California

Was a Popular Saint Lucia Blog Taken Down by Google Hateful or Just Outspoken?

9/16/14

lucian

Writer and actor Jason Sifflet's popular Saint Lucia-based Flogg Blog was taken down by Google for violating its terms of service before being restored last week. The no-holds-barred, muckraking blog had become both notorious and controversial among people interested in local politics.

Sifflet reported the removal of the blog in a series of posts on his Facebook page:

4am SATURDAY, AUGUST 30: When the other NEG left the tower, I went back to my mocambo and got out my cyber-drum. Imagine my surprise to find that GOOGLE had burnt my cyber-fort THE FLOGG BLOG to the ground. No warning. No prior notification. Just an email saying: 

Hello, Your blog at http://thefloggblog.blogspot.com/ has been reviewed and confirmed as in violation of our Terms of Service for: HATE.

In accordance to these terms, we've removed the blog and the URL is no longer accessible. For more information, please review the following resources:

Terms of Service: http://www.blogger.com/go/terms 

Blogger Content Policy:http://blogger.com/go/contentpolicy 

-The Blogger Team 

Sifflet, still considered an enfant terrible despite a career that spans nearly two decades, had a dedicated following and The Flogg Blog's sudden demise has been a major topic of discussion in both mainstream and social media on the Caribbean island, with much speculation on what motivated the blog's removal. The Flogg Blog's contents ranged from investigative reporting to acerbic satirical pieces, all written in a freewheeling, profane style which was usually leavened with profanity. Sifflet's blog included investigations into mismanagement at several statutory boards, including the Saint Lucia Tourist Board, which were particularly controversial.

Sifflet discussed The Flogg Blog and his career in a lengthy interview a few days before the blog was taken down:

Norbert Williams believed the controversy will have a “Streisand effect”, making Sifflet's work even more prominent:

The Streisand effect is the phenomenon whereby an attempt to hide, remove, or censor a piece of information has the unintended consequence of publicizing the information more widely, usually facilitated by the Internet. It is named after American entertainer Barbra Streisand, whose 2003 attempt to suppress photographs of her residence in Malibu, California inadvertently generated further publicity of it. 
 
If Jason Sifflet's FloggBlog had been popular before last Saturday, the take down from the Google servers because of a purported ‘HATE’ report has only increased its popularity and an unquenched desire, by all and sundry, to read it from end to end in an attempt to decipher who is behind such a dastardly deed. Nevertheless, the conclusion by everyone and their dog is that it was perpetrated by some stinking politician because it certainly wasn't by Fidel Castro! They're just all confused as to which one.

 Williams added that Sifflet has merely exposed the topics that many Saint Lucians already discuss privately:

The Flogg Blog has shaken things up in St. Lucia. Even though it was not articulated in mainstream media, much of what Jason wrote has been thought of and discussed by many St. Lucians. They talked about the Flogg Blog at work, on Facebook, in emails, some mother-floggers even stayed up late at night unable to sleep because of the details and damning information contained within.

Kevin Edmonds suspected that Sifflet's harsh criticism of the tourism industry is what may landed him in trouble (A few days after the Flogg Blog was taken down, Sifflet announced on Facebook that his wife had lost her job at a local hotel) : 

A series of recent posts on the Flogg Blog sharply critiqued the St. Lucian tourism industry, discussing such topics as high level corruption, crime, money laundering and bluntly stating that it is creating an apartheid like system on the island. Heavy stuff, no doubt – but it was excellent, much needed stuff.  You do not find this kind of pointed critique in The Star, The Voice or the Mirror. This is because one would be a fool to think that the mainstream media in St. Lucia or anywhere else is divorced from power. It acts as little more than public relations for the power – allowing critique to fall within a very narrow, previously agreed upon spectrum. Go outside of that and you are in trouble. See Jason Sifflet as Exhibit A.

He continued:

What we are seeing with the case of the Flogg Blog is that the interpretation of what constitutes hate speech is actually violating freedom of speech on the island and the wider internet in general. Whether or not you agree with the Flogg Blog – that is not the point – it is that his right to say it is under attack.
An important part of the definition of hate speech is that it ‘intimidates a protected individual or group'. Protected individual or group? Who is being protected from who? The powerful are being protected from the people? You don’t say!

In contrast, Tonjaka Ewart Kho-Hinkson noted that because Google is a private company that can make and enforce its own rules about content created by its users, the removal of Sifflet's blog, while problematic, actually may not constitute a violation of free speech:

The right to free speech DOES NOT exist between two private actors such as between two persons or two companies or any combination thereof. So you do not have a right to say whatever you like on my property, for example. [...] The Flogg Blogg does not have a ‘right’ to free speech where the exercise of that right is being enforced against Google (a company) who is a private actor. In fact, it wouldn't be enforceable against Facebook for that matter. So unless it can be shown that the views contained within the Flogg Blogg are censored after being expressed on a domain owned and controlled by the Flogg Blogg itself, and censorship is conducted by the state, then there is no attack on free speech here. This is a wrong [assertion] in law.

