West Coast Stat Views (on Observational Epidemiology and more)
Comments, observations and thoughts from two left coast bloggers on applied statistics, higher education, and epidemiology. Joseph is a new assistant professor. Mark is a marketing statistician and former math teacher.
Another reminder that I need to think more about path dependency.
Reading early access game reviews on Steam ("I played 87 hours straight, but the end was meh, 0 stars!"), I am reminded of a clever paper comparing Best Buy & Amazon ratings to show the 1st online review is HUGE: negative sales effects linger for 3 years! https://t.co/anwgyo2Vi2pic.twitter.com/XQPjXdHqI1
Nonetheless, the "Trump is unstoppable unless the Democrats do ______" argument is ubiquitous. It shows up across the political spectrum and yet the people making the claim never notice all of the contradictory ones.
It’s not that it was premature to ban nuclear: it’s that the failure to heavily invest in nuclear over the last several decades was by far the biggest failure in climate policy, and nothing else comes close. https://t.co/4siaKOOBZY
The three stages of career development: 1. I can't wait until I'm important enough to be included in meetings. 2. I feel so important being in these meetings! 3. I will do anything legal and several illegal things to avoid these meetings.
From a good, high-level (and non-walled) article in Psychology Today, quoting from Cialdini's introduction to The Behavioral Economics Guide 2018:
Behavioral economists ask questions mostly about the way people make economic choices/judgments or the way particular financial systems (retirement plans, tax codes, etc.) affect those responses (Thaler, 2018). Social psychologists are willing to consider other, non-fiscal personal choices as well. For instance, my research teams have investigated why people are motivated to litter a public space, wear a home team sweatshirt, display charity organization posters, reuse hotel guest room towels, and volunteer to give a unit of blood. ...
Second, behavioral economists still have to fight the rationality-versus-irrationality-of human-behavior battle (Rosalsky, 2018). For example, to ensure that interpretations based in neoclassical economic theory are duly addressed, they are more likely than social psychologists to include in their research designs at least one condition involving a rational actor prediction. For their part, social psychologists have no such need, having long ago come to concur with Rabelais’ six-century-old observation regarding the pervasiveness of human illogic: “If you wish to avoid seeing a fool, you must first break your mirror.” As an aside, I once asked Richard Thaler’s opinion of why proponents of neoclassical economic thinking have been so reluctant to admit to the frequent irrationality of our species. He thought it was partially due to the elevation within economics of mathematical modeling, which works best at incorporating rational rather than irrational elements—and remains the professional standard, conferring status on the modeler.
Finally, behavioral economists are more likely to test their hypotheses in large scale field studies of consequential behaviors observed in real world settings—versus in laboratory investigations of relatively inconsequential personal choices made on a keypad. Why social psychologists have tended to stay tenaciously in the laboratory has multiple answers. Convenience, quick and plentiful outcomes to be submitted for publication, and the ability to collect ancillary data for mediational analyses have all played a role. But, much like Thaler’s view of what occurred within economics, a reputational factor may be involved. Academic social psychology evolved from a discipline that many considered insufficiently rigorous (until 1965, its flagship publication was the Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology) into one that fought for stature as scientifically-based rather than clinically-based. If it is true that many economists have clung to financial rationality because of the prestigious mathematical trappings of econometric models, perhaps many social psychologists have clung to the laboratory because of its prestigious links to rigorous science.
Ellison said he generally wrote with movie soundtracks, especially those of Ennio Morricone, playing in the background. If you want to emulate Ellison, you won't have to worry about running out of music. Morricone currently has 519 IMDB composer credits and he's not dead yet.
Ennio Morricone - The Best of Ennio Morricone - Greatest Hits (High Quality Audio) - YouTube
Ennio Morricone - The Spaghetti Westerns Music - Greatest Western Themes of all Time - YouTube
"Mr. Musk’s unhappiness with the Autopilot group appears to stem from difficulties it has had in adapting the software, which was designed to automatically steer Tesla vehicles on highways, to work with city driving"
Another cool technology with the bad luck to come in second.
The pedrail wheel was invented in 1903 by the Londoner Bramah Joseph Diplock. It consists in the adjunction of feet (Latin radical "ped") to the rail of a wheel, in order to improve traction and facilitate movement in uneven or muddy terrain. Sophisticated pedrail wheels were designed, with individual suspension for each foot, which would facilitate the contact with uneven terrain.
