Patterico's Pontifications


Harvey Korman Dies

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:12 pm

I always enjoyed him and Tim Conway on the “Carol Burnett Show” as a kid. He’ll be missed.

Adams & Reese Response to Perdigao Lawsuit

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:00 pm

Adams & Reese has issued the following statement in response to the complaint filed by James Perdigao — news that was broken right here on

The lawsuit filed Tuesday represents the latest episode in Perdigao’s continuing fantasy of blaming the government and our firm for his wrongdoing and lashing out at those who are holding him accountable for his actions.

Adams and Reese denies Perdigao’s allegations of wrongdoing. We look forward to his upcoming criminal trial and we will continue to cooperate with the U.S. Attorney and the FBI to ensure that justice is done.

Stay tuned.

Truthing Obamafuscations: Part Two of a Continuing Series Through November

Filed under: General — WLS @ 2:19 pm

Posted by WLS:

A couple weeks ago I decided to start calling attention to “Obamafuscastions” of the truth through the summer and into the fall.  Part one is here.

I’ve had several opportunties over the past couple weeks to post additional parts, but they just didn’t seem juicy enough.

But this passage from the commencement speech he gave at Wesleyan College has a glaring factual untruth in it — and its about his OWN biography:

But during my first two years of college, perhaps because the values my mother had taught me –hard work, honesty, empathy – had resurfaced after a long hibernation; or perhaps because of the example of wonderful teachers and lasting friends, I began to notice a world beyond myself.  I became active in the movement to oppose the apartheid regime of South Africa.  I began following the debates in this country about poverty and health care.  So that by the time I graduated from college, I was possessed with a crazy idea – that I would work at a grassroots level to bring about change. 

I wrote letters to every organization in the country I could think of.  And one day, a small group of churches on the South Side of Chicago offered me a job to come work as a community organizer in neighborhoods that had been devastated by steel plant closings.  My mother and grandparents wanted me to go to law school.  My friends were applying to jobs on Wall Street.  Meanwhile, this organization offered me $12,000 a year plus $2,000 for an old, beat-up car.

And I said yes.   

Based on the Wikipedia entry for Obama, this is not an accurate timeline of his migration to South Side Chicago politics as a “community organizer.”  He did not go there directly out of college as he suggests here — he went two years later — after first working for two NY organizations:   Business_International_Corporation  a publishing and business consulting group, and New York Public Interest Research Group.

Business International Corporation (BI) was a publishing and advisory firm dedicated to assisting American companies in operating abroad. In 1986, Business International was acquired by The Economist Group in London, and eventually merged with The Economist Intelligence Unit.

Founded in 1953 … BI initially focused on American companies and started out with a weekly newsletter (called Business International) and a group of key corporate clients. BI eventually became the premier information source on global business with research, advisory functions, conferences and government roundtables in addition to its publications. It was headquartered in New York City, with major offices in Geneva, London, Vienna, Hong Kong and Tokyo, and a network of correspondents across the globe.

Publications included a family of newsletters (Business International, Business Europe, Business Eastern Europe, Business Latin America, Business Asia, Business China, and Business International Money Report), regularly updated reference products covering 40-50 countries (Financing Foreign Operations; Investment, Licensing and Trading Conditions Abroad), an international business and economic forecasting service, a risk assessment service, and in-depth research reports. It also conducted specialized research assignments for its clients. It was well-known for its Roundtable Conferences that brought senior business executives together with key government figures in capital cities around the globe. Its business forecasting conferences and publications were also widely used.

Its international client base included most major American companies, as well as European, Japanese and Indian companies and corporate groups.

United States Senator Barack Obama‘s first job after graduating from Columbia University was with the company. He held a position as a research associate in its general international business information division.

The website for the New York Public Interest Research  Group, is found here.

So, why would Obama say in a commencement speech that his call to public service came from a political awakening during his first (not sure if he meant “first” two years which were at Occidental in Los Angeles, or his “final” two years which were at Columbia in NY)  two years of college led him to write letters to every orgainization in the country he could think of, resulting ultimately in an offer to work for $12,000 on the South Side of Chicago — but failed to mention that he worked for a big business outfit in New York immediately after graduation?

Inconveniently, that FACT wouldn’t fit the narrative he’s constructed of a man whose epiphany for service stirred the community organizer buried deep in his sole.

This is another example of what I called attention to yesterday — Obama’s willingness to embellish facts in order to make stories about himself seem richer in their texture.

h/t powerlineblog 

Reality Check for Obamania — Electoral Vote Projection From May 28, 2004

Filed under: General — WLS @ 12:19 pm

Posted by WLS:

This is an electoral projection of the Kerry-Bush race about 5 1/2 months before the 2004 election, right about where we are now. 

