A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Wonderful World of Statistics

Crossing the Median

"Fewer than half of first-time home buyers can afford to purchase a median-priced home..."
--Vindu Goel, "The Two Silicon Valleys," New York Times blog post 

Oh, Goody!

  • "John Kerry Has 'No Plans Whatsoever' to Run for President in 2016"--headline, Puffington Host, Feb. 5
  • "Mitt Romney: 'I'm Not Running' in 2016"--headline,, Feb. 6
Think if they did run! It could be the first election in the Republic which no one would win.


  1. > "Fewer than half of first-time home buyers can afford to purchase a median-priced home..."

    I see no problem with this.

    All markets clear...but not at prespecified prices.

    It is absolutely plausible to imagine a market where 99% of the houses are on the market but will never sell, and 100% of the transactions take place in the churn of the 1% of houses that are priced sanely.

    Additionally, the home buyers specified are "first-time" home buyers. I just bought my second home, which I certainly could not have afforded twenty years ago when I bought my first.

  2. "Think if they did run! It could be the first election in the Republic which no one would win." Maybe the Christian Democratic Party could win and revolutionize the country. :-)

  3. We've had a couple of presidential elections in this country which no one won. It just throws the election into the House of Representatives, and they choose the president.

  4. Given that first-time buyers are only a subset of buyers, generally at the lower end of what they can afford, and the median price presumably takes into account all home sales, isn't that exactly what we should expect to see? Is this like the time the same paper reported "39th richest state is 12th in the number of poor children" as if it was something different from what we should expect?

    1. The first quote is amusing because the pundit quoted is offering the statement as if there were something objectionable about the substance of the observation.

      TOF is notably wry and dry.


    2. I was pretty sure "New York Times doesn't get math" was the joke, I was just double-checking to see if I was correct as to what their precise error was.

    3. Yup. That'll do. Broadly speaking half the buyers will fall below the median, and first-time buyers, usually those just starting out, will be looking at smaller, "starter" homes; so... "more than half."


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