Hinkson addressed the likelihood of Google acting under the instructions of government officials:

In the interesting case of the SLU government putting pressure on google to take down the blog, if there were any evidence of this, then this still would not amount to a violation of Article 10 of the St. Lucia constitution. Only if that pressure gave google no choice other than to remove the blog would there be a violation. But my guess is that google is not beholden to the whims of the St. Lucia government, and it would have to be shown that google would have been significantly affected financially by that pressure. 

Hinkson stated that he has advised Sifflet to purchase his own domain name. In the mean time, Sifflet continued his work on a new blog on a different platform and began an attempt to uncover the reasons for the Flogg Blog being taken down.

Interestingly, the blog was restored on the Google platform on September 11. Global Voices got in touch with Sifflet to determine whether he was given any explanation for The Flogg Blog being taken down in the first place. This is what he said:

The email of Sat Aug 31 3:35 am informed me that the blog was deleted for TOS hate [violating Google's Terms of Service concerning hate speech on the Blogger platform]. It was one paragraph, very simple, no warning. By nine the next morning, I had a few calls that ratted out some culprits. One name remained the same and other names kinda changed. But the suspects were all political lawyers and statcorp CEOs – i.e. people who felt attacked by the blog.

By this time, I had already appealed for review through the help forums. But it was discouraging cos I couldn’t get a human response. Just automated response.

Automated response after automated response for days.

But then, a couple of American lawyers came out of the woodwork to bat for me on the other side. And a couple of Lucians had a friend of a friend in Google who might be able to check. The field research over the next few days revealed some surprising things which will take some time to work out.

So Wednesday, afternoon, I think, after I set up the new DIS Flogg and started republishing old Tourist board articles, just to fuck with the people I know fucked with me…Google reinstates the FLOGG with a simple message saying it was like a mistake of an automated scan.

In any case, I drop one story from each blog, just to be a dick and then, SOURCE B at Google calls me for an unofficial source, he sounds really formal and official with me.

‘This was a mistake. It should never have happened. It seems there was a community complaint which should not have been dealt with at the level it was. As a result, your blog has been flagged so that this never happens again. In fact, if there are new complaints, they have to bee forwarded higher up the chain than the regular blog, because of this incident. This was a big mistake. Your blog contains nothing that is hateful or violates free speech. This should never have happened.’

Our conversation went like this for 20 minutes.

All the while, I’m trying to get him to give me transcripts and identities, but he is insisting the same way I have freedom of speech, so do the people who complained and Google guaranteed them anonymity, which means the lawyers who are helping me now have a very well defined assignment on their hands.

Sifflet's story provides an instructive example of a case that pits speech and privacy rights against one another, and of a situation in which further inquiry with the decision-maker (Google, in this case) led to a strong outcome.

To learn more about blogging and social media content removals and appeals processes for these kinds of incidents, read “Account Deactivation and Content Removal: Guiding Principles and Practices for Companies and Users,” a collaborative report by the Center for Democracy & Technology and the Berkman Center.

California Just Banned Free Plastic Bags, but Hold the Rejoicing

9/15/14
Image
Washed-up plastic bags along the Los Angeles River. (Josh Morgan/AP)

Last month, California became the first state to pass a bill banning the ubiquitous disposable plastic bag. If signed into law, the measure will prohibit grocery and retail stores from providing single-use plastic bags and require them to charge at least 10 cents for paper bags, compostable bags, and reusable plastic bags. The bill, introduced by Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Los Angeles), will also provide funding for California-based plastic bag companies to develop sturdier, reusable options.

Worldwide, consumers use an estimated 1 trillion plastic bags each year—nearly 2 million a minute—with the use time of a typical bag just 12 minutes. Californians alone throw away 14 billion a year, creating 123,000 tons of waste and untold amounts of litter.

There is evidence that bag bans and taxes can cut down on some of this waste: Ireland's 2002 tax cut bag usage between 75 and 90 percent. An analysis of bag use in Australia found that 72 percent of customers accepted single-use bags that were offered for free. When a nominal fee was charged, usage dropped to 27 percent (33 percent switched to reusable bags and 40 percent made do without).

But there's one major downside to bag bans: Although plastic bags' manufacture is relatively energy intensive (according to the Australian government, a car could drive 36 feet with the amount of petroleum used to make a single plastic bag), other kinds of bags use even more fossil fuel. A heavy-duty, reusable plastic bag must be used 12 times before its global warming impact is lower than continuing to use disposable bags, according to a study by the U.K. Environment Agency. A cotton bag takes 132 uses, and a paper bag—which will still be legal with California's 10-cent fee—must be used four times before its global warming impact is less than using single-use bags.

