Friday, August 30, 2013

Haters Are Gonna Hate, Study Confirms

From Slate:

Haters really are going to hate. A new study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology corroborates the hip-hop and Internet truism that you just can’t win with some people.

In their paper “Attitudes Without Objects,” psychologists Justin Hepler and Dolores Albarracin show that those who already hold a lot of negative views are more likely to react negatively to new stimuli.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Program on Applied Demographics' subcounty profiles for NYS

In addition to the County profiles previously announced, Cornell's Program on Applied Demographics has recently produced booklets with data on towns, cities and villages in NYS. They contain data from the Decennial census, the population estimates program and the ACS. The data is organized by county.

Profiles for the Indian reservations within New York are in a separate booklet together with data on the American Indian population in New York.

All profiles can be downloaded here.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Special issue on financial activities of purported terrorists

Here is the release of Volume VII, Issue 4 (August 2013) of Perspectives on Terrorism at This is a special "single theme" issue, offering insights and analyses about the financial activities of terrorists, with a particular emphasis on one of the world's most powerful and well-financed groups-the Lebanese Shia militia Hezbollah. In the first piece, Michael Freeman and Moyara Reuhsen offer a brief tour through the complex world of terrorist strategies for raising and moving funds. Then Matthew Levitt offers a case study of Hezbollah's European criminal enterprises. Joel Hernandez follows him with a detailed case study of the intersections between Hezbollah and global trafficking networks, including the infamous Mexican cartel Los Zetas.


Terrorism Financing Methods: An Overview by Michael Freeman and Moyara Reuhsen

Hezbollah's Organized Criminal Enterprises in Europe by Matthew Levitt

Terrorism, Drug Trafficking and the Globalization of Supply by Joel Hernández

Draining the Ocean to Catch one Type of Fish: Evaluating the Effectiveness of the Global Counter-Terrorism Financing Regime by Aimen Dean, Edwina Thompson, & Tom Keatinge

The Art of Searching: How to Find Terrorism Literature in the Digital Age by Judith Tinnes

Literature and Online Resources on the Financing of Terrorism, Compiled and selected by Eric Price

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The true true size of Africa

LAST month Kai Krause, a computer-graphics guru, caused a stir with a map entitled "The True Size of Africa", which showed the outlines of other countries crammed into the outline of the African continent. His aim was to make "a small contribution in the fight against rampant Immappancy"—in particular, the fact that most people do not realise how much the ubiquitous Mercator projection distorts the relative sizes of countries.

A sphere cannot be represented on a flat plane without distortion, which means all map projections distort in one way or another. Some projections show areas accurately but distort distances or scales, for example; others preserve the shapes of countries but misrepresent their areas.

More from The Economist.

Monday, August 26, 2013

Why Are Cities Growing Again?

Why are the nation's urban centers growing again? The reasons are complex and not easily explained, often resulting in circular arguments such as "Millennials apparently drive less because they prefer walkable places and they prefer walkable places because they drive less," says Robert Steuteville, editor and publisher of Better! Cities and Towns.

Steuteville unravels the mystery of why cities are growing in one of the most insightful pieces on the topic to date, Why Are Young Adults Returning to the City?. He thinks four factors are behind the growing preference for urban life.

1. Millennials "looked around their home towns and saw something missing," says Steuteville. Take a drive and you soon see what he means. In the decades since the baby-boom generation populated small town and suburban America, those areas have lost their soul.

More from Cheryl Russell's Demo Memo blog.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

6.5 Percent of All Humans Ever Born are Still Alive Today

It is estimated that the number of humans who have been born in the last fifty thousand years (when modern humans appeared) is near 107 billion. But the percentage of humans ever born who are alive today is 6.5 percent. Not only is this astonishing, but there are 22 other astonishing facts revealed HERE.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Few Plan for College Expenses

Description from the New Strategist:

Only 43 percent of American families know how they will pay for college before their child enrolls in school, according to the latest Sallie Mae report, How America Pays for College 2013. The college cost "surprise" that greets many families as their child heads out the door is one factor behind the rise in student debt.

The typical family with an 18-to-24-year-old enrolled in an undergraduate program paid $21,178 for college in the 2012-13 school year. The funds came from a combination of parent income and savings ($5,727), loans ($5,760), grants and scholarships ($6,355), student income ($2,284), and gifts from relatives and friends ($1,053).

