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Edward Tufte Appointed To Help Track and Explain Stimulus Funds

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the authoritative-bar-graphs dept.

Government 186

President Obama recently announced several appointments to the Recovery Independent Advisory Panel, including data visualization expert Edward Tufte, author of The Visual Display of Quantitative Information. The purpose of the panel is to advise the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, whose aim is "To promote accountability by coordinating and conducting oversight of Recovery funds to prevent fraud, waste, and abuse and to foster transparency on Recovery spending by providing the public with accurate, user-friendly information." Tufte said on his website, "I'm doing this because I like accountability and transparency, and I believe in public service. And it is the complete opposite of everything else I do. Maybe I'll learn something. The practical consequence is that I will probably go to Washington several days each month, in addition to whatever homework and phone meetings are necessary."

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186 comments

Blech. (3, Insightful)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#31400478)

"I'll show you politics in America. Here it is, right here. 'I think the puppet on the right shares my beliefs.' 'I think the puppet on the left is more to my liking.' 'Hey, wait a minute, there's one guy holding out both puppets!'" -Bill Hicks

Background anyone? (2, Insightful)

2.7182 (819680) | more than 4 years ago | (#31400586)

I know about this guys books, but I fail to see why he is going to be helpful.

Re:Background anyone? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31401100)

Because this is really, really complicated and he'll be able to put it into pictures you will be able to understand.

Re:Background anyone? (5, Insightful)

Mab_Mass (903149) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401240)

I know about this guys books, but I fail to see why he is going to be helpful.

Quite simply, he will be helpful because when he puts together a report, there will be one or two incredibly informative graphs that explain where the money went and how that money changed things.

By having this information in such a concise, digestible form, it will help bring transparency and accountability to the government.

One of the major issues we're having in the U.S. is that one side is saying one thing and claiming absolutely that they are right while the other side is making contradictory claims just a vocally. Getting some real, solid, hard numbers and easily understand representations of these numbers will make these kinds of useless back and forth arguments less possible.

At least that's the theory. We'll see if he can make any difference in practice.

Re:Background anyone? (1, Troll)

SnarfQuest (469614) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401664)

Quite simply, he will be helpful because when he puts together a report, there will be one or two incredibly informative graphs that explain where the money went and how that money changed things.

What color is he going to use for "stuffed in underpants", which is the method Clinton's groupies used to spirit away a lot of stuff. I think brown would be a good color.

Re:Background anyone? (1, Funny)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401668)

Quite simply, he will be helpful because when he puts together a report, there will be one or two incredibly informative graphs that explain where the money went and how that money changed things.

Heck, I could paste a picture of a black hole and a type a 200 point "0" onto a Powerpoint slide as well as this guy, and I'd charge a lot less.

By having this information in such a concise, digestible form, it will help bring transparency and accountability to the government.

Yeah, sure it will, kiddo. Sure it will.

Re:Background anyone? (3, Interesting)

gibson123 (1740752) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401792)

Tufte is amazing. I expect he'll be able to convey in an easy to understand display what is happening w/ our recovery effort. If your a bit skeptical of him, you've got to read his books

Re:Background anyone? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31401806)

He could create the most stunning and useful presentation of garbage possible and it would still be garbage. The problem does not lie in the visualization, it lies in the abysmal data quality. When people don't understand what they're reporting and when they can't even filter for non-existent congressional districts, no amount of visualization assistance is going to help.

Re:Background anyone? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31401866)

Your assuming they'll give him real data and not just the same bullshit they feed the US public?

Re:Background anyone? (3, Insightful)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 4 years ago | (#31402118)

At least that's the theory. We'll see if he can make any difference in practice.

In practice, political operatives will maneuver behind the scenes to ensure that whatever information the commission receives is carefully selected, filtered and sanitized so that the "right" conclusions are reached. The stakes are so high in this case that it is incredibly naïve to think that there won't be skullduggery.

The whole world loves us now! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31400818)

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/barackobama/7396358/The-end-of-the-road-for-Barack-Obama.html [telegraph.co.uk]

My favorite line from the article:

"Mr Obama benefited in his campaign from an idiotic level of idolatry, in which most of the media participated with an astonishing suspension of cynicism."

Sounds like what I was saying in early 2007, but no one wanted to listen. Now a foreign observer, much more impartial than our own media, is saying exactly the same thing. Gee, I thought Obama was going to usher in a new era of global peace and prosperity. What happened? I would venture to guess that it has something to do with the fact that he has never run even so much as a convenience store, and now his naivete and inexperience are catching up to his vacuous rhetoric.

