Archive for ‘Information’

September 7, 2011

Mitt Romney’s 150-page Economic Plan

by Vince

Reason delves into it with some humor and expected results.

September 7, 2011

9/11 Encyclopedia

by Vince

The New York Times Magazine put together an encyclopedia in response to this Sunday’s 10th anniversary of September 11th, 2001 and the attacks that day:

As this anniversary loomed, we found ourselves asking: With all we now know, how to begin to address the enormity of the event? Our solution was not to shrink from its scale but to embrace it.
September 6, 2011

Labor

by Vince

Infographic found here. A history of Labor Day below:

In 1884, when President Grover Cleveland signed the bill making Labor Day a national holiday on the first Monday in September, he and its sponsors intended it not as a celebration of leisure but as a promotion of the great American work ethic. Work, they believed, was the highest calling in life, and Labor Day was a reminder to get back to it. It was placed at the end of summer to declare an end to the season of indolence, and also to distance it from May Day, the spring event that had become a symbol of the radical labor movement.

September 2, 2011

Zero Net Jobs Created in August 2011 – First since 1945

by Vince

Very ugly headline in itself, but when you dig deeper, it’s worse:

About 2.6 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force in August, up from 2.4 million a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey.

This paragraph stood out to me because of the lack of nuance in the unemployment discussion. It is made out by some or not clarified by many that everyone who is unemployed is magically the same as the next, all being lazy bums who sit around and intentionally collect government dole. Is it ironic that a claim of laziness made against a whole group is in fact intellectually laziness?

August 31, 2011

Match.com For College

by Vince

Considering college and want the best fit for you? Here is ConnectEDU:

This won’t just help the brightest, most driven kids. Bad matching is a problem throughout higher education, from top to bottom. Among all students who enroll in college, most will either transfer or drop out. For African American students and those whose parents never went to college, the transfer/dropout rate is closer to two-thirds. Most students don’t live in the resource-rich, intensely college-focused environment that upper-middle-class students take for granted. So they often default to whatever college is cheapest and closest to home. Tools like ConnectEDU will give them a way to find something better.

August 31, 2011

How Do You Spell “Deposed Crazy Dictator?”

by Vince


Have you ever seen numerous spellings for the name of the fading leader of Libya?

In Arabic, Qadhafi’s name is spelled القذافي which if you drop the article, means
ق – ذ – ا – ف – ي or q – dh – a – f – i. The “q” letter is almost unique to Arabic (sometimes called “the language of the qaf” — sorry, it’s the language of the dhad, not qaf!) and often transliterated as a “k”, since its pronounciation can be difficult for non-Arabic speakers.

It is standard in classical Arabic and places like Fes in northern Morocco, but northern Egyptians, urban Syrians and others often pronounce this letter as a glottal stop, while southern Egyptians and Bedouins most often pronounce as a “g”, as in “go”. (This is why in Syria upscale Damascenes call the regime “the government of the Qaf”, because pronouncing the letter is a country bumpkin thing to do, and Eastern Sunnis and Alawites — long dominant in the regime — often do it). Hence you see Qadhafi, Kadhafi or Gadhafi. The “dh” sound also has no equivalent in many languages as a standalone letter, and to top it off is made emphatic by a shedda — a kind of accent that indicates the letter should be doubled, which is why academics use the unwieldy “Qadhdhafi.” And the “dh” is often not pronounced as such — in most colloquial Arabics, it is pronounced “d”. I’m not sure why it might be pronounced “th”, but perhaps this was used in Qadhafi’s passport because it is close to the English sound in “the”, which sounds very much like “dh”.

H/T: The Dish

August 29, 2011

Health Reform Implementation in one map

by Vince

The interesting part about the above map is the nuance that does not adhere to partisan regions:

States that have passed exchange bills tend to lean Democratic, but it’s by no means a clear dichotomy.  Both Nevada and California passed exchange bills under Republican governors;Mississippi and Idaho have, over the past few weeks, become increasingly aggressive about setting up exchanges.

Conversely, not all Democratic-controlled states are moving. Delaware and Rhode Island’s state governments are both controlled by Democrats. Neither has moved exchange legislation. Even here in D.C, an exchange bill has sat in committee since its introduction in February.