And in a similar vein, The One Comic That Explains Just How Screwed America Is.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Do Americans Believe Capitalism and Government Are Working?

Description by American Consumers: August 2013

A survey of religious beliefs combined with economic and social attitudes finds Americans falling into four philosophical camps:

38% religious moderates
28% religious conservatives
19% religious progressives
15% nonreligious

Not surprisingly, these four groups differ in size by political party, according to the timely report, Do Americans Believe Capitalism and Government Are Working? by the Public Religion Research Institute and the Brookings Institution.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Tax Department Launches Statewide STAR Registration

The New York State Tax Department unveiled an easy, fast and secure online STAR Registration platform for homeowners currently receiving the Basic STAR property tax exemption. The system will facilitate Governor Cuomo's 2013-14 Budget initiative to save New York taxpayers millions by eliminating inappropriate STAR property tax exemptions.

Homeowners will not have to register in order to receive their 2013 STAR exemptions.
Homeowners will not have to re-register every year. Based on the information provided in the registration process, the Tax Department will monitor homeowners' eligibility in future years.

You can register for the STAR exemption online. You'll need to:
provide a STAR code (we're mailing codes to all Basic STAR recipients; or you can use the STAR code lookup)
provide the names and social security numbers for all owners of the property and spouses
confirm that the property is the primary residence of one of its owners (married couples with multiple residences may only claim one STAR exemption)
confirm that the combined income of the owners and their spouses who reside at the property does not exceed $500,000
confirm that no resident owner received a residency-based tax benefit from another state

You can also register by calling (518) 457-2036

Registration started on August 19, 2013 and will continue through December 31, 2013.

Senior citizens

Senior citizens receiving the Enhanced STAR exemption are not affected by the new registration requirement. Seniors must, however, continue to:

apply annually, or
participate in the Income Verification Program

More information HERE.

Addendum: as of 8/21/2013, residences in the following localities were not currently available via the lookup, and may have to wait for the letter, or come back.
Dutchess County
City of Geneva
Nassau County
Putnam County
Rockland County
Sullivan County
Suffolk County
Westchester County

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

On being ‘right’ in science

From PLOS:

The other day I was standing around with a few friends arguing about ergonomics (these are the things you do when you’re a graduate scientist). At one point, my friend referenced a presentation that was chock full of the worst kinds of sensationalist science writing (it said that the act of sitting was literally killing you).

As a scientist and writer myself, I jumped all over the presentation, calling it sham science, and pointing out the many ways in which it was confusing or obscuring the truth. Expecting to be met with nodding approval, I instead faced several annoyed looks and the strong feeling that I was being wished out of the room. I didn’t understand what was wrong – they had presented a piece of evidence, and I had summarily shot it down. Isn’t that what arguing is all about? Instead of feeling right, I felt like a jerk.

And then I realized something: it didn’t matter whether I was right; nobody was listening to me anymore.

Many scientists run into this situation on a daily basis, but understanding this problem digs into one of the biggest crises facing scientific research today: there’s a difference between being right and being persuasive. The first entails having the facts straight, and the second means convincing someone else to believe them.


Consider the fact that scientific theory and uninformed hand waving are often presented as equal and opposing sides to an argument in the media. Clearly, we are not getting the message across to the public that science is not opinion, it is an argument grounded in facts. It’s incredibly important to think about how we phrase our understanding of the world, as well as how we can make our ideas more relevant, interesting, and clear to the public. Don’t believe me? Just ask the climate scientists.

Monday, August 19, 2013

MAPS: What Your State Is Good At, And What It's Lame At

From Upworthy:

Just when you thought you knew everything about a red state or a blue state, these cool maps show that each state is No. 1 in some kind of environmental or public health initiative.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Population of New York State by County, 1790 to 1990

From Empire State Development.

Population counts from the federal Decennial Census of Population. The first Census was taken in 1790 and has been taken every 10 years since that time. Population figures include total resident population as of the given date.

