Saturday, January 30, 2016

How old do I look?

Here is a link to an interesting website that uses a picture to estimate a person's age.  It seems to work pretty well.

Have fun.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Math Jokes

Matrices:  What mathematicians sleep on.

Line:  The king of the jungle.

Inverse:  How a mathematical poet writes.

Paradox:  Two MDs.

Rectangle:  An angle that's been in an accident.

Secant:  Why the girl didn't run a 4-minute mile.

Tangent:  A sunburned man.

Topologist:  A mathematician who can't tell a coffee cup from a doughnut.

Unit:  What you do with needles and yarn.

Zenophobia:  The irrational fear of convergent sequences.

A pastor, a doctor, and a mathematician were stuck behind a slow foursome while playing golf.  The greens keeper noticed their frustration and explained to them, "The slow group ahead of you is a bunch of blind firemen.  The lost their sight saving our clubhouse from a fire last year, so we always let them play for free.  The pastor responded, "That's terrible!  I'll say a prayer for them."  The doctor said, "I'll contact my ophthalmologist friends and see if there  is something that can be done for them."  The mathematician asked, "Why can't these guys play at night?"

An abacus is one tool you can always count on.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Inventory Management - A Lesson In Life

A 1982 paper by Gene Woolsey - a smart man.  A lesson in life.  Woolsey's papers described actual situations.

Friday, January 22, 2016

The problem with welfare

Cruz's Presidential Eligibility

Jacob Sullum writes at

During last week's Republican presidential debate, Ted Cruz said it's "really quite clear" he is eligible to run for president even though he was born in Canada, because his mother was a U.S. citizen. His rival Donald Trump insisted "there is a serious question" as to whether Cruz qualifies as "a natural born citizen," one of the constitutional requirements for the presidency.

Here is a sentence I never thought I'd type: Donald Trump is right. Cruz describes a consensus that does not exist.

The Texas senator is not alone in doing that. In a Harvard Law Review essay published last March, Neal Katyal and Paul Clement—solicitors general under Barack Obama and George W. Bush, respectively—say "there is no question that Senator Cruz has been a citizen from birth and is thus a 'natural born Citizen' within the meaning of the Constitution." They call claims to the contrary "specious" and "spurious."

No doubt Mary Brigid McManamon, a legal historian at Delaware Law School, would object to those adjectives. In a Washington Post op-ed piece published last week, she says it's "clear and unambiguous," based on British common law during the Founding era, that Cruz is not a "natural born citizen."

As Catholic University law professor Sarah Helen Duggin and Maryland lawyer Mary Beth Collins show in a 2005 Boston University Law Review article, these dueling perspectives are the latest installment of a long-running scholarly debate about the meaning of "natural born citizen." Contrary to Cruz, Katyal, Clement, and McManamon, Duggin and Collins view the phrase as "opaque" and dangerously "ambiguous" (as well as outdated, unfair, and antidemocratic), arguing that it should be excised by amendment.

Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe, whom Trump likes to cite, has taken both sides in this debate. In 2008 Tribe and former Solicitor General Ted Olson coauthored a memo that said John McCain, the GOP nominee that year, was eligible for the presidency even though he was born in the Panama Canal Zone.

Since the Constitution does not define "natural born citizen," Tribe and Olson wrote, to illuminate the term's meaning we must look to the context in which it is used, legislation enacted by the First Congress, and "the common law at the time of the Founding." They said "these sources all confirm that the phrase 'natural born' includes both birth abroad to parents who were citizens, and birth within a nation's territory and allegiance."

Writing in The Boston Globe last week, by contrast, Tribe said "the constitutional definition of a 'natural born citizen' is completely unsettled." He added that based on the originalist approach Cruz favors, he "ironically wouldn't be eligible, because the legal principles that prevailed in the 1780s and '90s required that someone actually be born on US soil to be a 'natural born' citizen." Fordham law professor Thomas Lee makes a similar argument in the Los Angeles Times.

