This is the year Hong Kong began speaking the Communist Party’s authoritarian language

Words, beyond their basic function of communication, signal intent and outline ways of thinking. But in an age of “alternative facts,” we know too well that words can obscure as much as they clarify. Words can also be weapons. As the sociologist Celine-Marie Pascale puts it, “Authoritarian governments weaponize language to amplify resentments, target scapegoats, and to legitimize injustice.” In Hong Kong, as large-scale protests erupted in 2019, followed by this year’s severe crackdown spearhea

The economics of streaming is making songs shorter

Popular music is shrinking. From 2013 to 2018, the average song on the Billboard Hot 100 fell from 3 minutes and 50 seconds to about 3 minutes and 30 seconds. Six percent of hit songs were 2 minutes 30 seconds or shorter in 2018, up from just 1% five years before. Take Kendrick Lamar, one of the world’s most popular musicians right now. The average track length on Lamar’s breakout 2013 album good kid, m.A.A.d city is 5 minutes 37 seconds. All are 3 minutes 30 seconds or longer. On Lamar’s most

Economists still can’t decide whether the minimum wage is a good thing

The job market, according to elementary economics, is like any other market. It works best if wages are set by supply and demand, not by any other factor, like government rules. Just as the government doesn’t set a minimum price for shirts or avocados, so they should not be telling employers the lowest amount they can pay workers. Standard economic theory says a government-enforced minimum wage risks the loss of jobs, as there could be some employers only willing to hire workers at a wage below

The Unlikely Odds of Making it Big

How long it takes to make it In terms of how quickly they “made it”, Sylvan Esso are an anomaly. The band rose faster than any other US based band in our dataset—with less than two years between their first NYC show and headlining a big venue. The long journey to popular success of the indie pop band Lucius is more typical. The Brooklyn based band played 24 small to medium sized shows in New York from 2009 to 2014, before headlining Terminal Five in December 2014. The bands that make it from

"Football Manager" has a racism problem

Football Manager is one of the most popular sports video games in the world. The 2019 version was a chart-topping hit in the UK, where the game is most widely played. Previous versions of the game have consistently sold more than a million copies each. Football Manager allows fans to simulate the experience of managing a professional soccer team at a level of extreme detail, with hundreds of thousands of players from clubs in more than 100 leagues from 50 countries coded into the game. In addit

The Fining of Black America

In March 2010, years before Ferguson, Missouri, became known for sparking the Black Lives Matter movement, the city’s Finance Director contacted the Chief of Police with a solution to the city’s budget problems. The Finance Director wanted the police to generate more revenues from fines — money paid for infractions like traffic violations and missing court appointments. He warned that the city would be in financial trouble “unless ticket writing ramps up significantly before the end of the year

The Golden Stats Warrior

Thanks for joining me for the 17th issue of the Golden Stats Warrior, a newsletter for data-based insights about the Bay Area. If this is your first time reading, welcome! If you haven’t signed up yet, you can do that here. I am so grateful for your support. Black Lives Matter. There are many great ways to support the movement to end police brutality against black people, but I would like to highlight one in particular: Pay for and read local journalism. Get a subscription to the San Francisco

Life expectancy in the United States, mapped by neighborhood

There is perhaps no better measure of a place’s quality of life than how long its residents are expected to live. Life expectancy reflects a neighborhood’s safety, the quality of its health care, its environment, and the wealth and mental health of the people who live there. With that in mind, it’s worth paying close attention to the recent drop in US life expectancy, caused primarily by an increase in drug overdoses and suicides. It suggests a decline in the country’s overall well-being in a w

San Francisco's Diversity Numbers Are Looking More and More Like a Tech Company's

The difference between the 60,000 coming and going is the main factor that’s changing the demographic character of the city. Diversity is also impacted by people getting older, dying, having children, or becoming wealthier or poorer, but in-and-out migration is the most important factor. So what are the most notable facts about these 60,000 people? The American Community Survey, an annual collection of data from a representative sample of Americans, asks individuals about whether they migrated