March 21st, 2013
Thank the Academy: A visualization of how Oscar winners express gratitude.
I have to be honest: that's one of the more straightforward charts on the site. The interactive charts that really let you slice and dice the data are where the action is, but they can't be properly represented by a dinky screenshot over here.
You really should go and have a play for yourself. You can view the differences in the content of speeches and even the behaviour of the recipient, then view the differences between eras, or between different classes of award winner. It's a very well done site.
I'd love to see someone apply these same techniques and style of presentation to another corpus taken from an annual event with a bit of a history to it. Say, Budget speeches by Chancellors of the Exchequer over the last 50 years, or party leaders' speeches to their party conference. Granted, you couldn't do much with an analysis by gender of either of those data sets – what with any analysis by gender of the relevant UK data sets having Margaret Thatcher on one side of the stats and generation after generation of middle aged men on the other – but there would be all sorts of illuminating ways to break the data down.
One think I can confidently predict: those sorts of data sets would provide fewer opportunities to tally the number of speakers who burst into tears during their speech. Also, some poor devil would have to sit through recordings of each speech taking detailed notes, and I'm pretty sure that'd be a lot less entertaining – a lot less glamorous, certainly – than watching 50 years of excerpts from the Oscars.
Getting back to the more glamorous data set, the site will even tell you who has been thanked by name most frequently in acceptance speeches by directors, leading and supporting actors and actresses.
[Via Flowing Data]
February 16th, 2013
I didn't see Marco Rubio's speech but I just got a residual check.
[Here's the context, for those of you who aren't American politics junkies. If you don't know why Albert Brooks would be connected with Marco Rubio, go and watch Broadcast News. You won't regret it.]
[Via The New Yorker]
February 10th, 2013
Why My Bloody Valentine's 'mbv' Has Come Too Late To Stop The End Of The World:
Thanks Kevin. Thanks a fucking bunch for taking 22 years to make a record that could have saved the world. All you had to do was make a bunch of songs that sound like being hit on the head with a shovel after doing poppers while listening to a melancholy whale sighing. But you couldn't be bothered and now we're all going to die in planet wide nuclear annihilation.
[Via The Null Device]
February 1st, 2013
Being a statistician, a feminist and a fan of the outgoing US Secretary of State, Hilary Parker couldn't resist investigating whether it's true that the name Hilary/Hillary is the most poisoned baby name in US history.
A lot of screen-scraping and many R sessions later, she shares her conclusions and reasoning with the rest of us, As a bonus, she explores fascinating side issues, like the reasons why some names saw short-lived leaps in popularity:
For each of the names that "dropped in" I did a little research on the name and the year. "Dewey" popped up in 1898 because of the Spanish-American War – people named their daughters after George Dewey "Deneen" was one name of a duo with a one-hit wonder in 1968. "Katina" and "Catina" were wildly popular because in 1972 in the soap opera Where the Heart Is a character is born named Katina. "Farrah" became popular in 1976 when Charlie's Angels, starring Farrah Fawcett, debuted (notice that the name becomes popular in 2009 when Farrah Fawcett died).
I couldn't resist doing a quick-and-dirty search across the data files on the relative frequency of given names in the population of U.S. births where the individual has a Social Security Number. It appears that in 2008 and 2009 the name 'Barack' saw a tenfold rise in popularity compared to 2007 (albeit from a small base):
Interestingly, no hits came up for the name 'Barack' in the files representing years prior to 2007. Could it be that I've uncovered evidence, from data files supplied by his very own Administration, that Obama wasn't born on American soil after all?
[Via Waxy.org: Links Miniblog]
November 24th, 2012
Entering a massively reinforced shelter built for the president and his entourage in the North Carolina mountains, Eisenhower remarked to an aide, "My God, until now, I didn't realize how scared we are."
From The Brilliant Prudence of Dwight Eisenhower by Evan Thomas.
November 23rd, 2012
Roy Greenslade has fond memories of time spent at London's Speakers' Corner:
By far the most memorable of the speakers was Donald Soper, the Methodist preacher, because he didn't rant and he dealt so equably with the hecklers. Even those who disagreed with his message seemed to respect him.
Some time later I heard him tell an anecdote about the time a heckler defeated him.
A gesticulating, anxious man kept screaming: "You're mad". After a dozen such interruptions, Soper finally addressed him: "Look friend, this is getting you nowhere. It seems to me as if you might be mad yourself."
The man replied: "No I'm not, and I can prove it." He ran forward to the soap box and, with a cackling laugh, handed Soper a piece of paper.
After reading it, Soper smilingly handed it back and told the crowd: "I can confirm that this man is not mad. That letter, dated yesterday, is his official discharge from a mental institution."
