posted by Mike on September 29th, 2006

Telegram: The T&G reports that SMOC is closing the “wet shelter” in Framingham. A wet shelter is a place you can go if you’re homeless but not sober.

Also reported: a project by Worcester State College students reveals, “Most neighbors favor group homes.” (I’ll post some commentary when I get my hands on the report.)

Police: The independent, non-governmental Worcester Police Review Board “works to ensure that police respect the rights of every Worcester, Massachusetts resident and follow the law in conducting their work.” They are seeking stories of both positive and negative experiences with the police. “Your stories can help create positive change.”

More police: Kevin Ksen appeared on public access cable this week discussing, among other things, his “false arrest” complaint. Download the mp4.

Rev Mark Beckwith is leaving All Saints to become the Episcopal Bishop of Newark. Sorry to see him leave Worcester.

01500006Momo makes Nature news: “Statistical flaw trips up study of bad stats.” Momo’s original correspondence has an even better title: “Error in statistical tests of error in statistical tests.”

You have to pay to read the original article, but here’s an excerpt:

When two Spanish researchers checked the statistics in
scientific papers from the BMJ and Nature in 2004, their
results prompted a flurry of headlines and soul-searching
for editors.

“Sloppy stats shame science” ran the headline in The
Economist. “Statistical flaws revealed in top journals’
papers” declared New Scientist. The revelation that more
than a third of all Nature papers in 2001 contained
statistical errors prompted the journal to introduce new
checks on quality. At the BMJ (formerly the British Medical
Journal), where one in four papers was found to contain
flaws, editors ran an editorial discussing potential

Now it seems that another manuscript can be added to the
pile of flawed publications: the paper by the Spanish
researchers. According to an analysis published earlier this
month, one of its two conclusions is invalid because it is
based on inappropriate statistics. “Statistical tests should
be used correctly,” notes the dry conclusion of the new


But Monwhea Jeng, a physicist at Syracuse University in New
York, points out that García-Berthou and Alcaraz employed
the Kolmogorov–Smirnov test, which is used to evaluate
whether the probability distributions underlying two sets of
numbers differ. Jeng says this was a mistake, because the
test assumes that the distributions involved are continuous;
in the case of the final digit of a number, the distribution
is discrete. He says a more appropriate analysis using a
chi-squared test shows no evidence of rounding errors (M.
Jeng BMC Med. Res. Methodol. 6, 45; 2006).

(Pictured: Physicist Monwhea “Momo” Jeng, his wife Debra Waxman, and P&C editor Mike Benedetti)

Movies and torture: “I don’t think America’s had a good movie made since Abu Ghraib,” says Michael Tolkin, inspiring a meditation by David Griffith.

Movies that are torture: Merlin digs the “can of Cory“, but I’ll always be a Vern man. This week, he takes 50 Cent out to the woodshed. Reading this was like watching a guy wade into a bar fight with an axe in one hand, a scalpel in the other.

More Regensburg: John DaFiesole considers the pope’s Regensburg speech via Venn diagrams.

Also this week, the pope met with a bunch of Muslims.

Nalgene sucks: In the long-distance hiking community, there are a lot fewer people using Nalgene bottles than you might think. Many elite hikers are openly contemptuous of the “yuppie flatlanders” who use these bottles. After all, a one-liter soda or sports-drink bottle is lighter, cheaper, and has a more convenient opening. In The Complete Walker IV, Chip Rawlins even argues that disposable bottles are more durable than Nalgenes.

So I’m not surprised that a company devoted to scamming the L.L. Bean set is also making plastic restraints for lab animals.

Cockfighter: Last month, a film festival cancelled a screening of the movie Cockfighter. Although the credits claim the cockfighting in the movie is faked, it is in fact real.

I think this is a stupid sport, but I love this movie, and try to promote it among my friends. Somehow, I haven’t had a lot of luck getting people to watch it. My brother suggests I just say:

“It’s far better than a film about cockfighting has any right to be.”

The OC: OC Weekly has a typically snarky piece about the opening of a new concert hall in Orange County. This interlude caught my eye:

Less than a block up the street, Richard Meredith was holding a sign in the shape of a giant arrow with “Liquor Beer!” written on it. Meredith does this two hours a day, seven bucks an hour, for the convenience store across the street. “Pocket change,” he says, so that he can follow his real passion, working with a local organization called Christian Volunteers that gets food to local soup kitchens. He lives just a block from where he stood. He’d never heard of the hall.

“It’s just more stuff that’s making the county too crowded,” said Meredith, who was born and raised in Santa Ana. Now that he had heard about it, did he think the hall would have a big effect on Orange County’s reputation?

“Ah, who cares? That’s for them,” he said, waving his hand up the road. “You know what I’m thinking about? I’ve been at [Santa Ana’s] Catholic Worker in the morning, early, like 6 a.m. And I’ve walked around and seen the people asleep. And all you can see, because people cover themselves up from the cold, are the feet. And every time I’m there, I see more and more little feet. Kids. That’s what I’m thinking about. Little feet.”

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