Archive for April 3rd, 2013

Reason I may yet write that stats/numbers book, #346

Posted in Stuff on April 3rd, 2013

It’s just a little item in the April 2013 Fast Company, over in the bottom-left corner of a page, about the sales of steel wallets—mostly (I think) sold to people who are worried about RFID chips in their smart credit cards or passports being read.

Here’s a rough version of the graph that appeared with the piece:

When you see that, you’d tend to agree with the text of the article: “But apparently, the freak-out has already faded.”

But the graph is showing percentage increase in sales, year-over-year.

So, just for fun, let’s assume that 100,000 wallets were sold in 2006 (the actual number doesn’t matter) and draw a new graph using exactly the same data:

 

Now, does the assertion in the text seem quite as valid?

No? What? You say “Damn—those are pretty fast sales increases since 2009″? Well, you’re not Fast enough for FastCo.

Of course, there’s another aspect of this: We don’t know what the baseline for 2006 was–and percentages don’t mean much without a baseline. For all I know, maybe steel wallets were such a novelty item in 2006 that only 100 of them sold…which would make 2012 sales 1,905 and that Ginormous Jump from 2008 to 2009 an increase of…well, 675 wallets. Whoopdedo.

 

50 Movie Comedy Kings Disc 12

Posted in Movies and TV on April 3rd, 2013

Meet the Mayor (aka A Fool’s Advice), 1932, b&w. Ralph Ceter (dir.), Frank Fay, Nat Pendleton, Edward J. Nugent, Ruth Hall, Berton Churchill, George Meeker, Hale Hamilton, Esther Howard, Franklin Pangborn. 1:03.

I’m guessing this is another case where if you know and love the main character, Frank Fay, you’ll find it hilarious. I don’t and don’t, and I found it mostly sad. Fay plays a schlemiel—a sad little man whose only job has been elevator operator in the (apparently city-owned?) hotel in a seedy little town, who lives in the hotel, owns a bicycle and apparently not much more, but is sort of a Mr. Fix-It for all and sundry. Including helping out his best friend, who’s inventing a new & better cylinder recording/playback device. And who has the same girlfriend Fay’s character thinks he has.

The title refers to a mayoral election—where the 20-year-in-office mayor, again one who’s only had the one job—is up against a wealthy person who actually wants to sell out the town to the railroad. Through a series of plot points, the new recorder winds up recording the bigshot talking about his plans with the three thugs he’s brought in (thugs who don’t actually do much of anything). Fay’s character blackmails him into quitting the race, and at about that time finds out that his “girlfriend” is engaged to his best friend.

All pretty sad, actually, unless you think the character is a hoot. Unfortunately, I just found him sad and a little depressing. Franklin Pangborn’s always good, but he only has about three minutes on screen. The other (original) title is one of Fay’s catchlines. Being generous, $0.75.

When the Girls Take Over, 1962, color? (b&w). Russell Hayden (dir.), Robert Lowery, Marvin Miller, Jackie Coogan, James Ellison, Ingeborg Kjeldsen. 1:20.

A revolutionary comedy! Of sorts… Set in Hondo-Rica, a Caribbean nation trying to gain investors to produce all sorts of things out of sugar cane (since the sugar itself is a glut on the market, but with a threatened Cuban-style revolution. Of sorts… The revolutionary forces consist of Maximo Toro, the Big Bull, a mustachioed-and-bearded young revolutionary; his American writer/thinker/sidekick (who misses his girlfriend); maybe half a dozen reasonable well-trained and armed sidekicks; and perhaps four dozen lazy soldiers armed with wooden sticks (for the moment) and missing women.

This revolutionary force turns out to be no match for a Texan oilman (young and handsome) who’s already been nationalized out of a bunch of countries and who doesn’t want it to happen this time. He somehow manages to gather a bunch of women, buy a whole fleet of jeeps on the spot, and let loose these women—armed primarily with bottles of rum—on the revolutionaries. That’s just part of the plot in what’s mostly a helter-skelter madcap comedy. Not terrible, but far from great.

