Categories
society

Some Supreme Court Term Stats

  1. Gorsuch recently surpassed James F. Byrnes’ tenure of 452 days on the court, but has a ways to go before he catches up with John Rutledge’s 563 days (26 October 2018).
  2. Thomas will become the longest sitting justice after Kennedy retires (effective end of July 2018). To score the all-time sittingest justice (held by William Douglas) he would have to remain for another ~3600 days (20 May 2028).
  3. We can call the court “old” or “young” based on whether a majority of justices have sat longer than the median (5740 days) justice sat. The court is currently “young,” and will become slightly younger with Kennedy being replaced.
  4. Assuming no other changes to the court, it will become “old” on 20 October 2021, when Alito will have sat longer than the median.
  5. The current court has three sets of “twin justices”—justices who joined the court within about a year of one another: Ginsburg and Breyer (1993, 1994); Robert and Alito (2005, 2006); and Sotomayor and Kagan (2009, 2010). (Thomas was a twin with Souter, but the latter has left the court.)
  6. Looking at “twins” from 1950 on, the average difference between their departures is around 20 years. It’s likely either Gorsuch or Kennedy’s replacement will leave the court at least a decade before the other.
  7. Since 1950, the longest stretch without a seating was 4075 days (1994-2005). That drought was the second longest (longest was 1812-1823, 4228 days). To break the record would put the next seating sometime in 2030.

Kennedy’s replacement will likely shift the direction of the court. The new court could imperil long-standing and important matters including voting rights, women’s rights, healthcare, immigration, and even the ability of the government to fight public corruption.

But a shift in power tends to be balanced in other ways. As the court moves right (as seems likely), it will begin to face cases on new laws drafted by an increasingly liberal legislature. It will also face briefs that employ its old rulings in new ways.

In short, the Republican dream of a far-right activist court will cost them seats in Congress and will ultimately cause the people to push for legislative and constitutional remedies to any bad decisions that come forth.

Categories
entertainment

Misleading Maths

We all know that the incorporated politicians and the incorporated media are not doing their jobs properly. They are twisting every aspect of reality in an attempt to wring out every last ounce of money and power they can get. All without a thought toward their long-term profitability.

But one key to their deception is found in mathematics. Not high-level holy-cow-you-can-do-THAT kind of math, but just a trick so simple that you’ve probably been graded down a hundred times for doing it on accident.

That trick is leaving things out. Oops, you forgot to carry the one. Your answer is wrong. -1. But when they do it, they seldom get marked off. They are bold enough to dispute everything.

One example of this I’ve seen lately is the math of activity-impacts on climate change. Whether it’s calculating that an electric car pollutes more than a combustion car, or that bicycling is worse than the combustion car, or that the average car moves at so many miles per work-hour.

To calculate these things is an exercise in aggregation. And it’s easy to leave some out. It’s difficult to not disclaim the result, or discuss why you may be wrong. And that’s the bit the incorporated entities leave out. They leave out the humbleness of humans. They act like the math is so obvious that it couldn’t possibly be wrong.

Guess they haven’t learned anything from the math that sank the markets only a stone’s throw back.

But it is the humility, the acquiescence to reason and margin for error, that marks the true champions of our species. The incorporated have no humility for the masses. They are there to sell. A sale cannot be predicated on an admission of doubt, for then caveat emptor (may the buyer beware). Can’t have that.

Or can we? I question with only mild reservation the sage wisdom that politicians must follow that line, where the candidate cannot honestly say, “maybe my opponent is your better choice for you. I believe I’m better, and I will make that case, but I may in fact be wrong.”

I question the wisdom that the climate skeptics and deniers try to sell, that we ought do nothing. Any who will say, “though you may be in grave danger, do nothing until such time as blood is drawn,” must either be kin to the undertaker, of a sadistic bent, or simply deluded.

