whecht's blog


Why can't Excel calculate e properly?

Obviously, the EXP function returns the proper value for E but when you use the formula


as the number in C5 approaches infinity

you don't get the right number since the formula breaks down somewhere around the number 82,000,000.

I assume it has something to do with Excel not calculating more than 15 or 31 digits.

Can anyone help?

Saving gas

I have heard a few different answers to the question about how much gas you can save when you slow down.

NewHour just said that slowing down 5 MPH will save about 20 cents a gallon. If gas is $4 a gallon then I think the equation is something like this

30 MPG at 60 MPH vs 28.5 MPG at 65 MPH

If I do the math right then you are saving about $5.50 an hour.

I assume that most people's time is worth more than $5.50 an hour.

But my question is (to the huge number of people reading this post) how much gas do you really save slowing down from 70 to 65 or from 65 to 60?

NY Times Math Quiz

"Cory Asmus of Temecula, Calif., just bought a $4,800 motorcycle for his 20-mile drive to work so he could cut his gas bill to $8 a week, from $110."

I tried to do a little math. Help me out here.

If work is 20 miles away then he goes 200 miles a week on a 5 day week.
Assuming gas is $3.50 a gallon then he would be using 2.28 gallons on his motorcycle and 31.43 gallons in his 'car/truck'.

At $3.50 a gallon then his motorcycle would get 87.5 MPG and his old car would get 6.36 MPG. That sounds ABSURD. Am I wrong?

If gas is more expensive than $3.50 then both need to get better mileage. At $4.50 a gallon the cycle would get 112.5 MPG and the car would get 8.18 MPG. Still absurd.

Am I missing something or is the NY Times flunking 5th grade math?


Electoral College 5-23-08

The race appears to be getting a little closer. New Hampshire is a virtual deadheat.

McCain has the same 24 states and 216 electoral votes
Obama has 15 states and 200 electoral votes

The first number is the number of electoral votes 11 for Missouri
The final number is the percentage chance of Obama winning. Obama has a 37.12% chance of winning MO

11 MISSOURI 37.12
13 VIRGINIA 40.95
5 NEVADA 47.12
9 COLORADO 62.23
20 OHIO 62.97
10 WISCONSIN 71.25
7 IOWA 74.00
17 MICHIGAN 74.00


No matter how cynical you get, it is impossible to keep up.
- Lily Tomlin

Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.
- Arthur Schopenhauer

where else would you hear about THIS???


"... if Prime Minister Olmert and Defense Minister Barak were running for president in the US, they might not be deemed sufficiently pro-Israel to be acceptable in the American mainstream."

Interesting point, ain't it?


more on express bus lanes

I found this fascinating; especially when I realized it was from 1988 - 20 years ago.

More after the break

"Republican senators know they’re #ucked"

This is a family blog after all.

“American conservatives had one defeat, in 2006, but it wasn’t a big one,” he said. “The big defeat is probably coming, and then the thinking will happen. I have not yet seen the major think tanks reorient themselves, and I don’t know if they can.” He added, “You go to Capitol Hill—Republican senators know they’re fucked. They have that sense. But they don’t know what to do. There’s a hunger for new policy ideas.”


Interesting article from the New Yorker

Obama is a Muslim

Edward N. Luttwak, a fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, is the author of “Strategy: The Logic of War and Peace.” wrote this in the New York Times

More below

66 senate seats

Intrade just opened up a contract that the Democrats will hold 66 seats after the election. The odds appear to be about 330-1 but I find that amazing.

Sometimes it is personal


This second one is from last year


Things like this scare me beyond words.

May 14 Predicitons

Andrew might be correct. So I changed the definition of a battleground state from 65% sure to 70% sure. Therefore WI is now considered a battleground state even though WI barely changed from 70% Obama to 69% Obama
McCain is ahead in 24 states for 216 votes
Obama is ahead in 18 states for 224 votes

NEVADA 50% 5
OHIO 61% 20

The big change is that Iowa went from 64% to 73% for Obama.
CO improved slightly from 57% to 60% while NV went from 52% to just under 50%.

So at this point, Obama wins with 293 votes. Previously, Obama had 298 votes.

Express Bus Lanes

The problem with mass transit in this country is that the best, least costly, way to help is the least sexy of all.

Express bus lanes

You could create an express bus lane between Phoenix and Tuscon far cheaper than you could create any kind of light or heavy rail.

The buses would be about as fast, far more flexible and far cheaper.

Of course, people will complain that they are stuck in traffic while the bus lane appears empty. But they won't complain when the rail 'lane' is empty.

Unfortunately, express bus lanes aren't sexy.

genetic testing


Michael Kinsley's latest.

Read it and tell me what you think in the comments.

truncated entry

How do I truncate an entry so it doesn't take up too much space?

