Saturday, August 30, 2014

UN Draft Climate Report Leaked: Greenhouse Emissions Getting Worse, Not Better

From Daily Kos:

Those hoping for good news about the effects of climate change are not going to find it here.
Runaway growth in the emission of greenhouse gases is swamping all political efforts to deal with the problem, raising the risk of “severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts” over the coming decades, according to a draft of a major new United Nations report.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, a UN panel of over 800 scientists and climate experts that periodically assesses and updates the state of climate research, will release its summary "synthesis" report in October.  A draft version of the report, still subject to final editing, was provided to member governments this week and a copy was obtained by the New York Times.  While much of the research underlying the synthesis document can be found in the IPCC's three Working Group Reports released during the past year, the summary and conclusions carry particular weight and are presented in starker language designed to motivate lawmakers from those countries that choose to pay attention.

Friday, August 29, 2014

End the Tyranny of 24/7 Email

From the New York Times

THIS Labor Day weekend, odds are you’ll peek at your work email on your "day off" — and then feel guilty about it.

You might envy the serene workers at Daimler, the German automaker. On vacations, employees can set their corporate email to “holiday mode.” Anyone who emails them gets an auto-reply saying the employee isn't in, and offering contact details for an alternate, on-call staff person. Then poof, the incoming email is deleted — so that employees don’t have to return to inboxes engorged with digital missives in their absence...

If this can happen in precision-mad, high-productivity Germany, could it happen in the United States? Absolutely. It not only could, but it should.

White-collar cubicle dwellers complain about email for good reason. They spend 28 percent of their workweek slogging through the stuff, according to the McKinsey Global Institute.

Journalists killed in the last decade, by country

From GlobalPost:

When James Foley was executed last week by the Islamic State, he became the 32nd journalist killed in 2014, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

CPJ has been documenting every work-related death of a media member since 1992. We've used CPJ's data to create the graphic below, which provides information about the journalists killed around the world in the last decade.

CPJ defines journalists as "people who cover news or comment on public affairs through any media — including in print, in photographs, on radio, on television, and online." That includes staff journalists, freelancers, stringers, bloggers, and citizen journalists.

The numbers we've used total the cases CPJ defines as "motive confirmed," meaning the death is directly related to the individual's work as a journalist.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

As Office of US Courts withdraws records for five top benches, can we make them open?

From BoingBoing:

Rogue archivist Carl Malamud writes, "The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts has announced that they are removing the archives for 5 important courts from their infamous PACER system. PACER is the ten-cent-per-page access to U.S. District and Appeals courts dockets and opinions."

Public.Resource.Org, in cooperation with our friends at the Free Law Project and the Internet Archive have sent in formal proposals to 5 Chief Judges asking for an Administrative Order to access this data...

Our judiciary is based on the idea that we conduct justice public, not in star chambers and smoke-filled back rooms. Our system of justice is based on access to the workings of our courts, and when you hide those workings behind a pay wall, you have imposed a poll tax on access to justice.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Back to School: 2014-2015

By August, summertime will be winding down and vacations will be coming to an end, signaling that back-to-school time is near. It’s a time that many children eagerly anticipate — catching up with old friends and making new ones, and settling into a new daily routine. Parents and children alike scan newspapers and websites looking for sales on a multitude of school supplies and the latest clothing fads and essentials. This edition of Facts for Features highlights the many statistics associated with the return to classrooms by our nation’s students and teachers.
Back-to-School Shopping
$8.6 billion  
The estimated amount of money spent at family clothing stores in August 2013. Sales at bookstores in August 2013 were estimated at $1.6 billion. Source: U.S. Census Bureau, Monthly Retail Trade and Food Services <>
For back-to-school shopping, choices of retail establishments abound: In 2012, there were 25,421 family clothing stores, 6,945 children and infants clothing stores, 25,455 shoe stores 7,443 office supply and stationery stores, 20,893 sporting goods stores, 7,244 book stores and 8,196 department stores. Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2012 County Business Patterns, NAICS: 448210, 44814, 448130, 453210, 451211 and 4521<|44814|448210|451211|4521|453210>

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Access to Broadband Networks: The Net Neutrality Debate

As congressional policy makers continue to debate telecommunications reform, a major point of contention is the question of whether action is needed to ensure unfettered access to the Internet. The move to place restrictions on the owners of the networks that compose and provide access to the Internet, to ensure equal access and non-discriminatory treatment, is referred to as “net neutrality.” There is no single accepted definition of “net neutrality.” However, most agree that any such definition should include the general principles that owners of the networks that compose and provide access to the Internet should not control how consumers lawfully use that network, and they should not be able to discriminate against content provider access to that network.