Satisfying as it may be for Cruz's opponents to see him hoist by his own interpretive petard, this way of framing the issue is misleading, because the debate about the meaning of "natural born citizen" is mainly about what the original understanding was, as opposed to whether the original understanding should prevail. Originalists such as Georgetown law professor Randy Barnett and University of San Diego law professor Michael Ramsey argue that their approach favors Cruz.

Another originalist, Independence Institute senior fellow Rob Natelson, who describes himself as an "admirer of Senator Cruz," is not so sure. "Although Senator Cruz’s belief that he is natural born may ultimately be vindicated," Natelson writes on The Originalism Blog, "the case against him is very respectable."

Case Western law professor Jonathan Adler, who initially said "there is no question about Ted Cruz’s constitutional eligibility to be elected president," later conceded he "may have been too quick to suggest that this issue is completely settled." I was similarly chastened to realize it's not safe to assume everything Donald Trump says is a lie.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

The Armed Citizen

NASA, NOAA analyses reveal record-shattering global warm temperatures in 2015

Here is a Science Daily article about global warming.  It appears somewhat overstated.  My comments are in italics.

January 20, 2016
Source: NASA

Summary:  Earth's 2015 surface temperatures were the warmest since modern record keeping began in 1880, according to independent analyses by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

Earth's 2015 surface temperatures were the warmest since modern record keeping began in 1880, according to independent analyses by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

A record since 1880 is not too impressive.  An increase of temperature that is notable since 1880 may be minor compared to temperature variations over much longer periods.  For example, here is an estimated longer term record.

This record suggests that we are currently in a warm period and that previous warm periods had even higher temperatures.  So much for “record-shattering”.  Should we be more worried about the current warm period, even if there is a positive increment for human activity, or a possible coming ice age?  Perhaps the latter?

Globally-averaged temperatures in 2015 shattered the previous mark set in 2014 by 0.23 degrees Fahrenheit (0.13 Celsius). Only once before, in 1998, has the new record been greater than the old record by this much.

Characterizing a 0.13C difference as “shattering” is rhetoric, not science.

The 2015 temperatures continue a long-term warming trend, according to analyses by scientists at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) in New York (GISTEMP). NOAA scientists concur with the finding that 2015 was the warmest year on record based on separate, independent analyses of the data. Because weather station locations and measurements change over time, there is some uncertainty in the individual values in the GISTEMP index. Taking this into account, NASA analysis estimates 2015 was the warmest year with 94 percent certainty.

The record since 1880 is not “long-term”.  The uncertainty in the individual values cannot be properly converted into accurate measures of statistical significance without an accurate physical model of temperature.  Since the analysis is based on a statistical model, not an accurate physics model, there is model induced uncertainty that invalidates the accuracy of the statistical conclusions.  For example, the model does not explain the long-term temperature record, including ice ages, hence cannot accurately differentiate among temperature change causes or forecast a coming ice age.  Finally, the statement that "Taking this into account, NASA analysis estimates 2015 was the warmest year with 94 percent certainty." is not consistent with statistical theory.  

"Climate change is the challenge of our generation, and NASA's vital work on this important issue affects every person on Earth," said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. "Today's announcement not only underscores how critical NASA's Earth observation program is, it is a key data point that should make policy makers stand up and take notice -- now is the time to act on climate."

This is rhetoric, not science.

The planet's average surface temperature has risen about 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit (1.0 degree Celsius) since the late-19th century, a change largely driven by increased carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions into the atmosphere.

This conclusion is in the absence of an accurate physics model of temperature change, hence is rhetoric, not science.

Most of the warming occurred in the past 35 years, with 15 of the 16 warmest years on record occurring since 2001. Last year was the first time the global average temperatures were 1 degree Celsius or more above the 1880-1899 average.

Not too impressive in light of the long-term chart above.

