Thursday, 19 March 2009

How not to do data analysis

io9 presents a chart that purports to show that shark-jumping has an effect on television ratings. I’ll freely concede that Battlestar Galactica has had its, er, weaker moments, but the chart doesn’t actually show that creatively weak episodes had any effect whatsoever on the ratings that can be distinguished from the underlying, secular downward trend in ratings.

Since I had about 300 more important things to do, I decided to analyze the data myself. First, I reentered the ratings data from here into an spreadsheet and then identified the “shark-jump” episodes with a dummy variable, with the help of IMDB. I then created two new variables: a simple ratings difference variable for each episode, and a dummy variable to indicate whether or not an episode immediately followed an identified shark-jump.

I then converted to a CSV file, opened R, and estimated a linear regression: Delta = a + b(FollowShark). While the effect of an episode following a shark-jump was negative (about 0.025 ratings points), the effect was not statistically significant (p ≈ 0.736, two-tailed). Throwing out “Razor” and “The Passage,” to focus on episodes io9 says showed ratings losses improves the coefficient to about -0.042 ratings points, but it is still not significant (p ≈ 0.613, two-tailed).

So, the moral of the story: the episodes identified may have been “shark jumps,” but they didn’t seem to have a discernible effect on the ratings of subsequent episodes. And, besides, any analysis that doesn’t identify the crapfest known as “Black Market” as a shark-jumping incident isn’t worth taking seriously to begin with.

Bear in mind that TV ratings themselves leave something to be desired; variations of several tenths of a ratings point are within the expected margin of measurement error.

Tuesday, 25 December 2007


In the real world, via two consecutive days at the movie theater, Three Doors Down + Cinematography = National Guard Recruiting. It has a surprisingly powerful effect on my patriotism gene, maybe just because it’s a pretty good song in its own right. (Heck, I grew up with the national anthem playing before every movie, so maybe it just filled that gap in my life.)

In the fictional world, via Shawn Zehnder Lea: the How to Spot a Cylon poster and the Battlestar Galactica Propaganda Poster Set, the latter of which I think would be fun to hang on the walls of my office.

Monday, 26 March 2007

Weird freebie of the year

A textbook called Looking at Movies mysteriously arrived for me today. I say “mysteriously” because I don’t teach any classes that have anything to do with film, although I’ve always wanted to teach a course on depictions of politics in the mass media—not a “politics of film” course per se, more a course looking at how the political system is portrayed in a variety of movie and TV genres.

Certainly one segment would be on speculative fiction, wherein most political systems shown are implausible or ridiculous (the new Battlestar Galactica and Babylon 5 being far less absurd than most). It’s a shame there’s no movie of Clarke’s Songs of Distant Earth, for its “Jefferson Mark-3 Constitution” would be worth some serious mockery, although I suppose wags might say after the 2004 election that any two randomly-selected Americans would have made better candidates than the two foisted upon us by the GOP and Democrats.

Friday, 16 March 2007

QotD, The Office edition

Dwight Schrute, attempting to mingle with another guest at the CFO’s party:

Dwight: You ever watch Battlestar Galactica?
Party guest: No.
Dwight: No? Then you’re an idiot.

Tuesday, 18 April 2006

New Ron Moore Q&A

Ron Moore has a new Battlestar Galactica Q&A up at his blog, with a few teeny spoilerish things about Season 3 and the (to me, at least) quite fascinating story of how he washed out of Navy ROTC in college.

Saturday, 11 March 2006

The recovery room

I’m afraid I’m being thoroughly useless today as I try to recover from about four weeks of sleep deprivation; all I’ve really done today is check my mail, listen to the Battlestar Galactica finale podcast from Ron Moore, and crank up iTunes in the living room.

The good news is that this coming week is spring break, so at least I should be able to get some research done, including finishing up the R&R I have from PRQ so I can get it back to the editors.

Frak me

Well, I have to say that (the season finale of Battlestar Galactica, for those who don’t get the reference) came pretty much out of left field. There are definitely a lot of very interesting directions they can go in from here—and curse Sci-Fi for making us wait for seven months to find out where they decide to go with this!

Elsewhere: Steven Taylor has some additional bullet-point thoughts, while Timothy Sandefur ponders the question of whether Laura Roslin’s effort to steal the election was “right.”