Re:The whole world loves us now! (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31400906)

Rush Limbaugh was saying that long before 2007. And everyone knows Rush is always wrong. So, that guy from the UK is full of it too. Mr Obama is Mr perfect!

Re:The whole world loves us now! (2, Interesting)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#31400910)

Sounds like what I was saying in early 2007, but no one wanted to listen. Now a foreign observer, much more impartial than our own media, is saying exactly the same thing. Gee, I thought Obama was going to usher in a new era of global peace and prosperity. What happened? I would venture to guess that it has something to do with the fact that he has never run even so much as a convenience store, and now his naivete and inexperience are catching up to his vacuous rhetoric.

In Obama's defense, none of the other options were any better. McCain bends to the will of his party far too easily (we already had one puppet president for 8 years with GWB, we certainly didn't need 4 more with McCain), Ron Paul (like many third party candidates) is convinced that only his way is the right way, and everyone else was too polarizing.

Unfortunately, the extremes of the parties are the ones in control...this makes electing someone truly worthy of being president nearly impossible. You can't get anywhere in politics unless you give up your values, and once you give up your values you become worthless as a leader.

Re:The whole world loves us now! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31401048)

All good points, which could be addressed if only the American media would return to their role of impartial observer and watchdog, and not suspend disbelief for candidates who they favor.

Re:The whole world loves us now! (3, Insightful)

Dishevel (1105119) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401504)

It's hard to be impartial with shivers running up your leg.

Re:The whole world loves us now! (4, Insightful)

DigiShaman (671371) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401084)

Not surprised.

The Republican party lost it's spine a long time ago and have splintered into many factions. Effectively, the party was dead even before the 2000 elections and since then has been without leadership.

The Democratic party however, has been very unified but has been rotting from the core since the days of JFK. Now, it too is crumbling apart with rampant thuggery and corruption.

I think we all know how the November elections will turn out. However, there is no way in hell we can foresee who the next president will be. Our political system as we know it, is fucked. I reckon this is a good thing. Perhaps now we can get people more involved with how politics happen in DC and start voting based on someones voting record, and not based purely on party. At least, I hope so.

Re:The whole world loves us now! (3, Interesting)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401160)

I think we all know how the November elections will turn out. However, there is no way in hell we can foresee who the next president will be. Our political system as we know it, is fucked. I reckon this is a good thing. Perhaps now we can get people more involved with how politics happen in DC and start voting based on someones voting record, and not based purely on party. At least, I hope so.

This isn't an ageism thing, but I honestly feel that anyone in the house or senate over the age of 45 should not be allowed to be reelected, at least not for the next few cycles. Part of the problem is that so many people running this country are stuck in the past without an eye for the future. This worked fine in the 80's and 90's, but nowadays that just doesn't cut it.

Term limits in general would be a great thing...

Re:The whole world loves us now! (3, Insightful)

operagost (62405) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401254)

You have to be 35 to serve, so that leaves a rather narrow window.

Re:The whole world loves us now! (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401336)

Sorry, I should have been more specific...if over the age of 45 you wouldn't be able to be reelected for the next few cycles...but if you have never served and are over the age of 45 you can still run for election into the senate or the house.

I just meant getting the old-timey regulars outta there, not preventing old-timers in general from getting a seat.

Re:The whole world loves us now! (1)

fprintf (82740) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401996)

As long as this happens to everyone at the same time, cool. Unfortunately the way it works now is that you need a "senior" representative in Washington to ensure your cut of the pork pie. We are losing Senator Dodd this year, and no one wants to work with Lieberman anymore anyway, so instead of sending lots of funds to Washington and getting only a portion back, we'll likely get even less of the pie until our congressmen rise through the ranks again. For all the complaining we do about our senior congressmen, if they are successful at getting some or all of our money back, then they are doing what we need them to do.

Re:The whole world loves us now! (1)

Shotgun (30919) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401598)

That would be great. Then we could recycle all the failed policies that we've already slogged through.

Re:The whole world loves us now! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31402162)

This isn't an ageism thing, but I honestly feel that anyone in the house or senate over the age of 45 should not be allowed to be reelected, at least not for the next few cycles. Part of the problem is that so many people running this country are stuck in the past without an eye for the future. This worked fine in the 80's and 90's, but nowadays that just doesn't cut it.

Term limits in general would be a great thing...

Okayyyyyyy......... You obviously don't live in California. Living here would show you what term limits do to government. Under term limits the political process here has become completely partisan with no desire to work with the other side on anything at all and no compromise at all. Why? Because the politician is in office here for such a short amount of time that they 1)Do not have any time to develop any relationships to anybody other than there partisan base and 2) They don't have to worry about the policies/laws they pass, they're not going to be around to face the repercussions of their actions.

