Stat Trek II - The Wrath of Cant

Recently the State of the Union speeches were (once again) scrutinized due to their low "reading levels". In an awesome looking figure, The Guardian succinctly demonstrated that the grade levels of these annual addresses were steadily declining over the past century. In simpler terms: the speeches appeared to be getting "dumber". This may be historically due in part to changing American dialects, as well as an evolving style of public speaking. Perhaps "reading level" tests don't always map well to spoken word, and they certainly don't capture the rhythmic or rhetorical value of oration.

cant (noun) | kant | - from Latin cantō: Jargon of a particular class or subgroup.

Last year I looked at the "readability score" for the Star Trek movie franchise. This basically entailed finding the closed-caption transcripts for all 11 films and sending them through an online Flesch-Kincaid Readability calculator. Such calculators use simple formulas based on the # of syllables per word and # of words per sentence to assign an approximate US grade level to the text. Basically, long sentences with big words equates to higher grade levels.

For part 2 in this series, I have examined the reading level for every episode of the Star Trek television franchise! Check it out...

How long do Popes usually serve?

In 2013 Pope Benedict XVI announced his resignation from the Papacy, to the surprise of millions (if not Billions) of people. His reign as leader of the Catholic church felt very short for two reasons:

1) he is the first Pope for several hundred years to resign
2) his predecessor was the second longest serving Pope in history

For those of us young enough to not remember a time before Pope John Paul II, the 8-year reign of Benedict XVI feels particularly brief. I then wondered: how many years on average does a Pope reign?

When to find an apartment

Last September my friend Sarah asked me: "When is the best day to find an apartment in Seattle?"

My buddy John suggested it would be around the 10th of the month, since Seattle's Landlord-Tenant laws dictate that 20 days notice is typically required to terminate rentals. This seemed like a reasonable guess to me, though I imaged there could be an increase towards the end of the month, and possibly a sharp drop at the 1st of each month.

I couldn't find any studies on the topic via Google (please point me to them if you find any!) so it was time to generate some data. I recorded the number of apartment listings for "Capitol Hill" four times a day (7AM, 1PM, 7PM, 1AM) over four months.