When trying to make sense out of the Netflix story, the first thing you have to remember is that there’s not that much to remember. It’s complicated but it’s not all that complex.
The standard case for Netflix is a long game of dominance through content. It is an argument that has launched countless business articles but when it comes to what are effectively the three questions journalists and investors need answered, there has been relatively little attention paid to the first and vanishingly little to the other two.
1. How many people are watching the service’s original content?
2. Who owns that content?
3. Does it have legs and broad, preferably international appeal?
Just to be clear, I’m skipping a lot here (the corporate finance questions alone would be the stuff of graduate classes), and even these three “simple” questions are extraordinarily difficult to answer definitively, in no small part because Netflix does its best to make them difficult.
But they do provide a framework and a way to keep your bearings when reading stories like this.
As for the portion of the deal giving a CBS a window for reruns, while it wasn’t central to bringing ODAAT to Pop, it certainly helped make the financials of the agreement more logical for CBS Corporation, since the company can spread the show’s cost across multiple networks. None of the parties involved in the deal would talk specifics, but the new season of ODAAT won’t be cheap. “It’s a big swing for Pop,” Schwartz said. “But it’s not like we haven’t reached before with shows like Flack. Having said that, this is a little bit of a farther reach. But Sony really came to the table. Everyone was so passionate about this show, and everybody was willing to make it work.”
Under Sony’s Netflix deal, the streamer — as it does with all of its shows — paid the full cost of production plus a premium fee, essentially giving Sony its backend syndication money upfront. Frost confirmed that the deal with Pop will be a more traditional TV deal, under which Sony will deficit finance a part of the overall cost of production, with Pop making up the rest. “It’s still a healthy license fee,” Frost said. “But we worked with our [syndication and international] division to make sure we could monetize the show in other ways. That includes international distribution of the show and, at some point in the future, selling season-four streaming rights to a subscription video-on-demand service.” Frost confirmed the production budget for season four will be reduced a bit, but “nothing that is going to reduce the quality of the show.” …
In terms of how long ODAAT will run on Pop, Schwartz made it clear his goal is to keep it on the air for many years to come. “I hope it becomes our huge flagship series that goes on for five, six, seven seasons. That would be the dream,” he said. Kellett concurred, saying she and Royce “have been texting each other” during the past three months trading stories about their own families they’re already envisioning as future plots for the show. “And Rita [Moreno] isn’t going to stop even after seven seasons,” Royce quipped. “She and Norman will be doing this show in season 15.”
First off, I don’t mean to suggest that Sony didn’t care deeply about this show (Studio executives are sincere, caring people – ask anyone), but the company appears to have made out pretty well for itself, as did Norman Lear. Despite its long and successful initial run, the original ODAAT would seem to have been the most moribund of Lear’s hits. It’s hard to imagine Jamie Foxx or Woody Harrelson lining up to play Schneider the handyman.
Netflix took all of the risks, and, as far as we can tell, walked away with nothing more than rights to the shows it actually bankrolled. Furthermore, since the vast majority of shows never make it into syndication, “giving Sony its backend syndication money upfront” is an incredibly sweet deal.
Now that ODAAT has been brought back to life, there’s the potential for a long run and the show developing the kind of legs that allow certain sitcoms to bring in serious cash for decades. I guarantee you that “I Love Lucy” will still be bringing in real money when it turns 75.
It’s possible that the details of the contract benefit Netflix in ways we can’t see from the outside, but I’m inclined to go with my preferred alternative hypothesis. Maybe the company doesn’t care about the long term. Maybe they’re just trying to generate enough buzz to keep the enterprise up in the air until they can manage a soft landing.
Daniel B. Poneman is clearly an advocate for the industry and, as previously mentioned, I’m inclined to view nuclear energy as a useful and probably necessary tool in turning back climate change, but even if I were skeptical, I believe I’d find some of these points persuasive.
All of this goes back to the broader issue of the fundamental unseriousness of the way we discuss serious problems such as global warming, income inequality, the resurgence of fascism, racism and sexism, the systematic undermining of democracy, and the general rise of bullshit.