And your "example" of the 80's and 90's bears this out. Under Pete Wilson, California had a budget deficit that was quite severe. He got together with both parties and they dealt with it very easily. Some things got cut, some taxes got raised. Neither side got all of what it wanted, but all got something. All in all, good politics. Compare that to the current situation where California has the budget deficit. Both parties don't want to budge one bit on anything. Why? 1) they don't have any political capital, since that is gotten with age and time in office (thank term limits for that) and 2) They are a bunch of newbies (since we have term limits) who don't have any experience with compromising. Basically, they'll let the state suffer while they argue and 3) We don't have any "old hands" who have seen this before and know how we got out of it the last time.

In short, there are some advantages to having "career politicians" that are not obvious. Every job needs experienced people in it and politics is no different. You may dislike some of aspects of that (i.e. people stuck in the past) but I can assure you that I'd prefer that to the non-experienced people we have running this state right now.

Re:The whole world loves us now! (2, Insightful)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 4 years ago | (#31402116)

Step one for the GOP is to toss out the evangelicals. Even Nixon warned about mixing politcis and religion. When freaking *Nixon* finds your plans lacking, you might want to run a reassessment. Most who have analyzed the situation feel they'd gain far more than they lost.

Our political system as we know it, is fucked.

It acts, in combination with the media, to filter out anyone but complete sociopaths. You have to be utterly without care about other people- what they think of you, how your decisions affect their daily lives, etc.- to run for office these days.

I reckon this is a good thing.

...whut?

Perhaps now we can get people more involved with how politics happen in DC and start voting based on someones voting record, and not based purely on party.

Bah ha ha! Yeah, good luck with that. Wasn't Obama supposed to be morning in America again? How's that working out?

At least, I hope so.

Hope is not a strategy.

Wait, got another pithy one: hope in one hand and crap in the other and see which hand fills up first.

OK, now you can admonish me about how my hateful cynicism will never solve anything and perhaps something vaguely erudite on self fulfilling prophecies.

Re:The whole world loves us now! (0, Troll)

tsalmark (1265778) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401804)

Erm, Simon Heffer is a conservative mouthpiece not a beacon of public opinion.

Re:Blech. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31401472)

Basically? Fuck you. Lame cynicism is fine for wannabe goths in their black paint coated crypt/bedroom in their parent's basement. But, here we have evidence of bringing in one of the finest minds in data visualization to open up the complicated workings of government. This is a good thing.

It's makes sense that you got first post (you obviously have a lot of time on your hands) but it's really sad that your throw-away cynicism was confused with insight by your fellow high-school students.

Re:Blech. (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401624)

Basically? Fuck you. Lame cynicism is fine for wannabe goths in their black paint coated crypt/bedroom in their parent's basement. But, here we have evidence of bringing in one of the finest minds in data visualization to open up the complicated workings of government. This is a good thing.

And where did I say it was a bad thing?

It's makes sense that you got first post (you obviously have a lot of time on your hands)

Early Monday morning, before I get any requests in for something that needs fixing (I'm a mail merge programmer)? You're right, I do have some time on my hands.

but it's really sad that your throw-away cynicism was confused with insight by your fellow high-school students.

I appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule to attack me personally, yet do nothing to respond to the quote I referenced.

Interesting... just like a modern politician...which, funny enough, falls under the quote in my OP.

Re:Blech. (5, Insightful)

anaesthetica (596507) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401934)

"Now, there's one thing you might have noticed I don't complain about: politicians. Everybody complains about politicians. Everybody says they suck. Well, where do people think these politicians come from? They don't fall out of the sky. They don't pass through a membrane from another reality.

"They come from American parents and American families, American homes, American schools, American churches, American businesses and American universities, and they are elected by American citizens.

"This is the best we can do folks. This is what we have to offer. It's what our system produces: Garbage in, garbage out.

