Damned Lies And Statistics

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Years ago I worked for the Group Actuarial unit at CIGNA. Actuaries are the people that determine rates and risk. They’re big players in insurance, and becoming a full actuary instantly makes you an officer of the company at most places. Needless to say, I am not an actuary; I supported their efforts with my systems skills. I got to speaking about actuaries with an IRC chum today. If you want to know what distinguishes actuaries from statisticians in my mind, read on …

Actuaries use statistics. Actuaries need to be good statisticians. But there’s a “real world” aspect to actuarial science. It looks something like this:

ai: I wanted to be an actuary for a while.

ai: I really like statistics a lot.

strex[a] considers what he should do to be “productive” with the rest of the day

ai strex[a]: I strongly recommmend masturbation.

mneptok: and statistics.

mneptok: “4 out of 5 cumshots missed my eye”

mneptok: “7 of 10 were not blanks.”

mneptok: now

mneptok: this is where we separate statistics from actuarial work

mneptok: statistics would say that if 1 of 5 cumshots hit the eye, and 3 of 10 were blanks, that statistically eventually you would get a blank that hit you in the eye.

mneptok: actuaries know better.

Please Read This Carefully

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I simply do not understand what is going on with the lack of ability of many adults to comprehend simple, clear information. A posting I made on Craig’s List leads to this rant.

Need a freezer? We’re getting rid of one that we got with the house. Here’s the listing on Craig’s List and in case that disappears, here’s the text:

FREE Freezer and Puzzle!
It’s a stand-up full sized (i.e. “refrigerator sized”) Manitowoc freezer for FREE! You haul it.
We inherited this item when we bought the house. Looks to be in good condition, but the interior needs a cleansing. This being the case, we haven’t plugged it in.
Comes with free puzzle, “Does this freezer work or not?” Won’t you find it in your heart to give this nice unit a home?
this is in or around Beaverton, OR

Best e-mail thus far:

Do you have a picture or can you send me one pls.

Dude! You’re Getting What We Tell You!

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Overly hot and relatively bored. Bad combination. So I called up Dell and asked them what my choice of OSes was when purchasing a new desktop. “You can get WindowsXP Pro or WindowsXP Home. You can pick!” Well, what if I don’t want Windows anything? Can I have it removed and the cost of the license deducted from the cost of the machine? “You can get WindowsXP Pro or WindowsXP Home. You can pick!” Can I just get a blank drive? “You can get WindowsXP Pro or WindowsXP Home. You can pick!” Tried business sales (who are smart enough to ask for a business phone number for their guerilla marketing but stupid enough not to catch a 555 prefix). Same answer. Nothing new here, and that’s the point. Years after BeOS got forcibly sidelined by Microsoft bullying and nothing’s changed. Microsoft, compete on merit or get out of everyone’s way. We’re trying to get things done.

Me vs. The Bees

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A large and ominous bees’ nest and I went head-to-head Monday. I am glad to report that I am still here, and the bees are not.

Last week Kristine spotted a large and ominous bees’ nest hanging right outside our front door. Like, right outside. We have some jasmine on a trellis beside the front door, and some wasp-y things had made their papery residence there.

If I was well versed in my apiology I could tell you what these things were. But my gut tells me honey bees don’t build paper. These looked like yellowjackets, and had the standard wasp wings. And the nest was about as big as a cantaloupe. Gotta be a couple of hundred bees in there. Two feet from your head as you enter our door. They had to go.

This is one of those occasions where I find myself setting aside my Buddhist inclinations in the pursuit of practicality. Maybe if they had been honey bees I would have made a half attempt to find an interested apiary. Not so for wasps.

I grabbed my 20 year old (and 20 years unused) lacrosse stick and stood in the screen door propping it open with my foot. I slowly introduced the head of the lacrosse stick above the nest. Once it was overhead, I swooped down and scooped as much of that diabolical cantaloupe into the head, quickly flicking downwards and pulling myself and my lacrosse stick inside-the-house-wards. There was a great buzzing. A cloud of angry, now 85% homeless bees swarmed around what remained of their once ominous paperloupe. I watched them for a time, chortling to myself as the odd bee or five bounced impotently off the screen on the door.

I then hurried around to the back door, went around to the front of the house where the garden hose is attached; a dozen feet or so from the enraged swarm. As I loosed the directed jet of nozzled water upon them, I thanked Goddarwin for the opposable thumb as opposed to the venomous sting.

I had to hose and then chemical the site a couple more times before the remaining bees either got the message or were sent to their reward. Quite persistent, poor doomed things.

Note for future incarnations. If you are small and venomous, avoid clustering around the large, intelligent creatures. It freaks them out.

FeedBot

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I found Feedbot today when doing my daily scour of VersionTracker. Their Safari-ready bookmarks were updated today. If you like RSS, read on… Feedbot is a set of javascripted bookmarks that let you find, subscribe to and manage RSS feeds from within your browser. Your chosen feeds are then displayed for you on a FeedBot hosted web page. If you’re not using a desktop aggregator (e.g. NetNewsWire, Shrook or AmphetaDesk) then this browser solution is really nifty.

The URL for mneptok.com’s RSS feed is

http://www.mneptok.com/backend/mneptok.rdf

Nice little bit of freeware.