Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Top Ten Posts of 2019

As 2019 comes to a close I thought I would imitate other media news outlets and look at the top 10 posts on this site in terms of the number of page views.  The majority of the posts came in the early part of this year and in the later part.  Posts made before 2019 are included in this list.


This post was on changes in enrollment and in those needing special education services in the Greater Johnstown, Westmont, and Richland School Districts.  It was posted in November.  Enrollment has decreased in all three districts while African-American enrollment has increased in Johnstown.


This post was made in November 2018 to introduce the poll for the greatest nonfiction book of all time.  So far the Origin of Species is leading.


This post from May of this year presents a documentary on the migratin of African Americans to Johnstown.


This post from October looks at the propaganda campaign against the local candidate for Cambria County Commissioner, Jerry Carnicella.  He lost.


This post is from May 2011 the oldest post on this list.  It talks about how the conflict in the US is reflected in similar conflicts in Italy, Germany and Japan.


I took a look at the numbers of abuser priests identified by Pennsylvania grand juries and adjusting them for the size of the populations that they serve in each of their respective Dioceses.  Cambria County had by far the most adjusting for population.


This post from a few weeks ago showed how endemic the problem of poverty has become in the Greater Johnstown School District (GJSD) compared to the neighboring districts of Westmont, Richland, and Ferndale.  Nationally it ranks 84th out of 13,207 school districts.


This post is a follow up to the second ranked post on this list.  It is from November and gives the results up to Nov 24 of this year.


This is the first post of 2019.  It compared elite coaches in the NFL who played in the NFL (ie. Chuck Noll, Don Shula, and Tom Landry) to ones who did not (Vince Lombardi, Bill Belichick, and Jimmy Johnson).  It found that they were equal in the regular season but the one who did not play had better records in the playoffs and won more championships.


This is the next to last post of the year.  It was a follow up post to the seventh most popular post on this list.  It looked at trends in the city, county, state, and US in poverty and median income.  The gap between the county and the city and the state and the US is growing.

For this list, two of the posts were made before 2019 and six of them were on the City of Johnstown and the surrounding area.  Of the eight posts made this year, three were made in the first half of the year.  This blog almost completely covers the 2010s.  In September I will have the tenth anniversary post looking at it's all time most popular posts.

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Friday, December 27, 2019

Holiday Poverty Estimates for Johnstown and Cambria County

In addition to the school district estimates that I posted about two weeks ago the Census bureau has produced estimates for every county and municipality in the US just in time for the holidays.  For Johnstown the poverty rate increased to 38.7% while it decreased slightly for Cambria County, Pennsylvania and the US. This is according to the federal definition of poverty which is about $30,000 for a family of four.

The census bureau also produced median household income estimates for the same counties and municipalities in the US for 2018.  For Johnstown there was a slight increase of $658 in the median income which is still well below the county, state, and US medians. This increase was within the $1,770 margin of error so we must conclude that there is really negligible change in the median income.

The median for Cambria County did decrease in 2018 by $844 in 2018 while the state and US medians increased by $1,786 and $1,601 respectively.  The PA and US increases were outside their margins of error while Johnstown's and Cambria's were not.

On Christmas Eve PBS Frontline rebroadcast a documentary on the effect of poverty on children in the US.  It's not just a Johnstown problem.  Unfortunately they do not allow me to embed it here but you can watch it at the link here.  Merry Christmas to all.

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Sunday, December 22, 2019

GOP Congress Enthusiastic About Protecting Trump? Actions Speak Louder Then Words

Much has been said about the Impeachment of Donald Trump.  On Wednesday there was 11 hours of debate.  One GOP Congressman even compared the proceedings in the house to the trial of Jesus before Pontius Pilate.  All GOP Congressmen and did vote against impeachment with three Democrats.  

The graph above shows that the vote on the second article was a five minute vote with 229 voting yes 198 voting no and one Democrat voting present (Tulsi Gabbard).  After the first minute of the vote the percentage of Democrats (blue line) casting their vote was higher than the Republicans (red line) for the five minutes.  The vote was held open for an additional eleven minutes to make sure that as many as possible voted.  Tulsi Gabbard voted present at the 1:18 mark.  You can see the progress of the vote in the clip below.

For comparison the next day the House voted on the State and Local Taxes Act.  It was passed 218-206 on another mostly party line vote.  Like the Article II vote, it was a five minute vote but the percentage of Republicans voting was much closer to the Democrats for the five minutes.  The vote was held open for  only one minute and 22 seconds as you can see in the video below.

The slow response to the impeachment articles also occurred in the vote on the first article (a 15 minute vote).  It was held open for nine minutes and 59 seconds after the 15 minutes had elapsed.  36 GOP members or 18% had not voted at the end of the 15 minutes compared to 13 Democrats or 6%.  The Article II vote was held immediately after the first.

