Monday, October 16, 2017

g - a Statistical Myth

A nice essay from 2007.

One of the best parts: "How to make 2766 independent abilities look like one g factor".

Sunday, October 15, 2017

WaPo: The drug industry’s triumph over the DEA

If the WaPo is correct, then Congress, Senate, President, all were doing what?

For years, some drug distributors were fined for repeatedly ignoring warnings from the DEA to shut down suspicious sales of hundreds of millions of pills, while they racked up billions of dollars in sales.

The new law {passed April 2016} makes it virtually impossible for the DEA to freeze suspicious narcotic shipments from the companies, according to internal agency and Justice Department documents and an independent assessment by the DEA’s chief administrative law judge in a soon-to-be-published law review article. That powerful tool had allowed the agency to immediately prevent drugs from reaching the street.

.....
Besides the sponsors and co-sponsors of the bill, few lawmakers knew the true impact the law would have. It sailed through Congress and was passed by unanimous consent, a parliamentary procedure reserved for bills considered to be noncontroversial. The White House was equally unaware of the bill’s import when President Barack Obama signed it into law, according to interviews with former senior administration officials.

Top officials at the White House and the Justice Department have declined to discuss how the bill came to pass.

Michael Botticelli, who led the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy at the time, said neither Justice nor the DEA objected to the bill, removing a major obstacle to the president’s approval.

“We deferred to DEA, as is common practice,” he said.

The bill also was reviewed by the White House Office of Management and Budget.
“Neither the DEA nor the Justice Department informed OMB about the policy change in the bill,” a former senior OMB official with knowledge of the issue said recently.
,,,

With a few words, the new law changed four decades of DEA practice. Previously, the DEA could freeze drug shipments that posed an “imminent danger” to the community, giving the agency broad authority. Now, the DEA must demonstrate that a company’s actions represent “a substantial likelihood of an immediate threat,” a much higher bar.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Soccer and Genetics

I'm keenly waiting to hear the genetics explanation for why the US doesn't do well in world soccer tournaments for men.  Till then, there is stuff like this.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

Book memo: Die Trying

My retreat from current affairs continues.

Lee Child, Die Trying, a Jack Reacher novel, 1998.

A woman is kidnapped off a street in Chicago, and Jack Reacher is kidnapped along with her.  Reacher has to rescue himself and her from the kidnappers, or "Die Trying".

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Book memo: Killing Floor

Fiction: "Killing Floor" by Lee Child, first published 1997.

This is the first Jack Reacher novel.  I read it as an escape from the daily infuriation of current affairs.  This edition in 2012 has an introduction by Lee Child, who turns out, is an Englishman.    He invented the character of Jack Reacher as a ex-military cop in America, a physical giant, typically the most intimidating person in the neighborhood, an uncomplicated man emotionally speaking, a drifter but functioning misfit in civilian society, whose adventures come about because of noblesse oblige.

In this adventure, Reacher arrives at Margrave, Georgia, where he is arrested for murder, and soon is up to his neck in the strange goings-on in the town.

This is a fast-moving, but sometimes overly gruesome adventure.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

On basketball and race

The claim, from K.L. Reeves' personal opinion, is that it is culture that is holding back prospective white American basketball players.

Whether you admit it or not, deep down inside you, the intelligent reader, kind of believes it, too; that black men are, whether by nature or nurture, better at the game of basketball. And that’s OK. Lots of people feel this way. It’s a part of a belief system that began to develop decades ago, around the time that many of our ideas on race began to shift. During that time of radical change, new systems of racial thought — newer, somewhat more palatable ones — began replacing their older, more objectionable precursors. Through it all, institutional racism remained wholly intact, albeit cloaked in a kind of deceptive civility.
.....
Indeed, since the turn of the new century, white foreign-born players have consistently outperformed their American counterparts. At least in the NBA. And it’s not particularly close, either. Note, for instance, the rosters of the past 16 All-Star Games. Then look at the makeup of white starters and role player. Notice a trend? A majority of them — glaringly so, given population disparity, the game’s historic roots, etc.— are foreign-born.
......
The careers of Dirk and Nash stand as clear examples white superstars excelling in the NBA. But it’s also true that being born and raised in America carries with it certain, very different notions of what it means to be white. It’s practically considered gospel that race has no place in sports. And yet racial dynamics very much persist. As much as I’ve tried to stay away from it as a writer, I simply couldn’t explain past this one: White American basketball players have a harder time than their black peers reaching their full potential, I think, because of the stigma that comes with being white kid playing a black game.
.....
Young whites in America grow up with the belief, however implicit, that basketball isn’t their game. In the words of Martin Luther King, clouds of inferiority begin to form in their little mental sky, where limitation is placed on that rare and particular dream. We are all, in our own ways, complicit in this, having bought into this powerfully dangerous myth, and the results have been nothing short of astonishing.
If you tell a child he can’t be something; that something isn’t for them: If you do this long enough, that belief system will become his own.
Today, such systems don’t develop as overtly as they once did: say the way blacks were once trained to believe they were incapable of reading — that reading wasn’t for them. Though there may be instances where white basketball players will self identify as somehow inferior, thereby reinforcing the stigmas and stereotypes, the bulk of the belief stems from the unspoken, from inference and allusion. And it can start as soon as they pick up a ball, the glass ceiling glaring back at them. The child is told, through unwitting social cues, often by those closest to him, that he might look up to Michael Jordan, but he’ll never be Michael Jordan.
Again, such psychological short-selling is seldom overt, and almost never malicious.
After all, what parent doesn’t want their child to be great at something they love? And yet, given our lack of proper historical reflection on matters of race and steadfast dependence on categorization, it’s hard not to fall into these habits. No matter where you fall on the social-political spectrum, strong racial beliefs are deeply entrenched. The decline of the white American NBA star is, in this sense, a litmus test. You’re white and want to be great at football? Okay. Baseball? Go right ahead. Hockey? Obviously!
Basketball?
… Are you sure about that?
....When {Larry} Bird was coming of age, the stigma of being a white basketball player simply wasn’t as great as it is today.
If K.L. Reeves is right, then those who are now seeking a genetic explanation for the racial disparity in the NBA are part of the problem.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Culture and genes

Americans of the stupid variety keep trying to justify the way things are by genetics. But the fact is that culture (learned behavior) is far stronger.

Doesn't matter what those who don't make assumptions (e.g., "the NFL is a meritocracy")  but look at it carefully find.
The NFL’s racial divide
Teams don’t consciously build rosters based on race, it just ends up that way

 It’s not that they’re excluding anybody. They’re looking to be successful, according to the pattern that has worked. This is why it gets to be so difficult to shatter tradition. You can’t just come in and show somebody that a black center is as good as a white center in order to displace that tradition. You’ve got to come in and show that he is better.”
The so-called free market (or unbridled avarice, depending on your viewpoint) doesn't turn the culture of an enterprise or of a society into a meritocracy any more than the free market abolishes slavery or human trafficking.

PS: I should add that "best person for the position" often does not have objective measures.

In Memoriam: Summer 2017