Monday, September 7, 2015

Clustering Analysis of City Council Voting Patterns

Gentle reader, have you ever wondered what it would look like if you used each Ann Arbor City Council Member's voting record to generate a multidimensional vector? Have you ever wondered how similar or dissimilar these vectors would be? Do you want to know how close the voting vector of each councilperson is in statistical space? If so, look no farther than ArborWiki! Dave Askins has applied three different statistical visualization methods to these very questions. I am particularly found of the 2d Kmeans cluster analyses.

Image by LocalWiki User KronicDave

Friday, August 28, 2015

Tunde Olaniran's KYBM: Number 1 Back to School Jam

Flint's Tunde Olaniran released his video for KYBM (Keep Your Body Moving) yesterday. It is awesome and you should watch it right now. I am already willing to call KYBM this fall's #1 Back to School Jam. A competition that was over before it even began. Michigan Radio's Stateside did a great interview with Tunde earlier this month. You can check it out here.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Ruminations on Deer

Tonight, the Ann Arbor City Council will likely vote to hire sharpshooters to cull the city's deer herd this winter. There are strong feelings on both sides of the issue. Deer are beautiful animals and it is wonderful that we have a city that can support large fauna. At the same time, they be come much less adorable once they have decided to browse through your landscaping on a recurring basis. Among potential pest animals in the area, their size and status as a game animal makes them unique: it is both impractical and illegal to trap and relocate deer.

In Michigan, it is illegal to chemically sterilize or trap and relocate deer. I am not sure about the legality of surgical sterilization. Sterilization has been effective at reducing closed deer populations, but has not been tried on a population as large or geographically unconstrained as Ann Arbor's. The efficacy of such a program could be worth investigating as part of a long term deer management strategy, but do to legal, financial and logistical hurdles, it would be at least a couple of years before once could be undertaken.

In our region, the most popular way of dealing with overabundant deer in parks and cities is through the use of sharpshooters. This tends to cost much less than sterilization. Sharpshooters are able to reduce deer populations and densities quickly. They do attract backlashes. Also, long term management of deer populations requires continued culling. Just something to keep in mind as we watch the city council meeting tonight.

You can read more on Ann Arbor's Deer Management Project Page Previously:

Oh Deer

Saturday, August 8, 2015

DIYpsi this weekend at Corner Brewery

Gentle reader, do you want to get your craft on? Today and tomorrow summer DIYpsi is at Corner Brewery. There will be tons of vendors selling awesome crafts. You should totally check it out. 

Monday, August 3, 2015

Ann Arborites, remember to vote tomorrow

Tomorrow's Democratic Primary election is super important gentle readers. There are contested races in Wards 1, 3, 4, and 5. The winners of these races will likely win in the general election in November. Voter turnout can be pretty low for these primaries, so you vote is extra important. If you are a registered voter in Ann Arbor, please vote tomorrow.


Eat this election

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Breaking News: North Campus Turkey has been captured!

File photo of an ocellated turkey
According to a post on /r/annarbor by /u/wocamai the infamous tom that has been terrorizing North Campus has been captured by agents of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. From /u/wocamai's post:
My fiancee and I went to go look for the turkey today and when we found him he was munching on some corn and sunflower seeds that someone from UM had given him to keep him in place. She told us that the DNR were on their way to help capture the turkey in order to relocate it to a shelter/rehabilitation center for birds where it could be with birds like itself. Turkeys are social animals and the woman from UM told us that the turkey would hang out next to cars in order to see another turkey in the hub cap reflection. So let's all wish the turkey well in its new home.

My only source is myself and I'm not a war journalist so I wasn't able to take any photographs in those tense moments.

