White Privilege?

12 August 2020: I have noticed the phrase ‘white privilege‘ in the MainStream Media over the last couple of years, and aside from an instinctive dislike of the phrase I didn’t really have an opinion on it. But last Saturday I had family over for dinner and the younger generation asserted that it was a real thing and something that white people should address. Since I didn’t know what it meant, I couldn’t contribute a lot to the conversation 😦 (aside from my usual pithy observations on the human condition 🙂 ) so I thought that I would look into it. Continue reading White Privilege?

Excess Deaths and the CBC

31 July 2020: In my previous blog post (Wuhan Coronavirus: Excess Deaths), I analyzed Statistics Canada’s data about excess deaths in Canada (link), and reasonably concluded that the measures put in place to reduce the spread of Covid-19 also significantly reduced the spread and mortality of the seasonal flu, at least in Quebec. It seems that I was following in the footsteps of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) because more than a month before my post, on June 19th, they had published a news article (link) based on that same data. I thought it would be interesting to review that article; after all, it is a subject in which I recently acquired some expertise 🙂 . Continue reading Excess Deaths and the CBC

Wuhan Coronavirus: Excess Deaths

25 July 2020: Each day I look at Worldometers.com to see the daily count of the number of deaths due to Wuhan Coronavirus in the countries that interest me (i.e. Canada, New Zealand, Sweden, and the United States). It provides a snapshot of how things are going. But an equally interesting perspective is the number of excess deaths that have occurred during the pandemic. Continue reading Wuhan Coronavirus: Excess Deaths

Government Crowdfunding!

19 July 2020: The statement “The Canadian Government wastes a lot of money” is a truism but it’s ambiguous. It could mean any of the following:

  1. Inefficiency: (i.e. spending $1 billion to deliver a service that could have been delivered for $900 million)
  2. Graft and corruption (In 2019 Canada is the twelfth (!) least corrupt country in the world (link). (New Zealand and Denmark are tied for the title of least corrupt country. And Somalia is the most corrupt.)
  3. Spending on government programs that do not provide value to Canadians.

And it’s the third meaning that I want to talk about in this blog post. Continue reading Government Crowdfunding!

Situational Awareness

12 July 2020: Question: What is the common element of the following situations?

  • A customer at the grocery store blocks the aisle with her cart while she wanders off to compare ketchup prices,
  • A cyclist blocks the bicycle path while he stops for a drink of water and a quick check of his Twitter feed,
  • A driver in rush hour enters an intersection without realizing that traffic isn’t going anywhere. He’s still there when the light turns red and he ends up blocking the traffic of the cross street.

Continue reading Situational Awareness

Karens to the Left . . .

07 July 2020: A month ago, the MainStream Media reported on a kerfuffle between a dog walker and a birdwatcher in Central Park in New York. Apparently the woman was walking her dog off-leash and the birdwatcher called her on it. The verbal conflict escalated to the point where the woman called 911 to report that an African-American man was threatening her and her dog and to send the cops immediately. Continue reading Karens to the Left . . .

Wuhan Coronavirus: Sweden

01 July 2020: Last March, when Covid-19 was just establishing a foothold outside of China, many countries instituted draconian lock-downs to control its spread. Not Sweden! Instead they implemented minimal precautions with the assumption that while this would almost certainly result in greater mortality in the short-term there should be fewer #SecondWave deaths and thus no significant effect on overall mortality. I wrote about this in a bit more detail in a previous post (Wuhan Coronavirus: Second Wave?).

One of the consequences of Sweden’s approach is that its success or failure cannot be assessed until the #SecondWave has come and gone. So imagine my surprise when I came across articles published in the MainStream Media in early June with headlines that implied that Sweden was having second thoughts: Architect of Sweden’s coronavirus approach admits shortcoming, Frontman Behind Sweden’s Coronavirus Strategy Regrets High Death Toll, Sweden’s lax COVID-19 response caused too many deaths, country’s top epidemiologist says. Continue reading Wuhan Coronavirus: Sweden

How Hot was it?

27 June 2020: I know a lot of fellow Ottawans who complain in the winter that it’s too cold and then turn around and complain in the summer that it’s too hot. My response is always the same; Pick a lane buddy! Complaining about both extremes is a bad look; one could be accused of whining. Personally I complain about the cold. I whinge about the winter’s cold but I never complain about the summer’s heat. Although last month I came close. OMG! It was fricking hot! Continue reading How Hot was it?

Morphic Resonance

18 June 2020: In my previous post (Evidence Matters…), I wrote about the importance of evidence nuanced with the caveat that its importance is context dependent (i.e. I hope that Canadians vote for political candidates based on a significant amount of evidence but I don’t expect that they would require the same level of support for a favourite colour). Continue reading Morphic Resonance

Evidence Matters . . .

11 June 2020: . . . but how much it matters depends on the situation. Here is an incomplete list of the weight of evidence needed for different elements of our society. I don’t think that anyone will find it particularly controversial (except maybe for the fact that we live in a society where overturning a referee’s decision in a sporting match requires the most evidence!):

  • Indisputable visual evidence: the degree of certainty needed for an instant replay review to overturn a referee’s decision in professional sports.
  • Five Sigma: a new particle is only accepted by the physics community if there is less than one chance in 3.5 million (!) that the evidence is due to statistical error.
  • Beyond reasonable doubt: the standard of proof required for a criminal conviction
  • 95% (p = 0.05): The probability required for a finding in the social sciences to be significant (i.e. only one chance in twenty that the result could be due to chance).
  • Balance of probabilities: The standard of proof required in civil cases; the party that is most likely to be right will prevail. Ties go to the defence.
  • Almost zero: The support needed for personal opinions about soft drinks, sports teams, favourite colours . . . .

Continue reading Evidence Matters . . .