Wednesday, August 31, 2011

How Many Species Are There on Earth?

The diversity of life is one of the most striking aspects of our planet; hence knowing how many species inhabit Earth is among the most fundamental questions in science. Yet the answer to this question remains enigmatic, as efforts to sample the world's biodiversity to date have been limited and thus have precluded direct quantification of global species richness, and because indirect estimates rely on assumptions that have proven highly controversial. ... In spite of 250 years of taxonomic classification and over 1.2 million species already catalogued in a central database, our results suggest that some 86% of existing species on Earth and 91% of species in the ocean still await description.

More HERE.

OPAL down for a week

From OPAL, the New York State's Online Permit Assistance and Licensing website:

If you want to start a new business or expand your current business, this site will help you find the New York State business permits you may need.


IMPORTANT NOTICE: Due to a scheduled upgrade, the online forms will NOT be available from September 6 through September 13, 2011. This website will NOT be available from September 9 through September 13, 2011. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

"Community college often gets a bad rap, but for years these institutions have helped many students — especially those trying to balance work, family and going to school — get the education and training they need. President Obama has called community colleges one of the keys to America’s economic future, and the new attention and increasingly bigger draw is bound to mix things up in the coming decade. Here are a few examples" of what is predicted to "evolve and even improve about the community college experience."

More HERE.

Publication of Final Criteria for Delineating Urban Areas for the 2010 Census

The Census Bureau published final criteria for delineating urban areas for the 2010 Census in the August 24, 2011 Federal Register. In addition to the final criteria, the notice contains a summary of comments received in response to the Census Bureau’s proposed urban area criteria and the Census Bureau’s responses to those comments. Background information about the Census Bureau’s urban-rural classification also is included.

Note that these areas form the foundation for delineating the metropolitan and micropolitan areas by OMB that are to come.

The final criteria are available from the Census Bureau’s website at

Monday, August 29, 2011

What 15 Financial Experts Want You to Know About College Expenses

There’s no shortage of information about college expenses: scholarships, loans, savings plans, the rising cost of college tuition, and more. Nearly everyone has advice for saving on or somehow managing to make college expenses work. But what do the experts have to say? We’ve found sound college advice from some of the top financial experts today, whether you’re wondering about 529s or raiding your retirement fund for college. Read on to find out what the experts know about saving and paying for college.

Other weather sources

In addition to sources such as the National Weather Service,, and Weather Underground, here are a couple other links:

The Northeast Climate Center

The Utah Climate Center at the Utah State University.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Changing Profile of Autopsied Deaths in the US, 1972–2007

National Center for Health Statistics [PDF]

In 1972, almost 1 out of 5 deaths were autopsied. From 1972 through 2003, however, the autopsy rate dropped 58 percent from 19.3 percent to 8.1 percent. Although the autopsy rate has increased slightly since 2003, only 8.5 percent, or fewer than 1 out of 10 deaths, were autopsied in 2007.

Variation & Change in the State Standards for Reading & Mathematics, 2005 - 2009

National Center for Education Statistics [PDF]

There is wide variation among state proficiency standards.
• In 2009, as in 2003, 2005, and 2007, using NAEP as common metric, standards for proficient performance in reading and mathematics varied across states in terms of the levels of achievement required. For example, for grade 4 reading, the difference in the level required for proficient performance between the five states with the highest standards and the
five with the lowest standards was comparable to the difference between Basic and Proficient performance on NAEP. The results for reading at grade 8 and mathematics in both grades were similar.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Snapshot of Food Safety Milestones in the History of the FDA

Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA posted, “Snapshot of Food Safety Milestones in the History of the FDA” on its Web site. Until a little over a century ago, there were no federal laws or regulations in place to protect the public from potentially dangerous substances in medicines or foods.

Adoption of Genetically Engineered Crops in the U.S.

From the Department of Agriculture - Economic Research Service

U.S. farmers have adopted genetically engineered (GE) crops widely since their commercial introduction in 1996, notwithstanding uncertainty about consumer acceptance and economic and environmental impacts. In terms of share of planted acres, soybeans and cotton have been the most widely adopted GE crops in the U.S., followed by corn. This data product summarizes the extent of adoption of herbicide-tolerant and insect–resistant crops since their introduction in 1996.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Annual Energy Review

Source: Energy Information Administration

The Annual Energy Review (AER) is the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s primary report of historical annual energy statistics. For many series, data begin with the year 1949. Included are data on total energy production, consumption, and trade; overviews of petroleum, natural gas, coal, electricity, nuclear energy, renewable energy, international energy, as well as financial and environmental indicators; and data unit conversion tables.