"If you have selfish, ignorant citizens, you're going to get selfish, ignorant leaders. Term limits ain't going to do any good; you're just going to end up with a brand new bunch of selfish, ignorant Americans. So, maybe, maybe, maybe, it's not the politicians who suck. Maybe something else sucks around here... like, the public. Yeah, the public sucks. There's a nice campaign slogan for somebody: 'The Public Sucks. Fuck Hope.'" —George Carlin

link [youtube.com]

You need to analyze both sides of the data (-1, Offtopic)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#31400500)

First, you must establish the mean and median values before presenting anything useful.
B====D

But, sometimes when I think of how much the government is spending I feel like this:
B=D

Then I see how much direct and indirect benefit we gain. This encompasses both the stability of the banking industry as well as the day-to-day unemployment numbers.
B========D

But what is really important is that we get universal healthcare coverage.
B========D~~~~~

BD

Academics (3, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#31400504)

Just another feel good appointment of an academic to a position where they can't really do anything. Meanwhile Obama staffs his cabinet with wall street insiders. If Obama really wants transparency and accountability, he should fire Geithner and replace him with Elizabeth Warren. But no, he won't do that.

Re:Academics (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31400566)

It's also inexcusable that billions upon billions of dollars were given out without anything in place to track where that money was ending up. It's only after the fact that they consider such accounting?

A mere $10,000 student loan has greater financial controls in place than the stimulus funding.

Re:Academics (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31401320)

You're confusing TARP and the Stimulus.

Re:Academics (4, Interesting)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#31400678)

he should fire Geithner and replace him with Elizabeth Warren. But no, he won't do that.

Warren? Well, anyone would be an improvement. Wouldn't Ron Paul be better? As treasury secretary, his peculiar opinions about abortion would be about as important as Tom Cruise's insights about foreign policy, i.e. quaintly irrelevant to the task at hand. Would be a nice last job for a smart old man (I mean RP not Cruise)

Re:Academics (5, Insightful)

ottothecow (600101) | more than 4 years ago | (#31400968)

Right, because the best choice would be someone who seriously believes that replacing our arbitrarily valued currency with vaults full of arbitrarily valued metal will fix everything wrong with our economy.

Re:Academics (5, Insightful)

ArsonSmith (13997) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401096)

I don't think he ever once said it would fix everything. It would seriously help though to have it based on something that the supply isn't as easily gained as hitting a print button.

Re:Academics (3, Informative)

jfengel (409917) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401968)

I don't think Ron Paul expects to end paper currency. Nor does he think that's the problem. He knows that only a tiny fraction of the money will ever be in the form of paper.

The problem, he believes, is that the currency is ultimately backed by nothing more than a government's promise to limit its availability. Printing the actual paper bills is chump change. Inventing more money is even easier than that: they just enter a number in a computer.

It's not the computers themselves he sees as the problem, but rather that the accounting rules make the total arbitrary under certain circumstances. He wants to make that impossible by fixing it to a quantity which is relatively fixed: a rare metal.

Unfortunately, that doesn't really solve the problem. For one thing, as long as there is paper currency, checks, and bank payments, rather than actual bits of gold, there's no way to enforce it. The government can set the exchange rate any way it likes. You can limit that by law, but then, you could do the same for the numbers entered into the computers.

And truly fixing the value of the currency slows the economy drastically. Fractional-reserve banking puts more money in circulation than there is backing for, but as long as that money is invested in things that turn a profit (in sum), it gets paid back and you have real economic improvements to show for it. Without it, those improvements happen far more slowly, and other countries out-compete us.

It leads to booms and busts, but those happen anyway. We saw that even when we were on a gold standard. We were on the gold standard going into the Great Depression. Breaking off the gold standard allows the big banks the flexibility to try to solve such crises, using the tools I just mentioned: fractional-reserve banking multiplying money until the crisis of confidence ends and productivity returns to pre-bust levels.

And what institution managed that? The Federal Reserve, another institution Paul despises. Paul is not a stupid man, but if he imagines that the economy was free of the boom-bust cycle before the invention of the Federal Reserve, he's simply missing history.

We may need a new solution, but the old solutions have already been disproven. That's why the Fed was created in the first place.

Re:Academics (2, Interesting)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401300)

Because requiring some discipline on spending by not allowing the printing of arbitrary amounts of money would be such a bad thing...

And of course that isn't the only thing he has suggested and certainly wasn't proclaimed as an instant fix

Finally, the "arbitrary value" of the metal is completely irrelevant. It doesn't have to be worth anything - it just has to of limited supply. Clearly people don't care if there's nothing backing their currency so the value part is irrelevant. All that matters is the "can't print at will" part.

Re:Academics (1)

Dishevel (1105119) | more than 4 years ago | (#31402100)

The value of Gold (Being a rare and very useful element) is not arbitrary.

Making the rest of your statement pointless.

Re:Academics (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401370)

I think someone in favor of more regulation and not less would be best for the job.

Re:Academics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31400712)

Wall street has the country by the gonads, If you are not wall street friendly you are in deep s**t.

I believe that is a fact.

