Thursday, August 16, 2007

Politics, Gender, and Bias

Michelle Malkin notes the search for Ellen Goodman's "intrepid graduate student" in trying to gain a better understanding Goodman's characterization of the blogosphere as a "Boys' Club." It seems that Goodman has data to support her analysis, but isn't willing to share it.

I sometimes consider myself an “intrepid graduate student,” although I do have a day job as well. For fun, I play a game called Blogshares that uses categorized blogs as a trading device. The players in the game vote on the blogs in the database, and it is actively maintained to try to keep things current. Gender categories are based on self-identification by the blogger, and where it isn’t clearly stated we don’t add the blog to a gender category. Blogs with no posts in the last six months are generally eliminated from the database by the players, although that does tend to lag. The database has something on the order of 6,200 categories, which you can find here.

The fun thing about all this is that the data is highly searchable, and this page lets you search for blogs in multiple categories, like Male, Female, Politics, etc. I did a little research this morning after seeing Michelle's item, and came up with some interesting results:


Total Blogs



Delta (Male vs. Female)

All Blogs




















Right Wing Politics















Democratic Party





Republican Party















What conclusions can we draw from this? I’d say that

(1) Men in general are about as likely as women to maintain a blog, give or take 4%

(2) More men than women keep political blogs, by a factor of 3:1, and this is more-or-less true across the political spectrum. The Feminism category, unsurprisingly, breaks the pattern.

(3) More women than men blog about life or keep a journal online, by a significant 30%-40%

Are these differences a symptom of malice, as Ms. Goodman implies? Hardly. It seems pretty clear to me that this is a difference in passion. It takes a lot of work to write a blog and keep it active and interesting. Most women bloggers appear to care more about subjects other than politics, by at least 10:1. Contrast this with men, where ‘Life’ blogs outnumber ‘Politics’ blogs by only 1.5:1.

Unlike Ms. Goodman, I am perfectly willing to share my spreadsheet with the world. You can find it here. It contains not only the table above, but the names of the blogs in each category. I'd love to spend all day doing more research on this, providing link counts, etc., but the day job pays the bills and this doesn't. Let me just leave with this thought: If you visit Michelle's or Wonkette's blog entry in Blogshares and conclude that female bloggers don't get linked, you are either blind, insane, or so completely biased against men that you don't deserve to be heard in polite company.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Marines need e-mail

Grim at Blackfive spoke with the commander of Regimental Combat Team SIX recently, and this for me is the highlight of the conversation -- what we can do to help the Marines:

GRIM: Is there anything that you and your Marines need that we could send you?

COL. SIMCOCK: (Chuckles.) I'll tell you what, the one thing that all Marines want to know about -- and that includes me and everyone within Regimental Combat Team 6 -- we want to know that the American public are behind us. We believe that the actions that we're taking over here are very, very important to America. We're fighting a group of people that, if they could, would take away the freedoms that America enjoys.

If anyone -- you know, just sit down, jot us -- throw us an e- mail, write us a letter, let us know that the American public are behind us. Because we watch the news just like everyone else. It's broadcast over here in our chow halls and the weight rooms, and we watch that stuff, and we're a little bit concerned sometimes that America really doesn't know what's going on over here, and we get sometimes concerns that the American public isn't behind us and doesn't see the importance of what's going on. So that's something I think that all Marines, soldiers and sailors would like to hear from back home, that in fact, yes, they think what we're doing over here is important and they are in fact behind us.

Here's the address:
(Michelle Malkin wants copies of any emails you send, cc:

Here's my letter:
To the Marines and Sailors of Regimental Combat Team SIX,

I don't write letters often, but when I do it's usually because I feel strongly about the subject. In this case, it's your team, and what you mean to me and my family.

When I think of the Marines, the things that stand out most in my mind are pride and professionalism. In my younger days, I was a Navy junior officer, stationed on USS Manitowoc hauling Marines around the Mediterranean for two deployments*, on USS Iowa with a top-notch MARDET, and later on the staff of Beach Group TWO at Little Creek. I worked with Marines at every duty station for 10 years, and never met a Marine who was anything less than a professional. They deserved to be proud to claim the title.