Phenomena such as El Niño or La Niña, which warm or cool the tropical Pacific Ocean, can contribute to short-term variations in global average temperature. A warming El Niño was in effect for most of 2015.

"2015 was remarkable even in the context of the ongoing El Niño," said GISS Director Gavin Schmidt. "Last year's temperatures had an assist from El Niño, but it is the cumulative effect of the long-term trend that has resulted in the record warming that we are seeing."

Weather dynamics often affect regional temperatures, so not every region on Earth experienced record average temperatures last year. For example, NASA and NOAA found that the 2015 annual mean temperature for the contiguous 48 United States was the second warmest on record.

NASA's analyses incorporate surface temperature measurements from 6,300 weather stations, ship- and buoy-based observations of sea surface temperatures, and temperature measurements from Antarctic research stations. These raw measurements are analyzed using an algorithm that considers the varied spacing of temperature stations around the globe and urban heating effects that could skew the conclusions if left unaccounted for. The result of these calculations is an estimate of the global average temperature difference from a baseline period of 1951 to 1980.

The “algorithm” is not a replacement for an accurate physical model, hence it introduces errors that are not reflected in the statistics.

NOAA scientists used much of the same raw temperature data, but a different baseline period, and different methods to analyze Earth's polar regions and global temperatures.

GISS is a NASA laboratory managed by the Earth Sciences Division of the agency's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. The laboratory is affiliated with Columbia University's Earth Institute and School of Engineering and Applied Science in New York.

NASA monitors Earth's vital signs from land, air and space with a fleet of satellites, as well as airborne and ground-based observation campaigns. The agency develops new ways to observe and study Earth's interconnected natural systems with long-term data records and computer analysis tools to better see how our planet is changing. NASA shares this unique knowledge with the global community and works with institutions in the United States and around the world that contribute to understanding and protecting our home planet.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Life in the 21st Century

The Islamophobic Case for Open Borders

Here is a link to an interesting article by Nathan Smith about Muslim immigration.

A snippet:

It is widely perceived that Muslims have a special propensity for violence, which other religions lack, and while Buddhist monks inciting violence against Burmese Muslims and violence against abortion providers in North America are counter-examples, the perception is basically correct. Islamic terrorists, over the past 20 years, have perpetrated dozens of terrorist attacks in non-Muslim regions, with a death toll of thousands, the vast majority of whom had done nothing in particular to earn the enmity of Islam. The global scope of Islamist violence, and its indiscriminate nature, set it dramatically apart. Most denials of Islam’s special propensity for violence represent politically correct spin doctoring rather than serious analysis. That most Muslims oppose terrorism is not inconsistent with Muslims turning to religiously-motivated violence at much higher rates than members of other religions do.

The violent insurgencies of Muslim Palestinians against Israel, Muslim Chechens against Russia, Muslim Algerians against France in the mid-20th century, and so on, illustrate an important pattern, namely, that Muslims are not accustomed to being a quiescent minority in a state where other religions predominate, and often react to it violently. Of course, Palestinians, Chechens, and Algerians had strong historical claims to the lands on which they were living, and could accuse the Israelis, Russians, and French as being imperialist usurpers. Muslim immigrants in the West under open borders could make no such charge. But is irredentism the real motive for these Muslim insurgencies, or just a kind of pretext or secondary cause? Does Islam simply make its adherents disinclined to accept non-Muslim rule, however originated?

Islamic scholar Bernard Lewis argues that there is a fundamental difference in the way Muslims regard the relationship between religion and state:

In [the Muslim] world, religion embraces far more than it does in the Christian or post-Christian world. We are accustomed to talking of church and state, and a whole series of pairs of words that go with them – lay and ecclesiastical, secular and religious, spiritual and temporal, and so on. These pairs of words simply do not exist in classical Islamic terminology, because the dichotomy that these words express is unknown. They are used in the modern languages. In Arabic, they borrow the terminology used by Christian Arabs. They are fortunate in having a substantial Christian population using Arabic, and they therefore have a good part of the modern terminology at their disposal, in their own language. In Turkish, Persian, Urdu and other languages of Islam, they had to invent new words. The word in Turkish and in Persian is laik [from the French word laïque, which describes the prevailing concept of separation of church and state].