Re:Academics (1)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#31400824)

Just another feel good appointment of an academic to a position where they can't really do anything.

Bruce Schneier newly appointed as Secretary of the US department of Homeland (in)Security? That would be change I could believe in. Maybe in the second term, if he somehow gets 51% of the votes.

Re:Academics (5, Interesting)

raju1kabir (251972) | more than 4 years ago | (#31400836)

Just another feel good appointment of an academic to a position where they can't really do anything.

I took a grad school seminar with him at Yale. The man is loopy, but he has a truly powerful brain. He comes up with ways of looking at problems that are like time bombs. First you think he's a crackpot - how could anyone propose something so ridiculous? Then a few days later, it's been stewing in the back of your head, and your mindly slowly blows as you realise just how much cleverer it is than anything you've heard before. Simply putting him near anything involving information is almost guaranteed to make it better somehow.

Re:Academics (3, Interesting)

hazem (472289) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401294)

Just another feel good appointment of an academic to a position where they can't really do anything

Yeah, I just don't see what good it would be to have someone who's known for being able to deal with large amounts of complex information and present it in easy-to-understand ways... especially an academic. I mean, just look at what horrible failure it was to have that academic Richard Feynman on the committee studying the Challenger explosion. Those ivory tower types just have no grasp on how things really work.

So, clearly you don't like Obama or Tufte... who do YOU recommend be put on this committee? And if you don't think the committee should exist, what do you suggest for better tracking and visibility of the stimulus funds?

Re:Academics (2, Interesting)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401708)

Oh you misunderstand me. I wish more (many more) academics were appointed to positions of power. I just don't think this is a position of power. You can say that you're for openness, transparency, etc. and get the political benefits without really changing anything by appointing these guys to commissions that have no real power.

Look at what Elizabeth Warren has been doing. She has been blowing the whistle constantly for the past couple years. She's been entirely ignored. What reason do i have to believe that Tufte won't be completely ignored too?

Re:Academics (1)

geemon (513231) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401818)

Oh, the humor of this comment - yes, lets appoint Elizabeth Warren - you know, the Harvard law professor and noted academic. While Liz Warren has some great ideas, most professors (and particularly law professors) will tell you that it is not a good policy to appoint fellow academics to policy-making roles.

Re:Academics (1)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401960)

The modesty of academics aside, it's an even worse idea to appoint industry insiders to such a role. The fox guarding the hen house and all.

The right guy for the wrong job? (2, Insightful)

KnownIssues (1612961) | more than 4 years ago | (#31400514)

Seriously though, I'm an Edward Tufte fun myself, but his statement, "And it is the complete opposite of everything else I do," is kind of funny. I know he didn't mean it literally. "Yeah my car's not working, so I hired a painter to fix it."

With 80% of green energy stimulus going overseas (0, Troll)

Kalendraf (830012) | more than 4 years ago | (#31400534)

will that count as fraud, waste, or just business-as-usual?

(for more info see http://investigativereportingworkshop.org/investigations/wind-energy-funds-going-overseas/ [investigat...rkshop.org] )

Re:With 80% of green energy stimulus going oversea (1)

polar red (215081) | more than 4 years ago | (#31400830)

US windturbine firms are just late to the party, and they'll catch up.
even so : the grants go back into the US economy, largely because transporting turbine parts is a [VERY] large part of the cost of a turbine, so producing them locally is important.

surprising that Google and or MSFT (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31400542)

hasn't snapped up Tufte as a "Fellow" with an $$ offer he can't refuse. The namedropping PR benefit alone would pay for it, as far as the companies are concerned.

tufte has it easy (3, Interesting)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#31400556)

just take one of the most famous graphs from his book, and reproduce it:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Featured_picture_candidates/Napoleon's_Invasion_of_Russia [wikipedia.org]

relabel the advancing french soldiers "good intentions for accountable government"

relabel the retreating french soldiers "obfuscation by entrenched special interests"

job done

Re:tufte has it easy (0, Troll)

vlm (69642) | more than 4 years ago | (#31400740)

just take one of the most famous graphs from his book, and reproduce it:

relabel the ....

That's not scary. Try retitling it from "Napoleons invasion of Russia" to "Bushes invasion of Iraq". That sounds possible enough to be terrifying.

Re:tufte has it easy (1)

ianare (1132971) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401470)

Not even close. Did you read the graph ? The US has never suffered these kinds of losses, in any war (by proportion of the size of its army). It IS similar to Hitler's failed attempt though, both in terms of losses, strategy, and consequences for the would-be invader : complete defeat some years later.

