How much would it cost to eliminate poverty among seniors?
22/01/2012, 00:36
Filed under: Economics, Policy, Politics, Statistics

A blogger comments on the recent NDP leadership debate in TO. He highlights this point from Cullen: “For the cost of three new fighter jets, could lift every senior out of poverty,” and adds, “BS meter spike?”

Actually, Cullen’s estimate might not be so far off the mark. A billion dollars is a lot of spare change. Here are my back of the envelope calculations:  Continue reading


Alberta and NFLD, and the difference between material and social well-being
14/01/2012, 18:54
Filed under: Economics, Policy, Sociology, Statistics

I recently finished up a couple of papers on aggregate poverty outcomes among the 10 Canadian provinces. The work consisted of estimating poverty intensity (Sen-Shorrocks-Thon poverty measure) for each of the Canadian provinces, for each year between 1990 and 2008, and summarizing any patterns that jumped out.

A lot of ink has been spilled settling on where and when to use relative vs absolute thresholds, how relative thresholds should be calculated, and how measures should be estimated. I take these issues as settled (and believe me, they more or less are). I choose instead to explore what impact basing our relative thresholds over national or provincial populations would have on our substantive poverty findings. Continue reading

Pretty pictures…
09/01/2012, 13:39
Filed under: Culture, Ephemera

Windows peering forward

Year of the glitch

and backward

Depression era family in color

in time. Via—where else—

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On the irrationality of parking
07/01/2012, 21:05
Filed under: Economics, Ephemera, Policy, Traffic

A fun article about parking in LA and an obscure academic discipline “caught between urban planning and traffic engineering”: parking theory…

Urban planners, says [Donald] Shoup, have no theory, use no hard data, when choosing parking requirements; they consult the manuals to decide. Every business imaginable is found within: Funeral parlors? A basic formula is eight parking spaces plus one for each hearse. Convents? One-tenth of a space per nun is fine. Adult bookstores? One space for every prospective patron plus one for the cashier holding the longest shift (no mention of the flasher in the alley). Public swimming pools? One space for every 2,500 gallons of water on the premises, chlorine included.

The figures are as precise as their origins are incomprehensible.

Read the rest. Via

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I want a dyke for president
07/01/2012, 20:01
Filed under: Culture, Ephemera, Politics

This essay is intentionally provocative, but it wonderfully captures a sentiment that I have felt in different forms before—and that I am sure many others have too. This thought in particular: “I want to know why we started learning somewhere down the line that a president is always a clown: always a john and never a hooker. Always a boss and never a worker, always a liar, always a thief and never caught.”

Here it is in full. Continue reading

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Your ancestors are not who you thought they were
07/01/2012, 11:28
Filed under: Ephemera, Thought

A fun mind smashing piece via 3QD. Christopher Stringer tells the story of his research on human evolution, and gets excited about recent findings and what’s to come:

At the moment, I’m looking again at the whole question of a recent African origin for modern humans—the leading idea over the last 20 years. This argues that we had a recent African origin, that we came out of Africa, and that we replaced all of the other human forms that were outside of Africa. But we’re having to re-evaluate that now because genetic data suggest that the modern humans who came out of Africa about 60,000 years ago probably interbred with Neanderthals, first of all, and then some of them later on interbred with another group of people called the Denisovans, over in south eastern Asia.  Continue reading

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When I write my Master’s Thesis
06/01/2012, 00:32
Filed under: Culture, Ephemera, Myself

You may have noticed (or not) that there is no category in my sidebar for music. This is because music is something that I spend very little time thinking about. A few years ago, when I was an undergrad and working as an RA, I started listening to CBC 3 because it was the only stream I could get running on our office computer. I’ve listened to it ever since—not because I love it, although it is good, but because I’m not very creative.

I play it quietly. Mostly I’ve learned to tune it out—I only turn it on because it’s slightly better than deafening silence. But, every once and a while, they play something that piques my interest. Well, some Canadian (they play him on CBC 3) named John K. Samson wrote a song called “When I Write my Master’s Thesis,” and this is how it goes:  Continue reading

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