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Tag Archives: QL

How much time do we spend on our phones?

The RescueTime blog post Screen time stats 2019: Here’s how much you use your phone during the workday? by Jory MacKay (3/21/2019) provides data on phone use. Note that

Let’s start with the high-level stats. When we looked at the data of 11,000 users who actively use the RescueTime app, we found that most peopleon average, spend 3 hours and 15 minutes on our phones.

So, the data comes from users of the RescueTime app and even though the sample size is large it is not a random sample. It is an interesting question if this sample of users is under users or over users of their phones. Still, the data is interesting.

And while a recent Deloitte survey found the average American checks their phone 47 times a day, our number was slightly higher. We found that, on average, users check their phones 58 times a day with 30 check-ins happening during working hours (9am–5pm).

Most people spend about 1 minute and 15 seconds on their phone each time they pick them up. This means we’re losing 37.5 minutes a day during working hours to our phones (at a minimum).

The graph copied here is a representation of what those 37.5 minutes may look like.  Why does this matter?

Psychologists have found that even brief mental blocks created by shifting between tasks can cost as much as 40% of your productive time.

And when it comes to our phones especially, it’s not just the switches themselves that interrupt our day, but the expectation of being interrupted.

In fact, a recent study in the Journal of the Association for Consumer Researchfound that even the presence of a turned off smartphone lowered our cognitive performance. In other words, just having your phone around undercuts your ability to do good work.

There are more graphs in the article and plenty of quantitative information for a stats or QL course.

What happened with the Climate in 2018?

The NOAA article Reporting on the State of the Climate in 2018 by Jessica Blunden (8/12/19) summarizes key climate markers from 2018 such as

Last year was the fourth warmest year on record despite La Niña conditions early in the year and the lack of a short-term warming El Niño influence until late in the year.

Global sea level was highest on record. For the seventh consecutive year, global average sea level rose to a new record high in 2018 and was about 3.2 inches (8.1 cm) higher than the 1993 average, the year that marks the beginning of the satellite altimeter record.

Glaciers melted around the world. Preliminary data indicate that the world’s most closely tracked glaciers lost mass for the 30th consecutive year. Since 1980, the cumulative loss is the equivalent of slicing 79 feet (24 meters) off the top of the average glacier.

There are a number of graphs and plenty of quantitative information in this article.

Could the earth be cooling?

The NASA article Nope Earth Isn’t Cooling by Alan Buis (7/12/19) is a good primer on short and long term trends as it relates to global climate change. The main graphic (copied here), which is an animation zooming into a short time period and then back to the longer time period, demonstrates the classic misleading graph of selecting only a short time period to view.

So, what’s really important to know about studying global temperature trends, anyway?

Well, to begin with, it’s vital to understand that global surface temperatures are a “noisy” signal, meaning they’re always varying to some degree due to constant interactions between the various components of our complex Earth system (e.g., land, ocean, air, ice). The interplay among these components drive our weather and climate.

For example, Earth’s ocean has a much higher capacity to store heat than our atmosphere does. Thus, even relatively small exchanges of heat between the atmosphere and the ocean can result in significant changes in global surface temperatures. In fact, more than 90 percent of the extra heat from global warming is stored in the ocean. Periodically occurring ocean oscillations, such as El Niño and its cold-water counterpart, La Niña, have significant effects on global weather and can affect global temperatures for a year or two as heat is transferred between the ocean and atmosphere.

This means that understanding global temperature trends requires a long-term perspective. An examination of two famous climate records illustrate this point.

There are two other graphs. Global temp and CO2 can be found on the Calculus Projects page.

How easy is it to understand mass incarceration?

The details of mass incarceration is complicated, but the Prison Policy Initiative report Mass Incarceration: The Whole Pie 2019 by Wendy Sawyer and Peter Wagner (3/19/19) provides an extensive look at the data. The report has over 20 graphs and links to data. A few excerpts:

The American criminal justice system holds almost 2.3 million people in 1,719 state prisons, 109 federal prisons, 1,772 juvenile correctional facilities, 3,163 local jails, and 80 Indian Country jails as well as in military prisons, immigration detention facilities, civil commitment centers, state psychiatric hospitals, and prisons in the U.S. territories.

Every year, over 600,000 people enter prison gates, but people go to jail 10.6 million times each year. Jail churn is particularly high because most people in jails have not been convicted.

People in prison and jail are disproportionately poor compared to the overall U.S. population. The criminal justice system punishes poverty, beginning with the high price of money bail: The median felony bail bond amount ($10,000) is the equivalent of 8 months’ income for the typical detained defendant. As a result, people with low incomes are more likely to face the harms of pretrial detention. Poverty is not only a predictor of incarceration; it is also frequently the outcome, as a criminal record and time spent in prison destroys wealth, creates debt, and decimates job opportunities.

It’s no surprise that people of color — who face much greater rates of poverty — are dramatically over represented in the nation’s prisons and jails. These racial disparities are particularly stark for Black Americans, who make up 40% of the incarcerated population despite representing only 13% of U.S residents. The same is true for women, whose incarceration rates have for decades risen faster than men’s, and who are often behind bars because of financial obstacles such as an inability to pay bail.

