This summer I went to see a play because it had discounted tickets. But, just for kicks I tried out the flow chart and ended up at that very one: Much Ado About Nothing. It’s not my favorite comedy, but it was a good production.
Chernoff Faces are a statistical technique for finding similarities/differences between many variables measured across many observed units. In database lingo, it’s for data that has lots of fields and records.
The method exploits human facial recognition abilities. Similar observed units have similar faces. Dissimilar faces indicate differences.
Here’s some crime rates for the U.S.:
What makes D.C. stand out like that? Relatively more murders, robberies, assaults, and car thefts; relatively less rapes, burglaries, and larcenies.
I’ve lived in Utah, Louisiana, Alabama, and New York. Personally, I’d group Utah and New York as criminally similar, and Louisiana and Alabama as closer to each other than to the first pair. The Chernoff faces tend to confirm this.
The vXboy and i hiked up Rocky Peak the other morning.† At the top there were large black wasps with dusky orange wings flitting around the junipers.
When we got home, I looked them up. They are a type of wasp called a tarantula hawk (lots of photos): big enough to swoop down on small tarantulas and carry them away.
The above is out of focus at that range, but it’s clearly a wasp. But, the are big enough to look like hummingbirds as below;
In case you were wondering, we saw neither tarantulas or hawks on this hike.
† If you’re in Cedar City, the range of many small peaks to the northwest is called the Three Peaks. Don’t ask me why. The tallest peak is Rocky Peak. The trailhead is near the large group campground in the southwestern part of the Three Peaks Recreation Area. It takes about half an hour to get to the top: steep, but not hard or treacherous. Here’s a nice shot of Rocky Peak, isolated out of the much longer range.
… I hated the place and the neighborhood. The house was tight, and the area was filled with boys who ran around with lengths of pipe they used as makeshift blow guns.
They’d blow needle-pointed darts through the pipes and could hit you from up to 30 feet away. Other kids, in fits of cruelty, tied cats upside down by their tails on clothes lines. The neighborhood was like something out of “Children of the Corn.” …
He lived in several other places along the Wasatch Front, and none of them gets the same treatment. The article is interesting throughout.
Do not fail to follow Google Maps voice directions. If you do, it will get sneaky.
I had free time to get pleasantly lost in the suburbs of Salt Lake City last night.
So when Google Maps started acting up, I let it, just to see what it would do.
I would call its behavior similar to that of a bureaucrat when you don’t fill out the form correctly.
Anyway, here’s the story. I had 2 hours to kill while waiting for the vXdaughter’s activity to finish. So I ran to a nearby Walmart for one thing along a route I knew.
But it was in an area of town that’s unfamiliar to me, so I had Google Maps voice directions turned on. The route I chose to get to Walmart was the standard one, so there was no problem.
However, on the way back I decided to try the alternate route. I followed the directions closely. Everything went well until …
I was on a road along the top of a small cliff. I was directed to turn onto the road that made switchbacks down. At the bottom I was supposed to turn left.
That road was blocked to through traffic (or “thru” as they like to spell it on road signs).
I made a right instead, and was not surprised as Google Maps told me to make a U-turn.
It got more insistent, but I continued on straight. I figured that eventually it was going to reroute me and I would be fine.
Here’s what Google Maps did.
First, it got increasingly insistent that I make a U-turn. To a point that I would I call hectoring.
Secondly, when I finally came to a major intersection, Google Maps told me to make a right (onto a second street), then a U-turn, and a left. It gave me these directions all at once, in one phrase. Some people would call those first two parts of this maneuver a “jug handle”. Whatever. At this point I was in diebeilef because it was clear that Google Maps was going to get me back on that closed street no matter what.
Lastly, I made that right turn, but did not make the U-turn. When Google Maps recognized this it got even more sneaky. (Remember that I said I had the free time to let it lead me on). Here’s what it did:
It told me to make a right,
Then another right,
Then a third right,
Followed by a fourth right into a cul-de-sac
Believe it or not it then said to circle around the end of the cul-de-sac to reverse course, and
Make a left,
Then a second left,
Then a third left,
And finally a fourth left.
This put me back on the second street that I’d refused to make a U-turn on. When I got back to the intersection with the first street, it directed me to make a left and go back to the closed section.
Here’s the map. The light blue X is the intersection where the street was closed.
The red cobweb at the bottom right is where I was led into and out of the cul-de-sac.
Now that I have a chance to look at the bigger picture, I can’t even conceive of why it would have wanted me to make a left at the blue X unless it had information that the road was closed in the other directions (the one that I actually took). Making that left pretty much would have led me back to Walmart and the route I’d taken to get there.
