Category Archives: General

The unemployment shoe drops

Local unemployment figures were released late yesterday for the month of January. The spike that Fayette county had long avoided finally hit, pushing the local unemployment rate* up 1.4% to an overall total of 6.3%. This means that just over 2,000 more people were without a job in Fayette county in January.

The Lexington-Fayette MSA (Bourbon, Clark, Fayette, Jessamine, Scott, and Woodford counties) increased similarly from 5.4% in December to 7.0% in January.

Care for a game of leapfrog?

The Lexington Herald-Leader is up with a story about cellphone-only households. You can find it HERE.

As I looked through the list of the top states with cellphone-only households, I noticed that they all shared some similar traits. Namely, they were or had large areas of rural land, probably with poor telecommunications infrastructure overall. Sound like anywhere in Kentucky outside the major cities?

Cellphone technology is one of those interesting subjects that stuck with me after my college economics classes. Namely, how it is often classified as a “leapfrog” technology in that areas that were not previously served by landline telephone service could leapfrog over 1900s-era landline technology straight to the 2000s-era cellphone technology. The advantage of cellphones versus landlines is that because it is a radio (or wireless) technology, there is not necessarily a need for developed roads, electrical grids, or phone wires. Local base stations can be powered remotely by generator or by local power. This makes the capital investment needed to provide service much lower. Expect to see the number of cellphone-only households continue to increase.

News you can use

Part of my job is reading and digesting a large amount of information every day. This means I am officially addicted to the news – whether I read it via RSS, Twitter, or individual websites.

I came across a devilishly addicting new site this morning set up by the Newseum and rayogram that shows you the front page of 14 of the world’s leading newspapers in a handy little interface.

You can find it here: NEWScan

Happy reading!

Stock Market Predictions

One website that I particularly enjoy reading is FiveThirtyEight.com. It is run by Nate Silver, a freak statistician that applies his considerable numbers genius (normally applied to baseball) to politics. He’s probably biased to the left, but he also always discloses his methodologies in an open and clear manner. In the following article he muses about the predictability of the stock market (motivated by its use to credit or discredit the current president).

http://www.fivethirtyeight.com/2009/03/manic-depressive-market.html

In essence, the norm used to be that if the market rose on any day, it was more likely to rise the next day too as the rally played out. That effect was mostly canceled out in the 80s and 90s as information was relayed and used at a faster clip.

In a completely boggling twist, Nate’s data shows that since 2000, the market is has a tendency toward inverse serial correlation. This means that if the market rises one day, it is more likely to fall the next. He puts out a few reasons for why this might be, but at least we now have proof that the roller coaster ride that those of us who

A million, a billion, and a trillion walk into a bar…

First, some credit. The article that provoked this post can be found here: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0209/19343.html

The article explores the fact that it is conceptually difficult for any human brain to discern the difference between large sums such as a million, a billion, and a trillion. I’m always up for a challenge, so here goes:

One million pennies (in addition to being $10,000) would make a coin roll just under a mile long or about the distance from our offices to go watch the Cats play at Rupp Arena.

One billion pennies would make a coin roll 870 miles long, enough to get from Lexington to just short of Dallas, TX (in addition to making you close to $10 million richer)

One trillion pennies is $10 billion dollars, never mind the distance. Ok, if you are curious, that is a coin roll from Lexington around the Earth back to Lexington 25 times.

You’ll never look at a penny the same again.