Super Zips, Revisited

17 05 2016

Richmond Heights

Something I was thinking about this morning made me go back and revisit my own post about Charles Murray’s “Super Zips” research and data, then from there revisit the research and data.

Since the last time I wrote and thought about it, I have moved.  I was living in 63011 (Ballwin) at the time, and until early March, and its score was a very respectable 90.  Remember, every zip code gets a score from 1 to 99, based on a mashup of the zip code’s median household income and the zip code’s percentage of adults who have a college diploma.  A zip code of 95 or higher is defined as a Super Zip, so my zip code at the time was only five points away from being super.

I now live in 63117 (Richmond Heights), which only scores a 79.

How much worse is a 79 than a 90?  I cannot find the calculated standard deviation of zip code scores, (I do have a tweet into Charles Murray himself, hopefully he’ll know), but I do remember the Rule of Six when you need a quick and dirty standard deviation:  Top minus bottom divide by six.  This means I get a standard deviation of (99-1)/6, or 16.33.  Since my new zip is 11 points lower than my old zip, this means I have moved down in the world by (11/16.33), or about two-thirds, of a SD.

Two-thirds of a SD isn’t chump change.  My new area should be noticeably less good (as in both aren’t anywhere near bad) than my old area.  Yet, I really don’t grok a difference.  Even more head scratching is that 63144 (Brentwood) scores at 85, higher than RH, but visually less pleasant, and substantively a half a step down IMHO.

Does that point to limitations to Charles Murray’s research?  Or does it point to a possibility or the need to refine the criteria?

Not only do I not see any real difference between new and old, personally, I’m actually better off.  The rent is slightly lower, the square footage is slightly higher, and the commute, when I’m home, is way shorter.  And that points to another social axiom:  When people buy or rent domiciles, they’re not necessarily buying a building, or land, or features, or even a neighborhood, they’re buying classmates and a peer group for their children.  Want proof of that?  This same living space in this same kind of residential structure on this same kind of street north of Clayton Road rents for way higher.  Why?  School district.  North of Clayton Road is the city of Clayton, and zip code of 63105 (Murray Score of 95, meaning it’s a super zip, and it would be higher but for county jail inmates being counted as residents of the zip code and therefore dragging down its educational and household income averages), and most crucially, the Clayton School District, where the kids of university professors and physician specialists attend.  Where I am, definitely south of Clayton Road, is not only the city of Richmond Heights, but it and Maplewood share a school district, and as you St. Louisans know, Maplewood, blech.  For those who don’t know, Maplewood is about an even mix of lower class black and lower to working class white, trending toward the former, and they’re in the same school district with Richmond Heights, the whole district only has one high school, that being Puggg’s alma mater.  And as we know about mixing shit and vanilla ice cream…

You may think that you have figured out why 63117 has a lower Murray Score than 63011, because of Maplewood.  Actually, Maplewood has its own zip code, 63143, with a Murray Score of 41.

Incidentally, there has been chatter for a long time about Clayton municipally subsuming Richmond Heights.  If that happens, it wouldn’t solve the school district problem by itself, but I think it would be political predication for RH ditching Maplewood and joining the Clayton School District.  Which wouldn’t be hard, because the only high school in the MRH district is in Maplewood, and in fact, the district’s only middle school is also in Maplewood and next to the high school, and the district’s only elementary school is technically in RH, but this close actually to being in Maplewood; there are zero MRH schools in the part of RH north of 40.  If Clayton subsumes RH in a muni sense, then it would create political pressure for RH to be part of the Clayton School District.  It would mean that buying in RH also means buying in the CSD, meaning much higher selling prices and rents.  But, by the time that happens, I’ll probably be living somewhere else.

Incidentally, my previous abode in Ballwin was in the Rockwood School District.  Also, 63136, the zip code of the Fergaza Strip, comes through with a world beating Murray Score of 9.

The Winter and Spring of Content and Miscontent

2 05 2016

Your Blogmeister’s Desk

I’ll finally get to leave Jefferson City at the end of this week.  While the session will last for another week, parasites like me have no reason to be here that long, because if we haven’t been successful in our work this session until now, we won’t be at all.

The beginning of May in an even numbered year is also the informal beginning of the primary campaign in Missouri for the early August primary, so expect to start seeing and hearing many more media buys.  One reason why these next three months won’t be that busy with buys is because most statewide office primaries are foregone conclusions, with the exception of GOV-R.  I think the semi-serious challenger that Kurt Schaefer has for AG-R is going to put up a fight, and I hope he, who once clerked for John Roberts at the Supreme Court, does do just that, because Schaefer has not comported himself well on the Mizzou matter.  Other than that and GOV-R, though, there really won’t be much of a reason for summer buys.  So, get ready for the Hanaway campaign to hit the airwaves even heavier, and for Peter Kindercare to start showing up, which he has not done so far.

