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So…How about writing a few letters?

Mitch Berg is my favorite blogger. Which is why this post is going to be a little painful for me, but Mitch touched on one of my pet peeves of blogging:

Observation: The Strib, when they publish a conservative’s letter to the editor at all, will usually publish precisely one letter in the mail section. It has seemed to me that that letter was frequently chosen for caricaturic effect; the right-wing letter-writer was frequently inarticulate, enraged, and from what we’d call the “tinfoil hat” community; in short, many conservative letters to the editor seem to be chosen to detract rather than advance the conservative case in an argument, not to mention unbalance the argument to the left.

Okay Mitch, why don’t you write some letters and find out if the process is biased or not? I have had (since I left the U) 4 letters to the editor published in the last year. Not a lot by any standard, but the Strib has not failed to publish any of my letters. I have also had a few columns published. In fact, I haven’t had any of my work rejected by any editor in almost two years. (I shoot small though, local papers primarily)

This may be a surprise Mitch, but the only reason the Strib publishes bad letters of any sort is because that is mostly what they get.

And maybe there is some bias. Maybe the Strib won’t publish your letter. Perfect, mention it on the blog, make a big deal and show the true biases. Try fake names and fake addresses, send crazy liberal letters and crazy conservative ones and compare how often they were published. Have fun with it. But don’t just complain about low quality letters when you haven’t tried to get some of your high quality ones published. It doesn’t take long at all, a good letter should be under 250 words. A column should run from 550 to 660 words.

The Letters to the Editor section is one of the most widely read in any newspaper, so it’s very effective to shoot a few off once in a while.

As far as this sin goes, Mitch isn’t too bad about it. He has a radio program, a widely read blog and he does the occasional speech. But for some of you other bloggers out there, get out and do something. Write a letter, volunteer somewhere, host an awesome Danish event, counter protest, whatever. Blogging ain’t enough. (Of course, I’m a paid conservative activist, so I’m a little biased).

Still on a post-Olympic graphing high

I updated the numbers on the medal count versus GDP per capita (with the finalised medal count I didn’t have when I did my first post), ran the numbers and found Per Capita GDP is correlated to Olympic success at a .524 clip:

I also decided to try out the numbers for just gold medals, and the correlation plummets down to .255:

So, money will get you medals, but first place can’t be “bought.”

Well I think it’s cool…

Random Link o’ the Day:

http://www.rcfp.org/foi_letter/generate.php

Graphs are awesome

I think I’m going to start incorporating graphs into the blog more often. I ran some numbers on the Olympic medal count and compared it to per capita GDP, and got the following result:

I really didn’t have any purpose in running these numbers. They’re interesting, there’s a relationship there, just not a big one. This should go to show that you don’t always get the desired numbers when you play with data. I was hoping there’d be a stronger relationship between wealth and the medal count since I’m an apologist for capitalism. Oh well.


A “Word Cloud” representin’ my blog,

h/t Market Power

I’m a Talent!

You’re a risk-taker, and you follow your passions. You’re determined to take on the world and succeed on your own terms. Whether in the arts, science, engineering, business, or politics, you fearlessly express your own vision of the world. You’re not afraid of a fight, and you’re not afraid to bet your future on your own abilities. If you find a job boring or stifling, you’re already preparing your resume. You believe in doing what you love, and you’re not willing to settle for an ordinary life.

Talent: 59%
Lifer: 56%
Mandarin: 26%

Take the Talent, Lifer, or Mandarin quiz.

Pride in the wrong things…

I was digging around http://firstgov.gov this week. The website is awesome. Finally there’s an easy, one stop portal to all the crap the government has/does/sells/buys/requires/services/worships. I was looking for any information on GSA auctions when I noticed that the IRS has an online gift shop. I found this a little worrisome, but every government building has a gift shop. But then I saw this:

It’s an ornament celebrating the 80th anniversary of the passing of the 16th amendment. The center of the ornament is a 1040 form. Unreal. There are not enough profanities in all the world to describe how I felt when I saw this little item. Jackie Gleason (a la “Sheriff Justice”), Marty Wingard nor Scott Adams’ swearing olympics could produce enough profanity to describe how I felt about anyone putting one of these on their Christmas trees. There are occasions when I feel truly that no one is deserving of an eternity in Hell. Apokatastasis Panton has been my (heretical) temptation in theology. However, seeing things like this ornament makes Hell seem truly just in the grand scheme of things.

Here is the description for the item:

THA’s fifth annual ornament depicts the first Form 1040 as a commemorative of the 80th Anniversary of the authorization to collect tax on income. The ornament measures approximately 3-1/4 by 3-1/2 inches.

The 16th Amendment to the Constitution – the briefest, with the exception of the Bill of Rights – states “The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever sources derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.” On January 5, 1914, the Department of the Treasury unveiled the new Form 1040 for tax year 1913. This item is not available at this time.

I’m going to give myself a case of apoplexy here. I’ve never sworn on this blog, but man, the temptation to leave an F bomb here is tremendous. I understand that someone has to collect taxes. Jesus spent a lot of time with tax collectors. Maybe I shouldn’t be so hard on them. But someone needs eternal damnation here.

