11 Senators Want To Know Why The CDC’s Gun Injury Estimates Are Unreliable

Eleven senators have sent a letter to the head of the Department of Health and Human Services, demanding answers to a series of questions about the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s nonfatal firearm injury estimates. The inquiry relies on the findings of an investigation by The Trace, a nonprofit news organization covering gun violence in America,1 and FiveThirtyEight, and is led by Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez of New Jersey.

The Trace and FiveThirtyEight first reported last year that the CDC’s 2016 gun injury estimate was so uncertain the agency classified it as “unstable and potentially unreliable.” Since then, the agency’s data, which in 2017 was derived from a sample of just 60 hospitals, has become even more unreliable. The CDC’s gun violence estimates are widely cited in academic articles.

“Given that the CDC is not currently conducting gun violence research,” the letter reads, “the very least the agency can do is to ensure that its gun injury numbers are accurate.”

The letter asks HHS Secretary Alex Azar to explain the CDC’s methods for tracking nonfatal firearm injuries, the cause of its increasingly unreliable estimates, and whether the agency has undertaken any actions to improve the quality of its data. The senators also ask whether the Dickey Amendment — a piece of 1996 legislation that bars the CDC from using its funding to “advocate or promote gun control” — has played any role in the agency’s continued reliance on a data source that’s ill-suited for producing firearm injury estimates.

“We as lawmakers, as every American citizen, should be able to follow and understand the latest trends on firearms injuries without the concern of coming across ‘unstable and potentially unreliable’ data,” Menendez told The Trace in an email.

The CDC has previously acknowledged its estimates have a high degree of uncertainty. “CDC continues to look into various ways to strengthen the estimates for nonfatal firearm injuries,” said spokesperson Courtney Lenard in an email.

Researchers interviewed by The Trace and FiveThirtyEight believe the CDC’s estimates are too flawed to use. Guohua Li, editor-in-chief of the medical journal Injury Epidemiology and director of Columbia University’s Center for Injury Epidemiology and Prevention, said the estimates could be improved by drawing upon a larger and more reliable source of data, such as another database administered by HHS.

Menendez makes reference to this proposed solution in the letter, writing, “There appears to be no rational reason that the CDC and HHS use different databases.”

The letter was also signed by Democratic Sens. Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, Mazie Hirono, Richard Blumenthal, Amy Klobuchar, Kamala Harris, Tina Smith, Chris Murphy and Chris Van Hollen and independent Angus King. The letter asks Azar to respond by April 20.

Significant Digits For Friday, March 29, 2019

You’re reading Significant Digits, a daily digest of the numbers tucked inside the news.


More than 300 pages

The full report of special counsel Robert Mueller is more than 300 pages long, according to the Justice Department. However, all that has been made public is Attorney General William Barr’s summary, which is four pages long. In the context of government reports, Mueller’s isn’t an outlier — the Starr report ran 445 pages, the 9/11 commission report 567 pages, and a report on how the FBI handled an investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server was 568 pages. [The New York Times]


More than 1,000 passengers

Wow Air, a budget carrier out of Iceland, ceased operations on Thursday, stranding travelers on multiple continents and affecting more than 1,000 passengers. I’ve heard of canceled flights, but never a canceled airline. “I’m disappointed not to honor our commitments,” the Wow CEO said — those commitments being, like, getting people back across the Atlantic Ocean. [CNN]


6,227 pedestrians

More than 6,000 pedestrians died in traffic accidents in 2018, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association, the highest number in three decades. Experts, according to NPR, attribute the rise to “drivers and pedestrians distracted by their phones” along with an increase in large vehicles. [NPR]


More than $1 trillion

Amy Klobuchar — Democratic candidate for president, senator from Minnesota, and reported eater of salad with comb — wants to “break the partisan logjam” and professes to be able to do so with a $1 trillion infrastructure plan to improve America’s roads and bridges, public schools, and broadband internet. She reportedly plans to make infrastructure, the betterment of which has bipartisan support, a centerpiece of her campaign. [The Wall Street Journal]


