Links for 05-06-16
4 hours ago
Comments, observations and thoughts from two left coast bloggers on applied statistics, higher education and epidemiology. Joseph is a new assistant professor. Mark is a marketing statistician and former math teacher.
In most states or systems with performance funding, the overall level of funding -- the pie to be sliced, if you prefer -- is either flat or declining. Which means that if everyone improves by the same five percent, then everyone gets the same zero percent increase. You may be making progress, but you’re still essentially running in place. Worse, if you improve by three percent but the statewide average is five, you actually lose ground.I find these sort of systems to be extremely tough environments to build motivation and success in, so I am glad that they are being scrutinized. One issue is that it creates some very perverse incentives. Consider this in a human resources context -- you do well at your job, get promoted, and now you are at the bottom of the ranking for the new rile you are in. If the bottom group tends not to survive (long term) it suggests promotion is bad. Or that politics will be played to make a promotion survivable, which can be pretty toxic.
In the third paragraph, we have two conflicting claims that go to the foundation of the whole debate. If election fraud is a significant problem, you can make a case for voter ID laws. If not, it's difficult to see this as anything other than voter suppression. This paragraph pretty much demands some additional information to help the reader weigh the claims and the article provides it...
Stricter Rules for Voter IDs Reshape Races
By MICHAEL WINES and MANNY FERNANDEZ MAY 1, 2016
SAN ANTONIO — In a state where everything is big, the 23rd Congressional District that hugs the border with Mexico is a monster: eight and a half hours by car across a stretch of land bigger than any state east of the Mississippi. In 2014, Representative Pete Gallego logged more than 70,000 miles there in his white Chevy Tahoe, campaigning for re-election to the House — and lost by a bare 2,422 votes.
So in his bid this year to retake the seat, Mr. Gallego, a Democrat, has made a crucial adjustment to his strategy. “We’re asking people if they have a driver’s license,” he said. “We’re having those basic conversations about IDs at the front end, right at our first meeting with voters.”
Since their inception a decade ago, voter identification laws have been the focus of fierce political and social debate. Proponents, largely Republican, argue that the regulations are essential tools to combat election fraud, while critics contend that they are mainly intended to suppress turnout of Democratic-leaning constituencies like minorities and students.
Mr. Abbott, perhaps the law’s most ardent backer, has said that voter fraud “abounds” in Texas. A review of some 120 fraud charges in Texas between 2000 and 2015, about eight cases a year, turned up instances of buying votes and setting up fake residences to vote. Critics of the law note that no more than three or four infractions would have been prevented by the voter ID law.
Nationally, fraud that could be stopped by IDs is almost nonexistent, said Lorraine C. Minnite, author of the 2010 book “The Myth of Voter Fraud.” To sway an election, she said, it would require persuading perhaps thousands of people to commit felonies by misrepresenting themselves — and do it undetected.
“It’s ludicrous,” she said. “It’s not an effective way to try to corrupt an election.”
Since the first corps was established in 1990, more than 42,000 corps members have completed their commitment to Teach For America. In September 2015, the organization reached a milestone of 50,000 corps members and alumni, who have collectively taught more than 5 million students across the nation.
In September 2015, the organization reached a milestone of 50,000 corps members and alumni, who have collectively taught more than 5 million students across the nation.
In September 2015, the organization reached a milestone of 50,000 corps members and alumni, who collectively taught more than 5 million students across the nation during their two year commitments.
Stewart is at least smart enough to realize that a 25 percent rate is only a tax increase if you eliminate preferences for investment income (capital gains and dividends, currently taxed at a maximum rate of 15 percent):These distortions aren't just journalistic laziness or rhetorically overkill on Stewart's part; it's essential to a narrative that writers like Stewart have built their careers on.
“Despite Mr. Ryan’s reluctance to specify which tax preferences might have to be curtailed or eliminated, there’s no mystery as to what they would have to be. Looking only at the returns of the top 400 taxpayers, the biggest loophole they exploit by far is the preferential tax rate on capital gains, carried interest and dividend income.”So give Stewart credit for knowing the basics of tax policy. But he is basically assuming that Ryan must be proposing to eliminate those preferences: “there’s no mystery as to what they would have to be.”
Only they aren’t. Stewart quotes directly from the FY 2012 budget resolution authored by Ryan’s Budget Committee. But apparently he didn’t notice this passage:
“Raising taxes on capital is another idea that purports to affect the wealthy but actually hurts all participants in the economy. Mainstream economics, not to mention common sense, teaches that raising taxes on any activity generally results in less of it. Economics and common sense also teach that the size of a nation’s capital stock – the pool of saved money available for investment and job creation – has an effect on employment, productivity, and wages. Tax reform should promote savings and investment because more savings and more investment mean a larger stock of capital available for job creation.”In other words, taxes on capital gains should not be increased, but if anything should be lowered.
