Saturday, October 31, 2009

How often does the winner of the third game win the World Series after a split first two games.

As I noticed searches landing on my earlier posts about World Series probabilities, I noticed that fans are asking "How often does the team that wins the third game of the World Series win the whole thing". From history that chance is 68%, from a simulation in which it assumed that either team has a 50% chance of winning a game it is 65%.

A better questions relates to the current situation going into tonight's World Series game. If the teams split the first two games, how often does the winner of the third game go on to win the series? In history, teams have split the first two games 50 out of 99 times, and the next team to win has gone on to win it all 35 of those games or 70% of the time. The simulations show a similar 50% of the trials have a split in the first two games, and 70% of those splits have the team that wins the third game willing the Series.

Friday, October 30, 2009

How often does the first team to win a game win the World Series if they lose the second game?

After last night's loss of the Phillies to the Yankees the World Series is tied one game to one game. I thought that I could update the information from yesterday on the probability that the team that wins the first game of the World Series wins the whole series.

Now the question is "What is the probability that the team that wins the first game of the series and loses the second wins the World Series?" A review of 100 years or so of World series data (plus looking at each series on wikipedia) shows that 50% of the time the teams in the World Series split the first two games. This provides our data set. 50% of the teams that won the first game and lose the second win the World Series.

That makes perfect sense, now the teams are one and one and each team has to win three games to win the whole thing. It becomes a best of five series. Simulations with 10,000 trials and assuming that the teams win 50% of the time confirm the historical trend. In 50% of the cases when the teams split the first two games, the winner of the first game goes on to win the World Series 50% of the time.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

How often does the winner of the first game win the World Series

The Fox announcers off-handedly mentioned after the Phillies first game win that the team that won the first game of the World Series has gone on to win the Series in the past six years. I wondered if this was an interesting statistic or an obvious one. If you think about it, once a team wins one game of the series they only have to win three more games, where as there opponent must win four to win. Winning the first game has an inherent obvious advantage. Perhaps that stat isn't so interesting.

We can simulate a World Series by choosing a probability of winning a game, 50% seems a fair starting point, and then counting games. Once a team wins four games, perform no further game simulations for that series. Simulating 10,000 series allows the collection of some statistics and probabilities. For instance, the number of games in a series if the games are a toss up (one team wins 50% of the time) is shown in the chart below.

The exact result for how many games will occur in a World Series if each team wins 50% of the time is 4 games 1/8 of the time, 5 games 1/4 of the time and 6 and 7 games 5/16 of the time for both. This is a good check on our simulation.

The results from 100 years of World Series (including only best of seven series) closely parallels the simulations, with four game series slightly more common.

To answer the first question, 10,000 trials shows that if the games are a toss up the winner of the first game goes on to win the World Series 65.6% of the time. A glance back at almost 100 years of World Series, (eliminating ones that were not best of seven, and using wikipedia to see which team won first), shows that historically the first team to win wins the series 66% of the time. Perhaps that stat from Fox isn't so surprising.

Varying the probability that one team (say the National League team) wins from 50% lets the simulation explore the probability that the first team to win a game wins the series. Obviously if one team wins 100% of the time, they win the first game and the series. This is also the same as if one team wins 0% of the time, the other team wins the first game and the series. The middle result (50% probability of winning a game), reported above, is 65.6%. The plot below shows how this varies with the probability of the National League team winning. Given that the historical result is that the first team to win a game in the World Series wins the Series 66% of the time, it is reasonable to expect that the chance one or the other team would win a given World series game is close to 50%, or at least somewhere between 40% and 60%.

Finally the simulation reveals the number of games played, the series winner and the winner of the first game. The plot below shows that histogram.

Because the simulation is only 10,000 trials, the results here are probably plus or minus 0.5%.

Sunday, October 25, 2009


At the end of September, I noticed some large banded and spotted caterpillars finishing off the last of the parsley in the garden.

There were about five caterpillars.

They crawled up and down the stems denuding the plants of any leaves. When the y got the end of a stalk they would get confused and then turn around and start down again.

