From the monthly archives:

September 2009

37Signals is worth $100 billion

September 29, 2009

Closely following the Twitter valuation news comes this brilliant satire from 37signals: 37signals is now a $100 billion dollar company, according to a group of investors who have agreed to purchase 0.000000001% of the company in exchange for $1... In order to increase the value of the company, 37signals has decided to stop generating revenues. […]

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Lessons in diplomacy

September 27, 2009

When the world has just learned that its suspicions about your secret nuclear ambitions are frighteningly accurate, you should probably go ahead and flaunt ten days of missile testing.

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Measuring aggregate risk in CDS markets

September 25, 2009

The ECB recently published this lengthy report (PDF link) on the state of the CDS market, with particular focus on counterparty risk. It is well worth a read for either a cursory overview or more in-depth look at the mechanics and concerns of that market. Section 3.4 regarding counterparty risk measures was especially interesting to […]

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Suspicious poll distributions

September 25, 2009

I've covered Benford's method for first-digit fraud analysis before, and now Nate Silver has applied a similar method to polling results. He looked at the last digit of various polls (i.e. a 48% McCain, 49% Obama, 3% undecided poll would be recorded as an 8 and a 9) and compiled histograms of their frequencies. Following […]

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Ferrari 458 in motion (x2)

September 25, 2009

The goal of any automotive film is to convey the pure sensation of driving at speed - and few are as successful as Ferrari's latest promotion for the new 458 Italia, embedded here for your driving pleasure. The disclaimer in the beginning notes that no special effects are used and the implied message is that […]

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Iran has a secret nuclear plant

September 25, 2009

I am hardly surprised, and fervently hope this erodes any remaining legitimacy that the present Iranian government has managed to cling to. (Via everyone)

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Lottery math is not so easy

September 23, 2009

Carl Bialik has written about lottery coincidences in his WSJ print column and on The Numbers Guy blog, inspired of course by the recent consecutive draws in the Bulgarian lottery. Addressing my recent confusion, he sheds a little light on why likelihood estimates varied so much: The probability of Bulgaria's repeated winning numbers became a […]

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Big Apple Burj Dubai (again!)

September 23, 2009

When it rains it pours - via Jason Kottke, another take on a hypothetical Big Apple Burj Dubai:

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Because no one knows commodities like we do

September 22, 2009

Why did a post up titled "How To Play Natural Gas With Small Cap Stocks" pop up in Silicon Alley Insider's RSS feed? A little investigating (elementary, my dear Watson) shows that it's actually from The Money Game - another blog under the Business Insider umbrella. The blogs themselves and current RSS feeds show no […]

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iPhones support push gmail!

September 22, 2009

Finally. I've been using Google's contact and calendar syncing increasingly, to the point that they are almost indispensable to me. Most critically, when my last iPhone broke I only had to wait a few seconds for my new one to download all of my information from the cloud. The addition of push email completes Google Sync's basic […]

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Yurtle the Turtle had nothing on this!

September 21, 2009

Visualizing the view from the top of the Burj Dubai - if it were located in NYC.

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You say series, I say season

September 20, 2009

Catching up on my Top Gear this afternoon, I noticed at the end of the episode that the voiceover announced that next week is the "season finale" and not the "series finale" I expected of the British show. Given that the show is broadcast here on BBC America, are the voiceovers re-recorded for our shores? […]

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Users still aren't right about changes

September 20, 2009

Once again, the self-proclaimed "experts" of social media are revealed to be not much more than some anecdotes and a keyboard. The latest is Dan Zarrella, who has written a vitriolic attack on Twitter's planned adoption of the retweet as an official mechanism. Zarrella does some excellent work in other areas, but I find him completely […]

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Twitter's broken data model becomes slightly less broken

September 19, 2009

I don't usually have anything nice to say about Twitter (though I still ignore my mother's advice and say it anyway), but the company is finally taking steps to improve one of the most glaring faults with their service: retweets. Previously, retweets were simply new tweets that happened to contain old information. This created clutter […]

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Adventures in probability

September 17, 2009

Calculating the probability of the Bulgarian lottery drawing the exact same numbers in consecutive weeks.

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I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords

September 17, 2009

Why waste your time with those "Did You Know?" videos (the fourth one has just been released; in lieu of a link please accept my earlier criticisms) when you can see the wonders of the future right here: I found the phone-catching demonstration near the end particularly astounding. (Via Spontaneous Symmetry)

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QOTD: slow and steady edition

September 15, 2009

Speaking to reporters at the 2009 Frankfurt Auto Show on Chrysler's reorganization plans, Dodge CEO Michael Accavitti made this perplexing statement: The future for the Dodge brand will be daring designs and agility and not just muscle and going from zero to 60 miles per hour in 10 seconds. It's probably just as well; 0-60 […]

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Speaking of fast flips...

