Monday, July 3, 2017

My Italian Vacation

My family and I spent incredible two weeks in Italy - first 5 days in Rome and then moving to Syracuse in Sicily. With my iPhone that monitored distance and steps walked I created simple spreadsheet in Google docs to keep daily distances walked. After I augmented it with main attractions visited each day I decided to recap whole vacation with simple line plot:

Interestingly, we walked the most on our first day. The Rome part of the trip included only one day that we walked less than the top day in Sicily on June 28 in Taormina. There are many reasons why, for example, renting car in Sicily or spending time at the beach or playing tennis definitely reduced time spent walking. Of course, more detailed analysis is possible having I imported real time steps data from my iPhone but it was a vacation after all so I am happy with aggregates and shortcuts instead.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

How Flynn's Term Compares to the National Security Advisor Tenures since 1953

First National Security Advisor appointed by Trump lasted 25 days - how long Michael Flynn held this role since inauguration until yesterday night when he resigned amid Russian sanctions scandal. It sets record for the shortest term held in this role since its inception in 1953.

This record should hold for a while as seen from the chart below that compares all terms since Robert Cutler became first NSC advisor in Eisenhower administration:

This is unheard of - NSC advisor lasted less than about a year just once before: William H Jackson held position for 4 months being removed amid changes on the National Security Council without any apparent controversy.

How significantly shorter Flynn's term is could be seen in the same type of chart with his tenure in days compared to the rest in weeks: 

When compared to the rest of tenures in months (Flynn's tenure is still in days) it does break through the bottom but hardly stands out, again, days vs. months:


Thursday, February 2, 2017

Trump's Travel Ban: Is That a Muslim Thing?

To analyze how much recent travel ban by Trump's administration could be called 'Muslim' one might look at the whole Muslim world (by population):

Countries in red (whose citizens are banned to travel to U.S. for 120 days by Trump's executive order) all except Libya appear in top 30 above. But occupying quite sparingly positions among other top 24 Muslim countries they don't appear to dominate this chart.

But if instead we switch the focus to U.S., in particular, immigration to U.S. things change. By arranging all countries (not just Muslim ones) by their refuge (and asylum) immigration to United States picture becomes drastically different: by removing 5 countries in red (banned by executive order) mostly Muslim immigration is eliminated from the top 12 positions completely:

Indeed all top five Muslim countries (in green) contributing to immigration are part of the ban. So based on the refuge immigration to U.S. it appears to pertain calling this ban "Muslim".


Sunday, February 7, 2016

The Map of Northern Sonoma, Russian River, Healdsburg and nearby

You are lucky if you are reading this post. Why? Because the chances you are not are a lot bigger. This post doesn't belong to famous wine or travel blog, it doesn't advertise, and it is not ranked high on google or anywhere else. All that means my post is not likely to show in your browser window. But if it did, you just got an instant access to many years of experience and knowledge acquired while traveling with my family to Northern Sonoma. All that is distilled into the custom map of Northern Sonoma, in particular, Russian River and Dry Creek valleys, city of Healdsburg and the surrounding areas.

The map features wineries, restaurants, and points of interest with concise but useful commentary and trails that connect them. Of course, this is pretty darn good only if you trust me. Why should you? Because many of my friends did and thanked me, In fact, they kept thanking me long time after their trips as their memories were driven by the map.

The map is still work in progress because every year I make new trip to Sonoma I find something new and interesting to add. And my memories also take time to shape up to be converted into artifacts I place on the map. So I decided to make this post also work in progress as I will be adding more info  about the map below. But for now, here it is - the infamous Northern Sonoma, Russian River, Healdsburg and nearby map:

Monday, September 28, 2015

Why Putin is so afraid of "export" of democratic revolutions

Pro-Kremlin news agencies already headline Putin's UN address with titles like "Putin to UN: Export of so-called ‘democratic’ revolutions continues globally". In his speech Putin made every effort to turn democratic movements of last decade into puppets driven by US and its allies. So why is he so afraid of democratic revolutions?

Because he is the one who still lives the life of Kadafis, Mubaraks, Husseins of the world and he witnessed how they ended up during these years. His neighboring states like Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Georgia, Ukraine are too constant reminders of the fate awaiting certain presidents of the former Soviet Union states.

If you still don't quite understand how Putin consolidated power inside Russia just look at the party representation across governors of Federal Subjects in Russian Federation. Then compare with similar governments of States in Germany (both are federations according to their constitutions). United Russia ("Единая Россия") is party Putin represents (even though he is formally nonpartisan), and nonpartisan governors are de facto proxies of "United Russia" in most (if not all) cases.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Why Russian Crisis of 2014 is Not the Same as Crisis of 2008-2009?

Some consider current crisis in Russia as no different from one suffered during and after financial crisis of 2007-2008. In fact, the culprits are falling oil prices and the total collapse of large financial institutions repeat themselves: oil prices are falling again and Western sanctions against Russia simulate the latter. The effects on Russian economy look like before too: Russian currency - ruble - keeps falling against dollar and Russian economy is heading for recession - just like in 2d half of 2008. But is it really the same kind of crisis for Russia?

This simple comparison bar chart tries to address this question by looking at 3 things: how much oil prices fell, how much ruble lost against dollar, and how much reserves Russia had at the beginning of each crisis.

The crisis of 2014 is still unfolding which makes this chart even more telling. Ruble fall is already far ahead of total loss in 2008-2009 (red bars). At the same time, this year oil prices fell just a fraction of total loss in 2008-2009 (blue bars). To top it off, Russia had 100,000 million USD more in reserves before crisis in 2008 than it had in August of 2014 (green bars). I suspect there are other different things at play in 2014. What are they?

Data (updated on Monday, December 15th):
2014: from June 20th when oil peaked to Monday, December 15th. Reserves Central Bank held in 2014 were the largest on July 1st.
2008-2009: rather conservative dates from July 3d (when oil peaked) to February 18th, 2009 (when ruble began stabilizing along with oil prices). Reserves were largest on August 1st.
Oil prices: for WTI.

1. WTI Daily Prices
2. RUB to USD Historical Exchange Rates Daily
3. USD and Gold Reserves by Russian Central Bank