## What To Do On Black Friday

This, one of our most sacred days of the year, can be exhausting, especially in the choices one must make. Should one wake at 3am or should one even sleep? Should one take part in a riot, tumbling headlong into a store to be the first to secure the new iWhatsit, which is rumored to be 0.00132″ slimmer than last month’s model? Or should one circle the mall’s outer limits for hours spying for a spot to park?

Just what form should the joy of the upcoming and unnamed and soon to be unnameable holiday take? Well, here are two “black” ideas.

1. Go see a priest. Confessions heard daily.

Truly, confession is good for the soul.

2. Read Wordsworth, the old curmudgeon. Nothing black here, but the sheer absence of it can put one in mind of it.

England, 1802

O FRIEND! I know not which way I must look
For comfort, being, as I am, opprest,
To think that now our life is only drest
For show; mean handy-work of craftsman, cook,
Or groom!—We must run glittering like a brook
In the open sunshine, or we are unblest:
The wealthiest man among us is the best:
No grandeur now in nature or in book
Delights us. Rapine, avarice, expense,
This is idolatry; and these we adore:
Plain living and high thinking are no more:
The homely beauty of the good old cause
Is gone; our peace, our fearful innocence,
And pure religion breathing household laws.

— William Wordsworth. 1770-1850

3. Or chat with a nun! Develop the habit.

Calling all souls!

Update Our first story. Violence flares as shoppers slug it out for the best Black Friday deals.

## Old Lodge Skins’ Prayer Of Thanksgiving

A real Little Big Man existed. Bottom row, second from right.

From Little Big Man, Thomas Berger. Eschew the movie, which shares only the title and the names of a few characters in the book, which is the moral and historical opposite of the (more or less) politically correct film.

Also highly recommended (as orientation) is The Fighting Cheyennes by George Bird Grinnell, who was born in 1849 and who wrote the book in 1915 (it’s still in print). It is a non-patronizing, non-romantic look at the battles the Cheyenne fought in, as much as possible, their own words.

The Cheyenne are Human Beings. They call themselves that because they are and were, and because they act and acted just like human beings everywhere, including those white and black versions with which they had and have many strange interactions. Little Big Man was born white and named Jack Crabbe, but through a series of curious incidents was raised by the Cheyenne during the time in which that great nation was going into eclipse.

Berger wrote Little Big Man at a time (1964) when white boys still wanted to run off and be Indians. (Nearly twenty years later, Grizzly Adams fulfilled the same function.) Some call Berger’s work “comic”, which is the most inapt description which could be imagined.

Old Lodge Skins was Little Big Man’s adoptive grandfather. The scene takes place shortly after the Battle of Little Big Horn slash Battle at the Greasy Grass. There is much in this prayer that still works.

Then he commenced to pray to the Everywhere Spirit in the same stentorian voice, never sniveling but bold and free.

“Thank you for making me a Human Being! Thank you for helping me become a warrior! Thank you for all my victories and for all my defeats. Thank you for my vision, and for the blindness in which I saw further.

“I have killed many men and loved many women and eaten much meat. I have also been hungry, and I thank you for that and for the added sweetness that food has when you receive it after such a time.

“You make all things and direct them in their ways, O Grandfather, and now you have decided that the Human Beings will soon have to walk a new road. Thank you for letting us win once before that happened. Even if my people must eventually pass from the face of the earth, they will live on in whatever men are fierce and strong. So that when women see a man who is proud and brave and vengeful, even if he has a white face, they will cry: ‘That is a Human Being!’…”

I stood there in awe and Old Lodge Skins started to sing, and when the cloud arrived overhead, the rain started to patter across his uplifted face, mixing with the tears of joy there.

It might have been ten minutes or an hour, and when it stopped and the sun’s setting rays cut through, he give his final thanks and last request.

“Take care of my son here,” he says, “and see that he does not go crazy.”

He laid down then on the damp rocks and died right away. I descended to the treeline, fetched back some poles, and built him a scaffold. Wrapped him in the red blanket and laid him thereon. Then after a while I started down the mountain in the fading light.

