Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

Entries Tagged as 'statistics'

The Perception of Risk

April 19th, 2013 · No Comments

It’s a good thing I didn’t encounter this graph until after the Grand Emprette joined us here on Spaceship Earth. It’s a salient reminder that the simple act of producing life is still several times more hazardous than any thrill-seeking leisure activity, no matter how seemingly nuts. It’s worth noting that this graph would have […]

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The Corsican Glass is Half Full

May 22nd, 2012 · 2 Comments

As a tremendous fan of the French movie A Prophet—I defy you to find a flick with a better razor-attack scene—I was naturally drawn to this recent account of Corsica’s organized-crime problem. The French-run island sounds like it’s run like the Brooklyn docks circa 1952, with men of violence calling the shots at all levels. […]

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Bucking the Trend

June 14th, 2011 · 7 Comments

There is great wisdom to be gleaned from studying anomalies, which is why the El Paso Police Department’s homicide unit deserves our attention. It is the rare squad that appears to be solving an ever-greater percentage of its cases, thereby defying the nationwide trend illustrated in the graph above: Since 2004, unit detectives have investigated […]

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The Scent of Perfume in Biloxi

April 14th, 2011 · No Comments

Since I know first-hand the terrible things that young men are capable of when deprived of romantic companionship for too long, I fear for the future of India. The country’s gender ratio is skewing way too male these days, which means that tens of millions of 21-year-old men will one day find themselves coming up […]

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Gladiators on Four Legs

March 26th, 2010 · 7 Comments

Though this seems obvious when you really think about it, there’s nothing like an objective report to drive the harsh reality home: modern horse racing makes NASCAR seem like knitting: Based upon a year’s worth of data beginning November 1, 2008, from 378,864 total starts in Thoroughbred flat races at 73 racetracks participating in the […]

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The Comfort of Statistics

March 10th, 2010 · 1 Comment

For those suffering from a grave case of ursinophobia, we provide the following snippet from Bear Facts, an informational brochure produced by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game: Many bears live in Alaska and many people enjoy the outdoors, but surprisingly few people even see bears. Only a tiny percentage of those few are […]

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The Roots of the Trainspotting Generation

January 15th, 2010 · 3 Comments

“There is nothing sadder than an aging hipster,” Lenny Bruce once opined. While there’s certainly a kernel of truth to that statement, we believe the late comedian missed the mark by just a few degrees. Far sadder, in our estimation, is an aging drug addict, whose aims to recapture lost glory not by feigning interest […]

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Paint, Not Books

November 19th, 2009 · 6 Comments

There’s actually been a small silver lining to our newfound anxiety over the lead content in balsamic vinegar: it’s got us thinking about education spending in a new way. How’s that? Well, upon learning that our favorite salad-dressing base might well harm Microkhan Jr.’s neural health, we started thumbing through the literature on lead poisoning’s […]

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If the Cosmos Turn Against Us

November 5th, 2009 · 4 Comments

Of all the sundry worries that vex us every day, annihilation by celestial object is fairly low on the list. The same can’t be said of the insurance industry, which knows it could be wiped out if we ever got another Tunguska event of 1908. If something similarly destructive happened in the skies above New […]

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The Literacy Laggard

September 25th, 2009 · 2 Comments

We have to think there’s some sort of correlation between Pakistan’s persistent internal turmoil and its atrociously bad system of primary education. The nation may have one of the world’s top fifty economies, but its literacy rate officially languishes around the 50 percent mark. That makes Pakistan’s population less bookish than such poverty-stricken countries as […]

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The Safety Line

September 8th, 2009 · 4 Comments

We here at Microkhan are avid fans of Robert Young Pelton’s World’s Most Dangerous Places series, in part because we never cease being amazed by the man’s utter ballsiness. (Algeria sans security in the thick of civil war? Really?) But the lure in Pelton’s work isn’t just his bravado—it’s his frankness about which travels threats […]

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Those Wage Earners Left Behind

September 4th, 2009 · 1 Comment

As you’re stuffing your face with sweet sausages and Budwesier Chelada this holiday weekend, we hope you’ll pause for a brief moment to remember those who really could have used a Labor Day respite: victims of karōshi, who remain far more numerous than they should be. Karōshi translates from the Japanese as “death from overwork,” […]

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“The Mills of the Gods”

August 24th, 2009 · No Comments

With next year’s Census already sparking so much political heat, it’s worth looking back at one of Microkhan’s favorite-ever technology stories: the 1890 Census, the tabulation fiesta that have birth to (semi-)modern programming. For the hardcore geeks in the audience, this is already a well-known tale, featuring one of the true rock stars of the […]

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The Murder Project: By the Numbers

August 5th, 2009 · 4 Comments

Bloggers are lazy? Microkhan chortles at that stereotype. We just wrapped up a long morning of analyzing FBI data, all in the name of furthering The Murder Project, our ongoing effort to assess the state of today’s contract-killing marketplace. And today’s verdict does not exactly lift our hearts. As mentioned previously, the only reliable pricing […]

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The Murder Project

July 28th, 2009 · 12 Comments

While scouring some FBI press releases last week, we came across this semi-comical gem from the Chicago field office. It announces the arrest of a Indiana tandem who stand accused of trying to arrange a contract killing. Note the details of their proposed payment for this risky task: FRIEDBURG and ALEXANDER were both charged in […]

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When’s the Victory Parade?

July 1st, 2009 · No Comments

With the Obama administration in the midst of trying to dinosaur the phrase “War on Drugs,” we thought it would be worth looking at some of that 40-year-old conflict’s greatest defeats. And we found a true gem buried within this recent Department of Justice bulletin (PDF), a compilation of felony-case statistics from 2004. There are […]

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How Hard is the GED?

June 30th, 2009 · 1 Comment

Back in our high school days, we often fantasized about ditching the classroom routine in favor of taking the GED test. (This daydream was usually strongest during double-period Calculus AB, by far the dreariest educational experience on the planet.) But the fantasy was always short-lived, in large part because of some negative stereotypes. The folks […]

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A Nation of Homebodies

June 3rd, 2009 · 10 Comments

Yesterday we came across an alarming factoid: Only 30 percent of our fellow Americans hold a passport. That strikes us as absurdly low, especially now that all travel to Mexico and Canada will require the precious document. And while one could argue that the expense of international travel is a factor in our exceptionally low […]

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A Yardstick for the Fuzz

May 29th, 2009 · 1 Comment

Several years ago, we read a revealing interview with Wilbert Rideau, former editor of the newspaper at Angola State Prison. He was asked whether harsher sentences, including the death penalty, would deter criminals. Rideau bluntly answered “no”—criminals never think they’re going to get caught. That’s in part because (as noted in the chart above) the […]

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“It Was a Dark and Methodical Night…”

May 28th, 2009 · 2 Comments

In the midst of researching a minor Batman villain named The Actuary—please, don’t ask why—we came across a rather curious contest held by the Society of Actuaries. In the spirit of stoking its members’ right brains, the Society annually puts out the call for fictional short stories that evoke the essence of actuarial science. This […]

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A Finer Lens on Housing

May 19th, 2009 · 4 Comments

We’re not ashamed to declare ourselves total stats geeks, which means we’re always curious about the stories behind Big Important Numbers. And occasionally in our mathematical wanderings, we come to realize that some of those Numbers are a heckuva lot less revealing than they’re cracked up to be—batting average, for example, or Gross Domestic Product. […]

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