What, if any, action should be taken to ensure “net neutrality” has become a major focal point in the debate over broadband regulation. As the marketplace for broadband continues to evolve, some contend that no new regulations are needed, and if enacted will slow deployment of and access to the Internet, as well as limit innovation. Others, however, contend that the consolidation and diversification of broadband providers into content providers has the potential to lead to discriminatory behaviors which conflict with net neutrality principles. The two potential behaviors most often cited are the network providers’ ability to control access to and the pricing of broadband facilities, and the incentive to favor network-owned content, thereby placing unaffiliated content providers at a competitive disadvantage.

More from Congressional Research Service via Federation of American Scientists

Monday, August 25, 2014

A Picture Of Language: The Fading Art Of Diagramming Sentences

When you think about a sentence, you usually think about words — not lines. But sentence diagramming brings geometry into grammar.

If you weren't taught to diagram a sentence, this might sound a little zany. But the practice has a long — and controversial — history in U.S. schools.

And while it was once commonplace, many people today don't even know what it is...

Burns Florey and other experts trace the origin of diagramming sentences back to 1877 and two professors at Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute. In their book, Higher Lessons in English, Alonzo Reed and Brainerd Kellogg made the case that students would learn better how to structure sentences if they could see them drawn as graphic structures.

After Reed and Kellogg published their book, the practice of diagramming sentences had something of a Golden Age in American schools.

More from NPR.

Diagram sentences! (Works on only some computers.)

Friday, August 22, 2014

Gap Between Higher- and Lower-Wealth Households Widens

       Median net worth increased between 2000 and 2011 for households in the top two quintiles of the net worth distribution (the wealthiest 40 percent), while declining for those in the lower three quintiles (the bottom 60 percent), according to new statistics released today by the U.S. Census Bureau. The result was a widening wealth gap between those at the top and those in the middle and bottom of the net worth distribution. Each quintile represents 20 percent, or one-fifth, of all households.
       “The types of assets that households hold may vary,” Census Bureau economist Alfred Gottschalck said. “Therefore, business cycle changes over time may affect households differently based on their net worth quintile and demographic characteristics.”
      According to  Distribution of Household Wealth in the U.S.: 2000 to 2011 and associated detailed tables, median household net worth decreased by $5,124 for households in the first (bottom) net worth quintile and increased by $61,379 (or 10.8 percent) for those in the highest (top) quintile (Figure 1). Median net worth of households in the highest quintile was 39.8 times higher than the second lowest quintile in 2000, and it rose to 86.8 times higher in 2011. (Figure 2).

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Hunger in America 2014

Read the report.

In many ways, America is the land of plenty. But for 1 in 6 people in the United States, hunger is a very real struggle. Many people believe that the problems associated with hunger are confined to small pockets of society, certain areas of the country, or certain neighborhoods, but the reality is much different.

Right now, millions of Americans are at risk of hunger. These are often hard-working adults, children and seniors who simply cannot always make ends meet and may be forced to go without food.

A critical component to a healthy life is nutrition. From birth, the intake of vital nutrients is essential to the growth and development of a healthy individual. Good nutrition, particularly in the first three years of life, is important in establishing and maintaining a good foundation that has implications on a child’s future physical and mental health, academic achievement, and economic productivity. Unfortunately, food insecurity is an obstacle that threatens that critical foundation.

In the United States, more than one out of five children lives in a household with food insecurity, which means they do not always know where they will find their next meal. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), in 2012, 15.9 million children under 18 in the United States live in this condition – unable to consistently access nutritious and adequate amounts of food necessary for a healthy life.

More from Feeding America.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

36 percent not saving for retirement

From Bankrate:

An alarming number of Americans aren't preparing for the day when they'll need to live off their savings.

More than a third of adults say they have not started saving for retirement yet, according to a national poll accompanying Bankrate's monthly Financial Security Index.