Posted in Fun

## What Random Means In Random Number Generation

Dice throws appear random because their outcomes cannot be predicted naively. But knowing the physics and initial conditions, they can be predicted, and so are not truly random.

It’s simple, really. A “random” number generator spits out a string of numbers or characters from some set, say c1, c2,…, cp, where each of these is a character out of p total. Example: c1 = ‘a’, c2 = ‘b’, etc.

Before the generator starts, using only the premises that the generator can produce only these p characters, we deduce the probability that the first character is ci (for any i in 1 to p) as 1/p.

Start the generator. The characters roll out one at a time. To be be considered “random”, this condition must hold:

Pr( Ct = ci | C1, C2, Ct-1, generator premises) = 1/p for all t and all i,

where I mean by this notation that the probability the next character (Ct) will be one of the set is 1/p no matter how far along in the series we are (short of infinity) and no matter what character we consider. The “generator premises” are those which state only the characters c1 through cp are available, etc.

In other words, if there is any information in the series to date that allows us to calculate any probability other than 1/p for Ct, then the series is not “random.” Be clear that “allows us” means “logically possible” and not necessarily practical or in-practice possible. There may be some existence proof which says something like “Given this generator and an output series like this-and-such, the probability of Ct is x, which does not equal 1/p”. We may never see the this-and-such series, but still if the output series is possible, then the output is not “random.”

Now don’t start going all frequentist on me and say, “Look here, Briggs, you fool. I’ve ran the generator a finite number of times and the relative frequencies of the observed Ct don’t match 1/p.” I’d reply, “Get back to me when you reach an infinite number of times.”

Run the generator for just one character. The observed relative frequencies will be 0, 0, …, 1, …, 0, where it’s 0s for all ci except the 1 character which showed. What does this prove? Next to nothing. Probability just isn’t relative frequency, but relative frequency can match the probability. Probabilities predict relative frequencies. In that spirit, we know the series is not “random” if we can do a better job predicting the series than saying the probability of the next character is 1/p (for any character).

But I see the idea of relative frequency is still alluring. Perhaps this is why. There is in math the idea of a “normal” number, unfortunately named because “normal” in probability means something else. A normal string or number is one in which the digits/characters repeat equally often, yea even unto infinity. Examples: 0.111222333444555666777888999000111222… and ‘abcabcabcabc…’ (we know the numbers are limited to digits 0-9, but here I limit the characters to a,b,c).

These normal numbers are in no sense “random”, because if you know where you are you know with certainty what the next digit or character is. Plus, there are some technical ideas, where a number may be normal in one base (say 10 or 2) but not normal in another base. Here is an example of a number, Stoneham’s constant, which is normal in one base but not another. So “normal” does not imply random, but we have the sense that “random” implies “normal”, which it does.

Truly “random” numbers are probably (I don’t believe there is a proof) normal in any base. Another way to put it, in terms on information, is to say that the number cannot be compressed (in any base); that is, speaking loosely, that it takes just as many characters to compress the number as to display it. The above-linked article gives some hints on the “randomness” of π, which appears normal in many (all?) bases and which cannot be compressed. So where do the digits of π and other transcendental numbers come from? Only God knows.

Last point: many “random” number generators—where by now we see that “random” merely means unknown or unpredictable in some sense—are wholly predictable, they are fully deterministic. Start at a known output and the path can be predicted with certainty. These are called “pseudo-random” generators because the numbers only appear unpredictable.

And what does that mean? Appear unpredictable? Well, it means not-random, that we can prove that a set of premises exist which predict the series perfectly. The difference between a “random” generator is that we can prove no such set of premises exist.

## Winner Announced in What Do You Call A Believer In Scientism Contest

At least they’ll subsidize your cane.

Last week we asked what is the best word or term for a die-hard believer in scientism? The response was overwhelming!

