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Bridge Michigan
Michigan’s nonpartisan, nonprofit news source

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Land O Links

*Is the Traverse City area a “hateful” place? A new map presents a heat index of hateful words sent via Twitter and assigned to their origin points by county.

As you zoom in on Michigan, the hottest spots are near Traverse City, Reed City, Grayling and Gaylord.

“The data behind this map is based on every geocoded tweet in the United States from June 2012 - April 2013 containing one of the 'hate words'. This equated to over 150,000 tweets and was drawn from the DOLLY project based at the University of Kentucky. Because algorithmic sentiment analysis would automatically classify any tweet containing 'hate words' as ‘negative,’ this project relied upon the HSU students to read the entirety of tweet and classify it as positive, neutral or negative based on a predefined rubric. Only those tweets that were identified by human readers as negative were used in this analysis.”

One explanation of the Michigan results could be volume. Areas in the less populated northern half of the Lower Peninsula have fewer overall tweets, thereby making those with these key words stand out as a larger share of the whole.

*Using data to create solutions for urban issues is the goal of a new initiative at Harvard University’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation.

This piece reviews a program in Boston that encourages citizens to sign up to “adopt a fire hydrant” by agreeing to shovel snow off of it after storms. The writer, Nick Carney, wonders if this should lead to a larger consideration of citizen maintenance program – something directly relevant in Michigan as cities continue to cut services in the face of budget problems.

land-o-FINAL*Detroit’s financial crisis in one paragraph:

“Pensions -- Present state: Pension-related costs and other post-employment benefit obligations make up about $7.5 billion of the city’s approximately $15 billion in long-term debt. Orr’s report casts doubt on the financial health of the city’s two pension systems: the Detroit General Retirement System and the Detroit Police and Fire Retirement System. The pension systems are underfunded by at least $600 million, the report says. The city, which already is under financial stress because of pension payments, would have to pay significantly more if the funds’ rates of return do not exceed assumed rates of return, the report says.”

*This nifty population map shows Michigan’s urbanized belt regaining population between 2010 and 2012, while rural areas continue to shrink.

*As an individual afflicted with “holiday decorating syndrome,” I can appreciate the zeal with which a Santa display was rescued for the city of Flint.

And not just any display, but a traditional blow-mold plastic Santa, sleigh and reindeer. As everyone probably knows, the vintage blow-mold style of outdoor decoration is far superior to the inflatable and lighted-outline variants now so common in front yards in December.

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