In the Islamic world, from the beginning, Islam was the primary basis of both identity and loyalty. We think of a nation subdivided into religions. They think, rather, of a religion subdivided into nations. It is the ultimate definition, the prime definition and the one that determines, as I said, not only identity, but also basic loyalty. And this is quite independent of religious belief. In Islam, there isn’t – or rather, there wasn’t until recently – any such thing as the church, in the Christian sense of that word. The mosque is a place of worship. It’s a building, a place of worship and study. And in that sense, it is the equivalent of the church. But in the sense of an institution with a hierarchy and its own laws and usages, there was no such thing in Islam until very recently.

If Lewis is right about this, his argument strongly suggests an explanation for the widespread impulse to Muslim insurgency. No situation in which Muslims live under non-Muslim rule can be quite normal in Muslims’ eyes. Their religious laws demand to be implemented as civil laws. Their religious community is meant to be realized as a political community. Without a separation of church and state, it’s difficult for the pious to live under infidel rule.

A Christian’s loyalty to the Church is compatible with being a subject of a non-Christian state, because the Christian is commanded to “give unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and unto God what is God’s.” The highest law to which Christians regard themselves as subject, the teachings of Jesus in the New Testament, are not meant to be, and surely could not be, embodied in the legal code of any state. By contrast, at the heart of Islam lies sharia, a legal code, which, according to majorities of Muslims in most countries where Islam is present, is supposed to be the law of the land. To tell Muslims they may practice their religion privately within the framework of a central state is to impose on them a role congenial to Christians rather than Muslims, and fundamentally at odds with their religious tradition.

My co-authored paper Rowley and Smith (2009) demonstrated that there is a democracy deficit in the Muslim world, an even more marked deficit of freedom, and a lack of religious freedom in particular. Politically correct efforts to explain this in terms of other variables such as oil or the legacy of colonialism don’t stand up to statistical scrutiny. Islam just seems to be inherently illiberal.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Obama Spouts Falsehoods At Gun Control Town Hall

Here is an article by John Lott (the foremost expert on guns and crime) in the Daily Caller.

I wish that I had been able to go to CNN’s town hall with President Obama. But Thursday night’s event was invitation-only.

Still, Anderson Cooper, the moderator, challenged the president a few times. But the president just made one false claim after another.

When rape survivor Kimberly Corban asked why she shouldn’t be able to carry a gun to protect herself, Obama said his current executive actions won’t make it harder for her to purchase a firearm. He claimed, he isn’t proposing anything that “prevents you or makes it harder for you to purchase a firearm if you need one.”

Obama’s proposed expanded background checks will make guns more expensive, perhaps prohibitively so for poorer people. In DC, where Obama was speaking from, expanded background checks add about $125 to the cost of transferring a gun.

After the event, CNN brought in conservative commentators such as SE Cupp. However, they failed to understand the issues here. It’s not just that the laws won’t do any good — they will also come with some real costs. These laws won’t stop mass public shootings, but they will hurt law-abiding citizens.

Then came the issue of expanded background checks leading to a national gun registry. Anderson Cooper said that people are afraid of having their guns taken away and asked, “Is it fair to call it a conspiracy?” “Yes, it is fair to call it a conspiracy,” Obama said, seemingly intimidating Cooper into dropping the subject.

It would be nice to take President Obama’s at his word, but Americans have seen this scenario play out before. California, New York, and Chicago have all used registration lists to identify who owns guns that are no longer legal.