Unless Californians reuse their 10-cent paper bags several times, opting for paper won't do much to decrease environmental impact. And although the U.K. study doesn't factor in other benefits of reusable bags, such as reduced litter, it underscores the fact that reusable bags are only beneficial if they're actually used. Freebie branded totes gathering dust in closets are not worth the energy they took to produce.

Still, despite the higher production toll, the environmental think tank Earth Policy Institute (EPI), which has studied plastic bag bans, is "definitely in favor of reusable bags," director of research Janet Larsen tells Mother Jones. "Overall, we're advocating for a movement away from the disposable society and use-and-toss mentality."

One-third of Californians already live in municipalities with plastic bag bans, including those in San Francisco and Los Angeles. EPI tracks all known bag restrictions, 133 of which are in the United States:

No one is sure how long a plastic bag takes to decompose, but estimates range from 500 to 1,000 years. Even then, they never fully biodegrade; they just break down into ever-tinier plastic pellets. Each year, tens of thousands of whales, birds, seals, and turtles die after getting entangled with bags or mistaking them for food. In 2010, a gray whale that was beached and died in Seattle was found to have more than 20 plastic bags in its stomach.

Improperly recycled bags also cause problems for recycling centers like San Francisco's Recology. "When people put them in the recycling bin—and they should not do that—they wind up down at the recycling plant and they wrap around a lot of the recycling equipment," public relations manager Robert Reed tells Mother Jones. About twice a day, "you have to turn your equipment off and send mechanics in with box knives to cut them out."

Designated plastic bag recycling facilities exist, but the EPA estimates only 12 percent of bags make it there. CalRecycle puts the statewide number even lower at 3 percent. Even when bags are returned to the proper bin, they aren't truly recycled, but downcycled. "Because plastic bags have a variety of dyes and other additives, it's hard to know exactly what you're getting if you melt down a bunch of bags that consumers have used," explains Larsen. Instead, used bags "generally get turned into something else, such as park benches or flooring material."

Proposed plastic bag restrictions almost always meet opposition. In 2007, a Safeway lobbyist in Annapolis, Maryland, called a proposed bag tax "un-American." Padilla's last attempt, a similar bill introduced last year, was defeated by three votes. This time around, his bill includes a grant program to help bag factories transition from single-use to reusable bags. Even with this provision, many manufacturers like California-based Crown Poly oppose the bill, saying it will force industry layoffs.

The plastic bag industry's American Progressive Bag Alliance funded attack ads calling the bill a dirty deal between politicians and grocers, who will now be able to charge for bags:

In Hong Kong, a plastics industry-funded study claims that overall plastic bag use increased after the city implemented a bag tax, since consumers who had previously reused grocery bags began purchasing reusable bags and heavy garbage bags. Some Californians have complained that they already reuse plastic bags to clean up after pets and line wastebaskets, although it seems unlikely that the average family finds uses for the 1,500 bags brought home each year.

Another plastics-industry-backed study at the University of Arizona prompted fears after finding E. coli in 12 percent of tested reusable canvas grocery bags—though the lead author of the report told NPR that the bacteria found would not make the average healthy person sick. The report also found that more than 99.9 percent of bag bacteria can be killed by machine or hand washing, something only 3 percent of bag users actually do.

Marine researcher Charles J. Moore writes in a recent New York Times op-ed that plastic pollution in the ocean may be killing more animals than climate change. "Hundreds of species mistake plastics for their natural food," he writes, not only sickening wildlife but also "adding to the increasing amount of synthetic chemicals unknown before 1950 that we now carry in our bodies."

In a press release, Nathan Weaver of Environment California says the ban is an "important step forward" that "shows that we can achieve lasting victories for ocean and environmental health. Nothing we use for a few minutes should pollute our ocean for hundreds of years."








California Just Banned Free Plastic Bags, but Hold the Rejoicing

9/15/14
Image
Washed-up plastic bags along the Los Angeles River. (Josh Morgan/AP)

Last month, California became the first state to pass a bill banning the ubiquitous disposable plastic bag. If signed into law, the measure will prohibit grocery and retail stores from providing single-use plastic bags and require them to charge at least 10 cents for paper bags, compostable bags, and reusable plastic bags. The bill, introduced by Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Los Angeles), will also provide funding for California-based plastic bag companies to develop sturdier, reusable options.

Worldwide, consumers use an estimated 1 trillion plastic bags each year—nearly 2 million a minute—with the use time of a typical bag just 12 minutes. Californians alone throw away 14 billion a year, creating 123,000 tons of waste and untold amounts of litter.