Dead Parrot


Which makes me think, with apologies to Monty Python...:
A Democratic primary voter enters Clinton for President headquarters.
Voter: Hello, I wish to register a complaint.
(The man behind the counter does not respond.)
Voter: Hello, Miss?
Geoff Garin: What do you mean "miss"?
Voter: I'm sorry, I have a cold. I wish to make a complaint!
Garin: We're closin' for lunch.
Voter: Never mind that, my boy. I wish to complain about this candidate what I voted for not two days ago.
GG : Oh yes, the, uh, the Hillary Clinton ...What's,uh...What's wrong with her?
Voter: I'll tell you what's wrong with her, my lad. Her campaign is dead, that's what's wrong with her!
GG: No, no, she's, uh,...she's resting.
Voter: Look, matey, I know a dead candidate when I see one, and I'm looking at one right now.
GG: No no she's not dead, she's, she's restin'! Remarkable bird, Hillary Clinton, idn't she? Beautiful plumage!
Voter: The plumage don't enter into it. Her presidential campaign is stone dead.
GG: Nononono, no, no! She's resting!

May 8 predictions

Obama is a clear favorite in 19 states, (DC counts as a State) with 248 votes
McCain is a clear favorite in 24 states with 216 votes

Sorry Andrew but Obama is a clear favorite in Wisconsin with about a 70% chance of winning.

I consider a 65% chance of winning to be the definition of clear favorite. I will post more details if anyone cares.

The swing states are: (% shows the chances for Obama) (Number of electoral votes

MO 41% 11
VA 43% 13
NV 52% 5
NH 54% 4
CO 57% 9
OH 60% 20
NM 63% 5
IA 64% 7

So if Obama wins IA, NM and CO then you end up with a 269-269 tie

If everything goes according to the odds, Obama wins 298-240.

Based on a very stupid translation from state odds to electoral votes then Obama gets 52.3% and McCain gets 47.7%

Gas Taxes

Average gas tax per gallon - March 2008

Germany $5.16
UK $5.02
France $4.83
Japan $2.29
Canada $1.19
US $0.40


"Harvard economist Gregory Mankiw, President Bush's former chief economic adviser, has proposed raising the tax by 10 cents a year for 10 years, to give the economy time to adjust."

I don't think that is enough but it is a far more realistic goal.

CAFE Standards

Why do we waste time arguing over CAFE standards?

Does it really matter if the average car SOLD gets 25 MPG or gets 35 MPG?

Does anyone reading this have any idea how to calculate CAFE standards for cars that can use E-85 Ethanol?

Has anyone noticed that with gas at record high prices that the number of small cars has greatly increased and the sale of big SUV's have gone down? I'd be willing to bet that the number of miles driven in a big SUV are also way down and the miles driven in a sub-compact have increased.

The recent changes in car purchases and driving habits have NOTHING to do with CAFE standards. All that matters is the price of gas.

It will make it easier to get out of Iraq.

Job losses

One thing I hate about the way the government reports numbers is that revisions in prior reports seem to get lost in the shuffle. This month is a bad month to use as an example because the amount that was hidden was quite small.

The Wall Street Journal reported "Nonfarm payrolls, which are calculated by a survey of establishments, declined 20,000 in April, the Labor Department said. They fell 81,000 in March and 83,000 in February. Both were revised to show slightly larger drops."

In this case, the explanation was actually pretty good. It took me a lot of investigation to find that the previous reports for March and February were losses of 80,000 and 76,000. That means that the current report showed a loss of 20,000 jobs in April and a 'loss' of an additional 8,000 jobs in prior months that had not been reported until today. In effect, the economy lost 28,000 jobs.

This is significant when they make substantial revisions in a prior month but that revision gets swept under a rug.

I really don't know why Wall Street doesn't do a better job of keeping the government honest.

What is really important on May 1, 2008

This is fantastic. If you go to The Corner right now:

- The number of times the words "health care" is mentioned: 7
- The number of times the word "Iraq" is mentioned: 15
- The number of times Rev. Wright is mentioned: 230

And no, I'm not kidding.

OK, I got this from Andrew Sullivan's blog



Of course, the stats were from May 1

National ID cards

We should issue passport type ID's to every American over the next 10 years. Yes, it means that the government wouldn't collect all those passport fees but it would be cheaper than the amount we waste now.

It could be a requirement to get on any plane. It could be a requirement that once a year you show your passport at your place of work. It could be a requirement that you show your passport to purchase a gun.

This would make airplane travel faster and safer.

This would virtually eliminate the illegal immigrant problem if you fined employers for not checking passports.

This would be far better control for gun purchases and it would allow law abiding citizens to get their guns with a lot less hassle.

This would save money fairly quickly since we wouldn't need to spend so much money on airplane and border security.

Weak economy


I had mentioned that I thought the GDP was weaker than reported because of inventory buildup.

Basically, Krugman explains that I was correct about the inventory buildup but a lot of the other details in the report make the economy look far worse than the reported numbers.

Let's hope the weak dollar can bail us out with exports.

Can you imagine Detroit exporting cars to Europe? That is a symptom of the big mess we are in. Virtually every major country in Europe is richer than we are with the Euro at $1.60.

Gas Tax Holiday

I realize I am not the first person to point this out


It is absurd to think that anyone can be in favor of a reduction in gas taxes and a carbon tax or a cap and trade system for carbon.

Hillary Clinton and John McCain are simultaneously on both sides of the same issue.

They should be ashamed of themselves.


Speaking of people who should be ashamed of themselves. The Republicans in New York want to eliminate the state gas tax. What taxes will they raise or what services will they cut to make up for the lost funds?

Syndicate content