Interesting Pew Survey (2016 vs 2018)

Interesting data for political stats wonks.


(Update: Also see, “How Broad and How Happy Is the Trump Coalition?” Nate Cohn’s article mentioned below.)


Here are some fascinating Pew Research survey findings in the run-up to the “mid-year” 2018 election and backward look at 2016.

Why is it interesting?

The 2018 findings are from a tracking poll of the same individuals who participated in the 2016 Pew American Trends Panel. In other words, the same people who participated in 2016 also participated in this year’s panel. (Let me try again: It’s not a random sampling. It’s a survey of the same people who participated in 2016.)

While the write-up of the Pew findings is comprehensive, today’s NYT “The Daily” podcast has guest Nate Cohn of @UpshotNYT diving deep into the role of educated suburban women in both the 2016 and 2018 races.

Bottomline

Before this survey, the conventional wisdom has been that a core of “uneducated white rural male voters” is the key to Trump’s 2016 victory. While the Pew survey concurs that that demographic was a key member of the Trump “core,” it also reveals that educated women in the suburbs who were against Hillary Clinton were what sealed the deal for Trump. And, as this Pew chart shows, this cohort is the most likely voter to have become disenchanted with Trump.

YouTube’s Video Pickers

YouTube’s AI vs. Charlotte Ritter of Babylon Berlin.

If you’ve seen any of the early episodes of the TV series Babylon Berlin, you might understand why I thought of the character Charlotte Ritter’s temp job as a photo reviewer at the Berlin police station when I first saw this article about YouTube’s AI helping the company pull down 6.5 million videos in Q1 2018.

YouTube said the videos were “mostly spam or people attempting to upload adult content.” (Another 1.5 videos were removed, but not before they had been seen by a few YouTube viewers.)

Before introducing AI into the review process, YouTube said it would take 10,000 people to review and remove such a volume of videos.

Why did this make me think of the character on Babylon Berlin?

Even though the series is set in 1929, Ritter has the exact same job as YouTube’s Artificial Intelligence.

(via recode)

Is Amazon Bad for the Postal Service? (Spoiler Alert: No)

The USPS has major problems, but the specific deal the USPS has with Amazon is a winning proposition for the Postal Service.

If you are reading this sometime in the future (say, anytime more recent than April 4, 2018), you may recall a week in 2018 when, as described by NYTimes.com reporter Nick Wingfield, “President Trump has pointed his Twitter arrows at Amazon over what he insists is a bad deal for the United States Postal Service.”

Trump, who, granted, is never a stickler for facts, has been blasting the U.S. Postal Service for the way they charge Amazon, “(that costs) the United States Post Office massive amounts of money for being their Delivery Boy.”

While the details about the Amazon-USPS deal are not public, some of the available evidence suggests that Amazon has been a boon to the Postal Service.

As Hammock Inc. has managed, on behalf of our clients, the mailing of millions of individual magazines and other material during the past 27 years, I have been an interested observer of the challenges and woes the USPS has faced across that era.

Ten years ago, the USPS handled the shipment of 212 billion pieces of mail. Last year, that number had dropped to 149 billion. (Look in your email inbox or text message client and you’ll understand why.)

The reality is that the specific deal the USPS has with Amazon is a winning proposition for the Postal Service. Bloomberg has one of many articles that explain why.

The short version is this: While email has crushed snail mail, the business of package shipping, including Amazon orders, grew to 5.7 billion packages last year from 3.3 billion in 2008.

Several years ago, the Postal Service added Sunday delivery for Amazon packages. Do you think the USPS loses money on this? No way.

But there is no doubt that the USPS loses money — like $2.7 billion on revenues of $69.6 in revenues in its last fiscal year.

Moreover — and dating back as far as I can recall — the USPS faces mind-boggling obligations related to its retirement pension. In effect, it is bankrupt.

Most analysts view Amazon’s use of the USPS to ship its products as a boon for the service.

Quote from NYTimes.com:

“It is one thing to demand better financial performance from the U.S.P.S., but something very different, in our view, to equate the U.S.P.S. financial struggles with the rise of Amazon,” Colin Sebastian, an analyst at Baird, a stock research firm, wrote in a research report on Tuesday. “If nothing else, the U.S.P.S. was already generating billions of dollars in operating losses well before Amazon became a large customer.”

The Postal Service says all such deals it makes are profitable — and must be by law.

But in one of his tweet attacks, Mr. Trump seemed to dispute whether Amazon was covering the Postal Service’s costs, saying that “it is reported that the U.S. Post Office will lose $1.50 on average for each package it delivers for Amazon.”

Where did Trump’s claim come from (other than his hatred of the Washington Post and, thus, its owner, Jeff Bezos.)? See Snopes.com.

Thoughts on Today’s Solar Eclipse (August 21, 2017)

 

(Update: Bottom of post.)


I keep forgetting. Am I supposed to stare at the sun until my eyeballs bleed? Or is it, poke holes in them with a pin?

(Notice: That was a satirical jab at the ubiquitous warnings not to stare at the sun. Do not attempt to stare at the sun or poke holes into your eyes. Don’t believe anything you read on the internet, either. Except, of course, when it concurs with something you already believe.)


How come so many people make reference to “total eclipse of the heart” when a better reference is “flew your lear jet up to Nova Scotia to see the total eclipse of the sun.”


How to take a photo of the Eclipse: Wait until NASA takes photos and posts them on their website. Since NASA is funded by the federal government, such photos are public domain. So, you can *take* any photo they post and use it anyway you’d like.


In Nashville, the grocery stores were jammed up this morning — people looked like they were preparing for 1/2 inch of snow.

What’s going on, I asked someone.

Eclipse parties, they said.


Happy eclipse day. And don’t forget to stare at the sun, no wait, don’t forget not to do that.


Update (after the event.)

With the use of eclipse glasses I survived. I took a few bad photos during first few seconds of totality but then decided this should be a non-lens event.

I now know how a total eclipse is celebrated. People all over my neighborhood started cheering and a few even used up some July 4 fireworks. I even gave up a whoop or two.

Incredible is all I can say. Here are three photos from my backyard in Nashville.