Beavering Away

Will be engaged busily this week; posts may become sporadic, confused, nonsensical. More then usually, I mean.

Now is the chance to send in a Guest Post (200 ~ 800 words) to finally show the world the Truth of some subject close to your heart. Just email me and I’ll be happy to put it up. Just think: once the world reads your words, you can find the same edifying fame as I have. This fame is so predictable that it can even be reduced to an equation:

    Fame = Obscurity – 1.

I’ll let the mathematically inclined readers figure that out.

Big Announcement!

Sports Fans: I’ll soon have a big, exciting, Oh-My-God announcement that will change your life forever. Those with weak hearts are warned.

I’m involved in a start-up which will test how good experts, bookmakers, bar flies, and civilians are at picking who wins and who loses. By “who” I mean sporting competitors.

Our goal is to be ready for the NFL season. Which, for no good reason, starts in the summer and overlaps Baseball, the only true American sport.

Spencer’s Paper

Roy Spencer has very kindly responded to some of my questions I had about his paper. So the review I promised is nearly ready. Probably later in the week than earlier, however.

Jim Enstrom

Remember the case of Jim Enstrom, UCLA research scientist? He came on the national That-Poor-Sap radar earlier this year when he identified a phony working for the California Air Resource Board. I originally wrote about him here: California Air Resources Board Uses Strange Statistics, UCLA Fires Scientist.

Enstrom discovered that CARB employee and statistician Hien Tran’s PhD came from the degree mill “Thornhill University.” This wouldn’t be interesting except Tran was the author of a report that CARB is using (in part) to make policy.

For his troubles, Enstrom is being booted from UCLA, a university, it is important to recognize, that sucks in quite a bit of moola from CARB and other California agencies.

Anyway, Enstrom has asked my help in reviewing some statistical papers the EPA and other agencies are using to prove that particulate air pollution is Worse Than We Thought. I’m doing this pro bono.

Once we have it put together, I’ll report to you what’s what.

Bad Movies

Only because we just talked about it, Kyle Smith of the New York Post reviews the new book, “Writing Movies for Fun and Profit: How We Made a Billion Dollars at the Box Office and You Can, Too!” by screenwriters Robert Ben Garant and Thomas Lennon

The premise of this book is that most movies stink, and here’s why.

He said it, not I. On movies today: “They suck. It’s unbelievable how bad movies have been, right. I mean, it’s just I haven’t seen a run of this, a crop of movies

. . . It’s a very entrepreneurial world, and I think you will see that right itself with time in it. But, right now today it’s a particularly dreary moment.”

The speaker is Jeffrey Katzenberg, DreamWorks co-founder and movie mogul, earlier this month. I’ll be quoting his words next time some Hollywood person asks me why critics are so mean.


  1. Speed

    Good luck with the “air pollution is Worse Then We Thought” project. I’ll remind you of the David Pimentel post, Pollution Causes 40 Percent Of Deaths Worldwide, Study Finds.

    And then there’s this …

    Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) on Monday evening said a Republican bill funding the Interior Department, the Environmental Protection Agency and other agencies would cut environmental protection and lead to billions of dollars in increased healthcare costs due to increased pollution, as well as pollution-related deaths.

    “This reckless bill would impose billions of dollars, Mr. Chairman, of healthcare costs in America by increasing the incidents of asthma, emphysema, heart attacks and premature death,” Connolly said on the floor. He cited a Congressional Research Service report that said the bill would result in up to $539 billion in healthcare costs.

    “In addition, it will cause 60,000 pre-mature deaths, 20 million lost days of work, and 36,800 additional heart attacks in America,” he added.

    I can’t find the referenced Congressional Research Service report.

  2. Ray

    I am not surpried Enstrom got the boot. He’s a troublemaker. He and Kabat did a study on secondhand smoke that found no statistically significant association between secondhand smoke and lung cancer. That’s the meaningless P value thing again. When the paper was published in the BMJ, the adhominum attacks were astonishing. Enstronand Kabat were called frauds and fakes. They were denounced by the American Cancer Society. The anti smoking zealots were outraged and they wanted to silence them. Looks like they are finally suceeding.

    As I have pointed out in previous comments, nobody knows what causes cancer. The National cancer Institute has has been unable to identify a cause of cancer and they have spent 40 years and billions of dollars trying. Also, the 1967 Surgeon General report on smoking and health shows moderate smokers have lower disease and mortality rates than non smokers. That ought to set off the anti smokers who believe all smokers are doomed.

  3. Gary

    Baseball, the only true American sport.

    Depends by what you mean by “true” and “American” I guess. It’s historically ours in the sense that America took other bat & ball games (rounders, cricket) and morphed it into something iconic. Yet, basketball is even more original. Baseball has spread worldwide like basketball, but nobody else plays “American” football except the Canadians with a borrowed and slightly modified version. Hockey, of course, is a product of the Great White North and we could never claim it as our own. Baseball has become highly specialized and filled with players who get injured when they sneeze. It tends to be long and boring, both in game length and season length. It is hidebound in traditions and unwritten rules (bad umpiring, retaliatory hitting of batters). George Carlin had a routine that concluded football was more “American” in character than baseball (played on a gridiron instead of a park, player run instead of walk, etc.) Football’s belicosity seems more aligned with the multiple foreign wars we engage in than baseball’s pastoral relaxation. Significant numbers of baseball players are not of American citizenship anymore. American kids are playing less and less and routinely lose the Little League World Series.

  4. Bernie

    Are you going to announce that the Detroit Lions are going to join the CFL in 2012?

  5. @ Bernie: They haven’t finished their “Politeness Training” segment, which is the only remaining requisite.

  6. Matt, in between his dish-washing gigs could you kindly request scientist Enstrom move up to the top of his “to do” list a study on “The US Government Is Worse Than We Thought”. I’d be happy to co-sponsor the “Much Worse” segment.

  7. Dr. Briggs: A stab at an interpretation of the equation.

    Fame = Obscurity – 1


    Fame +1 = Obscurity

    However Obscurity is nothing

    Fame +1 = 0

    Fame = -1

    Interpretation: Fame is less than nothing or is less valuable than obscurity Therefore once you are famous you have gone backward from the benefit from living in obscurity. Worse, once you are famous you have lost obscurity forever so the process is non- reversible. Fame < Obscurity

  8. Wow! jon shively has mathematically proven what children of all ages refuse to believe but those of us more mature intuitively comprehend. Fabulous.

  9. robert burns

    I am a NFL handicapper as a hobby, and I think I am one of the best in the world when picking sides against the point spread(LOL). Anyway, I have some historical files and records and can point to some interesting football sites on the web. Email me if I can be of any help to you.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *