A Bit More About that "F Word" Part Two and a Half: Politics, Prostitution and Statistics

I’ll once again begin by offering advance apologies to the good people at Dimechimes for including them in the same post as FEMA circa Baby Bush.  However, the larger topic of statistics applies here to the sampling methodology used by the Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General in their examination (a term I use loosely in that context) of Katrina Wind-Water claims and to the recent salary survey article contained in Claims Magazine, a claims adjuster trade publication.

As Nowdy pointed out in her post The “F” word hits the road – finds Wall is dead end Street (Part 2 of 3) I have some experience in this area having pulled a statistical sample or two in my career.

First a warning – those without mathematical proclivities may find this post less than stimulating. However I’ll start off with a recent Nassim Taleb interview Russell recently emailed me since he has become a pop culture darling of sorts. While the 10 minute interview is really a post on it’s own Taleb distills the key concept inherent in sampling:

one single observation, OK, can destroy thousands of years of confirmation.”

Taleb, of course has risen to fame using the analogy of the Australian black swan to illustrate that point. Sampling is inherently limited like that, each time we draw a ball from the barrel of balls we learn something about the characteristics of the population of balls inside the barrel such as their relative sizes, color and the like. Projecting the results to the larger, unknown population becomes much trickier. It is there where we also enter the realm of the twisted statistic. More on that later.

So against this backdrop enters the Inspector General for the Department of Homeland Security which office was forced to look at this issue by Congress, specifically then Senator Trent Lott and Representative Gene Taylor: Continue reading “A Bit More About that "F Word" Part Two and a Half: Politics, Prostitution and Statistics”

A Bit More About that “F Word” Part Two and a Half: Politics, Prostitution and Statistics

I’ll once again begin by offering advance apologies to the good people at Dimechimes for including them in the same post as FEMA circa Baby Bush.  However, the larger topic of statistics applies here to the sampling methodology used by the Department of Homeland Security Office of the Inspector General in their examination (a term I use loosely in that context) of Katrina Wind-Water claims and to the recent salary survey article contained in Claims Magazine, a claims adjuster trade publication.

As Nowdy pointed out in her post The “F” word hits the road – finds Wall is dead end Street (Part 2 of 3) I have some experience in this area having pulled a statistical sample or two in my career.

First a warning – those without mathematical proclivities may find this post less than stimulating. However I’ll start off with a recent Nassim Taleb interview Russell recently emailed me since he has become a pop culture darling of sorts. While the 10 minute interview is really a post on it’s own Taleb distills the key concept inherent in sampling:

one single observation, OK, can destroy thousands of years of confirmation.”

Taleb, of course has risen to fame using the analogy of the Australian black swan to illustrate that point. Sampling is inherently limited like that, each time we draw a ball from the barrel of balls we learn something about the characteristics of the population of balls inside the barrel such as their relative sizes, color and the like. Projecting the results to the larger, unknown population becomes much trickier. It is there where we also enter the realm of the twisted statistic. More on that later.

So against this backdrop enters the Inspector General for the Department of Homeland Security which office was forced to look at this issue by Congress, specifically then Senator Trent Lott and Representative Gene Taylor: Continue reading “A Bit More About that “F Word” Part Two and a Half: Politics, Prostitution and Statistics”

Zach's wife speaks out – Way to go Amy Scruggs!

With two young children, a third due any day, and her husband in an Arkansas prison, you’d think Amy Scruggs would be too overwhelmed to pay much attention to the campaign for “Uncle Trent’s” Senate seat – but clearly that’s not the case and she’s not only noticed, she’s speaking publicly about her concerns. h/t Clarion-Ledger

Amy Scruggs is the first family member to speak publicly about the legal troubles of her husband and her father-in-law, Dickie Scruggs.

She disagrees with numerous Republican attack ads attempting to link disgraced trial lawyers with Democrat Ronnie Musgrove. Democratic groups attacking Republican Roger Wicker also have mentioned the family’s legal woes.

The most visible attacks, however, have come from the GOP, and Amy Scruggs said the “final straw” was receiving campaign fliers in the mail recently.

“I think it just got to the point where you couldn’t ignore it anymore. There’s no pity party going on, … but at some point, somebody’s got to say, ‘OK, if they’re going to use our name, at least get it right,’ ” she said in a telephone interview from her Oxford home last week. She described the ads as “hypocritical and hurtful.”