Bronx County
- Organized from part of New York in 1914.
Chemung County
- Part taken to form part of Schuyler in 1854.
Essex County
- Part annexed to Hamilton and part of Hamilton annexed in 1915.
Hamilton County
- Part annexed to Essex and part of Essex annexed in 1915.
Kings County
- Part of Queens annexed in 1915.
Nassau County
- Organized from part of Queens in 1899.
New York County
- Parts of Westchester annexed in 1873 and 1895; part taken to form Bronx in 1914.
Queens County
- Part taken to form Nassau in 1899; part annexed to Kings in 1915.
Schuyler County
- Organized from parts of Chemung, Steuben, and Tompkins in 1854.
Steuben County
- Part taken to form part of Schuyler in 1854.
Tompkins County
- Part taken to form part of Schuyler in 1854.
Westchester County
- Parts annexed to New York in 1873 and 1895

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Histomaps of 4,000 years of human civilization and 10,000 years of evolution

From BoingBoing:
John B. Sparks' 1931 Histomap charted 4,000 years of human civilization with beautiful, reductive clarity. Here's John Brownlee, at Fast Company: "From a modern perspective, Sparks’ Histomap will raise a few eyebrows. For one, it subscribes to an outdated (but, at the time, quite in vogue) idea about how different cultures throughout history could be grouped into various 'peoples.' The chart also underestimates or omits certain cultures that historians at the time didn’t truly appreciate the importance of... It seems hard to find in print form at a reasonable price. I've embedded an enormous 2MB image."

Also from BoingBoing:
Sparks also made a version charting the evolutionary tree. "Embedded below is a great big 5MB JPG of the evolutionary map, spotted by Slate's Rebecca Onion at Samphan Sittiwantana's Pinterest page."

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

NSA Surveillance Leaks: Background and Issues for Congress

From the Congressional Research Service via Federation of American Scientists

Recent attention concerning National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance pertains to unauthorized disclosures of two different intelligence collection programs. Since these programs were publicly disclosed over the course of two days in June, there has been confusion about what information is being collected and what authorities the NSA is acting under. This report clarifies the differences between the two programs and identifies potential issues that may help Members of Congress assess legislative proposals pertaining to NSA surveillance authorities.

One program collects in bulk the phone records—specifically the number that was dialed from, the number that was dialed to, and the date and duration of the call—of customers of Verizon Wireless and possibly other U.S. telephone service providers. It does not collect the content of the calls or the identity of callers. The data are collected pursuant to Section 215 of the USA PATRIOT ACT, which amended the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) of 1978....

The other program collects the electronic communications, including content, of foreign targets overseas whose communications flow through American networks. The Director of National Intelligence has acknowledged that data are collected pursuant to Section 702 of FISA. As described, the program may not intentionally target any person known at the time of acquisition to be located in the United States, which is prohibited by Section 702. Beyond that, the scope of the intelligence collection, the type of information collected and companies involved, and the way in which it is collected remain unclear. Section 702 was added by the FISA Amendments Act of 2008. Prior to the enactment of Section 702, FISA only permitted sustained domestic electronic surveillance or access to domestic electronically stored communications after the issuance of a FISC order that was specific to the target.


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

53 Million Hispanics Constitute 17 percent of US Population

From Hispanic Business:

By 2060, the Census Bureau projects, the U.S. Hispanic population will be almost 129 million, or 31 percent of the nation's population at that time.

As of 2010, only Mexico's 112 million had a larger Hispanic population than the United States.

Sixty-five percent of the Hispanic-origin people in the United States who were of Mexican background in 2011, while 9.4 percent were of Puerto Rican background, 3.8 percent Salvadoran, 3.6 percent Cuban, 3.0 percent Dominican and 2.3 percent Guatemalan. The remainder was of some other Central American, South American or other Hispanic/Latino origin, the Census Bureau said.

Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, New Jersey, New York and Texas all have a population of 1 million or more Hispanic residents in 2012.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Construction: square foot cost estimate to build your particular project

Is there a book or other resource which gives construction costs per square foot for different types of building projects?

"An accurate estimate of the costs to build your particular project depends upon the location, project scope, specific components used and current market conditions and is available on But cost estimates are available for certain building types here.

Friday, August 9, 2013

State Tax Revenues Up But Volatility Continues

Albany, N.Y.- States' tax collections have been growing for 13 straight quarters now. While inflation-adjusted state tax revenues are presently above the recessionary peaks, states continue to face fiscal challenges, particularly due to artificially propped-up personal income tax revenues, according to the latest State Revenue Report from the Rockefeller Institute of Government.