You should be proud as well. Some people here in the States (e.g., the major media) have tried for the last four years to portray your mission as hopeless, or a waste. Some have fallen for the spin, and many more aren't even paying attention, but when I read stories about the war I see Marines being successful at every mission they take on. When I listen to the talking heads on TV, I hear negative comments, but looking around town it's extremely rare to see or hear vocal opposition.

You, like your brothers before you, are manning the front lines to make sure that our country's battles are fought over there and not back here. My family and I are thankful for your courage, for your resolve, and for your ability to get the job done right.

My heartfelt best wishes for the success of your mission, Semper Fi

Ken Adams
Delanco, New Jersey

* for the curious, it was MARG 1-86 (Guadalcanal, Ponce, El Paso, Hermitage and Manitowoc, 24th MAU/MEU) and MARG 4-87 (Nassau, Shreveport, and Manitowoc, 22nd MEU).

Please, send the Marines a little note to let them know that their mission is righteous, and that the American people are behind them 100%.

Monday, April 16, 2007

A Haiku

While walking in to work from the car this morning, the following popped into my head:

Springtime nor'easter
snow-covered cherry blossoms
Al Gore gave a talk

Friday, April 06, 2007

Happy Birthday to Me!

I got a really cool present for my birthday this year: a bunch of friends from way back, with whom I had lost touch, found this blog.
Lope, Cece, Kristi, and all y'all from back in the dark ages, it's great to hear from you.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Woodworking advice

In the never-ending quest to maintain our 91-year-old house, I have come across the need to replace some kitchen cabinets. At a couple-hundred bucks each, it makes sense to build them rather than buy them. The only major tool needed for such an endeavor, not already in my shop, is a table saw.

I've looked at a couple of different models, but would like some advice on which model will work best for an amateur like myself. I can afford something in the $500-600 range. My shop area is set up only for 120V power, and is in a basement with fairly low overheads and a not-quite-level floor. Here are the candidates:

Grizzly's G0444.
Pro: I've heard good things about Grizzly tools over the years. Nice fence.
Con: Stamped steel wings. Shipping cost. I could drive 3 hours each way to get one from the showroom.

Jet's 708100 JWTS-10.
Pro: I've heard good things about Jet tools over the years.
Con: Stamped steel wings. Shipping cost ($149), but apparently has free shipping today.

Ridgid TS3650.
Pro: I can walk into Home Depot and walk out with this saw. Twenty-six 5-star reviews on the Home Depot web site. The wings appear to be cast rather than stamped. 12-months no payments/no interest if I use my Home Depot card.
Con: I don't see any, but could be wrong.

So can anyone out there help me?

Friday, March 02, 2007

New Jersey 2008 State Budget - Municipal Aid

Enlighten New Jersey notes today the inequality in state aid to municipalities.

As required by law, each Legislative Distinct (LD) has approximately the same number of residents, and yet proposed municipal aid ranges from a low of $23,625,299 in LD-24 to a high of $119,422,814 in LD-29. The proposed average municipal aid per Legislative Distinct is $43,178,397.

Proposed state aid for each municipality and Legislative District can be viewed here and New Jersey population statistics as of December, 2006 can be found here.
Why are there differences? Enlighten doesn't come out and say it, but the two districts cited provide a clue. District 24 has a large number of small municipalities, 31 in all, receiving an average of $768,558.

District 29, on the other hand, covers Hillside Township and a portion of Newark. The average state aid in 29 is $59,721,407; Hillside will receive $5,676,440, while the tab for Newark is $113,766,374.

The observant will note that in addition to the difference in character (rural vs. urban), District 24 is represented in the Senate and Assembly by Republicans, while 29 is a Democrat District. Surprise!