This is not a question of disagreements. If anything it’s the opposite. We treat clowns and charlatans as important thinkers based on their positions, not on the weight of their evidence or the force and logic of their arguments. We’ve lost all respect for the process, the idea that it is more important to contribute to an honest, factually grounded, productive debate than to reach the “right” conclusion.
In a serious discussion of climate change, prematurely shutting down our leading source of carbon-free energy would be a major topic.
Nuclear energy is the largest source of carbon-free energy in the U.S. by a huge margin and it has a major role to play in confronting the global climate challenge. But we must also be vigilant about the prospect of nuclear weapons falling into the hands of terrorists or rogue regimes.
The threat of nuclear proliferation abroad should not lead us to abandon nuclear energy at home. Indeed, American nuclear leadership has always been critical to guiding the safe, responsible use of civilian nuclear energy around the world.
For example, a number of American companies are developing advanced generation-reactor technologies that offer a host of safety and nonproliferation advantages. These advanced designs would have “walk away” safety, meaning they do not need any backup power or external cooling systems in the event of an accident. And since many of the new reactor designs would rarely if ever need to be refueled, the risk of diversion of fuel from uranium-enrichment or plutonium-reprocessing plants to a bomb program would be greatly diminished. ...
The 98 reactors in our nuclear fleet are the workhorse of the clean-energy sector. They provide one fifth of our electricity. Unfortunately, over the past few years six reactors have been prematurely shut down, and another 12 are set to close in the next seven years.
Nuclear plants are not only emissions-free and carbon-free, they are by far the most reliable assets in our power generation mix, operating 93 percent of the time—even during extreme weather events when some fossil fuel plants may be forced to shut down or curtail their operations. Under current rules, electricity markets are not allowed to value these attributes, even though they are clearly valuable.
Preserving existing reactors may not sound exciting, but it is a critical first step if we take the climate challenge seriously. Consider that for every reactor that prematurely shuts down, our carbon dioxide emissions rise by about 5.8 million metric tons per year. According to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Greenhouse Equivalencies Calculator, that equals the emissions from burning more than 648 million gallons of gasoline—the equivalent of filling up an NFL stadium with gasoline and setting it on fire. To offset those carbon emissions, we would need to plant over 95 million trees. Or we could install solar panels on one million homes and figure out a cost-effective way of storing the electricity so it is available day and night.
The 1939–40 New York World's Fair, which covered the 1,216 acres (492 ha) of Flushing Meadows–Corona Park (also the location of the 1964–1965 New York World's Fair), was the second most expensive American world's fair of all time, exceeded only by St. Louis's Louisiana Purchase Exposition of 1904. Many countries around the world participated in it, and over 44 million people attended its exhibits in two seasons. It was the first exposition to be based on the future, with an opening slogan of "Dawn of a New Day", and it allowed all visitors to take a look at "the world of tomorrow". According to the official pamphlet:
The eyes of the Fair are on the future—not in the sense of peering toward the unknown nor attempting to foretell the events of tomorrow and the shape of things to come, but in the sense of presenting a new and clearer view of today in preparation for tomorrow; a view of the forces and ideas that prevail as well as the machines.
To its visitors the Fair will say: "Here are the materials, ideas, and forces at work in our world. These are the tools with which the World of Tomorrow must be made. They are all interesting and much effort has been expended to lay them before you in an interesting way. Familiarity with today is the best preparation for the future.
Within six months of the Fair's opening, World War II began, a war that lasted six years and resulted in the deaths of 70–85 million people.
All of the points in this piece are good. But I am particularly struck by:
Of course Americans love their own children as much as any parents anywhere. But raising kids is seen as a private decision, freighted with hardship and annoyances that are to be entirely borne by the parents themselves. Enter many places in America with a preschooler and the unspoken message feels more like, "Please move quietly to the suburbs to suffer in silence. Don't bother the rest of us with your uncool offspring."
But the idea of making children an entirely private concern is culturally unusual. We have a lot of laws and regulations around children, but a fear of having to contribute to making children viable. Just look at the daycare expenses that some area have.
I don't think that this attitude is necessarily wrong -- everyone has to make some trade-offs but it is odd to see this in any culture that frames itself as pro-family.