5-point window

Despite the seemingly constant clangor from the White House and Washington, D.C., President Trump’s approval ratings remain incredibly steady. Half of his approval polls have fallen with a band of 5 points, between 39 percent and 44 percent. Only President Barack Obama rivaled that narrow range, while every other president back to Harry Truman saw wider ranges, and in many cases much wider. “As Democrats and Republicans move farther apart politically,” my colleague Geoffrey Skelley writes, “the specifics of a president’s job performance may become secondary considerations for voters in forming an opinion of how he’s doing.” [FiveThirtyEight]


184 of the 270 votes

The governor of Delaware signed a law pledging that that state’s Electoral College votes will go to the winner of the national popular vote in the presidential election, regardless of who actually wins the state itself. Delaware is the 13th state to commit to such a pledge, and those states now represent 184 of the 270 Electoral College votes needed to elect a president. [Associated Press]


From ABC News:
It's Morning, America: Friday, March 29, 2019


Love digits? Find even more in FiveThirtyEight’s book of math and logic puzzles, “The Riddler.”

If you see a significant digit in the wild, please send it to @ollie.


Can You Win A Spelling Bee If You Know 99 Percent Of The Words?

Welcome to The Riddler. Every week, I offer up problems related to the things we hold dear around here: math, logic and probability. There are two types: Riddler Express for those of you who want something bite-size and Riddler Classic for those of you in the slow-puzzle movement. Submit a correct answer for either,3 and you may get a shoutout in next week’s column. If you need a hint or have a favorite puzzle collecting dust in your attic, find me on Twitter.

Riddler Express

From Tom Hanrahan, a probability puzzle; or, a mini-lesson in surprising results:

You are playing your first ever game of “Ticket to Ride,” a board game in which players compete to lay down railroad while getting so competitive they risk ruining their marriages. At the start of the game, you are randomly dealt a set of three Destination Tickets out of a deck of 30 different tickets. Each reveals the two terminals you must connect with a railroad to receive points. During the game, you eventually pick up another set of three Destination Tickets, so you have now seen six of the 30 tickets in the game.

Later, because you enjoyed it so much, you and your friends play a second game. The ticket cards are all returned and reshuffled. Again, you are dealt a set of three tickets to begin play. Which is more likely: that you had seen at least one of these three tickets before, or that they were all new to you?

Submit your answer

Riddler Classic

From Steven Pratt, ordinal bee probability:

You are competing in a spelling bee alongside nine other contestants. You can each spell words perfectly from a certain portion of the dictionary but will misspell any word not in that portion of the book. Specifically, you have 99 percent of the dictionary down cold, and your opponents have 98 percent, 97 percent, 96 percent, and so on down to 90 percent memorized. The bee’s rules are simple: The contestants take turns spelling in some fixed order, which then restarts with the first surviving speller at the end of a round. Miss a word and you’re out, and the last speller standing wins. The bee words are chosen randomly from the dictionary.

First, say the contestants go in decreasing order of their knowledge, so that you go first. What are your chances of winning the spelling bee? Second, say the contestants go in increasing order of knowledge, so that you go last. What are your chances of winning now?

Submit your answer

Solution to last week’s Riddler Express

Congratulations to 👏 Eric O’Neill 👏 of Madison, Wisconsin, winner of last week’s Riddler Express!

Last week, we broke out the dice to play a century-old baseball simulation game called Our National Ball Game, wherein each roll of the dice corresponded to some baseball outcome: 2-6 was a foul out, 1-1 was a double, 6-6 was a home run, and so on — you can find the full list here. How closely does such a list and a bunch of dice throws simulate the modern iteration national pastime? Specifically, what was the average number of runs that would be scored in nine innings of dice play? What was the distribution of the runs scored?

Typically, Our National Ball Game is much higher scoring than real baseball, with about 30 runs scored per game (compared to about nine in the real sport).