Indeed, if there had been humility leading to the war against Iraq, it might have taken a far different course, as if there had been the same skepticism applied to the claims of that administration as there are to the science of the climate.

Categories
data

Music: How we listen

I don’t have the statistics, but many different players and websites including iTunes and Last.fm include the ability to track what music you listen to. In theory this data from many users can be aggregated. If that happened the picture would look something like a bell curve.

The top dominates

Most of the music is from artists the listener likes a lot.  This is right tail on a bell curve.  For example 50% of songs might come from ten artists, 80% from 20 artists, and 90% from 50 artists.  The other 10% might come from hundreds.

The same is true for albums: the favorite album by the favorite artist will be even more dominant than the artist was.

Selling as generic

The problem is that the industry treats songs as equal units.  You pay roughly the same price for a song you’ve listened to 1000 times as one you listened to once, or a song bought as a gag.  But when you actually look at the cost per listen it becomes apparent this is simply silly.

The songs you love cost you tiny amounts: after the hundredth listen to a $0.99 song it’s less than one cent!  The songs you don’t love cost you more per listen: up to that same $0.99 for listening to it once.

Shouldn’t the opposite be true?  Wouldn’t you pay more money for the song you love?  Wouldn’t you rather pay less for the song you would delete from your collection except that you never look in that folder anyway?

Progressive pricing

My belief is that music should look like the following pricing model.  Note that the numbers are fabricated and that actuaries and statisticians could provide much better figures.  This is only a rough model.

For the first ten listens it costs a cent.  Period.  If you like the song and run through ten listens you pay a cent.  If you decide you don’t like it and give up after the first time, it costs a cent.  For the next ten listens it costs a dime.  Listen 20 times and you’ve paid $0.11.  For the next 50 times you listen to it, that’s $0.20.  After 70 total listens you would have paid $0.31.  And for the 100 listens after that, it’s $0.68 which brings you to the $0.99 original price.

The money distribution is staggered as well.  The artist makes less money off of the first tier and more of the successive tiers, while the labels and distributors make more on earlier and less on later tiers.

Choices

There would be some other choices with this model.  If you knew you’d want the song for 170 listens at least, you could pay an initial fee of $0.89 or such, giving you a discount for buying the song outright.  You could also pay the difference on $0.89 up to 70 listens.

Even after paying $0.99 (or $0.89 if you bought it early) you could choose to pay more.  That money would go almost entirely to the artist.

The model’s logic

The consumer value behind this model is two fold.  One is to save you money on songs you rarely listen to.  The other is to give you the freedom to explore music.  The current flat price model is prohibitive: how many times would you roll the dice at $0.99 per roll?

The model also has powerful incentives for the label, distributor, and artist.  People would explore more music and pay a cent each time, but that would add up quickly.  The current prohibitive model generates less revenue than the new model would for all parties involved.

Other media

This model can easily be extended to be used with movies, television, and text.  The tiering would be different, obviously.  It would not be as effective for news as fiction.  But that’s a detail that can be overcome by changing the target of the model.

Instead of expecting you to pay $0.01 for each episode of the Daily Show each time you watch it, you would pay $0.01 for the first three episodes you watched.  Due to that sort of content being unlimited in time (they continue to make new episodes indefinitely) you wouldn’t cut off at $0.99.  The probable solution would be to tier over an entire season and fix the top-price on a per-season basis.

Advertising

The option to have advertising fits nicely into this general model.  The advertisers can choose to pay for a tier for some number of viewers: when you go to view, listen, or read the choice is yours to accept the advertiser’s offer and instead of paying you would watch, read, or listen to a short advertisement for the duration of that tier.

Conclusion

I believe this sort of model, again with the statistics to back up a more refined pricing and tiering system than I’ve presented, will be a boon to listeners, viewers, and readers.  It will also benefit the content creators and distributors.  I hope to see this model become a standard operating model for content.

Let me know what you think of this model.  What’s wrong with it?  What would make it better?