This slow response to the vote suggests a lack of enthusiasm for voting no on the articles of impeachment.  This wasn't evident in the GOP SALT vote in the house the next day.  Actions do speak louder than words.  Former Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) has said that if the impeachment vote were a secret ballot in the Senate, at least 35 of his former GOP colleagues would vote to convict and remove him from office.  The GOP rank and file is another story.

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Saturday, December 14, 2019

Holiday Poverty Estimates from the Census Bureau: Johnstown SD Ranks 84th Nationally.

The Census Bureau has come out with its annual Small Income and Poverty Estimates for each county and school District in the US for 2018.  The above graph shows the 20 year trend in estimates of the percentage of students in poverty for the US, Pennsylvania, Greater Johnstown (GJSD), Ferndale, Richland, and Westmont school districts.  These districts are chosen as they are adjacent to GJSD.  The top 10 school districts in terms of poverty rate in Pennsylvania are listed below.

Greater Johnstown once again has the highest poverty rate for children ages 5-17 in the state out of 500 school districts at 46.7%.  Nationally it ranks 84th out of 13,207 school districts or in the 99th percentile in poverty.  The above graph shows that this trend has been increasing for GJSD.  The rates for the US, Pennsylvania, and the other school districts have remained relatively stable over the last 10 years by comparison.  

The Ferndale SD is also above the state (15.9%) and national (17.0%) rates for 2018 at 26.2%.  Richland and Westmont were virtually identical at 10.7% and 11.0% respectively.  Next I will comment on overall poverty trends for Cambria County and the City of Johnstown.  The 2020 census is coming soon and they are looking to hire census takers.  Whether or not you want to work on it you should participate to ensure that they will have the best possible estimates of the US, state and local populations.

District Name
Grade range of responsibility
Total Population
Relevant Ages 5 to 17 Population
Relevant Ages 5 to 17 in Families in Poverty
Relevant age 5 to 17 Ratio %
Greater Johnstown School District (PA)
Aliquippa School District (PA)
Farrell Area School District (PA)
Harrisburg City School District (PA)
Clairton City School District (PA)
Salisbury-Elk Lick School District (PA)
New Castle Area School District (PA)
Sharon City School District (PA)
Duquesne City School District (PA)
Steelton-Highspire School District (PA)
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Friday, November 29, 2019

Steve Ditko, Stan Lee, and Ayn Rand

Steve Ditko is Johnstown, PAs most famous author and illustrator.  He co-created Spider Man with Stan Lee in the 1950s.  I admit I had never heard of him until I started my book.  According to his Wikipedia page he was born here in 1927 and died in 2018 in New York City at age 90 which was a few months before Stan Lee passed away.

His page says that he split with Lee in the 1960s and did not speak to him for years.  Ditko seldom did interviews but his page says he was influenced by Ayn Rand's objectivist ideas which he expressed in his comic Dr. A.  She was interviewed by Phil Donahue in 1979.

It seems to me that Spiderman is at odds with Ayn Rand's objectivism.  I confess I'm not an avid reader of Spider-Man but in the movie with Tobey Maguire, Peter Parker (Spider-Man's alter ego) is told that "with great power comes great responsibility" by his uncle.  Spider-man becomes very altruistic leaving a note after his escapades saying "from your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man."  

I don't know Stan Lee's philosophy but many of his other comic book heroes could be thought of as altruistic.  I never read Mr. A but Ditko's page says he embodies Rand's philosophy.  Is Ayn Rand the reason Ditko and Lee parted ways?  Neither of them really ever said or ever will.

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Sunday, November 24, 2019

The 1st Anniversary of My Online Nonfiction Poll

It has been one year since I created the poll for the greatest nonfiction book of all time.  This poll was created in response to the PBS series The Great American Read which was for the greatest novel of all time.  Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird won that one followed by  the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon, the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling, Jane Austen's Pride and Predjudice, and The Lord of the Rings series by JRR Tolkein.  They do not say how many votes they received.

The six top vote-getters in this poll of the 45 responses received can be seen in the table below.  I went six deep because there are many ties for the lower places.  There is an other option where voters can nominate books that deserve attention.  80 books on the list received at least one vote.  The list expanded from 100 to 116 books over the last year as voters nominated their favorites.  The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin has received the most votes so far.

Number (%)
1.     On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin (1859)
13 (28.9%)
3.   Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank (1947)
11 (24.4%)
3.   Silent Spring by Rachel Carson
11 (24.4%)
4.   Walden by Henry David Thoreau (1854)
8   (17.8%)
5.   Night by Elie Wiesel (1956)
7   (15.6%)
6.   A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking (1988)
6   (13.3%)

After one year I pruned the list down by 12 books that received no votes such as Roget's Thesaurus and Encyclopedia Britannica.  Other books that are influential but received no votes were left in such as The Souls of Black Folk by WEB DuBois and the Kama Sutra by Vātsyāyana because they are influential.  This is a living breathing list with no deadlines.  Next year I will report on how the list will have changed.

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