Well, it looks like this turkey's days of pecking at hubcaps are over. I wish him the best of luck with his new flock.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Eat this Election

Gentle reader, the August Primary is nigh. Ann Arbor's Democratic primary generally determines who will win the November election and thus who will sit on City Council. If you are a registered voter in Ann Arbor, I sincerely hope you plan on voting. If you are still making up your mind, fear not, the CivCity Initiative has produced a series of helpful videos where local dogs will explain who they are voting for and why. Click through to see videos for the races in Wards 1, 3, 4 and the Fighting Fifth.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Issues & Ale tonight at Bill's Beer Garden

Tonight from 6 to 7:30 Michigan Radio's Zoe Clark and Jack Lessenberry will be at Bill's Beer Garden discussing why our state government is so dysfunctional. Should be a great chance to learn a little and see some of your favorite Michigan Radio personalities. Admission is free.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Hendrick’s Gin Hendrick’s Air Flying Cucumber Blimp Very Safe Time

This morning, I had the pleasure of riding 4,000 feet (that’s a total guess) above Ann Arbor in the Hendrick’s Air Flying Cucumber blimp—the 130-foot long floating ambassador for Hendrick’s Gin. The Hendrick’s folks are in Ann Arbor promoting their fine spirits (small-batch gin made from the finest juniper, elderflower, whatever yarrow is, and chamomile, then infused with rose and cucumber) and giving people like me and select members of the Illuminati rides above our fair city.

These junkets can be a little complicated because: a) I’m getting a rare opportunity to ride in a frickin’ blimp for free, but b) I guess I have to write some good things about Hendrick’s, or at least the awesome crew that pilots the airship from city to city, giving rubes like me and fat cats with connections sweaty-palmed rides into the ether.

Let’s talk about Hendrick’s first—the cool, crisp flavor of Scotland created by Mr. William Grant, his seven sons and two daughters. He was, according to the website, a sporadically working stonemason—part-time Illuminati, y’all. Ms. Lesley Gracie (my middle name and my mom’s first name—ILLUMINATI!) was concurrently exploring the curious world of botanicals and somewhere down the road those two airships collided and Hendrick’s Gin was born. I think.

I’ve never knowingly ingested Hendrick’s Gin. Ever. Sorry Mr. Grant. I did experience a gin-soaked 20th birthday in Montreal (legal drinking age 18), fueled by the blue bottle of Bombay Sapphire, some crappy Provigo tonic water and squirts of fake lime juice. With an ice storm howling outside and a citywide power outage, I wandered the halls of our three-unit apartment house, eventually knocking on the door of two cute coeds who I’d waved to once or twice on my way to probably class. They foolishly invited me in. They supplied the conversation and candlelight and I supplied the Canadian charm and the poorly made gin and tonics.

Bombay Sapphire: Mostly forget your 20th birthday.

Now, whenever I see Hendrick’s on the shelf, I’ll think of Caesar. He was my pilot over Ann Arbor, working the throttle and the pedals of our airship with a giant eye on the side (ILLUMINATI!). The Flying Cucumber reaches speeds up to 40mph, powered by twin Volkswagen engines and a shit-ton of helium. Caesar is one of about 30 licensed blimp pilots in the world, flying (according to his compatriot, Charlie) one of nine blimps in operation around the globe. I watched him work the throttle and pedals for our entire journey and it looks like serious stuff.

I was buckled into the cramped cabin next to Caesar, putting on a headset so I could hear ground control guide helicopters and Cessnas around our floating cucumber in the sky. The ride was smooth and surreal. It’s tough to orient at first, but once I picked out landmarks (Michigan Stadium, Mr. Spots, the former Brady Hoke mansion) it was easy to navigate.

The biggest challenge was not dropping my phone out the open window. It was quite a ride with quite a view and Caesar was more than accommodating, asking a number of times if I wanted to double back, hover, or check out anything in particular. I demured. Smirking at my enemies from 4,000 feet (see above) was quite enough, as was knowing that for one brief moment in my life, I was cooler than Chris Bathgate.

Thanks to the fine people at Hendrick’s Gin, Hendrick’s Air, the crew of EIGHT who help launch and land the blimp, and to the nice lady in air traffic control who kept barnstormers from smashing into my giant floating balloon.


Monday, July 6, 2015

Last day to register for August Primary

The August Primary is just a month away. That means today is your last day to update your voter registration if you have moved, or register to vote if you will be of age in time for the election. Remember, in Ann Arbor, the August Primary is generally the election that determines the winner of the November city council race. If you would like to update your registration, you can go to a Secretary of State branch office, or the Ann Arbor City Clerk's office.

On a related note, at tonight's #a2council meeting, they City Council will be discussing modifying the City Charter to shift the main City Council Election from August to November. This would likely involve the August primary being party-less or sending the top two vote getters, regardless of party to the November election.