Read the whole report for considerably more information and data.

How has the economic situation of college students changed?

The Pew article A Rising Share of Undergraduates Are From Poor Families, Especially at Less Selective Colleges, by Richard Fry and Anthony Cilluffo (5/22/19) summarizes the change in the economic background of students from 1996 to 2016.

As of the 2015-16 academic year (the most recent data available), about 20 million students were enrolled in undergraduate education, up from 16.7 million in 1995-96.1 Of those enrolled in 2015-16, 47% were nonwhite and 31% were in poverty, up from 29% and 21%, respectively, 20 years earlier.2

The rising proportion of undergraduates in poverty does not mirror wider trends in society. The official poverty rate for adults age 18 to 64 (12%) was similar in 1996 and 2016, suggesting that access to college for students from lower-income backgrounds has increased since 1996.

As the graph copied here shows:

The growth in the share of dependent students from families in poverty has been uneven across postsecondary education. Their growing presence has been most dramatic among less selective institutions.

The article has a eight charts, a methodology section, and links to the data sources.

QL Blooper

The graph is from Amazon and attempting to graphically represent the number of pages printed from two different toner cartridges. Maybe the designers took into account the compression from the weight of the paper. Enjoy.

What are the economic prospects for 2019 college grads?

The yearly EPI report on economic prospects for young college grads Class of 2019 College Edition by Elise Gould, Zane Makhiber, and Julia Wolfe (5/14/19) is now available. The report has 19 key finding and 10 graphs with available data. A few highlights:

Women make up half of 21- to 24-year-olds but well over half (57.4 percent) of young college degree holders.

One out of every 20 young college graduates is unemployed, a higher rate than in 2000, when only one in 25 was.

After falling in the aftermath of the Great Recession, wages for young college graduates have been growing steadily since 2014 and have (just barely) surpassed the 2000 benchmark; however, nearly two decades of wage growth for young college graduates have been lost.

Related Post: What are the prospects for new college grads? (5/21/18)

Why is Black maternal mortality higher?

Kevin Drum provides an excellent example of quantitative reasoning in his (5/6/19) post How Can We Reduce Black Maternal Mortality? The story begins with his chart here that shows maternal mortality increasing in general, but it has increased faster and is much higher for Black mothers as compared to White. Drum begins by addressing the toxic stress hypothesis, in other words, the differences are do to the stress caused by societal and systemic racism which leads to physiological issues.  But,

One reason for this is the “Hispanic paradox”: Hispanics certainly encounter systemic racism too, but the maternal mortality rate for Hispanic mothers is about the same as for white mothers.

The article has a graph of “allostatic load” which looks to quantify long-term stress.

The differences in allostatic load are tiny—about the equivalent of one IQ point on an intelligence test—and Hispanics have a higher allostatic load than either blacks or whites but the lowest maternal mortality rate.

Another chart looks at self-reported stress by race for poor individuals, but

Poor blacks report less stress and higher levels of optimism than both poor whites and poor Hispanics. Put all this together and the toxic stress/weathering hypotheses look shaky. The racial differences are modest and don’t seem to correlate well with maternal mortality anyway. The problem is that every other hypothesis seems wrong too. Researchers have looked at poverty, education, drinking, smoking, and genetic causes. None of them appear to be the answer.

There are two more charts as part of Drum’s article. The article is worth reading, he cites his data, and is it perfect for a QL based course. His general conclusion at this point:

This is shocking: we still have almost no idea of what’s going on even though this has been a well-known problem for more than two decades.

 

 

 

What is earth overshoot day?

According to Earth Overshoot Day:

Earth Overshoot Day marks the date when humanity’s demand for ecological resources and services in a given year exceeds what Earth can regenerate in that year. We maintain this deficit by liquidating stocks of ecological resources and accumulating waste, primarily carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

The graph here is from statista and is from data posted by Earth Overshoot Day.  The Earth Overshoot website has useful materials for teachers.

Should you move to Duluth, MN?

(Chart by Rebecca Pollock and Jon Erdman, data from Climate Central/RCC-ACIS.org)

 

The Weather Channel article It’s the Year 2100 and Everyone’s Moving to Duluth by Neil Katz (4/16/19) notes

In a climate-changed future many people, says Keenan, “are looking for affordability, accessibility and actually qualitatively some degree of environmental amenities, which we believe Duluth, Lake Superior, and that part of northeast Minnesota, among other places may offer.”

Huttner is right to point out that winter weather in Duluth remains brutally cold, snowy and difficult. But it is changing, and it’s changing faster than many other places. Winters are now five degrees warmer than they were in 1970, according to NOAA data analyzed by Climate Central.

The Weather Channel isn’t the only one praising Duluth as a future place to live. The NYT article Want to Escape Global Warming? These Cities Promise Cool Relief by Kendra Pierre-Louis (4/15/19) lists Duluth and Buffalo as cities of the future (Note: Both articles quote Keenan, a lecturer at Harvard University Graduate School of Design). The Weather Channel article has a couple of nice charts (such as the one copied here) and both are a starting point for conversations about adapting to climate change.

PS On a personal note, I lived in the Twin Ports (Duluth MN and Superior WI) for a couple of years around 2000. Beautiful place.