Asynchronous I/O for Lua.


Lua Message Pack
It's like JSON. but fast and small.


Election Results
Lefties, I agree with you that there are important issues where the Republicans are worse, and there were results to celebrate from the election. But don't forget for a second that you reelected a war criminal, an enthusiastic agent of Wall Street, a man who destroyed what was left of due process. You might like your team better, but its jerseys are still soaked with blood.

- Anthony Gregory

Alfonso Muchacho


David Lynch on Kitchens
I really think the kitchen should be separate, and it should be mostly cement and stainless steel, with high-powered hoses and drains in the floor. It should have a huge exhaust fan to evacuate greasy smoke. I picture it coating the walls and all the things in the house, and to me, that's just not right.

Link via Andi Albers

ECB Report on Bitcoin
From time to time, Bitcoin is surrounded by controversy. Sometimes it is linked to its potential for becoming a suitable monetary alternative for drug dealing and money laundering, as a result of the high degree of anonymity.9 On other occasions, users have claimed to have suffered a substantial theft of Bitcoins through a Trojan that gained access to their computer.10 The Electronic Frontier Foundation, which is an organisation that seeks to defend freedom in the digital world, decided not to accept donations in Bitcoins anymore. Among the reasons given, they considered that "Bitcoin raises untested legal concerns related to securities law, the Stamp Payment Act, tax evasion, consumer protection and money laundering, among others".

However, practically identical problems can also occur when using cash, thus Bitcoin can be considered to be another variety of cash, i.e. digital cash. Cash can be used for drug dealing and money laundering too; cash can also be stolen, not from a digital wallet, but from a physical one; and cash can also be used for tax evasion purposes. The question is not so much related to the format of money as such (physical or digital), but rather to the use people make of it.


Virgin Magnetic Remixes
Pinker on Guns
In this article Steven Pinker attributes relatively high rates of violence in the US (vs Europe) to higher rates of gun ownership. I generally like Pinker's writing but in this case, his theory is offered without supporting evidence and doesn't appear to fit the data. For example, here is a table of gun ownership and murder rates in Europe from the Harvard paper Would Banning Firearms Reduce Murder and Suicide?


Pimped DCs
So Electric


ACR 2012 FW
German Monetary History in the First Half of the 20th Century
The actual breakdown of German economic life came about because of the interventions by the German government to maintain the paper mark as the medium of exchange.... "The economy had already largely turned over to a foreign, hard currency standard... The crisis arose out of the reluctance of the Reich to permit business to employ foreign means of payment in domestic transactions as desired... imposed price controls on professionals and the retail trades to prevent "profiteering." Rent control destroyed the wealth of small property owners. Because farmers could not borrow using an indexed value of land as collateral, they could not obtain fertilizer.... "Germany faced the imminent danger of hunger revolts"


How did that book Beautiful Code leave out: InternalFrameInternalFrameTitlePaneInternalFrameTitlePaneIconifyButtonPainter


Any Sufficiently Advanced Static Type System...
My first OO development was in Java. I saw one framework after another try to break free from the chains of Java's static typing. The industry invested hundreds of millions of dollars in three versions of Enterprise Java Beans, Spring, Hibernate, JBoss, and aspect-oriented programming to make certain usage models more malleable. We were making Java's typing model more dynamic, and the battles at every step of the way were intense, feeling more like rival cults than programming environments.


Immutability Considered Harmful
A simple example: Apple's FoundationKit has a NSURLRequest object which can only be initialized with an initialized NSURL instance. NSURL can only be initialized with a URL string. The URL string in the NSURL cannot be changed after initialization and the NSURL cannot be changed after the NSURLRequest.

Now this is ok if you can assume you'll never need to change the URL after it's instantiated or change a NSURLRequest's url after it's instantiated. Unfortunately, these assumptions are wrong.

Consider an Amazon S3 request. Setting up the URL scheme, domain, path and parameters can involve logic specific to the S3 request. Naturally, we'd like something like an S3Request subclass of NSURLRequest that would contain this logic. But as our constructor effectively makes these things immutable by the instance, we can't.

So now we've got all this logic and data which should be handled by the request but can't be. So we can either do the wrong thing by creating giant constructor methods that try to pass in everything, and which invariably make their own false assumptions (e.g. that you'll never need to switch the url scheme from https to http for testing) or we can do the ugly thing by creating a new class that holds all the data which NSURLRequest does but is used to create a NSURLRequest request instance after all it's data is set.

The design decision to use constructors in these frameworks classes has the unseen consequence of limiting our design decisions to a choice between the wrong way or the ugly way and this isn't an isolated case. I've seen many other examples of this problem in the Java and C++ world but I suspect they are particularly common among FP languages which seem to actively encourage this pattern of design.

Final notes: It's not the use of a convenience constructor that is the problem, but that such uses are typically associated with the use of immutable instance state. Some might propose returning a new instance for each mutation as a solution, but this creates even worse code when you consider it potentially has to follow the entire immutable state chain and the consequences for multiple references.

The Epiphany memory architecture is based on a flat memory map in which each compute node has a small amount of local memory as a unique addressable slice of the total 32-bit address space. A processor can access its own local memory and other processors memory through regular load/store instructions, with the only difference being the latency and effective throughput of the transactions. The local memory system is comprised of 4 separate banks, allowing for simultaneous memory access by the instruction fetch engine, local load-store instructions, and by load/store transactions initiated by other processors within system.


A beautiful architecture. Once they get up to ~1MB local per core memory, it would be fun to get ConcurrentLua running on it.

Terry Pratchett on God


Canadian MintChip Digital Currency might think that the general reaction of the Bitcoin community to a competitor would be hostile (and for a certain group it certainly was) the majority of us had one response: Irreversible transactions with a purely digital government-backed fiat currency? I'd use that to buy Bitcoins, it's better than PayPal. Apparently the MintChip folks weren't too happy about that.


Golan Levin Interview


M.C. Escher Documentary
Yesterday in a sentimental mood, I picked up my cello. There was a thick layer of dust on it and I kept my housemates awake until half past two with my melancholy lamentations. All on two strings because the G and the C have long since snapped. I was lit eerily by the skull in which I've placed an electric light. After all, what is man?


A Stall-Free Real-Time Garbage Collector for FPGAs
Paper via Slava Pestov
Mises on the Euro
What governments call international monetary cooperation is concerted action for the sake of credit expansion...

They have learned that credit expansion, when limited to one country only, results in an external drain...

They believe that it is only the external drain that frustrates their plans of lowering the rate of interest and thus of creating an everlasting boom...


This is a MIT licensed library for general purpose numerical computing written entirely in Lua(JIT).


GusGus: Add This Song
One of the things that digital has done for me personally is that it's made music of my ongoing now completely atemporal. I no longer have any idea or any anxiety about not having any idea about what's happening now, because that no longer seems very important.

Now, last week, 30 years ago? What's the difference? What does it matter? It's all there on YouTube. And so I find myself discovering things like a decade late, or I discover things before very many people have found them. It's atemporal. It's just all over the long calendar, and that's going to make things different. But that's been going on for a long time.

William Gibson interview

Your God
Your God is the best God.
In fact, he's the only God..
All other Gods are ridiculous, made up rubbish.
Not yours though. Yours is real.

- Ricky Gervais

GusGus: Over
Quantum steering into the past
Optimizing Lua
Optimizing Lua and Optimizing LuaJIT
Chris Cunningham's Laser-Fueled Robo-Sex Ballet
Renaissance Revolution
The second episode of the BBC series which analyzes The Garden of Earthly Delights by Hieronymus Bosch.


ConcurrentLua is a system that implements a concurrency model for the Lua programming language. It is based on the share-nothing asynchronous message-passing model that is employed in the Erlang programming language.


Press Play Pause
This library implements a minimal subset of the BitCoin protocol.


Sesen: Emerge
Death by Drone
"...Then his head is placed upon a stone, and the elephant executioner crushes it beneath his enormous foot."

It seems death by elephant was once relatively common in areas where elephants had been domesticated...clearly there is no limit to the depths a man's soul can plunge, essentially getting the probably quite unaware elephant to do the dirty work and therefore keeping their hands clean.

- Mr Loligo

Bitcoin-using Autonomous Agents
An agent is an autonomous program that is able to survive by selling services for Bitcoins, and using the proceeds to rent server capacity. Agents that are profitable enough may replicate themselves by spawning additional instances on other servers.


This may be the most interesting idea I've heard in the last decade.

"I've been against Macintosh company lately. They're trying to get everyone to use iPads and when people use iPads they end up just using technology to consume things instead of making things. With a computer you can make things. You can code, you can make things and create things that have never before existed and do things that have never been done before."

"That's the problem with a lot of people", he continued, "they don't try to do stuff that's never been done before, so they never do anything, but if they try to do it, they find out there's lots of things they can do that have never been done before."


I share his concern but I think he's judging the iPad too early and suspect touch will prove to be significantly better than previous platforms for content creation.

Hidden Costs of Taxes
When you're a successful entrepreneur in France, you have two things: envy - constantly having to justify yourself, your idea, the money you make - and taxes. When you sell your business, you give 70-75 percent to the government. So I said, I'm not going to open another business in France ever again. I'm going to California.

La Boulange owner Pascal Rigo

Quote of the Day
For while you are identified with your role, with your name, with your ego... there's someone to kill. But when you're identified with the whole universe, death finds you already annihilated and there's no one to kill.

- Alan Watts audio

Moai Review


In writing this symphony Beethoven had been thinking of Buonaparte, but Buonaparte while he was First Consul. At that time Beethoven had the highest esteem for him and compared him to the greatest consuls of ancient Rome. Not only I, but many of Beethoven's closer friends, saw this symphony on his table, beautifully copied in manuscript, with the word "Buonaparte" inscribed at the very top of the title-page and "Ludwig van Beethoven" at the very bottom.

I was the first to tell him the news that Buonaparte had declared himself Emperor, whereupon he broke into a rage and exclaimed, "So he is no more than a common mortal! Now, too, he will tread under foot all the rights of man, indulge only his ambition; now he will think himself superior to all men, become a tyrant!" Beethoven went to the table, seized the top of the title-page, tore it in half and threw it on the floor. The page had to be re-copied and it was only now that the symphony received the title "Sinfonia eroica."


Malenka is senior author of the new study, published July 12 in Nature, which reveals a novel drug target by showing how a hormone known to affect appetite turns off the brain's ability to experience pleasure when an animal is stressed.

This hormone, melanocortin, signals to an ancient and almost universal apparatus deep in the brain called the reward circuit, which has evolved to guide animals toward resources, behaviors and environments - such as food, sex and warmth - that enhance their prospects for survival.

Link via Erin

Is Bitcoin Legal


I can tell you what you need, for what it's worth:

You need one person who's good at solving problems, someone who has ideas, because problems always come up.

You need one person who's good at human relations, who can keep the group functioning together.

You need one person who's kind of a functionary, who'll implement and get things done.

And you need a leader type who will push for results.


It from Bit
...every it--every particle, every field of force, even the spacetime continuum itself--derives its function, its meaning, its very existence entirely--even if in some contexts indirectly--from the apparatus-elicited answers to yes-or-no questions, binary choices, *bits*.

GovTogether aims specifically to enable citizens in a voting district to propose, deliberate and vote directly on legislation...

Once we build the utility, communities interested in this form of governance, and individuals interested in running for public office on a direct democracy platform, would have this free public tool at their disposal.

Communities inclined to adopt this system will elect legislators (on the federal, state, and local levels) - who are voted into office on the pledge to abide by this system - to legislate on issues in direct accordance with the majority vote of the people in the elected official's district.

Link via Adam Thorsen

...a Documentary Shot With Kinect, Explores Beauty of Code


Static Typing Study
[Study of 49 programmers: static type system had no effect on development time]

...the current state of PL research is as close to astrology as you can get. Why are we working on type systems and modules and concurrency primitives et. al. without a scrap of evidence that any of it contributes to programmer productivity? There's no science there.

In fact, everyone here should flip this around and ask: can you design a practical experiment to compare productivity of dynamic vs. static languages? Will others find it convincing? Probably not. PL advocates are no different than religious missionaries. They have no objective proof of any of their claims. And both will murder the natives if they don't convert.


Koenigsegg: Sweden's Hypercar


Entropic Gravity For Pedestrians
Bits don't attract, and entropy doesn't pull. The term 'entropic force' seems to wrong-foot large groups of readers (and some physics bloggers alike).

Entropic interactions are not mediated by forces acting at micro scales. Entropic forces exist even in systems that at a microscopic level poses no energies other than kinetic energy. Yet, at a macroscopic level such systems are subject to configurational accelerations. These accelerations result simply from certain configurations corresponding to a larger number of micro states than others.

This, combined with the tendency of physical systems to sample the microscopic states in an unbiased way, yields a macroscopic dynamics that prefers configurations that are denser in terms of micro-states.


Harold Budd: The Photo of Santiago McKinn


The Real 99 Percent

Video 3min

Quote of the Day
Democracy is the political regime in which the citizen entrusts the public interests to those men to whom he would never entrust his private interests.

- Nicolas Gomez Davila

A Conversation on Government
The following is part of a conversation on government that describes some ideas I've been meaning to blog about. Being lazy, I'll just share it here.

"Are you one who would leave the state of nature, join others, and consent to government?"

I don't buy the notion of a distinct "state of nature". There is always a political structure in social animals. Scribbling about them on bits of pressed wood doesn't change the fact that political relationships are always constructs in minds.

"If so, would you consent to that government taxing you? If so, what makes taxes in our current state theft?"

Justice is as justice does. As with a person, if the structure chooses to steal, it is a thief. If it chooses to murder, it is a murderer. There are times when one may consider taking and killing as just, but the person or system that do so don't make them just simply by their nature. At best we can try different ways to maximize a sense of justice but that comes down to testing and measuring. Simply giving a particular construct a name ("government", "church" etc) does not make it's actions just by definition.

So to answer your question, if there were a real marketplace of states and I choose which one to reside in and consented to pay the service fees that I contracted with them to provide, then I would feel it would be just for them to require payment and for me to provide it.

"...regarding your comments on voting: do you feel democracy is a problem, or is wrong? Or perhaps the republican form of democracy, such as we have in the United States, is a problem or wrong?"

There are an infinite number of possible democracatic systems and they have wildly different results. eg here's a description of some of the problems with our "first past the post" voting system to give a taste of this.

Besides those problems, democracies suffer from the cancers (control and misinformation feedback loops) I mentioned. This is why they should be used only when we have no better solutions. Unfortunately, people forget why voting was used and this causes them to be blind when it fails:

"Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

"There is also a theme of state quantity. Meaning, as you mentioned and noted in this and the other thread, some idea of many many tiny states would somehow make a more just society. I'm curious why quantity of states is better."

For the same reason that more competition in any marketplace is better - it provides incentives for providers to serve (instead of exploit) consumers. Any corporation with a monopoly will seek to maximize price and lock in while minimizing service and this is what government is and does. Giving everyone a vote doesn't change this anymore than giving everyone a voting share in a corporate monopoly that controls some service vital to them. They may think they are in control, but it's the system that controls them because one provider means one product/service and therefore no individual choice.

What sort of computers (or food, or any other product or service you currently buy in markets) do you suppose the world would have today if one government/corporation had a total monopoly on it's production?

