Archive for The New York Times

and it only gets worse…

Posted in Kids, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 8, 2019 by xi'an

. ” The Texas state legislature is debating a provision that wouldn’t just outlaw abortion, but legally qualify it as homicide(…) This, incidentally, is exactly what pro-choice advocates warned about when they said that a law passed in the George W Bush era, the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, as well as the related state laws, could eventually be used to criminalize abortion(…) All of these laws are in violation of Roe v Wade, but it seems one goal is to take advantage of an increasingly conservative US supreme court and see if Roe could be overturned, or at least rendered meaningless.” The Guardian,  11 April, 2019

““At a rally in Ohio last month, Mr. Trump suggested that wind power was too unreliable to be useful. “Let’s put up some windmills,” he said. “When the wind doesn’t blow, just turn off the television darling, please. There’s no wind. Please turn off the television quickly!” The New York Times, April 3, 2019

“The US is threatening to veto a United Nations resolution on combatting the use of rape as a weapon of war, the Guardian’s Julian Borger reports. The US is objecting to language that says survivors of sexual violence should have access to comprehensive health services, including sexual and reproductive health. It’s part of a hard line taken by the Trump administration in recent months, refusing to agree to any UN documents that refer to sexual or reproductive health, on grounds that such language implies support for abortions (…) In recent months, the Trump administration has taken a hard line, refusing to agree to any UN documents that refer to sexual or reproductive health, on grounds that such language implies support for abortions. It has also opposed the use of the word “gender”, seeking it as a cover for liberal promotion of transgender rights.” The Guardian, 22 April, 2019

“A U.S. threat to veto U.N. Security Council action on sexual violence in conflict was averted on Tuesday after a long-agreed phrase was removed because President Donald Trump’s administration sees it as code for abortion, diplomats said. The U.S. veto threat was the latest in a string of policy reversals that some U.N. diplomats say has been driven by U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, a conservative Christian who staunchly opposes abortion rights. The language promoting sexual and reproductive health is long-agreed internationally, including in resolutions adopted by the Security Council in 2009 and 2013 and several resolutions adopted annually by the 193-member General Assembly.” The New York Time, April 24, 2019

“We believe in freedom and liberty and the right to keep and bear arms. We know that faith and family, not government and bureaucracy are the centre of American life… In America we don’t worship government; we worship God.” The Guardian, April 26, 2019

and it only gets worse…

Posted in Kids, pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 21, 2019 by xi'an

” A recent survey by Bankrate.com found that just 40% of US households have enough money to cover a $1,000 in emergency expenses.” The Guardian, Feb 2, 2019

““Until we heard those cheers coming from Albany, we thought states were moving beyond such barbaric practices.” Mr. Pence offered his argument as a litmus test of morality; he described the new abortion legislation as a “shameless embrace of a culture of death.” But among conservatives, the White House’s outrage was also greeted as a clear and shrewd political strategy” The New York Times, Feb 1, 2019

“When Senator Elizabeth Warren formally announced her 2020 presidential bid this weekend, President Trump responded with a familiar line of attack. He mocked Ms. Warren for her claims to Native American ancestry, again calling her by the slur “Pocahontas.” Mr. Trump then appeared to refer to the Trail of Tears, the infamously cruel forced relocation of Native Americans in the 19th century that caused thousands of deaths.” The New York Times, Feb 10, 2019

“The United States is suspending one of the last major nuclear arms control treaties with Russia after heated conversations between the two powers recently failed to resolve a long-running accusation that Moscow is violating the Reagan-era treaty. Mr. Pompeo acknowledged a risk of a new arms race if the treaty is ultimately scrapped after the six-month window.” The New York Times, Feb 1, 2019

“In some states, lawmakers have sought to pass laws that would ban or severely restrict abortion in the event that Roe v. Wade is eventually overturned or effectively gutted (…) The court is likely to confront other abortion cases, too, as several state legislatures have recently enacted laws that seem calculated to try to force the Supreme Court to consider overruling Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that established a constitutional right to abortion.” The New York Times, Feb 8, 2019

“Mr. Trump’s willingness to invoke emergency powers to circumvent Congress is likely to go down as an extraordinary violation of constitutional norms — setting a precedent that future presidents of both parties may emulate to unilaterally achieve their own policy goals.” The New York Times, Feb 15, 2019

and it only gets worse…

Posted in Kids, pictures, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 20, 2019 by xi'an

““This is absolutely the stupidest thing ever,” said Antar Davis, 23, a former zookeeper who showed up in the elephant house on Friday to take one last look at Maharani, a 9,100-pound Asian elephant, before the zoo closed.” The New York Times, Dec 29, 2018

