Matt Nolan had a really good go at The Spirit Level last month. Very long, very thorough. Quote unquote:
it is thoughtless “silver bullet” posturing dressed up as analysis.And here he is today on Fonterra’s milk-powder problem.
StatsChat on the margin of error. Quote unquote:
So, if you don’t have hot and cold running statisticians at your newspaper, how can you check this sort of thing? There’s a simple trick for the margin of error for a count of things on a hand calculator: take the square root, add and subtract 1 to get upper and lower limits, then square them again. Conveniently, in this case, 441 is exactly 21 squared, so an uncertainty interval around the 441 value would go from 20 squared (400) to 22 squared (484).That is fantastically useful, but the innumerate arts graduates who run NZ journalism will take no notice.
Susan Hill on how to write characters in crime fiction. It’s good advice for any genre. Quote unquote:
One of the most useful things a writer can do is sit about in coffee shops and pubs, alone, with a newspaper as cover. If you have a good ear and a talent for remembering what you see and hear accurately, just sit, look and listen, or take a notebook and pen. Stay an hour and keep your ears pinned back. How people talk, and what about, is not only fascinating and often either hilarious (or very sad), it is a good guide to what they are like.
Train yourself this way and then, when your "ear" is in, make up your own conversations. I do it in my head, but of course you can write them down. Then go to another cafe and listen again. (You’ll drink an awful lot of coffee.)