March 2010

The Economix blog over at the NYT turned me on to how the Midwest is the “Beer Belly” of America, where bars outnumber grocery stores. You see, the folks at have done all sorts of exciting things, such as the awesome “pizza map” which shows whether your region prefers pizza, guns, or strippers. I was very surprised by the small number of Southerners who liked strippers. But Angry Overeducated Catholic put me straight…

Angry Overeducated Catholic

Well, remember that this doesn’t really show that Southerners don’t like strippers…only that they like guns (or pizza) more.

Also, we should always remember that one stripper can “service” a goodly number of customers, and strip club customers may not mind driving for 20-30 minutes to the club, since they plan to spend hours there….thus we should expect pizza places to be more numerous, because nobody wants to wait an extra half hour for pizza (except Chicagoans)…

The real apples to apples are strip clubs to gun shops, as:

  • both have obsessive customer bases which love to spend hours and hours at the establishment and have a significant subset of “creepy” customers
  • both cater to both the weekend regulars and the once-in-a-blue-moon customers
  • the once-in-a-blue-moon customers usually need some handholding and instruction in the etiquette of the place
  • both employ security…for obvious reasons
  • both are subject to harassment and busybody cops
  • both tend to be located on the sketchy outskirts of town (okay, that’s true for pizza places frequently too)
  • both are defended vehemently by ideological purists who would, quite frankly, be horrified by a large subset of the actual customers

After reading Bang Bank you’re safe I thought it would be interesting to produce a graph of the Brady Gun score against the gun homicide rate per 100,000.

2009 Brady State Score vs Gun homicide rate

2009 Brady Score vs. Gun homicide rate

No real surprise: the gun score doesn’t seem to have much to do with your chance of being killed with a gun.

There are a lot of problems with this graph; correlation is not causation, the scale is a bit off, and California tends to dominate the eye, being all the way on the right.

But the biggest problem is that the underlying Brady score is measuring inputs instead of outputs. It is like trying to figure out if a school is any good by looking at how much money it spends instead of how well the students learn.