July 10, 2011

A Web of One

by Vince

I finished last week Eli Pariser’s book The Internet Bubble. His above TED talk is captioned as follows:

As web companies strive to tailor their services (including news and search results) to our personal tastes, there’s a dangerous unintended consequence: We get trapped in a “filter bubble” and don’t get exposed to information that could challenge or broaden our worldview. Eli Pariser argues powerfully that this will ultimately prove to be bad for us and bad for democracy.

His TED talk essentially captures the main points found in his 250 page book. What he doesn’t cover in those 9 minutes of talking is some background on the engineers and technological goliaths currently taking the internet by storm. He delves into their dreams for the internet (Google hopes to one day not even have a search bar but have an algorithm so good that it knows what we want to search for) and how this new era of internet and social networking is guissed as transparently democratic but is mostly shadowed by ever changing privacy settings and our data (info we share, links we click on, et al.) sold to creepy third party entities.

Pariser’s caveat regarding personalization as contrary to creative, serendipitous living (as well as democracy) is half truth and half inflated out of fear. While our Facebook newsfeeds are taylored by algorithisms that direct us towards things we “may” be interested in (based on what we click on or search for), personalization is personalized for each of us. What I mean is this: if you use Yahoo news as a daily source for news or even Facebook (which believe it or not is rising rather quickly as a place where plethora of people find out the news), you most likely will receive some skewed results. However, if you are similar to me in that I find my news via blogs (all set up through Google Reader), my personalization will be different from yours. Seventy percent (give or take) of the blogs or news sources I check can be classified as left of center. That itself lends towards a personalized experience that differs from a daily intake of The Blaze, The New York Post, and Fox News. With blogs, I choose which to read based on what I like and the quality. These blogs I check do not (yet) personalize what they present to me and the rest of their viewers. You have no choice in that matter, according to Pariser, when you look for the day’s news on Google or Facebook.

One other note: I experimented with another computer (both logged in to our Google accounts) in Google searching the following terms: BP, Barack Obama, dogs, and horses. Each of our results had the same front page results as well as total number of results. This doesn’t conclusively refute Pariser’s argument that everyone has a different Google search experience but goes to show that this whole Brave New World-type internet bubble is not as scary as he may crack it up to be.

July 2, 2011

The History of English

by Vince


First up, Anglo-Saxon. The rest of the series is here.

June 23, 2011

The Energy Expenditure of Internet Usage

by Vince


This is an interesting short video titled “How Green Is Your Internet?”

TDW:

Hungry Beast‘s Dan Ilic explores the facts and figures behind the oft ignored energy expenditure of Internet usage.

June 22, 2011

Bagram, not Guantanamo, has most U.S. terror detainees

by Vince

Allgov tells:

While the number held at Guantánamo is currently estimated to be about 170, the total imprisoned at Bagram is about 1,700. The two prisons have been moving in opposite directions in terms of their detainee numbers, with Guantánamo shrinking from a high of more than 700 to its present count.
Bagram, though, has been growing in recent years. Its detainee total has tripled in size since 2008, with more than 1,300 suspects arrested and imprisoned in 2010 alone.
Another distinction between the two facilities is that detainees at the Afghanistan prison have fewer rights than their counterparts at Guantánamo.
Guantanamo, also know as “Gitmo”, grabbed the national spotlight when it came time to shine light on how we have treated detained terror suspects. It could be that Gitmo was much closer than Bagram (located in Afghanistan) so in essence Bagram was even more out of sight and mind.
June 16, 2011

Peering Into Our Pol’s Pockets

by Vince

Congress has a website that allows you to look up any lawmakers’s disclosed financial reports. The Daily Beast reports on some of the hot shots. Are the actions of John Boehner crooked?

Boehner, for instance, has overseen a Republican House that has gone to bat for tax breaks, increased drilling, and less regulation of oil companies as gas prices have risen. His personal investments, estimated at $2 million or more, include such oil giants as Exxon, Chevron, BP, ConocoPhillips, and Occidental.

Another question: does Boehner really stand for free markets for the sake of businesses thriving or is he just looking out for his own dividends?

June 10, 2011

Top 10 Misused English Words

by Vince
Listverse has a great (and informative) list:
8 -Enormity

George H. W. Bush, President Of The United States, Official Portrait

“Enormity” means “extreme evil”, but it’s often used to mean “enormousness”. US President, George HW Bush missed this one when he said after being elected that he “Couldn’t believe the enormity of the situation.” A perfect example of irony (which, in the context I have just used it, is correct).

