Saturday, December 31, 2011

PUSH: STOP Obamacare in Pennsylvania and the Uninsured

My new guest post is up at the Pennsylvanians United for Single Payer Healthcare (PUSH) website on a Facebook group which seems to have the opposite goal.  I take apart their analysis of the uninsured.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Santorum's "Bounce"

The news media has seized on the latest CNN Iowa poll which suggests the latest "surge" for former PA Sen Rick Santorum. This poll has Romney at 25%, Paul at 22%, Santorum at 16%, Gingrich at 14, and Perry at 11% with the others in single digits. A lot has been made of Santorum placing 3rd in this poll but given that the margin of error in this poll was +/- 4.5%, firm conclusions cannot be drawn about who places where in the poll.

An independent Public Policy Polling poll released the same day as the CNN, placed Ron Paul first at 24% followed by Romney at 20%, Gingrich at 13%, Bachmann at 11%, and Perry & Santorum tied at 10%. This poll had a slightly more precise margin of error at +/- 4.1% but still no firm conclusions can be drawn about who is in first place and who is in third. The next day an Insider Advantage poll placed Romney, Gingrich, and Paul in a 3 way tie for for first at 17% and Santorum in fourth at 13% with a similar margin of error. It's starting to sound like an Abbott & Costello routine.  Real Clear Politics has a summary of these polls.  NY Times statistician Nate Silver says that there is something to this surge we won't know for sure until the caucus results are in.





**Update**


Public Policy Polling released a poll of Iowa voter's in the new year with a much larger sample size of 1,340, and thus a smaller margin of error of +/- 2.7%, which show that Santorum is now in a statistical tie with Mitt Romney and Ron Paul with 18%, 19%, and 20% respectively.  Their 347 page report can be seen here.  They included many crosstabulations and subgroup comparisons but don't say which differences are statistically significant.  There are too many to name here but one does jump out at me:




Tea Party ID
Base
Yes
No
Not Sure
Michele Bachmann
8%
15%
5%
6%
Newt Gingrich
14%
18%
13%
16%
Jon Huntsman
4%
3%
5%
1%
Ron Paul
20%
16%
22%
22%
Rick Perry
10%
8%
10%
15%
Buddy Roemer
2%
2%
2%
2%
Mitt Romney
19%
12%
23%
15%
Rick Santorum
18%
23%
17%
14%
Someone else/Not sure
4%
4%
4%
8%
Total N=1,340
100%
25%
65%
9%
Margin of Error +/- %
2.7%
5.4%
3.4%
9.1%

The table above shows that Santorum gets the highest percentage among tea party supporters with Romney and Paul tied among those who are not and Paul leading among those who are not sure.  Only 25% of those surveyed or about 330 in the sample identified themselves as tea party supporters giving a 5.4% margin of error.  This suggests that Santorum, who has 23%, is virtually tied with Newt Gingrich, who has 18%, for the lead among tea party supporters with the others trailing.  Paul and Romney are tied among non tea party supporters which are 65% of the sample.  The sample of those who are unsure of tea party support is too small to make any firm conclusions.

The sample is randomly drawn from those likely to participate in the Caucus on January 3. 
Democracy Now! has a good discussion of the Santorum, Iowa, and the Tea Party in the two clips below.






The final results in Iowa were a photo finish with Romney winning by 8 votes over Santorum.  Polls so far haven't shown a bounce for Santorum in New Hampshire, Nationally or the other states so it remains to be seen how this result will resonate.  He also hasn't been subjected to the same media scrutiny as Perry, Cain, Bachmann, Romney, Paul, and Gingrich.  It remains to be seen if the surge will last for him.

Two weeks later, the official count in Iowa seems to have given Santorum a 34 vote margin of victory but the votes from 8 precincts are missing and it seems to matter little for him now anyway with him in fourth place in the polls in South Carolina and in fifth in New Hampshire.  Rick Perry has dropped out of the race and will endorse Gingrich along with Sarah Palin.  His nephew John Garver supports Ron Paul.


**Related Post**

Immigration: An International Issue

 

Rick Perry's Efforts to Save Us All

 

Making Sense of the Pat Toomey-Joe Sestak Senate Race

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A Kinder, Gentler Looney Tunes

We all remember the short films with Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Elmer Fudd, and the rest of the Looney Tunes gang from Warner Brothers which were voiced by Mel Blanc and June Foray and directed by Chuck Jones for over 50 years. Those cartoons had lots of funny slapstick. Now Warner Brothers has come out with new cartoons in a sitcom format on the Cartoon Network for grownups and kids.

Bugs Bunny no longer lives in a hole in the ground. He lives in a normal house as the inventor of the carrot peeler. He plays more the wisecracking straight man in this series.

Daffy Duck is basically the same as a freeloading housemate of Bugs. The twist for him this time is that his character has the potential to grow and mature. Him and Bugs have romantic interests, street smart Tina (a Duck) and a fun loving Lola (a bunny voiced by SNL's Kristin Wiig nominated for an Emmy for this) as can be seen in the YouTube clip below. It must be hard for them to kiss with those beaks and buck teeth. The content doesn’t get inappropriate for children.