There is evidence that bag bans and taxes can cut down on some of this waste: Ireland's 2002 tax cut bag usage between 75 and 90 percent. An analysis of bag use in Australia found that 72 percent of customers accepted single-use bags that were offered for free. When a nominal fee was charged, usage dropped to 27 percent (33 percent switched to reusable bags and 40 percent made do without).

But there's one major downside to bag bans: Although plastic bags' manufacture is relatively energy intensive (according to the Australian government, a car could drive 36 feet with the amount of petroleum used to make a single plastic bag), other kinds of bags use even more fossil fuel. A heavy-duty, reusable plastic bag must be used 12 times before its global warming impact is lower than continuing to use disposable bags, according to a study by the U.K. Environment Agency. A cotton bag takes 132 uses, and a paper bag—which will still be legal with California's 10-cent fee—must be used four times before its global warming impact is less than using single-use bags.

Unless Californians reuse their 10-cent paper bags several times, opting for paper won't do much to decrease environmental impact. And although the U.K. study doesn't factor in other benefits of reusable bags, such as reduced litter, it underscores the fact that reusable bags are only beneficial if they're actually used. Freebie branded totes gathering dust in closets are not worth the energy they took to produce.

Still, despite the higher production toll, the environmental think tank Earth Policy Institute (EPI), which has studied plastic bag bans, is "definitely in favor of reusable bags," director of research Janet Larsen tells Mother Jones. "Overall, we're advocating for a movement away from the disposable society and use-and-toss mentality."

One-third of Californians already live in municipalities with plastic bag bans, including those in San Francisco and Los Angeles. EPI tracks all known bag restrictions, 133 of which are in the United States:

No one is sure how long a plastic bag takes to decompose, but estimates range from 500 to 1,000 years. Even then, they never fully biodegrade; they just break down into ever-tinier plastic pellets. Each year, tens of thousands of whales, birds, seals, and turtles die after getting entangled with bags or mistaking them for food. In 2010, a gray whale that was beached and died in Seattle was found to have more than 20 plastic bags in its stomach.

Improperly recycled bags also cause problems for recycling centers like San Francisco's Recology. "When people put them in the recycling bin—and they should not do that—they wind up down at the recycling plant and they wrap around a lot of the recycling equipment," public relations manager Robert Reed tells Mother Jones. About twice a day, "you have to turn your equipment off and send mechanics in with box knives to cut them out."

Designated plastic bag recycling facilities exist, but the EPA estimates only 12 percent of bags make it there. CalRecycle puts the statewide number even lower at 3 percent. Even when bags are returned to the proper bin, they aren't truly recycled, but downcycled. "Because plastic bags have a variety of dyes and other additives, it's hard to know exactly what you're getting if you melt down a bunch of bags that consumers have used," explains Larsen. Instead, used bags "generally get turned into something else, such as park benches or flooring material."

Proposed plastic bag restrictions almost always meet opposition. In 2007, a Safeway lobbyist in Annapolis, Maryland, called a proposed bag tax "un-American." Padilla's last attempt, a similar bill introduced last year, was defeated by three votes. This time around, his bill includes a grant program to help bag factories transition from single-use to reusable bags. Even with this provision, many manufacturers like California-based Crown Poly oppose the bill, saying it will force industry layoffs.

The plastic bag industry's American Progressive Bag Alliance funded attack ads calling the bill a dirty deal between politicians and grocers, who will now be able to charge for bags:

In Hong Kong, a plastics industry-funded study claims that overall plastic bag use increased after the city implemented a bag tax, since consumers who had previously reused grocery bags began purchasing reusable bags and heavy garbage bags. Some Californians have complained that they already reuse plastic bags to clean up after pets and line wastebaskets, although it seems unlikely that the average family finds uses for the 1,500 bags brought home each year.

Another plastics-industry-backed study at the University of Arizona prompted fears after finding E. coli in 12 percent of tested reusable canvas grocery bags—though the lead author of the report told NPR that the bacteria found would not make the average healthy person sick. The report also found that more than 99.9 percent of bag bacteria can be killed by machine or hand washing, something only 3 percent of bag users actually do.

Marine researcher Charles J. Moore writes in a recent New York Times op-ed that plastic pollution in the ocean may be killing more animals than climate change. "Hundreds of species mistake plastics for their natural food," he writes, not only sickening wildlife but also "adding to the increasing amount of synthetic chemicals unknown before 1950 that we now carry in our bodies."

In a press release, Nathan Weaver of Environment California says the ban is an "important step forward" that "shows that we can achieve lasting victories for ocean and environmental health. Nothing we use for a few minutes should pollute our ocean for hundreds of years."








Um, Here's a Map That Shows Where Americans Use 'Um' vs. 'Uh'

9/15/14
Image
Quartz

Every language has filler words that speakers use in nervous moments or to buy time while thinking. Two of the most common of these in English are “uh” and “um.” They might seem interchangeable, but data show that their usage breaks down across surprising geographic lines. Hmm.

