Trust issues

Reading student reports I often get side-tracked into closer looks at their sources. Not conducive for quick grading, but one can find lots of interesting things. In this case a student pair had looked at drug abuse statistics at the National Center for Drug Abuse Statistics and, being source-critical, noted that the claim “The front page of DrugAbuseStatistics.org features the most noteworthy data regarding drug abuse” didn’t have any supporting source itself. I had to agree that this was the case. Furthermore, once I started browsing the website I realised there was absolutely no information about who NCDAS are. No address, no “About Us” box, no nothing. It seems unlikely that this would be some government organ.

Next step was to google their name to see if anyone else commented on their affiliation, but here, too, absolutely nothing. However, lots of hits on other sites that refer to the statistics collected by them. And I wondered: Is the official-sounding name enough for everybody and their grandmother to assume that this is the best data available, citing them, thus making sure they get to the top of the google searches for drug statistics? They do give sources for their statistics, but even I haven’t made the effort to double-check that the statistics are correctly quoted from the given sources, whose quality in turn is unclear.

To be sure, they might be perfectly legit, but how do we know that?


I write like lots of people

I Write Like uses statistical analysis to compare your writing style with that of well-known English-language authors. I tried different entries from this blog and each of them was apparently reminiscent of a completely different author. Maybe a longer text would give more dependable results? I tried feeding in my PhD thesis. It was most similar to Agatha Christie. I hadn’t earlier noticed the extensive note apparatus of Murder on the Links. Actually, I didn’t notice it now either. For comparison, I also fed in my licentiate thesis, by an even younger me, presumably less mature. That was most similar to the writings of Gertrude Stein. A matrix row is a row is a row is a row?

But, Siggy explains why the algorithm is so often wrong.


Related products

As I’ve noted before, the Amazon recommendation engine frequently suggests rather surprising related purchases. Today I got this trio of books suggested:

The book that triggered these? The Buckley-class Destroyer Escorts. Possibly reading naval literature is a sign of decreasing mental faculties which may cause your partner to leave you, in which case you are reduced to public speaking as a source of income. Or something.


Anti-submarine warfare

Completely coincidentally, in these days of submarine anniversaries, I found the site Indicator Loops on Allied harbour protections against submarines. Apparently there was one of these just next to the grounding site at the time, one wonders if they are still around or if they have been dismantled.


Is this the little girl I carried?

The Only-Begotten Daughter and the Love of Her Life didn’t let go of each other’s hands and eyes from the moment the walked up the church aisle to their exit in a cloud of rose petals and soap bubbles. Their loving looks could have lit up the hall all by themselves. The couple had clearly spent the last year planning every smallest detail of the wedding, achieving the effortless smoothness of practice. The solo performance by one of their friends of “For Emily, Whenever I May Find Her” was the idea of my daughter, I am convinced.

A bus was waiting outside to take all wedding guests to the manor in the city where the wedding dinner would be served. I realised Långholmen indeed is quite a long island. The wedding cake was eaten and then we were sent out on a quiz-walk in the brisk autumn afternoon while the dinner was laid out. Merrily picking choices we found that details of academic titles can be quite complicated (as if I didn’t know).

The dinner was served in a very church-like room, which however was the billiards and music hall of a previous owner. Each seat had been supplied with a leaflet giving brief but spot-on descriptions of all guests, so that everybody immediately could start conversations with unfamiliar faces. The catering staff had apparently memorised each person’s dietary requirements as they efficiently served the courses through the evening. We parents of the brides made our speeches during the entrée. I believe I managed reasonably well, but the heart-felt and witty speeches of their friends brought what tears had not yet been shed. That they both had retained so many of their childhood friends tells something of their loyalty and indeed at one point the OBD interrupted the proceedings to honour the birthday of one of these friends. The dinner ended with everybody lustily joining in in “Chiquitita”.

Another interlude during which the tables were cleared to open the dancefloor. The bridal waltz turned out to be “Graceland”, which I hadn’t realised was so danceable. My mother jitterbugged as if age didn’t matter, but eventually we took her home and went to sleep, letting the young folks dance on. The baton has now been passed to the next generation.


Ship spotters

Reading up on aircraft carriers, I ran into scores of codes indicating the convoys the carriers were protecting. I could distinguish certain patterns, but the full information is of course available at ConvoyWeb


The waterfall method

I have been to Hepoköngäs, which is one of the more easily accessible waterfalls in Finland.