Posts tagged with United States


The entire history of the US Dollar. by @Macro_Tourist

How is the dollar index constructed nowadays? Roughly like this

50.14348112 * EURO^.576 * YEN^.136 * POUND STERLING^.119 * CANADIAN^.091 * SWEDISH KRONA^.042 * SWISS FRANC^.036



Yesterday’s #SB5 conflict is an opportunity to talk about the algebra of sets. (Commonly understood through Venn diagrams.)*59PqE2CW5Y4azhNcRaG37F65Wu-OBRzSfiAHUCWMmFGbRBhMBZ**lZT5yNjH/stephenwildish04.jpg

The algebra of sets is the way ∪, ∩, , and some composite operations work. These words are useful for reminding yourself to logically separate things that are logically separate.

The relative complement of A (left circle) in B (right circle):
A^c \cap B~~~~=~~~~B \smallsetminus A

For example:

  • Not all feminists are women.
    Feminist ∩ ∁{Woman}
  • Not all women are pro-choice.
    ∁{Pro-Choice} ∩ Woman

Sets can overlap in different ways.


Population distribution of the United States in units of Canadas.
(having a hard time locating the original source. if you can clue me in I’ll link to it!)

Population distribution of the United States in units of Canadas.

(having a hard time locating the original source. if you can clue me in I’ll link to it!)


South Yuba River State Park


Topology of the United States.

At a gross resolution, just considering the land area, the United States has three disconnected parts:

  • {Alaska, Hawai'i, mainland}.

The complement of the United States is a connected space with a genus of three.

At a finer resolution you would measure a much higher genus. (Does Lake Tahoe count as a “hole” in the mainland US? What about Lake Winnibigoshish?) The Aleutian islands would all register as separate from Alaska, as would the parts of Hawai’i and even Nantucket. So at a fine resolution the complement of the land area of the United States would have a genus well over 100.

For the UK & Ireland, again it depends on resolution. At a gross scale we could simply talk about two islands but that would leave off Orkney, Man, Guernsey, Jersey, the Hebrides, Skelligs, Ione, Skye, Shetlands, and many more.

According to various Ordnance Surveyors in the Daily Mail (1995):

  • Our 1:625,000 scale database shows Great Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) has a total 6,289 islands, mostly in Scotland. Of these, 803 are large enough to have been ‘digitised’ with a coastline by our map-makers. The rest are recorded as point features
  • The 1:250,000 scale map of Northern Ireland shows 160 islands; 57 offshore.
  • Our 1:250,000 map of the Republic of Ireland has 279 offshore islands.

So, at fine resolution, the genus of the complement

  • |∁ {UK}∪{Ireland}| = 6289

and at a coarser scale, the genus of the complement of the isles is 803.

(Source: Wikipedia)

If you added up all the college education of Steinbeck, Hemingway, Faulkner you’d get almost to spring break of freshman year. …

Contemporary writing … has been influenced by the mid-century French style: psychological. Exploring your inner thoughts.

Most [American] writers today come out of M.F.A. programmes. There they’re taught to “write what you know”. And, wheuw, it is bo-o-ring.

Tom Wolfe


In total, our entire string of operating companies spent $8.2 billion for property, plant and equipment in 2011, smashing our previous record by more than $2 billion. About 95% of these outlays were made in the U.S., a fact that may surprise those who believe our country lacks investment opportunities. We welcome projects abroad, but expect the overwhelming majority of Berkshire’s future capital commitments to be in America. In 2012, these expenditures will again set a record.
Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway Annual Report 2011


Last week @gappy3000 shared the Bank of International Settlements’ autumn 2011 assessment of the impact of high-frequency trading on foreign exchange (currency) markets.

For the lazy, here’s a summary of the executive summary:

HFT in FX operates on high volume but small order sizes, low margins, low latency (… milliseconds) and short risk holding periods (… well under five seconds). …[I]t occurs mainly in the most liquid currencies.

Market functioning: HFT[’s] impact on … FX market[s] … could be seen as beneficial in normal times. HFT helps to distribute liquidity across the decentralised market, improving efficiency, and has narrowed spreads…. Questions remain about HFT[s’] … willingness to provide liquidity … under [stressed] market conditions. … That said, recent experience  suggests that HFT participants are not … flightier than traditional participants in times of market stress….

Systemic risks: The 6 May 2010 “flash crash” in equities suggests that systemic risk is … more likely to be triggered by a “rogue” algorithmic trade than by pure HFT, which tends to involve small-size trades, short horizons and diverse strategies. Nonetheless, HFT may … propagate shocks initiated elsewhere….
Market integrity and competition: Many of the “predatory” or “unfair” practices attributed to HFT participants … are in fact not new. HFT is but the latest high-tech, high-speed manifestation of them.


via @cmastication

Al Gore won the popular vote in the United States’ 2000 presidential election. However due to their voting system, “points” are apportioned in such a way that Gore lost the election to the Great American Cowboy.

You might think “It was the electoral college (apportioning system) that made Gore lose” — after all, he won by pure percentage.

But, if things had been different — if the United States elected its presidents on the basis of national totals — then everything would have been different.

All the campaign strategists would have spent their budgets differently, perhaps recruited donors differently, perhaps even written different speeches.

Saying “Gore would have won without the electoral college” would be like looking at a video of a gunfight and saying, “If only Billy the Kidd would have been 100 yards on the other side of Wyatt Earp! Then he would have shot him in the back.” Well, duh—Wyatt Earp was facing Billy the Kidd and would have been turned around, had Billy the Kidd been 100 yards on the other side.

You can’t edit the tape that way.

Everything is connected. You can’t change one thing (about the past), without changing everything (about the future).