Re:tufte has it easy (3, Funny)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401828)

That's not scary. Try retitling it from "Napoleons invasion of Russia" to "Bushes invasion of Iraq". That sounds possible enough to be terrifying.

Well, yeah, if you take a person and surgically remove all their knowledge of history, awareness of current events and their critical thinking center, I can see how that person might confuse the two events. Or just drop them on their head a bunch of times. That'd work, too.

Re:tufte has it easy (1)

rangek (16645) | more than 4 years ago | (#31400864)

just take one of the most famous graphs from his book, and reproduce it:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Featured_picture_candidates/Napoleon's_Invasion_of_Russia [wikipedia.org]

relabel the advancing french soldiers "good intentions for accountable government"

relabel the retreating french soldiers "obfuscation by entrenched special interests"

job done

Brilliant

You know that graph is over 100 years old, right? (2, Informative)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401172)

Tufte may have used that graph, but Charles Joseph Minard [wikipedia.org] made it, way back in 1869. Minard was an early pioneer in data visualization, and Tufte says that particular graph "may well be the best statistical graphic ever drawn."

didja follow the link in my comment? (0, Offtopic)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401268)

jackass

Re:didja follow the link in my comment? (0, Offtopic)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401606)

Pft, you didn't make it clear in your comment that the graph was not by Tufte. Anyone following the link will see that it's by Minard, but this is Slashdot. "Following the link," "reading the story" and even "reading the summary" are not common practices here.

my link reproduces exactly what you say (0, Offtopic)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401698)

in your comment, complete with the comment by tufte about menard's graph verbatim

the old joke about no one on slashdot following the link is not some sort of technical specification that must be understood and adhered to, its a mea culpa that slashdot readers, like you, suck

but, gee, thanks for reducing the comment thread to an inept braindead echo chamber

Re:my link reproduces exactly what you say (0, Offtopic)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401918)

Get off your fucking high horse you anti social misfit. If I want to be pedantic I'm going to be pedantic and whiny little bitches like you sure aren't going to stop me.

"My link reproduces..." yeah, yeah, whatever. Put it in the comment. Woulda taken you five extra seconds to write "Just take one of the most famous graphs, by Charles Minard..."

But the real issue here is that your attempt at cleverness falls totally fucking flat. You do realize that in that graph, time reverses for the lower line, right? Time goes right to left for the retreat, dumbass. Meaning, 'obfuscation by entrenched special interests' is going DOWN over time, is that what you are trying to say? Idiot.

God damn you are clueless. Every time you get it in your head to fuck with me, I make you look like an idiot. Why do you continue to insist on playing that game, when you know you will lose, every single time.

could you do me a favor? (0, Offtopic)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 4 years ago | (#31402012)

currently you have me listed as a friend

could you update that and remove that status?

thanks

xoxoxoxoxoxoxox

Re:could you do me a favor? (0, Offtopic)

spun (1352) | more than 4 years ago | (#31402136)

You could just mark me as a foe. But I do actually like you when you aren't being whiny. Grow a thicker skin, man, this is the Internet.

Mercy me... (4, Interesting)

MaggieL (10193) | more than 4 years ago | (#31400600)

This should be - v e r y - interesting indeed.

I have enormous respect for Tufte and his integrity. I can;t wait to see what happens.

Remember, this is the guy who put Stalin on the cover of his pamphlet on "The Cognitive Style Of Powerpoint" [edwardtufte.com]

I'm reminded of Feynman on the Columbia commission.

Re:Mercy me... (2, Insightful)

BadAnalogyGuy (945258) | more than 4 years ago | (#31400644)

I'm reminded of Feynman on the Columbia commission.

Always assume Isaac Newton-level political ability until proven otherwise.

Re:Mercy me... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31400884)

>

Always assume Isaac Newton-level political ability until proven otherwise.

We should all be so lucky. Isaac Newton eliminated coin clipping.

Mercy on him. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31400662)

Yeah scared for him. After he shows how much of the funds have ended up in the Democratic Party and its affiliates coffers(ACORN, etc.) some heavy from Chicago will plant him next to Jimmy Hoffa.

Re:Mercy on him. (0, Troll)

moosesocks (264553) | more than 4 years ago | (#31400776)

What's the big stink about ACORN anyhow? Are conservatives genuinely outraged that two people in an organization of over 400,000 members know what money laundering is?

As far as I see it, Democrats are peeved that Obama's been spending a lot of time and resources to appease conservatives and moderate democrats (he has), which has come directly at the expense of the democratic "base" (much tougher to prove). I honestly can't think of another president in recent history who has given so many concessions to the minority party and his political opponents.

