Correlation fun

Google recently put a thing called Google correlate up in their labs.

You enter a query and it finds other queries whose volumes correlate with your query in time. If your query has spikes at different times since 2003, then in practical terms, Google correlate finds other queries that spiked at the same time.


The fun part is that you can shift your query in time. If, say, you shift your query by -37 weeks (a pleasant prime number not very near any natural time cycle), you can find other queries that ebb, flow and spike 37 weeks after yours.


So, try “osama bin laden” shifted -37 weeks.

The results: Three “aim 5” queries and “best dvd rentals”.

Coincidence? You decide.

How to calculate the truth

Through Fark I saw this article: The Myth of 90 Percent: Only a Small Fraction of Guns in Mexico Come From U.S.

The sum of the article is that there have apparently been lots of media stories saying that 90% of the drug war guns in Mexico come from the U.S. But the article claims that the 90% number is bogus and should be 17%.

Let’s run with that.

You can calculate the 17% pretty accurately by noting that if there’s a repeated, repeated, repeated number under-pinning a story, story, story that matches the media’s core beliefs, then you must multiply the number by the 80% chance that the number is BS, that is, a 20% chance the number is accurate.

90% * .20 = 18%

Which is pretty close to 17%, is it not?

This method of calculating the truth says that Madoff swindled not 60 billion, but 12 billion.


Margin call on the roll call

Congress and the Fed seem to be wiggling around, using a day’s worth of stock market activity to tell them how and when to “invest” $700,000,000,000. I guess that the chart broke through a price resistance barrier on the downside and signaled a buy to our duly elected day-traders.

The “bailout,” if done honestly, will use borrowed money. That raises an interesting question: What happens if the market value of the “troubled assets” goes down? Does that mean that Congress will get a margin call?