Same-sex couples in New York State

From the The Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law

Data are compiled from PCT 15, Census 2010 SF-1. Same-sex couples are identified in households where Person 1 describes his or her relationship with another adult of the same sex as either a “husband/wife” or “unmarried partner”. The reported number of same-sex couples in the state and the associated figure for same-sex couples per 1,000 households are based on official Census tabulations.

More HERE.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

What Is the Average Retirement Age?

by Alicia H. Munnell

Since working longer is the key to a secure retirement for the vast majority of older Americans, it is useful to take a look at labor force trends for those under and over age 65 for the last century.

Use of Victim Service Agencies by Victims of Serious Violent Crime

From 1993 to 2009, an average of 9% of victims of serious violent crime—rape or other sexual assault, robbery, and aggravated assault—received assistance from a victim service agency. Victim service agencies are publicly or privately funded organizations that provide victims with support and services to aid their physical and emotional recovery, offer protection from future victimizations, guide them through the criminal
justice system process, and assist them in obtaining restitution.

More HERE (PDF).

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Earthquake Hazards Program

All you need to know about earthquakes from the USGS. The Last Earthquake in New York was a magnitude 2.2 on 2011 August 23 10:35:17 UTC, 28 km (17 miles) W of ALBANY, New York.

Like a Hurricane

Hurricane Irene is churning in the Atlantic, and if you live in a hurricane-prone part of the United States, it's time to prepare for severe storms. has the information you need to prepare your family, your business, and your pets. Don't let a disaster catch you by surprise - be prepared.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


"This discography focuses on officially released studio recordings; live recordings are included only where there is no studio version by that artist. Exceptions are noted as such."

Jerry Leiber of the songwriting team of Leiber & Stoller has died at the age of 78. The two men gave us a lot of hits, for the Coasters, the Drifters, Elvis Presley and a lot of other folks. I actually bought a book with many, though by no means, all of their songs. You will say "Gee, they wrote that, too?"

Children's Well Being

A number of reports released this month about children.

From the Annie E. Casey Foundation - 2011 Kids Count Data Book: National and State-By-State Data on Key Indicators of Child Well-Being

From the Census Bureau - A Child’s Day: 2009

From the National Center for Health Statistics - Summary Health Statistics for U.S. Children: National Health Interview Survey, 2010 [PDF]

From the Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality - Hospital Stays for Children, 2009 [PDF]

Monday, August 22, 2011

All Time Top 100 Stars at the Box Office

This chart is not adjusted for inflation. The figures represent the total amount of US revenue generated by all the movies a star has appeared in over their lifetime.

Who's #1? You're probably thinking Tom Cruise (#8) or Harrison Ford (#5) or Tom Hanks (#3). My guess is that you will NEVER guess #1.


A couple PDF reports from the National Center for Health Statistics

Childbearing Differences Among Three Generations of U.S. Women
Transitions Between Childlessness and First Birth: Three Generations of U.S. Women

Sunday, August 21, 2011

How To Live Forever

An inforgraphic talking about our current longevity, things that impact our lifespan, ways to improve that lifespan, and what the future may hold for making us live longer.

"Keeping America Informed" U.S. Government Printing Office's 150th Anniversary History Exhibit

Did you know that the Government Printing Office is celebrating 150
Here is a press release [PDF] on an exhibit with a URL to a YouTube video showing the GPO employees viewing the exhibit.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

State Agricultural Export Data

From the Department of Agriculture - Economic Research Service

Annual estimates of U.S. exports by State and commodity group based on each State's share of U.S. agricultural production.

Small Business Quarterly Bulletin

The Small Business Quarterly Bulletin [PDF] from Advocacy's Office of Economic Research is a brochure-style publication that contains commentary and analysis on the current employment and financing trends of small businesses.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Baby Boomers Envision What's Next?

From AARP:

As boomers approach retirement they are less confident about financing their retirement through their own savings or pensions. They are more likely to expect to rely on Social Security. Their health is also declining. As a result they are less optimistic about their retirement, and now have lowered expectations. They anticipate working longer, at least on a part-time basis, for the additional income. This is especially true among working boomers with lower incomes. The recession and financial meltdown have played a role in this pessimism,

Search for Patents

Inventors are encouraged to search the USPTO’s patent database to see if a patent has already been filed or granted that is similar to your patent. Patents may be searched in the USPTO Patent Full-Text and Image Database (PatFT). The USPTO houses full text for patents issued from 1976 to the present and TIFF images for all patents from 1790 to the present.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Employee Benefits for Same-Sex Partners

(description from American Demographics)

Thirty percent of same-sex unmarried domestic partners have access to health care benefits for their partner through their employer, according to the 2011 Employee Benefits Survey. In this Bureau of Labor Statistics' survey, for the first time, questions were included about access to benefits for unmarried domestic partners--same sex and opposite sex. The 30 percent of same-sex partners who have access to health care benefits exceeds the 25 percent of opposite-sex partners with access.

