Showing posts with label Society. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Society. Show all posts

Monday, March 5, 2018

Nonviolent Movements In Western PA? If You Know of One Let them Know

Iraq Body Count of Violent Civilian Deaths In Iraq Since 2003
I have been swamped with work and consulting and haven't been able to post here.  I should have time in the next few weeks.  There have been various online researchers who collect data from the public to describe a social phenomena.  Iraq Body Count relied on crowd sourcing to track civilian deaths in Iraq since the US invaded in March 2003.  Their current estimate ranges from 180,000 to 202,000 civilians for civilians and 268,000 death including combatants.  The researchers for this site admit that this count is low but the trends in the graph above reflect the most violent periods in the war: The initial invasion, The height of the Sunni Insurgency in 2006 and 2007 and the invasion of ISIS in 2014-2017.

Nonviolent resistance movements chronicled.
There were lots of protests against the Iraq war world wide.  The website Non Violent Resistance, created by George Lakey in 2011 at Swarthmore College, describes more than 1000 campaigns for social justice throughout history and the world.  The oldest movement mentioned is in ancient Egypt in 1170 BC when laborers went on strike for pay.  Looking at the above map it looks really crowded.  There are four movements mentioned from antiquity. 

Non Violent Movements in Pennsylvania
Looking at the map above it looks really crowded.  However when one zooms into a local area (such as my home state of Pennsylvania, where Swarthmore is located, as seen above), it looks more sparse.  If you are aware of movements for social change that are not included please let them know at

Next I will write on the Southern Poverty Law Center's new hate group map.

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We've All Neglected Our Wars (Me Too)

Thursday, May 18, 2017

How is Washington DC an outlier? Let's count the ways. (Repost from Data Driven Journalism)

My latest post on Data Driven Journalism is up an reprinted here.
In my last post, I reported that Washington, DC had an extremely high rate of 30.83 hate groups per million residents in 2016 relative to the other 50 states (the national rate was 2.84 groups per million).  DC also had an exceptionally low percent of the vote for Donald Trump in 2016, at just 4.1%.  For these reasons, and other characteristics which make DC fundamentally different from the other 50 states, I had to exclude it from a correlational analysis between hate group concentration and Trump’s percent of the vote.  For this post, I will look at other ways in which DC is an outlier.

According to the most recent Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates (SAIPE) from 2015, DC ranks third in median household income at $70,848 behind Maryland and Alaska. Yet, the same SAIPE estimate also ranks DC eighth for the percent of the population in poverty, at 17.4%.  This indicates a large gap between the rich and poor.  The high rate of poverty is reflected in DC’s low life expectancy at 76.53 years, ranking 43rd compared with the overall US average of 78.86 years. Similarly, DC’s infant mortality ranked eleventh in the country, at 7 deaths per 1,000 live births compared to the US rate of 5.9 deaths per live births.  Newly released estimates from the Census Bureau for 2015 show DC has the second lowest rate of those without health insurance at 4.3% behind Massachusetts. These income and health statistics suggest that DC deviates from the national rates, but not that it is an extreme outlier – with one exception.

The statistics on crime suggest that DC is an extreme outlier.  DC had a violent crime rate of 1,244.4 offenses per 100,000 residents in 2014.  This is almost twice as large as the next highest state, being Alaska with a rate of 635.8 offenses per 100,000 residents, and more than three times as large as the US rate of 365.5 offenses per 100,000 residents.  In 2014, it had the highest murder rate of any other state at 15.9 offenses per 100,000 residents. 

Image: Paul Ricci.
Last fall, the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report released the number of hate crime incidents in 2015 for each state.  Adjusting their numbers for population, DC had a higher rate than any other state, at 96.69 offenses per million residents. Using the FBI rate method, this rate would be 9.67 reported offenses per 100,000 residents.  As the above graph shows, this hate crime rate corresponds with DC’s high rate of hate groups.  However, this relationship does not hold up when DC is excluded from the analysis, as can be seen in the graph below.  If DC is excluded, there is no statistically significant relationship between the concentration of hate groups and hate crimes in any of the other states, with only 2% of the variability accounted for.