The map above shows a preliminary attempt to use the tremendous amount of linguistic data being produced on the web to understand how language works. Jack Grieve, a forensic linguist at Aston University in the U.K., has been looking through 6 billion words collected from Twitter. Following a discussion with fellow linguist Mark Lieberman—a prolific blogger who has long been interested in the “um”/”uh” divide—Grieve decided to look through his collection of tweets to see how the two words compared. They started their exploration with data from America.

If a county on the map is bright blue or bright pink, its tweets show a clear tendency toward “um” or “uh,” respectively. The purplish colors in between mean that a county’s results leaned one way, but weren’t clear representations of a regional trend.

To uncover the geography of filler words, Grieve ran through the Twitter corpus to find how often a given American county uses “um” over “uh” and vice versa. After that, he used an algorithm known as “hot-spot testing” to smooth out the results and make them more meaningful.

The smoothed-out version has a lot to say. The regional breakdown is clear, and it doesn’t look much like other maps that try to show where some phenomenon or another is happening in the United States. Grieve said the use of “um” looks to follow the elusive “Midland dialect,” which linguists have suspected follows the Ohio River southwest from central Pennsylvania. That accounts for most of the blue that sweeps from West Virginia all the way to Arizona. Grieve said the “uh” and “um” analysis is the first time his research has shown clear evidence of the Midland dialect.

The map also shows that usage on the west coast is harder to pin down. The purplish color leans toward “um” in most of California, aside from the Bay Area, but there is no clear winner west of Arizona.

Hot-spot testing explained

Hot-spot testing has a variety of applications in statistics, but the goal is to put individual data points in geographical context to uncover broader tendencies. A retailer might be interested, for example, in knowing whether a new product is selling better in certain parts of the country. Let’s say it’s selling reasonably well at a location surrounded by dozens of stores where almost nobody is buying it. By comparing this store to its neighbors, a hot-spot test can identify this broader region as one where the retailer’s strategy is not working.

The same technique is used to reveal the regional scope of spoken dialects: Grieve compared each county’s “um”/”uh” split to those of several nearby geographical areas. “We do this because dialect data is generally very messy, so this is a way of extracting the underlying regional signal,” Grieve said in an email. To test the algorithm’s validity, he tried hot-spot testing on sets of random data. These tests revealed no trends whatsoever, he said.

This is what the data look like before hot-spot testing, with a percentage of “um” versus “uh” for each county:

More, uh, possibilities

Geography is not the only possible answer to the “um” versus “uh” mystery. Earlier research by Lieberman suggests that women use “um” more often than men. Also, using these in writing is much different than using them in, uh, person. People on Twitter, for example, often use it to express awkwardness or condescension.

Here’s an “um” that pokes fun at Apple executives, for example:

And an “uh” that does the same for the Obama administration’s view on its authorization to use military force against terrorists:

Nevertheless, the tone of Twitter prose is informal, meaning colloquialism and linguistic quirks come through. And even if people use “um” and “uh” for snark, they still have to choose one over the other. Grieve is looking to mine the Twitterverse for ever more linguistic insights. We’ll, erm, keep you updated as new data come out.

This post originally appeared on Quartz, an Atlantic partner site.

More from Quartz:

When It Comes to a China Growth Slowdown, Bad News Is Actually Good News

Atheism Has Finally Found Its Spiritual Leader

Google’s New Phones Are Designed to Ensure It Doesn’t Lose India Like It Did China








Um, Here's a Map That Shows Where Americans Use "Um" vs. "Uh"

9/15/14
Image
Quartz

Every language has filler words that speakers use in nervous moments or to buy time while thinking. Two of the most common of these in English are “uh” and “um.” They might seem interchangeable, but data show that their usage breaks down across surprising geographic lines. Hmm.

The map above shows a preliminary attempt to use the tremendous amount of linguistic data being produced on the web to understand how language works. Jack Grieve, a forensic linguist at Aston University in the U.K., has been looking through 6 billion words collected from Twitter. Following a discussion with fellow linguist Mark Lieberman—a prolific blogger who has long been interested in the “um”/”uh” divide—Grieve decided to look through his collection of tweets to see how the two words compared. They started their exploration with data from America.

If a county on the map is bright blue or bright pink, its tweets show a clear tendency toward “um” or “uh,” respectively. The purplish colors in between mean that a county’s results leaned one way, but weren’t clear representations of a regional trend.

To uncover the geography of filler words, Grieve ran through the Twitter corpus to find how often a given American county uses “um” over “uh” and vice versa. After that, he used an algorithm known as “hot-spot testing” to smooth out the results and make them more meaningful.