School Districts Integrate Technology into Common Core-based Curriculum

As states emphasize the Common Core State Standards, school districts work on meeting learning goals with technology.

Forty-four states, including New York State, and the District of Columbia have adopted the standards, and two state consortiums are designing assessments for them.

More info HERE.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

The MetLife Report on American Grandparents

New Insights for a New Generation of Grandparents

There are 65 million grandparents in the U.S., an increase from 40 million in 1980. More than one in every four adults is a grandparent. A long way from being dependent, households that are headed by someone 45 to 64 years old command almost half (46%) of the nation’s total household income. If households older than age 65 are added in, the grandparent age share of the nation’s income rises to 60%, which is a full 10 percentage points higher than it was in 1980.

Interesting ZIP code resource

Zipskinny, unfortunately, is based on Census 2000 data, not 2010...yet.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Wealth Gaps Rise to Record Highs Between Whites, Blacks and Hispanics

The median wealth of white households is 20 times that of black households and 18 times that of Hispanic households, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of newly available government data from 2009.

These lopsided wealth ratios are the largest since the government began publishing such data a quarter century ago and roughly twice the size of the ratios that had prevailed between these three groups for the two decades prior to the Great Recession that ended in 2009.

The Pew Research Center analysis finds that, in percentage terms, the bursting of the housing market bubble in 2006 and the recession that followed from late 2007 to mid-2009 took a far greater toll on the wealth of minorities than whites.

More from Pew Research.

Standard & Poor's Credit Rating for each country

The map found HERE shows Standard & Poor's Credit Rating for each country. The US is no longer deep blue.

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Timeline of College Tuition

My wife went to college in the 1980s and recalled that she thought tuition at her private university was quite expensive. Since then, the tuition has increased fivefold, as we noticed on an alumni visit last week.

Speaking of which, A Timeline of College Tuition.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Search for Lost Money

What is Lost Money?

For your protection, banks, insurance companies, utilities, investment companies and many other businesses are required by State law to surrender inactive accounts to the State. These accounts are known as “lost,” “abandoned,” or “unclaimed” funds.

The Office of the State Comptroller serves as custodian of this money. If you can prove you are entitled to the money, we will gladly return it to you, at any time, without charge. Until the money is claimed, it is used by the State’s General Funds, serving the citizens and taxpayers of the State of New York.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Friday, August 12, 2011

Handbook of New York State and Local Taxes

The Handbook of New York State and Local Taxes provides a general descriptive overview of the taxes which New York State and its local
governments impose, and is revised periodically to reflect recently
enacted law changes. It does not include non-tax revenue sources such as
motor vehicle fees and the Lottery. Instead, it focuses on taxes,
especially those administered by the Department of Taxation and Finance.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

New York State Transportation Equity Alliance

The New York State Transportation Equity Alliance (NYSTEA) is a coalition of over 75 groups across New York State working to reform federal and state transportation policy.

NYSTEA is coordinated by Empire State Future, Tri-State Transportation Campaign, UPROSE and WE ACT- combining regional land use planning, environmental justice and transportation policy experience.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Bar Codes

What is the best way for a business to obtain a barcode for a product?

I would start HERE.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Updates to CUNY's Census maps

The team at the CUNY Center for Urban Research has updated its interactive maps showing block-level race/ethnicity patterns in 2000 and 2010 in major US cities.

The maps are available at Steven Romalewski has a blog post with more detail HERE. The news release is here.

Some updates:

1. Block-level coverage for all of New York State, as well as New Jersey and Connecticut. For example, here are links to Albany and Syracuse and Buffalo and Babylon/Islip on Long Island.

2. More cities. There are now 15 major urban regions mapped (Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Detroit, Houston, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Francisco, and Washington D.C.).

3. The maps now have three ways of comparing 2000 and 2010 racial patterns:
- a vertical slider bar dividing two overlapping maps (2000 on the left, 2010 on the right);
- a side-by-side comparison (two separate maps moving in unison), and
- a single-map overlay (you can fade between 2010 and 2000).

4. Color-coded the population change data in the popup window. Population increase is shown in green; decrease is shown in red. (A minor thing, but hopefully it makes the change values clearer.)