"I should note there are considerably more states now than there have been (and we continue to add more states; welcome the new Republic of South Sudan to the world community). I suppose the question is - what is the appropriately sized state (if state exists with consented government and, likely, consented taxes)? Must they each be homogonous, same religion, language, traditions, et al? How can people move freely (or more freely)? Better question, as maybe I assume too much: what constitutes a state?"

The ideal size is an empirical question and probably changes with time and geography. My guess would be on the scale of US counties (~100 square miles). These would presumably form pacts for free trade, mutual security, etc like the euro trade zone, NATO, etc.

"Also, your theory is based on the premise of utility maximization. This is the same thing that forms the basis of utilitarianism - something that has many problems. For starters, not all actors are utility maximizers. In fact, a lot of economic (and political) research shows most people (and businesses, and, especially, investors) are utility minimizers, rather than maximizers."

Utility is for you, whatever you seek to maximize. If you find an actor not maximizing utility you might say they reasoned poorly about how to achieve their goals or you do not understand their real goals. In the case of businesses and government people tend to personify them and forget that they have no goals other than, in an abstract sense as informational entities, their own survival. So their failure to maximize utility tends to be a failure on the part of the observer to notice that the individuals within them tend to be maximizing their own utility by extracting as much power, wealth, fame, etc as possible from those systems.

This is known in economics as the principal/agent problem and neither governments or corporations as we know them solve it. Marketplaces however do solve it via competition. Corporations whose members actions become too misaligned with serving their customers can go bankrupt and be replaced without the entire system collapsing.

If states were small enough, they could go likewise bankrupt and be replaced in an orderly and civilized way. I suspect the collapse of debt funded socialism and central banking that are bringing down Europe and the US will not happen in an orderly or civilized way.

Goldman's Mass Illegal Naked Short Selling
If this sounds complicated, just focus on this: naked short selling, in essence, is selling stock you do not have. If you don't have to actually locate and borrow stock before you short it, you're creating an artificial supply of stock shares.

In this case, that resulted in absurdities like the following disclosure in this document, in which a Goldman executive admits in a 2006 email that just a little bit too much trading in Overstock was going on: "Two months ago 107% of the floating was short!"

In other words, 107% of all Overstock shares available for trade were short - a physical impossibility, unless someone was somehow creating artificial supply in the stock...

How they did this is ingenious, elaborate, and complex, and we'll get into it more at a later date. In the meantime, this document all by itself shows numerous executives from companies like Goldman Sachs Execution and Clearing (GSEC) and Merrill Pro talking about a conscious strategy of "failing" trades - in other words, not bothering to locate, borrow, and deliver stock within the time alotted for legal settlement.


Most people would call selling what you don't own fraud (e.g. the canonical Brooklyn Bridge salesman). Add this to front running and it's other crimes and one wonders if the company's continued existence has anything to do with it's former employees being in most of the government's top financial regulation positions. If so, is our government effectively being run by criminal organizations?

The Interminable Equation
But there are still those dreams which are waiting for others to come along whose terms and conditions will cancel them out. These are the leftover dreams, our dark days, which have yet to fall victim to mathematics, and they are the only ones that count for anything. And it is the same with our waking days. Only a few of those escape nullification by contradiction, that process of cancellation which is going on all the time.

In any case, neither dreams nor days ever survive long before their counterparts annihilate them. It is quite possible that, in our last moments, there will be nothing left which we might look back on as a lifetime.

But will this nothingness itself endure, or will it too be canceled out by some inviolable and unsuspected form of being, terminating at last in a kind of double oblivion?

- Thomas Ligotti

Quote of the Day
‎"If we are searching for an aggressive nuclear regime, determined to wage war despite standards of constitutional restraint, democratic principles, and international law, we have two possible candidates that fit the bill. Iran is not one of them."


This is the fundamental fact on which the whole philosophy of individualism is based. It does not assume, as is often asserted, that man is egoistic or selfish or ought to be.

It merely starts from the indisputable fact that the limits of our powers of imagination make it impossible to include in our scale of values more than a sector of the needs of the whole society, and that, since, strictly speaking, scales of value can exist only in individual minds, nothing but partial scales of values exist - scales which are inevitably different and often inconsistent with each other. It is this recognition of the individual as the ultimate judge of his ends, the belief that as far as possible his own views ought to govern his actions, that forms the essence of the individualist position.

- Friedrich Hayek, The Road To Serfdom

Jefferson on Debt
We must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt... If we run into such debt, as that we must be taxed in our meat and in our drink, in our necessaries and our comforts, in our labors and our amusements, for our calling and our creeds... [we will] have no time to think, no means of calling our miss-managers to account but be glad to obtain subsistence by hiring ourselves to rivet their chains on the necks of our fellow-sufferers...

And this is the tendency of all human governments. A departure from principle in one instance becomes a precedent for [another ]... till the bulk of society is reduced to be mere automatons of misery... And the fore-horse of this frightful team is public debt. Taxation follows that, and in its train wretchedness and oppression.

- Thomas Jefferson

Quote of the Day
The problem is if Obama wins he'll bail out banksters & drop bombs but if Romney wins he'll bail out banksters & drop bombs.

- Garikai Chengu

Dietary glycine supplementation mimics lifespan extension by dietary methionine restriction in Fisher 344 rats.


Alien (The Movie) Documentary


Trailer: Samsara


Chain of Obedience
The death squads and concentration camps of history were never staffed by rebels and dissidents. They were were run by those who followed the rules.

Video 2min

Alan Watts on Anarchy

Audio 27min

Autism and Gluten
"Research has shown that children with ASD commonly have GI [gastrointestinal] symptoms," said Christine Pennesi, medical student at Penn State College of Medicine. "Notably, a greater proportion of our study population reported GI and allergy symptoms than what is seen in the general pediatric population. Some experts have suggested that gluten- and casein-derived peptides cause an immune response in children with ASD, and others have proposed that the peptides could trigger GI symptoms and behavioral problems."


Fire or Ice
The ECB has allocated more than ?1 trillion in Euros ($1.34 trillion in USD) since December as part of its three year lending program. The total ECB balance sheet is now an astounding 30% of euro-zone GDP. In addition the Fed has left the door open to a third round of quantitative easing and currently carries a $2.9 trillion dollar balance sheet that represents 19% of US GDP. Emerging economies continue to add stimulus too with China lowering its bank reserve requirement ratio 100 basis points since last November and Brazil easing rates into the high single digits...

It is not the fear that is the problem but how we respond to it. We fear deflation so much that we have complete faith in the same institutions that failed to foresee it and their judgment in scaling back an unprecedented monetary experiment before we veer into hell. The truth is that pure intellect, even with the best of intentions, can lead us to tragedy if not tempered by common sense. Our real peril is that we value willful ignorance over knowledge and stability over free will. It is not farfetched that one day we will knowingly give up our freedoms to stop an economic terror. In fact many European sovereigns are doing this today. Whether we plunge off the waterfall of deflation or burn in the hell of inflation may matter less than if we recognize ourselves in the mirror when it is all finished.


Gabe tells it this way. When he was at Microsoft in the early 90's, he commissioned a survey of what was actually installed on users PCs. The second most widely installed software was Windows.

Number one was Id's Doom.

The idea that a 10-person company of 20-somethings in Mesquite, Texas, could get its software on more computers than the largest software company in the world told him that something fundamental had changed about the nature of productivity. When he looked into the history of the organization, he found that hierarchical management had been invented for military purposes, where it was perfectly suited to getting 1,000 men to march over a hill to get shot at. When the Industrial Revolution came along, hierarchical management was again a good fit, since the objective was to treat each person as a component, doing exactly the same thing over and over.

The success of Doom made it obvious that this was no longer the case. There was now little value in doing the same thing even twice; almost all the value was in performing a valuable creative act for the first time.

Link via Rich Collins

The Machinery Of Freedom: Illustrated summary

Video 23min

William Gisbon Motherboard Interview

Video 12min

Larry Harvey - Burning Man: Beyond Black Rock
It takes a long time to discover what your gifts are. It just takes a long time. But the world as it's set up with it's jobs and it's tasks... It's an artifact and it's limited and there's just so many slots and everyone's told you: "You better shove yourself into one of those slots. This is useful in the world...make your money doing this..." "yeah you could do that...but don't be doing this stupid thing".

But you know, the trick is to find that point to where what you are coincides with the world in some way... Where it could possibly fit in. Then suddenly your dream is there... and as in a dream, you just step into the frame and suddenly everything is meaningful and you were born to be in it and everything is animated and you belong there - to it. Now how are you going to figure that out unless you just keep doing stupid things?

Live in your passions and make yourself available to visions and don't try to rationalize it too much - move towards what feels most real... and then for god's sake, accept the help of your friends because that'll keep you sane. If you focus yourself single-mindly on that then maybe you can end up doing what you were meant to do.


Dynamically Typed Langauges
Dynamically typed languages such as Python and Ruby have experienced a rapid grown in popularity in recent times. However, there is much confusion as to what makes these languages interesting relative to statically typed lan- guages, and little knowledge of their rich history. In this chapter I explore the general topic of dynamically typed languages, how they differ from statically typed languages, their history, and their defining features.


Android Development
"I would have preferred spending that time on more content for you, but instead I was thanklessly modifying shaders and texture formats to work on different GPUs, or pushing out patches to support new devices without crashing, or walking someone through how to fix an installation that wouldn't go through," one half of the husband and wife duo said. "We spent thousands on various test hardware. These are the unsung necessities of offering our apps on Android."


Developers who had been through this before on the desktop predicted Android would have this problem and sure enough it has.

Funding for NASA is worthless and wasted. NASA is simply another subsidy to large defense contractors such as Lockheed Martin and Orbital Sciences, and a way for large businesses to dump their product research and development costs onto the public. End the government monopoly and people will be more willing to fund the smaller space exploration startups out there.

If a good is in high enough demand that a majority of people support passing democratic legislation to obtain it, then it is in high enough demand for it to be funded and produced privately without involuntary taxation.


The Metro app interface is so free of white noise that when I launch a conventional Windows app and return to the world of menus and icons and overlapping windows, it's jarring. I feel like I've switched the channel and landed in an episode of "Hoarders."


The ever more skeuomorphic parts of OSX certainly looks like "Hoarders" compared to Metro.

Ishq: Opal
Bhakti Song
Opal Song
Spiral Radio Waves
Now, a group led by Bo Thid of the Swedish Institute of Space Physics in Uppsala and Fabrizio Tamburini of the University of Padua, Italy, has succeeded in twisting the waves emitted by the type of antenna used by standard wireless routers to transmit data over long distances[1]. The team did this by reflecting the waves off an eight-stepped, spiral-staircase-like structure positioned a couple of metres from the antenna, the axis of which lined up with the beam. The idea was that different sections of the wavefront would bounce off different steps, introducing a delay between the reflection of neighbouring sections and so causing the wavefront to become twisted and take on the shape of the reflector.

Nature article

Desktop UI Concept
Are we finally accepting applications as living documents?


The Loan Maturity Cliff
As banks and property owners continue to partake in loan extensions amid a softening economy, commercial banks continue to "delay and pray" that property values will rise. Many loans are piled up and concentrated in this year, and at the same time, the economy is slowing. This dilemma has resulted in the widening of what is commonly termed the "loan maturity cliff," which is attributed to the so called extend-and-pretend loans. During the market downturn, lenders extended the maturity dates of loans with properties that had current values below their balances. Instead, however the practice has resulted in a race for property values to try to catch up with the loan maturity dates...

All of a sudden, right after Thanksgiving in 2011, the floodgates opened again. In the last six weeks we probably picked up seven or eight receiverships - and we're now seeing some really big-ticket properties with major loans on them that have gone into distress, and they're all sharing some characteristics in common. In 2008 and 2009, these borrowers were put on a workout or had a forbearance agreement put into place with their lenders. In 2009, their lenders were thinking, "Let's do a two- or three-year workout with these guys. I'm sure by 2012 this market is going to get a lot better." Well, 2012 is here now, and guess what? It's not any better. In fact I would argue that it's still deteriorating.


I don't doubt that the central banks will continue to print to prop up asset prices until the currency is worthless, but I suspect we'll see (as Faber and others have long predicted) a series of asset price crashes along the way that make 2008 look small in comparison as each QE transfers wealth from those who produce wealth or invest in real production to those who destroy wealth and invest foolishly.



Bret Victor - Inventing on Principle


Great work on immediate interaction - particularly the function state timeline.

Fuel to the Fire
And indeed the European Central Bank, under the new leadership of Mario Draghi, has made sharp departure in its monetary policy, most notably through its Long-Term Refinancing Operations, which very quickly made hundreds of billions of euros in cheap financing available to Europe's sickly commercial banks, enabling them to make overnight profits by buying European sovereign bonds...

But the monetary easing is not without risks. A new policy analysis by Charles Wyplosz, a professor of international economics at the Graduate Institute of Geneva, calls the ECB's policy move a "trillion euro bet." Wyplosz warns that while the ECB has succeeded in rapidly reducing spreads on eurozone public debts, it has also vastly increased systemic risk if sovereign defaults are not successfully prevented. That is because banks are now sitting on even more sovereign debt than before.


Peter Gabriel and Fairlight CMI

Video 7min

More on Interest Rates
To put it very simply, interest rates represent the likelihood of not getting repaid. If you issue 100 loans and expect 1 to not be repaid, then you would expect to charge approximately 1% interest to ensure that you remain whole even if your loan fails. The rate of interest then represents the expected rate of failure, or risk.

When you have a central bank that sets their interest rate by fiat, then that interest rate no longer represents risk. Let's say they set the rate at 1%, but now we expect 5% of businesses to fail.

This encourages investment that is not representative of the level of risk, because the risk is represented at 20% of the actual risk. That means that persons who would have otherwise thought it too risky to take that loan or make that investment are only seeing 20% of the risk they would otherwise see, and so make poor investment choices.

Poor investment choices driven by a disconnect between risk and interest cause accumulation of bad investments in whatever sector has the largest disconnect between risk and investment, or a bubble. Eventually, no amount of papering over the problem will fix the fact that banks are charging interest representative of only a fraction of the true risk, and when that true risk is realized by some event, the bubble collapses.


The Psychedelic Art of Ben Tolman


Media Bias
Politicians have to organise bailouts galore.

BBC article

Has anyone else noticed that it's a common practice for news sources to present an opinion on a proposed solution as an unqualified fact?


Thus far one can see that the drama enacted is a familiar one: the stage is rigidly traditional and the performers upon it are caught up in its style. For these actors are not so much people as they are puppets from the old shows, the ones that have told the same story for centuries, the ones that can still be very strange to us.

Traipsing through the same old foggy scene, seeking the same old isolated house, the puppets in these plays always find everything new and unknown, because they have no memories to speak of and can hardly recall making these stilted motions countless times in the past.

They struggle through the same gestures, repeat the same lines, although in rare moments they may feel a dim suspicion that this has all happened before...

- Thomas Ligotti, Nethescurial

A redraw of Haas Unica - Helvetica's replacement.


The Great Utopia
Although our modern socialists' promise of greater freedom is genuine and sincere, in recent years observer after observer has been impressed by the unforeseen consequences of socialism, the extraordinary similarity in many respects of the conditions under "communism" and "fascism." As the writer Peter Drucker expressed it in 1939, "the complete collapse of the belief in the attainability of freedom and equality through Marxism has forced Russia to travel the same road toward a totalitarian society of un-freedom and inequality which Germany has been following. Not that communism and fascism are essentially the same. Fascism is the stage reached after communism has proved an illusion, and it has proved as much an illusion in Russia as in pre-Hitler Germany."