Appointing a respected statistician like Tufte is a great strategy, and sends the message that "I have nothing to hide." I'd love to see Nate Silver [fivethirtyeight.com] directly involved with the administration as well...

Re:Mercy on him. (1)

timeOday (582209) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401080)

I honestly can't think of another president in recent history who has given so many concessions to the minority party and his political opponents.

He's playing right into their strategy - demand compromise, bring everything to a halt and complain about being shut out, then label Obama as weak and ineffectual.

Re:Mercy on him. (2, Insightful)

kenh (9056) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401704)

What's the big stink about ACORN anyhow?

It's not the incompetent job they did registering voters,,, (Note, incompetent does not mean "criminal")
It's not the money laundering charges... (Although they probably had a legal obligation to report someone planning to commit a crime, BIANAL)

What it is, is their financial structure, they way the bring in money from the federal government to, say, help lower-income folks secure affordable housing, but the federal funds wind up disappearing into the corporate structure and funding other activities (AIG executive homes bus tours in CT, paying for campaign activities, etc.).

The kids dressed up as pimps and ho's were simply the final straw that put ACORN on the radar of the mainstream media...

Re:Mercy me... (1)

the_other_chewey (1119125) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401152)

I'm reminded of Feynman on the Columbia commission.

Challenger. By the time Columbia went down (for - amongst other - similar reasons than Challenger),
Richard Feynman wasn't around anymore to see how little impact his statements had on NASA.

Re:Mercy me... (2, Funny)

Xtravar (725372) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401224)

He's a socialist! He worships Stalin! Obama is ruining the United States once again! </FoxNews>

No mercy! (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401590)

This should be - v e r y - interesting indeed. [snicker snack] Remember, this is the guy who put Stalin on the cover of his pamphlet

Wow. Is that what teh kids consider - e d g y - these days?

Its mis-named so it will feel better. (4, Funny)

Stumbles (602007) | more than 4 years ago | (#31400702)

It should be called the Recovery Advisory Panel Enhancement

Tufte scandal (4, Interesting)

Jodka (520060) | more than 4 years ago | (#31400746)

I own his books and recommend them but it seems Tufte is difficult to deal with in person. He charged credit cards for pre-orders before shipping his not-yet-published book and then called someone who politely objected to that a "whiny sanctimonious asshole."

See Flip Philips' blog entry about the scandal here [skidmore.edu]

Re:Tufte scandal (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31401068)

I own his books and recommend them but it seems Tufte is difficult to deal with in person. He charged credit cards for pre-orders before shipping his not-yet-published book and then called someone who politely objected to that a "whiny sanctimonious asshole."

See Flip Philips' blog entry about the scandal here [skidmore.edu]

I can look past that "scandal" if he is going to use that same don't-mess-with-me attitude with our President.
Don't get me wrong - shame on him for being a jerk because someone called him out when he was being stupid.

Re:Tufte scandal (4, Insightful)

Abcd1234 (188840) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401176)

Err... so? He could be the biggest asshole in the world for all I care, so long as he does a good job and injects some accountability and transparency into the process.

Re:Tufte scandal (2, Insightful)

SharpFang (651121) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401456)

I'm betting him being a big asshole is essential to the success of the project. Because things he's going to reveal are not nice at all, and a nice guy might try to obscure, whitewash and soften them. Only a real asshole will show them in all drastic gory glory they deserve...

Re:Tufte scandal (3, Insightful)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401562)

An asshole also might try to cover things up. That's the problem with assholes... you just never know.

GIGO (1)

DerekLyons (302214) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401840)

so long as he does a good job and injects some accountability and transparency into the process.

Tufte isn't being hired to inject accountability and transparency into the process, he's being hired because he's somewhat of a media darling. All he can do is produce very pretty guaranteed-to-be-popular (among certain demographics) visual representation of whatever data he is given. If the data is garbage, then his graphs will be pretty, clear, and convey the data in an understandable fashion but will be utterly irrelevant.
 
It's not really clear to me what Tufte is supposed to be accomplishing here. Pretty graphs are pretty graphs, but the real truth is in the numbers and analysis, and Tufte isn't a numbers and analysis guy. Also, Tufte's best work appears to be in 'forensic graphology' - taking a graph and comparing it post facto to the data, the complete opposite of what he's going to be doing here.

Re:Tufte scandal (1)

kenh (9056) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401764)

scandal

Really, a scandal? From your description it could just as easily be that Flip Philips acted like a "whiny sanctimonious asshole" on the phone when asking about charging his CC before shipping the book. I wonder if Flip made a point of reporting on this grave injustice since using Tufte's name would likely drive traffic from google and other search engines to his little blog at Skidmore...