All three options for viewing are included so people can pick and choose which they like best, or which suits their particular needs. The vertical slider bar provides an effective "before and after" view. The side-by-side comparison works well for lingering over a given area, especially at the local level, taking the time to absorb the differences in demographic patterns. The single-map 2010/2000 overlay seems especially helpful for revealing the increase in diversity over a given area (as areas shaded with darker blues, oranges, etc fade to lighter shades indicating a more mixed population demographically) or vice versa.

CUNY Center for Urban Research has received some good feedback already on people's favorite comparison techniques. If you have a preference and have used the maps for a particular project, they would love to know.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Fewer Employees Cost More at MTA

Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) employees received an average total pay of $72,019 in 2010, up nearly 4 percent from the 2009 level, according to the latest complete MTA payroll posted at, the government transparency website sponsored by the Empire Center for New York State Policy.

The list of highest-paid MTA employees was topped by Jay Walder, the agency's chairman and CEO, whose base salary in 2010 was $350,000, followed by seven other high-ranking MTA executives who earned between $241,341 and $285,331.

To read the full release, click here.

To visit the SeeThroughNY database, click here.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

What is a "common wheelchair?"

Section 37.3 of the DOT’s regulations implementing the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) (49 CFR Parts 27, 37, and 38) defines a "common wheelchair" as a mobility aid belonging to any class of three or four-wheeled devices, usable indoors, designed for and used by individuals with mobility impairments, whether operated manually or powered. A "common wheelchair" does not exceed 30 inches in width and 48 inches in length measured two inches above the ground, and does not weigh more than 600 pounds when occupied.

Is an electric scooter or other mobility device a common wheelchair?

If an electric scooter or other mobility device meets the physical specifications of a common wheelchair as defined by the DOT’s ADA regulations, it must be treated as a common wheelchair.

May a transit operator require common wheelchairs be secured to the vehicle?

Yes, provided that the transit operator has established such a policy. Section 37.165(c)(3) of the DOT’s ADA regulations allows a transit operator to establish a policy that requires all riders to have their common wheelchairs secured while aboard a transit vehicle. Therefore, the operator may decline to provide service to a rider who refuses to allow his or her common wheelchair to be secured. Alternatively, transit operators may adopt a policy that allows common wheelchairs to ride unsecured. If the rider wishes his or her wheelchair to be secured, however, the operator’s personnel must provide the requested assistance.

What kinds of securement equipment must be provided?

Section 38.23(d) of the DOT’s ADA regulations requires all ADA-compliant vehicles to have a two-part securement system, one to secure the common wheelchair, and a seatbelt and shoulder harness for the wheelchair user. Section 38.23(a) requires vehicles over 22 feet in length to have enough securement locations and devices to secure two common wheelchairs, while vehicles 22 feet and under must be able to accommodate at least one common wheelchair.

May a transit operator deny boarding to a rider whose common wheelchair is difficult to secure?

No. If the transit operator has a policy that requires securement, or if a rider asks that the wheelchair be secured, Section 37.165(f) of the DOT’s ADA regulations requires transit personnel to use their best efforts to secure any mobility device that meets the regulatory definition of a common wheelchair. Section 37.165(d) states that transit operators cannot refuse to accommodate a common wheelchair – including a scooter or other specialized mobility device that complies with the ADA regulation’s specifications -- because the wheelchair cannot be secured to the driver’s satisfaction. Given the diversity of "common" wheelchairs, transit operators should consult with the manufacturers of securement devices and wheelchairs, as well as the owner of the wheelchair, to determine the best means of securement.

Does a wheelchair user have to use the seatbelt and shoulder harness?

Under the broad non-discrimination provisions in Section 37.5 of the DOT’s ADA regulations, a transit operator is not permitted to mandate the use by wheelchair users of seatbelts and shoulder harnesses, unless the operator mandates the use of these devices by all passengers, including those sitting in vehicle seats. For example, on fixed route buses, if none of the other passengers are required to wear shoulder belts then neither can the person in the mobility device be required to do so.Transit operators may establish a policy that requires the seatbelt and shoulder harness to be used by all riders, including those who use wheelchairs as well as those who use vehicle seats, if seatbelts and shoulder harnesses are provided at all seating locations. In some cases, state law could require an operator to adopt such a policy.

What kind of services must transit personnel provide?

