Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The 5th Anniversary of CSI wo DB: Top 25 All Time Posts

The fifth anniversary of this blog coincides with the end of the series that inspired it's name. Because of this momentous event, instead of a top 10 all time post list I thought I would do a top 25 list out of 250 posts so lets get started.  This should give a good sampling of the posts on the blog.

25. Pennsylvania Medicaid Expansion and Legislature Polarization

Pennsylvania's last Governor dragged his feet on expanding medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.  The new governor has reversed himself but a lot of other governors haven't.
24.  Titanic Perspective

The 100th anniversary of that cursed ships sinking made me think of other disasters that have been forgotten. 

23. Morality as a Mathematical Equation

The earliest post on this list was on a discussion of how morality can be evaluated like a mathematical equation.
22. Habemus Resegnum - We have a resignation

Pope Francis became the 266th successor of St. Peter after Benedict XVI abdicated.  Here is a look at the Papacy.
21.  The David Roberts Family Fund

Last year my friend from Hartford died from brain cancer.  A site was set up for his family to cover medical expenses.  I talked about how they shouldn't have to be begging for money for this purpose.  You can still donate to their paypal account here.

20.  An In Depth Look at a Mindfulness and Stress Study

An old classmate of mine from Hartford had an article in the Huffington post on how mindfulness can reduce stress.  I discussed her study here.

19. Season's Shootings

A response to the terrible shootings that occurred about the same time as the Newtown Shootings.
18. Olympic Medal Counts Still Reflect National Power (or the Need for it) 

As the title of this post says, a look at how Olympic medal counts reflect a nations power.
17.  Ruth Institute - Making Marriage Cool (In the US but not Scandinavia)

A response to a question I asked about the effect of Scandinavian social programs on marriage.
16. A Statistical Profile of the Uninsured in Washington, DC, New Mexico, and Texas

How do uninsured rates relate to health outcomes for these three outlier states?
15. A Geographical Representation of the Mode and Ethnicity

A look at methods of displaying descriptive statistics in geographic form.

14. Controversy over the New Psychiatric Diagnostic and Statistical Manual

The American Psychiatric Assn caused controversy when they decided to remove Asperger's Syndrome from the DSM-V and place it on the Autism spectrum
13.  The World Wars and Today's Wars

A look at how World Wars I & II relate to the current troubles in the Middle East.
12. Correlation with the Number of Hate Groups per Million, Poor Health Suggests More Hate

In a follow up to the post on the concentration of hate groups (seen further down on this list), I looked at the correlation between the concentration of hate groups in each state and their health outcomes.
11. Bullying & Society

In this post I argue that bullying in schools is merely a reflection of ills in the larger society.
10. Lance Armstrong's Doping Claim: A Probabilistic Calculation

When Lance Armstrong was still claiming innocence of blood doping I thought I would apply probability theory to his claim.  This is the post with the longest average time per view.
9. 2013 Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates Are Out for School Districts and Counties in PA

A look at local poverty rates in my home state of Pennsylvania.
8. A Kinder, Gentler Looney Tunes

Warner Brothers tried to modernize the Looney Tunes characters.  I thought it had promise but it didn't last.
7. Top 10 Worst Super Bowls of All Time 

We are used to thrilling Super Bowls today but there was a time when the game rarely lived up to the hype.
6. Two Years Ago in Stanton Heights

In 2009, three policemen were killed by a right wing extremist about a mile from where I live.  I gave a profile of the neighborhood where it happened.
5. Hitler, Napoleon, and Stalin: Outsider Despots

Hitler and Napoleon are often compared.  I argue that there is also considerable overlap between those two and Josef Stalin.
4. The Civil War in a Larger International Historical Context

With the 150th anniversary of the Civil War these past 4 years I thought it would be helpful looking at in with similar conflicts in Italy, Germany and Japan which would have repercussions for later conflicts..
3. A Wave of Hate Groups in California? No in Washington, DC

A look at the concentration of hate groups in the US (adjusting for population).
2. Global Warming, Wikileaks, and Statistics: What Barry Sanders Can Teach Us

The second most popular post provides a sports metaphor (Barry Sanders' running statistics) for explaining global warming/climate change to denier of this science who also is a sports junkie (ie. Rush Limbaugh, James Inhofe, etc).
1. CSI Without Dead Bodies: Income and Life Expectancy. What does it Tell Us About US? 

Thanks to this post being linked to on the BBC programme (British Spelling) web page for The Joy of Stats, this page has received over 3,000 hits (7% of total traffic). It covers the correlation between life expectancy and income.