But the “centrists” who weigh in on policy debates are playing a different game. Their self-image, and to a large extent their professional selling point, depends on posing as high-minded types standing between the partisan extremes, bringing together reasonable people from both parties — even if these reasonable people don’t actually exist. And this leaves them unable either to admit how moderate Mr. Obama is or to acknowledge the more or less universal extremism of his opponents on the right.The point about self-image and professional selling points is remarkably astute and when you combine those with the decline in fact-checking, diminishing penalties for errors, and a growing trend toward group-think, you get a journalistic system that loses much of its ability to evaluate policy ideas.
Indeed, that’s what Colin Ellard, a neuroscientist at the University of Waterloo and director of its Urban Realities Laboratory, has found in his own work. Five years ago, Ellard became interested in a particular building on East Houston Street — the gigantic Whole Foods “plopped into” a notoriously textured part of lower Manhattan. As described in his book, titled Places of the Heart: The Psychogeography of Everyday Life, Ellard partnered with the Guggenheim Museum’s urban think tank to analyze what happens when someone “turns out of a tiny, historic [knish] restaurant” and encounters a full city block with nothing but “the long, blank façade of the Whole Foods Market.”
In 2011, Ellard led small groups on carefully planned Lower East Side walks to measure the effect of the urban environment on their bodies and minds. Participants recorded their response to questions at each stopping point and wore sensors that measured skin conductance, an electrodermal response to emotional excitement. Passing the monolithic Whole Foods, people’s state of arousal reached a nadir in Ellard’s project. Physiologically, he explained, they were bored. In their descriptions of this particular place, they used words like bland, monotonous, and passionless. In contrast, one block east of the Whole Foods on East Houston, at the other test site — a “lively sea of restaurants with lots of open doors and windows” — people’s bracelets measured high levels of physical excitement, and they listed words like lively, busy, and socializing. “The holy grail in urban design is to produce some kind of novelty or change every few seconds,” Ellard said. “Otherwise, we become cognitively disengaged.” The Whole Foods may have gentrified the neighborhood with more high-quality organic groceries, but the building itself stifled people. Its architecture blah-ness made their minds and bodies go meh.
The Monsanto House of the Future (also known as the Home of the Future) was an attraction at Disneyland in Anaheim, California, USA, from 1957 to 1967. It was part of Disney's Tomorrowland
It was sponsored by Monsanto Company. The design and engineering of the house was done jointly by Monsanto, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Walt Disney Imagineering. The MIT faculty members were architects Richard Hamilton and Marvin Goody, and building engineer Albert G. H. Dietz. The fiberglass components of the house were manufactured by Winner Manufacturing Company in Trenton, New Jersey, and were assembled into the house on-site.
The attraction offered a tour of a home of the future, set in the year 1986, and featured household appliances such as microwave ovens, which eventually became commonplace. The house saw over 435,000 visitors within the first six weeks of opening, and ultimately saw over 20 million visitors before being closed.
The house closed in 1967. The building was so sturdy that when demolition crews failed to demolish the house using wrecking balls, torches, chainsaws and jackhammers, the building was ultimately demolished by using choker chains to crush it into smaller parts. The reinforced polyester structure was so strong that the half-inch steel bolts used to mount it to its foundation broke before the structure itself did.
Eighty-eight years ago, the St. Francis Dam burst in the middle of a March night, killing nearly 500 people [431 according to Wikipedia -- MP]. There are some images of the aftermath, but numbers tell the story better: 12.4 billion gallons of water rising to the furious height of 140 feet, surging 54 miles to the Pacific Ocean, an inland tsunami 2 miles wide leveling towns in its path. Some thought a saboteur had dynamited the dam. This would be easier to believe than the dam failing and people dying senselessly. But that was the case. And given the sorry state of American infrastructure, something similar could be the case again: the St. Francis Dam as portent, not aberration. ...
The dam burst on its sides, so that a strangely picturesque center section remained, standing there as a lone man might on a deserted train platform. Morbidly nicknamed “the Tombstone,” this vertical slab of concrete was dynamited to bits after a boy climbing the structure fell and died (another boy had thrown a snake at him). The stated reason for the demolition was public safety, but as Jon Wilkman wrote in his excellent book on the St. Francis Dam disaster, Floodpath, “it was a memorial to a failure the leaders of Los Angeles preferred to forget.”
Last year, state data show, the school imposed 325 suspensions overall. Massachusetts schools, on average, out-of-school suspended one in 33 students. UP Academy Holland out-of-school suspended one in 11.
