support" page.

By far the crowning achievement has to be the inclusion of "Jew for Rand." To quote Louis CK, "Jew is a funny word because Jew is the only word that is the polite thing to call a group of people and the slur for the same group." "Jews for Rand," would have been more acceptable, but as a colleague pointed out, why bother making it plural when there is no indication that it will apply to two or more people? Neither the liberal nor the conservative Jewish political base is fond of Paul, albeit for different reasons, so maybe this was made for one specific Jewish person.

Apparently the graphic has since been changed to "Jewish for Rand which also sounds ridiculous. ("Oh man you donated to Rand Paul? You're totally Jewish for him.") For the curious, since "Jew" is both a religious and an ethnic identity, the best bet would have been "Jewish American" for Rand. (because you wouldn't say "Black for Rand" or "Mexican for Rand"...for, well a variety of reasons.)

In fairness, the lack of consistency extends itself to other constituency groups as well. There are Iowan, South Carolinians and Nevadans, but simply "New Hampshire" for Rand.

More telling are the constituency groups that are absent from the selection including Women, Muslims and the LGBT community, presumably because he has no intention of appealing to them. He did find time to include "musicians" though. Thankfully the good folks at Americans United for Change decided to help him out on that front.

(You know because of how he is always shushing lady reporters or as I call them, reporters.)

Also it is not very intersectional of him. I mean, what if you are an Italian American, Catholic Fisherman? How do you decide?

This is going to be one hell of a primary.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Worst Humans: Buckley and Tucker Carlson

Something has been bothering me for a couple days now and I haven't been able to blog about it because every time I read the story it pretty much ruins my day, or at least my hour. It's not just the story, it's what the story represents. And what is the story? An absurdly misogynistic tale of a political professional asking for a story correction. Please read about it here.

It is almost Passover and on that holiday we sing a song called "Dayenu" which means "It would have been enough." The song lists miracles that God bestowed on the Jewish people and after each the refrain is "Dayenu" as in "if just this one thing had happened on it's own it would have significant enough to be celebrating and glorify God, and yet there's more." If God had led us out of Egypt, it would have been enough, if he had led us to safety it would have been enough, etc. That's basically how I felt about the Carlson brothers and my overwhelming disgust for them as I read this story.

1) If Tucker Carlson had just founded the Daily Caller which is a lies-printing right wing news publication, it would have been enough.

2) If he had said things like this about Wendy Davis and this about equal pay. It would have been enough.

3) If Buckley Carlson had sent this email to his brother in response to a female public affairs director (and friend of friends and Tufts alum) asking for a correction to a story, it would have been enough.
Great response. Whiny little self-righteous bitch. “Appalling?” And with such an ironic name, too… Spitalnick? Ironic because you just know she has extreme dick-fright; no chance has this girl ever had a pearl necklace. Spoogeneck? I don’t think so. More like LabiaFace.
4) If one of his employees had threatened Spitalnick that if she "“annoyed” him “with another whiny email..., I’m muting this thread, thanks.” It would have been enough. Can you imagine him saying that to a male spokesperson? Don't think so.

5) If he had sent Spitalnick this condescending email in response to her complaint (and frankly I think because number 3 is so horrific, this piece isn't getting enough attention for how egregious it is) it would have been enough.

Dear Amy,
Thanks for your email. You believe our story was inaccurate and have demanded a correction. Totally fair. We are going over the transcript now.
What Bedford complained about was your tone, which, I have to agree, was whiny and annoying, and I say that in the spirit of helpful correction rather than as a criticism. Outside of New York City, adults generally write polite, cheerful emails to one another, even when asking for corrections. Something to keep in mind the next time you communicate with people who don’t live on your island.
Tucker Carlson

6) If Tucker Carlson had logic-defyingly defended his brother's misogynistic email (on which Buckley Carlson mistakenly cc'd Spitalnick because he is not only an idiot but also an idiot) by saying "he assures me he meant it in the nicest way." It would have been enough.

I'm just going to have to hope that if you're reading my blog you understand how revolting this is on both and a macro and micro level. How many of these exchanges about female political professionals happen that we are not accidentally CC'd on? How many times are we not sure if we're being talked down to or dismissed because of our gender only to realize in retrospect "yes, of course it was that!" but have had the moment pass us by? How many women are not in positions to call out sexism and misogyny in their work environments for fear they won't be supported? I am absolutely sick over this story both because of what it is and what it is emblematic of.

As for Buckley and Tucker Carlson, they are the human equivalents of diarrhea mixed with gas station sushi. I want to make a one time reversal of my feelings on the death penalty and demand that they be hung from the gallows while feminists throw stones at their rotting corpses. And I assure you, I mean that in the nicest way possible.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Always Buy The .Org

And every other possible iteration of your website. To wit, I present

Buckle up, ladies and gentlemen! It's going to be an interesting ride.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Some Handy Tech and Statistics Jargon

In February I went to the Analyst Institute Persuasion Retreat, which was absolutely amazing. (If you don't know what the Analyst Institute is, you should.) At the same time even with a (albeit limited) history of graduate level statistics I found myself intimidated by the jargon. I figured if I was, so were others so I enlisted the help of friends in defining some basic, and not-so-basic terms that were bandied about. Enjoy!

Cryptography - how we keep important data, like credit card transactions, safe from prying eyes.
Cookies- Used by tech and data geniuses to track where you go on the web.
P-score/P-value- Say do did a statistical test using a sample population and you confirm or reject your hypothesis using that test. The p-score is the chance that even though you ran the test right, the conclusion you came to is actually wrong, kind of like a margin of error.
T-test- Statistical test used to determine a p-score
N- Size of your sample in a statistical test
Neyman sampling- A survey tool used to find the number of people needed to represent people just like them in the whole populationAn example: Suppose the population is 10% African American; random sampling may put 0%, 15% or whatever percentage of African Americans in your sample. Neyman sampling would mean you would only select from your pool of African Americans (randomly) until you get to 10% of your sample size, then stop.
Simpson's paradox- This paradox occurs when a statistically significant trend occurs when looking at groups of data, but disappears when you look at those groups individually – or vice-versa. The most famous case was researched by Bickel et al, and had to do with gender bias in 1970s grad school admissions at U.C. Berkeley (go Bears). When looking at all of the grad schools together, women had a much lower overall acceptance rate, but when looking at individual grad schools (i.e. English, engineering, public policy) women had similar by-school acceptance rates; the paper concluded that the lower overall acceptance rate came from women applying to schools which were more selective (without mentioning why women didn’t apply to STEM grad schools.)
R package- a piece of software, like Excel, that is used to perform complex statistical tests
C code- As in the programming language. Some people do statistical analysis by writing a proprietary code each time.
Heterogeneity- You want heterogeneity within your sample so that you can use it to make an inference about the population at large. This is why people use Neyman sampling.
Bayestree It's a statistics thing that helps you determine how to organize your data. For example, "Imagine you're trying to predict life expectancy of animals using characteristics across species. Your variables might include: Number of offspring per birth, isWarmBlooded, weight, isMammal, avgTempOfClimate, isOceanDwelling, and probably others I'm not thinking of. There will be collinearity between these variables (I'm guessing Mammals have higher weights than non-mammals, etc). A Bayestree would help you identify the hierarchy of the variables (for example, isMammal is actually a subset of those who are warm blooded, if I've got my science right). The resulting hierarchy can then aid in variable selection/combination."

Big thank you to Adam Briskin-Limehouse, Mario Ben Bonafacio and especially Will Matthews who was the only person who could explain to me what a Bayestree is.