Actually, it gets better. Breaking down the municipalities statewide by their representation, an interesting trend emerges. All-Democrat districts (Senator + 2 Assemblymen) receive an average of $5.3 million (per municipality) in total state aid, while all-Republican districts average $1.59 million. Here's the breakdown by representation:

Senate Assembly Average Aid Average Increase
D D, D
$5,304,771.40 1.95%
D R, D
$2,582,107.63 1.91%
R D, D
$2,106,762.21 1.91%
R R, D
$3,081,757.84 1.91%
R R, R1
$1,589,208.16 1.88%

Breaking it down by county, it's clear that this year's state budget remains, as always, a vehicle for transferring cash to the New York area, at the expense of the rest of the state. Hudson County, with the largest starting aid level, also leads the way in growth at 1.97%

Average Aid
Average Aid
Hudson $15,408,884 $15,711,918 1.97%
Essex $9,831,517 $10,023,886 1.96%
Mercer $8,766,272 $8,938,238 1.96%
Middlesex $6,204,436 $6,324,626 1.94%
Passaic $5,883,483 $5,996,404 1.92%
Union $5,791,894 $5,904,388 1.94%
Camden $3,359,636 $3,424,738 1.94%
Ocean $2,129,170 $2,169,268 1.88%
Somerset $2,074,086 $2,113,291 1.89%
Monmouth $2,036,287 $2,075,099 1.91%
Bergen $1,824,555 $1,858,832 1.88%
Cumberland $1,781,920 $1,816,349 1.93%
Morris $1,717,062 $1,749,088 1.87%
Atlantic $1,679,125 $1,710,660 1.88%
Burlington $1,630,726 $1,661,178 1.87%
Salem $1,619,646 $1,651,477 1.97%
Gloucester $1,512,750 $1,540,960 1.86%
Cape May $1,390,098 $1,416,850 1.92%
Hunterdon $815,436 $831,054 1.92%
Warren $780,444 $795,219 1.89%
Sussex $739,841 $753,266 1.81%
Grand Total $2,993,880 $3,051,477 1.92%

Furthermore, larger municipalities continue to grow faster than smaller ones:

Municipality Type 0607
Average Aid
Average Aid
City $11,846,443 $12,079,345 1.97%
Town $4,418,015 $4,503,779 1.94%
Township $2,953,055 $3,009,313 1.91%
Village $1,629,736 $1,660,126 1.86%
Borough $1,043,348 $1,062,833 1.87%
Grand Total $2,993,880 $3,051,477 1.92%

Combining the representation cut with municipality type, the disparity in state aid to municipalities becomes abundantly clear.

All-Democrat All-Republican
City $ 22,981,789.73 $ 4,145,897.80
Town $ 9,016,540.40 $ 1,996,690.78
Township $ 3,909,956.64 $ 2,266,959.05
Village $ 1,891,688.50 $ 1,428,564.00
Borough $ 1,470,199.91 $ 817,775.29

The budget does not, as the governor said in his address, provide "an across-the-board two percent increase in municipal aid." It provides additional aid at less than the 2% he claims, and in the most divisive and partisan manner possible. If he had any shame, Governor Corzine would resign after submitting this garbage.

1 Posted edited 3/2 9:20 AM to fix a typo

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Global Warming

Is global warming induced by human activity? What is the relationship between human energy output and atmospheric temperature increase?

Some would have you believe that we are all doomed if we don't cut our carbon emissions, because a 1 degree rise in temperature would raise sea level, wiping out coastal habitation. They claim that a majority of scientists agree that this is true.

Others discount these pronouncements, claiming that these theories are unproven and that the climate models on which they are based are both incomplete and not in agreement with observations.

So, armed with some basic facts, my trusty spreadsheet, and a knowledge of thermodynamics gained at great cost to the US taxpayer, I am going to explore the mathematics of this problem. This will probably take several posts.

First off, I want to know what the contribution of simple human existence is to the temperature of the planet. There are approximately 6.6 billion people on Earth right now, and we all generate heat just by living. The question is, how much heat, and what does that heat do to the atmosphere? Fortunately, the science of thermodynamics has figured out all kinds of cool ways to make these kinds of calculations.

