Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Unclear on the concept of waves

During recent travels I spent some time staring at the back of airline seats. They've begun sprouting screens, and the airline in question has a little program no doubt intended to help passengers decompress after being jammed through the bottlenecks of security and boarding. The program showed images of waves coming ashore or striking rocks and so forth. But there would be only one cycle then a jump-cut to the next location. They don't understand that the whole point of watching waves is that each wave is like the previous but slightly different, with a varying pattern to the repetition. One wave is nothing. The effect was to agitate, not to calm.

Out of the blue

Check out this post at the excellent American Footprints blog. Anything catch your eye? See my comment to the post for the unifying element.

From the continent for science

Le Chien Salé takes a break from meeting the glitterati of Antarctica to send this beautiful picture of the autochthonous celebrities:


Sunday, January 07, 2007

Is nobody going to pick me up ever again?

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Wrong metric

Now behind the subscription wall, a NYT article noting that wearing a bike helmet increases the risk of getting hit by cars. Well, I have some doubts about the work cited, but regardless, wouldn't it be smart to mention the relative risk of getting hurt or perhaps seriously injured?

A similar mistake by Ezra Klein (see comments for weird denialism when that's pointed out).

And again.

Could probably do this all day with comparisons not adjusted for inflation...

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Mansfield Park and the Bush Administration

In the following excerpt from early in the novel, Miss Crawford (who I noted here ) asks Edmund about the estate of Mr. Rushworth, a young man of no good quality (the name now sounds to me like someone worth the stuff one strews on the floor) who has recently come into possession of great wealth:

“I collect,” said Miss Crawford, “that Sotherton is an old place, and a place of some grandeur. In any particular style of building?”

“The house was built in Elizabeth’s time, and is a large, regular, brick building; heavy, but respectable looking, and has many good rooms. It is ill placed. It stands in one of the lowest spots of the park; in that respect, unfavourable for improvement. But the woods are fine, and there is a stream, which, I dare say, might be made a good deal of. Mr. Rushworth is quite right, I think, in meaning to give it a modern dress, and I have no doubt that it will be all done extremely well.”

Miss Crawford listened with submission, and said to herself, “He is a well–bred man; he makes the best of it.”

“I do not wish to influence Mr. Rushworth,” he continued; “but, had I a place to new fashion, I should not put myself into the hands of an improver. I would rather have an inferior degree of beauty, of my own choice, and acquired progressively. I would rather abide by my own blunders than by his.”

As it turns out, making the best of Mr. Rushworth turns out very badly.