**Related Post**

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Thursday, September 24, 2015

Ambiguous Symbols in 2001:A Space Odyssey

When asked by the Mason’s to write about a symbol and it’s meaning, I chose one of the most enigmatic in cinematic history.  The film 2001: A Space Odyssey begins with a group of australopithecines in an African desert struggling to survive in finding food and battling with rival clans of their species.  Seemingly from out of nowhere a rectangular black monolith appears.  The australopithecines are confused by what they see.  Regardless of what they did see, after encountering the monolith they gained the capacity to use tools.  This made them better hunters and better able to fight off rivals.  This first part of the film is called The Dawn of Man as the australopithecines were the first primates to walk upright and are thought to be a link between chimpanzees and humans.

The film then leaves the earth as a US spaceship is flying towards the moon to investigate a strange sighting there at the US moon colony.  A cover story about an epidemic in the colony was created to keep the Soviets away.  When the people on the spaceship arrive at the strange sight we see that it is the same monolith that the australopithecines saw.  They discover that the monolith is sending radio signals to Jupiter.  In this segment, human’s use of tools has advanced greatly but groups of humans (represented by the US and the Soviets) are still in conflict with each other. 

After encountering the monolith on the moon, the US sends a top secret mission to Jupiter to investigate what it is sending radio signals to.  The spaceship is controlled by the ultimate human tool, the supercomputer HAL.  As the ship nears Jupiter, HAL malfunctions and kills all but one of the astronauts on board and lets the air out of the ship.  The lone survivor on the ship, played by Kier Dullea, has no choice but to investigate the monolith alone after disconnecting HAL. 

As Dullea approaches another monolith in orbit around Jupiter he has a psychedelic experience while being transported to a strange room where he ages rapidly.  As he approaches the end of his life he encounters the monolith and is then transformed into the star child floating above the Earth.  The ending is ambiguous and has had people debating it ever since.  When asked about the ending, the director Stanley Kubrick said “If you understood the ending, I failed.”

At every moment in the film where the monolith appears, the next step in human evolution is complete.  This seemingly inanimate object has the power to direct evolution.  The film 2010: The Year We Made Contact (without Kubrick as the director) addresses some of the ambiguities about what happened to Dullea’s character and why the computer HAL turned homicidal.  This time a joint US-Soviet mission returns to Jupiter and encounters HAL, Dullea and the monolith.  Exactly what the monolith is is not addressed to leave something to the imagination, and a possible sequel.  It could represent a supreme being, it could simply be a tool of a more advanced alien society to achieve some positive aim, or it could mean nothing at all.  This ambiguity is what makes the monolith so fascinating.

**Related Posts**

The Civil War in a Larger International Context: Darwinian Edition

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Bernie Sanders Lead in Iowa and NH but not SC: Inside the Numbers

The latest CBS tracker poll for the Iowa Democratic Caucus gave Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders a 10 point lead over Hillary Clinton (43% to 33%).  The poll sampled 646 registered Democratic voters and 704 Republicans for a margin of error of +/-5%.  A similar poll of New Hampshire voters gave Sanders a lead of 22% over Clinton (52% to 30%).  In both states Sanders lead is larger among male voters by a 47% to 29% for Sanders among men in Iowa vs. 41% to 36% for Sanders among women over Clinton and a 61% to 23% margin for Sanders in NH among men compared to 46% to 35% for Sanders among women.  The full report of all three surveys are embedded in this post.  In both states, there were negligible minority voters because the minority populations are small in those states.  

24% of Iowa voters said they believe that another Clinton administration would "favor the rich" while 4% believe that a Sanders administration would and 6% said Clinton would "favor the poor" while 28% believe a Sanders administration would.  For New Hampshire voters, 28% say that Clinton would "favor the rich" while 8% say Sanders would and 8% say that Clinton would "favor the poor" while 23% say that Sanders would.  In Iowa and NH men were more likely to believe that Clinton would favor the rich than women.

In Iowa voters in the 18-29 and 30-44 age groups were more likely to support Sanders with 74% in the 18-29 group and 45% in the 30-44 group supporting him and the older age groups support Clinton.  In New Hampshire 67% in the 18-29 age group, 60% in the 30-44 and 56% of the 65+ age group support him.  Support for Clinton was strongest in the 45-64 age group in NH and in the 65+ group in Iowa.

Sanders was preferred by self described liberal (51%) and very liberal (58%) voters and Independent voters in Iowa (49%).  In New Hampshire 80% of very liberal and 50% of liberal voters prefer Sanders.  70% of independent voters in NH prefer Sanders.

