When I showed up as a freshman in college, I had a letter in my newly assigned mailbox at the student union sent by a girl who wrote how much she missed me and signed it, “Love, Betsey.”
The trouble was, I did not know Betsey. Still, I was glad she loved me, but not having met me, I wondered how she missed me. Nevertheless, since she claimed to miss me, now that we were both on campus, she needed to miss me no more. I kept waiting for her to come up to me in person. I guessed she was shy. I could not approach her because I did not know who she was. So, as I walked around campus, each girl I saw was a potential Betsey.
Later, I solved the mystery. An upperclassman was going by my same name — first and last. He, not I, was the object of Betsey’s desire. He must have given her the correct P.O. box as I received no more love notes from her.
Soon I got to meet Betsey’s boyfriend who shared my name, as well as meeting Betsey, his date, when I was rushed by his fraternity, which I pledged and joined.
It turned out that it was okay to be mixed up with this particular fella. He did our name proud. For example, when he was selected for the honor of being Phi Beta Kappa, I cut the article out of the school newspaper and mailed it home — two states away. My grandmother was very impressed. She had never heard of a freshman being selected for Phi Beta Kappa in the first semester before grades came out. She told my mother, “Alan is so smart it scares me.” My mother, not so naive, was not scared. She announced, “It is not my son.” Party pooper!
My greatest feat as a swimmer came with my name-sharer’s assistance. Another coincidence was that we were both swimmers. I was not thinking about it at the time, but in our first swim meet together, we each won a couple events, he in some freestyle events, and me in breaststroke and Individual Medley. Then we swam in the same medley relay. I swam the second leg, which is breaststroke, and he swam the final leg, which is freestyle. So, combined we won five events — four individual ones and the relay.
The day after the meet, a sports reporter for the school newspaper, also a freshman, who knew me but apparently had not attended the meet, saw the race results, came up to me and complimented me.
“Al, you really had a good meet,” he said.
“Thanks,” I said, “we did okay.”
“More than okay. I saw that you won five events, but the most impressive thing is that you swam two legs of the medley relay. I have never seen that!”
I had not thought of any confusion until he said that, which made me laugh.
“Well,” I admitted, “you never will see that because it did not happen exactly that way.”
Rather than explaining, I should have shut up, let him report on how wonderful of an athlete I am, and maybe sent the article to my grandmother in Nebraska. I just wasn’t thinking quickly enough ….
P.S. Betsey married the other guy, not me, which worked out for them and for me — because I got to marry Sugar. Betsey was not Miss Texas and, well, I was not Phi Beta Kappa, even as a senior, but I never told Gramma. I wish I still had the Phi Beta Kappa newspaper article so I could impress Sugar. She seems kind of skeptical. I suppose that my Mom got to her.
Politically Incorrect Statistics
Warren Buffet is praised for his ability to analyze the performance of companies in which he considers investing. He uses information about the companies to predict future performance. He has been very successful as an investor.
Bookies take bets on sporting events and base the “odds” for winning on statistical analysis of many factors about teams and athletes.
Insurance companies use underwriters to predict life expectancies and health risks based on statistics for people in certain categories based on age, weight, family medical history, and other factors, such as whether a person smokes or consumes alcohol. They don’t know which smokers will develop lung cancer, but they know that smokers, for example, have a higher risk statistically than do non-smokers.
The TV show Criminal Minds is about a “behavioral analysis unit” known by the acronym BAU. They study patterns of criminal behavior to solve crimes.
Analyzing companies, teams, and individuals is apparently done using statistical information because there is value for predicting probabilities of behavior (or danger) based on statistics about past behavior or performance.
Statistics are just numbers calculated by mathematical principles. Statistics are not mean or prejudiced about race or religion.
Despite the neutrality of the process of statistical analysis, many people get offended by what the numbers reveal.
We are not supposed to “profile” Muslim Arabs as terrorists because that is somehow “prejudiced” despite the historical facts that the terrorists responsible for the 9/11 attacks and many other terrorist acts fit that category. You are not paranoid (or prejudiced) if they are really after you. The jihadists have said they are in a holy war with non-islamic people, i.e., infidels. The statistics bear that out.
The federal government has told us recently that it needs to look at private phone records of American citizens, which many see as a violation of rights to privacy, for the greater good of protecting us. Would it not also help protect us to focus on tracking people who “fit the profile” of terrorists? I do not see that as islamophobia. Wouldn’t that be for the greater good of protecting Americans?
Who says I am unlikely to become an NBA star? Are those scouts prejudiced against me because they are considering my age, vertical leap, speed, shooting percentages and stuff like that? They think, based on statistics, that I won’t do well in the league.
I like sports that involve timed races, such as track and swimming. Your time is your time, regardless of color. Is it unfair that a skewed percentage of Olympic sprinters are black and the vast majority of Olympic swimmers are white? Oh, well! The performances speak for themselves. Warren Buffet probably would not bet on me to win the 100 meter event in track, you know, based on statistics, including my time in prior races. It is what it is, whether I like it or not. Pulling the race card does not change how fast or slow I run or swim.
I understand intellectually, but I prefer to say that I am a victim of racial profiling which, my friends, is politically incorrect.
Please join me in protesting my exclusion from the NBA.