More than 50 people entered some 100 words. I grouped these into three-plus-one categories: Honorable Mentions, Runner Ups, and Top 10. But there can be only one! Winner, that is, who will receive a Kindle copy of Iain Murray’s not-to-be-missed Stealing You Blind.

All complaints or suggestions about the entries, rules, or my judging may be entered at this site.

Special Mention

Thinkologist (davebowne).

Love it, but I was saving this for a special use on certified Experts. So it was not in the running for the contest.

Honorable Mentions

In no particular order:

Evidencist (Francsois). Inscienaty, Narrow-Minder, Rationer, Reasoner, Sciencerapist (Pedro Erik). Science Zombie (JohnK; Davebowne). Bright (Thinkling; Mariner). Supercilioust (HowardW). Scimoron (GaryL). Positivist (Philip Neal). Psysciphilliac (BradH). Sheldonists, Optimists, Triverist (Paul Murphy). Knowlatan, Pedantocrat, Patronisiac (Hamish McCallum). Unscientific Hucksterists, Philistine Scientists, Scientific Excrescence, Vulgar Scientists (Jim Fedako). Scatomancer, Weepees (Bruce Foutch). Scisyphist, Scisyphean (Jonathan S). Scienterrific (An Engineer). Scienzealot (Charles Boncelet), Scientomancer (hmi). Anthropodogmatists (Pangloss). Scinsist (Jeffrey).

Runner Ups

In no particular order:

Scientite (Adrian Hilton). Fatuotist (as in “fatuous”; Bob Mrotek). Scientizer, Scientaster, Scifollogist, Sciphist (Jester). Spockists (Toby Young). Scientician (TheRealAaron). Sciencista (Mike Anderson). Scientocracy (K). Sciphist (John Baglien). Technogogue, Techogogue, Scientologue (Mark Webster). Scientificant, Saintificist, Saintologist, Scientificist (Bob). Aoristicist (Don Jackson). Scienticist (Edmund Kartoffel; David). Scientipher, Scientifie (Mike B). Scientient (Andy). Scientismion, Scientismidel, (Aloysius Hogan, who had 42 generated entries, such as Scientismafuego derived from Cacafuego, a ship all fans of Patrick O’Brian will recognize; only the top are shown).

Top 10

In winning order:

1. Scientificalist (Ye Olde Statisician)
2. Obfuscator Scienista (Bruce Foutch)
4. Sciphiliac (Rich)
5. Scientophile (Andy)
6. Scientiscubus (Aloysius Hogan)
7. Sighintists (John M)
8. Scientocrat (K)

Winner

Scidolator from Mason Kinney. This portmanteau was the truest and most evocative entry. It tells you what it is without having to explain it; it is memorable, it is short and easy to say. It can be spelled. It captures beautifully the spirit of over-dependence on science. It cannot be improved upon.

Why does 1 + 1 = 2? Science doesn’t know. Why is murder wrong? Science can’t tell us. Why are the fundamental laws of the universe what they are? Science is silent. Why is there something rather than nothing? Science is of no help. Why is killing an unborn child immoral? Science has nothing to say. Why is it that if All F are G and x is an F that x is G? Science is dumbfounded. What is good and what bad? Science says, “You talkin’ to me?” How can free will exist in a deterministic universe? Science hasn’t a clue.

It is not only that Science cannot answer these questions now, but that it never can. All these and many more are forever beyond the reach of empiricism. There is no observation in the universe, nor can there be, nor will there ever be, which proves $e^{i\pi} = -1$. It is impossible to peer at the Unmoved Mover, yet He must be there or, quite literally, nothing would happen.

A scidolator disagrees, but because of the impossibility of the acts just mentioned, he quickly changes the subject. Scientism is thus a dread and growing disease and a word which identifies its holders and devotees while simultaneously highlighting the malady from which they suffer was badly needed. Scidolator is that word.

Thanks to all for participating!

## A Survey Of The Perceptions Of Climate Scientists 2013: No Consensus

Nothing like a balmy summer afternoon.

