Et tu, NPR, mi fili?

For some inexplicable reason, NPR decided to announce its special coverage of the UN climate talks in Paris with a question:Screenshot 2015-11-03 19.08.14

First off, clearly they think climate change matters – at least enough to warrant special, month-long coverage.

Also, surely someone at NPR is familiar with Betteridge’s Law of Headlines:

“Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no.”

It would be a bold move on NPR’s part, suggesting climate change doesn’t matter. But given their overall patchy coverage of the issue, maybe we shouldn’t be too surprised.

All of that said, the recent rise of the Cavuto mark seems to contradict Betteridge. When Fox News asks questions like “Have the Democrats forgotten the lessons of 9/11?” or “Is the liberal media helping to fuel terror?”, we can assume they expect their viewers to supply an answer of “yes”. Perhaps that is likewise NPR’s intent.

Either way, phrasing their headline as a question absolves NPR of being accountable for what they’re writing and makes the implicit claim that climate change is up for debate.

But it isn’t. So to answer your question, NPR: Yes, climate change matters. It’s possibly the only thing that matters at the moment, actually.

Et tu, NPR, mi fili?

WaPo’s Police Shootings Graphic

First off, it is awesome and you should go look at it right now:

I am struck in particular by their focus on individual human beings; each victim* is represented as a single figure in the timeline graphic the Post leads with:

Screenshot 2015-07-25 11.22.05

Below the original graphic space, the Post shows each victim as an individual, with details about the circumstances as well as a photo when possible. This further emphasizes the humanity of each person.

Screenshot 2015-07-25 11.47.55

That all said, I feel like some key context is left out of the graphic that just as easily could have been included, and would have made the racial aspect of these numbers manifestly more obvious.

Screenshot 2015-07-25 11.30.45

Almost twice as many white people as black people have been killed by police so far this year. This figure alone, without context, dramatically undercuts the assertion by civil rights activists that blacks are unfairly targeted and killed by police.

Had the Post included census data with those numbers, the impact would be quite different:

Screenshot 2015-07-25 11.41.56

Whites are underrepresented by a third, blacks are overrepresented by half. Only Hispanics are being “fairly” represented in these statistics.

9/23/16 Update: Turns out there was a suitable alternative out there all along! Peep The Guardian’s on-going vigil “The Counted: People killed by police in the US” which has a much better way of showing proportionality:


Thanks to BJ Warshaw for sussing it out.

* I realize how charged it is to use this word, but the police involved in these events might also be termed victims; when deadly force is used, everyone loses.

WaPo’s Police Shootings Graphic

Same App, Different Experience

Why oh why, Twitter? You control both and, yet each has a completely different workflow for adding a handle to a list!


Add-to-list on Twitter


Add-to-list on Tweetdeck

But it’s not just that there are two different workflows; it’s that they are similar enough for me to constantly confuse them! Here’s what my brain sees each time I’m presented with one of these dialogs:

Twitter Lists (Brain View)

…which is perfect if I’m inside Tweetdeck (the second image above). But if I’m on, I’m suddenly (and confusingly) inside of the “Make a new list” workflow:

Create-new-list on TwitterWhat happens when I click out of that? Will I have a new “untitled” list? What happened to my original selections from the previous screen? I basically have to click ‘x’ and start over to find out.

So I ask you, Twitter: Why settle for this cludgy and confusing experience when you already have a usable experience in Tweetdeck?

Same App, Different Experience

On Nate Silver’s The Signal and the Noise

Cover of the book 'The Signal and the Noise' by Nate Silver. Published by The Penguin Press
Cover of the book ‘The Signal and the Noise’ by Nate Silver. Published by The Penguin Press

Overall, I put this book up there with John Allen Paulos’ Innumeracy as required reading for anyone interested in thinking clearly. It is a fantastic demonstration of how mathematical thinking can be fruitfully (and practically) applied by anyone to anything.

There are a few moments I do want to comment on, though; the book is so thoroughly thoughtful that its lapses in thoughtfulness really stood out to me.

Continue reading “On Nate Silver’s The Signal and the Noise

On Nate Silver’s The Signal and the Noise

What’s the best shelf-stable, gluten-free chocolate chip cookie?

Just because you aren’t eating gluten (for whatever reason – I’m not here to judge), doesn’t mean you don’t still occasionally crave a store-bought chocolate chip cookie, a la Keebler’s Soft Batch or Pepperidge Farm’s Soft Baked.

I was in just such a position recently [ed. note: “recently” here means “almost one year ago”], but did not have access to the far-and-away, hands-down best imitation of the genre, Udi’s Soft & Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Udi's Soft & Chewy

So I did what any self-respecting, non-gluten-eating blogger would do: I bought one of every single other brand of chocolate chip cookie I could find and did a taste test! I was aided in this endeavor by my husband Joel, who is a good control because he CAN eat gluten, but still find’s Udi’s Soft & Chewy cookies pretty delish.

Continue reading “What’s the best shelf-stable, gluten-free chocolate chip cookie?”

What’s the best shelf-stable, gluten-free chocolate chip cookie?