Image: Paul Ricci.
Comparison of DC with New York City

So what factors besides poverty could be driving this relationship?  Compared to the other states DC has the highest population density by far at 11,157.58 persons per square mile.  Because Washington, DC is a quasi-city state, it may be appropriate to compare it to the US’s largest city, New York City (NYC).  In 2015, NYC had 8,550,405 inhabitants over a total of 302.64 square miles (approximately 488.13 km2) giving the city a population density of 28,252.72 persons per square mile.  I don’t have hate crime data for NYC but I can estimate the hate group rate from the hate group map of the Southern Poverty Law Center.  I counted 36 hate groups in the area, which would give NYC a rate of 4.21 groups per million – a number which is considerably below DC’s rate of 30.83 groups per million. In 2010, 25.5% of NYCs population identified as African-American whereas 50.7% of DCs population did.  Of the 21 total hate groups in DC, six of them are black separatist groups such as the Nation of Islam (28.6%).  Of the 36 hate groups in NYC, eight are black separatist (22.2%).  You can scan the other hate groups in each city here.

Looking at other statistics for NYC, the violent crime rate is 596.7 offenses per 100,000 residents and the murder rate sits at 3.9 offenses per 100,000 residents.  These are considerably lower than DCs rates of 1,244.4 violent offenses per 100,000 residents and 15.9 murders per 100,000 residents.  DC has a higher median household income at $70,848 than NYC’s $53,373.  Correspondingly, the 20.0% poverty rate for NYC is higher than DC’s 17.4%. 

One must be careful to draw grand conclusions from statistics that compare DC to the rest of the US and DC to NYC.  One can look at the obvious differences DC has with the other states. While it has three votes in the Electoral College for President, it has no members in Congress with full voting privileges on laws which may affect them. Further, as John Oliver explains, they have to pay full federal taxes:

We see Washington, DC portrayed in the media all the time but do we really notice what goes on there outside of the White House, the Capitol Building, and the various other federal buildings?  DC residents have been campaigning for full statehood for years but it has been stalled in Congress.  This second class citizenship may or may not explain all of the statistical discrepancies for DC.  The issue definitely merits further study.  There could be many other anomalies regarding DC of which I am not aware.

**Related Posts**

Don’t test me: Using Fisher’s exact test to unearth stories about statistical relationships (Repost) 

Concentration of Hate Groups Predict Hate Crimes (if you consider DC) and Trump Vote (if you don't)

SPLC Hate Group Update: Washington, DC has an Increase in Activity

Friday, May 6, 2016

2016 Election: A Rerun of What Year?

I was going to blog about the most recent Census Bureau county and state level estimates for PA but they haven't been released yet for 2014.  I did look at some of my posts from the 2012 election titled 2012: A 1912 Rerun? (Only if you make it)The post included video/audio clips of the three main contenders for the presidency in 1912: Woodrow Wilson, William Howard Taft, and Teddy Roosevelt.  One contender I did not include in that Post was Eugene V. Debs,  He finished fourth in the vote that year with 6% of the vote. He ran for President four other times on the Socialist party platform with 1912 being the high water mark for the number of votes.  The 5th time he ran in 1920 he was imprisoned by the Wilson administration for opposing the US participation in WWI.  He still received 1 million votes that year while in prison (the first year women could vote). 

Bernie Sanders created the above documentary on Debs life with Sanders providing the voice of Debs.  Looking at the current crop of three presidential candidates it's tempting to say that there has never been anything like this year.  Looking back it can be seen that outsider campaigns were the norm rather than the exception.  The current group of candidates was whittled down to three after the Indiana primary.  Indiana just happens to be the home state of Eugene Debs.  He was followed in this tradition by Robert LaFolette, Henry Wallace, Ralph Nader, and many other lesser known candidates in running outside the two party system to promote new progressive ideas that the two major parties were not discussing. 