State tax revenues were up 8.6 percent for the first quarter of 2013 compared to the same period of 2012, according to the report by Lucy Dadayan and Donald J. Boyd. States reported the largest growth in personal income tax collections at 18.4 percent, largely due to the acceleration of income into calendar year 2012.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

State Education Department Releases Grades 3-8 Assessment Results

Message from Commissioner King

Dear Colleague:

This week, we are releasing the results of the April 2013 grades 3-8 math and English Language Arts (ELA) assessments. This year's state assessments are the first for New York students to measure the Common Core State Standards that were adopted by the State Board of Regents in 2010. As expected, the percentage of students deemed proficient will be significantly lower than in 2011-12. This change in scores -- which will effectively create a new baseline measurement of student learning -- is largely the result of the shift in the assessments to measure the Common Core State Standards, which more accurately reflect students' progress toward college and career readiness.

There are those who will use the change in students' proficiency rates to attack teachers and principals. That's just plain wrong. I've said over and over again: the change in proficiency rates does not mean teachers are teaching less or that students are learning less than last year. That's why we've made sure the scores will not negatively impact teacher, principal or school accountability. No new districts will be identified as Focus Districts and no new schools will be identified as Priority schools based on 2012-13 assessment results. The student growth scores used in teacher and principal evaluation will result in similar proportions of educators earning each rating category (Highly Effective, etc.) for student growth in 2012-13 compared to 2011-12, despite the change in students who score at proficiency. This is in large part because the State's student growth model takes into consideration changes in student performance compared to "similar" students (i.e. students with similar characteristics and academic histories). Therefore, all educators will have a chance to do well, regardless of the changing rigor of the test.

Last week, I sent a memo to school district superintendents across the state, reminding them that this is the first year of the new assessments and recommending judicious and thoughtful use of each measure of the State's multiple measures evaluation system.

The new assessments are a much better, more accurate tool for educators, students, and parents as they work together to prepare students for 21st century colleges and careers. The results are consistent with other indicators of the college and career readiness of New York State students, including the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), NYS student performance on the SAT and PSAT, and college and career ready scores on New York State's high school Regents exams.

Chancellor Tisch has said these scores represent a new baseline and a new beginning. We have just finished the first year of a dramatic shift in teaching and learning. The Chancellor and the Board of Regents understand that teachers, principals, superintendents and school boards have worked extraordinarily hard to implement the Common Core. They also understand that with the right tools, the right training, and continuous feedback and support, our teachers - the best teaching force in the country - will make sure all our students are prepared for college and career success in the 21st century.

I understand these scores are sobering for teachers and principals. It's frustrating to see our children struggle. But we can't allow ourselves to be paralyzed by frustration; we must be energized by this opportunity. The results we've announced today are not a critique of past efforts; they're a new starting point on a roadmap to future success. Our students face very real challenges. But it's better to have our students challenged now - with caring teachers there to help -- than frustrated later when they start college or try to find a job and discover they are unprepared.

Over the last year, I've traveled all across the state, visiting hundreds of classrooms, meeting hundreds of teachers, watching first-hand as they implemented Common Core. I know how hard you work to help your students succeed.. We want to support that work. That's why we've been building strong supports and resources on You might find some of them particularly useful, including:

A Parent Toolkit to help you communicate with parents about the Common Core and why NYS has chosen to move in this direction;
The TriState rubric for evaluating curriculum materials against the Common Core;
A video series on the instructional Shifts demanded by the Common Core;
Videos of Common Core instruction from across New York State;
A Video of a speech I recently made on the standards and their importance;
Curriculum modules and resources to support your own professional development around their use;
Assessment design materials;
Resources to better understand the 3-8 assessments and results, including annotated test items to be posted later this week; and
A set of expectations and metrics for the work of teachers, principals, superintendents, Network Teams, and District Superintendents.

We've also included a number of resources for parents to help them understand the importance of the Common Core and to help them communicate that importance to their children. Please make sure you visit the EngageNY site often. New resources and videos are added almost daily.

We all share the same goal: to make sure all students in New York have the skills and knowledge to be successful in college and careers. With the Common Core, we're building a ladder toward that goal. The assessment scores are a measure of where our students are on that ladder and give us all a clearer, more accurate picture of the climb ahead.

Dr. John B. King, Jr.

Follow me on Twitter @JohnKingNYSED

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

What Languages are Spoken in Your Area?

Did you know that more than 300 different languages are spoken in the United States? A new report and mapping tool released by the U.S. Census Bureau takes a detailed look at many of the most popular languages spoken at home in America.

Of the 292 million people age 5 and older in the U.S. in 2011, 60.6 million individuals, or 21 percent, reported speaking a language other than English at home. This number grew by 158 percent from 1980 to 2010, while the nation’s overall population age 5 years and older grew by 38 percent. Check out this viz-of-the-week to see which languages grew the most.

