26 March, 2011

Just Remember, Reuters Is a “News Service”

Air quotes intentional.

Jeffery Goldberg is upset with Reuters this week for two articles, one distorted and one that’s flat out wrong.

He talks about the first one here.

Police said it was a "terrorist attack" -- Israel's term for a Palestinian strike. It was the first time Jerusalem had been hit by such a bomb since 2004.
Those Israelis and their crazy terms! I mean, referring to a fatal bombing of civilians as a "terrorist attack"? Who are they kidding? Everyone knows that a fatal bombing of Israeli civilians should be referred to as a "teachable moment." Or as a "venting of certain frustrations." Or as "an understandable reaction to Jewish perfidy." Or perhaps as "a very special episode of 'Cheers.'" Anything but "a terrorist attack."

But that’s just typical Reuters distortion. The second is far worse. Once again, he rips it. But The Cable at Foreign Policy does a better job. The problem they both have is with this statement about Libya:

Obama is committed to partnering with other countries rather than going it alone as did his predecessor George W. Bush, which both broadens and complicates the decision-making process.

From the article by The Cable (emphasis mine):

The Cable compiled a chart listing all the countries that contributed at least some military assets to the five major military operations in which the United States participated in a coalition during the last 20 years: the 1991 Gulf War (32 countries participating), the 1995 Bosnia mission (24 countries), the 1999 Kosovo mission (19 countries), the 2002 invasion of Afghanistan (48 countries), and the 2003 invasion of Iraq (40 countries), at the height of the size of each coalition. As of today, only 15 countries, including the United States, have committed to providing a military contribution to the Libya war

Damn that cowboy George W. Bush (R-USA) for going it alone with about three times the international support of Barack Obama (D-USA).

Really, though…Mr. Goldberg shouldn’t be surprised. After all, Reuters is a “news service”.

More Faux News.

Elite Eight Chances

Now we’re down to the Elite Eight. Who’s gonna win now that Duke and the Buckeyes are out of the way? As you might expect, things are looking good for the Jayhawks. Finally we have 3 teams with more than a 10% chance to win it all, and Kansas is over 40%.

  Elite Eight Final Four Championship
Kansas 85.78% 62.40% 42.35%
Kentucky 54.29% 36.83% 17.31%
North Carolina 45.71% 27.53% 12.09%
Connecticut 52.23% 17.07% 7.95%
Florida 55.23% 21.15% 7.58%
Arizona 47.77% 16.32% 7.44%
Butler 44.77% 14.49% 4.10%
VA Commonwealth 14.22% 4.21% 1.18%

The computer still doesn’t believe in VCU, but is starting to believe a bit more in the Butler Bulldogs. Other than the KU/VCU games, all the games this round are pretty even. No matter what happens, it shouldn’t be considered a surprise.

24 March, 2011

Would P.T. Barnum Be Looking For You?

It’s been a couple weeks since we examined the laughingstock known as ObamaCare. And since the one year anniversary of the passage of this monstrosity was this week, it’s time to do it again.

The latest news?

One of the authors and biggest cheerleaders for ObamaCare, one Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-NY-09), now thinks that a waiver might be a good idea for his district. He might even have a better quote here than that famous one by Nancy Pelosi.

The administration needs to make this argument more forcefully. A lot of people who got waivers were … people who are our friends.

Err…yes. You’ve just summed up the problem with the waivers far more succinctly than I ever could. Giving waivers for an expensive law to your friends is not how this country is supposed to work. What about those of us working for small businesses that don’t have influential friends? I guess we’re supposed to foot the bill for the rest of you. No, thanks.

But wait, there’s more. The Obamanauts have lost Howard Schultz as well. Who is Howard Shultz? No, he’s not that CEO who wrote in the WSJ bashing Obama’s economic policies. He’s another CEO, this one of ultra-liberal Starbucks. He’s long been a backer of ObamaCare and of the Obama administration.

There's no plan that would be a perfect plan, but the intent of the bill and the heartfelt commitment to insure the uninsured is the right approach. I think as the bill is currently written and if it was going to land in 2014 under the current guidelines, the pressure on small businesses, because of the mandate, is too great.

And he’s not the only businessman complaining. How about IHOP owner Scott Womack?

Under the year-old law, Womack must provide health insurance to all full-time employees beginning in 2014. Right now, he employs nearly 1,000 full- and part-time workers and already offers insurance to his management staff. He simply does not know how he’ll generate the revenue to do more.

Womack estimates the cost of the law to his company will be 50 percent greater than his company’s earnings — in other words, beyond his ability to pay.


“If the health care reform law is not repealed or if the employer mandate doesn’t go away, we’re going to have to take drastic action,” Womack explains.

Note for you liberals out there, when an employer starts talking about having to take “drastic action” because of costs, that’s not a good thing. There’s a reason conservatives keep calling this law a “job killer”.

And let’s be honest with ourselves, too. ObamaCare can not exist without the individual mandate. It’s the lynchpin of the entire thing. You can’t offer healthcare to everyone without requiring everyone to buy insurance. If you don’t make it a requirement to have health insurance, no one will ever buy it. Why should they? They know they’ll get the coverage without it. Same for existing conditions. Until and unless your existing condition worsens to the point where you need medical treatment, there’s no need to buy insurance.

As my own Congressman, Dan Burton (R-IN-05), said yesterday:

Last year then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi famously said that we would have to pass the [health care reform] bill in order to find out what is in it.   Well, in the last year America has found out what was in it, and it is higher health insurance premiums,  fewer Medicare choices for seniors (as well as higher Medicare Part D premiums), and billions of dollars of unfunded mandates that will bankrupt the States and Hoosier small businesses; to name just a few of the problems with this law.