Because safe and nondiscriminatory transportation is the responsibility of the transit operator, Section 37.173 of the DOT’s ADA regulations requires transit operators to train their personnel to properly assist and treat individuals with disabilities with sensitivity, and to operate vehicles and equipment safely. This includes training personnel to use the accessibility equipment and to accommodate the different types of common wheelchairs. Attendant-type services (e.g., carrying passengers, personal baggage, or suitcases) are not required, but assistance with boarding and disembarking, including pushing a manual wheelchair up a particularly steep ramp, is required.

What if the accessibility equipment is missing or not working?

Section 37.161 of the DOT’s ADA regulations requires transit operators to maintain and repair the accessibility equipment. Section 37.163 requires public transit operators to establish a schedule or system to ensure regular and frequent maintenance checks and to take a vehicle out of service to repair or replace any broken or missing equipment before returning the vehicle to service. In some instances, a transit operator must provide alternative accessible transportation if the accessibility equipment is not present or not working.

Does a common wheelchair need brakes in order to use public transit?

No. The DOT ADA regulations’ definition of a common wheelchair does not include a requirement for brakes or any other equipment. A transit operator may not deny transportation to a wheelchair user because the wheelchair does not have brakes or the user does not choose to set the brakes.

Can an operator refuse to carry a person with a disability, especially a person using an electric scooter that meets the definition of a "common wheelchair," because of higher insurance rates or liability concerns?

No. Section 37.5(g) of the DOT’s ADA regulations prohibits an operator from denying service to an individual with a disability because its insurance company conditions coverage or rates on the absence of individuals with disabilities or persons who use common wheelchairs.

Can a transit operator require a person to transfer from a wheelchair to a vehicle seat?

No. Section 37.165(e) of the DOT’s ADA regulations allows persons who use wheelchairs to transfer to a vehicle seat, if one is available. Such a move is the rider’s decision and the transit operator cannot force a rider to transfer to a vehicle seat, although the transit operator can suggest a transfer in a non-coercive way.For more information on this and other topics related to the ADA and public transit, contact:
Federal Transit Administration
Office of Civil Rights
East Building – 5th Floor, TCR
1200 New Jersey Ave., SE
Washington, DC 20590

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Marriage Equality Act

This document [PDF] explains that all marriages, whether of same-sex couples or different-sex couples, will be treated equally under all laws of the state. Accordingly, the Act applies to all taxes administered by the Tax Department as of the effective date of July 24, 2011.

Library Statistics

The latest update of the Public Libraries Survey (PLS) data is now available on the IMLS web site. This survey has a CENSUS URL, not so incidentally.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Census of State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies, 2008

In September 2008, state and local law enforcement agencies employed more than 1.1 million persons on a full-time basis, including about 765,000
sworn personnel (defined as those with general arrest powers). Agencies also employed approximately 100,000 part-time employees, including 44,000 sworn
officers. These findings come from the 2008 Bureau of Justice Statistics’ (BJS) Census of State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies (CSLLEA), the fifth such census to be conducted since the quadrennial series began in 1992.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Nonfatal occupational injuries and illnesses by occupation, 2009

In 2009, the total number of reported nonfatal occupational injury and illness cases that required days away from work to recuperate was 1,238,490 cases for private industry, state government, and local government; the total incidence rate was 117 cases per 10,000 full-time workers.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Consumer Protection blog

Check out the Federal Trade Commission's Consumer Protection blog for valuable tips to help you protect your privacy, manage your money, avoid scams, and much more. Recent posts suggest caution in downloading apps; describe how businesses track your web browsing; and reveal scams that target immigrants.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Women’s Earnings in 2010

From Bureau of Labor Statistics [PDF]

In 2010, women who were full-time wage and salary workers had median weekly earnings of $669. Women earned 81 percent of the median weekly earnings of their male counterparts ($824). In 1979, the first year for which comparable
earnings data are available, women earned 62 percent of what men earned. The women's-to-men's earnings ratio has been in the 80 to 81 percent range since 2004; prior to this time, the ratio had been gradually trending upward.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Death in the United States, 2009

From the National Center for Health Statistics [PDF]

Mortality in the United States is best summarized by the age-adjusted death
rate—a measure that accounts for changes in the age distribution of the
population. This rate has declined in an almost uninterrupted manner since
1960. The death rate is now 45 percent lower than in 1960 (declining from
1,339.2 per 100,000 standard population in 1960 to 741.0 in 2009).
Although age-adjusted mortality has declined for all demographic groups
over a period of many decades, long-standing gaps between black and white
populations and between male and female populations have begun to narrow
only since the mid-1990s. Many of the recent improvements in death rates
and life expectancy for all population groups can be attributed to ongoing
reductions in death rates from major causes of death, such as heart disease,
cancer, stroke, and chronic lower respiratory diseases.