“The Trump administration has stopped cooperating with UN investigators over potential human rights violations occurring inside America [and] ceased to respond to official complaints from UN special rapporteurs, the network of independent experts who act as global watchdogs on fundamental issues such as poverty, migration, freedom of expression and justice.” The Guardian, Jan 4, 2019

“I know more about drones than anybody,” he said (…) Mr. Trump took the low number [of a 16% approval in Europe] as a measure of how well he is doing in the United States. “If I were popular in Europe, I wouldn’t be doing my job.”” The New York Times, Jan 3, 2019

““Any deaths of children or others at the border are strictly the fault of the Democrats and their pathetic immigration policies that allow people to make the long trek thinking they can enter our country illegally.” The New York Times, Dec 30, 2018

how one journalist’s death provoked a backlash that thousands dead in Yemen did not

Posted in pictures with tags , , , , , , , on October 19, 2018 by xi'an

and it only gets worse…

Posted in Kids, pictures with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 28, 2018 by xi'an

“…in less than two years, my administration has accomplished more than almost any administration in the history of our country.” Donald T.

“President Trump is building a wall of tariffs around the domestic economy, attempting to protect American jobs by limiting imports. But a tire factory that opened last year in Richburg, S.C., offers a reminder that globalization is hard to stop.”  NYT, Sep 18

“Worried their chance to cement a conservative majority on the Supreme Court could slip away, a growing number of evangelical and anti-abortion leaders are expressing frustration that Senate Republicans and the White House are not protecting Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh more forcefully from a sexual assault allegation”  NYT, Sep 20

 President Trump rejected the official estimate from the Puerto Rico government that nearly 3,000 people died from Hurricane Maria through a series of misleading or false claims: He cited an outdated tally that officials had acknowledged almost immediately was too low, misleadingly suggested that doubt over the tally did not emerge until “a long time later,” accused Democrats, without evidence, of inflating the figures and wrongly described the current official estimate as counting all deaths on the island, regardless of whether they were related to the storm.” NYT, Sep 13

“The Trump administration is rolling back Obama-era standards to limit planet-warming methane pollution from oil and gas operations on federal lands (…) In a separate action, the Environmental Protection Agency last week finalized a plan to eliminate the Obama administration’s requirement that oil and gas companies monitor and fix methane leaks for new operations.” The Guardian, Sep 19

a free press needs you [reposted]

Posted in Books, Kids with tags , , , , , , , on August 16, 2018 by xi'an

“Criticizing the news media — for underplaying or overplaying stories, for getting something wrong — is entirely right. News reporters and editors are human, and make mistakes. Correcting them is core to our job. But insisting that truths you don’t like are “fake news” is dangerous to the lifeblood of democracy. And calling journalists the “enemy of the people” is dangerous, period.”

running shoes

Posted in Books, Running, Statistics with tags , , , , , , , , , , on August 12, 2018 by xi'an

A few days ago, when back from my morning run, I spotted a NYT article on Nike shoes that are supposed to bring on average a 4% gain in speed. Meaning for instance a 3 to 4 minute gain in a half-marathon.

“Using public race reports and shoe records from Strava, a fitness app that calls itself the social network for athletes, The Times found that runners in Vaporflys ran 3 to 4 percent faster than similar runners wearing other shoes, and more than 1 percent faster than the next-fastest racing shoe.”

What is interesting in this NYT article is that the two journalists who wrote it have analysed their own data, taken from Strava. Using a statistical model or models (linear regression? non-linear regression? neural net?) to predict the impact of the shoe make, against “all” other factors contributing to the overall time or position or percentage gain or yet something else. In most analyses produced in the NYT article, the 4% gain is reproduced (with a 2% gain for female shoe switcher and a 7% gain for slow runners).

“Of course, these observations do not constitute a randomized control trial. Runners choose to wear Vaporflys; they are not randomly assigned them. One statistical approach that seeks to address this uses something called propensity scores, which attempt to control for the likelihood that someone wears the shoes in the first place. We tried this, too. Our estimates didn’t change.”

The statistical analysis (or analyses) seems rather thorough, from what is reported in the NYT article, with several attempts at controlling for confounders. Still, the data itself is observational, even if providing a lot of variables to run the analyses, as it only covers runners using Strava (from 5% in Tokyo to 25% in London!) and indicating the type of shoes they wear during the race. There is also the issue that the shoes are quite expensive, at $250 a pair, especially if the effect wears out after 100 miles (this was not tested in the study), as I would hesitate to use them unless the race conditions look optimal (and they never do!). There is certainly a new shoes effect on top of that, between the real impact of a better response and a placebo effect. As shown by a similar effect of many other shoe makes. Hence, a moderating impact on the NYT conclusion that these Nike Vaporflys (flies?!) are an “outlier”. But nonetheless a fairly elaborate and careful statistical study that could potentially make it to a top journal like Annals of Applied Statistics!