2008-kesselman.pdf: “Verbal Probability Expressions In National Intelligence Estimates: A Comprehensive Analysis Of Trends From The Fifties Through Post-9/11”, (2008-05; ):
This research presents the findings of a study that analyzed words of estimators probability in the key judgments of National Intelligence Estimates from the 1950s through the 2000s. The research found that of the 50 words examined, only 13 were statistically-significant. Furthermore, interesting trends have emerged when the words are broken down into English modals, terminology that conveys analytical assessments and words employed by the National Intelligence Council as of 2006. One of the more intriguing findings is that use of the word will has by far been the most popular for analysts, registering over 700 occurrences throughout the decades; however, a word of such certainty is problematic in the sense that intelligence should never deal with 100% certitude. The relatively low occurrence and wide variety of word usage across the decades demonstrates a real lack of consistency in the way analysts have been conveying assessments over the past 58 years. Finally, the researcher suggests the Kesselman List of Estimative Words for use in the IC. The word list takes into account the literature review findings as well as the results of this study in equating odds with verbal probabilities.
[Rachel’s lit review, for example, makes for very interesting reading. She has done a thorough search of not only the intelligence but also the business, linguistics and other literatures in order to find out how other disciplines have dealt with the problem of “What do we mean when we say something is ‘likely’…” She uncovered, for example, that, in medicine, words of estimative probability such as “likely”, “remote” and “probably” have taken on more or less fixed meanings due primarily to outside intervention or, as she put it, “legal ramifications”. Her comparative analysis of the results and approaches taken by these other disciplines is required reading for anyone in the Intelligence Community trying to understand how verbal expressions of probability are actually interpreted. The NICs list only became final in the last several years so it is arguable whether this list of nine words really captures the breadth of estimative word usage across the decades. Rather, it would be arguable if this chart didn’t make it crystal clear that the Intelligence Community has really relied on just two words, “probably” and “likely” to express its estimates of probabilities for the last 60 years. All other words are used rarely or not at all.
Based on her research of what works and what doesn’t and which words seem to have the most consistent meanings to users, Rachel even offers her own list of estimative words along with their associated probabilities:
- Almost certain: 86–99%
- Highly likely: 71–85%
- Likely: 56–70%
- Chances a little better [or less] than even: 46–55%
- Unlikely: 31–45%
- Highly unlikely: 16–30%
- Remote: 1–15%
[See also “Decision by sampling”, Stewart et al 2006; “Processing Linguistic Probabilities: General Principles and Empirical Evidence”, Budescu & Wallsten 1995.]
Inflation.hs: “InflationAdjuster”, (2019-03-27):
Experimental Pandoc module for implementing automatic inflation adjustment of nominal date-stamped dollar or Bitcoin amounts to provide real prices; Bitcoin’s exchange rate has moved by multiple orders of magnitude over its early years (rendering nominal amounts deeply unintuitive), and this is particularly critical in any economics or technology discussion where a nominal price from 1950 is 11× the 2019 real price!
Years/dates are specified in a variant of my interwiki link syntax; for example:
[₿0.5](₿2017-01-01), giving link adjustments which compile to something like like
<span class="inflationAdjusted" data-originalYear="2017-01-01" data-originalAmount="50.50" data-currentYear="2019" data-currentAmount="50,500">₿50.50<span class="math inline"><sub>2017</sub><sup>$50,500</sup></span></span>.
Dollar amounts use year, anduse full dates, as the greater temporal resolution is necessary. Inflation rates/exchange rates are specified as constants and need to be manually updated every once in a while; if out of date, the last available rate is carried forward for future adjustments.
“Beware Trivial Inconveniences”, (2009-05-06):
The Great Firewall of China. A massive system of centralized censorship purging the Chinese version of the Internet of all potentially subversive content. Generally agreed to be a great technical achievement and political success even by the vast majority of people who find it morally abhorrent. I spent a few days in China. I got around it at the Internet cafe by using a free online proxy. Actual Chinese people have dozens of ways of getting around it with a minimum of technical knowledge or just the ability to read some instructions.
The Chinese government isn’t losing any sleep over this (although they also don’t lose any sleep over murdering political dissidents, so maybe they’re just very sound sleepers). Their theory is that by making it a little inconvenient and time-consuming to view subversive sites, they will discourage casual exploration. No one will bother to circumvent it unless they already seriously distrust the Chinese government and are specifically looking for foreign websites, and these people probably know what the foreign websites are going to say anyway.
Think about this for a second. The human longing for freedom of information is a terrible and wonderful thing. It delineates a pivotal difference between mental emancipation and slavery. It has launched protests, rebellions, and revolutions. Thousands have devoted their lives to it, thousands of others have even died for it. And it can be stopped dead in its tracks by requiring people to search for “how to set up proxy” before viewing their anti-government website.
…But these trivial inconveniences have major policy implications. Countries like China that want to oppress their citizens are already using “soft” oppression to make it annoyingly difficult to access subversive information. But there are also benefits for governments that want to help their citizens.
“Wiktionary: et alii”, (2018-06-18):
Etymology: From Latin et (“and”) + alii (“others”)
Phrase: et alii
- And others; used of men or boys, or groups of mixed gender; masculine plural
Usage notes: In some academic contexts, it may be appropriate to use the specific Latin form that would be used in Latin text, selecting the appropriate grammatical case. The abbreviation “et al.” finesses the need for such fastidiousness.
popups.js”, (2019-08-21; ):
popups.jsparses a HTML document and looks for
<a>links which have the
docMetadataattribute class, and the attributes
data-popup-abstract. (These attributes are expected to be populated already by the HTML document’s compiler, however, they can also be done dynamically. See
wikipedia-popups.jsfor an example of a library which does Wikipedia-only dynamically on page loads.)
The ruby element allows one or more spans of phrasing content to be marked with ruby annotations. Ruby annotations are short runs of text presented alongside base text, primarily used in East Asian typography as a guide for pronunciation or to include other annotations. In Japanese, this form of typography is also known as furigana…The ruby and rt elements can be used for a variety of kinds of annotations, including in particular (though by no means limited to) those described below. For more details on Japanese Ruby in particular, and how to render Ruby for Japanese, see Requirements for Japanese Text Layout.
…Note: At the time of writing, CSS does not yet provide a way to fully control the rendering of the HTML ruby element. It is hoped that CSS will be extended to support the styles described below in due course.
Example: Mono-ruby for individual base characters in Japanese: One or more hiragana or katakana characters (the ruby annotation) are placed with each ideographic character (the base text). This is used to provide readings of kanji characters:
Reviving an old General Semantics proposal: borrowing from scientific notation and using subscripts like ‘Gwern2020’ for denoting sources (like citation, timing, or medium) might be a useful trick for clearer writing, compared to omitting such information or using standard cumbersome circumlocutions.