Clinton Was Right: Dems 41 Million Jobs, Reps 21 Million Jobs

I love the phrases “Flying by instruments,” or “Data Driven”. Without a doubt it reflects my distrust of my own biases and prejudices, so I lean heavily to the analytical, to what can be tested and proven. The scientific method is just part of me.

So it’s no surprise that I thought one of the most interesting things to come out of the Democratic National Convention was Bill Clinton’s heavy in the policy and statistics speech. And what followed in the press was that Bill Clinton Was Right, according to US News and World Report, not known to be a bastion of the East Coast Media Elite.

In particular US News & World Report analyzed economic outcomes based on the party of the president. Since 1961 Democrats added 41 million jobs (Clinton rounded up to 42) while Republicans added about half as many at 21 million jobs. Now this was from the start to the end of each administration but that hardly seems fair. Surely some time is needed to change the jobs outcome. So the writer skewed to numbers to one year after the start of an administration to one year after it ended. In other words give an administration a year to let things kick in. Result: Dems 38 million, GOP 27 million.

This was only private sector jobs, which seems to me the Republicans would agree are the really good ones, or as I’ve heard argued, government can’t create jobs. But the writer checked total jobs, including government, again giving one year for administration policies to kick in and once again: Dems 44 million, GOP 34 million.

Another very interesting review, again not from the East Coast Media Elite (correct me if I’m wrong as I think use of this phrase is whining on the parts of conservatives so I’m not sure of the scorecard as to who is or isn’t in the “Elite”), is from Fox News in their story History Shows Stocks, GDP Outperform Under Democrats we learn that GDP (gross domestic profit), stock prices, and corporate profits are better under Democrats.

McGraw-Hill’s S&P Capital IQ analysis shows: Continue reading

Neutron Stars Are More Fun

Neutron StarSo I’ve reached a new stage in my life. I’ve decided neutron stars are more fun. I know, black holes have all the buzz, the press, the hyperbole. And I know they seem absolutely necessary to make galaxies and thus life itself. But black holes seem so remote. Hardly in my universe once you cross the event horizon.

Neutron stars are still our neighbor, although very very weird neighbors. Some interesting things about them:

  • Neutron stars are about 20 kilometers (12 miles) in diameter but weigh as much as 1½ to 2 suns.
  • A sugar cube size of a neutron star weighs more than all humanity, or put another way, the Empire State Building would squeeze down to the size of a grain of rice on a neutron star. Remember all those pictures of atoms? The electrons whirling around the nucleus? They leave the wrong impression because the proportions are wrong in order to make the drawing work. If you hold your fists together imagining they are made of lead and are a proton and neutron, then imagine the electrons, smaller than a speck of ground pepper, whirling around 3 miles away. If you have a friend they could be doing the same thing, 6 miles away and you have an idea of what ordinary matter is like. Almost all the weight of an atom are those neutrons and protons. Now squeeze the electrons into your fists and get all your friends to hold their fists next to you and you get an idea of the what a neutron star’s matter is like. I find this an incredible image! It means almost all of what I see, including me,  is really vast and empty space. (Check here to see a nice diagram of that.)
  • If you could find a 1 meter (39 inch) cliff to fall off, you’d hit the “ground” at  4,300,000 miles/hour.Now that’s acceleration! At that speed you could whiz past the moon in 3½ minutes and the sun in 22 hours. (Check to see the professor’s estimates.)
  • I’d weigh 35,000,000,000,000 pounds on a neutron star. I feel so grateful now that I’m so lightweight! (Click here to check your weight on different worlds.)
  • To leave the star you’d have to get up to an escape velocity of about 1/3 to 1/2 the speed of light.
  • If it was a special kind of neutron star, called a magnetar, the magnetism from the star would tear apart your tissues from thousands of miles away. (See the great Wikipedia for more information on this.)
  • And then I’ve run across this wonderful article on the most famous neutron star in the Crab Nebula having a 4 inch carbon atmosphere.
  • And most interesting to me is that, like the Earth, they can have a structure, with a crust, and different things going on inside. This is where I feel they’re still sort of vaguely familiar, as opposed to a black hole which really crosses into terra incognita. Check out Coleman Miller’s article, which is a nice summary of neutron stars.

Take A Test of Political (and other) Biases

It’s much easy for our brains to process things that are congruent, that is when things make sense because they’re related to each other.

For example say the following words:


Now try this but do NOT read the word, instead say the color of the word:


Didn’t that take longer? This effect is called the Stroop Effect. Most of us have been trained and ingrained that reading something has priority over other ways of getting facts. So we have difficulty with this task since it doesn’t make sense to our brain to ignore the word in favor of the color of the word. This in turn leads to longer time to answer the implicit question of what’s the color. The time difference to process what makes sense to us verses what doesn’t allows us to test for biases. Continue reading

Band Around The World

Quiz Time!

Band Around The World

Question 1
Earth's circumference is 24,901 miles (40,075 km). Imagine it's as smooth as a cue ball, or even smoother like a neutron star. Imagine there's a stiff tight band around it. Now if 10 feet (3 meters) is added to the band raising it up above the ground equally around the whole world could you:  
Barely slip a piece of paper under it.
Crawl under it.
Walk under it.
Question 1 Explanation: 
The question is really asking about the increase in radius of a circle. The circumference is equal to: C = 2R * π But we want to know how much higher this band is which is really asking what's the increase in radius. Rearranging the formula to find R: R = C / (2 * π) Let's just calculate how much radius increases with 10 feet: R = 10 / 6.28 = 1.59' About two feet, enough to shimmy under.
There is 1 question to complete.
Shaded items are complete.

