Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Burnin' for You

At times, it makes me sad to think that the sourpuss Brits (you know, the ones our forefathers ran from because they lacked a sense of humor) have regained their sense of humor, while we've lost ours.

Effigy burning is protected as free speech by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. I know, right? I'm amazed. Actually, I'm not. It's sort of obvious in a country like ours, that protects freedom of speech more vigorously than perhaps any other, that our Supreme Court Justices make the effort to discern the difference between burning a giant (or miniaturized) cyclist in effigy, and actually setting that person on fire.

It's recently come to my attention, however, that some Americans, even those born here, are unaware of this. Which would mean they're either clueless, or living in a perpetual state of hubris, one in which laws can be applied or misapplied at their whim. Or they're faking it, which at least is better in one sense - the histrionics of the fakers are much more entertaining than those of the stupid and egotistical.

Sometimes, a rose is just a rose.

(Originally posted at Google+)

Another in the growing list of examples of human beings failing to (1) have a sense of humor; and (2) understand even the most pedantic of situations (i.e., that Armstrong fixed his races, and the Edenbridge organizers actually wanted to burn more than one effigy, but they were sensitive to the kids who might attend, so chose the feelings of children over those of the cheater in yellow or his fans. Well done, mates!).

After years of having to listen to Armstrong apologists with all their lame arguments for why he absolutely, positively couldn't be a cheater, it's hard for me to have any sympathy for their arguments now. That's like saying we should appreciate all he's done with his foundation, while let's say, hypothetically, we should ignore that he's a complete ass to people (oh wait, he is). Now, go back to your James Frey nonfiction, oops, I mean fiction.

Oh, and in case you wanted to see how it went down....

Not nearly as exciting as The Teds (RIP), but I don't think they had a staff writer for dialogue. It was 30 feet high, though.


* With apologies to Blue Öyster Cult...Burnin' for You



Somewhere, I have the entire series ("somewhere" loosely translating to "buried deep in the bowels of a 3TB encrypted HD without any logical file names").

There's some debate over how much might be simply fabricated, but I don't care.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Conspiracy Theories

There are some who believe in conspiracy theories, such idle ideas as the Plunge Protection Team and Zeitgeist.  Silly people.  I mean, other than the fact that the PPT exists, much of Zeitgeist has already occurred, and the DJIA has finished up on every Friday of 2013, i.e., 9 times in a row, there's really nothing to these silly ideas. 
Editorial Note: I added this additional information after the original post.... Perhaps you're saying to yourself, 9 Fridays in a row with the Dow Jones Industrial Average closing up on the day, is not really any big deal. It's merely coincidence. So let's look at this line of reasoning. First, the "gut check" approach. How often have you seen someone spin a single color (red or black) on a roulette wheel, 9 times in a row? It's entirely possible you have, but extremely unlikely unless you happen to work the roulette wheel at a casino, you're a degenerate gambler with a love for roulette, or perhaps a graduate student in mathematics. The actual likelihood of this occurring is the probability of a single occurrence, to tge power of the number of observations. So if the Dow is up half the time, down half the time, the probability is simply .5 for a single occurrence. With 9 Fridays thus far, the probability that the Dow would be up 9 consecutive Fridays is (.5)^9, which equals 0.001953125, which is simply 0.2%, which means that such an event randomly occurs, by chance, roughly 1 out of every 500 times (the actual number is 512, which is the solution of 2^9). To be more real world, one should account for the fact that over long periods, the stock market indices have a positive slope, which is to say, they tend to go up as a function of growth in the economy, population, and inflation, among other things. So, the probability of the market being up on a given day may be somewhat more than 50%. How much? Who knows? It's not critical for this example. I think a generous number to use is .60, while I think the right number is probably closer to .55. If one uses .60, the resulting probability is about 1%, five times larger but still not very likely to occur (i.e., it should occur one time out of 100 sets of 9 Fridays, all else being equal). You may want to note two footnotes to this footnote, fn^2 you could call them. One is that if you assume that up days have more magnitude than down days, then up days and down days could still be 50/50 and have a positive slope. Secondly, roulette is not a 50/50 proposition, since there are two green spots on the wheel, for 0 and 00. That's the casino's payout: 2/38 = 1/19 ~ 5% to the house, generally (also called the rake, or edge). Against a player betting a color, the casino's odds of winning are 20/38 ~ 53%.