Wednesday, October 14, 2009

My thoughts on modern art

I have never really understood most modern art. Basically, if it looks like my 4 year old made it, then it might be art, but it is not worth more than $10. Of course, I would pay more for it if it were actually made by my 4 year old instead of some coked out "artist".

With that in mind, I give you the following post from the Chronicle.....

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

From the random but oddly fascinating stats department....

Another Upside to E-ZPass: Healthier Babies

Not only has E-ZPass shortened commutes, it might be making babies healthier too.
Mothers who lived near a toll plaza with an E-ZPass had fewer instances of premature births and low birth-weight babies, according to a new study.

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Babies born near toll plazas were more likely to be healthy after E-ZPass lanes were installed and helped reduce traffic congestion.
Janet Currie and Reed Walker of Columbia University’s Department of Economics compared mothers that lived within three kilometers of a toll plaza with those that lived within three kilometers of a major highway (but not near a toll plaza) in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.
By reducing congestion and emissions through the E-ZPass system, premature births dropped 10.8% and instances of low birth weight declined 11.8% for mothers within two kilometers of the toll plaza.
For those who lived three kilometers from the plaza, prematurity and low birth weight fell 7.3% and 8.4%, respectively.
The conclusions are of particular interest, the researchers say, because low birth weight has been linked to health problems in the future and lower educational attainment. But it also shows the effects of a system like E-ZPass that has an inherent value to consumers – reduced travel time – as well as peripheral benefits, such as reduced emissions and health benefits.
Previous estimates showed that E-ZPass, an electronic toll system that reads a tag mounted on the windshield without forcing the vehicle to stop, reduced traffic congestion by more than 85% in some plazas within its first year. Other studies revealed it may have cut harmful emissions by up to 50%.
But the E-ZPass study took that research a step further by trying to determine traffic congestion’s health effects.
The researchers used Vital Statistics Natality records, which cover all births in a state, from Pennsylvania for 1997 to 2002 and for New Jersey from 1994 to 2003. They then compared the change in the number of premature and low birth weight babies born to mothers near toll plazas with those born to mothers who were not near toll plazas before and after the E-ZPass.
With roughly 26% of homes located near congested areas, Currie and Walker concluded that “…nationwide reductions in prenatal exposure to traffic congestion could reduce preterm births by as many as 10,800 annually, a reduction that can be valued at $557 million per year,” the study states. “Since we have focused on only one of the possible health effects of traffic congestion, albeit an important one, the total health benefits of reducing pollution due to traffic congestion are likely to be much greater.”