I haven't seen any polling data on Utah but a similar pattern was seen in the exit poll for the 2008 democratic primary where Obama beat Clinton 57-43%.

In South Carolina (the 3rd primary state), Clinton still has a lead over Sanders by 46-23% with 22% for Biden.  18% of primary voters believe that Clinton would "favor the rich" while 23% of Democratic primary voters believe that Sanders would.  Sanders trails Clinton by 44% to 31% among men and trails 48% to 17%.  As with Iowa and NH, Sanders support is strongest among 18-29 yo voters but still trails 41% to 35%.  Here there is a racial divide where Sanders trails Clinton 52% to 4% among African American voters while Sanders leads Clinton by 46% to 39%.  African Americans are a majority of Democratic voters in SC.  

10% of African American voters believe that Clinton would "favor the rich" while 35% believe that Sanders would.  Sanders is preferred by 51% of independent voters while 52% of registered democrats support Clinton.

**Related Posts**

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Sunday, September 6, 2015

Campaign Finance Candidate Lawrence Lessig Enters the Race

In a follow up to my post on the 2016 Facebook & Twitter Primaries, Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig announced that if he were able to raise $1,000,000 he would announce that he is running for the Democratic nomination for President to overturn Citizens United with a constitutional amendment.  If and when he succeeds in this endeavor as President he will resign.

He has reached that fundraising goal and will officially announce.  This would make him the seventh candidate on the Democratic side (sixth if Joe Biden decides not to run).  In the interest of full disclosure I support Bernie Sanders for President but I like Lessig's efforts to raise awareness of this issue. 

Lessig has no poll data as of this posting but he does have 2,559 Facebook followers (1,179 of whom are engaged) and 1,128 Twitter followers.  Time will tell if Lessig can catch up to the other candidates and can enter the debates.  According to the regression model for Twitter and Facebook followers he would need about 100,000 followers on both sites just to get to 1% in the polls.  Will his $1 mlllion help him get there and on the debates?  Below is an interview he gave on Democracy Now! **Related Posts**

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Saturday, August 29, 2015

Twitter Primary: Following and Presidential Candidate Support

In my last post I talked about how candidates Facebook followings predict their standing in the polls.  I came across this graph about the number of fake Twitter followers the top candidates have.  I decided to look at how the candidates followers on twitter correspond with their respective standing in the polls.  The poll numbers are updated to 8/28/2015.  The correlations are presented in  charts below.

Plot for Democrats
The scatterplot for the democratic candidates is presented here with the best fit regression line.  The data for this relationship fit the poll averages better than that for the Facebook followers.  The Facebook followers accounted for 75.8% of the variability where the twitter followers accounted for 80.2%.  Lincoln Chafee did not have a Facebook page but did have a twitter account.  Some candidates, such as Bernie Sanders have more than one account.  The official campaign account was used in this analysis.  Sanders twitter followers are an outlier, unlike his Facebook plot, on this plot with his support higher than what is predicted by the model.

Plot for Republicans
Likewise there is a stronger relationship between the number of twitter and their poll averages for the Republicans than there is for Facebook followers.  The Facebook gain in followers accounted for 70.6% of the variability while the Twitter Followers accounted for 75.5%.  As with the Facebook followers, Jeb Bush could be considered an outlier with the predicted poll average being lower than his actual support.  On both websites, Donald Trump has big influence.
Even if a third of Clinton's and Trump's Twitter followers are fake (either spammers or invented by the campaign which Newt Gingrich did in 2012), they still have more real followers than the rest of the field.  Unlike Facebook, Twitter does not readily provide data on the level of engagement and it is time consuming to count the number of retweets and favorites each candidate gets.  The total social media presence may be more important than just the presence on one website.  The above graphic from Nate Silver's fivethirtyeight.com shows the patter that Trump follows in attacking and being attacked by his rivals.  Ted Cruz does not appear on either attack chart. 

RCP Poll Avg % 8/29
Twitter Followers
Hillary Clinton
Bernie Sanders
Martin O'Malley
Lincoln Chafee
Joe Biden
Jim Webb
Donald Trump
Ted Cruz
Mike Huckabee
Rick Santorum
Ben Carson
Rand Paul
Lindsey Graham
Jeb Bush
Scott Walker
Marco Rubio
Chris Christie
Rick Perry
Bobby Jindal
Carly Fiorina
John Kasich
George Pataki
Jim Gilmore

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