Category Archives: In the News

Voting is (unfortunately) just an ‘ordinary liberty’

In the mess around apparent voter suppression and messy counts endemic to this past midterm election, a fundamental misunderstanding of our constitutional rights is played out frequently by media commenters who ought to know better. In brief, the U.S. is not quite the democracy that you likely thought it was, and perhaps it is time that we did something about… Read more »

Education and the ‘third rail’ of athletics

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The prior post in this series on the math of “free college for all” was about the application of the “fixed-cost dilemma” to higher education funding, which unavoidably skews the financial choices made by college and university administrators based on the accounting treatment of fixed versus incremental costs in their institutions. There is no better place to look at this… Read more »

The “Big-box Challenge” and why Lowes is closing stores

The big-box hardware retailer Lowes has announced that it will soon close 51 “underperforming” stores. The financial comparison of Lowes with its competitor Home Depot provides an interesting look at what I call the “Big-box Challenge,” the risky financial bet that has been a boon to many chains, but at the same time has dragged others, like Borders bookstores and Sports… Read more »

Stochastic terrorism part 2 – the mass shooting lottery

In the aftermath of each new tragedy of mass gun violence, people always look for a cause. There are likely many “causes” of mass gun violence, but the math points to a clear, correlated “temperature” that summarizes all of the causes and spits out violent acts that are at the same time random, yet probabilistically predictable. In the prior post in this… Read more »

Stochastic terrorism part 1 – The sand pile effect

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I have written in the past comparing the math behind American gun violence as unnervingly similar to the random-but-probabilistic math of lotteries. Another descriptor for this phenomenon pops up from time to time, and it has again after the mail bombs and the tragic Pittsburgh synagogue killings of this past week, and that is the term stochastic terrorism. What is… Read more »

Adding ‘high-lethality weapons’ to the media vocabulary

If you have ever engaged in conversation with a Second Amendment radical and even mentioned the words “assault weapon” or “semi-automatic,” you have likely descended quickly into “pedantry hell.” You will receive a lecture about why these terms are meaningless in their side of the discussion about any reasonable gun regulation. And they have intentionally made this “word corruption” a… Read more »

Albums you missed: Kate Wolf – Safe at Anchor

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This is the second post in a series featuring music that remains in my iTunes playlist and in the complete original running order after a lot of years have passed. This one features the later singer-songwriter Kate Wolf. After a lot of years of playing the singer-songwriter circuit in northern California, Kate Wolf scored her first major television appearance in… Read more »

Some caveats about election statistics

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Even if you remember a few things from that college statistics class (and confess, you probably don’t) the barrage of election statistics around this time of year can get overwhelming and confusing. I will admit that I have fivethirtyeight.com and other election statistics sites in my news feed, but I have learned a few limitations to human knowledge about this… Read more »

Hurricane Michael, F-22 jets and the Report from Iron Mountain

In the wake of the devastating Hurricane Michael, news reports from Tyndall Air Force Base, located just outside of Panama City, Florida, detailed extensive damage to somewhere between $5.8 billion and $7.5 billion worth of F-22 Raptor stealth fighter jets left on the ground as the base was abandoned. [1] [2] This story reminded me of a 50-year-old book that was… Read more »