The basic unit of energy is the Joule. The Wikipedia article I linked has a number of different conversion factors for Joules, but here are the most useful for this exploration:

1 joule in the real world is approximately:

  • the energy required to lift a small apple (102 g) one meter against Earth's gravity.
  • the amount of energy, as heat, that a quiet person produces every hundredth of a second.
  • the energy required to heat one gram of dry, cool air by 1 degree Celsius.
  • one hundreth of the energy a person can get by drinking a single 5 mm diameter droplet of beer.
So, a quiet person produces 100 Joules/second, which will heat 100 grams of dry cool air by 1 degree Celsius. Extending that to the entire population of the Earth, we produce enough heat energy every second to heat 660 billion grams (6.60x108 kg) of dry air by 1 degree Celsius. That's a lot of heat!

So how much atmosphere are we heating? An estimate here puts the mass of the atmosphere at about 5,000 trillion metric tons, or 5.1480×1018 kg.

If we assume perfect conduction of human-produced heat energy into the atmosphere, then we can just divide the mass of the atmosphere by the mass-temperature rise each second to get the time it would take basic human existence to increase atmospheric temperature by 1 degree Celsius.

5.148 x 1018 kg / 6.6 x 108 kg per sec = 0.78 x 1010 sec

7,800,000,000 seconds to heat the atmosphere by 1 degree Celsius equates to:
  • 130,000,000 minutes
  • 2,166,667 hours
  • 90,278 days
  • 247 years
So, if we assume (as above) that the atmosphere is a perfect receiver of heat, and that none of it goes into other things (like heating up the ocean), then in about 250 years the air will be 1 degree Celsius warmer (on average) due to the mere fact of human existence. This timeline doesn't support many of the claims, so the energy that is raising the temperature of the atmosphere must be coming from something other than basic human metabolism.

Next up: Raising the temperature of the ocean.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Yeah, I know I'm a slacker

Bob over at eCache noticed that I pretty much abandoned my regular posting schedule last summer. Work had a large part in that, since I was working on a never-ending proposal effort from mid-June until last week.
Another factor was an online game that has consumed much of my mental bandwidth: BlogShares. (The observant reader will have noticed the graphic in my sidebar). It's a nicely addictive simulated economy, with multiple levels of play available. At the most basic level, a player starts out with an imaginary $500 with which to buy and sell shares of stock, representing blogs rather than companies. With a few tips, you can build that $500 to $100s of thousands in very short order.
The blogs are maintained in an index, which leads to another level of play. Players can vote blogs into industries, related to the subject or demographics of the blog. Smadanek, for example, is currently included in the index for Delanco (NJ), New Jersey Politics, Local Politics, Conservatism, Americas, USA Education Policy, English, Male, Politics, New Jersey, U.S.A. Politics, Navy, Free-Market Economics, Economics, Military, and Military Service. By voting correctly, players earn chips, which serve as a "social currency" within the game, and karma, which allows the player to eventually become a moderator of votes.
When new posts appear on a blog and Blogshares reindexes it (by visiting with a spider), the blog generates ideas. Ideas are treated as commodities, which can be bought, sold, traded, or used to create artefacts. Ideas also change in value each time an industry creates them, with the possibility of going up or down depending on how rare or common they are.
Once you get to this point in the game, it starts to get fun -- artefacts can be used to manipulate (temporarily) the price of a blog or an entire industry, to buy up all of the publicly available shares, or even to do a hostile takeover.
I've given myself something of a challenge with the game, attempting to push myself as far up the rankings as possible without buying a premium membership. It's tough, because non-premium members are limited to 21 transactions in any 24-hour period, while premiums are unlimited. But still, I'm pretty happy with the results - starting at $500 about 18 months ago, my net worth is now about B$ 1.5 trillion, good enough to crack the top 150 players. Still a long way to go, since the top player has gained almost 10 times that much this month alone.
So, if you like a fun game of building and competition, give BlogShares a try. I've only touched on the basics of the game; there are side competitions, games of chance, raffles, auctions and more awaiting you in this nice little world. Contact me in the game, and I'll get you on the path to a good time.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy New Year

Resolutions: none.

I know the prediction business is a risky one, but I feel pretty confident in making these.

  • Solar fusion will warm the Earth, but not all of it and not all the time.
  • My kids will fight.
  • My back will go out, taking several days to straighten back up.
  • New Jersey taxes will go up.
Hope your New Year is safe, happy, and prosperous.

Mine too!