Of Holland’s 233 in- and out-of-school suspensions so far this year, 117 were for first- and second-graders, according to the records supplied to WBUR. The school has about 250 students in those grades. Students with disabilities substantial enough to keep them out of regular classrooms were suspended 37 times, the records show.
The teacher pointed to the school’s philosophy of punishing even small infractions, like rolling their eyes, sucking their teeth or not sitting in “scholar ready position” as setting students off.
Those processes include notifying parents before the student is suspended, holding a hearing on the suspension and, in certain cases, determining whether the student’s disability caused the behaviors, in which case suspension is forbidden. By state law, parents can appeal the suspension to the district superintendent.
For instance, Boston Public Schools’ Code of Conduct lists specific measures: Before any suspension, school staffers must document that they’ve tried discipline that keeps the student in class. Principals must notify the district superintendent in writing before any suspension of a student in kindergarten through third grade. And a student’s parents or guardians can appeal the suspension to Boston Superintendent Tommy Chang.
But UP Academy Holland, while still considered a public school, no longer reports to the superintendent of Boston Public Schools. So, rather than notifying Chang, principals are told to notify Given, the UP CEO. And if parents want to appeal, they would appeal to the CEO, not to a public official.
Jayden was sent to one of the school’s “calm-down rooms.” A first-floor calm-down room is a former storage closet, still labeled “STORAGE” on an outside sign, that’s been turned into a dedicated space for timeouts.
Sometimes students stay in there alone while a staff member waits outside. The door has a small window for observation, although not every corner is visible through it. If a student is in the room longer than half an hour, the staff must notify the principal.
Malikka Williams’ son Malik attended UP Academy Holland in kindergarten. She remembers the first time she saw one of the calm-down rooms.
“Tears just started coming down my eyes, because it reminded me of a hospital ward room for psychiatric,” says Williams. “And I remember at that moment I said, ‘My God, this is not OK.’ ”
School administrators say they put students there only when they pose a danger to themselves or others. Principal Peddie says it allows students to calm down.
“We give students the space and the opportunity to self-regulate and really put themselves in a position where they feel as if they can be successful,” he says.
Eventually, Williams says, she was getting texts and calls almost every day to pick up Malik. More often than not, it wasn’t a formal suspension, just a demand that she come take him out of school. Sometimes, she says, a staff member told her that if she didn’t take Malik, they’d call EMS to do it.
“It got to the point that my phone would ring and my nerves became shot,” says Williams. “I do feel that through the numerous suspensions, calls and emergency removal threats, that you were pushing my son out.”
In January, Malik transferred to another school. Since then, he has not been suspended once.
“My son, when we pick him up, he runs to the car…,” Williams says with tears in her eyes. “He says, ‘Mommy, I had an excellent day!’ I’m so happy. Happy he’s happy.”
Earlier this week, I reached Thomas Mather, a co-founder of MaxMind, via email. I told him Joyce Taylor’s story, and how I’d discovered MaxMind’s involvement in the IP mapping part of it. I asked him if he knew anything about the default coordinates that were placing unidentified IP addresses on the Taylor’s property.
Mather told me that “the default location in Kansas was chosen over ten years ago when the company was started.”
He continued: “At that time, we picked a latitude and longitude that was in the center of the country, and it didn’t occur to us that people would use the database to attempt to locate people down to a household level. We have always advertised the database as determining the location down to a city or zip code level. To my knowledge, we have never claimed that our database could be used to locate a household.”This is a common problem with big data projects in which you attempt to repurpose a data source for something other than what it is intended for. And this re-use had some pretty severe consequences -- the people living at the "missing data address" were visited by a lot of officials -- all relying on the addresses that the IP address was registered to.
The new paper, published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, finally pins some numbers on all this theory by examining the impact over different time periods of various different modes of transport. The results are illuminating.According to the paper, if we focus just on the impact over the next five years, then planes currently account for more global warming than all the cars on the world's roads – a stark reversal of the usual comparison. Per passenger mile, things are even more marked: flying turns out to be on average 50 times worse than driving in terms of a five-year warming impact.If we shift to a 20-year time frame, things look completely different. The short-term impacts have largely died down and the plane looks considerably better – helped along by a quirk of atmospheric chemistry which sees nitrous oxide pollution from the aircraft engines causing cooling during this period by destroying methane in the air. The paper even suggests that for any time frame longer than 20 years, flying is typically greener per kilometre than driving (although when I phoned to check this, one of the authors of the report confirmed my suspicion that this isn't true in Europe, where fuel-efficient cars are more popular).