Anti immigrant/labor candidates like Trump are also not new.  The Know Nothing party of the 1850's is a good example.  They had nominated former President Millard Fillmore as for President in 1856.  I have written about other contemporary politicians like Rick Santorum, Tom Tancredo, and Joe Arpaio.  

Where will the current group of candidates end up?  That is up to all of us or at least the ones who participate.  Many were predicting that Trump and Sanders would both fizzle out in the primaries even as both were .  Neither has so far though the Democrats have been somewhat more adept at denying Sanders the nomination.  

**Related Posts**

2012: A 2004 Election Rerun?

Italian Americans and Today's Immigrants

Immigration: An International Issue

2012: A 1916 Rerun

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

The 5th Anniversary of CSI wo DB: Top 25 All Time Posts

The fifth anniversary of this blog coincides with the end of the series that inspired it's name. Because of this momentous event, instead of a top 10 all time post list I thought I would do a top 25 list out of 250 posts so lets get started.  This should give a good sampling of the posts on the blog.

25. Pennsylvania Medicaid Expansion and Legislature Polarization

Pennsylvania's last Governor dragged his feet on expanding medicaid under the Affordable Care Act.  The new governor has reversed himself but a lot of other governors haven't.
24.  Titanic Perspective

The 100th anniversary of that cursed ships sinking made me think of other disasters that have been forgotten. 

23. Morality as a Mathematical Equation

The earliest post on this list was on a discussion of how morality can be evaluated like a mathematical equation.
22. Habemus Resegnum - We have a resignation

Pope Francis became the 266th successor of St. Peter after Benedict XVI abdicated.  Here is a look at the Papacy.
21.  The David Roberts Family Fund

Last year my friend from Hartford died from brain cancer.  A site was set up for his family to cover medical expenses.  I talked about how they shouldn't have to be begging for money for this purpose.  You can still donate to their paypal account here.

20.  An In Depth Look at a Mindfulness and Stress Study

An old classmate of mine from Hartford had an article in the Huffington post on how mindfulness can reduce stress.  I discussed her study here.

19. Season's Shootings

A response to the terrible shootings that occurred about the same time as the Newtown Shootings.
18. Olympic Medal Counts Still Reflect National Power (or the Need for it) 

As the title of this post says, a look at how Olympic medal counts reflect a nations power.
17.  Ruth Institute - Making Marriage Cool (In the US but not Scandinavia)

A response to a question I asked about the effect of Scandinavian social programs on marriage.
16. A Statistical Profile of the Uninsured in Washington, DC, New Mexico, and Texas

How do uninsured rates relate to health outcomes for these three outlier states?
15. A Geographical Representation of the Mode and Ethnicity

A look at methods of displaying descriptive statistics in geographic form.

14. Controversy over the New Psychiatric Diagnostic and Statistical Manual

The American Psychiatric Assn caused controversy when they decided to remove Asperger's Syndrome from the DSM-V and place it on the Autism spectrum
13.  The World Wars and Today's Wars

A look at how World Wars I & II relate to the current troubles in the Middle East.
12. Correlation with the Number of Hate Groups per Million, Poor Health Suggests More Hate

In a follow up to the post on the concentration of hate groups (seen further down on this list), I looked at the correlation between the concentration of hate groups in each state and their health outcomes.
11. Bullying & Society

In this post I argue that bullying in schools is merely a reflection of ills in the larger society.
10. Lance Armstrong's Doping Claim: A Probabilistic Calculation

When Lance Armstrong was still claiming innocence of blood doping I thought I would apply probability theory to his claim.  This is the post with the longest average time per view.
9. 2013 Small Area Income and Poverty Estimates Are Out for School Districts and Counties in PA

A look at local poverty rates in my home state of Pennsylvania.
8. A Kinder, Gentler Looney Tunes

Warner Brothers tried to modernize the Looney Tunes characters.  I thought it had promise but it didn't last.
7. Top 10 Worst Super Bowls of All Time 

We are used to thrilling Super Bowls today but there was a time when the game rarely lived up to the hype.
6. Two Years Ago in Stanton Heights

