Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Are we heading for a “Dewey Defeats Truman” moment on November 2nd? Probably not, but the increasing number of cell-only phone users that are excluded from telephone-conducted polls have researchers wondering how big a hole they represent in projections.

If you go by traditional perceptions, the cellies aren’t a big enough or significant enough factor:

When tracking this year’s election, pollsters contact people on traditional phones. About 5 percent of all households receive telephone service only by cellular phone, according to a face-to-face survey done earlier this year by the Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Among young adults up to age 24, the number is close to three times as high.

“Many of these people are not voters,” said Linda Piekarski, vice president of database and research at Survey Sampling International, which provides samples for the research industry. “They’ve always been hard to get into our polls anyway. They tend to be non-responsive.”

But throw in the big surge in voter registration this year, especially among younger people, and there’s potential there for pretty marked underrepresentation. Polls now show a really tight race; even a two or three bump for either side could mean the election, especially in battleground states. And frankly, this level of motivated registrations among the formerly political-apathetic usually suggests dissatisfaction with the incumbent, so if anything, the underreporting probably bodes ill for Bush.

The nature of do-not-call designations for wireless phones makes it hard to do survey research. Given that wireless adoption is only going to increase, alternatives are going to have to be found, in order to avoid huge margins of error in the population statistics:

Partisan pollsters say other problems in campaign polling are bigger concerns. GOP pollster Bill McInturff said pollsters might eventually have to move to other techniques that use combinations of random-digit dialing and the Internet.

“We may get bitten in the rear this election,” said Democratic pollster Celinda Lake. “But the bigger problems are voter turnout models used and machines that keep people from picking up their phones.”

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 10/12/2021 09:57pm
Category: Politics, Society
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Got some extra vacation time to burn off? Russia’s space researchers are looking for volunteers to take part in a mock mission to Mars, consisting of isolating participants for 500 days.

A few years ago, the ESA put out a call for something similar: An extended sleep-study program, although I think it was only for a couple of weeks. I actually tossed my name in the hat, on a lark. It turned out it was open only to EU residents; since I’m a first-generation American of Euro parents, they actually initially considered me, but rescinded it shortly thereafter.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 10/12/2021 09:16pm
Category: Science
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room for improvement
I was just considering my old-timey 5-gig iPod this morning. It’s looking pretty worn at this point. The battery might be starting to go, too (for which it’s overdue — the thing’s almost four years old). It might be time to buy a new one.

If the rumors are true, I should wait on that purchase. Apple appears to be making a major shift in iPod design, giving it a 60-gig drive, color screen and ability to display pictures.

Wow, it sounds like the PowerPod (almost) come to life.

The major shift is that Apple is even considering moving the iPod into any non-audio media playback. Steve Jobs has dismissed the idea of getting into the portable video player contest, insisting that going with audio as the primary output is the best option for a managable portable.

Of course, iPods already have functionality beyond audio playback: Built-in mini-games, an address book/scheduler and other extras. I suppose photo storage, paired with iPhoto, would fit in a similar slot.

The $500 pricetag is a bit steep, though. If nothing else, this super-iPod might lead to a price drop for the current 20- and 40-gig models, which would become more affordable. I’ve never even filled up my 5-gigger, and while I know you can never have too much disc storage, I think either of the present models would be enough for me.

As I usually do regarding portables, I’m wondering about battery life. A bigger drive uses more power, although Apple’s configured the iPod’s firmware to minimize power usage. The color screen is another big potential vampire; again, this problem seems to have been overcome for mobile phones, so maybe it’s not an issue. Still, they need to keep the charge life at eight hours, minimum.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 10/12/2021 08:45pm
Category: iPod
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A lawyer named Lawyer? A flowershop owner named Gardner? A pest-control inspector named Roach?

They all sound like punchlines. But they’re all for real, and part of a big collection of name-vocation pairings maintained by Brown University’s Dr. Lewis Lipsitt.

Lipsitt has a hunch that these examples aren’t so coincidental — that the name makes the career:

At the time he told his students the fact that Dr. Fish founded the state’s Oceanographic Institute; that Mr. Rolls was the director of the state’s AAA organization; and that Mr. Hawkes worked at the Audubon Society didn’t mean that there was any psychological reason for their choice of livelihood.

Yet, Lipsitt asked himself after the class, could your interests be influenced by having grown up hearing and saying your name?

“I decided shortly thereafter there might be something to it,” said Lipsitt. “Something is at work subconsciously when you have a repeated reminder.”

Unfortunately, Lipsitt’s collection is apparently all off-line, consisting of newspaper clippings and such in some file drawers. I think he needs to get it up on the Web so we can all ogle it.

And yet, I can’t help but think that there’s an overemphasis on finding a link between a person’s name and their walk of life. If I might draw from Wayne’s World:

Was it Kierkegaard, or perhaps Dick Van Patten, who said, “When you label me, you negate me”?

I should point out that the writer of this article, Kristen Cole, committed a faux pas when she tried to be cute by citing the false Chevy Nova/”no va” cautionary business tale.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 10/12/2021 08:19pm
Category: Comedy, Society
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click to enlarge
Received via email. I think using pink pellets was a nice touch.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 10/12/2021 08:02pm
Category: Comedy
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I loathe spam as much as the next person. But I have to admit a certain fondness for the celebrity-endorsed variety.

So when I saw an email from retired Minnesota Twin Kirby Puckett in my inbox this morning, I couldn’t help but open it. Surely, the nicest guy in baseball wouldn’t waste my time.

Unfortunately, it turned out to be a pitch for cheap online medications. I guess a Hall of Fame career doesn’t take you as far as it used to.

by Costa Tsiokos, Tue 10/12/2021 09:43am
Category: Baseball, Comedy, Internet
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