Earlier this year scientists were given a survey on their opinion of the state of climate science. This was administered by Dennis Bray & Hans von Storch at the Helmholtz Zentrum Geesthacht. (Bray I don’t know, but von Storch I do, vaguely).

The paper is on-line here (free registration required). Update Alternate link at Bray’s site (near the top).

The authors started with 5,947 (reasonably discovered, mostly senior folks from USA, Germany, and UK) email addresses (culled from earlier surveys), but had to toss 1,456 for invalidity. Only 286 people turned in a survey. I was one. This makes for a very dismal 7% response rate. Any conclusions drawn from this study should therefore be viewed with fish eyes, because 93% had noting to say, did not to participate, who knows why.

What follows is a summary. Most questions were on a 7-point scale, higher more confident, increased significantly, that sort of thing. I dichotomize these, with 4 (neutral) and above or 3 and lower.

Main: No Consensus

Only 8% (of the 7%) said their “confidence in the findings of climate science” decreased. Which is to say—and not for the last time—there is no consensus. Of the other 93% who didn’t turn in a survey, nobody knows. But there are at least some who aren’t so happy with the state of affairs in climatology (I’m one).

On a bright note (to me), about 36% did not agree that “climate science has remained a value-neutral science.” But no consensus.

Around 11% felt “less confident concerning the IPCC’s attribution of warming to GHS”. No consensus in the 7%.

Model Modules: No Consensus

Some 20% did not agree that “Climate models accurately simulate the climatic conditions for which they are calibrated.” No C. Same number of folks disagreed that atmospheric models deal well with hydrodynamics. Only 10% were skeptical of modeling radiation. But 26% worried about simulate vapour in the atmosphere.

And a whole 60% admitted that climate models don’t do well with “the influence of clouds.” About half had the same negative view of precipitation, and between 50-60% frowned on atmospheric convection. Gee, No C.

The same pattern repeated itself for ocean modeling, so I won’t repeat it, except to note that 24% did not think models had the “ability to couple atmospheric and ocean models.” No C again.

What about turbulence in climate models? Just under half said no confidence; 28% said nope to land surface processes; about the same were dim on sea ice. Least negative were views on surface albedo and “green house gases emitted from anthropogenic sources”; about 14% were negative on each. No C.

Model Mimicking: No Consensus

About 9% were skeptical that models were able to reproduce both “mean values for the last 50 years” and “trends for the last 50 years”. More than double that (around 21%) were skeptical about reproducing “variability for the last 50 years.” Some 24% didn’t think models did well with precipitation over the last 50 years.

Even more—37%—said the models could not reproduce “trends for the last 50 years.” And even more still (52%!) thought models blew it on “variability for the last 50 years”. Talk about no consensus! (Of the 7%.)

Model Predictions: No Consensus

Despite that half thought models stank at reproducing variability, only 25% (why not the same 50%?) or so thought models would not well predict “mean values for the next 10 years” nor would they well predict “trends for the next 10 years.” And even more, around 38%, didn’t think models will do well with “variability for the next 10 years.” No C again.

It was the same story for predicting 50 years ahead, with even more folks skeptical of models making such long-range predictions.

Predicted precipitation? 42% said no to “mean values for the next 10 years”; 54% or so said no to “trends for the next 10 years”; and around 68% said no to “variability for the next 10 years.” Out 50 years, and skepticism only grows (as it should). No C.

Sea-level rise? Around 19% said no to good predictions of “mean values for the next 10 years”. About 23% said no to “trends for the next 10 years”, and about 31% said no to “variability for the next 10 years.” As before, out 50 years and only a handful believe. No C.

Extreme events? Over half (52%) didn’t think models would do well predicting “mean values for the next 10 years.” Around 60% said no to “trends for the next 10 years” and some 66% said no to “variability for the next 10 years.” Once more, looking out 50 years produces very little confidence. No C.

The authors also asked a series of questions on regional models, which produced less agreement than the global models; indeed, the majority were skeptical on many questions. No Consensus discovered. (Of the few who bothered to answer.)

