Wednesday, July 19, 2006

I am Just a Number to You: One of 73,951

Hispanic Diversity Glance
By The Associated Press
Sat Jul 15, 12:30 PM ET

Hispanics from Puerto Rico and Cuba have had much different immigration experiences than have Latinos from other countries. Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens and most Cubans are allowed to stay in the United States if they make it to U.S. shores. The number of Hispanics who listed each ethnicity on the 2000 census:

Country No. Pct
Mexican: 20,900,102; 59.3
General Hispanic: 5,540,627; 15.7
Puerto Rican: 3,403,510; 9.7
Cuban: 1,249,820; 3.5
Dominican: 799,768; 2.3
Salvadoran: 708,741; 2.0
Colombian: 496,748; 1.4
Guatemalan: 407,127; 1.2
Ecuadorian: 273,013; 0.8
Peruvian: 247,601; 0.7
Honduran: 237,431; 0.7
Nicaraguan: 194,493; 0.6
Spaniard: 112,999; 0.3
Argentinian: 107,275; 0.3
Panamanian: 98,475; 0.3
Venezuelan: 96,091; 0.3
Other Central American: 93,234; 0.3
Chilean: 73,951; 0.2 . I wonder which one is me?
Costa Rican: 72,175; 0.2
Other South American: 50,941; 0.1
Bolivian: 45,188; 0.1
Uruguayan: 20,242; 0.1
Paraguayan: 8,929; 0.0
Total: 35,238,481
Source: 2000 census.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Beautiful Game

This article appeared in Nature 442, 110(13 July 2006) | doi:10.1038/442110b; Published online 12 July 2006

The beautiful game

Punditry took a hiding in Germany.

One of the overriding messages from the World Cup that has just ended in Berlin is that football (that's soccer to our American readers) is almost impossible to predict. As a low-scoring game, it has an inherently stochastic quality that makes it gloriously exciting and palm-thumpingly frustrating in equal measure.

The struggle to anticipate World Cup results has taken many forms. In London, The Guardian newspaper attempted to verify the mantra of the Internet age that wisdom lies with the masses, inviting readers to vote for different betting options for each match. By the end of the tournament, the people made a profit, turning £250 (US$460) into £356. However, the newspaper's pet goldfish, which chose its bets by swimming to different parts of its tank, put them to shame, ending up with £369.

A look at more 'scientific' efforts at prediction turns up similar examples of painful hubris. A group of Norwegian mathematicians, for example, designed a computer model that simulated the complete tournament 2,000 times over (see It predicted a Brazilian victory — but in reality, Brazil performed rather miserably and only made the quarter-finals. [No Kidding!!!]

Perhaps the tournament's least adroit piece of scientific punditry, however, came from Michael Shadlen, a neuroscientist at the University of Washington in Seattle. In an interview for Nature's online World Cup preview, he hailed French maestro Zinedine Zidane as the world's most intelligent footballer. Zidane certainly made his mark, winning the Golden Ball award as the tournament's outstanding player — before being sent off in Sunday's final for a disgraceful headbutt on an opponent. Not too clever, really. [Especially since no one yelled GOOOOOOOOOOOOl]

At least Italian scientists can take heart from that bombastic finale. The country's footballers have returned home in glory as deserved champions, to face a match-fixing scandal that could see several of the clubs that employ them relegated in ignominy. But as researchers there can testify, flourishing in the face of official incompetence and corruption is just what all Italian professionals have to do, every day of the week.


Bottom line: VIVA FOOTBALL!