Houston, We Have a Solution

heb-disaster

Long-time south Texas residents swear by the H-E-B grocery chain for value, selection, quality, and always being well-stocked.  These guys are supply-chain ninjas; we see groceries, they see a logistics network.  And they always step up in emergencies; Houston may be their finest hour to date.

Tip from American Digest.

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Stanford Invents AI Gaydar, Flubs Write-Up

Yilun Wang and Michal Kosinsksi, researchers at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, have developed a neural-net classifier that purportedly detects sexual orientation (in caucasians).
FacialRecognition
The authors report an avalanche of experimental results, and claim the classifier can “correctly distinguish between gay and straight men 81% of the time, and 74% for women.”  OK, that’s the sensitivity of the gadget.  What about specificity, i.e. how well does it correctly distinguish folks who are not-so-gay?  Without that second number (as well as an estimate of prevalance), it’s not possible to estimate the false positive and false negative rates for this thing.  Very important, if some of the more Orwellian applications mentioned by the authors come to pass.
I give the authors a “C,” for incomplete work.
Update: Dan Simmons, writing at the Andrew Gelman blog, writes a rambling, fascinating takedown of this “research,” from both the scientific and MSM points of view.  Based on just the statistical problems, I’m changing the grade to a “D-.”

You can see a lot just by looking*

Any lawyer or successful bureacrat will tell you to never ask a question you don’t already know the answer to.  Some folks aren’t that smart:

It was a strange moment of triumph against racism: The gun-slinging white supremacist Craig Cobb, dressed up for daytime TV in a dark suit and red tie, hearing that his DNA testing revealed his ancestry to be only “86% European, and … 14% Sub-Saharan African.”

The studio audience whooped and laughed and cheered. And Cobb — who was, in 2013, charged with terrorizing people while trying to create an all-white enclave in North Dakota — reacted like a sore loser in the schoolyard.

“Wait a minute, wait a minute, hold on, just wait a minute,” he said, trying to put on an all-knowing smile. “This is called statistical noise.”

Does this make Cobb–to use a white nationalist phrase–a “self-hating race traitor?”

I’m reminded of Holmes in “A Scandal in Bohemia” saying “It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data.”

Tip from Tom Knighton at PJ Media, by way of Sarah Hoyt at Instapundit.

*the Yogi never disappoints.

UpdateThis cuts both ways.

I found out I was White. Not just 13% White, my husband’s percentage when he too completed the ancestry composition report. Not just 25% White, since the average amount of DNA in an African American’s genome traced back to West Africa is about 75%. I was damn near 1/3 White. That’s significant.

Of course, this nice lady fellow**can always fall back on the “one drop” principle, that standard promoted by 19th century white slavers and 21st century African Americans.

Tip straight from the Instapundit himself.

**Speed reading is one of my more egregious faults.

The Vinyl Detective

If you’re a fan of British TV sci-fi, you’ve probably seen several episodes of Dr Who written by Andrew Cartmel.  Now he’s gone full geek at right angles with a new mystery series, The Vinyl Detective.  Our unlikely hero is a jazz aficionado who ekes out a living buying and selling rare vinyl recordings, and lives in that peculiar subculture of collectors and traders who haunt thrift shops, estate auctions, and jumble sales.  Having dwelt there for a few years myself, Cartmel’s characters and places ring pitch perfect, with plenty of arcane background knowledge–both real and fictional–to back up the stories.

First outing is Written in Dead Wax,  which establishes the major characters

WrittenInDeadWax

and the sequel, The Run-Out Groove proves that the first novel wasn’t a fluke.

TheRun-OutGroove

The third effort, Victory Disk, is expected in May 2018.  Don’t miss it.

Time for some Doubleplus Ungood Badthink

The Brat Pack of science fiction has concocted a cynical ploy to disturb the genre’s Purity of Essence; they’re giving away e-books.

Wrongthink

I wasn’t too sure about this until I read John Scalzi’s pithy recommendation. “This is bullshit” exactly sums up my opinion of his latest strawman social-justice snoozer Locked In.  So he’s become my anti-oracle.

R Tutorial: the non-linear equation solver

Need a numerical solution to simultaneous non-linear equations?  The nleqslv package is just what you’re looking for!  The coding required is minimal; just define the equations you want solved in a function, set some initial values, and let ‘er rip.

Here’s an example that uses the method of moments to estimate the parameters of a beta-binomial distribution.