November 12th, 2012
Such was the extent of his triumph last week that even 11 year-old girls are crushing on Nate Silver:
I wonder if when you get up in the morning you open your kitchen cabinet and go, I'm feeling 18.5% Rice Chex and 27.9% Frosted Mini-Wheats and 32% one of those whole-grain Kashi cereals which have photos of smiling multicultural people on the boxes, as if smiling multicultural people were a new form of fibre. And then I wonder if you think, But I'm really feeling 58.3% like having a cupcake for breakfast, but then your mom says, "I don't care if you're a fancy statistician with a Times blog and Seattle green-architect eyeglass frames, you still need something heart-healthy to start your day," but then you tell her, "Mom, if you keep nagging me I will never let you meet my new boyfriend, Matt Bomer."
See, I think that because you predicted the election with near-100% accuracy Matt Bomer is way more likely to go out with you than with Dick Morris, who predicted a Romney landslide, or with Karl Rove, who kept predicting that Ohio was still in play a week after the election was over. In fact, right now I bet that you could get anyone to go out with you just by saying something like "I predicted Florida, North Carolina, and Illinois, and now I'm predicting that you'll have dinner with me."
October 29th, 2012
Elizabeth Williamson of the Wall Street Journal has coined what might well be the definitive metaphor of the 2012 US presidential election campaign. Or at any rate, the most memorable:
In this neck-and-neck, ideologically fraught presidential election season, politically active singles won't cross party lines. The result is a dating desert populated by reds and blues who refuse to make purple.
I'm pretty sure I've read a story like this about whether people of differing political inclinations can get (it) on away from the polling station and the political fundraiser at some point during every presidential campaign I've followed – when was the last time a campaign was other than fraught/divisive/momentous? – but I don't think the prospect of couples declining to … ahem … make purple has come up before.
[Via The Awl]
October 8th, 2012
Courtesy of Maureen Dowd: President Obama seeks post-debate tips from a master…
The lights from the presidential motorcade illuminate a New Hampshire farmhouse at night in the sprawling New England landscape. JED BARTLET steps out onto his porch as the motorcade slows to a stop.
BARTLET They told you to make sure you didn't seem condescending, right? They told you, "First, do no harm," and in your case that means don't appear condescending, and you bought it. 'Cause for the American right, condescension is the worst crime you can commit.
OBAMA What's your suggestion?
BARTLET Appear condescending. Now it comes naturally to me -
OBAMA I know.
BARTLET It's a gift, but I'm likable and you're likable enough. Thirty straight months of job growth – blown off. G.M. showing record profits – unmentioned. "Governor, would you still let Detroit go bankrupt as you urged us to do four years ago?" – unasked. [...]
BARTLET [... That] was quite a display of hard-nosed, fiscal conservatism when he slashed one one-hundredth of 1 percent from the federal budget by canceling "Sesame Street" and "Downton Abbey." I think we're halfway home. Mr. President, your prep for the next debate need not consist of anything more than learning to pronounce three words: "Governor, you're lying." Let's replay some of Wednesday night's more jaw-dropping visits to the Land Where Facts Go to Die. "I don't have a $5 trillion tax cut. I don't have a tax cut of a scale you're talking about."
OBAMA The Tax Policy Center analysis of your proposal for a 20 percent across-the-board tax cut in all federal income tax rates, eliminating the Alternative Minimum Tax, the estate tax and other reductions, says it would be a $5 trillion tax cut.
BARTLET In other words …
OBAMA You're lying, Governor. [...]
[Via The Morning News]
October 7th, 2012
Paul Owen looks forward to a couple of the events at this week's Conservative party conference:
Probably the most blue in tooth and claw is tomorrow at 9am, and is baldly called: "Why the public should want hospitals to close." For sheer mad brio "We can't afford roads!" (Tuesday, 5.30pm, their exclamation mark) runs it close.
August 23rd, 2012
Michael Kinsley has some fun, imagining the day Paul Ryan brings the Senate to order for the first time:
Paul Ryan laughed. He stood naked on top of the vice president's desk in the Senate chamber, scanning the crowd of sniveling politicians below him.
He flexed his muscles, the result of hours spent in the House gymnasium. Look at these pathetic specimens, he thought. Not one of them could do a one-armed pushup if his life depended on it. Not one was worthy of so much as co-sponsoring one of Ryan's bills. Every single one of them had been elected by appealing to the average citizen in his (or her — Ryan snorted at the thought) district. It occurred to him, and not for the first time, that of all the men and women in this room, only he, Paul Ryan, had been selected for his current office by the president himself. [...]