Every year in the U.S. there is a 400 billion dollar drain on the economy because of our tax code (not including the 2 trillion dollars in taxes) and the IRS.

Open Thread!

Random Link o’ the Day:

http://www.hackaday.com/

How dangerous is hunting?

I had to listen to some crazy anti-hunting lady being interviewed on some weekend talk show a few days ago (late night weekend radio between major markets, I take what I can find) due to my insane traveling schedule. She was tirading against hunting. Cheney’s accident being in the news, I shouldn’t be surprised that the anti-hunting anti-gun people started pushing their ideology on the rest of us. Vultures.

As it was, she mentioned two statistics, fifty-three people die each year due to hunting accidents, and about 500 are injured. Raw numbers don’t prove anything. Over 40,000 people die in cars each year, but you divide that number by the total number of people driving and you get .04% of dying in a car each year (huge overestimate, the number is probably half that). So if you drive for a hundred years, there’s a 4% chance you’ll die from a car accident. Thus, it would take 2,500 years of driving before you would expect to die.

I couldn’t find any real good numbers, but I did find out there are about 19 million hunters going out into the field each year. If I take the 53 fatality number per year at face value (I couldn’t verify it), then deaths while hunting are extremely rare. How rare? Well…if it takes 2,500 years of driving before one would expect to die, it would take 40,000 years of hunting (assuming you take an average number of hunting trips per year) before you could expect to even be hurt in a hunting accident, 400,000 years before you’d expect to die.

Of course, you’d have to take the numbers I gave you and divide by the total number of hours spent driving on average versus hours hunting and compare them. I would guess driving and hunting to be about as equally dangerous.

Other numbers

Texas:

Over the past four decades, the number of hunting-related firearms accidents have dropped by half and the number of fatalities by much, much more.

In 1966, the first year TPWD’s law enforcement division began investigating and maintaining records of hunting-related firearms accidents, game wardens chronicled 81 such accidents. A stunning 28 of them involved fatalities.

Two years later, that number had jumped to 105 accidents with a sobering 37 fatalities.

In 2003, game wardens investigated 42 hunting-related firearms accidents. Only one involved a fatality.

Texas has seen fewer than 10 fatal hunting-related firearms accidents each of the past 12 years.

In 1966, TPWD recorded 12.6 hunting-related firearms accidents per 100,000 hunting licenses sold, and averaged 10.92 accidents per 100,000 for the five-year period 1966-70.

This past year, the accident rate was 3.9 per 100,000 hunting licenses. For the five years 1999-2003, the average accident rate was 4.02, or not much more than a third of what it was a generation before.

Montana and beyond:

Thomas Baumeister, education bureau chief for Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks in Helena, heard the same news report. As head of both the hunter education and bowhunter education programs in Montana, he couldn’t believe what he was hearing, either.

“No. Hunting accidents certainly are not common,” Baumeister said. “This is one of the safest activities in terms of getting injured doing it.

“During an average hunting season in Montana, we have 229,000 people out there at one time or another with firearms,” he said. “It’s far more dangerous to ski or play tennis.”

And a person playing football, he said, is certainly more likely to be injured than someone hunting.

Baumeister keeps track of fatal and nonfatal hunting accidents from a variety of sources, including FWP personnel and newspaper reports. Hunting, he said, is a sport that’s getting safer each year, thanks in part to mandatory hunter education programs.

“We have record-low numbers of accidents throughout North America,” he said. “It’s a declining trend, both in fatal and nonfatal accidents. In the 1970s, on average, we had 21.7 hunting accidents per year. In the ’80s, we had 12.3. In the ’90s, it was 7.1. For the last five years, we’re down to 5.6.

“In the recently completed 2005 season, we had no fatal accidents, and I only heard about three nonfatal accidents,” Baumeister said. “People might get a pellet lodged in their skin and you wouldn’t hear about it. And I’m not saying we didn’t have any. But I am willing to say it was in that 5 to 8 range, which is where we have been over the past few years.”

Baumeister isn’t saying that there’s no potential for injuries. It’s just that they happen very, very rarely — especially when you consider the number of hunters involved and the amount of time they spend in the field each year.

Montana has the highest level of hunting participation in the nation, according to federal surveys, with 24 percent of its residents hunting each year. That includes 39 percent of all adult males in the state and 13 percent of adult females.

In deer hunting alone, the most recent statistics from the 2003 season indicate that 153,255 deer hunters spent 1.04 million days in the field. A total of 40,574 bird hunters — those shotgun shooters, like Cheney — spent 436,000 days in the field.

That’s a lot of people spending a lot of time out hunting with very few accidents to report

Gun accidents in general are down:

About .5 people per 100,000 population (1400 total, all ages) die from accidental gunshot wounds and about 33 per 100,000 (100,000 total) are injured accidentally with gunshots (per US Centers for Disease Control/prevention) per year recently. The rate has been dropping steadily for years.

Facts versus emotions, I choose facts. Hunting is safe, gun deaths are in decline, hunting accidents are in decline. The focus on gun safety has done wonders, and Americans have shown themselves to be responsible with their right to bear arms. American’s have become more responsible every year.

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