A Political Cartoon and a Markov Chain

Pat Bagley is easily my favorite political cartoonist, period. For the politically aware in Utah, he is almost legendary, enjoying superstar status. I’ve been aware of him since I was a kid, and I always loved his cartoons. Not only does his artistic style appeal to me, he has a way of illustrating a situation in politics that explains it more clearly than a thousand words. His cartoons are humorous, though darkly so. And with every one, you can’t help but feel he’s had the last word.

Continue reading

Where to Go from Here? Tips for Building Up R Experience

At the University of Utah, I teach the R lab that accompanies MATH 3070, “Applied Statistics I.”” None of my students are presumed to have any programming experience, and they never hesitate to remind me of that fact, especially when they are starting out. When I create assignments and pick problems, I often can write a one- or three-line solution in thirty seconds that students will sometimes spend four hours trying to solve. They then see my solution and slap their foreheads at its simplicity. I can be tricky with my solutions. For example, suppose you wish to find the sample proportion for a certain property. A common approach (or at least the one used in the textbook our course uses, Using R for Introductory Statistics by John Verzani) looks like this:

Continue reading


Using Microsoft’s Emotion API to Settle an Old Argument

So Tuesday happened. I have a lot to say about our President-elect, and you’ll probably see a couple posts about him in the next few weeks. But that’s for later. Today, I’m writing about a more pressing issue, one that has been subject to debate for years without resolution, and I plan to settle this debate once and for all.

Continue reading


Deceit in Politics; An Analysis of PolitiFact Data

Naturally, both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have been accused of lying; if I had told you in 2012 that both candidates from both political parties were being accused of lies, you would likely have given me a blank, disinterested stare; this alone is not shocking. What is shocking, though, is the level of deceit and how central a theme it was to this campaign season.

Continue reading

Oh, someone, please stop this crazy ride! I wanna get off!!!

As the 2016 election rapidly approaches, as part of my final thoughts on this nightmare, I share with you a blog post by my dad, John Miller, from his blog, A View from the Middle (Class). Dad was once the editor of the Morning News, a local newspaper in Blackfoot, Idaho, and even to this day, his former readers remember him fondly. Dad lost his job as editor and was a computer programmer for most of my life (maybe this explains why I have a skill for coding; I’ve done it off and on since I was maybe 10 years old). He lost his last programming job in 2014 and is now a bus driver for UTA, but he still updates his blog, which he started years ago.

I remember as a kid reading Dad’s old editorials about local happenings in Blackfoot, Idaho, and at one point in time, I couldn’t get enough of his articles; I was even starting to annoy him as I asked for more. Dad’s recent pre-election post sums up my feelings about this election, and I invite you to read it.

You can expect an election recap from me tomorrow at 9:00 AM MST with my own thoughts (and lots of data analysis, too).

A View From The Middle (Class)

You know the feeling, right?  You’re on some crazy carnival ride that’s twisty and turny with lots of ups and downs and loop de loops, putting you upside down and sideways.  The kind of ride where you get so dizzy and disoriented, you just feel a nearly overwhelming need to upchuck.

coasterSometimes you’ll laugh your behind off.  Other times you’re teetering on the edge of being overwhelmed with fear.

The 2016 election’s been a lot like one of those crazy carnival rides.  It’s at least promising to stay that way right up to the time winners are declared on Tuesday night, and the way just the presidential race has gone, the ride might not even stop then.

After all, one orangeish presidential contender even said for the world to see that he’d keep people guessing on whether he’d concede if he didn’t come out ahead.

Oh, someone, please, for the…

View original post 828 more words

Both Utah Republicans and Democrats Should Consider Voting for Evan McMullin (No, Seriously)

I rely on FiveThirtyEight to tell me the direction of the election, and a few weeks ago, Utah suddenly became very interesting. Evan McMullin, a previously unheard of candidate for President (who entered the race only a few months before Election Day), appeared in Utah’s forecast numbers with a surprisingly large probability of winning Utah’s electoral votes. Benjamin Morris then wrote about how Evan McMullin could plausibly not only win Utah’s electoral votes, but the Presidency as well.

Continue reading