This was a problem of meta-simulation: Whereas the dice game simulated real baseball, you were meant to simulate the dice game (probably using a computer to save time). Solvers Julian Gerez and Ricky Martinez did just that and blogged about their approach, finding, after 10,000 innings of play, that each “baseball team” scored about 15 runs per game, for a total of about 30 runs per game, according to the simulated distribution shown below.

The computer scientist Peter Norvig was also kind enough to share his code — after a million computer-simulated dice-simulated innings, he found an average of just over 15.1 runs per team, and was able to smooth out the distribution as shown below.

A million innings! Perhaps we’ve finally found a solution to baseball’s pace-of-play problem.

Solution to last week’s Riddler Classic

Congratulations to 👏 Tyler James Burch 👏 of Naperville, Illinois, winner of last week’s Riddler Classic!

High scoring baseball is fun and all, but let’s say you wanted your game to be more faithful to real baseball than raw excitement. How could you tweak the list of rules — the correspondence between dice rolls and baseball outcomes — to create a game that more closely matched the run distribution in real baseball?

Our winner this week, Tyler James Burch, proposed the following list of rules, which I propose to call Burchball.

(1, 1): triple

(2, 2): base on error

(3, 3): double play

(4, 4): home run

(5, 5): double

(6, 6): strike out

(1, 2): strike out

(1, 3): strike out

(1, 4): base on balls

(1, 5): single

(1, 6): single

(2, 3): fly out

(2, 4): fly out

(2, 5): fly out

(2, 6): fly out

(3, 4): fly out

(3, 5): fly out

(3, 6): strike out

(4, 5): single

(4, 6): base on balls

(5, 6): single

Again, the fidelity of this tweaked game can be measured with computer simulations. In this case, Burch says his game’s simulated scoring outcomes match real baseball quite closely, as shown his chart below, in which Burchball scores are compared to MLB data from last season.

Finally, solver Douglas Harris thought outside the cubes — and got a little theoretical. “There are approximately \(6\times 10^{23}\) hydrogens in a pair of dice,” he wrote (and we, I hope understandably, did not verify). “The proton in the center of each hydrogen can be aligned either up or down relative to the Earth’s magnetic field. Hence, I actually have a \(6\times 10^{23}\) bit random-number generator every time I roll the dice, allowing me to have an outcome table with more than \(10^{{10}^{23}}\) possibilities. I mapped a tiny fraction of this outcome table to every femtosecond of every baseball game ever played. After extensive simulations, I was able to conclusively conclude that Pedro was left in one pitch too long.”

Want more riddles?

Well, aren’t you lucky? There’s a whole book full of the best puzzles from this column and some never-before-seen head-scratchers. It’s called “The Riddler,” and it’s in stores now!

Want to submit a riddle?

Email me at [email protected]

The NCAA Tournament Has Turned Into A Dunk Contest

In one of the most intoxicating games of this year’s NCAA Tournament, the UCF Knights went toe-to-toe with the top-seeded Duke Blue Devils. Leading up to and throughout the game, considerable bandwidth was spent debating whether the soon-to-be top pick in this year’s NBA draft, Zion Williamson, would add another body to his posterized graveyard. UCF center Tacko Fall, the would-be victim, chipped in 15 points on seven made shots, each of which came in eerily similar fashion. They were all dunks. At 7-foot-6, Fall is genetically predisposed to excel above the rim, as evidenced by his ability to jam it, flat-footed.

Nobody this season dunked on Mike Krzyzewski’s squad more than Fall and the Knights. But the Blue Devils, which ultimately moved on with a win, are even more dunk crazy. And they aren’t the only team still playing in this tournament with eyes trained on the rim.

This season’s Sweet 16 features a number of teams that relish slamming the ball through the cylinder. The teams have combined to produce 1,866 dunks this season. Three of the four dunk-happiest teams this season — Florida State, Duke, and LSU — are still in the field. Another contender, Gonzaga, ranks in the top 10 while Auburn, Virginia, Tennessee and Michigan rank in the top 30 by this measure. In all, six of this year’s Sweet 16 entries have a dunk share1 exceeding 10 percent. Four years ago, only one did.