Since 2004, the FBI has been required to destroy NICS records of gun sales and transfers within 24 hours of receipt. However, federally licensed dealers are required to maintain records of background checks that have been done on customers. Congress currently forbids federal collection of this information into a central database, but there’s no guarantee that this won’t change. With records on all private transfers and sales, the government could potentially figure out who legally owns a gun. Five years down the line, a future President Hillary Clinton could push to require that federally licensed dealers make copies of their records and turn them into the federal government. This would be the start of a national registration list.

The president forcefully claimed: “I respect the Second Amendment; I respect the right to bear arms; I respect people who want a gun for self-protection.”

Well, here’s another quote: “I don’t believe people should be able to own guns.” That’s what Obama told me when we were colleagues at the University of Chicago Law School in 1996. Obama has also publicly supported a nationwide “ban [on] the manufacture, sale and possession of handguns” as well as a “ban the sale or transfer of all forms of semi-automatic weapons.” Even as late as the 2008 Presidential primaries, Obama supported Washington, D.C.’s handgun ban.

From inaccurate claims about Congress restricting firearms research to failure to explain that virtually everyone stopped by background checks are law-abiding citizens who have a name similar to the people we want to stop, a lot more corrections could be made.

In addition, while Obama insists that he “respects” people who disagrees with him, he keeps suggesting that those who disagree with him, the “gun lobby,” only do so out of bad motivations – only because those positions are “by the way, really profitable for the gun manufacturers.” Never that they might want to let vulnerable victims defend themselves and their loved one.

If Obama really had confidence in his case, he wouldn’t have to make up so many false claims.

Don Boudreaux on the Far Right and the Far Left

Don's letter to the Wall Street Journal.  Don is on target.

The media rightly ridicule the bigotry and ignorance of the Republican voters who are responsible for Donald Trump’s buoyancy in the polls. But your report today on Hillary Clinton’s proposed 4% “surcharge” on millionaires reveals that Democratic voters are also infested with a mix of bigotry and ignorance that, although different in detail from that of the Republicans, is no less uncivilized and dangerous (“Hillary Clinton Proposes 4% Income-Tax Surcharge for Wealthy Americans,” Jan. 12).

While many GOP voters today mindlessly heap lots of blame on immigrants and foreigners for America’s woes, many Dem voters today mindlessly heap lots of blame on “the rich.” While many GOP voters ignorantly suppose that transferring jobs from immigrants and foreign workers to Americans is a sure-fire way to make ordinary Americans more prosperous, many Dem voters ignorantly suppose that transferring incomes from “the rich” is a sure-fire way to make ordinary Americans more prosperous. And while many GOP voters stupidly believe that immigrants and foreigners are natural and implacable enemies of the common good – enemies who prey upon us only because Uncle Sam has been too tolerant of evil in our midst – many Dem voters stupidly believe that “the rich” are natural and implacable enemies of the common good – enemies who prey upon us only because Uncle Sam has been too tolerant of evil in our midst.

The fact is, the success of both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders testifies unmistakably that the ranks and files of both major parties are now filled with far too many simpletons who not only are utterly ignorant of the ways that economies and governments work, but who also are in equal parts mindless, bigoted, and uncivilized. They are, in short, dupes for power-mad despots-in-waiting.

From SSRN - Social Science Research Network

Dear Robert Ferguson:

Your paper, "CHICKEN LITTLE GETS IT WRONG AGAIN", was recently listed on SSRN's Top Ten download list for: ERN: Efficient Market Hypothesis Models (Topic).

As of 12 January 2016, your paper has been downloaded 25 times. You may view the abstract and download statistics at:

Top Ten Lists are updated on a daily basis. Click the following link(s) to view the Top Ten list for:

ERN: Efficient Market Hypothesis Models (Topic) Top Ten.

Click the following link(s) to view all the papers in:

ERN: Efficient Market Hypothesis Models (Topic) All Papers.

To view SSRN's Top Ten lists for any network, subnetwork, eJournal or topic on the Browse list (reachable through the following link:, click the "i" button to the right of the name, and then select the "Top Downloaded" link in the popup window.