June 4, 2011

Charts on College

by Vince

Ezra Klein provides some points on the above and below:

The bottom line, however, is that fewer than 5 percent of workers with a bachelor’s degree or higher are unemployed, while more than 14 percent of those who haven’t finished high school are unemployed. You really want to bet that there’s nothing causal going on there?

I know of maybe one friend (and many more people I knew of in college) who shouldn’t have gone to college, but we should remember this:

This seems like evidence that students are being ill-served by the cultural stereotype of college as a period of enjoyment and exploration that precedes entry into the “real world.” College, rather, is a period of preparation for the real world, and if you don’t take it as such, the real world can make you pay and pay big.

June 4, 2011

11 Issues Dividing America

by Vince

An interesting list.

 

June 3, 2011

Best Cities for Recent Graduates

by Vince

The Daily Beast has a list:

According to The Daily Beast’s second annual ranking of the best cities for recent college graduates, many of American’s most livable cities for those seeking low rents, cheap eats, good job prospects, and decent pay are not the traditional destinations of New York City or Los Angeles. Austin has a huge rental market, Savannah is packed with those in their early 20s, and Seattle bears a boast-worthy cost of living. In general, it seems grads should try to unpack their bags in the South, where cost of living is low, job growth is strong, and average earnings are high.

To put together the list of the top towns for recent graduates, we looked at the cities through the lens of the basics of quality of life: housing, employment, affordability, and relationships. The cities that land among the top 25 have relatively low unemployment, high average salary per capita, a low cost of living, a high portion of housing units devoted to rental properties, and a large population between ages 22 and 24. Figures were drawn from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, C2Er, the Bureau of Economic Analysis, and the Census.

Corpus Christi, TX comes in 14th:

Population: 416,095
Percent of population between age 22-24: 4.3%
Cost of Living Index: 91.3
Percent of housing units for rental: 37%
Unemployment rate: 7.9
Average per-capita personal income: $36,558

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June 2, 2011

No Privacy For You

by Vince

That is, Sarah Palin:

The state is about to release more than 24,000 pages of Sarah Palin’s emails from her time as governor. But officials are also going to withhold another 2,415 pages the state deems privileged, personal or otherwise exempt from Alaska’s disclosure laws.

News organizations and individuals requested the Palin emails under Alaska’s public records law more than two years ago when she was running for vice president.

The messages are finally now about to be released as the former governor contemplates a bid for the presidency. State officials expect to send the emails to a commercial printer to be copied this week, a process that is estimated to take about four days.

June 2, 2011

Charting the Homicide Rate

by Vince

This may provide a sigh of relief:

The bottom line is that there has been a big and welcome decrease in homicide rates in Europe and America over the past several centuries. To put these numbers in perspective, however, note that the homicide rate in New Orleans today is 52 per 100,000 and in Detroit it’s 40 per 100,000 so even with a lower average there is lots of variation.

Brazil today is around 22 per 100,000 not too far from America in the 19th century. The homicide rate in El Salvador is 71 per 100,000, in Jamaica (!) 60 per 100,000 and in Honduras 67 per 100,000 — all higher than fifteenth century Europe. Thus, the past was a more violent place but not so violent as to be unknown to the present

June 2, 2011

Fearing Saul Alinsky

by Vince

It is almost a daily occurrence that Glenn Beck pontificates about the downfall of the world and how Saul Alinsky is partly behind it. Steven Taylor did some digging in a handful of academic online databases and found the following:

I tried the flagship journal of the discipline, the American Political Science Review for articles, full text, and “Alinksy” and got back 3 results (1946, 1968 and 1969).  Keep in mind the APSR is indexed back over a century on JSTOR.

Other major journals that I bothered with:

American Journal of Political Science: 1 (from 2002).

Perspective on Politics:  2 (2004 and 2006).

Journal of Politics:  2 (form 1974 and 1975).

If you search all 116 political science titles for “Alinsky” (without checking to see if they refer to Saul Alinsky specifically) one gets a whopping 55 article.  A search of “Saul Alinsky” in full-text article for the 116 journals in question gives me 38 hits, while “Alinsky, Saul” gives me 7.

Towering figure, indeed.

And this is the guy who supposedly is the kingmaker for indoctrinating the liberal intelligentsia at our universities and urban centers?

June 1, 2011

Long Read and Slideshow of the Day

by Vince

Rolling Stone puts forth a biased (is it?) piece and slideshow on Roger Ailes, spinmaster behind Fox News.