In 2009, three policemen were killed by a right wing extremist about a mile from where I live.  I gave a profile of the neighborhood where it happened.
5. Hitler, Napoleon, and Stalin: Outsider Despots

Hitler and Napoleon are often compared.  I argue that there is also considerable overlap between those two and Josef Stalin.
4. The Civil War in a Larger International Historical Context

With the 150th anniversary of the Civil War these past 4 years I thought it would be helpful looking at in with similar conflicts in Italy, Germany and Japan which would have repercussions for later conflicts..
3. A Wave of Hate Groups in California? No in Washington, DC

A look at the concentration of hate groups in the US (adjusting for population).
2. Global Warming, Wikileaks, and Statistics: What Barry Sanders Can Teach Us

The second most popular post provides a sports metaphor (Barry Sanders' running statistics) for explaining global warming/climate change to denier of this science who also is a sports junkie (ie. Rush Limbaugh, James Inhofe, etc).
1. CSI Without Dead Bodies: Income and Life Expectancy. What does it Tell Us About US? 

Thanks to this post being linked to on the BBC programme (British Spelling) web page for The Joy of Stats, this page has received over 3,000 hits (7% of total traffic). It covers the correlation between life expectancy and income.

**Related Post**

CSI senza cadaveri


Thursday, June 13, 2013

We All Do Surveillance

Just one week after posting on the trial of Bradley Manning, the big news is Edward Snowden's leaking of a domestic surveillance program to Glenn Greenwald of the Guardian Newspaper.  Naturally jaws are dropped in Congress and in the public.  Personally I am not surprised that we are tracked in this modern world where almost all of us are electronically connected.  I have written many posts on how web statistics are compiled on us by sites like Google and Facebook and used for marketing purposes (see related posts below).  I've also done PodCamp presentations on it as can be seen in the reproduced Google Analytics output at the bottom for May 12-Jun 12 2013. 

Susan Landau in the clip above explains how metadata from domestic surveillance can reveal real patterns about ones life.  Looking at friends Facebook pages is similar to collecting metadata.  One can learn a lot by simply observing.  Whenever the old Soviet Union had parades with large missiles, the US military brass and intelligence would be there to learn what they could about their military hardware.  The technology has changed since then. 

Is there potential for abuse just as there was in the old Soviet Union?  You bet.  We are all observing each other to learn info.  The government says it's doing it to stop terrorist attacks but it did not stop the Boston Marathon bombings or other mass shootings in the US with higher death tolls.  The Christmas underwear and Times Square bombers were thwarted by perceptive onlookers.  Some surveillance is needed.  What Snowden, Manning, and Assange are doing is giving those who are doing is giving the surveillance class at the NSA a taste of their own medicine.  The need for privacy is understandable.  The unchecked need for data and metadata on those around us is what is dangerous.  As a researcher I abide by limits all the time on privacy and I must be on guard against invasions into mine as by blog is trolled from all over the world.  My advice to those who are concerned about privacy on Facebook and other social media is if you don't want the public to see it don't post it. 

There are ways to investigate social issues including terroism without invading privacy.  The founding fathers created the constitution to protect our rights and also mandated the US Census taken every 10 years since 1790.  It is now a valuable source of information about the US population. 

Google Analytics Output

284 people visited this site
Unique Visitors
Pages / Visit
Avg. Visit Duration
Bounce Rate
% New Visits

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One Year of CSI Without Dead Bodies

Monday, January 21, 2013


This is the phrase that Charlie Sheen popularized when he was fired from his sitcom Two and a Half Men.  We all want to back a winner but we never ask what the price of winning is. Today Barack Obama has been inaugurated for a second term after garnering 51% of the vote over Mitt Romney last fall. He has many challenges coming up on gun control, the economy, Afghanistan, and who knows what else.  He had to raise billions of dollars for his campaign and millions more to pay for the ceremony today.  How many favors will be expected in return?