Your paper may be included in future Top Ten lists for other networks or eJournals. If so, you will receive additional notices at that time.

If you have any questions regarding this notification or any other matter, please email or call 877-SSRNHelp (877 777 6435 toll free). Outside of the United States, call +1 585 442 8170. We are open Monday through Friday between the hours of 8:30AM and 6:00PM, United States Eastern.


Michael C. Jensen
Social Science Research Network

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Apple and Microsoft are health hazards

A few months ago, I installed Window 10.  Recently, I decided to subscribe to Office 365, since you then get continuing updates and access to about 1Tb of storage in Microsoft's Cloud (Onedrive).

Having used Outlook previously for my Calendar, Contacts, and email, I figured I would use Outlook 2016, which comes with Office 365.  After starting Outlook 2016 and syncing my iPhone and iPad with iTunes, I noticed that there were no contacts and no appointments on either.  They also vanished from Outlook 2016.  ALL GONE!!!  I almost had a heart attack.

I called Apple, figuring that the problem might be iTunes.  Perhaps it was, I will never know, because Apple blamed it on Microsoft and said to call Microsoft.  That despite the fact that the iTunes sync blew the data on Apple devices.  Oh well.

I called Microsoft.  They blamed it on Apple.  However, the support person, located in India, knew something about Apple and, after an hour or so, I was set up on Apple's iCloud with all my Apple devices synced and Outlook 2016 synced to the iCloud data.  However, iTunes still won't talk with Outlook 2016 to sync my contacts with my Apple devices or iCloud.

Window 10 is that it updates automatically - you don't even know it is happening.  No doubt, Microsoft figured that this is a great plus, since people who don't know much about computers don't have to.  However, what Microsoft fails to tell you is that during an update, or before restarting the computer when that is required to finalize the update, it can appear that you have experienced a serious computer problem.

Today, I was using Office 365, and Outlook 2016 in particular.  At one point, I closed Outlook 2016 and my other open programs, and backed up my documents using Norton 360.  When I went to reopen Outlook 2016, I received a message saying that Outlook couldn't be opened because such and such a file couldn't be opened.  The file was the primary Outlook file that stores, you guessed it, my email, appointment, and contacts data.  ALL GONE AGAIN????  I almost had a heart attack.

What does one do in such a situation, Reboot and hope for the best.  It worked.  And at that point, the tiny little "notifications" icon indicated that there was a message waiting.  It said that a reboot was necessary to finish updating Windows 10.  Evidently, the update program had waited to modify Outlook until I wasn't using it, and then blocked access to the key file until a reboot had completed the update.


Obama is wrong on guns again

In today's talk, Obama makes much of expanding background checks.  Here is a link to an article by John Lott that finds:

Persistent claims have been made that expanding background checks to include any private transfers of guns would reduce mass public shootings. Yet, this is the first study to systematically look to see if that is true. In fact there is no evidence that these laws reduce the risk of these attacks. Examining all the mass public shootings in the US from 2000 through 2015, we find that states adopting additional background checks on private transfers they see a statistically significant increase in rates of killings (80% higher) and injuries (101%) from mass public shootings. There is not one mass public shooting that occurred over that period where these checks would have prevent from occurring.

You can read the paper to judge for yourself the statistics.

Monday, January 04, 2016

Math Jokes

Use variables when you don't know what you are talking about.

The statistician's wife refused to let him play with their son's toys, because she was afraid of regression.

Did you hear about the mathematician that loved his wife so much that he almost told her?

Economists have forecast ten of the last six recessions.

I heard that parallel lines do meet, but they are very discrete.

Some say that the Pope is the greatest cardinal.  But others insist this cannot be so, as every pope has a successor.

Aftermath:  the horrible headache you have after finishing an algebra test.

Bisects:  how boys and girls are separated.

Coincide:  what you should do when it rains.

Denominator:  one who puts forth a candidate.