The statistics show us not only that people spoke a language other than English at home, but also how well they spoke English.

If you are wondering what languages are spoken in your community, you can look it up with a new tool. The 2011 Language Mapper illustrates the geographic concentration of the population speaking 15 individual languages. The mapper, which uses data collected in the American Community Survey from 2007 to 2011, also shows, for each of these languages, the concentration of those who spoke English less than “very well.”

More from the Census Bureau.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Pew Report On Adult Social Networking Use

Today, 72% of online adults use social networking sites. Although younger adults continue to be the most likely social media users, one of the more striking stories about the social networking population has been the growth among older internet users in recent years. Those ages 65 and older have roughly tripled their presence on social networking sites in the last four years—from 13% in the spring of 2009 to 43% now.

The percentage of internet users who are on Twitter has more than doubled since November 2010, currently standing at 18%. Internet users ages 18-29 are the most likely to use Twitter—30% of them now do so.

More HERE.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Thompson Confirmed as Census Bureau Director

The United States Senate confirmed John H. Thompson on August 1 as the new director of the U.S. Census Bureau by unanimous consent. Thompson, who was nominated by President Obama on May 23, 2013 has been an executive at the National Opinion Research Center for the past 11 years, serving as president and CEO since 2008.

Before joining NORC at the University of Chicago, Thompson was a Census Bureau employee from 1975 to 2002 and oversaw the 2000 Census. He succeeds Robert Groves, who left office in August 2012 to become provost of Georgetown University. Following the departure of Groves, former Deputy Director Thomas L. Mesenbourg served as Acting Director. Mesenbourg had previously announced his long-planned retirement, which is effective August 2.

As Census Bureau Director, Thompson will oversee the nearly 180 surveys the Census Bureau conducts annually. He takes office at a critical juncture in the planning process for the 2020 Census, as the agency begins researching and testing new and more cost-effective methods that potentially will save billions of dollars.

“I congratulate John Thompson on his confirmation as director of the U.S. Census Bureau, and thank the U.S. Senate for confirming him quickly. Given his previous roles at the Census Bureau beginning in the 1970s, I have full confidence that Mr. Thompson will be a tremendous leader of one of the nation’s premier statistical agencies,” said Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker.

“The Census Bureau produces a wealth of data that are critical to America’s public and private sector leaders as they make decisions about economic development that will create jobs. I am committed to ensuring that the Census Bureau has the resources it needs to continue supplying essential data to businesses and government leaders. I look forward to working with John Thompson and his team as they undertake the years of preparations required for a successful 2020 Census and continue to develop innovative ways to produce and distribute vital information,” added Secretary Pritzker.

“It’s a tremendous honor and privilege to return to public service as the Director of the Census Bureau, one of the most important organizations in the federal statistical system, as well as a place that holds warm memories for me,” said Thompson. “As America forges its data-driven future, the Census Bureau must lead the way by tracking emerging trends, developing more efficient processes and embracing new technologies for planning and executing the 2020 Census and its other surveys that are so important to the nation. As Director, I will use all of my skills, intellect and experience to foster a culture of innovation and adaptability that allows the Census Bureau to serve the public’s needs and meet the challenges of this dynamic new environment.”

Thompson participated on 2010 Census design and review panels sponsored by the Committee on National Statistics. He is also an elected fellow of the American Statistical Association, and has been elected to serve a three-year term as a member of the Committee on National Statistics at the National Academies of Science. He holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mathematics from Virginia Tech.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Broadband, Let's Get Real by Bob Scardamalia

The federal government says I should have no trouble getting broadband Internet service. My experience says otherwise.

I know many folks in rural America could tell similar stories. Here's mine:

I live only 30 miles from Albany, the capital of New York, and about two miles outside of a rural hamlet in the foothills of the Catskills. Even though our county (Albany) has more than 300,000 residents and is in a metropolitan statistical area, our more sparsely populated part of the county doesn’t have cable or DSL broadband access.

More at The Daily Yonder

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Survey of Public Pensions: State Data

The Survey of Public Pensions: State-Administered Defined Benefit Data provides revenues, expenditures, financial assets, membership, and liabilities information for defined benefit public pension systems. Data are shown by state, for the state-administered systems. There are 227 state-administered defined benefit public pension systems, all of which are represented here.

Only the State data from the State & Local data product are comparable with the State data product.