Sunday July 31, 2011

Filed under: flight nerdery — jackman @ 8:22 pm

Vids and stills from iPhone, seat 2A on a recent SFO-LAX flight.


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Apple has more cash than the US Treasury

Friday July 29, 2011

Filed under: politics — jackman @ 7:53 am

As noted by the Atlantic.

Except Apple, Google etc won’t bring a lot of their cash onshore, for fear of it being taxed at 35% (and so they’re asking for a repatriation tax “holiday” rate of 5.25%; NYT). Seems they have some bargaining power right now…

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well that was depressing…

Monday July 25, 2011

Filed under: politics,statistics — jackman @ 7:44 pm

Obama in prime time, with a response from Boehner. The Republican talking points continue — a la “spending crisis” — with the possibility of revenue raises simply not in any of their public pronouncements.

With Cantor and the Tea Party all over Boehner, I wonder if it was that helpful for Obama to go on prime time with what was essentially a “rally public opinion” type of speech. There were no new proposals from the President. Boehner had no option other than to push back. Anyone watching had to think we’re still a long way from getting this done.

That said, it was a nice parry by Obama to point out that Reagan signed off on 18 debt ceiling raises.

The level of ignorance here is staggering.

My sometime USSC colleague Jim Fallows has chimed in on a wonderful graphic that appeared in the New York Times over the weekend (and got tweeted and blogged like mad), a stacked bar chart of all things, showing how the deficit is so powerfully driven by the Bush-era tax cuts.

Fallows makes a great point: forget the partisan slant, doesn’t the chart reveal the importance of the revenue side as an intellectual matter?

I wonder if something as vivid as this graph could appear in these prime time addresses? Then again, if we lived in a country where politicians could contemplate doing that, I think we’d be living in a country where this mess would have been sorted out a long time ago, or avoided altogether…perhaps even a fairer, more just country too.

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American National Election Studies EGSS2 data available

Filed under: ANES — jackman @ 8:41 am

A preliminary release of our 2nd study is up on electionstudies.org (zipped SPSS sav file from our “data center” pages).

Data collection occurred May 11 through June 1, 2011 with Knowledge Networks.

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Obama For America data team (plus jargon alert)

Sunday July 24, 2011

Filed under: politics — jackman @ 4:45 am

This quote from a micro-targeting person gets the jargon alert award of the day:

The big challenge to people in my line of business is merging offline and online data. The ability to connect an online impression to a terrestrial voter file would be immensely helpful in the predictive targeting process.

In case you’re confused, “terrestrial” here basically means “geo-tagged” or “with addresses”; “extra-terrestrial” voter files aren’t so helpful…

The rest of the story on Obama For America’s data effort (apparenly including text mining of social media; hello, Crimson Hexagon?) is here.

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Lion Update Went Bad

Friday July 22, 2011

Filed under: computing — jackman @ 7:42 am

I’m on the road in Sydney (still) and tried the Lion Mac OS update as soon as it came out (downloaded the upgrade overnight here in the hotel).

Word to the wise: run disk utilities and “repair” your disk before you start the upgrade. Also, don’t do the upgrade on the road away from your boot media.

Here is what happened to me. The install appeared to go well. Then I got into something of an infinite loop. The machine wanted to restart to complete the install. But then it couldn’t find my hard drive. It seems my hard drive had some corruption in the directory structure (either extant or introduced by the upgrade process, I can’t be sure), such that the drive became inaccessible, other than the install partition created by the Lion install app. Lion couldn’t finish the install of itself, because it couldn’t see the drive, or reported the drive as “locked”. Disk Utilities (as visible from the installer startup) couldn’t repair the issue. Much rebooting in various modes (option key, C key, Command-V, Command-S) didn’t resolve the issue. HD no longer visible, or mountable only in read-only mode, certainly couldn’t find it and boot from it.

Hmm…. This behavior had been reported by some folks on various Apple discussion lists. I wound up going to a Mac vendor here in Sydney (Next Byte), buying Disk Warrior for an outrageous sum of money.
No way in hell would my laptop boot from the Disk Warrior CD — I suspect my SuperDrive is broken too (time for an external SuperDrive and a new MacBook Air, btw). Things are not looking good.

Found a Mac desktop at the University with a firewire cable. Boot up laptop in target mode (T key at power up). Launch Disk Warrior on the desktop, point it at my laptop’s HD, repaired the directory structure etc. This got my Mac back to a state where it could see the drive, although now I have an “unjournaled” HFS+ drive. This caused the Lion installer to crap out, but at least I can boot in Snow Leopard, from whence I type now. Phwew.

No data lost. And I run an over-the-air backup service via Stanford in any event, so everything was safe in any event.

But it was a crappy two days or so. I’m jome on Saturday, where I will run a full backup etc, create a bootable image on a DVD, and try the upgrade again.

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13 point GOTV effect?

Tuesday July 19, 2011

Filed under: politics,statistics — jackman @ 1:05 pm

Stanford psychology researchers apparently got a 13 percentage point improvement in voter turnout. A press-friendly description appeared in the Stanford Report:

The setup is a randomized experiment:

The prospective voters were divided into two groups and asked similar – but differently phrased – questions about their thoughts on voting. One group was asked questions like: “How important is it to you to be a voter?” while the other was asked: “How important is it to you to vote?”

A 13pp treatment effect in a GOTV experiment is huge, and the treatment seems very light. I’m skeptical, so I look forward to reading more in the PNAS paper when it comes out.

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Intro to Regression at Sydney next week

Wednesday July 13, 2011

Filed under: statistics — jackman @ 6:36 pm

Bruce Western (Harvard Sociology) and I are teaching an introduction to regression analysis next week, part of the University of Sydney’s SSMART program, supported by the United States Studies Centre.

Syllabus etc here.

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tracking Australian election betting markets again (now with sparklines)

Filed under: Australian Politics,R — jackman @ 3:23 pm

The header of my blog (above) shows the latest prices on offer in some of Australia’s election betting markets.  I convert the prices to an implied probability of ALP win (factoring out the bookie’s profit margin, the so-called “overround”).

I’m using some Javascript by John Resig to make Tufte-ish sparklines, although the Google version of sparklines looks easy to work with too. I’m using some R to generate PNG files plotting the last 72 hours of data.

Time-series graphs appear as PDFs too, again see the header of the blog.

On the data themselves, the betting markets have been moving in a pro-Coalition direction over the last two weeks, with some movement around the time that recent polls have been released, showing that the Coalition would romp home.  I think we’re still waiting on some post-carbon-tax polling, and how the betting markets digest that.

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Tuesday July 12, 2011

Filed under: flight nerdery — jackman @ 11:40 am

I’m enjoying this Plane finder app very much.

It uses the growing network of ADS-B monitors (e.g., planeplotter), which is quite dense in Europe and in more densely populated parts of Australia, but still nascent in the US (and still being adopted by the US domestic fleet). Google maps for the mapping piece.

Not bad. The app appears to ping the server about once every 5 to 10 seconds, with linear interpolation using the last velocity vector used to produce the illusion of “real time” movement. It produces close to real-time coverage (which I’ve verified with a number of targets flying over the house here in Palo Alto on their way into SFO).

The system doesn’t have offshore, trans-oceanic coverage, since this all based on Internet connected, ground based ADS-B monitoring.

Blue dot is my house, UAL 870 SYD-SFO shown coming in, about to make a left turn for final to the 28s at SFO.


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