I’ve not seen the ads; but, so many “hypocritical and hurtful” comments have been made about the Scruggses that I’m not surprised by those reported in the story – or by this comment from former Governor Ronnie Musgrove.

“I don’t think it makes either one of us a bad person,” Musgrove said of the support he and Wicker have received from the family.

As usual when it comes to issues of character, Musgrove misses the point.  There was no need for either candidate to mention the Scruggses and both did. Continue reading “Zach's wife speaks out – Way to go Amy Scruggs!”

Zach’s wife speaks out – Way to go Amy Scruggs!

With two young children, a third due any day, and her husband in an Arkansas prison, you’d think Amy Scruggs would be too overwhelmed to pay much attention to the campaign for “Uncle Trent’s” Senate seat – but clearly that’s not the case and she’s not only noticed, she’s speaking publicly about her concerns. h/t Clarion-Ledger

Amy Scruggs is the first family member to speak publicly about the legal troubles of her husband and her father-in-law, Dickie Scruggs.

She disagrees with numerous Republican attack ads attempting to link disgraced trial lawyers with Democrat Ronnie Musgrove. Democratic groups attacking Republican Roger Wicker also have mentioned the family’s legal woes.

The most visible attacks, however, have come from the GOP, and Amy Scruggs said the “final straw” was receiving campaign fliers in the mail recently.

“I think it just got to the point where you couldn’t ignore it anymore. There’s no pity party going on, … but at some point, somebody’s got to say, ‘OK, if they’re going to use our name, at least get it right,’ ” she said in a telephone interview from her Oxford home last week. She described the ads as “hypocritical and hurtful.”

I’ve not seen the ads; but, so many “hypocritical and hurtful” comments have been made about the Scruggses that I’m not surprised by those reported in the story – or by this comment from former Governor Ronnie Musgrove.

“I don’t think it makes either one of us a bad person,” Musgrove said of the support he and Wicker have received from the family.

As usual when it comes to issues of character, Musgrove misses the point.  There was no need for either candidate to mention the Scruggses and both did. Continue reading “Zach’s wife speaks out – Way to go Amy Scruggs!”

Paulson's purse and Steve Bartlett's plan

The Beatles had the song.

Lend me your ears and I’ll sing you a song
And I’ll try not to sing out of key…

Yahoo News had the story – Companies start competing for bailout money.

The bailout is now the hottest lobbying game in town.

Insurers, automakers and American subsidiaries of foreign banks all want the Treasury Department to cut them a piece of the largest government rescue in U.S. history.

The betting is that many with their hands out will be successful, especially with financial markets in a stomach-churning dive and predictions the economy is about to tumble into a deep recession.

These groups argue that the credit squeeze is so severe and the risks to the economy so dire that their industries need financial support as well.

The Treasury is considering requests from a variety of industries, but has not decided whether to expand the program, officials said Saturday.

Lobbying efforts are intensifying…

What else would you expect when Paulson has more money than God but no plan for our salvation?

Does it worry you to be alone
Are you sad at the end of the day

He forced billions on the big banks –  So when will banks give loans and boost the economy Continue reading “Paulson's purse and Steve Bartlett's plan”

Paulson’s purse and Steve Bartlett’s plan

The Beatles had the song.

Lend me your ears and I’ll sing you a song
And I’ll try not to sing out of key…

Yahoo News had the story – Companies start competing for bailout money.

The bailout is now the hottest lobbying game in town.

Insurers, automakers and American subsidiaries of foreign banks all want the Treasury Department to cut them a piece of the largest government rescue in U.S. history.

The betting is that many with their hands out will be successful, especially with financial markets in a stomach-churning dive and predictions the economy is about to tumble into a deep recession.

These groups argue that the credit squeeze is so severe and the risks to the economy so dire that their industries need financial support as well.

The Treasury is considering requests from a variety of industries, but has not decided whether to expand the program, officials said Saturday.

Lobbying efforts are intensifying…

What else would you expect when Paulson has more money than God but no plan for our salvation?

Does it worry you to be alone
Are you sad at the end of the day

He forced billions on the big banks –  So when will banks give loans and boost the economy Continue reading “Paulson’s purse and Steve Bartlett’s plan”