Wednesday, 15 February 2006

Quiz meme of the day

Via Steven Taylor and others:

You scored as SG-1 (Stargate). You are versatile and diverse in your thinking. You have an open mind to that which seems highly unlikely and accept it with a bit of humor. Now if only aliens would stop trying to take over your body.

SG-1 (Stargate)


Serenity (Firefly)


Deep Space Nine (Star Trek)


Babylon 5 (Babylon 5)


Moya (Farscape)


Millennium Falcon (Star Wars)


Nebuchadnezzar (The Matrix)


Galactica (Battlestar: Galactica)


Enterprise D (Star Trek)


Andromeda Ascendant (Andromeda)


FBI's X-Files Division (The X-Files)


Bebop (Cowboy Bebop)


Your Ultimate Sci-Fi Profile II: which sci-fi crew would you best fit in? (pics)
created with

And, an apropos NewsRadio quote of the day (vaguely related to memes):

Lisa: If everyone thought you should jump off a bridge, would you?
Dave: If everyone around here thought I should jump off a bridge, they’d probably just get together and push me.

Saturday, 28 January 2006

Black Market (Galactica 214)

From the ashes of a Battlestar Galactica episode that even series creator Ron Moore was unimpressed with comes a discussion of the actual economics involved from Timothy Sandefur and Allen Thompson.

Wednesday, 25 January 2006


So long as they keep Veronica Mars on the air, I’m fine with the proposed merger of UPN and the WB into the oddly-named CW Network. I’d be happier, though, if it showed up in high definition.

Speaking of high def, Universal HD is just a week away from arriving on cable in Durham, which means Battlestar Galactica in all its high definition 1080i glory. Wee hee!

Wednesday, 18 January 2006

Other bloggers returning from haitus

Fresh on the heels of the Mungowitz comes the return of Battlestar Galactica head honco Ron Moore to blogging. As they say, Woot!

Monday, 9 January 2006

Trapper on BSG

Trapper of the Unofficial Battlestar Galactica Blog shares his thoughts about the new BSG episode that aired Friday night (while I was, alas, stuck watching college basketball in my hotel room after stuffing myself beyond all reason at Maggiano’s in Buckhead for want of the Sci-Fi Channel). Last night, after having seen it on TiVo delay myself, I was struck by how much more compelling it was than its Sci-Fi Friday companions. And I was also cursing Ron Moore for making me wait until this Friday to see it all resolved!

Wednesday, 16 November 2005

Renew this

We may not get a full third season of Arrested Development, but I’ll take a third season of Battlestar Galactica as a nice consolation prize.

Monday, 22 August 2005

Know your current (and future) Cylons

Steven Taylor asks for thoughts on who the remaining Cylons are; assuming Galactica Boomer wasn’t lying in “Resistance,” there are apparently seven human-form Cylon models remaining to be unmasked. The eliminated prospects all seem quite logical to me at least. At this point, the leading contenders for Cylonhood seem to be Gaeta and Cally, but there are plenty of other prospects out there too.

Sunday, 17 July 2005

Galactica in the NYT Magazine

Via Slashdot: a feature article on the return of Battlestar Galactica to the airwaves, describing the roles of Ron Moore and Richard Hatch (not the nekkid guy from Survivor) in keeping the series alive. Probably not anything new for those fans of the new show who frequent the fan sites, but a good overview for those not properly initiated.

Friday, 15 July 2005

Sci-Fi Friday returns tonight

A reminder to all the sci-fi fans in the audience (Hi Dad!): Sci-Fi Friday is all-new starting tonight, with the season premieres of Stargate: SG-1 (now featuring Beau Bridges and Ben Browder), Stargate Atlantis, and the show all the attractive libertarian women are raving about, Battlestar Galactica. Good thing I have no social life, or otherwise I’d have to put it on hold for this event.

Sunday, 15 May 2005

Berman fatigue

I am in general agreement with Steven Taylor’s assessment of the final two episodes of Star Trek: Enterprise; indeed, I think “Terra Prime” probably would have functioned just as well if it had been the finale. Plus, I really liked the fact they actually found something useful to do with Travis Mayweather—I think he had more lines in the “Demons/Terra Prime” two-parter than he’d had in whole seasons; he certainly had more useful things to do. I still have to wonder what bizarre fashion trend made everyone on Earth abandon normal clothing in favor of jumpsuits between 216x and the TOS era, however.