Still believe in this schlock? P.T. Barnum wishes he was still alive. He’d be setting up camp outside your house.

Oh, darn. I just looked it up. He didn’t actually say that. Or maybe he did. Evidence appears inconclusive. I’m gonna go back to naively believing that he said it after all.

22 March, 2011

Tourney Projections–How Do I Do That?

Ok, I’ve been asked about my tourney projections. I’m not going to go into all the detail on how my ratings are created. When Jeff Sagarin gives you the details on his, come back to me. But, I can explain how the tournament ratings are done.

Last year, one of the features I added to my ratings was the ability to run Monte Carlo simulations of the games. It’s surprisingly fast, actually, only slowing down my ratings calculations by a minute or two.

Anyway, for the tournament, I simulate every possible game 10,000 times. Right now, for the Sweet 16, that’s pretty easy. 16 teams means that there’s 120 possible games, so I do 1.2 million simulations. It was a little more time consuming when there were 64 teams as that had 2016 possible games, so I had to do over 20 million simulations.

Once that’s done, the probability calculations are fairly straightforward. A team’s chance to win in a given round is the product of their probability of making that round and the sum of the probabilities of beating each possible opponent multiplied by the probability of the opponent making that round.

A couple of examples will make that clearer.

In the next round, Duke plays Arizona. The probability of Duke advancing to Elite Eight is (from above) the probability of Duke making the Sweet 16 multiplied by the product of the probability of Duke beating Arizona and the probability of Arizona making the Sweet 16. Or:

D(EE) = D(S16) * (D(A) * A(S16))


D(EE) = Duke advances to Elite Eight
D(S16) = Duke makes it to Sweet 16
D(A) = Duke beats Arizona
A(S16) = Arizona makes it to Sweet 16

Since we’re already at the Sweet 16 and the opponents are set, everyone’s chances of making this round is 100%. So, simplified:

D(EE) = 1 * (D(A) * 1)
D(EE) = D(A)

I ran the simulation 10,000 times. Duke won 7,952 of them, or 79.52%.

So, D(EE) = 79.52%

So, that was easy. But what about Duke’s chances of making it to the Final Four? They will play either Connecticut or San Diego State.

The formula is:

D(FF) = D(EE) * (D(C) * C(EE) + D(SD) * SD(EE))

D(FF) = Duke advances to Final Four
D(EE) = Duke makes it to Elite Eight
D(C) = Duke beats UConn
C(EE) = UConn makes it to Elite Eight (beats SDSU)
D(SD) = Duke beats SDSU
SD(EE) = SDSU makes it to Elite Eight (beats UConn)

I won’t bore you with the how to on these again, but
D(C) = .8249
C(EE) = .4672
D(SD) = .7775
SD(EE) = .5328


D(FF) = .7952 * (.8249 * .4672 + .7775 * .5328)
D(FF) = .7952 * (.3854 + .4143)
D(FF) = .6359

So, Duke has a 63.59% chance of advancing to the Final Four.

This process is repeated for each team all the way out to the championship.

21 March, 2011

Updated Tournament Odds–Sweet 16

Meh. What does the computer know? 4 of it’s top 6 favorites to win it all lost this weekend.

Biggest upset of the tourney so far was VCU beating Purdue. Purdue was the second biggest favorite last round (in terms of % chance to win) at almost 86%. Instead of winning they got crushed. A few weeks ago, many were talking about Purdue as a legitimate title contender. Apparently they peaked too soon. They lost 3 of their last four games, and all to mediocre teams. And they didn’t look good in any of the 4 games.

Many teams % chance to win has now greatly increased. Not just because the field is so much smaller, but because so many top teams are out. The road to the championship just got a lot smoother for just about everyone. However, there are still only 2 teams with a better than 10% chance to win it all. Perhaps just as surprisingly, there are still 3 teams with less than a 1% chance to win.

Here are the updated odds (% shown is chance to win that round):

  Sweet 16 Elite Eight Final Four Championship
Duke 79.52% 63.59% 44.25% 31.26%
Kansas 79.74% 64.75% 33.18% 20.51%
Brigham Young 68.22% 40.02% 22.48% 9.84%
Ohio State 55.54% 34.87% 19.26% 8.65%
Wisconsin 69.60% 37.09% 20.00% 8.60%
Kentucky 44.46% 26.27% 13.25% 5.01%
North Carolina 56.66% 24.53% 11.34% 4.09%
San Diego St 53.28% 15.31% 6.42% 2.73%
Connecticut 46.72% 11.52% 4.51% 1.75%
Marquette 43.34% 14.33% 5.58% 1.51%
Florida St 63.91% 17.61% 4.33% 1.43%
Arizona 20.48% 9.58% 3.66% 1.42%
Florida 31.78% 13.05% 4.89% 1.39%
Richmond 20.26% 10.86% 2.57% 0.82%
Butler 30.40% 9.83% 3.19% 0.74%
VA Commonwealth 36.09% 6.78% 1.09% 0.25%


Biggest favorite this round is Kansas at 79.74%. Note that Purdue and Pitt both lost last round with greater than 80% chance. As did Syracuse with almost a 70% chance to win. The games this round should be quite interesting.

UPDATE: Another oddity. Looking at each round individually, rather than cumulatively, you can see that both Duke and Kansas have a better than 50/50 chance of winning their games against all possible competition, in each round. The worst round for Kansas is their potential Final Four game where they have a .3318/.6475 = 51.24% chance of winning, no matter who they face. Duke’s odds are even better.