Lydster: the grown-up stuff

American Community Survey

My daughter is experiencing the grown-up stuff.

About a week after returning to college, she received in the mail at home what I assumed was a jury summons. After texting her for permission – something I needed to do with my now-adult progeny – I discovered I was correct.

I called the number on the form and spoke to the very understanding representative on the other end, explaining my daughter was currently in another state. “No problem.” They’ll contact her again in mid-May.

She was chagrined; she was looking forward to working that summer. (That $40 per day is not very robust.) Of course, she may not be called beyond one day. Incidentally, I haven’t been called for jury duty since 2014, when I wasn’t chosen.


Then, in early October, she got a notification that she was supposed to contact the campus about a letter she got from the US Census. She wondered if it was legit. I asked her if it was about the American Community Survey, and it was.

The ACS “helps local officials, community leaders, and businesses understand the changes taking place in their communities. It is the premier source for detailed population and housing information about our nation.”

The ACS is the source of much of the more granular data the Census releases. Unless one is a Census nerd like I am, people don’t know about it because only a random sampling of people receives it each month.

The letter from the college was delivered to my daughter’s room, directing her to contact a person with Census. I verified that this person worked for the Bureau because that’s what fathers and librarians do.


When we visited our daughter at college in October, her mother and I marveled at the great organization she had implemented in her tiny room. Everything is in its place. At home, her bedroom is… a work in progress.

On her wall at college is this banner. She painted the flags on the cloth, representing her DNA from Ireland, Nigeria, England, Cameroon, Scotland, Benin, et al. The blue flag I did not recognize is a banner for the Bantu people.

Yes, there was a real Vidal Sassoon

The elimination of the ACS would mean the loss of all the data Census used to collect on the long form. A voluntary ACS would actually cost MORE to operate than it does presently.

I was on Facebook recently, and someone, who I believe considers herself a bit of a fashionista, wrote: “Did you have ANY idea Vidal Sassoon was a real person? I did not.” She must be even younger than I thought because that means she never saw this commercial and others like it. This made me feel rather old but also puzzled. I found this list of companies named after people, and Sassoon was not on it; maybe it seemed too obvious. 

At a conference last week, I was talking to some folks about movies. I mentioned how cinematic offerings so often come from another source, such as The Avengers (a couple of no-spoiler reviews here and here, BTW) I said I didn’t know why they bothered to slap the name Dark Shadows on it, since it has such a different feel than the TV show. Both of them expressed shock. I said, “Look it up!” at which point one pulled out his smartphone. “Go to,” I directed. He exclaimed, “Dark Shadows 1966-1971, 30-minute gothic soap opera. I didn’t know they had goth back then!” I just walked away. They must have missed Jonathan Frid’s obit; he originated the character Barnabas Collins in 1967 that Johnny Depp will play in the film.

All the obits for Maurice Sendak mentioned first Where The Wild Things Are; I don’t think I’ve ever read it! Yet I immediately recognize the artwork. I DID watch Really Rosie and saw some of his other work, such as in The New Yorker.

A guy who’s my sister’s friend, and my Facebook friend and real-life acquaintance, lives in the San Diego area. He wrote of Junior Seau, the San Diego Chargers linebacker who committed suicide: “There’s an outpouring of sadness in this city. He was much more than an athlete: his charitable contributions were well-respected. We won’t know what demons were in his life; we’d rather remember the goodness that he radiated, at least in public.” What Jaquandor said, I would echo.

From the Association of Public Data Users:
“The U.S. House of Representatives voted on May 9th to eliminate the American Community Survey. This amendment to the FY2013 Commerce, Justice, Science appropriations bill passed by a vote of 232 to 190. Right before this vote, the House passed the Webster amendment, approved by voice vote and sponsored by Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX), to make a response to the ACS voluntary by prohibiting both the Census Bureau and the Justice Department from using funds to enforce penalties in the Census Act that make survey response mandatory. (The amendment had to be written as a limit on the expenditure of funds in order for it to be ruled “in order” on an appropriations bill.) The outcome of this vote demonstrates the importance of proactivity among data users in conveying their support for the ACS and other surveys to all members of the House and Senate. The Senate is expected to take up the FY2013 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill next week.”

The elimination of the ACS, for those who don’t deal with Census data, would mean the loss of all the data Census used to collect on the long-form, discontinued after Census 2000 to make way for the ACS, at Congress’ urging! The ACS has provided data more regularly. A voluntary ACS, because it would involve contacting more households, would actually cost MORE to operate than it does presently, and because of participant bias – i.e., people who like to fill out surveys – would lose its statistical validity. Governments, businesses, and individuals use these data daily, I know from experience.
Evanier notes that on a recent trip how much of it was made possible by technology that didn’t exist a decade or two ago.

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