Impact!: No Consensus

Around 28% didn’t think they had much to say about “the detrimental effects that climate change will have on society”.

Pay attention: The closest to a Consensus was to the question “How convinced are you that climate change, whether natural or anthropogenic, is occurring now?” Only 2% disagreed. Now, if even this banal, harmless question (“natural or anthropogenic“) cannot produce a Consensus, then what can?

About 11% were not convinced “that most of recent or near future climate change is, or will be, a result of anthropogenic causes”; about 14% were not convinced “that climate change poses a very serious and dangerous threat to humanity”. Note the words very serious.

Some 9% didn’t think we were feeling effects of a changed climate yet. But 38% said we could not “ttribute recent climate related disasters to climate change (anthropogenic or otherwise)”. Note that “anthropogenic or otherwise”.

The hardest question to summarize was this: “Since 1850, it is estimated that the world has warmed by 0.7 degrees C. Approximately what percent would you attribute to human causes?” About 10% said thirty-percent attribution or less. The peak was 26% at eighty-percent attribution. But, no consensus.

View: No Consensus

There then followed a series of questions on what interactions climate scientists had with the public. But about 60% of scientists said that adaptation is better than mitigation when dealing with climate change problems. Whoa!

Again, around 60% disagreed with the practice which some scientists employ; those who “present extreme accounts of catastrophic impacts related to climate change in a popular format with the claim that it is their task to alert the public.” (Bad news, right, Gav?) But still no consensus.

Even 33% said it was not the job of climate scientists to “be directly involved in alerting the general public about the possible socio-economic consequences to humans (health, policies, damages, economic loss, etc.) resulting from changes in the climate”

There then followed a few more questions along the same lines, all pointing to mixed views on the proper role of scientists and public policy.

Indulge Me: You can skip this section

The last few questions were of interest to statisticians. To “A description of the most probable outcome best defines” 28% said “a projection”, 64% said “a prediction”, and the rest “other.”

To “A description of a possible outcome best defines” 62% said “a projection”, 16% said “a prediction”, and the rest “other.”

To “From a scenario simulation prepared with climate models, scientists are more inclined to make” 76% said “a projection” and 18% “a prediction” and the rest “other.”

Now, since according to logic, all predictions are conditional (as all probability is condition), there is no difference in “a projection” or “a prediction.” Though I have the idea more people would like to hide behind the former, as it sounds weaker. More on this another day.

Overall Conclusion

I’m struggling to tie a theme together. Maybe readers can help me?

## North Korea’s Brilliant Climate Change Strategy

Originally seen on Real Science, and culled from the US Department of Energy (thank you, Government!), comes this informative picture:

North Korea leads the world in reductions.

Environmental activists are surely taking notes on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. They’re paying special attention to that master climatologist and man of the People Kim Jong-il, who assumed power, to unanimous assent—if only our Congress were as efficient!—from his pappy Kim Il-sung in 1994.

Yes, it is no coincidence that the rates of carbon usage began to plummet as Jong-jong (as he was affectionately known) ascended to the throne.

Activists credit Jong-jong’s astonishing success to that Supreme Leader’s invention of the simple “carbon lock box.” This was an ordinary box, about 1.5 meters long, and about 0.5 half meters wide and high, constructed of renewable and sustainable resources (pine planks).

This alone was brilliant, but it his next move that turned his idea into genius. Jong-jong dispatched an army of environmental agents to solicit resident of the People’s paradise to volunteer to “do their part” in the great battle against global warming. These altruistic folks—and there were many, many—literally stored away their carbon in lock boxes, forever depriving it to the atmosphere. Amazing!

That graph illustrates the kind of change we can believe it. It shows you what Government can do when gridlock is removed, when leaders are no longer restrained by pettifogging, obstructionist opposition. No filibustering in North Korean. No, sir! If only we could have the same kind of enlightened rule here.