Even Americans who are getting close to retirement age seem to be struggling when it comes to planning their financial future. The survey shows that more than a quarter of the respondents age 50 to 64 have yet to start saving for retirement...

While some people aren't even close to being ready for retirement, others say they have been saving since a young age, Bankrate's survey shows.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

TradeStats Express: free state and US export data

Get the latest annual and quarterly trade data with TradeStats Express™ from the Census Bureau. Retrieve, visualize, analyze, print and download your customized output.


Global Patterns of U.S. Merchandise Trade (example: U.S. Chemical Exports and Imports for All Countries)
Product Profiles of U.S. Merchandise Trade with a Selected Market (example: All Products Traded Between the United States and United Kingdom)

Global Patterns of a State's Exports (example: Exports from Texas to each country)
State-by-State Exports to a Selected Market (example: Exports to Ireland from each state)
Export Product Profile to a Selected Market (example: Products from Texas to Iceland)

Monday, August 18, 2014

Where people were born, by state: an interactive graphic,for 1900-2012

From the New York Times, which charted how Americans have moved between states since 1900. See how your state has changed!

The image of New York as a beacon that attracts all is definitely true for immigrants, but for people born in the United States, the picture is more complicated. With the recent growth in immigration, the percentage of foreign-born residents in New York is approaching Ellis Island days. But domestically, one of the less-noticed trends is the decline in population of blacks born in other states. Since 1980, the population of Southern-born blacks has declined by more than 350,000.

Friday, August 15, 2014

100th Anniversary of Panama Canal Opening: Aug. 15, 1914

In recognition of the centennial of the opening of the Panama Canal to world commerce on Aug. 15, 1914, the Census Bureau presents current data on the population of Panama, Panamanians in the U.S. and U.S. trade with Panama, as well as historical data on the population of the now-defunct Panama Canal Zone.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

How many total ancestors do you have?

From the Daily Kos:

Genealogists identify ancestors by following paper trails preserved in archives, €”traditional and digital. Although the goals of genealogists vary, a large pedigree chart is one measure of success. Yet even the most fruitful family trees are unlikely to yield more than a few thousand ancestors.... Yet, as the mathematically-inclined will be quick to point out, one can never find the names of more than a tiny fraction.

So, is an answer possible? I think the beginning of an answer is possible, within certain limits. This is a question for what might be called theoretical genealogy. Like any question of this magnitude, no matter what the discipline, it requires some agreement on definitions. An ancestor is someone who could theoretically been the source of some of your DNA. I say "theoretically," because most of your ancestors could not actually have passed DNA on to you. The probability is too low, since your number of ancestors greatly exceeds your number of genes. So we are counting parents, plus grandparents, plus great-grandparents, etc., until we reach an arbitrary beginning. 10,000 BCE should do nicely, as it puts us at the very beginning of the Anthropocene, the planet's first geologic era caused by us.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Which metro has America's oldest housing stock?

Six New York markets are included on the list of 25 metros with the oldest housing stocks: Buffalo (second), New York City (seventh), Albany (ninth), Rochester (10th), Syracuse (11th) and Poughkeepsie (24th).

The opposite end of the rankings is dominated by Sunbelt metros. Las Vegas has the lowest proportion of old homes, 0.97 percent. Next are three Florida metros -- Cape Coral, Palm Bay and Port St. Lucie -- which are all below 2 percent.

All figures come from the five-year version of the U.S. Census Bureau's 2012 American Community Survey. The bureau defines a housing unit as any dwelling, including free-standing homes, apartments and condominiums.

The national rankings are limited to the 108 metros that contain at least 200,000 units.

From Buffalo Business First.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Robin Williams's death: a reminder that suicide and depression are not selfish

News of Robin Williams’s death due to apparent suicide, said to be a result of suffering severe depression, is terribly sad. But to say taking your own life because of such an illness is a ‘selfish’ act does nothing but insult the deceased, potentially cause more harm and reveal a staggering ignorance of mental health problems.

More from the Guardian.