The dunkers are thriving

Division I men’s college basketball teams for whom at least 10 percent of their 2-point field-goal attempts in 2018-19 were dunk attempts

Team Share of offense from Dunks Made Tournament? Made Sweet 16?
Florida St. 16.0
Stanford 14.9
Duke 14.4
LSU 14.2
UCF 14.0
Murray St. 13.8
UCLA 13.5
Auburn 13.4
Xavier 13.2
Texas 12.8
Villanova 12.8
Eastern Michigan 12.6
Arkansas 12.5
Mississippi St. 12.3
Dayton 12.2
Arizona St. 12.0
Gonzaga 11.4
Nevada 11.3
Georgia 10.9
Maryland 10.7
Virginia 10.7
Little Rock 10.6
Alabama 10.6
Texas Southern 10.5
William & Mary 10.4
Northeastern 10.4
Creighton 10.3
Washington 10.3
Vanderbilt 10.3
Texas A&M 10.2
Marshall 10.1

Source: Barttovik.com

This is less about a few dunk-crazed teams and more a reflection of the nationwide trend in college basketball. As of Tuesday, there had been 19,550 dunks this season, the highest total of any season since at least 2010. Five years ago, for comparison, there were 17,687. Individually, the 2010 season featured 23 players who had at least 45 dunks. This season there are 36, seven of whom remain in the tournament. “We’re seeing more dunks,” Jay Bilas told The New York Times, “because there are more spectacular athletes out there.”

To be sure, some of this is intuitive. Advances in science and technology make comparing today’s college athlete to those of yesteryear a comical examination. Perhaps more than ever, basketball rewards heightand, increasingly, arm length — and athleticism. Nowadays, warm-up lines seem to be as much for the fans as for the players. Tennessee is credited for starting a choreographed dunk during warm-ups that involves the entire team. It spread around the country and even reached the NBA.

The digital market is saturated with looped clips of diminutive high-flyers, players leapfrogging multiple humans and guards audaciously double-pumping in transition. The NCAA’s official website ran a listicle of players it wants to see in a dunk contest.2 Because of his dunking prowess, Williamson eclipsed 1 million Instagram followers before he even got to college.

As the number of dunk attempts has spiked, so too has their importance. Dunks accounted for 5.4 percent of all 2-point field goal attempts this season, the highest portion since 2014-15, and the fourth consecutive season that the national dunk share has risen.

In fact, according to Bart Torvik’s website, three3 of the 12 teams with the most single-season dunks since 2010 can be found in this weekend’s regional semifinals.

Of course, there are outliers. Most noticeably, Loyola-Chicago made a surprise run into and past the Sweet 16 a season ago. The Ramblers had just 15 dunks, accumulating a 1.6 percent dunk share. Duke squares off with Virginia Tech on Friday and has a clear edge on dunking; the Hokies (62 dunks) have fewer than a third as many dunks as the Blue Devils (188). But far more often, it seems that the high-flyers are moving on.

Dunks have held a special place in the NCAA Tournament for decades. It’s how many came to know the UNLV Runnin’ Rebels. It’s where Florida Gulf Coast, a plucky No. 15-seed in 2013, became known Dunk City. They have been everywhere this season and will continue to be, particularly with the regional semifinals featuring Florida State, Duke and LSU, three teams that have already skied for at least 177 dunks. The play has elevated the entertainment of the sport by a considerable measure.

While the rise of the 3-pointer has justifiably garnered much attention, the dunk is the sport’s most marketable shot. The feat of athleticism is frequent fodder for highlight reels and commercials. And, since nearly 90 percent of all dunk attempts since 2010 have been converted into points, it’s likely the most efficient shot in basketball. What was once banned is now propelling the sport forward. So keep your eye on the rim this weekend as the Sweet 16 takes flight.

