All posts by az

L.A. Hotspots

I’m a big fan of this analysis of the places in the US with the most pleasant weather. It looks good and it’s fun to play with, but its conclusion isn’t surprising: Los Angeles has the best weather in the country.

I already know that, which is one of the many reasons I live in LA, but it’s a big city and its denizens love to argue about the merits of their respective neighborhoods. So where in LA has the best weather?
Continue reading L.A. Hotspots


I love movies and I love data and the folks at Metacritic do a great job of combining the two. They take movie reviews, convert them into a 100-point scale, and then average them together (important publications are weighted more) to get a single number that gives you a sense of how well a movie has been critically received. The Metascore.

Metascore is great and I use it all the time. It’s not the boss of me, I saw and enjoyed That Awkward Moment even though it only had a Metascore of 36 (Miles Teller FTW). But I still like to know if the critics love, hate, or are so-so on a particular movie.

I’ve discovered a problem with Metascore, which is really a problem with movie critics. They literally get paid to watch movies, so they don’t care if the movies are long. Critics aren’t worried about meeting up for dinner after the movie, waking up for work the next day, getting home to relieve the babysitter, etc. But we are.  This is especially true now that we’re in Oscar season. Nothing says “important film” like a 3-hour runtime.

Since I think movies are too long and I think Metascore rewards long movies too much, I’ve invented my own movie metric. I’m all about branding, so let’s call it the Zetascore. I’ll explain more below, but first let’s see if there’s really a problem.

Let’s look at every wide-release movie of 2014 by runtime (in minutes):
Continue reading Zetascore

Serial Numbers

At every cocktail party, book club, or dinner I go to, the conversation inevitably turns to the same topic: Serial — the breakout podcast from This American Life. Everyone wants to talk about the possibly guilty protagonist Adnan, his possibly shady cohort Jay, and a possibly nonexistent Best Buy payphone.  According to Apple, it’s the fastest podcast to reach 5 million downloads ever.  Let’s take a look at its popularity:

Google searches for “adnan serial” show consistent growth since the podcast launched on Oct 3:

Continue reading Serial Numbers