Monday, August 11, 2014

13 Scientific Terms You Might Be Using Wrong

From Mental Floss:

When scientists use these words, they typically mean something completely different than what they do when non-scientists use them. Sometimes our definitions are too narrow or too broad, and sometimes, we use terms interchangably when they actually shouldn't be. We dug deep into the American Museum of Natural History's website to help set the record straight.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Suicide Contagion and the Reporting of Suicide

From the CDC, 1994:

Suicide rates among adolescents and young adults have increased sharply in recent decades... In comparison with older persons, adolescents and young adults who commit suicide are less likely to be clinically depressed or to have certain other mental disorders (3) that are important risk factors for suicide among persons in all age groups. This has led to research directed at the identification of other preventable risk factors for suicide among young persons.

One risk factor that has emerged from this research is suicide "contagion," a process by which exposure to the suicide or suicidal behavior of one or more persons influences others to commit or attempt suicide. Evidence suggests that the effect of contagion is not confined to suicides occurring in discrete geographic areas. In particular, nonfictional newspaper and television coverage of suicide has been associated with a statistically significant excess of suicides. The effect of contagion appears to be strongest among adolescents, and several well publicized "clusters" among young persons have occurred.

These findings have induced efforts on the part of many suicide-prevention specialists, public health practitioners, and researchers to curtail the reporting of suicide -- especially youth suicide -- in newspapers and on television. Such efforts were often counterproductive, and news articles about suicides were written without the valuable input of well- informed suicide-prevention specialists and others in the community.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Facebook scam: In Farcing, Thieves Ask 'Would You Be My Friend?'

Consider this scenario: You're on Facebook (FB), and you receive two friend requests, both from people you don't know. With one person, you have no mutual friends, and with the other, you have some. Do you accept either request? Both? Just the one who shares your friends?

Scammers are banking on the likelihood you'll accept the request if you have mutual friends -- the more, the better -- even if you have no clue who the requester is. From there, they'll have access to everything you share with friends, and they'll start friending your friends and family to see what they share. All that good stuff helps them reach their ultimate goal: identity theft.

It's called farcing, and a researcher at the University of Buffalo published a study on it in an academic journal called Information Systems Frontier, saying these scams spread quickly and widely, as the scammer gathers friends and appears more legitimate.

More from Daily Financing.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Multiple jobholding in states in 2013

In 2013, the multiple-jobholding rate1 (the percentage of individuals who hold more than one job) in indi­vidual states continued to vary con­siderably from the national average of 4.9 percent, a rate that has been unchanged since 2010. Twenty-three states had multiple-jobholding rates significantly higher than the national average, 8 states had significantly lower rates, and 19 states and the District of Colum­bia had rates that were not significantly different from the U.S. average.

See data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Nonprofits statistics

From National Center for Charitable Statistics:

Nonprofit organizations include everything from neighborhood associations that meet a couple of times a year and have no assets to Harvard University and the Gates Foundation, each with tens of billions in assets. They include soup kitchens and traditional "charities" that serve the poor as well as your local church, the Chamber of Commerce, the Sierra Club, the United Steel Workers labor union, and the Metropolitan Opera. As you can see, there's no "one-size-fits-all" way to think about nonprofit organizations.
So we categorize. Nonprofit organizations can be divided by the subsection of the United States Internal Revenue Code 501(c) under which they fall.

Visit the Table Wizard reporting tool, which will allow you to filter statistics by STATE and COUNTY.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Copyright, Fair Use, and Education

The Copyright Advisory Office of Columbia University has a central mission to address, in a creative and constructive manner, the relationship between copyright law and the work of the university in order to best promote research, teaching, library services, and community involvement.

To that end, the Copyright Advisory Office of Columbia University:

Addresses issues of fair use, copyright ownership, and publishing arrangements in furtherance of higher education and the advancement of knowledge;
Provides copyright information and education resources for the academic community;
Supports innovative policies and practices to foster the creation, preservation, and accessibility of information resources; and
Undertakes research and exploration of copyright issues to provide supportive understandings of the law and its importance to educational institutions and libraries.

Check out this link!

Friday, August 1, 2014

The Mind Unleashed: pseudoscientific clickbait

From The Rational Wiki: is a pseudoscientific, woo-peddling, clickbait website with a propensity to misrepresent data from studies and present it as scientific fact for their own gain. With just a soup├žon of bigotry for flavor.

Neither the site itself nor the whois say anything about who owns and runs the place.