Ignoring reality and faking the stats

Ed at Dispatches from the Culture Wars posted about a False Comparison of Military Deaths. This was his response to a couple of blog posts that make claims completely failing common sense tests.

The first post is: Active Duty Deaths: Bush vs. Clinton, here’s a quote:

US Military active duty deaths simply have not gone up that much despite the fact that we’ve fought two major wars, liberating two formerly oppressed countries, and have struggled against an active terror insurgency in both countries ever since.

The second one is: US Lost More Soldiers Annually Under Clinton Than in Iraq, I won’t bother with a quote, the title clearly shows the premise. Ed does a good job pointing out the errors using the official D.O.D. statistics .

Wishing a more detailed analysis and wanting to get more practice with the greatly enhanced charting capabilities of Open Office I created a spreadsheet. I put the official data in a sheet and constructed some graphs to see if the data agreed with my common sense gut feeling that there are more military deaths in war time than peace time. Here is the result (click the graph to see the full size image).


Looking at this chart there were clearly more deaths in administrations before and after Clinton. In fact the absolute lowest point is the final year of the Clinton administration.

Some commenter’s at the three blog posts thought that if you accounted for the differing sizes of the U.S. Military over time then GW Bush’s time would look better, one commenter even claimed that there was a 50% change in military personnel population. A 50% change in a population would certainly have a large impact on the graph so I investigated. Here’s a chart showing the change in U.S. Military population over time:


Clearly the military population has changed over time however, it sure doesn’t look like 50%. In the spreadsheet I calculated the percent reduction from the high in 1986 and the low in 1999 and the drop was 35%. Even though the worst case drop is 35% I felt it could still have a major impact on the previous graph so, I did a variation were the death counts are expressed as the percentage of the total military population. This is the result (click the graph to see the full size image).


Accounting for the changing population certainly made a difference in the graph. The pre-Clinton years don’t look so bad but, the post-Clinton years look the same or worse. Of course I doubt any of the people buying into the, all Democrats are bad and all Republicans are good, philosophy will adjust to reality. I still am amazed at how firmly peoples blinders can be set, on an engineering list there’s one guy who blames everything on the Democrats. He claims they are at fault for any and all problems in the U.S. even problems that occurred when they were out of power in all branches of government, sigh. Myself I’m a registered independent, I dislike most politicians of all the political parties because they so often fail to grasp reality. Note: My favorite description of reality:

“Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.”

Philip K. Dick, How to Build a Universe That Doesn’t Fall Apart Two Days Later , 1978

You can download the spreadsheet and a PDF of the main spreadsheet data and graphs to review my work.

BTW – Open Office Calc is improved to the point were I think I can finally abandon MS Excel entirely.

Report on the National Review's cruise

Johann Hari of The Independent wrote an excellent article about:

From time to time, National Review “the bible of American conservatism” organises a cruise for its readers. I paid $1,200 to join them. The rules I imposed on myself were simple: If any of the conservative cruisers asked who I was, I answered honestly, telling them I was a journalist. Mostly, I just tried to blend in – and find out what American conservatives say when they think the rest of us aren’t listening.

The amount of bigotry and failure to grasp reality from the conservative elites is astounding. Read the whole article here: Ship of fools: Johann Hari sets sail with America’s swashbuckling neocons

Weird beliefs that are disturbing

While reading some comments on other blogs today I saw a link to Fundies Say the Darndest Things! I read through the Top 100 Quotes page over there and laughed at some of the quotes like these:

FSTDT! Post of the Year for 2006
“No, everyone is born Christian. Only later in life do people choose to stray from Jesus and worship satan instead. Atheists have the greatest “cover” of all, they insist they believe in no god yet most polls done and the latest research indicates that they are actually a different sect of Muslims.”

Fundamentalism In A Nutshell Award
“There are a lot of things I have concluded to be wrong, without studying them in-depth. Evolution is one of them. The fact that I don’t know that much about it does not bother me in the least.”

