Technically, kind of. But use of this statistic is a classic case of the base rate fallacy.

Photo by Tabitha Mort from Pexels

I’ve long stopped expecting my elected officials to be 100% honest. It’s disheartening, and makes me a cynic for sure, but I’ve accepted that part of their job is to periodically sell their souls and carry the party talking points, even when they know they’re spreading misinformation. I certainly do not respect them for doing this, but whatever. They do it.

This morning I woke up to an email from my representative, Congressman Rob Wittman. He’s an educated man — he has a PhD in a scientific field, and I imagine he knows a thing or two about statistics. …


Image: American Public Media

In the wake of the unprecedented mob assault on the United States Capitol on January 6th, many are thinking about other mob actions that have taken place over the last year.

The media and legal experts speculate that some of the Capitol mob will face federal charges and could get more than 10 years in prison depending on the charges. Undoubtedly, there will be questions about the application of criminal justice on the perpetrators of mob violence, trespassing and property destruction. Is justice applied fairly between mobs claiming to represent different ideologies? …


A thoughtful primer for the inevitable.

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As expected, the “Black lives matter” movement has seen a bit of a pushback since it achieved a record amount of support following the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. Much of the pushback has not so much to do with the phrase or idea itself, but with protest and crisis fatigue and increased scrutiny of the organization that calls itself Black Lives Matter (henceforth followed by dot com to make clear the difference). This piece focuses on the latter.

While it is true that bad-faith actors who may not actually believe that…


Baby Boomers and Generation X cling to power and try to control the flow of historical information; Millennials and Generation Z have almost always had instant access to information.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

The world is in the midst of a generational shift. In the United States, Baby Boomers are still firmly in control, but are aging and dying; Generation X is slowly taking over leadership and management of business and government, followed by a battered Millennial generation; and Generation Z is in middle school, high school, college and hitting the workforce…and they’re making a whole lot of noise about the history and future of the country.

Much of this shift, and the accompanying unrest regarding our national history and future direction, is a direct result of the digital information divide between the…


Their access to information is conflicting with the curated version we try to teach them.

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

The political right in the United States has long assailed public education as a bastion of leftism. Indeed, on July 3rd, 2020, President Trump stated:

“Against every law of society and nature, our children are taught in school to hate their own country and to believe that the men and women who built it were not heroes but that they were villains. …


What I wish my white church would say.

I am not a preacher. I am a regular guy, helping raise a mixed-race teenager.

Over the past week, we’ve gone through the gauntlet of emotions, from anger, fear, hopelessness and back to hopefulness, and then back and forth again and again. We’ve experienced first-hand overt and implicit racism in the community, at our schools and even during the teenager’s lone experience with the police.

We’ve also experienced the shut-downs and the gaslighting from family, supposed friends and public officials when we’ve attempted to share our concerns and lived experiences.

This week, we’ve listened to our teenager once again share…


Learn a little about the stock market and Tableau at the same time!

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Are you learning how to Tableau? Tired of playing with the default super store data and want to try something a bit more practical? Try this quick guide to analyzing a stock, and see where it takes you!

Gather your Data

  1. Go to Yahoo Finance and look up a stock. Really, any stock will do. Even better if it’s a stock you happen to own!
  2. Once on the stock’s summary page, go to the tab labeled historical data.
  3. Change the view to the desired time period (one year is the default).
  4. Click on the ‘Download Data’ link to download a CSV file.

Note…


What’s the difference, and why is it important in business and technical writing?

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Many aspiring technical and non-fiction writers struggle with the use of active voice vs. passive voice.

When we communicate orally with our friends and family, we use passive voice all the time without even realizing. Passive voice works in oral communication, because we’re engaged enough in the conversation or subject matter for our brains to process it immediately.

But when it comes to written communication, active voice is the preferred method. The simplicity of active voice keeps the reader engaged and is less likely to cause confusion.

First, a review of sentence structure.

Basic English sentence structure is a subject noun and a verb, where the subject noun performs the action indicated by the verb.

When you look at a sentence, find…


Most tech departments have awful documentation because they don’t take the time to plan it out.

Write without fear, edit without mercy! Photo by hannah grace on Unsplash

Identify your audience

The first step in starting a successful documentation or written communication project is to identify the audience. Ask yourself, “who are my readers?”

Generalize your intended audience as a group — their role, education level, skill level and experience level with the system.

This helps set your tone and format. Are you writing for a group that supports the system, is educated and technically competent? Or is this a group that uses the system, is not educated and not technically competent?

Figuring this out up front will help tailor the documentation to the specific audience.

Identify your purpose

The second step is to…


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Are containers all the rage around your company’s tech department? Here’s an explanation of the hype for the rest of us.

So, you work at a software company and your tech department refers to or is implementing something called containers. They say it revolutionizes the way developers deploy their product to the customers. Awesome! But what the heck is it?

I admit, I work in my company’s tech department and I wasn’t even sure what is. But then again, I’m an analyst, not an engineer or developer, so my tech knowledge is more high-level and conceptual. Nevertheless, my boss told me I should learn so I can have a better understanding of our development infrastructure. But where do you even begin?

Servers, Virtualization, Scalability, and Containers, Oh My!

Alex Ashton

Data visualization, tech, communications and sometimes history, religion and culture. Delete your social media.

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