As for the finale itself, I can’t agree more with this statement:

Unfortunately These are the Voyages underscores Berman’s lack of understanding of what should have been done with Enterprise–here is the chance to focus on the founding of the Federation and instead we get a side-story about Shran’s kidnapped daughter and the ramifications of that event, including the poorly written, poorly acted, gratuitous death of Trip. One tunes in assuming that the story would be about the decommissioning of Enterprise and the signing of the Federation Charter, and yet we don’t actually get to see any of it (save a few minutes in the final act).

The surrounding story on the Enterprise-D made little sense, didn’t fit in with the events it supposedly was a part of, and was really quite unsatisfactory—and I actually like Riker and Troi, unlike a goodly portion of the fan base. About the only good thing about the episode was its showcasing of Connor Trinneer—and the D/TP two-parter did a better job of that too.

In other sci-fi news, Friday also saw Andromeda finally put out of its (and my) misery. The scary thing is that the best sci-fi on Friday night was probably the damn rerun of Battlestar Galactica’s “Litmus,” and it was barely sci-fi at all. I also learned about the Monty Hall Dilemma on Numb3ers, which you’d think I’d have known as an applied stats guy but it somehow never came up.

Of course, I didn’t see any of this live since I was actually in Pearl at the time watching the Mississippi Braves at Trustmark Park, courtesy of friends-of-friends Michelle and David.

Monday, 9 May 2005

Da Prez

Drudge says ABC has greenlit a series called Commander-in-Chief starring Geena Davis as the nation’s first female president.

Somehow I don’t expect her performance in the role to hold a candle to that of Mary McDonnell in more-or-less the same role in Battlestar Galactica, but I’ll give Davis the chance to surprise me.

Tuesday, 12 April 2005

Ain't nothin' but a horndog

While not entirely fair, I have to admit Jacqueline’s title for this post about the Battlestar Galactica miniseries gave me a good chuckle.

Plus, I want to find this gym where I can watch my own DVDs while I’m on the treadmill…

Wednesday, 23 March 2005

Ode to House

Greg of Begging to Differ says House is his new favorite TV show. While it’s not my absolute favorite show at the moment (I probably would rank Galactica a small notch higher), it’s truly compelling TV—and that’s spoken by someone who has never cared for either medical dramas or CSI-type shows.

Friday, 11 March 2005

Special Handling

Tonight’s episode of Battlestar Galactica is the thoroughly awesome “Hand of God,” which is probably the best single episode of the first season (“Kobol’s Last Gleaming,” the season-ending two-parter, is equally as good, but spread out over two episodes). And don’t miss the podcast commentary by Ron Moore while you’re at it. (þ: UBSGB).

Also tonight: Stargate SG-1’s “Threads,” a 90-minute episode which promises to wrap up quite a few plotlines in time for the season finale.

Saturday, 5 March 2005

Galactica fan humor

Jeff Harrell is proposing a T-shirt design to help you join the new McCarthyism.

Incidentally, I initially considered this week’s episode (“Tigh Me Up, Tigh Me Down”) the weakest outing of the first season, but on second viewing it’s grown on me a bit. And those of you who just tune in to sci-fi shows for cool explosions won’t want to miss next week’s episode, “Hand of God,” also featuring the coolest bit of misdirection I’ve seen in a long time.

Another thing: don’t miss the Unofficial Battlestar Galactica Blog.

Wednesday, 23 February 2005


Starting in July we’re gonna get 20 more episodes of Battlestar Galactica according to Sci-Fi Wire. While the renewal was already public knowledge, the announcement that we’re getting 20 shows (up from 13 this season) with all of the main cast members returning (which, in some circles, might count as a spoiler) is the real news. (þ: David Janes)

This is my entry in today’s OTB Traffic Jam.

Sunday, 20 February 2005

Libertarians in space

David Janes observes in response to Ron Moore’s latest posting to his Battlestar Galactica blog:

No wonder I think this show is so good. The writer’s a fracken Libertarian.

Indeed. But it’s spelled “frakkin’.” Moore is also in quite a celebratory mood over news of the renewal, as one might expect, and gives some good answers to questions on such things as the rank structure, evolution, and what we can expect to see in Season 2 (although not really in a spoilery way).

Thursday, 10 February 2005

Galactica renewed