PMean: And the least important variable is… | PMean

The statistician reviewed each variable in order starting with the most important variable. It was rather dull, of course, until the statistician got to the bottom of the list. He proclaimed “and the least important variable is the amount of water in the raw material.”

At this point the engineers in the room burst into laughter. It turns out that water was the most important variable. If you had even a small amount of water in the raw material, the entire production process would explode. The engineers spent a huge amount of effort to keep the water down to a level that was barely measurable.

What the staff does matters more than what’s in an organization’s mission statement

Many of the same people cannot recall the exact language of their organization’s official mission statement, yet they have a clear and personal understanding of their nonprofit’s mission. These takes can be different within a single organization, as you might expect. People, after all, join nonprofits with different values and motivations. Their work requires them to focus on different
activities, which absorb their attention and set distinct priorities.

People are stranded in ‘transit deserts’ in dozens of US cities
Lower access to transportation for poorer Americans creates a kind of negative economic feedback loop. People need access to high-quality transportation in order to find and retain better jobs. Indeed, several studies have shown that transit access is one the most critical factors in determining upward mobility. Poor Americans are likely to have lower-than-average access to transit, but often are unable to move out of poverty because of this lack of transit. Investing in infrastructure thus is a way of increasing social and economic equality.

Bitcoin Mining Turns Electricity Into Money – The Atlantic
The point, too, is that the scaling-up process cannot stop. That’s how the system has been built. Even if bitcoin mining’s power needs, in the global energy picture, are still negligible. To realize the technology’s backers’ visions, the electrical consumption would have to keep growing at this breakneck pace. At a time when climate change requires that energy demand be bent downward, bitcoin miners sucking up city-size supplies of cheap and carbon-free hydroelectricity is a massive problem. And in China, where most mining is done with subsidized electricity produced in coal-fired power plants, it’s an even bigger problem.

This externality alone could wipe out a range of the benefits that bitcoin advocates imagine could result from the use of cryptocurrencies. Let’s stipulate that blockchains are useful and interesting. But will they be worth the energy it takes to do all that computation?

City Data Sets Now Available Through NorfolkOpenData Portal

The City of Norfolk’s new open data portal, called NorfolkOpenData, offers a world of information anytime, free of charge, with easy, centralized access. City data sets including call center information, permits and city employee salaries are available with a few simple keystrokes. Find a link to the portal at

How Much Money Do You Need to Be Happy? A New Study Gives Us Some Exact Figures | Open Culture

Hypothetical windfalls aside, the question of how much is enough is an urgent one for many people: as in, how much to feed a family, supply life’s necessities, purchase just enough leisure for some small degree of personal fulfilment?

Autonomous Vehicles: How Will They Challenge Law Enforcement? — LEB

Many questions need an answer before AVs arrive. Some examples provide a starting point.

Is an AV involved in breaking traffic laws malfunctioning or “violating”? Should officers stop these vehicles, or should a technical system identify when one malfunctions and violates established rules of the road?
How will officers know if a human or an autonomous system operates a vehicle involved in a violation? Does it matter in terms of
justification for a traffic stop?
Should speed limits, stop signs, traffic lights, and highway markings apply to AVs?
How will officers stop an AV with no human driver behind the wheel? A complex system of cameras, sensors, and computer software control these vehicles. Without a human operator, safely conducting a traffic stop—for whatever reason—could prove challenging.
What rights do passengers in an AV have when stopped by the police? How will AVs impact drug and other criminal interdiction efforts? Will police agencies deploy AVs in some way? How?

The Differences in How CNN, MSNBC, and FOX Cover the News – The Pudding

Here’s what this all comes down to: no matter how you slice it, whether by overall coverage, coverage over time, or context, two people who watch different channels could come away with vastly different ideas of key issues in the news.

This isn’t just a hypothetical concern. Studies show that a person’s choice in cable network can be predicted based on their political persuasion, and that cable news can help reinforce people’s beliefs.

Even if people continue to “cut the cord”, political polarization in news comsumption will still be an issue. The best thing you can do? Look to multiple sources for your news and be aware of how the editorial decisions of the sources you choose might be shaping your views.

Social Media Use 2018: Demographics and Statistics | Pew Research Center

A new Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults finds that the social media landscape in early 2018 is defined by a mix of long-standing trends and newly emerging narratives.

Facebook and YouTube dominate this landscape, as notable majorities of U.S. adults use each of these sites. At the same time, younger Americans (especially those ages 18 to 24) stand out for embracing a variety of platforms and using them frequently. Some 78% of 18- to 24-year-olds use Snapchat, and a sizeable majority of these users (71%) visit the platform multiple times per day. Similarly, 71% of Americans in this age group now use Instagram and close to half (45%) are Twitter users.

As has been the case since the Center began surveying about the use of different social media in 2012, Facebook remains the primary platform for most Americans. Roughly two-thirds of U.S. adults (68%) now report that they are Facebook users, and roughly three-quarters of those users access Facebook on a daily basis. With the exception of those 65 and older, a majority of Americans across a wide range of demographic groups now use Facebook.