No less significant is the intellectual outlook of the rank and file in the communist and fascist movements in Germany before 1933. The relative ease with which a young communist could be converted into a Nazi or vice versa was well known, best of all to the propagandists of the two parties. The communists and Nazis clashed more frequently with each other than with other parties simply because they competed for the same type of mind and reserved for each other the hatred of the heretic...

The cry for an economic dictator is a characteristic stage in the movement toward planning. Thus the legislative body will be reduced to choosing the persons who are to have practically absolute power. The whole system will tend toward that kind of dictatorship in which the head of the government is position by popular vote, but where he has all the powers at his command to make certain that the vote will go in the direction he desires.


How to do 100K trades per second at less than 1ms latency.


With TOMI, the company aims to do what no other chip maker has done before, namely embed a general-purpose processor in vanilla DRAM. The idea is to use the physical proximity of the CPU and memory, as well as extra-wide busses (4,096 bits, in the case of the first TOMI designs), to flatten the memory wall...

A very useful side effect of using the simpler DRAM processes is that it's much cheaper to produce a CPU this way. The cost of manufacturing a billion DRAM transistors is less than a dollar versus more than $300 for a microprocessor. But another big savings is in power draw. The Borealis CPU at 2.1 GHz draws a measly 98 mW. Compare that to the 100-plus watts for an x86 CPU sporting a billion transistors...

Venray benchmarked their hardware with Sandia Labs' MapReduce-MPI software and an unstructured data application running on their hardware -- a circuit board with 16 Borealis chips (128 cores, 16GB of DRAM). According to the company, the TOMI system was able to achieve nearly 12 times the performance and use less than 1/10 the power compared to the same code running on an Intel Xeon-based cluster. Venray says the hardware would cost about $35 thousand versus $1.65 million for the equivalent x86 system.


Love this design approach.

BlueLounge Bags


Bank Data Supports Austrian Theory For Rapid Recovery

Link via Sean Lynch

Trailer: Moonlight Kingdom


Studio Antwork
Some nice design work.


How Do Gooder Economics Harms the Poor
Left-leaning economists like to justify such government intervention in the name of market failure. The poor are often not part of the market and therefore need the state to step in, goes the argument. And liberals feel good about vast fortunes being spent to help people at the base of the pyramid. Trouble is, India's history of government intervention doesn;t flow from market failure as much as creates it - like excise duty distortions which in the 1980s made this the only country in the world where TV-set assembly was a small-scale business! Research shows that some 85 per cent of the garment factories in India employ fewer than eight people; in China, which is the king of the garment market worldwide, less than 1 per cent of factories are that small. Market distortion has made a volume business into a small-scale business in India; our garment exports have stayed small-scale too.


Leaders as Mirrors
There was a common joke, in Nazi Germany - which had to be whispered into a trusted friend's ear because it would get you shot - "The ideal German should be as blonde as Hitler, as tall as Goebbels, as slim as Goering and as chaste as Roehm."

Hitler was certainly no ubermensch. Terrible teeth, explosive, vain and effeminate (according to Carl Jung.) Jung posited that it was precisely Hitler's rather pathetic appearance that captured the imagination of the German people.

His adoration of Nordic ideals did not appear self-serving. His fiery oration combined with his weak appearance subliminally mirrored Germany itself: pathetic, humiliated, enraged, full of hidden power.


Self Similarity
...if we can make those layers as similar as possible... self similarity... it really reduces the learning curve to understand how the system at an arbitrary level is implemented.


The Liberal Deprioritizing of War and Human Rights
Despite vocally feigning grave concern about these issues during the Bush years, they are not a priority for many progressives precisely because they no longer provide any means of obtaining partisan advantage. How can you pretend to vehemently oppose the slaughter of foreign civilians, the deprivation of due process, a posture of Endless War, radical secrecy, etc., when the President behind whom you're faithfully marching is an aggressive advocate and implementer of those very policies?

Salon article

Prozac and Plasticity
In Castren's study, adult mice that took fluoxetine while they went through extinction training behaved much like young mice - they lost their fear much faster than mice that were not taking the drug, and their anxiety did not return. In contrast, mice that were given fluoxetine but never went through extinction training remained anxious...

Castren's study suggests Prozac returns regions of the brain to an immature state in which neurons make or break more connections with one another than is typical of the adult brain. In other words, Prozac increases brain plasticity.


Tim Minchin's Storm


How Free Markets Limit Corporation Size
Economic calculation limits the size of voluntary organizations. Exchanges between firms can utilize the pricing system to communicate information needed to make decisions. Firms do not have pricing systems internally to allocate resources within the firm. The larger the organisation the more it suffers from Hayek's knowledge problem.

That is in large organizations, the decision makers get separated from the information needed to make decisions. Without an internal pricing system to solve this problem; organizations are challenged by the knowledge problem. This explains the inefficiencies in large firms and government. The difference though is, in a free market firms that fail due to this problem will have to divide up into smaller organizations or go out of business.

Government and government supported firms do not have this feedback mechanism. Government can encourage unnaturally large firms with protection and subsidies. In the free market firm size is limited.


Sam Harris
If someone doesn't value evidence, what evidence can you provide to prove that they should value it? If someone doesn't value logic, what logical argument could you provide to show the importance of logic?


Liars Loans and the Rating Agencies Cartel
Merrill Lynch is the quintessential example of why it was common for the investment banks to hold in portfolio large amounts of collateralized debt obligations (CDOs)...

1) Grow rapidly by 2) Holding poor quality assets that provide a premium nominal yield while 3) Employing extreme leverage, and 4) Providing only grossly inadequate allowances for future losses on the poor quality assets

...Some of the authors of Guaranteed to Fail call this process manufacturing "fake alpha."

The authors are largely correct about "fake alpha." The phrase and phenomenon are correct, but the mechanism they hypothesize for manufacturing fake alpha has no basis in reality.

They posit honest gambles on "extreme tail" events likely to occur only in rare circumstances. They provide no real world examples. If risk that the top tranche of a CDO would suffer a material loss of market values was, in reality, extremely rare then it would be impossible to achieve a substantial premium yield...

CDOs were commonly backed by liar's loans and the incidence of fraud in liar's loans was in the 90% range... Because liar's loans were primarily made to borrowers who were not creditworthy and financially unsophisticated, the lenders had the negotiating leverage to charge premium yields.

The officers controlling the rating agencies and the investment banks were complicit in creating a corrupt system for rating CDOs that maximized their financial interests by routinely providing AAA ratings to the top tranche of CDOs "backed" largely by fraudulent loans.


So government regulation requiring certain agencies to be used created a rating cartel whose perverse incentives resulted in the high returns (which a free market would not support) and enormous bonuses for big finance via effective secondary rent-seeking.

Three Cubes Colliding

Video 3min



Continuing Iraq Victory


Name Coin
Namecoin is a peer-to-peer generic name/value datastore system based on Bitcoin technology (a decentralized cryptocurrency). It allows you to : Securely register names (domains for example), no possible censorship!, Trade and transact namecoins, the digital currency NMC.

Link via Mark Davis

Anwar al-Awlaki

The government dropped a bomb on a U.S. citizen, who, though a total dick and probably a criminal, may have been engaged only in propaganda, which, though despicable, is generally protected by the First Amendment;

It did so without a trial or even an indictment (that we know of), based at least in part on evidence it says it has but won't show anyone, and on a legal argument it has apparently made but won't show anyone, and the very existence of which it will not confirm or deny;

Although don't worry, because the C.I.A. would never kill an American without having somebody do a memo first; and this is the "most transparent administration ever"; currently run by a Nobel Peace Prize winner.


The Imprinted Brain Theory
The figure illustrates the idea. According to the so-called imprinted brain theory, the paradoxes can be explained in terms of the expression of genes, and not simply their inheritance. Imprinted genes are those which are only expressed when they are inherited from one parent rather than the other.

The classic example is IGF2, a growth factor gene only normally expressed when inherited from the father, but silent when inherited from the mother. According to the most widely-accepted theory, genes like IGF2 are silenced by mammalian mothers because only the mother has to pay the costs associated with gestating and giving birth to a large offspring. The father, on the other hand, gets all the benefit of larger offspring, but pays none of the costs. Therefore his copy is activated.

The symbolism of a tug-of-war represents the mother''s genetic self-interest in countering the growth-enhancing demands of the father''s genes expressed in the foetus - the mother, after all, has to gestate and give birth to the baby at enormous cost to herself.

Mental disorders can be located along a dimension of mentalism defined as our evolved ability to comprehend others'' actions and behaviour in purely mental terms (such as intention, belief, desire, emotion etc.).

Indeed, the symptoms and signs of autism and psychoses like paranoid schizophrenia exhibit a remarkable pattern of antithesis (wrt mentalism):

Autism Psychosis
gaze-monitoring deficits delusions of being watched
insensitivity to voices hallucination of voices
deficits in interpreting intentions delusions of persecution
deficits in appreciating groups delusions of conspiracy
theory of mind deficits delusions of reference
deficit of personal agency delusions of grandeur
inability to deceive delusional self-deception
pathological single-mindedness pathological ambivalence
early onset late onset


Book Thinking Fast and Slow
The general point about the size of our self-ignorance extends beyond the details of Systems 1 and 2. We're astonishingly susceptible to being influenced "puppeted" by features of our surroundings in ways we don't suspect. One famous (pre-mobile phone) experiment centred on a New York City phone booth. Each time a person came out of the booth after having made a call, an accident was staged - someone dropped all her papers on the pavement. Sometimes a dime had been placed in the phone booth, sometimes not (a dime was then enough to make a call). If there was no dime in the phone booth, only 4% of the exiting callers helped to pick up the papers. If there was a dime, no fewer than 88% helped.

Review via Leah Sheldon

DYE Fantasy

Music video

Metaphor for loss of self from pair bonding?

Climate Change - Is CO2 the cause?

Video via Adam Thorsen

Async I/O Broken Most Everywhere
This turns out to be hard. In theory there's POSIX AIO, but it's reported to not really work on Linux (my info might be out of date). Async libraries like node.js use an internal thread pool to simulate its desired event-behavior for files...

But it turns out that Windows async IO is just broken. In any of a number of situations, including if your disk is encrypted, Windows will silently make your async file operations synchronous. See this MSDN doc for a list of other potential reasons. Special highlights include how extending a file's length is synchronous unless you use a special API, while that API on NTFS file systems requires a special privilege that is only available to administrators by default.


The Spielberg Face

Video 10min via Phil Ryu

Questioning Methionine Restriction

Link via Rich Collins

Trailer: Prometheus


Peter Schiff UCLA Econ Debate

Video 1hr

A bridge from JavascriptCore to Cocoa.


Ramachandran's lecture on Anosognosia

Video 50min

More on Methionine
These results, together with previous ones, strongly suggest that the decrease in mitROS generation and oxidative damage to mtDNA that occurs during dietary restriction is due to restriction of a single aminoacid: methionine.


Put simply, every year since 2005, more than 50% of China's GDP has consisted of construction-related spending. The law of diminishing marginal returns says this simply cannot continue.

It represents a misallocation of the household sector's hard-earned savings on a colossal scale, and I believe it will end badly. Not a day goes by that there aren't riots and protests somewhere in China (including cyberspace) as the downtrodden man in the street reaches his froggy boiling point.


Bose-Einstein Condensation Nuclear Fusion
Generalized theory of Bose-Einstein condensation nuclear fusion (BECNF) is used to carry out theoretical analyses of recent experimental results of Rossi et al. for hydrogen-nickel system. Based on incomplete experimental information currently available, preliminary theoretical explanations of the experimental results are presented in terms of the generalized BECNF theory. Additional accurate experimental data are needed for obtaining more complete theoretical descriptions and predictions, which can be tested by further experiments.


The Origin of the Calamity: Credit Expansion
When fractional-reserve banks expand credit, malinvestments result. Entrepreneurs induced by artificially low interest rates engage in new investment projects that the lower interest rates suddenly make look profitable. Many of these investments are not financed by real savings but just by money created out of thin air by the banking system. The new investments absorb important resources from other sectors that are not affected so much by the inflow of the new money. There results a real distortion in the productive structure of the economy. In the last cycle, malinvestments in the booming housing markets contrasted with important bottlenecks such as in the commodity sector...

In 2008, the crisis of the real economy triggered a banking or financial crisis. Artificially low interest rates had facilitated excessive debt accumulation to finance bubble activities. When the malinvestments became apparent, the market value of these investments dropped sharply. Part of these assets (malinvestments) was property of the banking system or financed by it...

Economic recovery requires that the structure of production adapt to consumer wishes. Malinvestments must be liquidated to free up resources for new, more urgently demanded projects. This process requires several adjustments.

First, relative prices must adjust. For instances, housing prices had to fall, which made other projects look relatively more profitable. If relative housing prices do not fall, ever more houses will be built, adding to existing distortions.


Best article I've seen on the subject.

Trailer: Keloid


Fed Debate
SomeKDEUser: No, it was created to prevent panics and bank runs, as well as regulating the money supply. Bank runs were common and destructive -- however it was not a matter of too big to fail as bank failure was common at the time.

Simply it was found not to help anyone, and the absence of a central bank put the US at a disadvantage compared to the European states: their economies were much stabler.

Colin Smith: No, it was created by Wall Street banks in order to save their asses when they screwed up and pump the leverage up too high. That's what it does.

The people who created the Federal Reserve were Wall Street: []

Paul Warburg - Kuhn, Loeb & Co. (Rothschild) - Lehman Brothers
Frank Vanderlip - National City Bank of New York - Citibank Henry P. Davison - JP Morgan
Benjamin Strong - JP Morgan
Charles D. Norton - First National Bank of New York - Citibank

Bank runs and failures prevent banks from becoming Too Big To Fail, and taking down the entire world economy. Which they did just as soon as they were able to ramp up the leverage (backed by the FED) during the "roaring" 1920s (can you say Credit Bubble?) until the inevitable result ... The Great Depression, Hitler, World War II etc.

Banks are fundamentally unstable organisations, they operate through leverage so small negative changes cause catastrophic results, and central banks as lenders of last resort provide insurance, which allow banks to lend with higher leverage than they would if they had no insurance. The losses are obviously then socialised. This is highly desirable if you happen to be a Wall Street banker. Lucky they've got one then eh?

That is, central banks make the problem bigger. Tada, here we are again. Great Depression? Greater Depression? Greatest Depression? Are we going to see World War III as the results continue to roll round the world?


Lecture: The Founding of the Federal Reserve

Video 1hr

Quote of the Day
"Everything has its pattern," Freddy put in. "If you find it, the great can be contained within the small."

- Clive Barker, Weave World

Common Node
Common Node implements a number of CommonJS proposals on top of Node.js using node-fibers.

