BONUS UPDATE: The statistician Jan de Leeuw, dwindling in old age into philosopher of science.

Follow up to: this comment and to a lesser extent this post.

You’ve probably read Steven Pinker or someone else write about how everyone should learn statistics in school rather than trigonometry (grr, I’m still mad at those transcendental functions). I nodded along, but the fact is I’ve never taken any myself. I took probability in college, but that’s not quite the same thing. Fortunately, there is an online introductory statistics textbook which can be found, appropriate enough at OnlineStatBook.com. From what I checked out, it seems like it would be fine for middle-schoolers without any knowledge of statistics. It has nice simulations and exercises/quizzes that have an explanation available whenever you give a wrong answer. The one failing on their part is that those explanations pop up in windows that cut off the upper portion of the explanation, so you have to copy-paste the off-screen text if you want to read it. This happens in both Firefox and Internet Explorer and resizing does not help. If you want another option, there’s SticiGui, the online text for the first and last statistics class most students at Berkely take. Internet Explorer does not apparently work reliably for it.

In completely unrelated matters, it recently occurred to me to combine something like the Atkins diet with alcohol. This was partially inspired by Agnostics post extolling the virtues of high-fat low-carb diets. Apparently that was just the beginning for him, you can find his later carb posts here. It got me to thinking that my diet has long been carb heavy and perhaps I should make some changes (along with eating vegetables, exercising and getting enough sleep blahblahblah). I’m not interested in losing weight, in fact I could use some more insulation, so I thought some more fat, grease or oil couldn’t hurt. Lactose and peanuts aren’t my friends, so that limits things a bit. Agnostic is lactose-intolerant as well (in addition to being gluten intolerant, perhaps reflecting or causing his non-docile nature), so I appreciate his tips. At any rate, despite what you may have heard in Seinfeld, chicken (unfortunately) does not ferment. Fermentation comes from carb-rich sources (wheat, rice, potatoes, grapes, apples, molasses) and it is precisely the sugar content that motivates the addition of hops to beer. So I would expect alcoholic beverages to have lots of carbs. Judging from chemistry, an alcohol is distinct from a ketone or aldehyde (two types of carbs) so there shouldn’t be anything inherently incompatible with high alcohol and low carb content. The highest alcohol concentrations are found among the distilled beverages, but if you’re an out of practice drinker those aren’t especially pleasant straight. Solution: combine a non-alcoholic high-fat low-carb drink with a more concentrated alcoholic drink to have the same alcohol content per volume as beer but with less carbs and hopefully without a telltale “healthy” taste. I recall the necessity of downing irish carbombs quickly before the Baileys curdles, so perhaps dairy-products aren’t the best bet there. There’s already baconified bourbon, so I don’t think it’s a completely crazy idea. I still need to think of some names for it better than Protein Poteen or Lipid Lunch.

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