Google Maps: US Population Per Square Mile

This interactive map shows the population per square mile of every county in the United States. As you can see there are some great differences in county population densities across America. This map uses Jenks Natural Break Optimization of the coloring, which makes some mid-size counties look more populated then they really are.

Data Source: 2016 US County Population Estimates.

How the Government Measures Unemployment

"When workers are unemployed, they, their families, and the country as a whole lose. Workers and their families lose wages, and the country loses the goods or services that could have been produced. In addition, the purchasing power of these workers is lost, which can lead to unemployment for yet other workers."

"Addressing the issue of unemployment requires information about the extent and nature of the problem. How many people are unemployed? How did they become unemployed? How long have they been unemployed? Are their numbers growing or declining? Are they men or women? Are they young or old? Are they White, or Black, or Asian, or of Hispanic ethnicity? How much education do they have? Are they concentrated in one area of the country more than another? These statistics—together with other economic data—can be used by policymakers to determine whether measures should be taken to influence the future course of the economy or to aid those affected by joblessness."

4-Week Moving Average of Initial Claims

How strong is economy right now? The four week moving average of unemployment claims is 228,500 which is the lowest level since February 1973, PRIOR to the 1973 oil crisis, and is much lower as a percentage of the work force.

The danger of such a tight labor market is inflation, especially with the new flood of debt put forward by the federal government. Throw in a devaluing of US currency from that federal debt, and you have prime conditions for inflation -- all it takes is a spark in a dry forest to make a wildfire.

Data Source: U.S. Employment and Training Administration, 4-Week Moving Average of Initial Claims [IC4WSA], retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis;, February 15, 2018.

What students know that experts don’t: School is all about signaling, not skill-building

"Academics and administrators also sense the importance of signaling, even if they won't admit it. Why else would they bother to combat cheating? If school were merely a place for students to invest in their skills, cheaters would literally "only be cheating themselves," spending time and tuition for naught. If, however, school is primarily a place to convince firms you're worthy of employment, cheating has a slew of victims. The cheater who successfully impersonates a good student doesn't just rip off whoever hires him. He also taints the prospects of all his peers who toiled for their degrees."

Facebook Launches “Donate” Button For Non-Profits That Also Collects Billing Info For Itself

I've wondered why Facebook is so aggressive at promoting it's donation program. While Facebook does not charge anything for donations to chartiable contributions, they do keep your credit card to make it easier to solicit you later on for ad sales and game add-ons. They are big, so they have good terms with credit card companies, so they get a low rate, so the transaction to cheriable organization doesn't cost them much.

Trump wants to cut back on food stamps for the poor and substitute with packaged food deliveries

Food stamps were originally designed not only to help the food insecure but also farmers. But it does a bad job at both of those things, mainly because food processors and retailers take a big chunk out of the limited food dollars.

I think food stamps should be restructured to incentivize direct farmer-to-consumer purchases, cutting out the middle-man and off-farm processor so farms get to keep more of the profits.

Moreover, food stamps should at least in part be replaced with government-subsidized community-supported agricultural (CSA) memberships, and things like direct to door delivery of fresh milk and farm produce from local farms. Expanding SNAP accessibility at farmers markets also would help, and making SNAP dollars go further at farmers markets then grocery stores. Maybe a $1 in SNAP at a grocery store could be subsidized so it buys $2 in SNAP at a farmer market or a farm stand.

Many low-income people live a long ways from grocery stores. There are many parts of New York State where you have to drive a half hour to get to a grocery store with a full-selection of quality, affordable foods. Many low-income people lack transportation or funds to get to these bigger stores. Many are elderly, disabled, or have young children.

Farmer delivery of SNAP purchased foods is a good idea. Maybe farmers could get together to deliver a wide variety of local foods to the food insecure, like maple syrup, milk, beef, pork, sweet corn, potatoes, apples, peaches, blueberries and many other crops grown in-state.

Maybe it could be combined with returnable milk bottles and boxes, and a compost-service, that would make it a zero waste SNAP program. SNAP recipients would get healthy food delivered each week, and get their food scraps, empty milk bottles, and other green waste brought back to the farm for use as animal feed and composting for fertilizer. This further would reduce costs -- billions are wasted each year in discarded packaging and food waste with the current SNAP program.

For too long in our country, we have been stuck with outdated ideas. Home food delivery of fresh local produce to SNAP recipients, to replace part of the SNAP benefit, is one good idea that I our country should move forward on.

President Donald Trump is a good conversation starter, even if his ideas don't go far enough to jump start our economy and make our public programs more successful.

Good morning! What day is it? 💘Valentine’s Day,💖 of course. Next Wednesday is February Save the Pine Bush Dinner, the 40th Anniversary. Cloudy☁ and 33 degrees in Albany. There is a south breeze at 8 mph. The skies will clear mid-morning.

🌻Only 34 days remain until the first day of calendar spring!🌻

Today will be mostly sunny, with a high of 46 degrees at 4pm. 12 degrees above normal. South wind 7 to 10 mph.🌞 It’s going to be a long sought out February thaw. This is going to be a nice day, hopefully melting the ice that is making the sidewalks and driveways so treacherous. ⛄A year ago, we had cloudy skies, clearing in the afternoon. The high last year was 36 degrees. The record high of 63 was set in 1946. 23.5 inches of snow fell back in 1914.

The sun will set at 5:26 pm with dusk around 5:55 pm, which is one minute and 18 seconds later than yesterday. At sunset, look for partly clear conditions and 44 degrees. 🌚There will be a south-southwest breeze at 7 mph. Today will have 10 hours and 34 minutes of daytime, a decrease of 2 minutes and 42 seconds over yesterday.

Tonight will have a slight chance of rain and snow after midnight. Mostly cloudy, with a low of 35 degrees at 9pm.⛅ 18 degrees above normal. South wind 3 to 7 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%. In 2017, we had partly cloudy skies with more clouds in the early hours of the next day. It got down to 32 degrees. The record low of -22 occurred back in 1943.☃

Last night I was playing with the GPS logger I built. It worked well, although it didn’t start up right away when I got out of the parking garage.🌍 But I don’t normally park Big Red in a parking garage. Next I have to figure out how to translate the points into lines.♈ It does a pretty good job of recording my position every second, along with speed altitude and direction heading. It also would be interesting if I could join it along a highway map so I could spit out a list of roads traveled and make graphs of speed and particularly elevation. 🏔I expect to have this perfected and mounted on perfboard🔬 within the next weeks.

This weekend, probably going to stay in town but I will go out hiking or maybe skiing, if there is any snow left. The woods might be muddy but I will wear my boots.👞 I know of many trails that won’t be a complete mosh pit for hiking, although I will have to plan where I’m going. I could go to the Catskills but I would be worried about the ice, even with the micro-spikes.🌲

As previously noted, next Wednesday is the February Save the Pine Bush Dinner – 40th Anniversary🍝 when the sun will be setting at 5:35 pm with dusk at 6:04 pm. 🌲On that day in 2017, we had drizzle, mostly cloudy skies and temperatures between 44 and 18 degrees. Typically, the high temperature is 36 degrees. We hit a record high of 65 back in 1981.