Showing 1 - 10 of 18 posts found matching keyword: statistics
Saturday 12 March 2022
Walt Duncan has been an out-of-touch orthodontist since Zits debuted in 1997. At the time, "Walter" had fallen to 273rd in popularity among U.S. baby boy names, according to the Social Security Administration. So, yeah, "old guy" names.
The peak for "Walter" in the United States was 1914, when it cracked the top ten for the only time in the 20th century. (Per ssa.gov: "In that year, the number of births is 8962, which represents 1.312 percent of total male births in 1914.") Perhaps not coincidentally, the most famous Walter in newspaper comics is Walt Wallet of Gasoline Alley, who debuted in 1918.
The lowest point for "Walter" babies was 393rd (0.035%) in 2008, but has rebounded since. I would presume that's the influence of Breaking Bad's Walter White, who debuted that year, but the name "Louis" has followed a very similar trend, also peaking in 1914 (at 20th, 0.8%) before dead-cat bouncing in 2009 (0.042%). Is there a mid-aughts Louis I've forgotten about?
For the record, there were 2,358 "Walter"s born in 1975, representing 0.145% of all children that year, ranking 112th overall. On a personal note, there were 39,588 "James," or 2.439%, 4th overall. "James" has never fallen out of the top 20 since the SSA started keeping records. If there was a Venn diagram of such things, "James Walter" would represent the popular kid being forced to hang out with a four-eyed comic book nerd.
I would definitely read a comic strip about that.
Wednesday 28 July 2021
Autocorrect continues to plague me.
After Simone Biles withdrew from Olympic competition citing mental issues, I tried to Google the definition of "gymnastics twisties."
My autocorrect changed it to "gymnastics titties."
I'm sure they're nice, but that's not what I'm interested in (right now).
If it's true that the average man thinks about sex once every 7 seconds and that computers process information 10 million times faster than humans, how often does my computer think about sex?
Saturday 5 June 2021
That PSA was published in 1949, when the USA had a population around 150 million and 25 million registered cars. For comparison, today there are about 350 million Americans (+133%) with 287 million registered vehicles (+1048%) resulting in over 42,000 traffic fatalities (+30%). Obviously, roads have gotten a lot safer in the past 3/4 century, and I think we all know why.
Thank you, Superman!
Thursday 12 November 2020
The Georgia Secretary of State has decided that the "risk limiting audit" of the state's 2020 general election for President of the United States will include every single vote cast and be recounted by human hand. If memory serves, the current Secretary of State's election slogan was "Bring Backus the Abacus." (Which, to be fair, was more progressive than his predecessor, whose platform was "You Voted For Who I Say You Vote For.")
According to the SoS's website, 4,991,854 Georgians voted in the election. If one person were to count one ballot per second continuously, it would take that person 58 days. Of course, he'd be dead then, so he might not want to do that.
If ten people were working together, they could complete the task in a week. A hundred could get it done in one intense work day (with overtime). Too bad they can't put 1,000 people in a room with all 5 million votes. Done in under 2 hours!
Each county has to count its own ballots. If Coweta County is lucky enough to get 6 salaried employees together (in state-mandated teams of two) to recount their 76,799 ballots, they'll need 2 full work days (with no water breaks). Coweta is the 17th largest county in the state, so expect several counties to take longer. Lucky tiny Taliaferro (159th of 159 in population) should be able to count to 928 within an hour.
All this number crunching just to validate that maybe we will, finally, definitively know by next Friday where Georgians collectively stand on the question of which old white guy they want in the federal executive mansion. Personally, I'll take the one who can count.
Monday 4 May 2020
As I type this, the United States has 1.188 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 68,276 deaths. More Americans have already died in the past 2 months from COVID-19 than died in the entire Vietnam War. And it's not over yet. By the time you read this, those numbers will be worse.
A quick computation of those figures reveals a current mortality rate of nearly 6%. If you've been paying attention (what else have you got to do?), you may remember that back at the beginning of March, the World Health Organization was estimating a 3.4% mortality rate — an estimate our wise president chose to call "a false number" in a live television interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News. He objected to the WHO number not because it was too low, but because it was much, much to high. "I would say the number is way under one percent," said the president.
(Footnote for future historians: That comment was made on March 4. A month later, April 14, Trump withdrew funding to the WHO claiming that they failed to report the true danger of the virus back in January. Quote: "The reality is that the WHO failed to adequately obtain that and share information in a timely and transparent fashion." By that logic, I guess we should stop funding the current American president, too.)
Testing continues to be a problem, so we can't really be sure that the 1,188,122 number I referenced above is the true extent of the contamination. If we assume that the actual mortality rate is closer to 3.4% previously observed in other countries, it would mean that over 2 million Americans currently have or have had the disease. That's over a million hidden, untreated, pandemic-spreading cases. Sure seems like someone should be thinking twice about opening those shopping malls, Governor Kemp.
Also unreported in all those grim details is another victim of COVID-19. Specifically, I'm talking about my flattop.
I haven't seen a barber in over a decade, but in an act of solidarity with coronavirus-positive Tom Hanks (and maybe a little laziness), I decided to go ahead and trim my hair down to the scalp. Does it make me look more bald or less?
These days, the fact that I'm alive and well enough to worry about such things feels like an accomplishment.
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Monday 5 August 2019
In the past 48 hours, at least 35 people were shot in Dayton, Ohio and another 46 were shot in El Paso, Texas. Those are the headlines, but they're only the tip of the Titanic-sized iceberg that is gun violence in America.