I thought that these might be Monarch Butterfly caterpillars, but a search at this site revealed that these are likely to be the second instar or moult of the caterpillar stage of Black Swallowtail caterpillars. The pictures match and the wikipedia article (Black Swallowtail, Papilio polyxenes) even mentions that they like to eat plants from the carrot family like dill and parsley.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

You are reading the polls and this chart incorrectly

TYWKIWDBI presents a chart aggregating polls from which seems to indicate that the Democrats and Republicans are losing voters who are becoming independent. Here is TYWKIWDBI's repost of the Pollster chart:

That conclusion can only be made if you actually ignore the points (besides the fact the the X axis labels are lost). Pollster has plunked a solid line which appears to be the average of the data from all of these polls. That's all well and good, but the points that the average is made from are all over the place. here I have replotted the polls and included the 90th and 10th percentile of the last 20 polls for each of the party affiliations. The heavy solid lines are the average of the last 20 polls, red for Republicans, blue for Democrats and green for Independents, the lighter solid lines are the 90th and 10th percentile of the last 20 polls. The points are the individual polls plotted on the ending date of the poll period. The data is all right under the chart at

Close examination (click on the chart above for a large version) of this very cluttered chart reveals that you could draw lines which trend up or down or stay the same for any any of the affiliations and not leave the area between the between the 90th and 10th percentile lines. Print it out and try it or replot it yourself.

The most you can confidently say about this chart is, "wow, there is a lot of scatter in these poll results." I don't think that you can state with confidence that there has been a statistically significant change in Democratic or Independent affiliation. I am not even sure there is a decrease in Republican affiliation. Shame on you for putting in those average lines, and shame on you TYWKIWDBI for reposting it with your faulty conclusions. Bad statistics, bad presentation (including my cluttered chart).

I SK8 license plate in Delaware

I think this woman skates, as evidenced by the I SK8 license and the SK8 sticker. The question is ice skating, roller blading, skateboards or roller derby.

Roller Derby would be cool.

FAT license plate in Delaware

I didn't notice that the driver of this Toyota truck with a FAT license was particularly overweight. Perhaps FAT is meant as slang meaning good.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Steampunk or wood punk old-fashioned Saw Mill running at the Upper Peninsula State Fair

I took these videos of the saw mill that they usually have running at the Michigan Upper Peninsula State Fair in Escanaba, Michigan, when we were there on vacation this past August. The saw mill runs using a power take-off (PTO) from an old steam engine driven tractor. All day long these guys cut huge tree trunks into usable lumber. I heard that people with lumber from their property sometimes wait until the fair so they can cut sawn boards from this mill, for authenticity's sake for their cabins or old buildings.

The circular saw is huge, it looks three feet across. The mechanism holding the lumber cleverly moves the lumber another board thickness after each pass of the saw so that many boards can be cut from a log of the same set thickness.

If the apocalypse came tomorrow, I think these guys could still be running their saw mill and getting your boards for your new back country cabin to wait out the coming troubles.

You can see the resulting in the video above as well as a a view of the steam engine.

I tried to get a closer view of the actual engine running the saw mill here:

Looked like a coal fired steam engine.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Risk of H1N1 flu vaccine blown out of proportion, and bringing out the crazies

My response to the bad science and statistic going around about getting the H1N1 flu vaccine. Due to this tweet.

From 7 reasons to Avoid the Swine Flu Vaccination especially for Children:

She starts with this crazy disclaimer:
I do not vaccinate and believe there are many many good reasons for that choice. As a mother of four grown children I faced the decision as a parent, which can be very difficult in our vaccine culture. I have four very healthy children, young adults, who have never been vaccinated. They do not have the allergies, asthma or other chronic diseases that are epidemic in children these days, and they all have terrific immune systems with lifelong immunity to childhood diseases, and yes, once-in-awhile they get the flu and they get over it. It was my belief, that given the vaccine load placed on children and infants (a still growing load), the compositions of the vaccines, and the unknowns, that the risks of vaccines were not worth an arguable benefit.
And then goes on to list the reason based in bad statistics and bad science. This was my comment:
While it is great that your four children are healthy, they do not constitute a statistically significant sampling of non-immunized people. They have also benefited from the fact that everyone around them is vaccinated from the diseases they didn't get (polio, measles, diphtheria, typhus, etc.). You are also conflating your unwise choice to not have your children immunized with your relatively neutral choice to not get the H1N1 flu vaccine.