September 15, 2009

My Google Reader was filled with a lot of headlines on Google's new Fast Flip service this morning, but none of them amused me quite as much as Silicon Alley Insider's confused monologue: 7:45 a.m.: Google's Fast Flip Makes Reading Print Publications Online Easier 8:40 a.m.: Google FastFlip Is A Gigantic Step Backwards 10:29 a.m.: […]

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You can keep the note

September 14, 2009

I re-watched the classic Marx Brothers movie Duck Soup last night and three (barely) finance-related bits stuck out. Yes, this as a thinly veiled attempt to get the Marx Brothers on TGR. First, a timely discussion of the politics of debt, in Groucho's extended introduction: Groucho: "Now, how about lending this country 20 million dollars […]

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Radial clustering

September 14, 2009

Finally, a radial visualization which serves a purpose rather than just looking cool. Getting Genetics Done has a tutorial on using clustering functions in R. In it, they show how this this analysis: is much better represented like this: There's nothing wrong with making a chart which looks good - in fact it's encouraged - so long as […]

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Bubble 2.0 datapoint of the day: "the Twitter age?"

September 14, 2009

The beginning of this Mashable post made me pause: How much buzz is one inappropriate publicity stunt during the VMA’s worth in the Twitter age? In the case of Kanye West interrupting Taylor Swift’s acceptance speech, almost 300,000 tweets in one hour. What does it even mean for something to have "worth in the Twitter age?" […]

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Questionable rankings

September 14, 2009

I read this morning about the drama at last night's MTV video awards (does anyone actually watch this stuff?), but the episode was overshadowed in my mind by a quirky accident of rankings: if Taylor Swift beat Beyonce for the "Best Female Video", how can Beyonce go on to win "Video of the Year"? Presumably, video […]

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Yet more risky testimony

September 11, 2009

Nassim Taleb and Chris Whalen also participated in Wednesday's House hearing on risk management. The full text of their remarks are available here (Taleb) and here (Whalen). Taleb's thoughts are familiar, consisting largely of his well-known opinions on VaR and financial regulation. Whalen, however, provides an excellent quote: The problem is not with models themselves. […]

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Bookstaber's testimony on risk

September 11, 2009

Rick Bookstaber testified to the House on Wednesday regarding risk management; the text of his remarks is available here. It is a must-read. The bulk of his testimony focuses on VaR: it's use, misuse and role in the recent crisis. I find his greatest insight in this paragraph: I remember a cartoon that showed a […]

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Enlightenment

September 11, 2009

A relatively new program has been devised, with the blessing of the Dalai Lama, to instruct Tibetan monks and nuns in science and math. These students have little or no formal education in that area, but are adept learners and take to the material quickly and with interest. My favorite quote from the NYT's report: […]

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Hands, fingers, knees and toes (knees and toes)

September 10, 2009

Wikipedia is an incredible resource, but every now and then it gives me pause. Consider the first two sentences about the seventh-inning stretch: The seventh-inning stretch is a tradition in baseball that takes place between the halves of the seventh inning of any game. Fans generally stand up and stretch out their arms, legs, necks, backs, calves, fingers, elbows, […]

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Junk Maths

September 10, 2009

Via Andrew Gelman, I've learned that the BBC has a radio programme (as they would say write) called More or Less which is dedicated to statistics. The first bit of the most recent one is called "Junk Maths" (and again, I wish I could have taken a class called "maths") with the following synopsis: Spurious […]

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Search forecasts

September 8, 2009

Google Insights recently rolled out a new feature: 12 month search forecasts. The forecast comes from a relatively simple decomposition of the search volume into trend, seasonal and residual components. The model's out-of-sample performance is tested on the most recent 12 month period; if that prediction proves accurate, then the model is accepted. Here's what […]

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How to fix a broken pie chart

September 8, 2009

Datavisualization.ch has a helpful step-by-step on how to turn this (from a Mashable post): into this: Of course, the motivation is worth more than the mechanics.

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Only in America

September 3, 2009

The law firms of Pearson, Simon, Warshaw & Penny, LLP and Tydings & Rosenberg, LLP have just announced a class-action lawsuit against ProShares Trust on behalf of everyone who has ever owned shares of SKF, the double-short financials leveraged ETF. Key quote from the press release: For example, in a six week period from September […]

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