Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Should you be worried your child will be kidnapped by strangers? Nope.

BoingBoing talks about the crazy high and erroneous statistic about the number of children that go missing a year.

I put together a chart from the data from the original study from 2002 referenced in this article. Mostly because I think pictures help.

The left side is the data from the caretaker reported missing children, the right is from the reported to authorities missing children.  These are rates per thousand children in a year, you can just look at that if you can grok the numbers or one could take the 9 runaways/throwaway per 1000 children and say that every 111 years your child is likely to be missing because of being a runaway/throwaway.  Your actual experience may differ.

If I was to look at this and be concerned for my child having one of these events happening to them, I might say the following for each:

  • Missing but benign doesn't worry me    
  • We all endeavoring to make our homes ones where our children don't feel the need to runaway and we won't want to throw them out.   
  • Where possible I might try to maintain good relations with an ex-spouse or keep track of them to avoid a family abduction (this one has many dimensions for which I am sympathetic.). 
  • There is already good advice in the thread for the missing involuntary lost or injured (be careful out there, teach them their phone numbers)
  • Decide how much prep you want to have for the once every 2000 to 5000 years that a given child will be abducted by non-family (some of which definition includes people we might call family members) vs. the 1 every 7 years you will go to the emergency room for an unintentional injury (more stats).  

Depending on your risk tolerance this figure may or may not let you sleep well at night if you are a parent.

I have other issues with the numbers from the study such as classifying some incidents in two categories so the percentages don's add up to 100% or not having the original data to see how the rates change with the age of the missing child.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Orchid's second flowering

I have never had any luck with orchids, so when my wife got this one I had resigned myself to enjoying the flowers on it when it was purchased and that would be that.

With her care it has flowered again, I think because of the jar it is under. Well done!

Wednesday, February 18, 2015


It wasn't really that good of snow for snowmen, we just packed it together after it got almost to freezing in the afternoon.

They both turned out a little angry, perhaps it was the eyebrows I tried to make.

Snow measurements

Yesterday's snow varied from 5" to a little less than 4" across the driveway and the front walk.

Snow hiding Shellpot Creek

Yesterday's four inches of snow covered an already frozen Shellpot Creek so much that it is barely visible.

A close-up shows some open water still running but the extremely cold, below freezing temperatures have almost frozen the entire creek.

After this picture some kids were walking right down the middle of the creek with no difficulty.

Monday, February 02, 2015

Happy Groundhog Day! Groundhog Ground-up

Because of my love for Groundhog Day, the day and the movie, there are already plenty of fun posts from days past to celebrate with.

Several surprise alternate endings to the movie Groundhog day that unfortunately were left on the cutting room floor.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Movies watched over the holidays

Spoilers for these movies follow.

We finally got to see How to Train Your Dragon 2. It was a good sequel, I liked the character development for hiccup and Astrid and their friends. I liked how they had his mother start shy and unsure around people after all her dealing with only dragons for so long. I did not like having Toothless under mind control kill Hiccups father, it seemed pretty dark and a cheap way to add drama.

The first movie was about freeing Chinese workers (dragons) from their government to be free to work for whatever American corporations they want to work for (Vikings).  The second one seems to be about keeping that freedom by not being controlled by either the good Alpha or the bad Alpha but by the radical anarchist Alpha who still is OK with everyone working for the people of their choice (as long as it is Vikings).

(Continued Spoiler warnings for below)

I had heard about the movie Snowpiercer before I knew that it was based on a graphic novel.  It's name almost had me in mind of one of those unintentionally comedic action sci-fi thrillers.  I was wrong, so wrong.  This movie is dark.  The survivors of a failed experiment to stop global warming survive a newly frozen ice age Earth in a train that moves endlessly around the world.  I felt the timeline of the movie (2030's or so) is far to short for all of the mythology that seems to have accrued around the actions of the characters on the train.  There are pitched battles through the train, and a surprise ending.  At the end the whole thing crashes anyway and I was left with the thought that it was all a waste and the hero's  (or perhaps anti-hero) actions ended up effectively killing everyone anyway.  I fear I am losing my willing suspension of disbelief for some of these movies.

Friday, January 02, 2015

Simulating the winner of the 2015 Superbowl

It's an annual tradition for me to simulate the potential winner of the Superbowl by simulating the NFL playoffs tens of thousands of times.  As always I have used the Sagarin ratings pure points to predict the outcome of each game.  The difference in the ratings yields the predicted spread but we must also remember that over the history of the NFL the standard deviation in the actual results vs. the predicted spread is almost two touchdowns, 13.86.

So on this last day before the wildcard playoff games begin, here are the predictions.  The bar chart below shows outcomes sorted by the most frequent results of 50,000 simulations.

Seattle wins the Superbowl 32% of the time in the simulations, followed by New England at 24%, Denver at 18%, and Green Bay at 13%.  I think that jibes with the expectations of sports analysts.  Those four teams dominate the simulations, every other teams chance is less than 4%.

The pie chart above shows the chance of the teams meeting in the Superbowl.  Blue represents the NFC team winning (on the Y-axis, names of each row), while red represents the AFC team winning (X-axis, names of each column).  Again, SEA, NE, DEN and GB dominate the results, they appear in the final game often, especially playing against leaders in the other conference.  The block diagram below shows the results in a different format colored by the teams who win the Superbowl.  Seattle dominates, and the chart shows Seattle's opponents and the frequency of that matchup out of the 50,000 simulations.

These simulations used to serve the purpose of letting me pick players for a playoff fantasy football game that unfortunately doesn't run anymore.  As part of building those teams I needed to know how many games a player would play based on the progress of their team through the NFL playoffs. 

 The chart above shows the number of games each team plays.  The number 1 and 2 seeds with first playoff week byes can only play a total of three games if they make it to the playoffs, other teams can play four.  You can risk a four game player, perhaps from IND, BAL or DAL, but this year those teams are dominated by the top two in each conference.  Seattle really sticks out as a team that gets to play three games more than 50% of all simulations.

Tomorrow starts the playoffs, I will update the simulations as the teams get knocked out.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Honest Hypocrite snowflake

Make your own snowflake is probably intended to be used for names but I tried the title of the blog and made a pretty one.

Try it yourself.