[Via Memex 1.1]
August 19th, 2012
David Hepworth on why the Olympic experience probably won't improve the national character:
I came across this extract from a speech made in the House of Lords by the late Lord Longford:
I asked Sir William Beveridge to come to lunch. I was meeting with Evelyn Waugh, an old friend and famous writer. They did not get on at all well. Evelyn Waugh said to him at the end, "How do you get your main pleasure in life, Sir William?" He paused and said, "I get mine trying to leave the world a better place than I found it". Evelyn Waugh said, "I get mine spreading alarm and despondency" – this was in the height of the war – "and I get more satisfaction than you do".
Beveridge invented the welfare state. Waugh wrote some great books. I like to think of Longford sitting there listening to the pair of them, admiring the mischief of the latter almost as much as nobility of the former. That's the national character. And if it isn't, it ought to be.
July 12th, 2012
May 23rd, 2012
An Introduction to Objectivist-C:
Objectivist-C was invented by Russian-American programmer Ope Rand. Based on the principle of rational self-interest, Objectivist-C was influenced by Aristotle's laws of logic and Smalltalk. In an unorthodox move, Rand first wrote about the principles of Objectivist-C in bestselling novels, and only later set them down in non-fiction.
Here's what you need to know to program in Objectivist-C.
In Objectivist-C, there are not only properties, but also property rights. Consequently, all properties are @private; there is no @public property.
In Objectivist-C, each program is free to acquire as many resources as it can, without interference from the operating system.
April 26th, 2012
Some of the parallels drawn in Game of Votes are just so good.
That's not a perfect fit – on the basis of what he showed us in season 1, I don't think Joffrey sees himself as much of a historian or intellectual – but the elements of the comparison that work really work.
March 26th, 2012
Kickstarter: Shared Access to David Cameron by RevDanCatt…
Donations are normally made to the Tory Treasurer, unfortunately the current one has just recently left to spend more time with his family. When a new treasurer is found and the dust has settled I will make a donation for the full amount raised (the more we raise over the target the more time we get to spend with the PM) to sit with David Cameron for a full hour to put forward your stories, opinions and lobbying.
PLEDGE $10 OR MORE
I know a lot of people have a simple shared phrase they'd like to say to David Cameron. In the very last 10 second slot I will, to the best of my abilities personally issue this phrase to David Cameron's face.
Estimated Delivery: May 2012
February 17th, 2012
This morning's Devo on 'devo max' for Scotland was by some considerable margin the most surreal item I've heard on the Today programme in quite a while.
I'd dearly love to have been a fly on the wall in the editorial meeting when someone first suggested they ask a member of Devo what they thought of the possibility of adding a third option to the ballot on Scottish independence.
December 11th, 2011
How would they vote? is fanfic with a somewhat unusual focus. Take, for example, The Breakfast Club's "Princess", Claire Standish:
Soon after joining the Breakfast Club, Claire realised there was more to life than pearl earrings and skiing trips to Colorado. Where was the reward in having life delivered to you on a silver platter?
Enter John Bender. While Bender had started off as simply a grab for attention from her quibbling parents, it soon became apparent that he was much more than that. Reforming John Bender would become Claire's personal Fix-Her-Upper, the challenge that would bring fulfilment to her otherwise vacuous life. And she loved him for it.
Despite initial misgivings about Bender, Claire's conservative parents came round to the young man, admiring his 'organic entrepreneurial spirit' and it wasn't long before the couple was happily married. Claire studied PR and encouraged John to enrol in a community college course in business studies. When he wavered with his software design idea, she pushed him forward.
She was also successful in her own right. Upon graduating, she entered into a big-name PR firm and managed several big accounts during the early '90s, including for Sega, Pepsi Max, and Janet Jackson. She voted Clinton in '92, purely out of respect for his rapport with the common man, but swung right in 2000, under the influence of her husband's anti-tax, small government crusade.
By 2008, Claire's talent for PR had started to get noticed by the right people in Washington. When she received a call to help out a struggling Hilary Clinton in the race against Obama to secure the Democratic nomination, Claire couldn't refuse. That fall she came up with her best idea yet – the infamous 'red phone' ad.
Despite Clinton's failed run at the presidency, Claire stayed in Washington and it wasn't long before she had made the seamless transition from Clinton to the other side of politics, recruited by the Koch brothers to work on strategies for undermining the Obama administration in the lead-up to 2012.
The focus of the site seems to be on characters from US and Australian TV, which leaves something of a gap in the market. What would Detective Inspector Jack Regan have made of members of the Met being bussed up to the Yorkshire coalfields to put striking miners in their place? Would Tom Good, having presumably ended the 1970s as a classic wooly Liberal, have ended up in the Green Party, or been seduced by New Labour? Would Alan B'Stard still be a Tory?