 

Adwords And Google Data Studio: Wordstream Alternative

I’ve been managing Google Adwords campaigns for political campaigns mostly but recently I stepped out into managing the Adwords campaigns for an IT consulting company. It’s a little bit of a challenge I’m not going to lie. More than just matching the search with the keyword I need to attract only business customer and cut out residential. So as you can image someone Googles “IT Help Desks” and they might be looking for a specific help desk, a personal help desk or a help desk to contract business services too.

Wordstream Free Alternative

In Ultimate SEO‘s  struggle to compete in this expensive market I tried Wordstream out for a week and a half of so and thats really not enough time to get much actionable help. I was pulled into a sales demo consultation and sure it seemed like it could offer insights but WOW … the expense associated with that out paced any other SEO tool I use. I felt the main task Wordstream was completing was organizing and presenting the data in a way that I could see the areas of need. Google Data Studio has been doing that for me in SEO for over a year now so I’ve tried my hand at making a Google Adwords Google Data Studio report with the aim to save about three hundred a month from getting Wordstream.

google data studio adwords

Data Studio Adwords Template

Google Data Studio also lets you copy reports that others make available and you can attach your own data respository to populate the report. Basically if you want a Google Data Studio Template for Adwords you’re welcome to copy this report in Google Data Studio.

I’ll come back in a month and let you know how this free product helped or didn’t help me rather than paying PPC software provides.

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UltimateSEO.online Purchase SEO Packages Now Live

Ultimate SEO has begun to develop its UltimateSEO.online site as a store front where visitors can purchase SEO products and services.  At this time we have several SEO Audit packages listed.  More details will be added to the products but they are the same as currently described on SEO Services

Additionally we will role out subscription packages for ranking reports and data trending as well as content development and backlinking campaigns.

seo tool

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52 Tools And Counting: Mostly Free SEO Tools – I Actually Use

Work In Progress

Thanks for checking in with Ultimate SEO, this site is a side project as my client’s sites are the main one.  This means I may often have edits and unfinished elements to circle back too.  I encourage you to feel free to let me how this site could be better using the contact form.

52 Tools And Counting: Mostly Free SEO Tools – I Actually Use

How To Rank Your Site On Google…Forget the Keywords

Ultimate SEO

Well don’t totally forget the keywords but I think if you spend more than 5 minutes on keywords you’re going to be pretty surprised by some purported data I stumbled across.  As you likely know Google uses about 200 factors in determining your sites ranking.  I personally have place a lot of emphasis on speed and backlinks and while I have thought it was important I must admit I didn’t give the social media factor as much attention as I should.

The first big thing to not is that 10.3% of ranking is CTR so if you have ever seen your content just jump up on the rankings and then slowly (or quickly) taper off as time goes its likely that people are clicking on you less and less as you slide below the pages.  Its the single biggest impact.  I feel Google gives you the benefit of doubt at first ranking you higher than average and then they allow people to determine if your site is worth it.  That’s important to consider and similar to conversion rates.

When we take human behavior out we have largely backlinks and social media deciding your ranking ability.  These make sense, if no one is talking about you but they are about your competition and more people click on your competitors site who also has the most backlinks you’re wasting your time trying to get your keywords exactly right in the headers, description and title….they combined contribute a value of 5  where backlinks are over 120.

If you’d like to access the Data Studio report directly you can visit https://datastudio.google.com/open/1lNt4SYd4jrfXWMo9HPKvrj1FWFO0oxG4

If this graphic surprises you it might be a good plan to check out our SEO Store or Upwork Profile.

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Bad Backlinks: 100 Sites You Don’t Want A Backlink From.

Bad Backlinks

UltimateSEO.org has backlinks from about a thousand domains.  In a recent review of these I found an odd reoccurring link from multiple domains but all with the same content and titles.  I was introduced with “The Globe” which charges sites to NOT list them or makes money from SEOs paying them to not backlink to them.  At $36 a link they’re likely insane and I bet its bringing in some money.  But before we go all crazy and start paying Ransomlinks (if its not a word I claim it … Ransomlinks are backlinks from bad sites meant to lower your SEO score unless you pay to not be linked too.)

