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.

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.

Thursday, 25 May 2006

Why Gaeta is a Cylon

Duke alum Allison Clarke has seven good reasons why you should believe that Felix Gaeta is a Cylon. I’m still not entirely convinced that Ron Moore wants to go that way, but if he does the necessary clues have certainly accumulated over time.

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.

Monday, 13 March 2006

Trapper Markelz on the BSG finale

One of the benefits of the ever-expanding blogosphere is that someone else will take care of the heavy lifting for you; case in point, Trapper Markelz posting his thoughts on the BSG season finale saves me from having to put together a six-page-long post covering the same territory.

I just wish I could delegate my scholarly activity in the same way…

Saturday, 11 March 2006

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.”

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.

Monday, 8 August 2005

Lose yourself

Today’s Clarion-Ledger has a piece on network TV’s current science-fiction renaissance, led by the quasi-sci-fi ABC series “Lost.” Sci-Fi Friday also gets some good pub.

Saturday, 30 July 2005

Was Adama right to remove Roslin?

Timothy Sandefur tentatively says no. I tend to agree; however, Roslin’s decision to send Lt. Thrace (Starbuck) back to Caprica on a secret mission at the very least violated the military chain of command.

The proper response, however, is not a coup. In the grand scheme of things, Roslin’s action did not lead to the sort of imminent danger that would justify bypassing civilian procedures; presumably, the Quorum of Twelve can impeach and/or remove the president, or there is a civil judiciary that can exercise that authority.

The larger political mess is that Adama’s incapacitation has left Colonel Tigh holding the bag for this decision, and he neither has the wherewithal or the gravitas to resolve things the way Adama might have been able to do.

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.

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…

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

Tuesday, 21 December 2004

Merry Christmas

By popular command…

Sunday, 21 November 2004

TV sci-fi renaissance?

Is TV sci-fi back? PoliBlog’s Steven Taylor takes note of the recent improvements in Enterprise (or is it Star Trek: Enterprise?), Stargate Atlantis has had a fairly impressive first half-season, and I hear, since I wouldn’t want to go against the wishes of creator Ron Moore and use BitTorrent to download any episodes before the scheduled January U.S. debut, that the new Battlestar Galactica series is the most kick-ass TV sci-fi since Firefly.