Link via Tom Robinson

Emscripten is an LLVM-to-JavaScript compiler. It takes LLVM bitcode (which can be generated from C/C++, using llvm-gcc or clang, or any other language that can be converted into LLVM) and compiles that into JavaScript, which can be run on the web (or anywhere else JavaScript can run). Using Emscripten, you can
  • Compile C and C++ code into JavaScript and run that on the web
  • Run code in languages like Python as well, by compiling CPython from C to JavaScript and interpreting code in that on the web


Federal Reserve Audit
$16 trillion had been secretly given out to US banks and corporations and foreign banks everywhere from France to Scotland. From the period between December 2007 and June 2010, the Federal Reserve had secretly bailed out many of the world%92s banks, corporations, and governments. The Federal Reserve likes to refer to these secret bailouts as an all-inclusive loan program, but virtually none of the money has been returned and it was loaned out at 0% interest...

To place $16 trillion into perspective, remember that GDP of the United States is only $14.12 trillion. The entire national debt of the United States government spanning its 200+ year history is "only" $14.5 trillions...

In late 2008, the TARP Bailout bill was passed and loans of $800 billion were given to failing banks and companies. That was a blatant lie considering the fact that Goldman Sachs alone received 814 billion dollars. As is turns out, the Federal Reserve donated $2.5 trillion to Citigroup, while Morgan Stanley received $2.04 trillion. The Royal Bank of Scotland and Deutsche Bank, a German bank, split about a trillion and numerous other banks received hefty chunks of the $16 trillion...


Cost Plus
United Launch Alliance, the consortium of Boeing and Lockheed Martin that produces both the Delta and the Atlas, does not make its prices public. But budget documents show that in 2010 the EELV program received $1.14 billion for three rockets - an average of $380 million per launch. And prices are expected to rise significantly in the next few years, according to defense department officials. Why? Musk says a lot of the answer is in the government's traditional "cost-plus" contracting system, which ensures that manufacturers make a profit even if they exceed their advertised prices. "If you were sitting at a n executive meeting at Boeing and Lockheed and you came up with some brilliant idea to reduce the cost of Atlas or Delta, you'd be fired," he says. "Because you've got to go report to your shareholders why you made less money. So their incentive is to maximize the cost of a vehicle, right up to the threshold of cancellation."

Link via Francisco Tolmasky

Pop Goes The World
JPMorgan Chase & Co. (JPM) and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS), among the world''s biggest traders of credit derivatives, disclosed to shareholders that they have sold protection on more than $5 trillion of debt globally...

JPMorgan said in its third-quarter SEC filing that more than 98 percent of the credit-default swaps the New York-based bank has written on GIIPS debt is balanced by CDS contracts purchased on the same bonds. The bank said its net exposure was no more than $1.5 billion,

"Their position is you don''t need to know the risks, which is why they''re giving you net numbers," said Nomi Prins, a managing director at New York-based Goldman Sachs until she left in 2002 to become a writer. "Net is only as good as the counterparties on each side of the net -- that''s why it''s misleading in a fluid, dynamic market."


Fast Interprocess Messaging
Rather than copy messages through a shared segment, they would rather deliver messages directly into another process's address space. To this end, Christopher Yeoh has posted a patch implementing what he calls cross memory attach.

This patch implements a pair of new system calls:

copy_from_process(pid, addr, len, buf, flags);
copy_to_process(pid, addr, len, buf, flags);

Link via Slava Pestov

Criticism of the OLPC project is easy to find, so I won't repeat much of it here, except to say that I find their whole model obnoxiously paternalistic; it's based on centralized government-controlled institutions (that is, schools), government and NGO subsidies for equipment, dependence on foreign administration and technical service, and a general all-too-familiar neo-colonial obliviousness of the real needs of poor societies rather than the "vision" of a few rich founders. A "children's computer" is of necessity hard to distinguish from a "toy", and the line between children and adults is, I believe, an artificial one. Enforcing this fake distinction just gives poor kids yet another developmental dead end.

The societies of the so-called "developing world" (or "global South" or whatever) desperately needs real, affordable, resilient IT infrastructure, but OLPC isn't the ones giving it to them.


Solid Gray Backpack

Link via Erin Heinemeyer

The Trouble with the Electoral College

Video 6min

Prohibition Fuels Firestorm of New Dangerous Drugs
These drugs are nobody's first choice. BZP was originally a worming tablet for cattle. Ketamine was a veterinary anaesthetic. GBL was a superglue remover. In all likelihood, that is what they would have remained had ecstasy not been banned.


How many people need to die or be needlessly imprisoned before the failed policy of prohibition is abandoned?

The boy from the sun
Corporate Greed or Government Intervention
A: The way I see it was special interests for the banking industry lobbied to deregulate policies that hurt them while at the same time keep regulations that would benefit them.

B: There was no deregulation, in fact regulation in general is supported and written by corporations. The repeal of provisions of Glass-Steagall simply allowed commercial and investment banks to operate under an umbrella corporation. This is standard policy throughout the world, the U.S. was the only one with those provisions.

A: Maybe I'm off base but what is everyone else's perspective?

B: You have to understand the Austrian theory of the Business Cycle. Basically what happened was that after 9/11 Alan Greenspan sought to push interest rates low in order to kickstart the economy, which if you remember was in the .com crash when 9/11 happened. So he, as federal reserve chairman lowered interest rates.

This has the effect of making loans more attractive. Low interest rates, more demand for loans. Simple economics. Now banks loaned to everyone that met their requirements. Then what happened was that because interest rates were low banks were making less on their returns, so they wanted to loan more but the people who wanted loans were credit risks.

So people want loans, the government wants people to get loans and the banks want to give out loans but are worried about the risk. So politicians and the federal reserve go "hey listen up banks, you tie in your risky loans with less risky ones into one package of loans and we will buy them from you(through Fannie/Freddie/etc...), that way the risk is lessened since the odds of all of these loans failing together is so low."

So the banks said, "in that case sure we will loan to people without checking up on them". So all of this new home/land building/purchases pushes the price of homes up which drew more people(and speculators into the market), which should have raised interest rates (more demand for loans means interest rates go up, again simple economics) but the Federal reserve did not allow that to happen.

They kept the rates below market levels which caused an excess of demand for loans, people who had no intention of buying a home bought one anyway. These were the "flip your house" people, who often would buy several houses at once. So what you have is countless houses being built that no one intended to live in ever and it was all due to the federal reserve making cheap credit available below market rates.

There is the thing in a nutshell.


Wanted: Online Bank
- never sends physical mail
- never loans out or buys bonds with deposits
- keeps physical cash to back deposits, no inbound transaction is cleared until physical cash is on hand
- no ATM or money transfer fees
- supports requests for money and automatic bill pay
- can keep deposits in an ETF of my choice until spent
- easy to get info needed at tax time
- has debit card only (no credit cards)

I'm willing to pay a periodic small storage fee proportional to my deposit size.

On December 31, 1974, Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas was debilitated by a stroke that paralyzed his left side and confined him to a wheelchair. But Justice Douglas demanded to be checked out of the hospital on the grounds that he was fine. He declared that reports of his paralysis were "a myth." When reporters expressed skepticism, he invited them to join him for a hike, a move interpreted as absurd. He even claimed to be kicking football field goals with his paralyzed leg. As a result of this apparently delusional behavior, Douglas was dismissed from his seat on the Supreme Court.


If everyone suffered from some common form of this involving an external observation, how would we ever become aware of it?

Magnetic North
They Won't Tell Us
Since the beginning of the Iraq War in 2003, the New York Federal Reserve has been shipping tens of billions of dollars to the government and central bank of Iraq... much of that money was stolen, misappropriated, and simply lost.

The flow of money between the Iraqi government and central bank and the New York Federal Reserve did not end in 2008. Rather, it continues to this day... "We don't have access to the Federal Reserve account to know how much money actually came out of the Fed," said Jason Venner, the inspector general's chief auditor. "They won't tell us."


Creating Real Healthcare Markets
Check out the website of the Surgery Center of Oklahoma, which defies current practice by actually listing its prices on its website. Their prices are as low as one-fifth those of typical hospitals.


Would love to see more startups bringing market price mechanisms to areas where prices are currently hidden or obscured.

...during the great recession, according to the government, household income dropped by 2.5%... but since the recovery began, household income has dropped by 7.5% adjusted for inflation. How can Americans be doing worse in the recovery than in the recession.


Cognitive Illusions
I asked for some data to prepare my presentation and was granted a small treasure: a spreadsheet summarising the investment outcomes of some 25 anonymous wealth advisers, for each of eight consecutive years...

...I computed correlation coefficients between the rankings in each pair of years... I was surprised to find that the average of the 28 correlations was 0.01. In other words, zero... The results resembled what you would expect from a dice-rolling contest, not a game of skill.

No one in the firm seemed to be aware of the nature of the game that its stock pickers were playing. The advisers themselves felt they were competent professionals doing a serious job, and their superiors agreed. On the evening before the seminar, Richard Thaler and I had dinner with some of the top executives of the firm, the people who decide on the size of bonuses.

We asked them to guess the year-to-year correlation in the rankings of individual advisers. They thought they knew what was coming and smiled as they said "not very high" or "performance certainly fluctuates". It quickly became clear, however, that no one expected the average correlation to be zero.

Our message to the executives was that, at least when it came to building portfolios, the firm was rewarding luck as if it were skill. This should have been shocking news to them, but it was not... I have no doubt that both our findings and their implications were quickly swept under the rug and that life in the firm went on as before.

The illusion of skill is not only an individual aberration; it is deeply ingrained in their culture. Facts that challenge such basic assumptions - and thereby threaten people's livelihood and self-esteem - are simply not absorbed. The mind does not digest them.


New approach to traumatic brain injuries
Parker's research has demonstrated that the forces... physically disrupt the structure of the focal adhesion complex, setting off a chain reaction of destructive molecular signals within the nerve cells of the brain...

Encouragingly, we also found that treating the neural tissue with HA-1077, which is a ROCK inhibitor, within the first 10 minutes of injury, reduced the number of focal swellings...


Quote of the Day
It's not the number! It's the meaning...
It's what's between the numbers.
If you could understand you would.

Methionine Restriction
There is a growing body of evidence that shows restricting methionine consumption can increase lifespans in some animals.[11]

A 2005 study showed methionine restriction without energy restriction extends mouse lifespan.[12]

A study published in Nature showed adding just the essential amino acid methionine to fruit flies on a calorie restricted diet restored egg-laying without reducing lifespan.[13][14]


Methionine restriction limits age-related adiposity (obesity) in Fischer 344 (F344) rats.


Tumor cells are more sensitive to methionine restriction than normal tissues, a phenomenon known as methionine auxotrophy...Dietary and/or enzymatic methionine restriction combined with 5-fluoruracil has great promise as a novel treatment for advanced cancer.


A diet deficient in the amino acid methionine has previously been shown to extend lifespan in several stocks of inbred rats. We report here that a methionine-deficient (Meth-R) diet also increases maximal lifespan in F1 mice. Compared with controls, Meth-R mice have significantly lower levels of serum IGF-I, insulin, glucose and thyroid hormone. Meth-R mice also have higher levels of liver mRNA for MIF (macrophage migration inhibition factor), known to be higher in several other mouse models of extended longevity. Meth-R mice are significantly slower to develop lens turbidity and to show age-related changes in T-cell subsets. They are also dramatically more resistant to oxidative liver cell injury induced by injection of toxic doses of acetaminophen. The spectrum of terminal illnesses in the Meth-R group is similar to that seen in control mice. Studies of the cellular and molecular biology of methionine-deprived mice may, in parallel to studies of calorie-restricted mice, provide insights into the way in which nutritional factors modulate longevity and late-life illnesses.


Music video
Economists: End Or Drastically Downsize the Fed


David Friedman
Best talk on economics I've seen. Direct and engaging.


Quote of the Day
Before the iMac, in a world of companies pinching pennies to stretch profits, we became used to crap. Tons of crap. Crappy TVs, crappy music players, crappy computers, and crappy phones. Computers before the iMac were terrible, but we bought them because we had to. Sure they would break and get viruses and crash, but what else were we supposed to do? Before the iPhone era, the best smart phones on the market were plastic and clunky and hideous. Have you seen a picture of the old Sony Trio? But this was the status quo. The rise of Dell computers is a testament to this. The question driving board room discussions wasn't "How do we make a great product?" but rather "How do we pack the most specs into the cheapest piece of crap we can make?"


Austerity Plans
You look at all the austerity plans in Europe, every one of them show that the countries in five years will have higher debt than they have now. What kind of austerity plan is that?

- Jim Rogers

TA-65 is a proven telomerase activator* that was discovered by California biotech company Geron, and licensed to T.A Sciences. Our clients take TA-65 capsules in a 12 month program known as the Patton Protocol. TA-65 turns on the hTERT gene* which activates the enzyme telomerase which can lengthen your telomeres. We measure your telomeres before, during and after completing the Protocol to show actual changes in telomere length.


Quote of the Day
Three years ago, Columbus Day 2008, the S&P 500 soared 11% on hope that the global financial system had been bailed out. Stocks then declined 40% over the next 4 months.

- Bill King

New Moore's Law
The researchers found that the electrical efficiency of computing has doubled every 1.6 years since the mid-1940s.


Jobs Stories
"He wasn't dressed appropriately, he didn't behave appropriately," Alcorn remembers. "The Germans were horrified at this."


HP Memristor
This creates the prospect of adding dense non-volatile memory as an extra layer on top of logic circuitry. "We could offer 2-Gbytes of memory per core on the processor chip. Putting non-volatile memory on top of the logic chip will buy us twenty years of Moore's Law, said Williams.


The First Manifesto of the Wall Street Protesters
Do not be distracted by the corporations. They are the beneficiaries, not the source of the destruction.

Video 28min

Liquidity Intervention Consequences
All we left have to show for our three year liquidity orgy is the most correlated period in modern finance. The propensity for erratic movements in DJIA daily lagged returns is at the most extreme levels in over nine decades of recorded data. We are trapped in a binary market governed by the flip of a macroeconomic coin with deflation on one side and government bail-outs on the other. In this hyper-correlated market many alpha generating strategies resemble directional volatility trades.

The more global asset classes move in lockstep the more haphazardly the international response to the crisis has become. A currency war is raging as central banks alternate dousing sovereign insolvency flames with uncoordinated currency devaluation. Whether this is Brazil unexpectedly cutting rates by 50 basis points despite the highest inflation in six years or Switzerland pegging the Franc to the Euro to protect exports it is every man, woman, and central bank for itself.


Stephen Fry on Steve Jobs
As always there are those who reveal their asininity (as they did throughout his career) with ascriptions like "salesman", "showman" or the giveaway blunder "triumph of style over substance". The use of that last phrase, "style over substance" has always been, as Oscar Wilde observed, a marvellous and instant indicator of a fool. For those who perceive a separation between the two have either not lived, thought, read or experienced the world with any degree of insight, imagination or connective intelligence.


A name calling vs name calling argument, but FWIW I agree with Fry's sentiment.

Fed Audit shows $16 Trillion in Secret Loans
As a result of this audit, we now know that the Federal Reserve provided more than $16 trillion in total financial assistance to some of the largest financial institutions and corporations in the United States and throughout the world.

US Senator Bernie Sanders report

As the Fed has less than $3T in assets, how can it make $16T in loans unless the "loans" were effectively promises to print as much as $13T if needed? No wonder the Fed fought the audit. Why hasn't the mainstream news given this more coverage?

Cascading Default

Concern is growing that European lenders may falter as Greece teeters on the brink of default. U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner has warned that failure to bolster European backstops would threaten "cascading default, bank runs and catastrophic risk" for the global economy.


