Thursday, December 22, 2011

Moving In & Moving On

Alright, here's a follow-up to the recent map of vacant housing rates according to the 2010 US Census.  This map compares the vacant housing rates from 2000 to the newer data of 2010; the difference between these two proportions is mapped here:

Post Scriptum: There was a lot of interest (as far as this blog's level of activity goes) around what in the world a vacant house actually is.  The gut reaction for many folks, including myself, was that vacancy is a pretty clear indicator of economic decline -shuttered houses left to rot.  BUT, mixed in with that very real set of feral houses are houses that are vacant because times are good: vacation or seasonal homes whose owners happened to be occupying some other abode at the time of census canvasing (you can, after all, only be in one place at a time).  Also, there is the more neutral condition of a home that is about to be moved into.  I found this crusty old PDF to be the best description yet.

So, the characteristic of these houses is pretty broad and not necessarily negative.  But whatever the reason, they were deemed vacant -and this is a map of that deeming which you can take for whatever it is worth.

Double Post Scriptum: It sure would be great to find a clear, unified, un-obfuscated set of HVS data for counties, in order to break these phenomena out.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Lights Out: mapping vacant home rates

The rate of vacant houses by county: brighter counties have a higher vacancy rate while darker counties have very low rates; the twenty most vacant (pink) and least vacant (blue) counties are listed.  Apparently, if there is a house in Virginia then somebody is living in it -home of eight of the twenty least vacant counties.

The data comes from the 2010 census (vacant housing units as a proportion of total housing units); here's some background on that data.  Did you know the number of vacant houses increased by over 40% between the 2000 and 2010 counts?  That's a little misleading because the number of homes, overall, increased wildly over that same period.  So here's a map comparing the rates of vacancy -which I think is a little fairer.

Twitter Link

Have you guys heard about this Twitter thing?  We have to support this or it might not make it!

Thursday, December 8, 2011


Some time ago a fellow on LinkedIn found the United States of Craigslist useful as a targeted marketing reference (which is awesome!) and wondered if we had a list of the zip codes within each Craigslist zone.  A set of geometries is nice, but a list of zip codes is one big step closer to making big-ish data actionable.

Here is a look-up table of that association...

...and here is a map of that look-up table of that association...

Poster Print
You can order this map as a poster print to showcase your econo-geekery proudly on the wall of your choosing.

Zip codes are weird, but then again so are the Craigslist zones (well, more hypothetical than weird).  Using a centered-within association in SQL Server 2008, (though this could have been done in R or Oracle, or GRASS, whatever) we were able to compile a list of which zip codes were centered within each Craigslist zone.

Reconciling two geometries to each other is a dark art.  The centered-within association was good enough in this case because we weren't reconciling any metrics (like demographics) in addition to the shapes.  But if you do have data within them that you'd also need to reconcile, it can be tempting to go down all sorts of roads that attempt to divvy up data by what proportions of one fall into the other.  Anyways...

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

It's Official: Lefties are...Different

Today the Wall Street Journal announced what we all knew in our guts to be true: we lefties are really put upon.  Here is the comparatively short list of benefits of being left handed, aside from intrinsic awesomeness...


  • Lefties are better at "divergent thinking" -a zany process that generates lots of ways of coming to a solution.
  • We aren't not smarter than righties (not much of a pro, but comparing the lists, I'm inclined to reach a bit).
  • Turns out, we may not die at a younger age as I've always heard.
  • If you're interested in being President of the United States, the numbers are on your side.
And it turns out the list of negatives associated with left-handedness is more...robust.  In addition to perpetually smudged handwriting and scissors that never work...

  • Frequently left-handedness is the result of an abnormally stressful pregnancy (but we survived; maybe that's a pro??) where the stress hormone cortisol modified our brains, we are a last-minute change request.
  • Lefties earn 10% less than righties.  Both my wife and I are lefties; we bravely struggle to retain our dignity despite our social status.
  • Lefties have double the risk of schizophrenia than righties.  Double!
  • In addition to the whole schizophrenia thing, we're also more likely to have ADHD, dyslexia, mood disorders, and language disorders -resulting in a hard time at school (among other places).

But we carry on!