For the various mild influenzas, vaccination helps to avoid a mild illness. If you are in a risk group then the flu will not be a mild illness and you might want to avoid getting the flu bu getting vaccinated. You don't mention being in a high risk group so feel free not to get the vaccine. The rest of your arguments are spurious and not well thought out (toxins?) and show a lack of understanding of statistics and risk. It is too bad many will take your neutral advice on the H1N1 vaccine and extend it to other vaccinations with bad effect.
I probably won't be able to get it anyway since apparently Delaware supplies are lower and slower than expected.

DE State population of ~800,000.
CDC say the maximum that DE can order is 520,000
400,000 are in the priority groups in DE.
DE acute care hospitals ordered 127,500 doses and received 4,900 last week.
Expected 111,000 by end of October, now getting 73,000.

The news Journal article doesn't clearly distinguish who is getting the vaccines and numbers. There is some mention of Public Health officials and of the hospitals. Typical confusing News Journal article.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Preserve us from previous homeowners - three inaccessible electrical junction boxes

Someone please save me from previous homeowners. I, of course, always follow the electrical code and do perfect work whenever I do any electrical work in any of the houses that I have owned, but those guys that owned the houses before me, what do they know?

We are renovating the second floor bathroom and are to the point where the floor is up, and the walls that had tile on them are out (all done by Lynn, it is really her renovation), which gives unprecedented access to wire new plugs and add an exhaust fan (all done by me, I do the electrical). Breaking up the cast iron tub with a sledge hammer was also lots of fun and one of the few tasks besides electric that I have done, mostly by virtue of the weak but still present sexual dimorphism of homo sapiens.

The other day we took the medicine cabinet off of the wall, because we are going to save it and recess it properly and guess what we found.

A hidden electrical box right behind it. This is not allowed by code. More fun was the realization that the box was connected to two other boxes that had been walled up behind the drywall years ago. We suspect 2001 based on the date on the Corian sink we removed.

This box is in the wall covered up to the right of the stud bay with my new correctly wired outlet. This outlet was at the end of the run. At least they covered the outlet with a plate. Possibly the code allowed this back when they did it. I doubt it.

This box is on the wall covered up to the left of the stud bay with my other correctly wired GFCI outlet. This stud bay was only six inches wide. I was surprised they was an inaccessible junction box there. This was the box with the most issues because the power came down from the attic through a hole in the studs to this box on the left and then across to the center box and the one on the right.

These boxes had power going through them, and worst of all the lights above the opening are powered through them. A glance at the internet reveals that you are not allowed to have inaccessible junction boxes. This guy had to rewire a junction box with a lot of wires that he found, you guessed it, behind a medicine cabinet. He provides good pictures and a nice tutorial on the process. This idiot asked advice about whether he could have an inaccessible junction box. The comments are universally no, but then he wants to solder the wires together and leave them in the wall and argues his point. I suppose he was looking for just one person to say it was OK.

One of the best uses of a digital camera is in this situation where I could put the camera in the bays and see what was going on much easier than trying to poke my head in there. I was able to get rid of the box on the right by unwiring the center box.

I then figured out that the light above was connected with the copper wire. Once I convinced myself that the left box only had the wire with power going in and the black wire coming out the center. I cut those to get the box out and proceeded to figure out how to connect the light's copper wire to the power wire without doing it in an inaccessible junction box. One idea would have been to turn the junction box around and have it be accessible with a plate over it on the other side of the wall, which is inside a closet in the next room. I finally realized that I had enough wire to pull the power wire and the light wire up through the top plate into the attic and connect them in an accessible junction box in the attic. Problem solved, light switch works again, after about a half a day of thinking about a solution and then fixing it. It also wouldn't be a remodeling job if at the end I didn't have to do the final wiring up in the attic amidst the blown in fiberglass insulation, by flashlight, because the attic light was on the same circuit breaker that I turned off to do the work.