“Occam’s Razor Disagrees” Award
“I am a bit troubled. I believe my son has a girlfriend, because she left a dirty magazine with men in it under his bed. My son is only 16 and I really don’t think he’s ready to date yet. What’s worse is that he’s sneaking some girl to his room behind my back. I need help, God! I want my son to stop being so secretive!”

Post of the Month
“I appreciate your recommendation, and it is intriguing, but as a pro-lifer, I cannot support an organization that is opposed to the death penalty.”

Fundie Debate Tactics Award
“Make sure your answer uses Scripture, not logic.”

No award just in the Top 100
“I don’t care about logic or science, the Bible says the moon and sun move.”

Best Christian Debater
“Evidence that the Bible is God’s Word
1. It claims to be.”

No award just in the Top 100
“What part of I know that the bible is true because the bible tells me that it is true do you have trouble understanding?
Don’t you feel silly disagreeing with such a logical argument?
Love and blessings Don”

Sadly there are too many other quotes that aren’t funny, they are sad and/or dangerous.

Saddest Post of the Year
“Just recently my son Bobby came out to me. I had been worried for awhile. His teachers said most of his grades were slipping and he seemed depressed and withdrawn.

Bobby said he’d been hiding it for awhile because he was afraid I would reject him. I sat him down and told him that I loved him and that God loved him, but that his salvation was in danger if he did not resist his unnatural tempations. I told him how being gay would mean he would live a shorter life, and that if he couldnt change his orientation he could be celibate like most the ex-gays are. He started crying saying something along the lines of “I knew you wouldnt understand! You’re just like everyone else!” before running to his room and slamming the door.

What did I do wrong? I dont want to lose my son, but I fear I already have. I talked it over with his therapist, who had the ludicrous idea that homosexuality was unchangable and that trying to repress could lead to lots of psychological damage (I’ve dropped him and will try to be finding another therapist with more moral beliefs). I wouldnt be surprised if he’s the one who’s feeding my son all the homosexual propaganda about how its ‘ok’ to be gay. That, or how homosexuality has engulfed the media, making it seem ‘cool’ and ‘hip’ and how they were just another oppressed minority. You didnt have to worry about seeing two men making out on tv at my age! I dont want to sound like a fanatic, but Im worried what other effects will come out of this increasingly secular, immoral society obsessed with filth.

Am I too late? Or is it possible to save my son
[Note: the boy eventually took his own life.]”

No award just in the Top 100
“[about a girl being born with mental disabilities]

This girl is like a leper so what she needs to do is try and find god

if she really believes she can be healed from this state, she will be healed from this state

Most afflictions like this are caused by sins committed while still inside the womb. If she can repent for what she does god will embrace her and make her as human as you or me but if she chooses not to she’ll always be like this

god tests every one of us [emphasis added]”

Proudly Marching Into the 16th Century Award
“AIDS is caused by immoral behavior, not by a virus.”

No award just in the Top 100
“I AM here to be my husband’s “personal maid” and to be “stuck in the house.” I showed plenty of verses that showed that – the 31st chapter of Proverbs! Wives are to be a help meet for their husbands. I consider it a privilege to cook the meals, do the laundry, clean the house, rear the children, pick up clothes he may leave lying around, clean the kitchen counters after he makes a sandwich…… […]

Yes, women have rights – the right to obey God’s Word…….”

Fundamentalism in a Nutshell
“[Am I in discussion with a human who has a functioning brain?]
What does a functioning brain have to do with the Bible?”

No award just in the Top 100
“Interestingly, and sadly, all we see on the internet and in society today is talk about domestic violence; but NEVER do we hear anything about statistics on wives who refuse to obey their husbands. It is evil. It is just as sinful for a wife to frustrate her husband through insubordination and disobedience as it is for a man to commit domestic violence. I am not lessening the sin of domestic violence, I am emphasizing the sin of wives who rebel against their husbands by not being obedient. I realize this is ancient mentality to feminists today; but it is 100% Biblical doctrine. A wife is expected by God to obey her husband. Feminists are eagerly willing to crucify abusive husbands; BUT they won’t even address the issue of wives who disobey, mistreat, and frustrate their husbands. It takes two to tango.

