Wednesday, December 28, 2011

"That is a lot of milk"

Mr. Romney delved deeply into the topic, with real curiosity and a barrage of questions, after Ms. Hebert, who has shown dairy cows, explained that a prize animal produced about 100 pounds of milk a day. He began a series of rapid-fire calculations to determine how many gallons are in a pound [sic]: “Eight-point-three pounds per gallon. So 8 into 100 is going to be about 13, 14, gallons. Oh, 12 — there you go.”
He beamed with satisfaction at solving the puzzle — and Ms. Hebert said she liked what she had heard.
“That is a lot of milk,” Mr. Romney said.
More here.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Opinion Applets

From time to time a news story in the NYTimes or another paper of record comes with a nice applet that illustrates some point the story is making with fancy graphs that you can interact with.

I think opinion pieces should come with applets the editors designs to help people understand the points the opinion writers are making. Or to understand why they are wrong.

There's a saying that statistics are the worst kind of lies but the truth is the statistics are usually right, it's just that people cite them hoping people will jump to conclusions that aren't warranted. Take this claim from Robert Samuelson for example:
Liberals imply (wrongly) that taxing the rich will solve the long-term budget problem. It won't. For example, the Forbes 400 richest Americans have a collective wealth of $1.5 trillion. If the government simply confiscated everything they own, and turned them into paupers, it would barely cover the one-time 2011 deficit of $1.3 trillion. 
The catch is that it's pretty arbitrary to draw the line between rich and everyone else at something like $1 billion in wealth. So why not include an applet with the column where you can use a menu to select your cutoff point for who would count as rich and maybe what average tax rate you would apply and decide for yourself whether it's even a theoretical possibility that taxing the rich could solve our problems.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Is Ron Paul "Someone Else?"

Ron Paul supporters are up in arms today because CBS displayed this graph to illustrate the results of a recent poll:

Now as we all know, Ron Paul is leading in most polls and has a 3 point edge in the Real Clear Politics average of polls. So surely he's in the top three and yet.... they wrote "someone else" instead of Ron Paul.

I'd be outraged too if that were my candidate except, it's not. Ron Paul only got 10% in that CBS poll for some reason, making it natural to leave him out of the "top tier." Someone else literally means "someone else" as 19% of those polls were not for any candidate or undecided, they wanted someone else. Here is the CBS story titled "Poll shows GOP voters still looking for answers."

I should make a note that I think the mainstream media does suck and is and has been ignoring Paul but this time they weren't.