Posts Tagged ‘ridiculous data collection’

US States vs Capitals: Median Household Income

Posted in America on March 10th, 2016 by Nathan – Be the first to comment

The other day I took a train from NYC to Philadelphia. As I passed through the somewhat desolate station in Trenton, NJ, I wondered to myself: How do states' capitals' median household incomes compare to the states themselves? What states are "richer" or "poorer" than their capital cities?

With the help of data from the US Census FactFinder, I put together this map to answer the question. At one end of the scale is Hartford, CT, whose $29313 median household income is only 41.9% of the state's median household income of $69899. At the opposite end is Juneau, AK, whose $84750 MHI is 118% of the state's $71829.

Median Household Incomes of US Capitals versus their States

Only seventeen states have a median household income above that of the state, whereas the remaining 33 capitals lag behind the state's median. On average, state capital MHIs are 90% of their states. And finally, Washington DC, not included in this map, has a $69235 MHI, 129.5% of the overall United States MHI of $53482.

I don't know if there's any conclusions to draw from this. Since this has to do with capital city limits only, there's a possibility that suburbs could influence the findings immensely. (I've been to West Hartford, CT, for example, and found it to be very nice. But it's not the capital of the state, only a directly neighboring city.) Similarly, should there even be a conclusion to be drawn? Austin is a college town with a lot of technology, so it finds itself slightly better off than Texas as a whole. Albany is a Rust Belt city whose industries have been mostly left behind by the changing economy, so perhaps in the past it would have beaten NY as a whole, but today doesn't hold up. In any case, if there's one thing I enjoy, it's answering interesting data-based questions. Raw data below:

US Capitals Median Income Raw Data

The Wonderful World of Stadium Naming Rights!

Posted in Sports and Games on February 13th, 2015 by Nathan – 1 Comment

When I was a kid, the Astros and Oilers played in the Astrodome, and the Rockets and Aeros played in the Summit. Today, the Oilers are no more, the Aeros are no more, the Astros play in Minute Maid Park, the Rockets play in the Toyota Center, and the Texans play in NRG Stadium.

In between my childhood and now, Houston has been graced by even more names: the Astros went from the Astrodome to the Ballpark at Union Station to Enron Field to MMP. (Those last three being the same location.) The Rockets and Aeros went from the Summit to the Compaq Center to the Toyota center. (Those first two being the same location.) And the Texans began life at Reliant Stadium before NRG Stadium. (Yes, those are also the same location.)

Naming rights are fascinating to me when I consider this: as a child, every stadium I knew was unnamed, an advertisement for sports only, yet today, I see cars, juice, and electricity. And in traveling, I find that there's fewer and fewer unnamed sports complexes. My uncle once took me to see games at both Cowboys Stadium and the Ballpark at Arlington, but those are now gone, and their teams instead play at AT&T Stadium and Globe Life Park in Arlington. Even while in college, I watched as Shea Stadium was replaced by Citi Field. The unnamed building is rapidly becoming a thing of the past.

Given this, I decided to do some simple research to answer some questions. What industries are most prevalent in naming rights? Does that differ by sport? What stadiums/arenas/ballparks still don't have paid naming rights and what are they named for? Etc. Here's what I've found:

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Links to full size images: MLB, NBA, NFL, NHL, Overall. And the data I used (excel format).

  • Outside of the MLB, there's very few places that haven't sold naming rights. Fully one-third of MLB ballparks have avoided doing so, but the other three sports combine to produce the same number (ten: two in the NBA, six in the NFL, and three in the NHL).
  • Financial institutions hold the most naming rights (twenty-one overall), followed closely by Tech/Communications (fourteen), Insurance (eleven), and Retail/Consumer Goods (eleven).
  • There are two Casinos, one in the NBA and one in the NHL, that have naming rights, yet sports gambling is illegal in most of the country.
  • There's something called a Scotiabank Saddledome.
  • When the Dallas Mavericks played the Miami Heat in the 2011 Finals, American Airlines won. Both teams play at AA-branded arenas.
  • Of the twenty venues without naming rights, six are named for a team owner, six are named for the team itself, three for a place, three as a memorial, and two just as a pleasant flourish (The Palace of Auburn Hills and Arrowhead Stadium, where the Kansas City Chiefs play).
  • There are some interesting choices in the non-Finance/Retail/Insurance sectors. For example, four NBA stadiums/NHL arenas have airline naming rights, yet there are no airlines in any other sport. Similarly, the MLB has five Food/Beverage ballparks (Coors, Minute Maid, Miller, Busch, Tropicana), whereas the other sports combine for three (NBA: Pepsi, NBA/NHL: Smoothie King; NFL: Heinz).
  • And finally, in case you were unsure just how much of a scam for-profit colleges are, in 2006, University of Phoenix (which, it should be noted, has a higher student-loan-default rate than graduation rate) paid $154.5 million for twenty years of naming rights for the Arizona Cardinals' stadium.

Sometimes it's too bad Spring Training doesn't count

Posted in Sports and Games on March 28th, 2012 by Nathan – Be the first to comment

A benchful of "Astros" who have never played at Minute MaidYear after year, in the recent past, I've watched the Houston Astros fall apart early, before the season even begins, in Spring Training. And every year, I state, "well at least it's only Spring Training!"

This is the first year in my life where I've thought it would be nice if Spring Training counted for something. Because of an interesting combination of factors, this year's Spring Training has been intriguing, hopefully prescient, and worth looking at before the regular season starts, this year on April 6.