Excluding suicides, over 26,000 people have been shot in the USA this year to date, which puts us on pace for 44,000 by the end of December. By those numbers, an American has a roughly 1 in 74,000 chance of being shot each year. That's only slightly worse than the odds that you'll die in a motorcycle accident. Except, of course, that to die on a motorcycle, you have to first be *on* a motorcycle. The person who shoots you will generously donate the necessary bullet.
Right now, it seems there's not a whole lot you can do to avoid getting shot. Night clubs, bars, and retail stores seem to attract shooters, but so do schools and churches. Outdoor festivals are popular, and your workplace is a death sentence waiting to happen. Sadly, you're most likely to get shot in your own house by a member of your family, so staying home is no help.
About all you can do for sure is stay away from other people entirely, and even that is no guarantee. My friend Randy, who lives a good fifteen minutes from anything I would call civilization, has had people shoot into his house from the street 100-yards away, apparently just to see if they could. Guns are cool!
Personally, I love attending live sporting events. So far, those have been generally bullet-hole free, but that's clearly only a temporary condition. I hope I don't get shot at a football game. I probably won't; many people ride a motorcycle their whole life without dying on one. But if the worst does happen, know that I was shot doing what I loved: running in panic from someone shooting people. U-S-A!
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Monday 4 March 2019
The National Safety Council says that the odds of an American dying from a fall are 1 in 114. That's about twice as likely as the chance of death from a gun assault (1 in 285) but five times more common than the chance of dying while going for a walk (1 in 556). The specific odds of dying from falling down the stairs is 1 in 1,662. Yesterday morning, I nearly became a statistic.
I woke up early to take July outside to go potty before the bad weather rolled in. I didn't bother to change shoes and wore my slippers in the dewy grass. Returning to the house, I wiped her wet feet but not mine. Then we both went back downstairs to return to bed. Thanks to my slippery slippers, one of us went faster than the other.
Spoiler alert: I didn't die. But I do have an uncomfortably twisted ankle and abrasions on my elbows. And I've certainly learned a valuable lesson. From now on, the dog can go potty in the rain.
Wednesday 16 January 2019
A) The National Safety Council reports that as of 2017, Americans are more likely to die from an accidental opiod overdose than from a car accident.
B) I don't take opiods, so I cannot overdose.
C) Therefore, I must not be an American.
That's called logic.
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Wednesday 8 November 2017
True statement: in 2017, you are 4x more likely to be a victim in a mass shooting (1 in 169,000) than be struck by lightning (1 in 700,000). I'm sure the NRA will move to correct that problem by buying up the country's supply of lightning rods.
While it's tempting to say that America has a gun problem, keep in mind that there are some things out there worse than guns. Of course, I'm talking about deer.
I've mentioned before that StateFarm has calculated the average American has a 1 in 169 chance of being struck by a deer. Those odds are terrifying, and I think they go a long way to explaining why America is obsessed with guns.
Just yesterday, the New York Post ran the headline "Deer gores unarmed hunter to death". As bad as it sounds, a closer read reveals the goring took place in France. France is far more restrictive about guns than America is. If that poor hunter had lived in America, he'd probably still be alive today. (Unless he was involved in a mass shooting.)
It was reported last year that a lightning storm killed 323 reindeer in Norway. That's a lot of deer, but it isn't enough. It's been estimated that there are 30 million deer in America. At 1 in 700,000, it'll take 21 trillion bolts of lightning to get them all. Obviously, lightning's going to need some help. We're going to need all the guns we can get our hands on to win the Great Deer Uprising.
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Thursday 24 August 2017
The September issue of Reader's Digest includes an excerpt from Ben Bratt's book Nabokov's Favorite Word is Mauve. In typical clickbait fashion, the magazine titles its article "Have Bestsellers become Dumber?" There's a maxim in journalism that any question posed in a headline can be answered with the word "no." In this case, the answer is a slightly more complicated "kind of."
The argument Bratt makes is that most bestselling books these days are written on a 6th grade reading level, a significant decline from the 8th grade reading level of most bestsellers half a century ago. Personally, I hesitate to blame this on the "dumbing down" of readers. As a child, I was taught that any writing intended for a mass audience should be written on a 7th grade level. I suspect that modern authors have taken that advice to heart and, in the interest of finding an audience, doubled down. After all, if a 7th grade level reaches the average reader, a 6th grade level casts a wider net.
Of course, reading this made me wonder about my own books. Now that I'm an author myself, where does my personal style fall? To answer that question, I took my first three books and ran them through an online text parser. It gave me an "A" for readability but complained that my words have too many syllables. I didn't realize that was a problem. Perhaps naively, I assumed that words had all the syllables they needed.
Over the course of the three books (255,437 words in 25,235 sentences), I averaged 1.4 syllables per word. That's too high? I like Green Eggs and Ham as much as the next guy, but I also like most of my meals to be slightly more complicated.
Otherwise, what did the text parser tell me about my writing? My books are 37% nouns or pronouns, 21% verbs, 7% adjectives, and 6% adverbs, and they should take about 20 hours to read. That information gives no hint about whether my stories are entertaining, just that humans won't pull out their hair trying to make sense of my grammar. That's better than nothing, I suppose.
Oh, it also told me that my writing averages a 7th grade reading level. Surprise, surprise.
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