It didn’t take me long after moving to Salt Lake in 1991 to realize that there is no political middle in Utah. There are Republican/conservatives, and leftist/progressives. These charts from the Utah Foundation confirm this:
My apologies, the sides are clipped in the source.
The above chart shows national dispositions. Voters are asked to rank themselves from left to right. Then their party affiliation is shown as a histogram. While there are liberal Republicans and conservative Democrats, the two parties humps are somewhat delineated.
Then we come to Utah, shown below:
Here, Democrats are much more likely to be consistently liberal, and far less likely to be conservative. Republicans are the opposite, although there do seem to be more liberal Republicans in Utah.
What’s interesting is that the median Republican is about he same in Utah and the rest of the country. But the median Democrat in Utah is far more liberal than they are nationwide.
Thus the easy victory for Bernie Sanders in the Utah caucus.
Check out the bottom panel. This year’s line is the pink one, while black is the average. It was an average year up through the first week of February, and then below average after that. That corresponds to our last major snowstorm — a real doozy in the first week of February that produced the first snow day for the kids since the 1950’s.
I conclude from this that our perception of drought in southern Utah matches that in the southern Sierras. I’ll have to bookmark this link to Sierra snowpack for future reference.
A few years ago, there was a push in Utah to move from caucus-oriented politics to primary-oriented politics.
I can’t speak for everyone, but the people and arguments behind this grass roots (or more likely, astroturf) push seemed awfully doe-eyed and innocent.
Unlike most Americans, I’ve lived in both primary-oriented and caucus-oriented states. The government is better, and politicians are less aloof in the latter.
The petitions were signed though, and it went up to Salt Lake, where the legislators … hmmm … I think the technical term is “shit-canned it”.
However, they did make some moves to adopt the worst of both systems as some sort of improvement.
Flash forward to yesterday afternoon …
I am in my driveway unloading groceries.
There is a black and white police squad car parked about 2 houses away (very unusual for my neighborhood).
After a few minutes I am approached by its driver: an off-duty police officer (I do think they are allowed to take their cars home for private use and visibility in my city).
The off-duty police officer calls me by name.
The off-duty policy officer asks me to sign a petition.
The petition is put forth by an incumbent politician. If he can get enough signatures, he is deemed popular enough to waive the caucuses, and face a primary instead. (Of course, incumbents love primaries, because not many people vote in them).
I refused, even though I like this politician. The off-duty police officer politely said his thanks, and left.
I have no doubts that the off-duty police officers actions were legal: he was on his own time using a company car. I am a registered voter and party member, so I am sure my name and address are publicly available for canvassing.
I do have doubts as to whether the use of police officers was entirely random. It seems to me that they constitute a group that is particularly easy for politicians to reach out to for free labor.
I brought this up with the soon to be 17 vXboy today. He saw right through it: what could possibly go wrong with a system where legislators use police to obviate democratic processes?
I think the other people in my family are unusually interested in daylight saving time. This site will help me with some inevitable questions.
But the graphics are tough. Here’s one. It shows the hours of daylight in light blue. The year goes horizontally, so summer is in the middle of each panel. The hour of the day goes vertically — with evening at the top. So thickness in the middle is long summer days.
The panel on the left shows no daylight saving time. The panel on the rights shows what daylight saving time does: shifts a little bit of evening into the morning.
Then there’s this one. It shows day of the year across the horizontal axis — so northern summer is in the middle. Vertically, it shows latitude from south pole to north pole — so the horizontal blue line approximates the continental U.S. The shading shows daylight: white is the most, yellow quite a bit, blue is less than half, and gray is none at all.
Days getting longer and shorter is then the transition of colors going left to right. In the U.S., our short days of winter transit into long days of summer and back again.
This emphasizes something I became acutely aware of when I moved to the almost always sunny high desert of Utah: the transition from short days of winter to long days of summer happens really rapidly. This is the steep slope at the border between the blues and greens and yellows.
All this leads to this chart. The left panel is sunrise, and the right panel is sunset. Browner means less sun, and yellower means more sun.
So in Utah, where I live now, daylight saving time makes for darker mornings (our mountains just to the east make that worse — the sun comes over them about 8:35 in midwinter), and sunnier evenings.
For my part, daylight saving time always reminds me of moving from Buffalo, New York — along the far western border of the eastern time zone, to Tuscaloosa, Alabama — along the eastern border of central time. I was shocked at how early the sun set in the winter in Alabama — you’d start to notice it dimming about 3:45 in the afternoon.
And you can clearly see that in the last panel on the right: Alabama is one of the brownest places at sunset, indicating early darkness. I guess at that age (I was around 25) that I never got up early enough to notice the bright, early, mornings in Alabama.
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