Re:Tufte scandal (1)

kungfugleek (1314949) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401872)

Whether it makes him a jerk or not, it does reveal that he likes getting his money as soon as possible, even before the book was ready to ship. That's not a trait I like to see in someone in his position.

what a joke (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31400770)

what a joke. this entire administration has turned into a global laughing stock.

Re:what a joke (1)

jdossey (172868) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401074)

what a joke. this entire administration has turned into a global laughing stock.

They always were a joke. They just hid the fact better than some others.

So, no Power Point presentation? (4, Funny)

Big_Monkey_Bird (620459) | more than 4 years ago | (#31400802)

So, no Power Point presentation?

Re:So, no Power Point presentation? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31401448)

I wish I had mod points for this one.

Stimulus is a dead issue. (3, Interesting)

tjstork (137384) | more than 4 years ago | (#31400816)

The stimulus is a dead issue. GOP won the round. Considering Bush essentially ran .5 stimuluses a year in deficits for 6 years and then capped it off with a stimuluses worth of bailouts for banks, its rather remarkable that the GOP could do so, but they did.

Trying to keep refighting the stimulus battle is just bad politics...

Obama ought to be a good enough fighter to know that and move on. His best hope for 2010 is to get the troops out of Iraq and declare an epic victory, then use the mantle of victory to take his case before the people.

At least we know... (2, Funny)

brennz (715237) | more than 4 years ago | (#31400820)

Whatever they produce will contain pretty graphs.

Re:At least we know... (3, Informative)

localman57 (1340533) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401660)

No, it won't. Tufte's whole point is that the focus should be on the data, and that anything that doesn't contribute to understanding ("chart junk") should be dropped. It may well contain elegant graphs, though. The other thing you can count on is that Tufte won't let them pull dirty tricks, such as using log scales, charts with a y axis other than 0, non-propotional areas, etc.

I'd reccomend both his books and his seminar to anyone, by the way. You'll never look at another graph or powerpoint wihtout critiqeing it.

Uhhh... (1)

Cornwallis (1188489) | more than 4 years ago | (#31400908)

Didn't this horse already leave the barn?

Dumb question (5, Interesting)

IWantMoreSpamPlease (571972) | more than 4 years ago | (#31400922)

Shouldn't this post have been created first, *before* the gov't let loose billions of our taxpayer dollars, seems once in the wild, tracking that cash is going to be difficult.

Re:Dumb question (2, Insightful)

Sockatume (732728) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401306)

If only we could radio-label bailout cash. It would assist in tracking, and act as a self-interest disincentive for it to be stockpiled in executive bonuses.

Re:Dumb question (2, Informative)

ianare (1132971) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401524)

It was the previous administration that started giving out the money. Since they had nothing but contempt for any kind of tracking or accountability (see : e-mail fiasco), there's no surprise there.

Re:Dumb question (1)

goldspider (445116) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401616)

"Shouldn't this post have been created first, *before* the gov't let loose billions of our taxpayer dollars, seems once in the wild, tracking that cash is going to be difficult."

That would imply the stimulus wasn't *designed* to work like a giant slush fund.

Re:Dumb question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31402074)

In other words, "post first?!"

RAPE, er.... RAIP (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31400972)

Seriously, RAIP? They could have at pretended they weren't raping us by coming up with a more disguised name.

tda3o (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31400978)

Efficiency (2, Informative)

Pete Venkman (1659965) | more than 4 years ago | (#31400984)

Wouldn't it be more efficient to keep up with where the money goes AS IT GOES OUT THE DOOR? The way this panel is doing it now is just a waste of even more resources, and it provides a little time for the recipients to come up with some more BS to explain why all their execs needed multi-million dollar bonuses for running their companies into the ground.

You have to be kidding. Really?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31401122)

This is the classic case of a fox guarding the chicken coop.

Not for long! (2, Insightful)

dazedNconfuzed (154242) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401286)

Yes, I trust Tufte will do an admirable job of rendering such information clear and concise. The truth will be unassailable.

At which point the Obama will realize that the waste and futility of the "stimulus package[s]" will be crystal-clear to voters, the graphs & explanations will be suppressed, and Tufte quietly shown the door.

Wrong guy for the job. Tufte and Chicago-way politics is like oil and water.

This is easy (1)

TheUglyAmerican (767829) | more than 4 years ago | (#31401558)

The whole lot of it is fraud and waste perpetrated by politicians on the tax paying public. My bill is in the mail.
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