Aren't "backstops" throwing good money after bad when the crisis is one of solvency instead of confidence?

Europe probably can't save Greece. It can only save itself by propping up Greece until it's no longer technically too big to fail -- by (a) guaranteeing Athens' debts until Europe's largest banks are in a better position to take losses or by (b) backing its debts until Europe's other troubled governments solve their own problems.


And just who is it who takes those losses if not the European banks that purchased the Greek bonds? If you listen to economic journalists, they give the impression that the debt somehow disappears. The truth is that the losses are paid in one of three ways 1) banks and bank depositors who stood to profit from those bonds take the losses 2) governments buy the junk bonds and taxpayers take the losses 3) central banks print money and savers and wage earners take the losses.

In none of these options does Europe "save itself" and in 2 and 3, it simply moves the loses from the people that stood to profit and whose actions were most closely responsible to those who did not stand to profit and who where least responsible.


They have other things, more urgent matters that are inscribed within their skulls and all kinds of business to carry out. Their heads are just too heavy with so many plans and schemes and thousands of tasks that will not allow them to focus on anything that is so strange, anything that is so uncertain. They have no time to confront some ultimate revelation... Such a thing would take everything they know and arrange it in another way altogether, telling a story so different from the one that is already familiar to them... No one knows the big news.

- Thomas Ligotti

Eurozone Crisis
The bail-out of Greece began with a 100-billion-euro package. Very soon a second deal of the same order was required. Now we learn that the 440-billion-euro European Financial Stability Facility may need to be five times bigger to beat back the Debt Beast, which, having gobbled up Greece, is turning its attention to Italy, where Silvio Berlusconi is in a 1.9-trillion-euro hole...

Euro-fanatics are not alone in being routed by the debacle in Athens. Those who denounced opponents of budgetary incontinence are also squirming. Warnings that excessive debt would drown countries awash with borrowings were dismissed by progressives as cave-man economics. Who are the Neanderthals now?


Deflation in the Weimar Republic
As an example of deflation leading to hyperinflation, consider the case of the Weimar Republic . In 1920, Germany experienced a deflationary collapse, with the average citizen finding it harder and harder to get enough money for necessities. Banks, short of money, could not honor checks, and businesses were strapped for cash to buy materials and meet payroll. Fearing a collapse that would throw millions of workers out on the street, the German government desperately printed money in an attempt to re-inflate the economy. During this period, despite the government's money printing, the mark actually gained in value against foreign currencies, so that prices of imported goods fell by some 50%.

Eventually, as a result of the money supply's rapid expansion, the nation's massive foreign debt, and the shrinking economy, German citizens lost all confidence in their currency, and the Weimar Republic experienced one of the worst cases of hyperinflation in modern economic history. Billions of hoarded marks came out of hiding and entered the marketplace. The chart below tells the rest of the story.


Overdose: The Next Financial Crisis
Video 45min
Music video - ignore the video
A Conversation on Money
A: Does anyone still think gold and silver are money?

B: What do you mean by money? A means of buying a common goods?
A store of wealth?

A: Both.

B: Do you think you could more easily buy a cup of coffee with a randomly selected fiat currency (like a Botswanan pula) than a gold or silver coin?

A: No.

B: And if you had to choose between keeping your savings in gold or silver vs any fiat currency for 30 years, would you choose the fiat currency?

A: No.

B: I think you've answered your question.

Morgan Stanley
Earlier today some blog pulled up some factual data that suggested that Morgan Stanley had $39 billion in total exposure against French banks at the end of 2010, up $30 billion from the year prior, and enough to wipe out its entire market cap and then some should French banks be pulled under.


Yohji Yamamoto



Jeremy Segel Debates Peter Schiff


From 2010. There are some slow parts but there are many good points and AFAICT both sides are well represented.

The German government gives money to the European Union rescue fund so that it can give money to the Irish government so that the Irish government can give money to Irish banks so the Irish banks can repay their loans to the German banks. "They are playing billiards," says Enderlein. "The easier way to do it would be to give German money to the German banks and let the Irish banks fail." Why they don't simply do this is a question worth trying to answer.


Mr G
Not Exactly
Everything After
Alone with You
Muji Glass Cube Lamp



Greece's exit would create a powerful and highly visible precedent. As soon as Greece has exited, we expect the markets will focus on the country or countries most likely to exit next from the euro area. Any non-captive/financially sophisticated owner of a deposit account.... will withdraw his deposits from countries deemed at risk - even a small risk - of exit.

Any non-captive depositor who fears a non-zero risk of the future introduction of a New Escudo, a New Punt, a New Peseta or a New Lira would withdraw his deposits at the drop of a hat and deposit them in the handful of countries likely to remain in the euro area no matter what - Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Austria and Finland.

The funding strike and deposit run out of the periphery euro area member states (defined very broadly) would create financial havoc and most likely cause a financial crisis followed by a deep recession in the euro area broad periphery.


US Hyperinflation in the 1920s
...The ability to lend on the security of government debt was further strengthened by the Fed's adoption of a preferential discount rate on all Section 13.8 loans secured by Liberty bonds. This rate was set at 3%, a full percent below the regular discount rate.

According to Fishe,[1] member banks could make a profit on the spread by buying 3.5% Liberty bonds at government-debt auctions, then funding these purchases by submitting the bonds to the Fed as collateral for loans at the preferential rate of 3%. "If member banks subscribed to the entire Liberty bond issue by this method - they stood to gain $410,958 tax-free every fifteen days," writes Fishe...

The result of all these machinations was a significant inflation, which varied between 13% and 20% for most of the war, up from the 1% inflation rate experienced in the Fed's first year. By 1920 a dollar would buy about half the goods it was capable of purchasing in 1914.


So the US Federal Reserve, created to preserve price stability, managed to create hyperinflation and destroy half the purchasing power of the dollar in only 6 years.

America's Great Depression
The severity of the Wall Street crash, he [Rothbard] argued, was not due to the unrestrained license of a freebooting capitalist system, but to government insistence on keeping a boom going artificially by pumping in inflationary credit. The slide in stocks continued, and the real economy went into freefall, not because government interfered too little, but because it interfered too much. Rothbard was the first to make the point, in this context, that the spirit of the times in the 1920s, and still more so in the 1930s, was for government to plan, to meddle, to order, and to exhort. It was a hangover from the First World War, and President Hoover, who had risen to worldwide prominence in the war by managing relief schemes, and had then held high economic office throughout the twenties before moving into the White House itself in 1929, was a born planner, meddler, orderer, and exhorter.

Hoover's was the only department of the U.S. federal goverment which had expanded steadily in numbers and power during the 1920s, and he had constantly urged Presidents Harding and Coolidge to take a more active role in managing the economy. Coolidge, a genuine minimalist in government, had complained: "For six years that man has given me unsolicited advice - all of it bad." When Hoover finally took over the White House, he followed his own advice, and made it an engine of interference, first pumping more credit into an already overheated economy and, then, when the bubble burst, doing everything in his power to organize government rescue operations.

We now see, thanks to Rothbard's insights, that the Hoover-Roosevelt period was really a continuum, that most of the "innovations" of the New Deal were in fact expansions or intensifiertions of Hoover solutions, or pseudo-solutions, and that Franklin Delano Roosevelt's administration differed from Herbert Hoover's in only two important respects "it was infinitely more successful in managing its public relations, and it spent rather more taxpayers' money. And, in Rothbard's argument, the net effect of the Hoover-Roosevelt continuum of policy was to make the slump more severe and to prolong it virtually to the end of the 1930s. The Great Depression was a failure not of capitalism but of the hyperactive state.


Quote of the Day
...But obviously what happened is the removal of Glass Steagall and also the bailout of LTCM in 1998 essentially gave a green light to financial institutions that they could leverage up there would be a Greenspan put and later a Bernanke put, and basically they became huge and badly run hedge funds leveraging up their balance sheets.

Like now the FED is also hugely leveraged, and I think we have had as we started out this mixture and combination between politics and business and is as Mr. Ryan said that basically when you see that men get richer by grasp and by pull rather than by work and your laws do not protect you against them but protect them against you and.. you see corruption rewarded and honesty becoming a self sacrifice.

Like Mr Ron Paul. He is looked upon as somewhat of an oddball because he is honest and I think that's where we have reached in this society and in my opinion [it] will eventually end up very badly.

- Marc Faber on Bloomberg

The Return
Bringing back the gift to integrate it in to a rational life is very difficult. It is more difficult than going down in to the underworld. What you have to bring back is something the world lacks - which is why you went to get it - and lacking it, the world does not know that it needs it. And so, on return, when you come with your boon for the world and there is no reception, what are you going to do? There are three possible reactions.

One answer is to say, "To hell with them. I'm going back in to the woods." You buy yourself a dog and a pipe and let the weeds grow in the gate. This is the refusal of the return.

The second way is to say, "What do they want?" You have a skill. You can give them what they want, the commercial way. Then you have created a whole pitch for your expressivity, and what you had before gets lost. You have a public career, and you have renounced the jewel.

The third possibility is to try to find some aspect of the domain into which you have come that can receive a little portion of what you have to give. You have to find a means to deliver what you have found as the life boon in terms and in proportions that are proper to the world's ability to receive. It requires a good deal of compassion and patience. Look for cracks in the wall and give only to those who are ready for your jewel.

- Joseph Campbell, Reflections on the Art of Living

We present the first investigation of the architecture of the international ownership network, along with the computation of the control held by each global player. We find that transnational corporations form a giant bow-tie structure* and that a large portion of control flows to a small tightly-knit core of financial institutions. This core can be seen as an economic 'super-entity' that raises new important issues both for researchers and policy makers.


I'm somehow reminded of In the Hills, the Cities.

UBS on Euro Banking Insolvency
...It is also worth observing that almost no modern fiat currency monetary unions have broken up without some form of authoritarian or military government, or civil war.


Lee Smolin interviewed by a Poet
The only contemporary artist I have ever heard of Einstein befriending was Charlie Chaplin... I like to imagine that Einstein got his fake persona of the saintly clown by observing closely how well Chaplin's own clown persona enabled him to get away with being a popular figure despite having views and habits distasteful to many.


Reflections on the Art of Living
Joseph taught me to see beyond the [mythological] symbols to the riches they represent. Those who cannot see beyond the symbols, he remarked, are "like diners going into a restaurant and eating the menu"


Quote of the Day
It's as if the film of your life broke and you were seeing the light that allowed the film to be projected.


Twins: Houses in Five Parts
Unsecured Securities
We've had a series of posts (see here, here, and here) on the judge's decision in a case called Kemp c. Countrywide, which provided what appeared to be the first official confirmation of what we've long suspected and described on this blog: that as of a certain point in time post 2002, mortgage originators and sponsors simply quit conveying mortgage notes (the borrower IOUs) through a chain of intermediary owners to securitization trusts, as stipulted in the pooling and servicing agreements, the contracts that governed these deals...

If true, this has very serious implications. As we've indicated, it means that residential mortgage backed securties are not secured by real estate, or as Adam Levitin put it, they are "non mortgage backed securities". With the ramifications so serious, expect industry denials to continue apace until the evidence becomes overwhelming.


Alan Watts - God Complex

Video 1hr

No one of adult mind today would turn to the Book of Genesis to learn of the origins of the earth, the plants, the beasts, and man. There was no flood, no tower of Babel, no first couple in paradise, and between the first known appearance of men on earth and the first building of cities, not one generation (Adam to Cain) but a good two million must have come into this world and passed along. Today we turn to science for our imagery of the past and of the structure of the world, and what the spinning demons of the atom and the galaxies of the telescope's eye reveal is a wonder that makes the babel of the Bible seem a toyland dream of the dear childhood of our brain.

- Joseph Campbell

Campbell's genius was his ability to describe the atheist intellectual perspective in emotionally religious language.

End Game
As you can see [from the chart], when we account for inflation, the US economic miracle of the last 30 years is in fact not all that miraculous. Take away easy credit and Fed funny money and the US GDP has barely grown at all since the 1970s.

When your entire financial system is built on debt eventually you hit a brick wall. We did this in 2008. The Fed barely held the system together by going all-in and funneling over $11 trillion in bailouts, backstopping the major US banks, and transferring north of $2 trillion in garbage debt to the public's balance sheet (these are just the moves we know about).

This effort has now failed as the world collectively realizes that the Fed cannot hold the system together. This began to become clear when QE 2 spent $600 billion and the US got at most three months' worth of improved economic data (while inflation exploded throughout the global economy, leading to riots, coups, and more).

In simple terms, we've now entered the real crisis, the end game, for our current monetary system. Before the dust settles on this mess, the US and its political, economic, monetary structure will look very very different.


SEC Destroys Evidence
The SEC gang apparently destroyed thousands of files to protect themselves and such clients as Bernie Madoff and Goldman Sachs.


Markets are Efficient Only if P = NP


World's Smartest Dog

Video short

The God Helmet


Plaque belt
Tipping Points
"When the number of committed opinion holders is below 10 percent, there is no visible progress in the spread of ideas. It would literally take the amount of time comparable to the age of the universe for this size group to reach the majority," said SCNARC Director Boleslaw Szymanski, the Claire and Roland Schmitt Distinguished Professor at Rensselaer. "Once that number grows above 10 percent, the idea spreads like flame."


Taxes and Theft
A: Taxes isn't theft because the people elect the government.

B: Are all government actions sanctified by democracy?

A: What do you mean?

B: Well, when a government kills more people than necessary in war, is it murder?

A: Yes.

B: So when the government spends (and inevitably taxes) more than necessary, is it theft?

Lee Smolin: Physics In Trouble
Panarchy theory also helps us better understand another critically important phenomenon: the denial that prevents us from seeing the dangers we face. Our explanations of the world around us-whether of Earth's place in the cosmos or of the workings of our economy-move through their own adaptive cycles. When a favorite explanation encounters contradictory evidence, we make an ad hoc adjustment to it to account for this evidence-just like Ptolemy added epicycles to his explanation of the planets" movements. In the process, our explanation moves through something akin to a growth phase: it becomes progressively more complex, cumbersome, and rigid; it loses resilience; and it's ripe for collapse should another, better, theory come along.

Holling thinks the world is reaching "a stage of vulnerability that could trigger a rare and major pulse of social transformation." Humankind has experienced only three or four such pulses during its entire evolution, including the transition from hunter-gatherer communities to agricultural settlement, the industrial revolution, and the recent global communications revolution. Today another pulse is about to begin. "The immense destruction that a new pulse signals is both frightening and creative," he writes. "The only way to approach such a period, in which uncertainty is very large and one cannot predict what the future holds, is not to predict, but to experiment and act inventively and exuberantly via diverse adventures in living."


Doesn't seem very predictive but the observation that resistant periods of extension precede reinvention is interesting.

Randomized Algorithm
Quicksort is a familiar, commonly-used algorithm in which randomness can be useful. Any deterministic version of this algorithm requires O(n2) time to sort ... However, if the algorithm selects pivot elements uniformly at random, it has a provably high probability of finishing in O(n log n) time regardless of the characteristics of the input...

The volume of a convex body can be estimated by a randomized algorithm to arbitrary precision in polynomial time. Barany and Furedi showed that no deterministic algorithm can do the same. This is true unconditionally, i.e without relying on any complexity-theoretic assumptions.


