Daily Archives: December 3, 2011

Racial Bias in Presidential Pardons?

The pardon process relies on the recommendations of a special office of the White House, which takes a number of factors (not skin color) into account overtly, including things like level of remorse or financial or family factors. The process was, wisely one would have thought, depoliticized by George Bush at the beginning of his first term, so that the professional pardon lawyers’ recommendations are routinely followed, plus or minus only small variations.

So, we therefore know that the fact that a white person is 400% more likely to be pardoned than a black person is not because of some yahoo racist president or evil chief of staff. Rather, it’s just how the legal system turns out.

Propublica did the study that gives us these results. Continue reading Racial Bias in Presidential Pardons?

Harry Potter: Books cf Movies

Everyone knows that the number of pages per book in the famous series by J.K. Rowlings increased over time, but was this increase steady? Was it consistent? The answer seems to be no.


Looking at this graph, is is probably more accurate to say that the early books were a certain length, around 400 pages or less, and the later books (4 through 7) were longer, around 700 pages. This may seem like a trivial observation, and it probably is. But it is important to understand the basic pattern of page length over time in this series before we explore the more important and deeper meanings of it all.
Continue reading Harry Potter: Books cf Movies

“The Rap Guide to Evolution” Baba Brinkman on Atheists Talk #144, December 4th, 2011

Baba Brinkman is a Canadian rap artist, writer, actor, and tree planter. He is well known for blending rap music and literature and science. He coined the term “lit hop” to describe his literature-based rap music.

Baba Brinkman earned a Master of Arts in Medieval and Renaissance English Literature and he studied human evolution and primatology with the orangutan researcher Biruté Galdikas. His thesis compared modern Hip hop freestyle battling with The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer.

Get all the details about Sunday Morning’s show here.

The Manga Guide to Relativity


The The Manga Guide to Relativity might come in especially handy these days, what with faster than light neutrinos, Republican candidates and other science-defying entities zooming around. And, it is one of those Japanese anime things, which makes it cool. This is a story set in Tagai Academy summer’s school session, where the “plucky” Miss Uraga teaches the kids relativity.

When you have finished reading this book you will be able to calculate the effects of time dilation, explain the Twin Paradox, understand Einsteinium famous E=mc2 and get a job at CERN.

Hideo Nitta, is in the Department of Physics at Tokyo Gakugei University, and an expert in physics and physics education. Masafumi Yamamoto is an applied physicist from Hokkaido University, and I’m pretty sure Keita Takatsu is the artist. This is a little like Pokemon except only things that are possible happen in the book.