From the PROSPECTUS SUMMARY
SoulCycle is a rapidly growing lifestyle brand that strives to empower our riders in an immersive fitness experience. Our founders, Elizabeth Cutler and Julie Rice, were introduced at a lunch ten years ago and quickly realized they shared a similar vision about the changing role of fitness in our society of over-programmed, always-connected consumers. Traditionally, exercise was viewed as a chore, a box that needed to be checked. We believe that fitness should be joyful, inspiring and help people connect with their true and best selves.
What started as a single, 31-bike indoor cycling studio on the Upper West Side of New York City has transformed into a high growth lifestyle brand that, as of March 31, 2015, comprised a community of over 300,000 unique riders in 38 studios across the United States and with social media followers around the world. We believe SoulCycle is leading the global trend towards healthy living and a lifelong quest for meaning, wellness and personal growth.
We Aspire to Inspire. Our mission is to bring Soul to the people. SoulCycle instructors guide riders through an inspirational, meditative fitness experience designed to benefit the body, mind and soul. Set in a dark, candlelit room to high-energy music, our riders move in unison as a pack to the beat, and follow the cues and choreography of the instructor. The experience is tribal. It is primal. And it is fun.
During the class, the instructor leads the rider on an emotional journey that runs parallel to the physical workout. We believe the combination of the physical, musical and emotional aspects of the ride leaves riders inspired and connected to both the brand and the community.
Your Soul Matters. We are a “culture of yes.” Our core values are service and hospitality. We believe every ride matters; every rider matters. All of our employees complete initial, as well as ongoing, hospitality training at our “Soul University” to ensure exceptional service across the organization. We empower our managers to treat their studio as their own business and believe this helps foster the entrepreneurial culture upon which we were founded. We care, we work hard and we work together as a team. We encourage our teams to ride as much as they can, as we believe that motivated, engaged and well-trained employees are the key to cultivating our rider communities. We invest considerably in celebrating our teams through programs (such as weekly “SOULccolade”) that reward hard work, creativity, resourcefulness and actions that embody the culture and spirit of our brand.
Pack. Tribe. Community. At SoulCycle, our riders feed off the group’s shared energy and motivation to push themselves to their greatest potential. In becoming part of our community, our riders are instilled with greater awareness of not only their bodies but also their emotions. We believe this awareness leads to healthier decisions, relationships and lives. We are not a business that values only transactions, rather we create a community that cultivates and sustains relationships. Our immersive culture of inspiration and empowerment contributes to the engaged and connected rider base in each of our studios.
What Sets SoulCycle Apart
We believe the following strengths define our lifestyle brand positioning and are key drivers of our success:
Our SOUL: An aspirational lifestyle brand. Great brands often begin with an authentic and powerful origin story, and at SoulCycle, we created a radically innovative business that has resonated with consumers and the press since day one. We believe SoulCycle ignited the boutique fitness category and remains the industry’s defining brand.
From the beginning, SoulCycle has attracted a following that includes business leaders, social influencers and celebrities who were drawn to the idea of an elevated, meditative fitness experience. The explosive growth of our brand is fueled by an ever-expanding core of passionate fans who develop a powerful, emotional connection to SoulCycle and are proud to act as Soul evangelists spreading the word to friends, family and followers. We believe the distinctive SoulCycle experience creates passion and loyalty and generates tremendous word-of-mouth brand awareness, fueling our growth.
Our riders arrive early and stay after class to socialize with their fellow riders, the studio teams and instructors. Riders voraciously consume, comment on and share content from our blog and social media channels. SoulCycle apparel has become the uniform of choice both inside and outside the studios. Our silver retail bags can be seen in airports, on street corners and in households across the country. We do not have a target demographic because at SoulCycle, ANYONE can be an Athlete, a Legend, a Warrior, a Renegade or a Rockstar. It is the place people come, regardless of their age, athletic ability, size, shape, profession or personality, to connect with their best selves.
We have been recognized as being an innovative force both within our industry and beyond, including our being voted one of the World’s Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in Fitness by Fast Company in 2013, and rated the sixth most influential brand on Twitter at the most recent Consumer Electronics Show.
What we provide: A one-of-a-kind fitness experience that inspires and delights. Our focus is to change people’s relationship with exercise by creating a workout that doesn’t feel like WORK. We have accomplished this by consistently delivering an elevated fitness experience that is physically efficient and challenging, spiritually uplifting and above all else, FUN, paired with our focus on offering welcoming and personal service at every touchpoint.
How we do it: Invest in scaling our empowered instructor and studio teams. We are truly in the people business and place our instructors and studio teams at the core of our culture. We are intentional about hiring people who genuinely care about others, and who show the capacity to cultivate and sustain meaningful relationships. In hiring our studio teams, we value positivity and problem solving.