Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Frieda Garcia Park

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

One of the first people I met when I moved to Boston was the great Frieda Garcia. She was a committed activist who worked hard to make a better place for Boston’s Latino community. A few months ago, they dedicated a park to her. Here are some of the pictures.  There are to a lot of Latino place markers in Boston, despite a long history here.  As far as I know there is this park, the Jorge Hernandez Center, the Rafeal Hernandez School, and most anomalous, a statue of the Argentine educator and President, Domingo Sarmiento (I’d love to find out how it came about that a statue of him was out on the commonwealth Mall).

Here are some pictures I took of the park.

Holiday break

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

Between the holidays and getting a new computer, I am taking a break.  See you in January!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 19th, 2012

See you next week!

New York Streets Neighborhood Boston

Monday, November 12th, 2012

I am working on a paper on how local to global economic and social forces can dramatically reshape a community. The paper focuses on the New York Streets area of Boston. It was once a poor but close knit integrated community. Then it was destroyed by urban renewal. The neighborhood had 4500 people when it was completely demolished.  It was replaced by a failed industrial park.  The community was the home of Mel King, the great State Representative and almost Mayor of Boston.

Allison Barnett (a great writer) recently authored an article on NYS in the South End News.

Here are some pictures I took of the area.  Imagine 4500 once lived here.


First, let’s get rid of pedestrians

Monday, October 29th, 2012

Not to pick on Provincetown, Massachusetts, but the mindset there is typical of the prejudices in the US regarding pedestrians.  Macmillan wharf is a multimodal site where as many as 5,000 people travel by ferry to and from Boston and there are multiple other travelers on whale watches and fishing expeditions.  About a half dozen cars meet each ferry as well as a half dozen taxis.  So what group gets yelled out by the harbor authorities to stay in line?  The pedestrians!  They are yelled at to stand to the side, to keep out of car and parking lanes, etc.  They are the group least accomodated on the pier, even though the vast majority of people leave the wharf on foot.  Typical.

Plus. In an effort to maximize town revenue, the limited pedestrian space is cluttered with souvenir stands and excursion sellers.  Again, the pedestrians lose.  Again. Typical.  It’s a national problem.

The line of people waiting for the ferry to Boston.

















Daniel Burnham

Monday, October 1st, 2012

I  personally believe that Daniel Burnham was one of the United States’ best architect/planner.  For the past few months, I have been taking pictures of his projects as I have passed by.  Here are some of them.


Union Station in DC









The National Mall in DC.  L’Enfant may have laid out the original plan, but Burnham and associates revitalized and extended it.








Burnham’s Flatiron building is as exciting today as when it opened in 1902.











Sadder is the current state of the Filene’s building in Boston.  A developer took down most of the building, except for the facade.  The recession killed the project.  Hopefully, the project is about to be restarted.













Public Art in Boston

Monday, September 24th, 2012

The Os Gemeos mural on the Rose Kennedy Greenway in Boston. Some have called this painting of a little kid in pajamas a glorification of terrorists.  I think they liven up a drab part of the Greenway.  In any case, they are temporary, to be removed in November.  They should be replaced by other art works.









An announcement for my book

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

Read it here:


Active Living Research Newsletter


Thursday, March 24th, 2011

The US Census’s release of data from the 2010 census is almost complete and there have been a number of surprises. The most disheartening has been the loss of population in Detroit. From a population high of just under 2 million in 1950, Detroit has fallen to 713,000 in 2010. It is approaching a staggering 2/3 population loss.

Detroit is not alone. There is a great swath of cities, from Baltimore and Pittsburgh (and possibly Buffalo – New York’s numbers will be released next week), through the Midwest, down to New Orleans that have lost population. Some of these losses have been fairly minor as in the case of Chicago, but many of these cities have seen cumulative population losses of 50% since their 1950 peaks. Keep in mind that this does not mean that all US cities are in decline. Cities in coastal states and in the arid West are seeing population increases, even including land locked cities such as Philadelphia, Boston, Seattle and San Francisco.

What is going on? Declining cities are old industrial centers with high rates of poverty and low rates of immigration. Of course these statistics probably reflect underlying economic problems. As manufacturing moved to the suburbs, South, and overseas, and became more efficient, these cities failed to find a way to keep their economies vibrant. They tend to lack innovative businesses or have large concentrations of businesses in growing sectors of the economy. A decline of this scale would suggest a need for a national policy, or at least a national research agenda. But I don’t think either is likely.

Visualizing Census Data

Thursday, January 6th, 2011

The US Census Bureau released a large amount of data from its American Community Survey.  This survey replaces the old long form of the decennial census.  Much of the data are the same with the release combining surveys from 2005-2009.

This covers both the great mid 2000 housing boom and the beginning of the bust.  It is going to  be interesting to compare it to previous and forthcoming data.

The New York Times produced a great tool for looking at the race data.  It can be accessed here:

The maps produced demonstrate how racial residential segregation,  particularly for African Americans, has persisted over the past 10 years.  It continues to be a major issue and will be a problem for us for decades to come.

Vacation Time!

Wednesday, July 28th, 2010

Come back for new posts in September!

So people lie about their height and weight. What’s the problem?

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

Public health  researchers and epidemiologists have little tolerance for inaccurate data.  Their fear is that these inaccuracies could potentially impact the outcomes of research.  They could lead to inaccurate point estimates of effect or somehow produce results whose inaccuracies are impossible to detect.  An example of this potential issue is the ongoing concern regarding problems with self reported height and weight.  This issue illustrates how modern epidemiology analyzes data.

Height and weight are used to compute a person’s body mass index.  BMI , in turn is used to determine whether a person is overweight or obese – a measure that has problems of its own.  Inaccurate height and weight can produce inaccurate measures of BMI.

The easiest and cheapest way to determine height and weight is to ask him or her how tall they are and what they weigh.  No special equipment is needed, no personnel are needed, etc.  What could be easier?

But when researchers compared self reported height and weight to  measured values from data in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Study (NHANES), they found that these self reports were not accurate.  Overall, men said they were taller than they were measured, women self reported lower weights.  Furthermore, the inaccuracies were greater for whites than blacks, black women were the most accurate, Black men were actually more likely to say they were shorter than they were measured and weigh less.

Note that from this data we cannot know the reasons behind these inaccuracies.  People could truly believe they are being accurate or they could be lying.  Who knows?

The problem is that not everyone is inaccurate in the same way.  Overall, the inaccuraciess skew the data in a certain way, but this says nothing about the accuracy of any one individual’s self report.

What should researchers do?  Some suggest that self-reported height/weight data be adjusted to account for these group inaccuracies.  But that makes many researchers uneasy.  How do you know your adjustments would b e appropriate for this particular dataset?

The unknown effects on research outcomes keep researchers (or some of them) up all night.  Are the errors irrelevant?  Are they causing results to appear to be statistically significant when they are really not?    Are  they masking statistically significant associations?  Are they making the point estimates of effect inaccurate?  No one can say at this time.  Also frightening, is this problem going to lead to some skeptic to call for the wholesale rejection of all studies that use self reported height/weight data?   This is not paranoia,  this is a problem that has affected climate change research.

So we watch and we worry and we hedge our findings when we report them.