The smoothed-out version has a lot to say. The regional breakdown is clear, and it doesn’t look much like other maps that try to show where some phenomenon or another is happening in the United States. Grieve said the use of “um” looks to follow the elusive “Midland dialect,” which linguists have suspected follows the Ohio River southwest from central Pennsylvania. That accounts for most of the blue that sweeps from West Virginia all the way to Arizona. Grieve said the “uh” and “um” analysis is the first time his research has shown clear evidence of the Midland dialect.

The map also shows that usage on the west coast is harder to pin down. The purplish color leans toward “um” in most of California, aside from the Bay Area, but there is no clear winner west of Arizona.

Hot-spot testing explained

Hot-spot testing has a variety of applications in statistics, but the goal is to put individual data points in geographical context to uncover broader tendencies. A retailer might be interested, for example, in knowing whether a new product is selling better in certain parts of the country. Let’s say it’s selling reasonably well at a location surrounded by dozens of stores where almost nobody is buying it. By comparing this store to its neighbors, a hot-spot test can identify this broader region as one where the retailer’s strategy is not working.

The same technique is used to reveal the regional scope of spoken dialects: Grieve compared each county’s “um”/”uh” split to those of several nearby geographical areas. “We do this because dialect data is generally very messy, so this is a way of extracting the underlying regional signal,” Grieve said in an email. To test the algorithm’s validity, he tried hot-spot testing on sets of random data. These tests revealed no trends whatsoever, he said.

This is what the data look like before hot-spot testing, with a percentage of “um” versus “uh” for each county:

More, uh, possibilities

Geography is not the only possible answer to the “um” versus “uh” mystery. Earlier research by Lieberman suggests that women use “um” more often than men. Also, using these in writing is much different than using them in, uh, person. People on Twitter, for example, often use it to express awkwardness or condescension.

Here’s an “um” that pokes fun at Apple executives, for example:

And an “uh” that does the same for the Obama administration’s view on its authorization to use military force against terrorists:

Nevertheless, the tone of Twitter prose is informal, meaning colloquialism and linguistic quirks come through. And even if people use “um” and “uh” for snark, they still have to choose one over the other. Grieve is looking to mine the Twitterverse for ever more linguistic insights. We’ll, erm, keep you updated as new data come out.

This post originally appeared on Quartz, an Atlantic partner site.

More from Quartz:

When It Comes to a China Growth Slowdown, Bad News Is Actually Good News

Atheism Has Finally Found Its Spiritual Leader

Google’s New Phones Are Designed to Ensure It Doesn’t Lose India Like It Did China








Singles Now Make Up More Than Half the U.S. Adult Population. Here's Where They All Live

9/15/14
Image
Jim Pennucci/Flickr

The United States is now a nation of singles. Single people make up just over half of all American adults for the first time since statistics have been collected, according to a study reported by Bloomberg last week.

But which states and metros have the highest and lowest shares of singles?

My Martin Prosperity Institute (MPI) colleague Charlotta Mellander crunched the U.S. Census figures on the share of American adults who are single, divorced or never married. According to these data, there were 128.2 million singles in the U.S. last year, or 51.2 percent of the population. These figures are similar to those in the study reported by Bloomberg, which was based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and estimated that roughly 125 million Americans over the age of 16, or 50.2 percent, are currently single. That’s up from 37.6 percent in 1976.

Singles make up more than half of the population in 27 of the 50 states. And the share of single adults ranges from a low of 43.7 percent to a high of 55.7 percent, as the map above shows. The table below lists the top and bottom ten states.

Rank State Share Single
1 Louisiana 55.7%
2 Rhode Island 55.7%
3 New York 55.4%
4 Mississippi 54.9%
5 New Mexico 53.6%
6 California 53.5%
7 Florida 53.5%
8 Massachusetts 53.5%
9 Nevada 53.5%
10 Maryland 53.1%
  ...  
41 Montana 47.7%
42 North Dakota 47.7%
43 Minnesota 47.6%
44 Kansas 47.5%
45 New Hampshire 47.1%
46 Nebraska 46.9%
47 Iowa 46.7%
48 Wyoming 46.4%
49 Idaho 44.4%
50 Utah 43.7%

Louisiana has the greatest share of single adults, followed by Rhode Island, New York, Mississippi, and New Mexico. California, Florida, Massachusetts, Nevada and Maryland round out the top 10. At the opposite side of the spectrum, the states where singles make up the smallest shares of the adult population include Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Iowa and Nebraska.

Singles make up more than half of the population in more than six in ten of all U.S. metros (230 of 366). The share of single adults ranges from a low of 38.8 percent to a high of 62.1 percent, as the map above shows. The table below lists the top and bottom ten metros.