IMDB says color, and given that it was filmed in “Virgin Isle” and Puerto Rico and has loads of scenery, it would be a whole lot better that way—but the sleeve says B&W and that’s what the picture actually is. (Since the uniformly-negative reviews on IMDB also all say they saw it in B&W, I’m guessing any actual color prints are long gone.) I’ll give it $1.00.

Too Many Women, 1942, b&w. Bernard B. Ray (dir.), Neil Hamilton, June Lang, Joyce Compton, Barbara Reed, Fred Sherman. 1:07.

A madcap comedy involving a young man, the woman he’s engaged to (but too poor to marry yet) and two former or would-be girlfriends. There’s also a probably-crooked land promoter who wants him to sell land; to get rid of the pest, he claims to have just inherited a fortune. As that news spreads around town, he somehow winds up engaged to three people, on a drunken spree—and totally broke, except for a $1,000 bet on a longshot horse. His grandmother, supposedly at death’s door, is part of this. There’s even a butler. The last 20 minutes is pure traditional farce.

I guess it was mildly amusing, if maybe a little incoherent. For fans of this genre, maybe $1.00.

Flying Wild, 1941, b&w. William West (dir.), Leo Gorcey, Bobby Jordan et al. 1:04.

No. Sorry, but I couldn’t. I gave it 25 minutes, which is about 20 more minutes of Leo Gorcey and the East End Kids than I can normally stand. This time, there’s domestic espionage, “un-American activities” and a flying ambulance service involved, and the rest of the East End Kids are working (but Muggs don’t work, it ain’t his thing, he’s an overage JD and proud of it). And…I just couldn’t. No rating. What a sad way to finish up a 50-movie set.

Summing Up

Three movies I gave a full $2 for: Never Wave at a WAC, Nothing Sacred and The Perils of Pauline. Two almost-classic $1.75 flicks: The Milky Way and Three Husbands. Three pretty good ($1.50), three decent ($1.25) and six mediocre ($1) add up to $23.75 for this half—and that doesn’t include two movies I’d already seen on other sets. If you’re really generous, you could count the three almost mediocre $0.75 flicks and the single barely-watchable $0.50—and, of course, if you like the East End Thugs, that would add a bit. Since the 50-pack currently goes for $14.75 at Amazon, that’s not bad. Oh, and, of course, there’s the first half, where the total of mediocre-or-better flicks came out to $26, for a 50-pack total of $49.75. Not bad.

Wyoming public libraries

Posted in $4 on April 3rd, 2013

The last post commenting on Chapter 20 of Give Us a Dollar and We’ll Give You Back Four (2012-13)–now available as a $9.99 Kindle ebook or $21.95 paperback with ISBN 978-1481279161 on Amazon, along with the usual Lulu options. Note that Lulu prices for the paperback and hardback versions are now lower.

Wyoming’s 23 libraries (none omitted) are mostly fairly well funded, with two-thirds spending $43 or more and only five libraries (22%) spending less than $36 per capita. None of the libraries circulate 24 or more items per capita, but 70% circulate at least six (compared to 50% overall). Patron visits are also strong, with 57% of the libraries reporting at least seven visits per capita (compared to 33% overall).

Program attendance is strong, with 74% of the libraries reporting at least 0.5 attendance per capita (compared to 33% overall), and PC use is strong, with 57% reporting 1.7 uses per capita or more (compared to 30% overall).

Libraries by legal service area

LSA Count %
2,250-2,999 1 4.3%
4,000-5,299 1 4.3%
5,300-6,799 1 4.3%
6,800-8,699 4 17.4%
8,700-11,099 1 4.3%
11,100-14,099 3 13.0%
14,100-18,499 2 8.7%
18,500-24,999 2 8.7%
25,000-34,499 3 13.0%
34,500-53,999 3 13.0%
54,000-104,999 2 8.7%

Circulation per capita and spending per capita

Circulation per capita correlates strongly (0.68) with spending per capita.

Circulation per capita plotted against spending per capita

Circulation per capita (rounded) occurrence by spending category

In looking at this mostly-useless graph, note that there are no Wyoming libraries spending less than $17 per capita.


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