In April, the Thomas Merton Center in Pittsburgh will be honoring Sheen's father Martin for his peace activism.  I'm not saying he doesn't deserve the recognition but please don't ask him about Charlie.  His activism has not come without a price just like it has for the rest of us.

Lance Armstrong has finally come clean to Oprah Winfrey (but not yet under oath) on using performance enhancing drugs.  I have written before about how abuse of these drugs goes far beyond Armstrong. He is an extreme case of gaming the system.  If he had raced clean and finished in the top 20 seven years in a row in the Tour de France would that have been any less heroic? Sure he wouldn't have had all the money or fame which he so desired but we all wanted a hero for cancer survivors everywhere who suffer with the disease and get no recognition.  I still wear the Livestrong rubber bracelet which he first popularized in 2005 and people ask me why.  Yes Lance is flawed and who isn't.  He can still become a hero even without winning bike races or heads a foundation.  Is the Livestrong Foundation bad because of his extreme bullying to preserve his titles?  Life is full of contradictions that we must negotiate.

So much energy, legal and illegal, is invested in winning.  We need to ask ourselves when is the price worth it?

**Related Posts**


'The Secret' Gets the CSI w/o Dead Bodies Treatment


Lance, Issac, and Joe: Lessons of Hubris?


2012: A 1916 Rerun


Olympic Medal Counts Still Reflect National Power (or the Need for it)

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Season's Shootings

This weekend there were copy cat shootings to the Newtown shootings in Hollidaysburg, PA and Rochester, NY.  I know I said I wasn't going to blog about the shootings but the extra incidents before the holiday prompted me.  They may or may not be connected.  I feel that this satire by Eddie Murphy and Joe Piscopo on Saturday Night Live in 1983 is just as relevant today as it was then.  It fits in this blog because it is a simulated shooting, not real. (Hulu has removed this video.  You can see another version of it here)

MotherJones magazine has a piece showing that there were 151 deaths from ten mass shootings in the US this year.  That does not include the incidents this weekend which would bring this years total to 157 from 12 incidents (a mean or average of 13.1 deaths per incident).  Yes the availability of guns is a factor and people are right to criticize the NRA for a denial of reality but there are many other factors at work in these types of incidents such as mental health and the influence of the media.  Dave Cullen has written a book on the Columbine killings and gave an interview on C-SPAN's Washington Journal about these incidents.  He correctly points out that there was an armed guard at Columbine who was out gunned.  The presence of guns (especially arming the teachers as the state legislature in Missouri is trying to do but are wisely blocked by the governor) increases the risk of accidental shootings even if it were to slightly decrease the risk of deliberate ones.  A famous case would be then New York Giants star Plaxico Burress accidentally shooting himself in the thigh in a night club when carrying a concealed weapon.

NRA members may point to a mass shooting in Norway where a far right wing fanatic killed (he won't be named here to quench his lust for fame) 69 people in 2011 (44% of the US 2012 total for one incident).  They have better gun control laws and mental health services than the US.  The killer was given Norway's harshest sentence, 21 years.  How many of these shootings has Norway had since then?  The police in Poland and the Czech Republic stopped other potential copycats. There were a, as I said in my post on the The Secret, there are definitely ways to minimize the risk of terrible events like these but it can never be eliminated.   Controlling guns is a much better way to minimize the risk than making them more available but other factors need to be considered.

Another potential influence is the media. We need to ask ourselves, are we that different from those who went to gladiatorial games in the Roman Colosseum thousands of years ago to watch slaughter for entertainment?  I know this is a strange topic to blog about on Christmas Day but the holiday season clearly did not deter the perpetrators in Newtown, Hollidaysburg, and Rochester.  Yesterday was the appropriate time to talk about this topic. Buon Natale a Tutti.  Merry Christmas to all in Italian.


Rob Cullen over at What if Post has a good review of ways to reduce gun violence in the US with a rebuttal by Archie Bunker.  The city of Chicago reached 500 homicides for 2012 while it decreased for New York City.

It's a few weeks late but I had to update this post with Jon Stewart's skewering of the gun control debate in two parts below.  The recent shooting in California also prompted me to update.