Rank Metro Share Single
1 Gainesville, FL 62.1%
2 Ithaca, NY 61.8%
3 College Station-Bryan, TX 60.8%
4 Tallahassee, FL 60.7%
5 Lawrence, KS 60.2%
6 State College, PA 59.8%
7 Morgantown, WV 59.5%
8 Greenville, NC 59.4%
9 Athens-Clarke County, GA 59.3%
10 Vineland-Millville-Bridgeton, NJ 59.3%
  ...  
357 Wausau, WI 43.7%
358 Hinesville-Fort Stewart, GA 43.5%
359 Rochester, MN 43.5%
360 Appleton, WI 42.8%
361 Holland-Grand Haven, MI 42.4%
362 Logan, UT-ID 41.6%
363 Provo-Orem, UT 41.6%
364 Ogden-Clearfield, UT 40.7%
365 Idaho Falls, ID 40.5%
366 St. George, UT 38.8%

College towns dominate the list of metros where singles make up the greatest share of the adult population. Topping the list is Gainesville, Florida (University of Florida), followed by Ithaca, New York (Cornell and Ithaca College), College Station, Texas (Texas A&M), Tallahassee, Florida (Florida State and Florida A&M), and Lawrence, Kansas (the University of Kansas). In those cities, singles make up more than 60 percent of the population. This is not surprising given the large number of younger students in these metros.

The metros where singles make up the smallest shares of the adult population include St. George, Ogden, Provo, and Logan, Utah; Holland, Michigan; and Appleton, Wisconsin.

Singles make up more than half the population in more than 46 of the 51 largest U.S. metros. The table below lists the large metros with the largest and smallest shares of singles.

Rank State Share Single
1 New Orleans 58.0%
2 Memphis 57.7%
3 Miami 56.7%
4 Los Angeles 55.8%
5 Buffalo 55.1%
6 Las Vegas 55.0%
7 Providence 55.0%
8 Philadelphia 54.6%
9 New York 54.5%
10 Baltimore 54.3%
  ...  
42 Houston 50.3%
43 Charlotte 50.3%
44 Denver 50.1%
45 Oklahoma City 50.0%
46 Dallas 49.3%
47 Kansas City 49.1%
48 Minneapolis-St. Paul 48.7%
49 Raleigh 47.8%
50 Salt Lake City 47.3%
51 San Jose 47.1%

New Orleans tops the list, followed by Memphis, Miami, Los Angeles, Buffalo, Las Vegas, Providence, Philadelphia, New York, and Baltimore. While the nation’s two biggest metros, New York and L.A., are on the list, Chicago fails to crack the top ten. And knowledge hubs, like San Francisco, Boston and Washington, D.C., known for attracting large numbers of highly educated young workers, also fall outside the top. This is likely because these places are home to and attracting younger people who fall in the prime years for getting married and forming families. The top ten is basically a mix of fast-growing Sun Belt metros and older Rust Belt metros with older populations, where widows and widowers likely make up larger shares of the single population.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, the large metros where singles make up the smallest share of adults are mainly faster-growing metros in the South and West, with younger populations overall and likely a bigger cohort of people in prime marriage and family-rearing age groups. The large metros where singles make up less than half of all adults include: San Jose, Salt Lake City, Raleigh, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Kansas City, and Dallas. The presence of San Jose (the hub of Silicon Valley), Denver, and Raleigh (in North Carolina’s Research Triangle) may come as something of a surprise. But again, these places are home to more younger people in their prime marrying years.

This is the new geography of our "solo nation”, in sociologist Eric Klinenberg’s coinage. If families prefer the suburbs for schools and safety, singles prefer denser urban neighborhoods with more to do and greater opportunities to meet and connect with other singles. Our changing demographic reality is an increasingly important component of the ongoing “great inversion” away from the suburbs and back to cities.








Singles Now Make Up More Than Half the U.S. Adult Population. Here's Where They All Live

9/15/14
Image
Jim Pennucci/Flickr

The United States is now a nation of singles. Single people make up just over half of all American adults for the first time since statistics have been collected, according to a study reported by Bloomberg last week.

But which states and metros have the highest and lowest shares of singles?

My Martin Prosperity Institute (MPI) colleague Charlotta Mellander crunched the U.S. Census figures on the share of American adults who are single, divorced or never married. According to these data, there were 128.2 million singles in the U.S. last year, or 51.2 percent of the population. These figures are similar to those in the study reported by Bloomberg, which was based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and estimated that roughly 125 million Americans over the age of 16, or 50.2 percent, are currently single. That’s up from 37.6 percent in 1976.

Singles make up more than half of the population in 27 of the 50 states. And the share of single adults ranges from a low of 43.7 percent to a high of 55.7 percent, as the map above shows. The table below lists the top and bottom ten states.