I saw this question in an old time book by Lillian and Hugh Lieber, probably titled Infinity. It is wonderfully counter-intuitive and points out the need to really think and analyze problems.


CO2 Breaks 650,000 Year Old Record

 This graph, based on the comparison of atmospheric samples contained in ice cores and more recent direct measurements, provides evidence that atmospheric CO2 has increased since the Industrial Revolution. (Source: NOAA)

This graph, based on the comparison of atmospheric samples contained in ice cores and more recent direct measurements, provides evidence that atmospheric CO2 has increased since the Industrial Revolution. (Source: NOAA)

Being a Keynesian, budget deficits were my biggest government policy concern for about 25 years. After all if the US had stretched its credit too far then during a fiscal crisis it couldn’t borrow what was needed for enough fiscal stimulus.

Then I began to read about and understand climate change issues. I harkened back to a time I was watching the Today Show while getting ready for school and one of the hosts had a globe on their desk. They said the ink on the globe was as thick as a something like over half the atmosphere. I remember how shocked I was that such a thin layer of air made such a difference to a planet. (I recalculated this. There would have to be quite a few layers of ink to be that thick, the thickness of a human hair is much closer to the size.1) With something so thin we had to be very very careful.

CO2’s greenhouse effects can be measured in a laboratory. The only question is how much of it is piling up in the atmosphere when mile long coal trains were rolling by my old house three times an hour, and I’m stopped in miles of cars all burning their gasoline.

The chart above is showing not all of the CO2 is being absorbed as new records are being established.

Girl Named Florida

As I mentioned in the previous post, by adding the condition that a family with two children has a girl named Florida the odds go from 1:3 to 1:2 that the other child is a girl.

Florida was one of the top 1000 female names between about 1900-1930 according to Mlodinow and the Social Security office. But now let’s say it’s a 1:1,000,000 name for girls. The possibilities for families include (assuming they won’t have two girls named Florida): (b,b), (b,n), (b,F), (n,b),(n,F), (n,n), (F,b), (F,n), where b=boy, n=girl not named Florida, F=girl named Florida.

Since we know the family has a girl named Florida we can throw out (b,b), (b,n), (n,b), and (n,n). That means there are 4 ways to have two children families with a girl named Florida, (b,F), (n,F), (F,b), and (F,n), two ways with boys and two ways without.

For more nuanced analysis of this problem check out:
There once was a girl named Florida (a.k.a Evil problems in probability)
Two-Child Paradox Reborn?

Odds of a Girl

I read great new book called The Drunkard’s Walk which is essentially about how the random effects our lives more than we imagine. He had a number of interesting examples of how to think in these terms, all pointing to the importance of asking the right questions and thinking about how to answer it right ways.

For instance if you ask, “A family has two children, one of which is a girl. What are the chances the other one is too?” The answer is 1:3. That’s because we know there are the following combinations possible in birth order: (girl, boy), (girl, girl), and (boy, girl). The (boy, boy) combination is ruled out by what was said about the family. So three equal possibilities, odds are 1:3 that the family would be (girl, girl).

Ah but what if one of the children were named Florida? What then of the odds? It turns out to be 1:2. I’ll show you how in my next post.

Ann Barnhardt:This Person Doesn’t Look Like A President!

Sign on I-70 just outside Ft Riley.

Sign on I-70 just outside Ft Riley.

Going to and from Denver on I-70 we see this sign (going eastbound)  just outside to Ft Riley. I find this a likely example of Republican cognition. It also seems to be put up by a person who doesn’t understand what Marxism is or who wants to throw a scary term around for her own reasons. It was so interesting I had to take the exit and take a picture.

I Don’t Need No Stink’n Driver’s License!

These words were uttered by one mad patron at the Wyoming State Law Library. He’d gotten a ticket for not having such a license and had come to the library to read where in the Constitution it said he needed one. What could my wife do as a librarian but sit him down with a copy of the constitution to read?

And these folks can vote too.

Republican Cognition

Sign on I-70 just outside Ft Riley.

Sign on I-70 just outside Ft Riley.

It has long interested me how people choose their political party or group. It has never made much sense to me. For instance, it’s likely the same person who identifies themselves as pro-life would also be more likely to identify themselves as supporting the death penalty, certainly an anti-life policy. How is this possible?

It seemed there was little that tied the person’s political platform together in a logical way. Forget the cerebral cortex; it seemed to be based on deeper brain function. It might be like color blindness I reasoned. Hardly perceptible to the person with it, or those observing that person. Yet fundamentally framing their world and what they believe about it.

We are now entering a brave new world where we can begin to understand this as a science. For instance, recent studies show that Republican Voters Know GOP Candidates When They See Them (original article here). What the researchers found was that Republican voters were more influenced by facial stereotypes than Democratic voters. The research didn’t identify what it was that people keyed off of, except women and ethnic minorities were viewed as less likely to be Democrats.

UPDATE 6 Sep 2012: Check out my blog post Ann Barnhardt:This Person Doesn’t Look Like A President! for an example of this.