Feb 1, 2013

Don’t Mess With (Horses In) Texas

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From the annals of Texas criminal justice, a story of a person who was “trying to make the horse have a baby.” Courtesy of the Smoking Gun:

Mendoza, who had been waiting to hear from his girlfriend, noted that, “I told myself that if she didn’t call me I was going to go next door and mess with the neighbor’s horse.”

Dude seriously couldn’t wait.

Which is what occurred, Mendoza, seen at right, told Sergeant Raymond Jansky.

“I was trying to make the horse have a baby,” Mendoza explained. “I was thinking it would have a horseman baby.” He added, “I ain’t going to lie, I blew a nut in the horse. I then got off the bucket and put my clothes back on and left. I promise that I have not been back over to the horse since that time.”

Read all of it. It is quite lurid.

As a sad footnote, Mendoza hung himself in a county jail.

H/T Omar H.

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Feb 1, 2013

Apes(hit) for Apps: Ape Fortas Predicting Supreme Court Cases On an iPad?

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In an article about FantasySCOTUS I co-authored, I updated the image of monkeys on a typewriter with apes on an iPad to illustrate the concept of randomness in selections, with a fictional primate named Ape Fortas.

Our methodologies also prevent a statistical “quasi-miracle,”95 whereby users could randomly predict all of the cases accurately. Assume an infinite number of monkeys were stationed at FantasySCOTUS iPads, randomly making predictions,96 and obtained a perfect score. A single primate, let’s call him Ape Fortas, would need to correctly predict each and every case. The odds of Ape Fortas accomplishing this task are infinitesimally small.97 Even 5,000 (the number of FantasySCOTUS players) apes mashing away on five-thousand monkey-friendly iPads would not increase the odds of any one player predicting all of the cases correctly. This small sample size is not even close to the same

Well, it looks like the primates are already moving onto using iPads. These Apes are playing with apps.  It’s only a matter of time before they learn to play FantasySCOTUS!

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Feb 1, 2013

How much does an ambassadorship cost?

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The more money you give to the President’s campaign, the more attract diplomatic post you get, one study finds:

Titled “What Price the Court of St. James’s? Political Influences on Ambassadorial Postings of the United States of America,” the paper looks at diplomatic appointments in the Obama administration through January 2011. Dr. Fedderke and Dr. Jett theorize that the most desirable postings are those to countries “that are not obscure, dangerous, poor or of low interest to tourists.” Where “political campaign contributions (financial or otherwise) exercise an influence on the nature of posting received,” the desirability of a posting should correspond to the size of the campaign contribution.

The researchers compared available information on donors’ direct political contributions and “bundling” — money raised on behalf of Mr. Obama by supporters — with data on the national income of host countries, their relative level of safety, and the robustness of their tourist industries.

Not surprisingly, the authors found that politically connected ambassadors, including former aides as well as donors, were statistically more likely to be posted to countries in the Caribbean, North America and Central America. But those whose political connections to Mr. Obama were measured in dollars, rather than administration service, had an increased chance of representing the United States in Western Europe, and a markedly smaller chance of serving in, say, Central Asia or sub-Saharan Africa. The study found that political ambassadors who had made campaign donations of $550,000, or bundled contributions of $750,000, had a 90 percent chance of being posted to a country in Western Europe.

So what is the dollar amount?

Luxembourg came in at the top of the chart, with a posting there valued at $3.1 million in direct contributions, while an appointment to Portugal was predicted to have a value of $602,686 in personal contributions. The model suggests that bundlers can get the same posts for less: Portugal was valued at about $341,160 in bundled contributions, Luxembourg at $1.8 million.

When factoring in a country’s tourist trade, however, France and Monaco top the list, with the level of personal contributions at $6.2 million and bundled contributions at $4.4 million.

And what price is the Court of St. James’s — diplomatic-speak for Britain, the nation’s most prestigious post? “The price for the Court of St. James’s,” the authors find, “appears to lie between $650,000 and $2.3 million.”

Thomas Jefferson and John Adams didn’t pay nearly anywhere that much!

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