This is a cartoon / blog post about depression. You should read it.
Might we one day find ourselves in a situation like in a free market where systematic misunderstandings can infect our collective conclusions? How can we be sure the results of large-scale collaborations or computing projects are reliable? Are there results from this kind of science that are already widely believed, maybe even influencing public policy, but are, in fact, wrong?
What happens when science grows beyond the capacity of a small group to understand it.
One teachers approach to preventing gender bullying in a classroom
Alie arrived at our 1st-grade classroom wearing a sweatshirt with a hood. I asked her to take off her hood, and she refused. I thought she was just being difficult and ignored it. After breakfast we got in line for art, and I noticed that she still had not removed her hood. When we arrived at the art room, I said: “Allie, I’m not playing. It’s time for art. The rule is no hoods or hats in school.”
She looked up with tears in her eyes and I realized there was something wrong. Her classmates went into the art room and we moved to the art storage area so her classmates wouldn’t hear our conversation. I softened my tone and asked her if she’d like to tell me what was wrong.
“My ponytail,” she cried.
“Can I see?” I asked.
She nodded and pulled down her hood. Allie’s braids had come undone overnight and there hadn’t been time to redo them in the morning, so they had to be put back in a ponytail. It was high up on the back of her head like those of many girls in our class, but I could see that to Allie it just felt wrong. With Allie’s permission, I took the elastic out and re-braided her hair so it could hang down.
“How’s that?” I asked.
She smiled. “Good,” she said and skipped off to join her friends in art.
‘Why Do You Look Like a Boy?’
Dear Mr. Tustin,
Thank you for your email to Mr. Pessina on the ethics of dispensing or selling items of which an individual may disapprove on religious, moral or ethical grounds.
I am currently looking into this matter with the management of Boots UK Ltd.
Firstly, I would point out that the incident in question is a very rare occurrence.
Boots serves 10’s of millions of customers every year throughout the UK and in a number of countries overseas, from every background and religion, without incident of this nature.
As an issue of this nature occurs only very rarely, Boots has not felt the need to issue its own specific internal guidance on the matter to pharmacists.
Until now, Boots has relied on the guidance issued by the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, the professional body for pharmacists in England and Wales.
The Society’s guidance permits a pharmacist, for ethical, moral or religious reasons, not to dispense a prescription medicine or sell a non-prescription medicine, as long as the patient has an alternative source for the medicine.
That alternative source could be another pharmacist in the dispensary at the time or an alternative pharmacy nearby.
We are currently reviewing the need to issue clearer guidance to pharmacists working for Boots.
This guidance will make clear that, as a provider of medicines to the general public in the UK for more than 160 years, Boots expects that all pharmacists (whether permanent or locum), serve customers whatever their personal, moral, ethical or religious view on the product being sold.
In this connection, we will also be reviewing Boots’ terms of employment with pharmacists to ensure that pharmacists understand that they are required, under their contract of employment with Boots, to sell any product which a customer may legally purchase.
I trust this answers your question.
This is an email from someone at Boots by the name of Marco Pagni (he does not give his position), in reply to my email less than two hours earlier regarding the reported refusal to issue emergency contraception on religious grounds.
Assuming it’s not misleading, this seems like a nice resolution: Boots will not allow staff to refuse medication on moral grounds.
Look at 2010q1, when the Tories were elected on promises of swinging budget cuts (which they delivered): that’s when the UK’s recovery completely tanks compared with the US’.
Did the same advisers consistently achieve better returns for their clients year after year? Did some advisers consistently display more skill than others?
To find the answer, I computed the correlations between the rankings of advisers in different years, comparing Year 1 with Year 2, Year 1 with Year 3 and so on up through Year 7 with Year 8. That yielded 28 correlations, one for each pair of years. While I was prepared to find little year-to-year consistency, I was still surprised to find that the average of the 28 correlations was .01. In other words, zero. The stability that would indicate differences in skill was not to be found. The results resembled what you would expect from a dice-rolling contest, not a game of skill.
I’m not sure about this method. Why use rankings? After all, the point of being or hiring an investor is not to be ranked best out of the people in the firm, but to consistently make money.
This measure just tells us that none of the guys in the firm were consistently better than each other on a year-by-year basis. More interesting would be to know who over the seven year period had made the most money - after all, the one who can win hugely in good years, and lose only moderately in bad years may make the most money, even if they never top out the rankings.
More fundamentally, it still makes sense to reward good staff, even if all your staff are as good as each other, simply because if they are better than the population of people in the job, they could walk away. A much more interesting comparator for the firm would be to see who makes more than the industry average consistently (or not), over the available time horizon.
Steve Jobs’ achievements (and every computer manufacturer’s lack thereof)
Indulge me for a moment in commenting on what Steve Jobs did to the computing industry, and what that says about every senior industry executive who isn’t him.
Steve Jobs’ real impact on the computing industry was to decide to sell computers based on (1) good industrial design generally (2) user interfaces which are pleasant for users, and do so quite successfully. Without Apple delivering products that don’t systematically violate all principles of design, the rest of the industry would still be giving us ugly, and far more difficult to use products. For that we should be very grateful to him.
Now, the really sad thing is that there is an identifiable person who did this - good design should be a no-brainer for any product, because designers are not very expensive, and the overhead is amortized over a huge number of units (of which many more should be sold than would be otherwise). Simply put, even companies that avoided innovation as too expensive should have invested in design without being prompted.
The question now is who, if anyone, will step up and fill the same role in the computing economy.
MEAT (by Marcin Tustin)
This photo inaugurates a brief burst of photo postings.
Fairtrade locks many Africans into non-mechanised, back-breaking cheap labour ‘as they cull weeds by hand rather than being able to destroy them with chemicals’.
The only way to actually ensure that no millionaire, anywhere, pays less than 20% on their annual income would be to essentially suspend the rule of law for wealthy people, and give the IRS power to seize income from rich people at will within some very broad guideline about fair shares.
Apparently Megan McArdle has a very poor imagination. There is nothing conceptually complex about a minimum tax rate that kicks in at certain levels of income. Without exceptions or deductions it would be undesirable, but it certainly wouldn’t erode the rule of law or require any kind of executive discretion.