Systemic Risk
AIG insured the uninsurable, and now the US government has taken over that role. But managing the crisis by taking on promises you can't deliver is not a fix to systemic risk. It is itself systemic risk.


I agree with that statement, but not the author's proposed "limited banking" solution as it tries to solve the problem of excessive risk by centralized decision making, which has already been demonstrated to have the opposite effect as central banks and governments will happily trade long term risk for short term gains via deliberate underpricing of risk (interest rates).

Free banking on the other hand, with no central banks or government currency, allows the market to limit risk by having it priced by creditors whose interests are aligned with proper pricing as they will bear the burden of defaults.

This negative feedback mechanism on risk is currently broken in multiple ways via government intervention in lending such as government guarantees on home and student loans and promises to print money to maintain high risk (via low interest) investing or to cover bank deposits.

Cold Brew
Cold-brewed coffee is controversial. To summarize the substance of many recent interviews and blog posts: advocates praise its low acidity and lack of bitterness, and its intense but smooth flavor. Detractors find it lacking in aroma and body and say they get more of both by starting with a double-strength hot pour-over or French press...

The hot-brew argument sounded convincing to me, and I'd be happy not to need any special kit or forethought. But when I compared a 12-hour cold brew of freshly roasted Ethiopian coffee side by side with double-strength pour-overs brewed onto ice, each was good, and it was the cold brew that consistently tasted fruitier and more refreshing. That experiment made me a fan of cold-brewed coffee


Quote of the Day
Now, the Sirens have a still more fatal weapon than their song, namely their silence. And though admittedly such a thing never happened, it is still conceivable that someone might possibly have escaped from their singing; but from their silence certainly never.

- Kafka

No plan under serious consideration cuts spending in the way you and I think about it. Instead, the "cuts" being discussed are illusory, and are not cuts from current amounts being spent, but cuts in projected spending increases...

In reality, bringing our fiscal house into order is not that complicated or excruciatingly painful at all. If we simply kept spending at current levels, by their definition of "cuts" that would save nearly $400 billion in the next few years, versus the $25 billion the Budget Control Act claims to "cut". It would only take us 5 years to "cut" $1 trillion, in Washington math, just by holding the line on spending. That is hardly austere or catastrophic.


Stephen Fry vs Catholic Church

Video 20min

Quote of the Day
I want to be a pop star - I love it... I want to be famous and I want to be standing on stage and I don't speak for the people because I don't even know them.

- Gary Numan

The "Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act" has just produced the first ever 'audit' of the US central bank. It reveals that in the period between December 2007 and July 2010, the Fed parcelled out $US 16.1 TRILLION in emergency loans to financial entities all over the world. Almost half of this - a total of $US 7.75 TRILLION - was loaned to four US banks. They were Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, Merrill Lynch and the Bank of America. In July 2010 (the cut off date for this 'audit'), total US stock market capitalisation was $US 15 TRILLION. The Fed provided about half of that.


Ogi no mato
Bitcoin DRM
Could we effectively use the smallest fractions of bit coins as transferrable license keys for intellectual property such as software applications? For example, an app might verify the user was the current holder of the coin/license by asking them to periodically sign a nonce using the private key of the current owner of the coin as seen by the bitcoin network.

In a similar vein, a geocoin could be established for location based property rights, a equitycoin for stocks and a generic tradable contract coin for futures. Perhaps the coming to consensus on ownership may, for the most part, be a need that no longer requires a state.

Might we use this technology for elections (which is ultimately just another form of property rights transfer) as well? Could we see the rise of large scale trustworthy distributed social consensus happening entirely outside of the structure of the state or the corporation?

The Trust Fund
President Obama famously played to grandma's Social Security fears this week, saying in an interview about the debt-ceiling talks that "I cannot guarantee that those checks go out on August 3 if we haven't resolved this issue because there may simply not be the money in the coffers to do it."

To which a friend of ours replied, whatever happened to the trust fund?

That's the fund that, according to our politicians, is holding all those Social Security taxes that workers pay. Why can't Congress or Mr. Obama dip into that $2.6 trillion cash hoard to pay benefits until this debt-limit business gets sorted out? After all, as White House budget director Jack Lew put it in a February USA Today op-ed, "Social Security benefits are entirely self-financing."

Not quite. As everyone in Washington knows, the trust fund contains not cash but IOUs. Payroll taxes don't go to some vault in Fort Knox, and they certainly aren't invested. When Social Security runs a surplus, Congress spends the money immediately on something else and then the government claims its owes a debt to itself. Where the money will come from to pay these IOUs is anybody's guess - though Mr. Obama is hoping it will be higher taxes.

Trust fund balances only exist in "a bookkeeping sense," as Bill Clinton's budget director put it in 1999.



His solid flesh had never been away,
For each dawn found him in his usual place,
But every night his spirit loved to race
Through gulfs and worlds remote from common day.
He had seen Yaddith, yet retained his mind,
And come back safely from the Ghooric zone,
When one still night across curved space was thrown
That beckoning piping from the voids behind.

He waked that morning as an older man,
And nothing since has looked the same to him.
Objects around float nebulous and dim-
False, phantom trifles of some vaster plan.
His folk and friends are now an alien throng
To which he struggles vainly to belong.

H.P. Lovecraft

Science and Spiritualily
Thomas Metzinger in discussion with Krista Tippett.


Civil Liberties Under Obama
It is acknowledged and recognized across the political spectrum that Barak Obama has continued virtually all of George Bush and Dick Cheney's once controversial terrorism and civil liberties policies... What were once viewed as right wing radical policies have become the undebatable policies of both political parties.

Video 1hr

The Difference
Religion: Prays when you have cancer, says "it's God's plan" if you die.


Btrfs is a new copy on write filesystem for Linux aimed at implementing advanced features while focusing on fault tolerance, repair and easy administration.


A nice feature set but are directories sorted by name and is there a BDB cursor-like API for accessing them? If so, this could really be something.


THERAPIST: We come up with many ways of dealing with loss, but your mind came up with two entire realities where your wife survived in one and your son in the other... and this has been happening since the accident?


THERAPIST: Well I can assure you this is not a dream.



CLIENT: That's exactly what the other shrink said.


HOMBURG: The alleged risk of contagion is a myth that doesn't stand up to closer scrutiny. If you share my conviction that all this talk of Greece being too big to fail is simply nonsense, then there is no reason for bailouts...

SPIEGEL: ...yes, but only if you're right.

HOMBURG: No, it also holds true in the reverse situation. If the bankruptcy of little Greece were actually to trigger a global financial crisis, new bailout programs couldn't solve the problem: They would actually exacerbate it. If no more states or banks are allowed to go bankrupt because this might precipitate a financial crisis, then we're finished. Then the problem continuously escalates and leads to a much greater crisis.


Life, Programming and the Other begins by inventing interiority. Molecules that have one end attracted to water and the other one repelled by it ... self-organize into primitive cell membranes, like bubbles. Once life has identified and segregated its Other, the story goes, molecules trapped inside the membrane can encounter each other regularly and develop complex society shielded from the floating disorder outside.


Alan Kay said cellular biology inspired his perspective on object oriented programming. More generally, has the evolution of computation mirrored how biology has effectively solved the same informational organization problems? If so, where are we on that mapping and what might we guess about the future from it?

It's been observed that "ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny" - that a single organism's development to maturity mirrors its ancestor's evolutionary history. Is there a parallel in the development of new computational organisms (new applications, operating systems, etc)? If so, could the process be improved by working with this pattern and what other insights might it lead us to? Does hardware recapitulate software?

Quote of the Day
In great affairs men show themselves as they wish to be seen; in small things they show themselves as they are.

- Nicholas Chamfort

Programmer Psychology
Being different is not a crime, and people who tell you it is are just jealous that you have picked up a skill they never in their wildest dreams could acquire. You can code. They cannot. That is pretty damn cool.


That perspective is why I believe most programmers unconsciously try to create unnecessary complexity and why progress in software development has been so disappointingly slow. The path to better technology is the pursuit of beauty, not ego gratification. The former leads to unification, simplicity and accessibility, the later to mountains of special cases on which people can climb in order to mistakenly feel superior to others. This is why I see minimalism as the only respectable design aesthetic of a technologist.

AIAIAI Earphones


Quote of the Day
I'd bring them [US troops] home as quickly as impossible... And I would get them out of Iraq as well. And I wouldn't start a war in Libya. I'd quit bombing Yemen. And I'd quit bombing Pakistan.

Ron Paul at GOP debate

When it comes time to vote, please remember that the wars are over if you want it.

$600 Billion Stealth Bailout
Courtesy of the recently declassified Fed discount window documents, we now know that the biggest beneficiaries of the Fed's generosity during the peak of the credit crisis were foreign banks...

In summary, instead of doing everything in its power to stimulate reserve, and thus cash, accumulation at domestic (US) banks which would in turn encourage lending to US borrowers, the Fed has been conducting yet another stealthy foreign bank rescue operation, which rerouted $600 billion in capital from potential borrowers to insolvent foreign financial institutions in the past 7 months. QE2 was nothing more (or less) than another European bank rescue operation!


According to Rothbard's "America's Great Depresion", it was also foreign banks (principally the bailout of the UK pound during WWI) that were the beneficiary of the Fed's massive money printing that created the 1920s boom and inevitable bust. Coincidence?

Quote of the Day
Richard Nixon, if he were alive today, might take bittersweet satisfaction to know that he was not the last smart president to prolong unjustifiably a senseless, unwinnable war, at great cost in human life... He would probably also feel vindicated (and envious) that ALL the crimes he committed against me -- which forced his resignation facing impeachment -- are now legal.

Daniel Ellsberg, in an interview with CNN.

India's Voluntary City
Gurgaon was widely regarded as an economic wasteland. In 1979, the state of Haryana created Gurgaon by dividing a longstanding political district on the outskirts of New Delhi. One half would revolve around the city of Faridabad, which had an active municipal government, direct rail access to the capital, fertile farmland and a strong industrial base. The other half, Gurgaon, had rocky soil, no local government, no railway link and almost no industrial base.

As an economic competition, it seemed an unfair fight. And it has been: Gurgaon has won, easily. Faridabad has struggled to catch India's modernization wave, while Gurgaon's disadvantages turned out to be advantages, none more important, initially, than the absence of a districtwide government, which meant less red tape capable of choking development.

quoted from NYT article

Haskell Mutable Hash Tables
While Haskell people prefer to use immutable/persistent data structures in their programs most of the time, there are definitely instances in which you want a mutable hash table: no immutable data structure that I know of supports O(1) inserts and lookups, nor is there an immutable data structure that I know of which can match a good mutable hash table for space efficiency. These factors are very important in some problem domains, especially for things like machine learning on very large data sets.

Link via Rich Collins

Public Housing

Video 8min

The Coming Euro Collapse
What's being done with all this money? "Let us call a spade a spade," says Wolf: "This is central bank finance of the state." It's indirect, to be sure, but this graph is a finger in the eye of Article 123 of the Lisbon Treaty, which bans monetary financing. And it means that there's a whole new set of dominoes which could, catastrophically fall...


Quote of the Day
There is a time in every man's education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide.

- Ralph Waldo Emerson, via MinimalMac

Aesthetics, Typography and Design
I've been asked for references to good books on these, but I don't know any. Instead I suggest collecting examples of things you like and periodically reviewing them and asking what unifies them. The answer to that question will be an understanding of your own sense of design, which is the only true one for you. You may be surprised with where it leads you and what insights it gives you into other areas of your life.
Lessons from Argentina
On the day his country exploded, Santiago Bilinkis stayed at home and watched the riots on television with his wife and infant son. It was painful. In Buenos Aires, one of the world's great cities, looters were attacking grocery stores. Bilinkis's bank account - along with every other account in the country - had been frozen by executive decree three weeks earlier. Argentina was out of money.

Link via Rich Collins

The Origins of Money


Deflation or Hyperinflation
vincecate writes:

The Fed will be powerless to stop it [inflation] because congress makes the laws and the president appoints the people at the Fed. When the government needs money the Fed will print it or the laws and people will be changed. The Fed will print all the money the government wants, count on it.

The ECB had all kinds of rules like, "the ECB will not use non-investment grade debt as collateral" and just tossed the rules out the window when things got rough. The US will break all the rules too. Somehow deflationists don't have enough imagination to see the rules getting broken.

and from curtisag:

Deflation makes the long run fiscal outlook for the US Gov. WORSE. The political decision to radically cut entitlement and defense spending is basically asking the people to accept a new great depression contraction in GDP, it's suicide for a politician! They will not commit suicide, as you correctly point out. The path of least resistance for a politician is to continue to borrow beyond our means until such time as the market enforces discipline.

Our political system is broken and unable to reach reasoned compromise. Our people are clueless and don't agree that entitlements must be cut to repair our fiscal situation. As long as people such as yourself preach deflation, that is a green light for politicians to continue to borrow money cheaply. It is also a green light for the Fed to keep rates at 0% and monetize more and more debt.

Furthermore, hyperinflation is not all bad for the elites of the world. It's suicide for bond holders, but stocks will rise with hyperinflation. The alternative, which is a 10-20% haircut in GDP with austerity and deflation, is a massive reduction in stock values and many bonds will simply default. Deflation on a sufficiently large scale is also a death blow to leveraged financial institutions, for which the elite have a great stake in. If those are the two choices, the elites will pick hyperinflation, then a quick transition to a global gold standard. The elites own the overwhelming majority of the gold, so that too is a good outcome for them under hyperinflation.

comment thread

More Talks on Low Carb Diet
3min intro and a longer talk

In the talk it's mentioned that in the metastudies, there's been no correlation found between consumption of animal fat and protein with heart disease while positive correlations have been found between heart disease and sugar consumption. The supposed connection between fat and heart disease was first popularized by Ancel Keys by taking data from 20 countries and selecting 6 which matched his position (scientific fraud). This eventually led to the food pyramid promoted by the US government which it used to indoctrinate several generations of children into adopting high carbohydrate diets which promote obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

Quote of the Day
History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.

- Joyce

Physics and the Soul
If you believe in an immaterial soul that interacts with our bodies, you need to believe that this equation is not right, even at everyday energies. There needs to be a new term (at minimum) on the right, representing how the soul interacts with electrons. (If that term doesn't exist, electrons will just go on their way as if there weren't any soul at all, and then what's the point?) So any respectable scientist who took this idea seriously would be asking -- what form does that interaction take? Is it local in spacetime? Does the soul respect gauge invariance and Lorentz invariance? Does the soul have a Hamiltonian? Do the interactions preserve unitarity and conservation of information?

Nobody ever asks these questions out loud, possibly because of how silly they sound. Once you start asking them, the choice you are faced with becomes clear: either overthrow everything we think we have learned about modern physics, or distrust the stew of religious accounts/unreliable testimony/wishful thinking that makes people believe in the possibility of life after death. It's not a difficult decision, as scientific theory-choice goes.


The Hashish Eater
Alan Watts interviews Bertrand Russell
Minimal Theme Kit
I've been tinkering on a new UI theme framework for Cocoa inspired by apps like OmmWriter and ByWord. Some features:
  • ultra minimal UI style
  • dark and light themes
  • vector based and resolution independent
  • ability to theme your app by simply linking to the framework
China and Global Inflation
Instead, China provided the world not only with what seemed like an endless supply of low-cost labor, but also with mispriced, cheap capital. China's high savings cannot be invested profitably in the domestic economy. In a command economy they have no need to be. Profitability and return on capital are irrelevant. Instead, command economies are incredibly good at wasting savings through misallocating investment. China can waste its excess savings either domestically or abroad...