Perhaps Kim Jong-un, the son of Jong-jong and new Supreme Leader of the People, would consent to loan us one of his issue, say his second or third born? Of course, we may have to wait a while for this gift. Jong-un had his last girlfriend machine gunned to several thousand pieces. But she had it coming.

## Ask Dr Fashion: Should I Throw Away My Jeans?

Do you really want to end up like this?

Hello,

I’ve just read “Top 10 Men’s Fashion Rules” and you’re really against to jeans. My question is, i’m a college student and 23 years old and i like to dress “more formal” than the all t-shirt and sneakers wearers around me. And i always wear dark unwashed jeans with a dress shirt, a jacket and if it’s really cold a overcoat. And generally long wingtip bluchers for shoes. So i’m almost %90 more decent dressed every single guy around me and it really helps me to get chicks and be respected anywhere. But should i throw my jeans, is it the time ? Or should i wait until i get a decent job ? I mean am i overdressing for my age and position or am i actually wrong to try and bring it down a little with jeans ? What do you say ?

My dear young man, congratulations. You have taken your first step into a land which frightens your confréres; indeed, it is a place that scares the willies out of a growing number of people. This the Adulthood.

Americans now clutch to youth long past the point of seemliness, as if nobody notices their sagging or surgically stretched skin. Those inflicted labor under the delusion that if only they dressed like post-pubescent teens, people will find them youthful.

They particularly fear that if they dressed like adults, they would have to think and act like them, too. In this they are correct, if only because those around a suit-wearer treat him differently. Someone dressing as an adult is called “Sir” instead of “Hey you.” And there is absolutely no question that women far prefer a well dressed man to a stock (“ironic”) t-shirt-and-jeans-wearing lemming.

An adult realizes that he is not only dressing for himself, but for those around him. Everybody has to look at you. Why cause people pain? Dressing well is a duty, another characteristic of Adulthood.

Now as to you. Your choice of shoes is excellent. There are two spending rules for mens clothes: never skimp in shoes or hats. Everybody instantly notices inferior quality. And nothing ruins an outfit faster than subpar foot- and head-wear (no hipster hats). Sneakers, or what we called tennis shoes, are forbidden except when running after a ball. Just don’t wear them. They are always ugly, and because of the use of neon pipping, growing more hideous each year.

Also correct are the wearing of a jacket and adult shirt. T-shirts are forbidden except as undergarments or when playing sports.

The lesson here is that much less can be spent on shirts than on anything else. Thrift stores are good hunting grounds. The jacket covers most of the shirt, a tie hides even more. Therefore a shirt’s fit isn’t as crucial. Just try to ensure the neck closes around your gullet and the sleeves come to the meat of your thumb.

To answer your main question, yes: throw away your jeans. Yours Truly does not even own a pair, but then he lives in a city. If you are in the country, again I say, throw them away. My grandfather used to show me pictures of his father and uncle fishing in the Detroit River wearing three-piece suits. It’s what people did. (This was in the late 1800s, early 1900s.)

Ever notice any of those PBS “costume” dramas? The lords and ladies out for a hunt, that sort of thing? All in suits and frocks. Looks classy, no? Jeans aren’t necessary, except if you are earnestly laboring in the field, then they are just the ticket. Otherwise, no.

You said you wear “dark unwashed jeans.” Ah, yes. A common approach, especially in the aged. An attempt to disguise jeans as something other than jeans. These jeans are often expensive because it takes many steps to create pants that aren’t pants but look like them if you’re not looking closely. You would pay less for a pair of real trousers.

You don’t have to jump right into a suit. Jacket and tie and mismatched trousers are fine, even preferred in many instances. Don’t forget the pocket square.

There will be a price to pay in teasing and odd looks from your immediate friends. But this lasts only days or weeks. You will soon discover that you are the one these fellows come to for dressing tips. And you will instantly be aware of the greater attention from ladies and increased respect of strangers.

P.S. I’d correct your grammar, but I don’t want to be accused of micro-aggression.

Posted in Fun