Factor 1: The Astros were bad last year – This actually has more of an impact on Spring Training than it perhaps should, but last year's Astros season was not just bad, it was their worst ever, a historically bad season. So any result better than dead last in Spring Training would be at least a little noteworthy.

Factor 2: The Astros are generally awful in Spring Training – Last year, they ended 11-24, at the very bottom. The year before, 13-15 put them in the bottom ten teams. 2009: bottom three. Even in 2005, when they visited the World Series, they ended Spring Training with a losing record. In the last twenty-eight seasons, they have ended Spring Training with a winning record only ten times, and have ended below .400 seven times. The only teams to do worse by this metric in the same time frame round out a list of awful MLB teams: Florida Marlins, Tampa Bay Rays, and Washington Nationals

Factor 3: This is a completely different Astros team – For the most part, in recent history, Spring Training has been even more meaningless by basically serving as practice for a team that was mostly the same as the team when the season ended the year before. This year, there are a lot of changes: new ownership, new front office staff, new team members. And that means that this Spring Training means just a little more.

Combine those factors, and it's easy to see why the Astros, who are currently sitting at .500 for Spring Training, are intriguing me this year. Maybe it's just my normal optimism concerning this team, but this is a situation where a new team is doing pretty well on a stage where they usually perform horribly.

Does this mean the Astros will go .500 this year? Almost certainly not. The odds of that happening are near-astronomical. But does it mean they have a good shot at not finishing as the absolute worst team again? Hopefully the answer to that is yes. And if Spring Training actually counted for something, they'd have a good head start on that goal.

Angry Birds & Attrition Warfare

Posted in Sports and Games on March 14th, 2012 by Nathan – Be the first to comment

My advice to the pigs: take off your helmets, raise the white flag, return the eggs. Your losses are too great to continue this war.Attrition Warfare

First, a definition: attrition warfare is basically when one side, with greater resources and personnel, seeks to win a war by gradually wearing down an opposing force by sheer volume. It takes a while, and the result is massive loss of life and equipment, but because the one side has more of this to lose than the other side, the weaker side falls first.

This definition belies the kind of horrible hell that attrition warfare creates. A system where a side sacrifices life and expense in hopes that the other side will literally run out of the same resources first. Even though there is in fact a "winner" in this type of war, it's hard to argue that both sides aren't losers. Often the victor will find themselves completely depleted as well, in a situation where thousands or millions die in order to secure a victory in which the other side has simply run out of people to kill or resources to support them.

WWI, the War Between the States, and Angry Birds

World War One is a classic example of attrition warfare. The book All Quiet on the Western Front illustrates the horrors of this system: two forces entrenched without advance on either side, with the sole goal of killing each other until one side is gone.

Another great example is the Civil War, in which General Ulysses Grant exercised a similar policy in order to deplete the South of resources and lives. Because the North had more of both, they were able to win a war even while losing more lives. For instance, the siege of Petersburg, one of the last major battles of the war, saw the North lose 50,000 soldiers, of a force of nearly 125,000, while the South lost 32,000 of nearly 70,000 soldiers. The final casualty counts for the war: about 625,000 dead, about 412,200 wounded. Out of total forces of about 3,000,000. When one third of the forces of a war are killed or wounded, it doesn't represent a good situation.

Unless, of course, you're a team of birds seeking to get your eggs back or a tribe of green pigs trying to secure breakfast. In this scenario, self-sacrifice is worth it, as the goal, saving your children from being eaten or ensuring an end to the hunger of your countryswine, is more important than loss of your own life. And when you look at the way that these angry birds fight their war, it seems insane, scary, and unparalleled in history.

There seems to be an unending supply of resources on both sides of the war. Each level brings more pigs and more birds to the battlefield. And since the birds have weapons (exploding eggs, the ability to explode themselves, to speed up, etc.) and the pigs have strong forts, the losses on both sides are immense. Such a war can only be described as a war of attrition.

In the first battlefield, "Poached Eggs," alone, ninety-one birds face off against sixty-six pigs. Since the only goal is total destruction of pigs, all the birds can die and still accomplish a "victory." And early on, it seems they must do so, because as this hellish war progresses, the body counts rise, yet the size of the bird army decreases in comparison to the pig reserves.

Luckily for the birds, the pigs continually hide in fundamentally unsound structures, clumped together, and often near stores of dynamite. This strategy is inexplicable, but the pigs make up for it with sheer numbers. Total body count of the Angry Birds war (the original Angry Birds, not including Seasons or other spinoffs) thus far? 1176 birds, 1944 pigs dead. All over three eggs.

The pigs seem to have an unending force, and though the birds' forces are smaller, they are clearly more equipped for battle. In the battle of The Big Setup (areas 9-11), there are over twice as many pig losses as birds: 265 pigs to the much smaller 130 birds. Is this war worth it? I don't seek to pass judgment, but the losses on both sides make continuation of this conflict both insane and inevitable. As each side loses more and more soldiers, the sunk cost of this war becomes too much to bear. Maybe the pigs will cut their massive losses and surrender the eggs, or maybe the birds will realize that three children are not worth the loss of thousands of birds of a feather, but no matter what happens, in the war of Angry Birds, there can be no winner. Both sides have already lost, long, long ago.

[Data I harvested from the game: Angry Birds Casualties]