Unsurprisingly, overinvestment and a pegged currency led to falling global manufacturing goods prices. Meanwhile, energy and commodity prices surged on the world market as China's production was extremely energy-inefficient. But this was not reflected in the price of manufacturing goods because Beijing does not allow domestic energy prices to be set by the market. Ultimately, China could not escape the business cycle. By mid-2004 it had run into severe energy and transport shortages, which curbed its investment frenzy. Over the next two years domestic demand growth slowed significantly. China was still saving excessively, but now it had to find another channel to waste the savings - this time exporting them to the Americans. The yuan-dollar peg had also forced the Tigers and Japan, which had excess savings for their own reasons, to do the same.

China's current account surplus surged. Beijing was investing its huge savings in low-risk, low-yield dollar assets, and so did most of the other Asians. Globally this led to a collapse in real yields. But while China was providing the world with the excess savings, developed countries provided most of the supply of real and financial assets. In simplistic terms, when the huge population of China was bolted onto the global economy, the demand for assets shot up. Naturally, the supply of assets shot up in response. The booms in real estate and in mergers and acquisitions in the borrower economies were an expression of that. They were also the source of yet another boom - that of a purely financial type of asset: the asset-backed security and its derivatives...


Debt Ceiling Accounting Fraud
It was already fairly obvious that the legally mandated debt ceiling was a fiction. The government just massages the figures until the desired number is reached.

The official debt figure doesn't include the 5 trillion plus dollars of bad debt that Fannie and Freddie hold. Due to that bad debt, the US has to pay billions every month. In 2010, Fannie and Freddie were bailed out to the tune of 110 billions. That figure could easily be surpassed in 2011.

When the ceiling was hit yesterday, what the government did to ignore the problem of a legally imposed limit stretches credulity. They borrowed the money from federal retirement funds as a stop gap.

We all know that they are going to pay those retirement funds out eventually, so this is naked accounting fraud.


Sandy Bridge
It's unusable for every game tested (and they tested quite a few)... With Sandy Bridge, Intel has solidly maintained its historic lock on the worst graphics performance in the industry.


New Wikileaks Releases
Iraqi oil was the subject of many cables from diplomats in Iraq, including a number that dealt with the surprise 2007 announcement that Texas-based Hunt Oil Co. had entered into a production sharing agreement with the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq's north. The problem was Iraq hadn't yet passed its national oil law and the company's CEO, Dallas businessman Ray Hunt, was a friend of President George W. Bush. And Hunt served on Bush's foreign intelligence advisory committee.


Where the Left and Libertarians agree on Economics
The dissident narrative I advance says that what we are told are temporary and extraordinary measures are nothing of the sort. The measures taken to 'deal' with the 'crisis' have in fact created, whether by accident [or] design, a new and much more reliable, system for ensuring that the super rich stay that way. The new system horrifies me because it has put finance above democracy, markets over governments, and it appals free-marketeers because it sets up an untouchable aristocracy within the markets who are not allowed to lose and who can therefore take what they want, when they want, from whomever they want and the law will not touch them. Neither the law of the land nor the law of the markets. Free marketeers and those on the left like me find ourselves in the unlikely position of sharing an abhorrence for what the super elite are doing...

This isn't a crisis. This is the new business of profit without risk. It isn't even really a 'bail out'. The new normal is a no risk machine for expropriating public wealth. The banks can now buy what ever they want, the higher the risk the better, because the new system guarantees that there is no risk for them. The banks can speculate on sovereign debt, currencies and commodities knowing that if they are in the elite, they will be bailed out. Not in the spectacularly embarrassing fashion of 07-08 but in the low key ways dreamt up in the last two years. A plethora of 'exceptional' funding measures, bond purchases and abrogations of the rule of law in favour of bank profit, which are all, in fact, bank bail outs at public expense.


Burt Rutan on Global Warming


Quote of the Day
The government can lie to us and there are no repercussions to them... Yet when we lie to them we face jail time.

- Jesse Ventura

Quote of the Day
There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.

- Peter Drucker

Ludic Fallacy
...the belief that the outcomes of a non-regulated random occurrences can be encapsulated by a statistic...

Wikipedia article

Muji Calendar

Appearance and Reality
A discussion with Alfred Ayer. Williams approach to the question and his failure to respond to Ayer's points make me wonder if he understands Logical Positivism.

Video and another Ayer video

Food prices near record highs. Monetizing debt has costs... like starvation.


Doozer is a highly-available, completely consistent store for small amounts of extremely important data. When the data changes, it can notify connected clients immediately (no polling), making it ideal for infrequently-updated data for which clients want real-time updates. Doozer is good for name service, database master elections, and configuration data shared between several machines.


This looks nice. If it had support for ordered keys and wasn't limited to the whole db fitting on each node, I'd consider implementing a new version of vertex.js on it.

A similar db is Scalien.

Also out this week is LevelDB, a possible alternative to bdb and tokyocabinet for an ordered key/value datastore.

Interesting Article on the 1979 Hunt Silver Play
The boards of both the Chicago and the New York exchanges were composed not only of "outside" directors but also of representatives of the major, usually Eastern-based brokerage houses. Later testimony would reveal that nine of the 23 Comex board members held short contracts on 38,000,000 ounces of silver. With their 1.88 billion dollar collective interest in having the price go down, it is easy to see why Bunker did not view them as objective regulators. At the same time, though, the C.B.O.T. restrictions made Bunker even more bullish on silver, because, as he put it, "they show a silver shortage exists."


Time-Symmetric QM
Several theories have been proposed which modify the equations of quantum mechanics to be symmetric with respect to time reversal.[27][28][29] This creates retrocausality: events in the future can affect ones in the past, exactly as events in the past can affect ones in the future. In these theories, a single measurement cannot fully determine the state of a system (making them a type of hidden variables theory), but given two measurements performed at different times, it is possible to calculate the exact state of the system at all intermediate times. The collapse of the wavefunction is therefore not a physical change to the system, just a change in our knowledge of it due to the second measurement. Similarly, they explain entanglement as not being a true physical state but just an illusion created by ignoring retrocausality. The point where two particles appear to "become entangled" is simply a point where each particle is being influenced by events that occur to the other particle in the future.


Adoptive T-Cell Therapy
In a study published in the April 27 edition of Science Translational Medicine, Butler and his colleagues harvested immune cells from nine patients. They souped up the cells in their lab - in effect giving them the ability to remember cancer cells - multiplied them in number, and infused them back into the patients from whom they been taken. This technique, called adoptive t-cell therapy, primes the immune system to seek out and destroy cancer cells throughout the body.




Did Government Supersize Us of the few reasonably reliable facts about the obesity epidemic is that it started around the early 1980's... the percentage of obese Americans stayed relatively constant through the 1960's and 1970's at 13 percent to 14 percent and then shot up by 8 percentage points in the 1980's. By the end of that decade, nearly one in four Americans was obese. That steep rise, which is consistent through all segments of American society and which continued unabated through the 1990's, is the singular feature of the epidemic.

Any theory that tries to explain obesity in America has to account for that. Meanwhile, overweight children nearly tripled in number. And for the first time, physicians began diagnosing Type 2 diabetes in adolescents. Type 2 diabetes often accompanies obesity. It used to be called adult-onset diabetes and now, for the obvious reason, is not...

It began in January 1977, when a Senate committee led by George McGovern published its ''Dietary Goals for the United States,'' advising that Americans significantly curb their fat intake to abate an epidemic of ''killer diseases'' supposedly sweeping the country. It peaked in late 1984, when the National Institutes of Health officially recommended that all Americans over the age of 2 eat less fat...

Nonetheless, once the N.I.H. signed off on the low-fat doctrine, societal forces took over. The food industry quickly began producing thousands of reduced-fat food products to meet the new recommendations. Fat was removed from foods like cookies, chips and yogurt. The problem was, it had to be replaced with something as tasty and pleasurable to the palate, which meant some form of sugar, often high-fructose corn syrup.

NYT article

Book: Why We Get Fat
Andrew said "Look, you've got to try the Atkins diet."... He's got a colleague at Wharton whose father lost 200 pounds on the diet. And another friend lost - he's Asian American - he lost 40 pounds just giving up white rice... So [I tried it] and lost 20 pounds effortlessly.

Video interview

The Black Book of Communism
Communism did kill, Courtois and his fellow historians demonstrate, with ruthless efficiency: 25 million in Russia during the Bolshevik and Stalinist eras, perhaps 65 million in China under the eyes of Mao Zedong, 2 million in Cambodia, millions more Africa, Eastern Europe, and Latin America--an astonishingly high toll of victims. This freely expressed penchant for homicide, Courtois maintains, was no accident, but an integral trait of a philosophy, and a practical politics, that promised to erase class distinctions by erasing classes and the living humans that populated them. Courtois and his contributors document Communism's crimes in numbing detail, moving from country to country, revolution to revolution.


Stability vs Resilience and Macroeconomic Parallels
"By building embankments on either side of a river and trying to confine it to its channel, its heavy silt and sand load is made to settle within the embanked area itself, raising the river bed and the flood water level. The embankments too are therefore raised progressively until a limit is reached when it is no longer possible to do so. The population of the surrounding areas is then at the mercy of an unstable river with a dangerous flood water level , which could any day flow over or make a disastrous breach." As expected, the eventual breach was catastrophic - the course of the Kosi moved more than 120 kilometres eastwards in a matter of weeks. In the absence of the embankments, such a dramatic shift would have taken decades. With the passage of time, a progressively greater degree of resources were required to maintain system stability and the eventual failure was a catastrophic one rather than a moderate one.

As the above analysis highlights, the stabilisation did not merely substitute a series of regular moderately damaging outcomes for an occasional catastrophic outcome (although this alone would be a cause for concern if a catastrophic outcome was capable of triggering systemic collapse). In fact, the stabilisation transformed the system into a state where eventually even minor and frequently observed disturbances would trigger a catastrophic outcome...


EU Debt
Debt rose in all 16 countries that were using the euro last year, lifting the bloc's average to 85.1 percent of gross domestic product from 79.3 percent in 2009, the European Union's statistics office in Luxembourg said today.


Side Note
As a side note, it's probably worth noting that the Federal Reserve has already pushed its balance sheet to a point where it is leveraged 50-to-1 against its capital ($2.65 trillion / $52.6 billion in capital as reported the Fed's consolidated balance sheet ). This is a greater leverage ratio than Bear Stearns or Fannie Mae... if the Federal Reserve was an ordinary bank, regulators would quickly shut it down.

To avoid the potentially untidy embarrassment of being insolvent on paper, the Fed quietly made an accounting change several weeks ago that will allow any losses to be reported as a new line item - a "negative liability" to the Treasury - rather than being deducted from its capital.

Now, technically, a negative liability to the Treasury would mean that the Treasury owes the Fed money, which would be, well, a fraudulent claim, and certainly not a budget item approved by Congress, but we've established in recent quarters that nobody cares about misleading balance sheets, Constitutional prerogative, or the rule of law as long as speculators can get a rally going, so I'll leave it at that.

Hussman Funds report

Turritopsis Nutricula
Turritopsis nutricula... can revert to the polyp stage after becoming sexually mature. It is the only known case of a metazoan capable of reverting completely to a sexually immature, colonial stage after having reached sexual maturity as a solitary stage.[2][3] It does this through the cell development process of transdifferentiation... Theoretically, this process can go on infinitely, effectively rendering the jellyfish biologically immortal...

Wikipedia article and list of long living organisms

The Most Dangerous Game on Earth
What happens if rates rise? At the time of a loan the principle is created, the interest is not, therefore, everyone who needs to borrow tremendous amounts of money to service existing debt (most of western Europe and the US) will not be able to, therefore there will be cascading defaults of unprecedented amounts. Governments would collapse seemingly overnight. If the game is to continue, there must be enough credit expansion to create enough "money" to make interest payments and create so called "growth". Which brings us to...

Inflating the currency... it merely holds off the inevitable. Why is it "different" this time? Why has the system become so intolerant to the smallest adverse moves? Answer: Leverage. At 1:1 leverage 100 percent has to be lost to achieve ruin. At 1:2 50 percent must be lost. Jump to 1:40 leverage and only a 2 percent loss brings about ruin.

So what is our leverage? First, we must stop this version of off balance sheet accounting... If total debt, private and public were carried on household balance sheets and divided only among the productive, i.e. employed, the reality of it would change the conversation dramatically. What would be realized is that the US and most of Western Europe is hopelessly over-leveraged and it is only a matter of time before the structural instability created by this leverage manifests in some unpleasant way...


Failure Cascades
You can't kill an alliance unless you break up the social bonds that hold it together. Espionage is only ever a means to an end to induce a failure cascade.

When things get bad, when an alliance starts losing enough that they stop logging in, when they start blaming each other and they start internalising their failures, then you start seeing "the graph". An alliance goes into failure cascade when its capabilities have been degraded to the point that one failure piles on top of another, and they start shedding corporations, because rather than identifying with the alliance the pilots say "Well, I'm still a proud member of my corporation", and then one corp goes its separate ways. And if one corp stops showing up on operations, everyone else says "What the fuck is with these people?" And it becomes a circular firing squad.

During the Great Wars 1 and 2 we had destroyed Band of Brothers and taken their space, but they were still a cohesive social force and simply reformed. It was only most recently during the Fountain campaign that they went into true failure cascade, and are now three or four different alliances which hate each other's guts now. Which is great!

Failure cascades just fascinate me. That's why I play the game, really- to tear social groups apart. That's the stuff that's interesting about Eve. The political and social dimensions. Not the brackets shooting brackets shit. That's why we say Eve is a bad game.


Wave Disk Generator

The evolution of the rotary engine?

Bernanke's QE II Scorecard
  1. Long-term yields are rising
  2. Banks are not lending
  3. Consumer credit is still dropping
  4. Housing prices hit new all time record lows
  5. Housing starts have hit new all time record lows
  6. Banks are sitting on massive amounts of properties not marked-to market
  7. Commodity prices have soared
  8. Food and energy prices are up substantially
  9. Those on fixed incomes earning nothing on their deposits are getting crushed
  10. The stock market marches higher

Bernanke has taken credit for point number 10. He ignores or denies any role in points 1 through 9.


Low: Words

Music Video

Ann Druyan: A Plea for a Change in the Marijuana Laws

Video 4min

Fed Handed out Cash for Defaulted Bonds
And further analysis indicates that a few weeks later, this practice became pervasive, with virtually every banker pledging defaulted bonds in exchange for money good cash with which to pretend these banks were doing just fine (not to mention that $71.7 billion in equity represented nearly half the total collateral of $164.3 billion pledged to receive $155 billion in cash.)


BWToolkit is an Interface Builder plugin that contains commonly used UI elements and other objects designed to simplify Mac development.


Argentina Headed into Hyperinflation Again
Prices and wages have been rising so fast that in November and December, the Central Bank of Argentina was "unable to print enough money to meet the demand for cash" from consumers and companies trying to cover year-end salaries and bonuses. As Argentines lined up at empty ATMs in the middle of a heat wave, the central bank took the unprecedented step of hiring Brazil's mint to crank out 160 million 100-Argentine-peso notes, so that there would be enough cash for individuals eager to buy holiday gifts and start their summer vacations...