The final excitement in this drama is an old problem to me since we have been in this house almost three years now. The house was wired with aluminum wiring. At this point most readers have fainted dead away or are calling the fire department right now because they just assume my house is on fire because it has aluminum wiring. I know that this type of wiring is associated with an increase of the rate of fires, but it can't be that large since so many of these houses from the 60's and 70's still exist and this one was around to for us purchase. I always use the correct fixtures that are compatible with aluminum wiring or I pigtail with copper wiring. I also use the correct UL listed purple connectors with anti-corrosive paste in them if I must have copper and aluminum wiring in the same junction. Many sites say these are inadequate, but those are usually sponsored by the much more expensive cold weld alternative companies that can only be done by an electrician or by very paranoid home inspectors. I have been warned.

Thursday, October 08, 2009

Lascivious Croatian Chicken beckons to you from the spit

A picture didn't do justice to the lascivious movement of the chickens slowly turning on the spit at the Michigan Upper Peninsula State Fair back in August, so I captured a video. Watch how the chickens turn and each flap of a wing or kick of a leg as they turn seems to beckon you to eat more delicious rotisserie chicken.

This booth had Croatian chicken, which appears to be spit rotisseried chicken, but with extra spices and a crispy skin and I am sure extra fat and butter somehow cooked into it. It was so good that we had it for lunch that day and then on the way home got another one for dinner.

The rotisserie was a hue mechanical affair, run by a motor. The tenders made sure that there was charcoal enough to keep the chickens hot and cooking and would move the big spits as appropriate.

Just thinking again of how delicious it was makes me want to get more. Just have to wait until next August and travel to Escanaba, Michigan again to get some.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

LCROSS to crash into the moon on Friday morning

Howard reminds me that LCROSS is scheduled to impact the moon on Friday.

Astronomy Service Slooh Will Let You Watch The LCROSS Impact Live On October 9 at 7:30am EDT.

"The Lunar CRater Observation and Sensing Satellite will hit the moon to created a crater 14 meters in diameter and 2 meters deep. The resulting analysis will help assess how large bodies will damage planets along with an assessment of current water levels in the moon. Plus it involves blowing holes in the moon."

I have been following LCROSS on twitter since its launch. It tends to post quippy remarks about its position and snippets of traveling songs and moon songs. For instance:

These song quotes are from Ticket to the Moon by ELO.

This quote is from the Grateful Dead song, Yellow Moon. This is the tweet that started me worrying about LCROSS's sanity. It's the kind of thing a computer would say before it took over the laboratory and started killing everybody.

Quotes from Space Truckin' by Deep Purple.

LCROSS's nightmare above is courtesy of Bat Out of Hell by Meat Loaf.

I have this song on my iPod, "Fly Me To the Moon", the Frank Sinatra version.

I also have this song on my iPod, "Destination Moon", the Dinah Washington version on Ultra-Loung Vol 15: Wild Cool and Swing' Too. The other quote is from Tambourine Man by Bob Dylan.

I have now become invested in its fate and I will be sorry to see it crash into the moon.

I realize that whoever is posting for LCROSS is trying to generate interest but having a twitter feed to which anthropomorphisizes a device destined for destruction is getting to me a little. Especially since the discovery of water on the moon by other means may make its destruction fruitless. It claims that it isn't doomed but on a heroic mission like some that have gone before:

Perhaps I am felling a little maudlin.

(other moon songs can be found here.)

Nice parking job

The inconsiderate driver in the black SUV parked their car across the line in a double parking space so no one could park in front of or behind them. Very jerky considering the parking lot was full to capacity as it was during a children's consignment sale.

Not to be deterred the person in the red car parked in the space in front of the jerk anyway. I can't really blame them as I thought of parking there myself. What I really wanted to do was park behind the balck SUV and block them in. Instead, my revenge is to impotently rage abouty it here.

Pink Floyd fan in Delaware

This PKFLYD license plate in Delaware declares the owner to be a true fan.

I just want to know, which one is Pink?

Friday, October 02, 2009