April 1, 2010

My neighborhood exceeding census national return rate

Filed under: Uncategorized — ubikcan @ 5:51 pm

So far, my neighborhood is returning census forms quite quickly, compared with the national average, and certainly the state as a whole. I wonder if it’ll keep up this pace?

March 20, 2010

BBC series On the Map

Filed under: Uncategorized — ubikcan @ 10:10 am

I was marginally involved in the research for this episode of a new radio series ‘On the Map’ from the BBC. They were interested in the famous Peters projection or Peters World map as we might more neutrally call it (see, even the name is in dispute). This episode is rather unoriginally called ‘the Lie of the Land’.

More from the Map Room.

March 16, 2010

It’s unusual to see this

Filed under: Uncategorized — ubikcan @ 6:38 pm

point made, so credit where it’s due:

Lindsay Beyerstein describes a potential new tool for criminal investigators, “traces of bacterial DNA [that] can be used to link people to objects they’ve touched.”

The technology isn’t ready for prime time yet. So far, the method has only proved 70% to 90% accurate. Much more testing will have to be done before this kind of evidence gets anywhere near a courtroom.

I certainly hope more testing is done, because this seems like a technology that comes fully loaded with the possibility of serious mathematical errors. For example, suppose I find a dead body, a murder weapon, and on the weapon traces of bacterial DNA. Then I pluck a random person off the streets of Washington DC and the bacteria on his finger matches according to a test that’s 90 percent reliable.

To see why this doesn’t mean what it might seem, click here (and notice that improving the test doesn’t change the issue all that much).

February 3, 2010

Visualizing the divide in the Senate

Filed under: Uncategorized — ubikcan @ 8:54 pm


Click for larger version. There are also images for Senate sessions going back to 1991.

How to interpret the DailyKos poll

Filed under: Uncategorized — ubikcan @ 8:46 pm

This is correct:

A poll is only as good as its sample and this poll oversamples older (37.09 percent of the sample is over the age of 60), southern (42.24 percent of the sample hails from the old Confederacy plus Kentucky) men (56.16 percent of the sample are men). It is a great poll if we wanted to get insight into the views old southern men who vote Republican.

The same thing had occurred to me, but then again I’m a geographer and sensitive to spatial variation!

The conclusion from this however is not “oh the poll’s worthless” but:

It is a great poll if we wanted to get insight into the views old southern men who vote Republican.

Since, unlike many pollsters, Kos provides crosstabs, we can also break down the overall number into regional variations. Therefore the poll is also great if we want to compare the south to other regions and to see how the South adds an extra degree of conservativism. I’m of a mind to poll my political geography class on this.

January 12, 2010

PKD estate to sue Google over “Nexus” and “android”

Filed under: Uncategorized — ubikcan @ 4:30 pm

I wonder if this is really a good idea. Seems the PKD estate is planning to sue Google over the use of the term “Nexus” for their new smartphone. I’d think this would be quite a legal challenge since Google could always say they are using the word in its original sense and the PKD estate never trademarked the word.

December 31, 2009

So long then, the noughties

Filed under: Uncategorized — ubikcan @ 5:36 pm

Despite the persisting misery in some areas (the economy, Pres. Obama recapitulating the Bush presidency, Liverpool stuck outside the top four) it has been very good in others.

Travel: I don’t think I’ve ever travelled as much as this year. This includes visits to the following countries: the UK (4 times), France, Germany, Switzerland (first time since I was 7), and first visits to the Czech Republic and Austria, and the following cities that were new to me: Dresden, Reims, Epernay, Prague, Verdun, Loughborough, Metz, Vienna, Nuremburg, Heidelberg, Strasbourg, Anchorage and Poilly. I’ve also been to Alaska four times, and in fact I’m sat here now on a dodgy internet link in -20 temps (it was a white Christmas though, and last night a huge moose came right up to the cabin and fed off the bushes). I was meant to go to Chile as well but never made it. This will be the year to compare to in the future in terms of travel.

Achievements: Looking back, the start of the decade saw me in very different circumstances. I’d just been fired (refused tenure) and was looking for a job, I wasn’t in a relationship, and had a much reduced publishing record than I now do. I’m now expecting my new book (out on Valentine’s day), am editor of a fairly well known journal, and have tons more interesting colleagues and connections. I feel that I’ve made good progress up the academic ladder (tenure, 3 books, editing projects, invitations to speak and that kind of thing). There’s still a lot more I’d like of course but most people could probably say the same thing and I don’t expect to stop here.

Personal: this blog doesn’t really discuss that in the interests of being pseudonymous!

Blogging and social media: I joined twitter after initial doubts and found it much more interesting that I’d expected (mainly for following people who tweet rather than tweeting that I’m having a coffee break as I’d thought it would be). I run 3-4 blogs (this one semi-regularly and a professional one more regularly) and I’d like to thank all the people who’ve visited and especially who’ve left comments. We’re at about 55,000 visits here and about 128,000 visits on my other main blog. I’m seeing more and more “professionals” blogging and tweeting in my field and this has certainly made things more interesting. It was fairly sparse a few years ago when I started, but now you’ll see blogs set up even for a single class over a semester. Relatedly I got a Blu-Ray DVD player for crimbo and look forward to getting a flat screen TV I can plug it into next year!

Reading and films: these are my two main forms of entertainment and education. I’m not a big fiction reader but this year I did enjoy the T.S. Spivet novel by Reif Larson and saw a ton of great movies (eg., Let the Right One In, Food Inc.,  docos about the Borzoi ballet and Man on Wire, Valerie and her Week of Wonders, Coraline, Inland Empire) thanks to Netflix. TV was mainly getting UK comedy shows such as the unbeatable IT Crowd. Musically I discovered Grooveshark and Pandora, which provide me with most of what I want to listen to. I must say I don’t buy much music anymore but I do look forward to Massive Attack’s Heligoland in the spring. And I will continue to buy music from Kristin Hersh even though (or actually because) she puts her music out there for free.

This blog is now half a decade old. I’ve still no real idea of who reads it or why but long ago decided it doesn’t much matter. I’m going to continue with it until I don’t. So until then, the journey continues. So long then, the noughties,and hello then the 10s!

December 6, 2009

I only drink absinthe

Filed under: Uncategorized — ubikcan @ 10:14 am

Oh, Doctor Who, perfect.

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