I’ve mentioned in this space about a lot of personal issues I’ve been going through, some good some not so good.  Now that the not so good ones have been resolved, I can say what they were.

It was a combination of having to move my mother into assisted living, after she finally came to her senses late last year and admitted that she can’t live on her own, and that process was way more involved and time consuming than I had first guessed, and at about the same time, I had to find a new place to live myself.  But that involved me moving my stuff, and I don’t have that much, and myself, in with my uncle, then finding a new place, which as I mentioned here very recently, is in Richmond Heights, and then moving into the new place.  Then you pile all that on top of my actual job, and that this time of year, it takes place more than a hundred miles away from home, so that’s where I’m supposed to be. (Though keep on reading, and you’ll see why I’m not entirely upset about that.)  I had all the difficult stuff wrapped up by about the end of March, and these will be three months of my life I won’t soon forget.

But, through all this, there has been some very good news.  Let me put it to you this way:  If all goes according to my plan, by the time I turn 40 years old, at the end of next March, I’ll have a ring on it.  I’m obviously not going to state her name, because I haven’t stated mine.  But she is closely related to someone who is pretty important at the moment in Missouri legislative politics.  I say “at the moment,” because of term limits, nobody is important in Missouri legislative politics for that long anymore.  The hitch is that she’s a Kansas City native that currently lives in Jefferson City, so for eight months out of the year, the relationship is mostly a distance one.  I say “is,” even though we first met more than two years ago, and things have slowly been on the incline, and have really broken open this year.  If my ring plans happen, then it’ll probably mean that I’ll be moving to and living in Jefferson City full time.

Like Looking in a Mirror

2 04 2016

Your Blogmeister’s Desk

Me, describing my generation, back on October 29:

Ours is the last generation of people that has and will have any conscious memory of a pre-Internet world, a pre-ubiquitously connected world, a world where phone calls between cities cost extra and were metered by the minute, and of the Soviet Union as an empire that displayed a threatening posture.  We did incubate the first wave of the Internet era, the first wave of the Dot-Com boom.  Otherwise, we’ll be telling our grandchildren horror stories about what it was like to look up a topic before Wikipedia.

Blogmeister Echo Syndrome. It’s almost like reading my autobiography, right down to the jot and tittle of being suckered into joining a CD club; I still have almost all of those CDs to this day, but discovered quickly that, per unit cost, the CD clubs (and I presume before then, the cassette clubs and the record clubs, an episode of the last season of Leave It To Beaver had Beaver joining a record club, and that was in 1962-63), were not much less expensive than just buying them at the CD/music/record store, another artifact our generation is the last to have experienced.

Her point that we in the latter part of Generation X were/are uniquely positioned as accidents of the years of our births in that we’re split halfway between the old and the new worlds and can see the advantages and disadvantages of both sides is a point I breezed by, but should have realized was really profound.

ICYMI, library index cards is one way we looked up a topic before Wikipedia.

Speaking of another generation, you’ll notice I had this to say in that same post:

They are currently at their peak of power and control over real institutions.  We are indeed living in the Peak Boomer Era.  Forget about Peak Oil, the real problem is Peak Boomer.  Since they are exercising power unchecked, they are creating precisely the world that both their critics and apologists of both older and younger generations predicted they would.


The Curse of a Good Memory

29 01 2016

Irvine, California

The mechanics of those with elite memories.

While I have a very good memory, not an elite one, this hits me right where I live:

Viewing the past in high definition can also make it very difficult to get over pain and regret. “It can be very hard to forget embarrassing moments,” says Donohue. “You feel same emotions – it is just as raw, just as fresh… You can’t turn off that stream of memories, no matter how hard you try.” Veiseh agrees: “It is like having these open wounds – they are just a part of you,” he says.

This means they often have to make a special effort to lay the past to rest; Bill, for instance, often gets painful “flashbacks”, in which unwanted memories intrude into his consciousness, but overall he has chosen to see it as the best way of avoiding repeating the same mistakes. “Some people are absorbed in the past but not open to new memories, but that’s not the case for me. I look forward to the each day and experiencing something new.”

Veiseh even thinks his condition has made him a kinder, more tolerant person. “Some say ‘forgive and forget’, but since forgetting is a luxury I don’t have, I need to learn to genuinely forgive,” he says. “Not just others, but myself as well.”

This is why I wish I wasn’t cursed with a good memory.  I still sulk and steam and fume and dwell over both slights against me and regret the slights I inflicted on others that the average person would have forgotten and never been able to remember.  I’m still angry over at a double standard way a school rule was enforced on me when I was a freshman in high school.

Challenger, 30 Years On

28 01 2016

Cape Canaveral, Florida

I can’t say anything more or differently than I did five years ago.

How Stuff Works

2 01 2016

Your Blogmeister’s Desk

Hopefully someone who is both significantly older than me and is or was an electronics engineer can answer my question, because I’ve never been able to get a good answer to it from anyone.