If my memory is correct, Kerry did not win 327-211.

Among the states projected for Kerry based on late spring polling, but actually went for Bush in the general election:

Missouri, Florida, Ohio, Nevada.

Bush won Missouri by +7

Bush won Florida by +5

Bush won Nevada by +2.5 

Bush won Ohio by +2

Also of interest, in May 2004, the following states were listed as “Barely Bush”, meaning the margin was less than 3%:

Georgia, S.Carolina, Tenn, Arkansas, W.Va.

Bush won those states handily in the election:

Georgia — +17

S.Carolina — +18

Tenn —  +14

W.Va — +13

Arkansas — +10 

L.A. Times Corrects the Most Trivial of Three Errors From Its Article on DNA, Statistics, and Cold Hits

Filed under: Dog Trainer,General — Patterico @ 7:06 am

Recently, I pointed out three errors in an L.A. Times article on DNA, statistics, and cold hits (see here and here). Two were substantive and one was a trivial instance of the newspaper turning a fraction upside down.

Guess which one they are correcting?

DNA evidence: A May 4 article in Section A about the statistical calculations involved in describing DNA evidence in a murder case contained an arithmetic error. It said that multiplying the probability of 1 in 1.1 million by 338,000 was the same as dividing 1.1 million by 338,000. Actually, it’s the same as dividing 338,000 by 1.1 million. The answer, a 1 in 3 probability of a coincidental match between crime scene DNA and genetic profiles in a state database, was correct.

Yes, that is the trivial error.

Congratulations to Xrlq’s Aunt Ruth for noting it and bringing it to my attention.

But I am very, very disappointed that the paper is leaving two far more substantive and significant errors uncorrected. To recap, here was the first error:

Jurors were not told, however, the statistic that leading scientists consider the most significant: the probability that the database search had hit upon an innocent person.

In Puckett’s case, it was 1 in 3.

The reporter tells me:

In our story, we did not write that there was a 1 in 3 chance that Puckett was innocent, which would be a clear example of the prosecutor’s fallacy. Rather, we wrote: “Jurors were not told, however, the statistic that leading scientists consider the most significant: the probability that the database search had hit upon an innocent person. In Puckett’s case, it was 1 in 3.” The difference is subtle, but real.

(My emphasis.)

I fail to see any difference whatsoever.

The key fact: the hit to Puckett was the only hit that occurred. So when the article says there was a 1 in 3 chance that the search “had hit” on an innocent person, it is describing the chance that the hit to Puckett was a hit to an innocent person.

This is indeed the same as saying that there was a 1 in 3 chance that Puckett was innocent — which the reporter admits is inaccurate.

I believe the article meant to say this: if the database had consisted only of innocent people, there was a 1 in 3 chance that the search would hit on an innocent person. Phrased that way, the statement would be accurate, and would shed light on the question of how surprised we should be by a database hit.

But that’s not what the paper said. Instead, the article indicated the odds that the search “had hit” on an innocent person — in other words, the odds that Puckett himself was innocent.

By the way, the reporter indicated in an e-mail to me that he believes commenter Xrlq agrees with him on this point. He should read this post, in which Xrlq says that the 1 in 3 number as expressed by the paper is “almost certainly wrong.”

The second error was this passage:

Because the match in Puckett’s case involved only 5 1/2 genetic locations, the chance it was coincidental was higher but still remote: 1 in 1.1 million.

This is a classic example of the “prosecutor’s fallacy.” [UPDATE: I have a professor telling me it’s more accurately called the “transposition fallacy”.] The paper took a number meant to express the generalized odds of an event occurring, and used it to express the chance that a particular occurrence was a coincidence.

If there’s a 1 in 100 million chance of winning the lottery, you can’t say of the winner: “the chance that his win was coincidental was 1 in 100 million.”

That makes it sound like he was certain to win. But until he did win, he was almost certain not to.

Again, I have a good idea what the paper meant to say. But it’s not what they actually said.

The issue here is not the math. It’s about the proper way to express the math in English. It’s a tricky thing to do, but the fact that it’s tricky doesn’t excuse a failure to correct misleading language.

California Proposition 98 & Proposition 99 – NO on both!

Filed under: 2008 Election,Government,Public Policy — Justin Levine @ 3:13 am

[posted by Justin Levine] 

California has a statewide election coming up on June 3rd.

Prop. 98 and Prop. 99 are both equally deceptive in different ways. They end up giving ammo to those who argue that California ought to do away with its public initiative system since it can be too easily manipulated.

The L.A. Daily News manages to nail the problem.

Vote NO on both of these turkeys.

[Justin Levine]

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