Archive for Iran

and it only gets worse [verbatim]

Posted in Kids, pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 9, 2019 by xi'an

“Increasing export capacity from the Freeport LNG project is critical to spreading freedom gas throughout the world by giving America’s allies a diverse and affordable source of clean energy” M. Menezes, US Secretary of Energy

“NASA should NOT be talking about going to the Moon – We did that 50 years ago. They should be focused on the much bigger things we are doing, including Mars (of which the Moon is a part)” DT,, 7 June

“I just met with the Queen of England (U.K.) [sic], the Prince of Whales [re-sic]” DT, 13 June

“[Sarah Sanders] is going to be leaving the service of her country and she’s going to be going  (…) She’s a very special person, a very, very fine woman, she has been so great, she has such heart, she’s strong but with great, great heart, and I want to thank you for an outstanding job.” DT, 13 June

“…when I asked, ‘How many will die?’ ‘150 people, sir’, was the answer from a General. 10 minutes before the strike I stopped it, not … proportionate to shooting down an unmanned drone.” DT, 21 June

“The reason we have tragedies like that on the border is because that father didn’t wait to go through the asylum process in the legal fashion and decided to cross the river and not only died but his daughter died tragically as well,” K. Cuccinelli, head of US Immigration and Citizenship Services, 28 June

“If Japan is attacked, we will fight World War III. But if we’re attacked, Japan doesn’t have to help us at all. They can watch it on a Sony television.” DT, 24 June

Quarta Família: Héptagno

Posted in pictures with tags , , , on December 27, 2014 by xi'an

Opium came before oil… in the 19th Century

Posted in Books, Statistics with tags , , , , , , on November 13, 2010 by xi'an

Courrier International is a French weekly I have been a regular subscriber from its start, twenty year ago. It is actually made of a selection of articles from newspapers from all around the world (that are translated into French except for a few English and Spanish exceptions). There are obvious biases in this selection, both geographically and politically, in that a majority of articles is about/from either Europe or North-America and that the orientation is more (French) liberal than its ownership by Le Monde would suggest… Translations are sometimes visibly botched, especially in scientific and economic sections, and the choice of scientific issues often verges on the pseudo-science with a brave-new-world flavour… Anyway, I nonetheless enjoy the diversity of views Courrier International provides as well as the access to translations from languages other than French and English. (Articles from the US press are in majority taken from the New York Time which is fine with me!, except that I have read most of them weeks before.) Anyway again, I was thus reading the special 20th anniversary issue of Courrier International and a so-so paper about the youth in Iran, when I stumbled upon the sentence

Opium has been used for centuries in Iran, and cultivation of opium poppy was a large part of Persia’s gross national product in the 19th century, before oil, according to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime.

This struck me as a particularly dumb statement, either from the authors of the paper if they made this up or from the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime if this is a figure appearing in their statistics. Indeed, (a) there was actually no [whatsoever] oil exploitation in Iran in the 19th century, so any contribution to the GNP would have been larger than oil!, including rose water and (why not!) shoe laces…, and (b) I have doubts about the accuracy of the evaluation of the Persian GNP in the 19th century, even though Persia was a mostly stable country by the early 1800’s. This is only a minor point in a minor article, but Courrier International should know better than using non-sensical statistics.

More/less incriminating digits from the Iranian election

Posted in Statistics with tags , , , , , , on June 21, 2009 by xi'an

Following my previous post where I commented on Roukema’s use of Benford’s Law on the first digits of the counts, I saw on Andrew Gelman’s blog a pointer to a paper in the Washington Post, where the arguments are based instead on the last digit. Those should be uniform, rather than distributed from Benford’s Law, There is no doubt about the uniformity of the last digit, but the claim for “extreme unlikeliness” of the frequencies of those digits made in the paper is not so convincing. Indeed, when I uniformly sampled 116 digits in {0,..,9}, my very first attempt produced the highest frequency to be 20.5% and the lowest to be 5.9%. If I run a small Monte Carlo experiment with the following R program,

fre=0
for (t in 1:10^4){
   h=hist(sample(0:9,116,rep=T),plot=F)$inten;
   fre=fre+(max(h)>.16)*(min(h)<.05)
   }

the percentage of cases when this happens is 15%, so this is not “extremely unlikely” (unless I made a terrible blunder in the above!!!)… Even moving the constraint to

(max(h)>.169)*(min(h)<.041)

does not produce a very unlikely probability, since it is then 0.0525.

The second argument looks at the proportion of last and second-to-last digits that are adjacent, i.e. with a difference of ±1 or ±9. Out of the 116 Iranian results, 62% are made of non-adjacent digits. If I sample two vectors of 116 digits in {0,..,9} and if I consider this occurrence, I do see an unlikely event. Running the Monte Carlo experiment

repa=NULL
for (t in 1:10^5){
    dife=(sample(0:9,116,rep=T)-sample(0:9,116,rep=T))^2
    repa[t]=sum((dife==1))+sum((dife==81))
    }
repa=repa/116

shows that the distribution of repa is centered at .20—as it should, since for a given second-to-last digit, there are two adjacent last digits—, not .30 as indicated in the paper, and that the probability of having a frequency of .38 or more of adjacent digit is estimated as zero by this Monte Carlo experiment. (Note that I took 0 and 9 to be adjacent and that removing this occurrence would further lower the probability.)