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Fri Apr 17, 2015 at 02:40 PM PDT

My Senator Griffin Story

by MisterBeagle

Long-time Michigan Senator Robert Griffin has died at the age of 91. A staunch Republican and Richard Nixon loyalist, he proved to be a crucial swing vote when he finally pulled his support for Nixon during the Watergate crisis, with Nixon resigning shortly after.

But when I first crossed paths with Senator Griffin it was during the height of the national Nixon love/hate polarization in 1971...

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Wed Jan 28, 2015 at 12:13 PM PST

Benghazi Explained

by MisterBeagle

Some people need pictures. Here is one:


If you want to see the inevitable adoption of the ACA by Republicans, I propose we look at the Catholic reality, not the doctrine, of the use of birth control. The “real” American Catholic view on birth control is demonstrated simply by counting the family size in the parish pews. Here is a hint: it is the same as for Protestant families.

You can make the same analysis in terms of the number of abortions in Republican families vs. Democratic families. We do not know that number, but either Republican teenagers have less sex than Democratic teenagers, or else the kids have quietly acquired access to birth control and abortion.

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In my earlier diary I promised a second, little-discussed math-based observation regarding gun violence, and I will get to that, but first a recap of my first point in the light of some notable responses.

My first point was that the math of gun violence was not of direct cause-effect, but rather the lottery math of millions of small, infinitesimally-low-probability "tickets," inevitably leading to "jackpots," both small and large. Countries with lower gun violence rates don't have one single "cause" for their low rate, rather most of the several types of "tickets" occur in much lower quantities, and for various reasons.

This is a math model, folks. Some responses seemed to be on the order of "gun violence is not a lottery because I don't scratch off anything." And clearly, even many intelligent Kos readers do not understand the math of lottery probability, which is likely why they still buy tickets.

So here is the second math point:

That gun you purchased to "protect yourself" is probabilistically many times more likely (by a couple orders of magnitude) to harm yourself, or some you love, than it is to successfully defend yourself against "a bad guy with a gun."

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Sat Jan 26, 2013 at 04:50 AM PST

The Math of the Gun Lottery

by MisterBeagle

While both sides of this debate seem intent on claiming direct cause/effect-based remedies to the issue of gun violence, they are missing two key math-based realities regarding gun-based violence in America. The first:

The math of gun violence is very similar in nature and size to the math of state-based lotteries, where small-pot winners are analogous to gun injuries and big jackpots are analogous to gun deaths.

In the math of lotteries, there is no direct cause-effect relationship to winning other than purchasing a ticket, which, by itself, has only an infinitesimal impact on either the chance of winning or the size of the jackpot. However, the Law of Large Numbers, guarantees both that there will be a regular "winner," and, with enough "tickets" sold, there will eventually be, with the gun lottery, another very nasty "super-lotto jackpot" like Newtown.

Yet, instead of focusing on the nature and quantity of the "tickets" sold, there is this search for the "holy grail" of The Cause. The Bismark Tribune asserts this in the one piece of the President's proposal that they could support:

The most promising element of the president’s gun control response is the push for more research into mass killings and other health-related aspects of gun use. If the country understands the root causes of horrific gun violence, then it might be possible to address that cause rather than treat the symptoms, as has been proposed. Better solutions might be found in mental health policies or the prescription and use of anti-depressants — we do not know because we haven’t done the research.
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