Rank State Share Single
1 Louisiana 55.7%
2 Rhode Island 55.7%
3 New York 55.4%
4 Mississippi 54.9%
5 New Mexico 53.6%
6 California 53.5%
7 Florida 53.5%
8 Massachusetts 53.5%
9 Nevada 53.5%
10 Maryland 53.1%
  ...  
41 Montana 47.7%
42 North Dakota 47.7%
43 Minnesota 47.6%
44 Kansas 47.5%
45 New Hampshire 47.1%
46 Nebraska 46.9%
47 Iowa 46.7%
48 Wyoming 46.4%
49 Idaho 44.4%
50 Utah 43.7%

Louisiana has the greatest share of single adults, followed by Rhode Island, New York, Mississippi, and New Mexico. California, Florida, Massachusetts, Nevada and Maryland round out the top 10. At the opposite side of the spectrum, the states where singles make up the smallest shares of the adult population include Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Iowa and Nebraska.

Singles make up more than half of the population in more than six in ten of all U.S. metros (230 of 366). The share of single adults ranges from a low of 38.8 percent to a high of 62.1 percent, as the map above shows. The table below lists the top and bottom ten metros.

Rank Metro Share Single
1 Gainesville, FL 62.1%
2 Ithaca, NY 61.8%
3 College Station-Bryan, TX 60.8%
4 Tallahassee, FL 60.7%
5 Lawrence, KS 60.2%
6 State College, PA 59.8%
7 Morgantown, WV 59.5%
8 Greenville, NC 59.4%
9 Athens-Clarke County, GA 59.3%
10 Vineland-Millville-Bridgeton, NJ 59.3%
  ...  
357 Wausau, WI 43.7%
358 Hinesville-Fort Stewart, GA 43.5%
359 Rochester, MN 43.5%
360 Appleton, WI 42.8%
361 Holland-Grand Haven, MI 42.4%
362 Logan, UT-ID 41.6%
363 Provo-Orem, UT 41.6%
364 Ogden-Clearfield, UT 40.7%
365 Idaho Falls, ID 40.5%
366 St. George, UT 38.8%

College towns dominate the list of metros where singles make up the greatest share of the adult population. Topping the list is Gainesville, Florida (University of Florida), followed by Ithaca, New York (Cornell and Ithaca College), College Station, Texas (Texas A&M), Tallahassee, Florida (Florida State and Florida A&M), and Lawrence, Kansas (the University of Kansas). In those cities, singles make up more than 60 percent of the population. This is not surprising given the large number of younger students in these metros.

The metros where singles make up the smallest shares of the adult population include St. George, Ogden, Provo, and Logan, Utah; Holland, Michigan; and Appleton, Wisconsin.

Singles make up more than half the population in more than 46 of the 51 largest U.S. metros. The table below lists the large metros with the largest and smallest shares of singles.

Rank State Share Single
1 New Orleans 58.0%
2 Memphis 57.7%
3 Miami 56.7%
4 Los Angeles 55.8%
5 Buffalo 55.1%
6 Las Vegas 55.0%
7 Providence 55.0%
8 Philadelphia 54.6%
9 New York 54.5%
10 Baltimore 54.3%
  ...  
42 Houston 50.3%
43 Charlotte 50.3%
44 Denver 50.1%
45 Oklahoma City 50.0%
46 Dallas 49.3%
47 Kansas City 49.1%
48 Minneapolis-St. Paul 48.7%
49 Raleigh 47.8%
50 Salt Lake City 47.3%
51 San Jose 47.1%

New Orleans tops the list, followed by Memphis, Miami, Los Angeles, Buffalo, Las Vegas, Providence, Philadelphia, New York, and Baltimore. While the nation’s two biggest metros, New York and L.A., are on the list, Chicago fails to crack the top ten. And knowledge hubs, like San Francisco, Boston and Washington, D.C., known for attracting large numbers of highly educated young workers, also fall outside the top. This is likely because these places are home to and attracting younger people who fall in the prime years for getting married and forming families. The top ten is basically a mix of fast-growing Sun Belt metros and older Rust Belt metros with older populations, where widows and widowers likely make up larger shares of the single population.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, the large metros where singles make up the smallest share of adults are mainly faster-growing metros in the South and West, with younger populations overall and likely a bigger cohort of people in prime marriage and family-rearing age groups. The large metros where singles make up less than half of all adults include: San Jose, Salt Lake City, Raleigh, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Kansas City, and Dallas. The presence of San Jose (the hub of Silicon Valley), Denver, and Raleigh (in North Carolina’s Research Triangle) may come as something of a surprise. But again, these places are home to more younger people in their prime marrying years.

This is the new geography of our "solo nation”, in sociologist Eric Klinenberg’s coinage. If families prefer the suburbs for schools and safety, singles prefer denser urban neighborhoods with more to do and greater opportunities to meet and connect with other singles. Our changing demographic reality is an increasingly important component of the ongoing “great inversion” away from the suburbs and back to cities.