Find the Fallacy

Allstate insurance has a full page ad on the back of the business section of today’s New York Times. It has a cartoon of a woman in a business suit chained to a rock. Here’s the first two paragraphs of text:

The number of women over 65 who are still working has increased by more than a third in the past ten years. Why are retirement-age women increasingly chained to their jobs?

Well, women live longer than men, so their retirement savings have to stretch father. Women earn less – 77 cents for every dollar a man earns – so they save less. And they work fewer years – the average woman spends 11 years out of the workforce caring for children or elderly parents.

  1. What happened to the number of men over 65 still working? Suppose that has risen by 50%?
  2. Who says they are chained to their jobs? Maybe they are living a full rewarding life working part-time.
  3. Women used to make a lot less than 77 cents on the dollar. I seem to remember 40 or 50 cents. Seems like they’re doing better, not worse?
  4. Nothing in the second paragraph relates to the first. The first is about change over the last ten years. Women live longer, but has that changed in the last ten years? Do they take more time out of the workforce than they used to? Do they make more than they used to?

So the evidence doesn’t relate to the summary, and then the summary is given a pejorative spin that’s unsupported.

Oh, by the way, the main fact? Not so much.

The number of women over 65 who are still working has increased 38 percent since 1980

In 28 years it’s gone up 38%, but Allstate says it’s gone up over a third in the last ten years? Fishy.

Links o’ Interest

Always clear your download history.

Japanese barcodes. I can’t wait until these come to America.

Beach policeman, circa 1922.

Learn to play Go Interactively (I downloaded Igowin to teach myself.)

A blog of Responses to the stupid questions you see in celebrity magazines.

One of the weirder and sadder stories I’ve read in a while.

South Park characters drawn realistically

Let your next of kin know, because you won’t be able to stop watching this. (More variants here)

Pattern identification. I was told if you can get 4 per minute, you’re a genius. I agree. I am not a genius. Addendum: I started on Level 12, I’m not as bad I thought.

The entire Godfather script, drawn as a picture.

Improv Everywhere does a sweet one.

Logic puzzle comic strip: The dragon paradox

The 50 greatest comedy sketches of all time. 66 years later, Who’s on First is still as brilliant as ever.

Employee Name Tags

One of the nice things about Disney World is the name tags. They have the first name, and where they are from. We had a wonderful conversation with a husband-wife team from a town just down the road from where I grew up. It’s nice to see where people are from. In Las Vegas some casinos have their employees do the same thing. It can trigger a conversation and give you a nice instant connection with someone. This is a nice idea for those tourist destinations where both the staff and the customers are from all over.

California Pizza Kitchen just outside Atlanta’s perimeter highway? C’mon. I didn’t need to be informed that Brenda was from Guadalajara. It just doesn’t work. And you know what? 70% of your staff is from Central America. Instead of connecting me to the employees, it reminds me of class differences. Kind of a downer.

And you are California Pizza Kitchen! You are not “CPK”. I will not “Locate a CPK in my area”, or “register with CPK”. Get over yourself.

Social Security is NOT Medicare!

This is an actual question from a Harris Interactive poll:

78 million baby boomers, now ages 44 to 62, are about to retire and will begin collecting Social Security and Medicare retirement entitlement benefits, putting tremendous strain on the resources available to pay benefits to future generations.

How do you feel about the future of our country’s Social Security program?

Please select all that apply.

– Fearful
– Optimistic
– Frustrated
– Secure
– None of these

For the definition of Social Security, please click here.
For the definition of Medicare, please click here.

Social Security and Medicare are different programs. Both are growing issues for the general budget, but Medicare’s impact is roughly five times larger. To the degree their finances can be independently judged, Social Security is very well-financed, Medicare is not at all. Whether through ignorance or malice, it is common to see factual statements about both of them lumped together as “entitlement spending”, and then conclusions drawn about only Social Security.

entitlement growth

In this question, the setup includes Social Security and Medicare and the help links include Social Security and Medicare. But the actual question is only about Social Security. This is dishonest.

I am not looking forward to seeing how this research is used.

Elite Security Force in Action

The building I work in has doors with electronic locks, you must flick your badge on a reader to get in. Today, one of the doors was broken and would not open at all from the outside. I went around to another door. After my meeting, I tried to go out the first door and found you couldn’t open it from the inside either. I turned to the worker nearest the door.

Me: Hey, is –
Him: I know, it’s broken, it’s been broken all day. We called Facilities already.
Me: OK. Uh, would you like me to –
Him: We had a sign up. Facilities made me take it down.
Me: Wow, you’re good at this! Why did they make you take it down?
Him: They were worried that it revealed a hole in our security to potential robbers.
Me: [dumbfounded] You mean the security problem that the door won’t open at all?
Him: You got it.
Me: What would happen if a robber found that out? Their master plan of stealing a badge to get in this door would fail?
Him: [shrugging] Tell me about it.

Star Wars III

(I didn’t see it in the theatres. I caught the last half on TV last night.)

Obi Wan and Darth Vader fight to the death, jumping around the molten mine planet of something-or-other. Darth leaps up, Obi Wan chops off his legs with the light saber. Instead of killing him (everyone else dies when you touch them with a light saber), it slices off his legs. Vader pitifully tries to squirm his way up the hill which is slowly sinking into the molten steel below. Obi Wan pontificates. Vader doesn’t make it. His legs slip into the inferno, and he catches on fire. What does Obi Wan do? Pontificates some more, and then walks away, leaving Vader to a long, horrible demise.

Jedi are the good guys, right?


Me: Have I put you in timeout at all today?
5-year old: No.
Me: Have I put your brother in timeout today?
5-year old: No.
Me: Right. It’s been a good day, hasn’t it? I like days where I don’t get mad at you and you don’t get mad at me.
5-year old, after thinking it over: I don’t care if I get mad at you.

Poker Update #3

That hurt.

I dominated the first hour. Our starting stacks are $2500 and I had well over $5000 within 30 minutes. Some good hands, and some great bluffs. I didnt play much until we got down to 4 players. I now had about $9000, average stack was $6000. One player had 300. I was counting on at least 3rd place, which would have good for $36, and probably higher than that.

And it all slipped away. I can’t point to any hand I misplayed. Yes, a couple bluffs didn’t play out but they were still good bluffs. Yes, there were a couple bad beats, but nothing outrageous. It simply dripped away. The last hands were unremarkable. Blecchh.

Tonight: -$20
Total since 3/15/08: -$6