  **Related Posts**

Two Years Ago in Stanton Heights 


Bullying & Society


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Friday, October 8, 2010

Bullying & Society

I've seen this video clip from the Ellen show make the rounds of Facebook and the web in the last few weeks. It is sad that it takes events like these or of Columbine for people to recognize the harmful effects of bullying. In school I was often called a faggot (I'm not) and worse and was bullied in other ways. The advice I got from adults was "ignore it, it will go away, it's just part of growing up" while it may be true for those who have a good face for playing poker but it never did for me. Of course being gay is not the only reason to be bullied. At least some parts of society are starting to recognize this age old problem, but are they ready to ask the deeper questions?

Much of what goes on in our schools is merely a reflection of the society as a whole. In schools it all occurs in a closed space. In our society you have the jocks like LeBron James, Serena Williams, and Ben Roethlisberger, the brains (nerds is my N word) like Bill Gates and Stephen Hawking, burnouts like Lindsey Lohan, beautiful people (you can think of examples), and everyone else just like in every school. There is often jockeying for position in society and schools which sometimes leads to conflict.

Bullying is about establishing a social hierarchy. It can be subtle by as cold stare or not. I am not a total saint in this myself. Sometimes to take the pressure off of me, I would pick on other kids.

Those in authority can set the tone for how those under them behave. For example, when our leaders engage in gay bashing, such as Sen. Jim DeMint R-SC saying that gays & lesbians should not be allowed to teach school, those who follow them will imitate and sometimes escalate. In another more telling example NY gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino has said inflammatory things about gays right after eight men were arraigned for torturing three gay men.

Eight Arraigned In Anti-Gay Bronx Attacks; One Suspect Still At Large

Another example of indirect incitement of bullying is Byron Williams who tried to kill people at the progressive Tides foundation but was stopped by the police. He confessed to being inspired by Glenn Beck, calling him a "school teacher." Richard Poplawski, who killed three police officers in Pittsburgh, Pa (less than a mile from my home), was also a follower of Beck's who was paranoid about Obama and guns. The journalist from Media Matters who interviewed Williams and has been following Beck's verbal bullying for years discusses it on Democracy Now!

Bullying is a symptom of larger forces in society. Kids are often better than adults at sensing which individuals do not fit the mold that society defines as "normal". It is the leaders who define who is and is not normal. Just blaming bullying on a few messed up kids with low self esteem (a myth that helps keep the problem going) or on violent video games (it does make the problem worse) with self esteem problems will not solve it entirely. It is necessary to recognize everyone's role in the problem.

The National Center for Bullying Prevention has resources for dealing with bullying at least on the school level. Research will have to be done to see how effective it is.

Final commentary which I cannot disagree with more. John Fugelsang says calling it bullying trivializes what it puts kids through. I argue that the International Monetary Fund saddling poor countries with debt is the same as bullies stealing unpopular kids lunch money. In the end, the name you give it matters less than correctly recognizing it when you see it.

Joel Burns' story telling teens that "it gets better" (echoed by President Obama) is moving but judging by his reaction the scars from his own bullying are still there and always will be. In some ways it does get better just as it has for African Americans in some ways since slavery, Jim Crow, and lynching ended, but is it as good as it would have been for them if those terrible things had never happened in the first place?

It "got better" for me when I was a freshman in college. Some guys in the dormitory were harassing me by jamming my door shut with pennies because I wouldn't be their patsy. The resident assistants were in their back pockets so I called the police on them. I have no regrets about it. The struggle for me was how does one handle not being bullied?

Dan Savage has picked up on the it gets better theme but only for LGBT's and has created an organization for victims of that type of bullying called the It Gets Better Project. He discussed the it on the Colbert Report. I still feel it doesn't address the core of the problem.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Dan Savage
Colbert Report Full Episodes2010 ElectionMarch to Keep Fear Alive

New research by Media Matters shows how Beck and Fox News has been bullying the public about Obama's anti bullying efforts.