Archive for April, 2008

Dr. George Fishbeck would roll over in his grave!

Posted in Meanderings with tags , , , on April 22, 2008 by weirleader

of course, he might still be alive – he’s an awfully hard-to-track-down guy.

Anyhow, the pertinent point is that I’ve come across another fascinating Freakonomics article; this one dealing with the inconsistency and inaccuracy of weather reports. To be it’s supremely ironic that I stumbled across this a mere day after ranting about a similar problem in the news’ treatment of the course of the stock market.

A lot of it (the article) sort of dovetails with common sense, though it’s so easy to just assume that the newscasters actually know what they’re doing… but then again, that’s exactly my problem with stock reporting; you trust them to know what they’re talking about, and often they don’t have the decency to admit they simply don’t know.

As for Dr. George, well that’s just a blast from my past. I haven’t thought of him in years, until I was trying to come up with a ‘different’ title for this post. I think he will always be my image of a stereotypical weatherman from the ‘good old days’ – back before Dallas Raines (is that really his legal name?) or Christopher Nance or the comic Fritz Coleman. And in trying to look up whatever became of him, I stumbled across this little post which surprised me by informing me that Dr. George is immortalized in a Tom Waits song (I’m guessing Writin Wrong has heard it at some point).

To summarize, I quote from the article:

The takeaway message? Do not plan your weekend activities based on the T.V. weather forecasts unless it is already Thursday — but waiting until Friday would be even better.

Don’t Waste Your Time On The Little Stuff

Posted in Meanderings on April 22, 2008 by weirleader

So Caleb and Quinn were sharing with us what they’ve been learning about the ear yesterday. We are enjoying hearing about what they remember and are prompting Quinn for the vocabulary he remembers. He does a pretty good job, recalling the hammer (I’m guessing his previous familiarity with the word helped) and we hint and cajole to get him to recall anvil and stirrups. These are the ones that immediately come to my mind.

Not to leave out Caleb, though he’s not quite 6, we ask what he learned and he claimed he couldn’t remember any of the words. Only, moments later, he blurts out “…and the semicircular canal!” Guess he couldn’t be bothered with anything as simple as a hammer or anvil. 🙂

On a side note, he also quite seriously explained (as he’s working on his phonics) that the end of the word ‘leap’ starts with ‘p’. 🙂

The Dow of Money Sense

Posted in Deep And Profound Brain Things, Mathematics, Money with tags , , , , , on April 21, 2008 by weirleader

As a former (small-time) investor and math teacher, I’ve long been frustrated with the news’ approach to reporting ups and downs, highs and lows in the market.  My favorite type of report states that “The Dow was up today on rumors that ____________________.”  Come on!  You’re telling me that the only thing that contributed to this massively complex market today was a single rumor?  No one in their right mind believes that, certainly not whoever wrote the article…  yet they feel compelled to put a reason to the day’s events.  And I really believe a lot of people out there take the report at face value.

What was merely a pet peeve, however, became much more serious after I read this paper by Arthur Lupia, et al. at the University of Michigan (hat tip, once again, to Freakonomics).  I don’t want to steal his thunder too much – you should read for yourself – but suffice it to say that the status quo is really just fostering ignorance and poor investing sense.  I consider myself good with numbers, but this interpretation of events eluded me.  Reading it, however, explains a lot about how an economy can appear so good and perform so badly at the same time; it’s all about where you focus your attention.

Whether or not the media is swayed by the solid suggestions, I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to at least better interpret this kind of financial data in the future.  That’s a start…

More by Prof. Lupia here.