How did record changers know where to land the tonearm?

Here’s what I mean.

Even in today’s vinyl renaissance, turntables are either totally manual or at best semi-automatic, that being, at the end of the vinyl, the tonearm automatically picks itself up and goes home.  However, back in the old days, there were these things called automatic record changers.  Of course my mother owned one, which was part of a Tonecrest console system, manufactured (I think) in 1968, and she had it and it was still functioning until as late as 1991.  You would queue up one or more records of the same size and speed on the spindle between the placeholder arm and an in-out switch on the spindle, (if you were queuing up 45s, you had to put a special large insert over the spindle which mechanically did the same thing), put the thing on automatic, then throw a switch.  The first (or only, if you only had one queued) record would fall down onto the turntable, then the tonearm would land at the beginning of the record (hopefully, but I know it was never a perfect proposition), record would play out, and at the end, it would fetch the next record in queue, or if there were no others, the tonearm would go home.

When I was a kid and learning the ins and outs of the thing, I just assumed that the tonearm knew where to land on the record based on whatever speed the turntable was set for.  My mother’s Tonecrest had four speeds:  33 1/3 and 45 are the usual, 78 for old records, (she didn’t have any 78s in my lifetime), and 16 2/3, half of the 33 1/3 speed, as there were some audio books on 12 inch LPs that played at half the normal LP speed, as audio fidelity didn’t matter.  The advent of the cassette killed that nascent format.  Anyway, I just presumed that if you set the machine to 16 or 33, the tonearm would presume it was a 12 inch record and land accordingly; if you set it on 45, it would assume a seven-inch record and land accordingly, and at 78, it would assume it was a 10 inch record and land accordingly.

In 1984, Hardee’s, the burger chain, wonder twin activated with Warner Brothers to advertise the Gremlins movie, by giving you this combination mini story book and record if you paid an extra buck on top of qualifying food purchases.  I loved Gremlins, and a Hardee’s was near where we lived at the time, so of course I got my mother to get all five of them.  Here was the catch:  As you can see, the record was a seven-incher, but it had an LP spindle hole, not a 45 spindle hole, and therefore, it was meant to be played at 33, not 45.  When I was playing them on my own toy kiddie record player, that was no big deal, because that was entirely manual.  And if I wanted to play it on my mother’s Tonecrest, it had a manual mode.  But what if I wanted to do the automatic thing?  I had to play it at 33, but it was the size of a 45, and I had just assumed that when set on 33, the tonearm would think a 12 inch record is on the table and land itself there.  But if I set it at 45, the tonearm would land in the right place, but it would be playing too fast.

For grins and giggles, I got over myself to give it a try.  I queued up one of them, set it to 33, flipped the switch, and bonzai.  And I’ll be damned if the thing didn’t land in the right place.  Somehow, the sonofabitch knew that only a seven-inch record was on the table, in spite of the speed being set to 33.  I repeated it queuing up all five of the Gremlins records, and it nailed it, every time.  After doing a little more experimenting queuing up 45s at 33 and 33s at 45, I had no choice but to come to the conclusion that this thing had some sort of uncanny way to know the size of the records that were on its turntable, and landed the tonearm accordingly.  Later on, I came to find out that there were some 12 inch records with LP spindle holes cut for 45 rpm, mainly classical recordings, (the outer circumferences of 12 inchers spun at 45 rpm was the best possible audio reproduction mode on vinyl, so of course classical recordings loved that medium), and some long versions and remixes of pop songs.

The only way I was able to trip the Tonecrest up was with a few vanity “vinyl” recordings that were released on paper thin bendable vinyl; for example, I remember getting such a record from Vacation Bible School.  It was around nine inches in diameter and 33 rpm.  And since they were thin and bendable, they couldn’t be queued up.  Didn’t matter anyway, because once I tried to make it play that record automatically, the tonearm went crazy trying to find a place to land, and then returned home.  At that point, I presumed that it took regular weight vinyl for the magic to work, and therefore, the way the magic worked had something to do with the way the record pressed down on the turntable; perhaps there were electronics within the table or the rubber mat that talked back to the tonearm telling it how big the record was.

I was able to confirm later that virtually all record changers were able to do this.

Okay, please, someone tell me how it really worked.

Excuse Me

23 12 2015


The rubber chicken circuit Christmas parties are over.  I’m pretty much on vacation until the start of the legislative session, except for a rubber chicken circuit New Years Eve party, and I’m actually looking forward to that because I’m really looking forward to the arrival of 2016.  Unless some salt mines emergency pops up, then my vacation will be cut short.

In the meantime, I have some brick and mortar Christmas shopping to do today.  Turns out I didn’t need an alarm clock, because on today, Christmas Eve Eve, thunder woke me up.

Seems like half the songs on the radio today are talking about snow and cold.


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