Other changes to the characters include Porky Pig being a boring accountant. Yosemite Sam, rather than being Bugs mortal enemy, is his annoying neighbor. The Tasmanian Devil is now Bugs’ house pet. Speedy Gonzalez now runs a pizza shop. Marvin the Martian was an exchange student from Mars while in high school with Daffy and Porky and no longer wants to destroy the Earth. Sylvester, Tweety, and Granny are basically the same but their pasts are more complicated. Foghorn Leghorn is now an overblown business tycoon. Elmer Fudd is a TV newsman. Mac and Tosh are two gophers (like Chip and Dale from Disney) who are extremely close.

These changes do work in this format where the characters have more room to move. This show is not totally divorced from it’s slapstick roots but so far without explosions. Road Runner/Coyote shorts are included with a modern twist.

Warner Brothers reasons for doing these changes now with a very established formula can be open to speculation. Are they trying to mature the characters as the audience matures? If that were the case they might have tried maturing the characters a long time ago. Another reason could be that audiences want more complex/less violent cartoons that adults as well as children can enjoy. 

The Cartoon Network has undertaken a stop bullying campaign. There is scientific research showing that exposure to violence in the media is a causal factor (meaning that it makes it more likely) violent behavior in children and adults. While one can find lots of violence in the network’s other programs, including the old Looney Tunes and Tom & Jerry cartoons which are still popular, it seems that this retooling may partly be in conjunction with the stop bullying campaign.


**Related Posts**

Bullying & Society

Friday, December 16, 2011

PUSH: Correlating PA County % Uninsured Rates with Other County Level Measures

My new post for Pennsylvanian's United for Single Payer Healthcare (PUSH) is up correlating the updated PA County % uninsured data with other county health and demographic data. 

PUSH: Correlating PA County % Uninsured Rates with Other County Level Measures

Friday, December 9, 2011

Pennsylvanians United for Single Payer Healthcare

The local Pittsburgh chapter of Healthcare 4 All  PA is launching it's own site with several talented authors.  The link with the first post on gender and racial differences in Pennsylvania's uninsured can be seen here.


year % uninsured white MOE +/- % % uninsured black MOE +/- % % uninsured hispanic MOE +/- %
2008 9.10 .20 15.10 .70 21.50 1.00
2009 10.10 .20 16.20 .70 22.60 1.00

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

What Shaq can teach us about Climate Change



This week the UN is holding it's 17th annual climate change conference, COP 17, in Durban, South Africa with the US not in attendance (with the possible exception of famous climate change denier Sen. James Inhofe R-OK who may address the conference by video).  Last year I posted one of my all time most popular posts on how Barry Sanders playing stats can teach climate change deniers about how one should not dismiss all of climate change science every time the local weather gets colder especially here in the US.  I thought this year I would present another sports example as the NBA's season is finally about to get underway after a lockout and many deniers such as Inhofe are also SportsCenter junkies in my unscientific opinion.

Shaquille O'Neal is the 5th all time scoring leader in NBA history but his career free throw percentage is 52%.  He was in the 12th percentile of all NBA players in the 1999-00 season while scoring 29 points per game (the league leader that year made 95% of his free throws while scoring 12 points per game).  To deny global warning based on one or two weather events would be like keeping Shaq out of the Basketball Hall of Fame just based on his free throw shooting.  One needs to consider and act on all of the data before making a decision.  I don't know if NBA fans are as right wing (except Charles Barkley who once aspired to run for the GOP nomination for governor of Alabama) as some NFL fans like Rush Limbaugh are but we should all be able to agree that keeping Shaq out is wrong regardless of what we think of him as a person.  

**Update**

Think Progress has reported how the billionaire Koch brother's group American's for Prosperity has bullied Congressional Republicans into publicly doubting climate change.  Will Charles Barkley be bullied into opposing Shaq's induction into the Hall of Fame?

**Related Posts**


The Science of Why We Don't Believe Science | Mother Jones 

 

Statistics and Old Beliefs

Saturday, December 3, 2011

PodCamp Pittsburgh 6 Recap

After presenting at PodCamp Pittsburgh 6 this September at Point Park University I had hoped to post the YouTube video of my presentation here titled Presenting Statistics in Social Media.  Unfortunately due to technical glitches only 18 of the 40 presentations were saved and can be viewed here.  I can however embed the slides from that presentation plus the results of a survey that I gave to attendees and was completed by 12 of them to evaluate the presentation. 

Also my article on Pennsylvania's Uninsured has been published in the latest issue of the Thomas Merton Center's Newspaper The New People.

Presenting statistics in social media
View more presentations from Paul Ricci.


Survey on Presenting Data via Blogs and Social Media

Please Circle the Appropriate Response (% in parenthesis)
Question
Strongly
Disagree
Disagree
Neutral
Agree
Strongly Agree
1.      Were the slides easy to follow?
1
2
3 (17%)
4
(75%)
5
(8%)
2.      Did the speaker present the information clearly?
1
2
(17%)
3 (50%)
4
(33%)
5
3.      Were the graphics explained clearly?
1
2
(8%)
3 (25%)
4
(33%)
5
(33%)
4.      Did you learn new information?
1
(8%)
2
3 (17%)
4
(75%)
5
5.      Was the presentation helpful?
1
2
3 (17%)
4
(17%)
5
(75%)

Very Uncomfortable
Uncomfortable
Neutral
Comfortable
Very Comfortable
6.      How comfortable are you with statistics?
1
2
3 (17%)
4
(58.3%)
5
(25%)

7.      Have you taken a class in statistics before?  
       Yes __17%___ No __75%_____

Additional Comments:  9 were blank.