Please understand that I believe a wife who is being physically abused should leave if she feels threatened; but not divorce. Such a wife needs to sincerely ask herself “why” her husband is being abusive–there’s ALWAYS a reason. …”

Post of the Week (1)
“If u have sex before marriage then in Gods eyes u are married to that person if a man rapes a woman in Gods eyes they are married it sucks for the girl but what can we do lol”

No award just in the Top 100
“[Commenting on a study which suggests that women who exercise by doing the housework can reduce their risk of breast cancer]

Missing the point. It’s not the exercise. Joggers and Pilates people – and the sun-worshippers – are the ones getting breast cancer. The explanation is this. It is God Who gives you cancer. A woman who keeps house, and bears the children God gives her as a gift, and prays the Rosary – no abortions and no pills – will be cancer-free, all other things being equal. “Blessed is the man whom God corrects; refuse not therefore the chastising of the Lord, for He wounds and cures, He strikes and His hands shall heal” – Job.”

Tesla's Birthday

n_teslaOn July 10th 1856, Nikola Tesla was born in Smiljan, Croatia.

In 1884, Tesla came to the US and began working for Thomas Edison. While Edison was a good inventor/businessman, Tesla was a truly great Electrical Engineer/Scientist. This distinction is why he won the “War of Currents” against Edison in later years. Wikipedia has an excellent biography with many references and links. In 1960 the SI derived unit of magnetic flux density was named the tesla in his honor.

My final Jornada 720 DST solution

Back in March I posted about my solutions to the new DST change dates for various devices I own. At the time I had not yet decided how to handle the situation on my Jornada 720 running the HPC2000 version of Windows CE 3.0.

The problem with older WinCE devices is that time zone information is contained in an unchangeable DLL located in ROM (citydb.dll). When you use the World Clock control panel applet to change the city it calls the DLL and you end up with the old DST change dates again. I have not found any solution that lets you still use the control panel to change cities and keep the DST settings intact.

The only solution I’ve found is to manually edit the registry keys for the new DST dates after every time you change the city setting. This isn’t a big problem for me as I don’t travel to other time zones more than every few years.

The manual registry changes are straight forward, last Sunday in October (0A, 05) becomes the first Sunday in November (0B, 01). The spring event changes from first Sunday in April (04, 01) to the 2nd Sunday in March (03, 02).

I used the registry editor built into the Microsoft embedded Visual Tools programming environment. The key you need to change is, HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINETimeTimeZoneInformation. This is a giant binary blob data structure that breaks down as follows (changed values are bold).

4 bytes, LONG Bias, (2c,01,00,00)
64 bytes, WCHAR StandardName[32]
2 bytes, WORD wYear, (00,00)
2 bytes, WORD wMonth, (0b,00)
2 bytes, WORD wDayOfWeek, (00,00)
2 bytes, WORD wDay, (01,00)
2 bytes, WORD wHour, (02,00)
2 bytes, WORD wMinute, (00,00)
2 bytes, WORD wSecond, (00,00)
2 bytes, WORD wMilliseconds, (00,00)
4 bytes, LONG StandardBias, (00,00,00,00)
64 bytes, WCHAR DaylightName[32]
2 bytes, WORD wYear, (00,00)
2 bytes, WORD wMonth, (03,00)
2 bytes, WORD wDayOfWeek, (00,00)
2 bytes, WORD wDay, (02,00)
2 bytes, WORD wHour, (02,00)
 2 bytes, WORD wMinute, (00,00)
 2 bytes, WORD wSecond, (00,00)
 2 bytes, WORD wMilliseconds, (00,00)
 4 bytes, LONG DaylightBias; (c4,ff,ff,ff)

In the registry editor the changed values look like this:dstedit-1

Technical details from MSDN Windows Embedded Developer Center for Microsoft Windows CE 3.0:
GetTimeZoneInformation (Windows CE 3.0)
SetTimeZoneInformation (Windows CE 3.0)
SYSTEMTIME (Windows CE 3.0)