In reviewing the situation I ran across a list of the most disavowed sites.  I figured Id share that with you below, but before I do what outcome did I choose for these bad links pointed to my site?

  1. Option 1 Pay: Heck No! Then the terrorists win.
  2. Disavow: No! Don’t use disavow unless Google has placed a manual action against your site.  I’m skeptical anyhow of the tools purpose and Google itself says there is no need to use the tool unless you’ve been penalized and told by them you are being penalized.
  3. Do Nothing: Yes! Don’t do anything. Google likely knows about the Ransomlinks scheme and has already penalized the site by deindexing it.  There are so many random domains its going to be a mess to address so let it be unless you have a seen a negative affect.  In other words…before you saw your leg off wondering if that spot is cancer…stop and find out.
  4. An idea: 301 Redirect Them…seriously…all of these links point to a subdomain that until now hasn’t existed.  Most others who are talking about this site note a similar subdomain targeted.   I could create the targeted subdomain and redirect all links to it from my site back to theirs.  🙂  

I’m opting for the third as I dont have any indication that Google cares about these Ransomlinks.  They may actually bring some random traffic of use so redirecting them would take that from my site.

[democracy id=”2″]

And now the most disavowed sites…

Most popular websites disavowed by webmasters

1 blogspot.com
2 blogspot.ca
3 blogspot.co.uk
4 ning.com
5 wordpress.com
6 blog.pl
7 linkarena.com
8 yuku.com
9 blogspot.de
10 webs.com
11 blogspot.nl
12 blogspot.fr
13 lemondir.com
14 blog.com
15 alonv.com
16 tistory.com
17 searchatlarge.com
18 dvpdvp1.com
19 typepad.com
20 nju-jp.com
21 bluehost.com
22 wldirectory.com
23 tumblr.com
24 hyperboards.com
25 directoryfuse.com
26 prlog.ru
27 informe.com
28 ligginit.com
29 theglobe.org
30 pulsitemeter.com
31 articlerich.com
32 weebly.com
33 the-globe.com
34 blogspot.no
35 theglobe.net
36 articledashboard.com
37 dig.do
38 seodigger.com
39 cybo.com
40 fat64.net
41 bravenet.com
42 cxteaw.com
43 askives.com
44 mrwhatis.net
45 insanejournal.com
46 xurt.com
47 freedirectorysubmit.com
48 commandresults.com
49 sagauto.com
50 internetwebgallery.com
51 freewebsitedirectory.com
52 ewbnewyork.com
53 000webhost.com
54 tblog.com
55 directorylist.me
56 analogrhythm.com
57 snapcc.org
58 bravejournal.com
59 weblinkstoday.com
60 m-pacthouston.com
61 linkcruncher.com
62 tripod.com
63 cogizz.com
64 niresource.com
65 over-blog.com
66 ogdenscore.com
67 free-link-directory.info
68 alikewebsites.com
69 folkd.com
70 djsonuts.com
71 uia.biz
72 bangkokprep.com
73 forumsland.com
74 punbb-hosting.com
75 hostmonster.com
76 blogspot.in
77 siteslikesearch.com
78 bookmark4you.com
79 siliconvalleynotary.com
80 listablog.com
81 poetic-dictionary.com
82 linkspurt.com
83 cultuurtechnologie.net
84 azjournos.com
85 exteen.com
86 articletrader.com
87 blogspot.com.au
88 delphistaff.com
89 altervista.org
90 media-tourism.com
91 woodwardatelier.com
92 holdtiteadhesives.com
93 lorinbrownonline.com
94 tech4on.com
95 popyourmovie.com
96 trilogygroveland.com
97 foqe.net
98 directorybin.com
99 eatrightkc.com

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