[Marco del Pont] plans to increase the money supply by 28% over the next year, but the 'price problem doesn't have monetary roots'? One couldn't make this up. She would have been right at home in the Weimar Republic as a member of Rudolf von Havenstein's staff. Is this what an economics education at overpriced Yale produces? After being properly indoctrinated one winds up destroying an entire national economy?


When hyperinflation hits the US, expect it to look like an economic boom... at first.

Carl Jung: The Wisdom of The Dream
Quote of the Day
Loneliness does not come from having no people about one, but from being unable to communicate the things that seem important to oneself, or from holding certain views which others find inadmissible.

- Carl Jung

The Case for Associative Main Memory and Storage
If you look at the hw/sw stack, you'll find that most everything we do involves associative lookups and it would all be much simpler if we moved to using CAMs (content addressable memory) for main memory. A CAM is basically a hw version of a sw dictionary/hashtable. It can do single cycle lookups between a key and a value and keys can be chosen at will.

Current PCs have some CAMs (CPU caches, MMUs, SSD block mappers, etc) and routers use very large CAMs. But imagine how much simpler the whole sw stack could be if we moved main memory CAM. First of all, we could do away with memory allocators.

If memory "addresses" became, say, 128bit keys, the first 32bits could be the process id, the next 32 bits could be the "allocated" section and the remaining 64bits could be the location within the section. A CAM based storage device could likewise eliminate the need for file system block allocators.

But why stop there? For OO code, we could use 32bit process id/32 bit object id/64 bit slot id and now we have the basics of an OO runtime implemented in hw. Use the last bit of the key for tagging whether the value is a pointer and you can very straight forwardly implement a hw or OS managed garbage collector.

Likewise, linear stacks could be moved to continuations with no extra cost. Locals references could be made wrt the last N bits of the current stack pointer and could even retain their symbol mapping.

Things like functions and DLL "addresses" would just be a large hash of their names, likewise for data structure members. What we call compilers would largely disappear.

This kind of memory changes the kind of data structures it makes sense to work with - all arrays, for example, would be dictionaries in hw. What else would/could change with CAMs? And what other uses could Ternary CAMs be useful for?


Quote of the Day
While the Fed takes credit for the increase in the stock markets, it claims no responsibility for the increases in food and commodity prices.


I'd be curious to know which economic theory they employ that allows them to conclude that they can limit which asset prices new money inflates.

Houses as Investments
...a house has all the qualities of the ugliest type of investment:
1) Illiquidity... 2) High leverage... 3) No diversification...


And yet these are the investments that government has been incentivizing people to make.

Pebble Bed Reactors
This type of reactor is claimed to be unique because its passive safety removes the need for redundant, active safety systems. Because the reactor is designed to handle high temperatures, it can cool by natural circulation and still survive in accident scenarios, which may raise the temperature of the reactor to 1,600 C.

Because of its design, its high temperatures allow higher thermal efficiencies than possible in traditional nuclear power plants (up to 50%) and has the additional feature that the gases do not dissolve contaminants or absorb neutrons as water does, so the core has less in the way of radioactive fluids. A number of prototypes have been built. Active development continued in South Africa until 2010 as the PBMR design, and in China whose HTR-10 is the only prototype currently operating.

Wikipedia article

Taleb on Fukishima
The Japanese Nuclear Commission had the following goals set in 2003: " The mean value of acute fatality risk by radiation exposure resultant from an accident of a nuclear installation to individuals of the public, who live in the vicinity of the site boundary of the nuclear installation, should not exceed the probability of about 1x10^6 per year (that is , at least 1 per million years)".

Their one in a million-year accident occurred about 8 years later.


Stock Number Tactical Jacket


Talk: Thomas Metzinger - The Ego Tunnel
Video 18min
A Reconfigurable Content Addressable Memory
This paper presents a novel approach to CAM implementations using FPGAs and run-time reconfiguration.


The German Miracle
Germany neuters unions, cuts income tax, business tax, pensions and unemployment benefits. Economic boom commences.

Link via reddit

Japanese Reactor Assessment
When the zyrconium fuel rods melt they interact with the water and produce hydrogen as a by product. The Three Mile Island hydrogen explosion was a result of melting zirconium fuel rods and then the fuel pellets melted. When the fuel rods melt the fuel pellets are exposed and nuclear fission materials are released into the atmosphere. The article seems to indicate that the hydrogen is just a result of hot water temperatures. I dont agree. The multiple hydrogen explosions indicate to me that there is considerable melting of the zirconium rods. Further evidenced by cesium and iodine being found outside the reactor. I would also think there may be some melting of fuel though this is hard to determine as of yet.

Overall, I again reiterate that they are doing the right things to continue to cool down the reactor. Venting pressure, even if it is hydrogen gas, still helps maintain the integrity of the reactor vessel. The ultimate challenge at the site is to continue the core cooling process until enough decayed heat has been removed to achieve a stable cooled configuration in the core whether or not it is melted. As long as the reactor vessel remains intact, most of the real serious concerns will be averted and overall impact to the public at large will be averted.


BofA leaks
Bank of America made a lot of errors with their loan adjustments due to not updating and/or staying on top of things and subsequently forclosed a lot of homes that should not have been forclosed on. So the emails you see at the bottom of the page are BofA execs asking for the removal of certain DTN records from their Databases (from what i understand DTN's are like information records). The reason they are doing that is because they are being audited, and when the auditors look up the loans that should be tied to those DTN's and find that there is no existing DTN record, they will discount it as a system error and move on.

The result of this "deleting of DTN's" was some $60B worth of fraud on the part of Bank Of America in order to cover up the mistakes they made during the housing crisis.


Easy Credit is Economic Poison
Developed world bankers believe that continued ultra-low interest rates cheap money and flooding markets with liquidity will ensure that their institutions and their countries will soon return to economic prosperity. But didn't the same policies a few years ago help bring us financial ruin and economic collapse?

Have the bankers forgotten that it was access to cheap and easy money that drove many US and European banks to transform themselves into gambling institutions, eventually failing and having to be bailed out at taxpayers' expense? And above all, that cheap and easy money enticed people, companies and governments, to become horribly indebted, causing many individuals and companies to fail?

Soon, even developed country governments may go bankrupt. As proof that cheap easy money is again storing up extraordinary economic problems, just look at where some of it is now going - into the commodities market. There, it helps inflate food and energy prices, causing starvation and food riots around the world.

Do the bankers not read history or know that artificially cheap money can be economic poison?

Of course one simple reason that many bankers advocate loose monetary policy is that it makes them a lot of money. When they can - as they did for many years and still seem able to do "leverage-up" their assets in relation to their equity, they can make multiples of profits compared to before. And since, often courtesy of benevolent central banks, they can borrow at nearly free rates and "invest" those proceeds in bonds/securities/commodities that often offer high potential returns, they don't need to be geniuses to make ever bigger profits.


More Obama Broken Promises
In an effort to make sense of yesterday's announcement that Guantanamo trials would resume, Stewart questions Obama's ability to keep his promises versus his tendency to cave to political pressure -- or simply to be hypocritical. After decrying the practice of holding prisoners without a trial due to lack of evidence, Obama announced that some prisoners might need to be kept at Guantanamo indefinity. His reason? There's a lack of evidence needed to take the cases to trial.

Salon article

NYT Double Standard for Torture
So according to The New York Times, it's journalistically improper to call waterboarding "torture" -- when done by the United States, but when Nazi Germany (or China) does exactly the same thing, then it may be called "torture" repeatedly and without qualification. An organization which behaves this way may be called many things; "journalist" isn't one of them.


China's Wealth Destruction Machine
Also note that second graph. China is approaching 4,000 million square meters of construction, most of it residential. That is approximately 43 billion square feet of ongoing construction, for a population of 1.3 billion people of which only a very tiny percentage can afford to buy that construction. Is it any wonder China has so many vacant homes, offices, malls, and even cities...

"There's city after city full of empty streets and vast government buildings, some in the most inhospitable locations. It is the modern equivalent of building pyramids. With 20 new cities being built every year..."


The Myth of Free Market Healthcare
While most people believe that our healthcare industry is one comprised of free markets, it is anything but. The industry is completely distorted by government manipulation.[1]

To start with, the American Medical Association (AMA) has had a government-granted monopoly on the healthcare system for over 100 years. It has intentionally restricted the number of doctors allowed to practice medicine so as to raise physician incomes artificially. The primary way it does this is by using the coercive power of the state to restrict the number of approved medical schools in operation. After the AMA created its Council on Medical Education in 1904, state medical boards complied with the AMA's recommendation to close down medical schools.


Governments are about to Lose Control of the Markets
This phase of the inflation crisis has been brewing since the Lehman bankruptcy, when the Fed first dramatically expanded its balance sheet to rescue the American banking system. The policy since then has been to muddle along, printing more money to cover deficits and to get the economy recovering. But the crisis in the Middle East is putting an end to that approach and control of the markets is therefore shifting away from the authorities. The markets will raise interest rates against inflating governments whether they like it or not, and their currencies will suffer if central banks are slow to respond. At long last, markets will make governments face the reality they have been so keen to avoid.

The effect on asset prices will be dramatic, and share and bond markets, currently reflecting zero interest rates, are likely to be badly hit. Property is similarly vulnerable, with the end of any pretence that over-leveraged homeowners can afford their mortgages and commercial property tenants their rents. Values for collateral held by the banks against their loan books will therefore be further undermined, putting into doubt the banking system's survival.

This new phase is stagflation, pure and simple. Asset prices fall, while the prices of goods rise. It is an outcome that has been obvious to some of us since the printing-presses were first cranked up after the credit-crunch. It will now become obvious to the wider public, because the authorities are finally losing control of the markets.


Danny Hillis: Applied Proteomics
TED talk 20min
Stimulus: What are they Buying
Video 3min
How to succeed as an Academic Economist
Step 1: Cite the work of as many potential referees to your paper as possible, as this will soothe their egos and shows that you are one of them. Make sure that your paper is seen as merely an extension of the work of one of the gurus and you are not going to "rock the boat", challenging the establishment.

Step 2: For the bulk of your paper, bamboozle your readers/referees with a complicated model or argument, making any assumptions you need (however unrealistic), because Milton Friedman has already covered you with his essay on "the methodology of positive economics". If you have enough complexity in mathematics or argument, it is likely that the reader/referee will not bother to follow the heart of your paper in detail.

Step 3: It is vitally important that in your conclusions that you only make modest claims in supporting the status quo, such as eg the evidence or the model lends support to the efficient market hypothesis or globalization or whatever. Quite often, your conclusions do not have to follow from what you did in Step 2. Any strong conclusions, particularly when challenging the status quo, will lead a much closer scrutiny of your paper by the referee, who is taking a career risk in accepting your paper. As the additional effort is not personally rewarded, the economically rational action for the referee is to simply reject the paper.


Secrecy and Adaptation
The more secretive or unjust an organization is, the more leaks induce fear and paranoia in the leadership and planning coterie. This must result in minimization of efficient internal communications mechanisms (an increase in cognitive 'secrecy tax') and consequent system-wide cognitive decline resulting in decreased ability to hold onto power as the environment demands adaptation.

Hence in a world where leaking is easy, secretive or unjust systems are nonlinearly hit relative to open, just systems. Since unjust systems, by their nature induce opponents, and in many places barely have the upper hand, leaking leaves them exquisitely vulnerable to those who seek to replace them with more open forms of governance.

2006 blog post by Julian Assange

DCA: Cancer Cure?
Video 3m

Problem is the $100M price tag of going through FDA. It it works, millions could be dying senselessly right now thanks to FDA restrictions.

Curve: Robbing Charity
BBC Madagascar
Video 1hr

In deep, dreamless sleep, consciousness is still there but it is covered over by darkness. But suppose you could find that consciousness. Suppose you could go into deep sleep awake -- to go awake into that sphere where there is consciousness but consciousness of no specific thing...

- Joseph Campbell

Microturbine systems have many advantages over reciprocating engine generators, such as higher power-to-weight ratio, extremely low emissions and few, or just one, moving part. Advantages are that microturbines may be designed with foil bearings and air-cooling operating without lubricating oil, coolants or other hazardous materials. Microturbines also have a further advantage of having the majority of the waste heat contained in the relatively high temperature exhaust making it simpler to capture, whereas the waste heat of reciprocating engines is split between its exhaust and cooling system


Curious that these aren't used in the major hybrids.

Exponential Debt
The American mathematician Andrew Bartlett claims that "The greatest shortcoming of the human race is our inability to understand the exponential function", to which I'd add that that shortcoming almost defines neoclassical economics. 2 percent per annum doesn't sound like a lot, but over 36 years that means the ratio doubles, over 72 it quadruples, over 144 it becomes 8 times what it was, and so on.

For the record, the actual rate of growth of the private US debt to GDP ratio was roughly 2.9% p.a. from 1945 till 2008. That means that the ratio doubled every 25 years, from 45% in 1945 to 90% in 1970, 180% in 1995, and if it had kept going, it would have been 360% in 2020.

Instead it fell over in 2008, and is now going backward at a rate of knots. Here's an extrapolation of the trend that the World Economic Forum says is "nothing unsustainable about", from the time period they should have started their analysis is not 2000 but 1945 and focusing on the key problem - private debt...


Why Isn't Wall St In Jail?
Nobody goes to jail. This is the mantra of the financial-crisis era, one that saw virtually every major bank and financial company on Wall Street embroiled in obscene criminal scandals that impoverished millions and collectively destroyed hundreds of billions, in fact, trillions of dollars of the world's wealth - and nobody went to jail. Nobody, that is, except Bernie Madoff, a flamboyant and pathological celebrity con artist, whose victims happened to be other rich and famous people.

The rest of them, all of them, got off. Not a single executive who ran the companies that cooked up and cashed in on the phony financial boom - an industrywide scam that involved the mass sale of mismarked, fraudulent mortgage-backed securities - has ever been convicted. Their names by now are familiar to even the most casual Middle American news consumer: companies like AIG, Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America and Morgan Stanley. Most of these firms were directly involved in elaborate fraud and theft. Lehman Brothers hid billions in loans from its investors. Bank of America lied about billions in bonuses. Goldman Sachs failed to tell clients how it put together the born-to-lose toxic mortgage deals it was selling. What's more, many of these companies had corporate chieftains whose actions cost investors billions - from AIG derivatives chief Joe Cassano, who assured investors they would not lose even "one dollar" just months before his unit imploded, to the $263 million in compensation that former Lehman chief Dick "The Gorilla" Fuld conveniently failed to disclose. Yet not one of them has faced time behind bars.


How Government Will Seize Retirement Accounts
The way they'll do this is simple-- the next time there's a market meltdown (bear in mind that insiders are selling like crazy right now...), the government will step in with new legislation that requires these institutions to invest a portion of their accounts in the 'safety' of government securities.

Insider politiconomists like Teresa Ghilarducci have already strongly advocated for government managed retirement accounts in the US, and we've seen numerous examples of other bankrupt nations from Argentina to Hungary moving to seize their citizens' pensions.


EFF comes out against Net Neutrality
We're wholly in favor of net neutrality in practice, but a finding of ancillary jurisdiction here would give the FCC pretty much boundless authority to regulate the Internet for whatever it sees fit. And that kind of unrestrained authority makes us nervous about follow-on initiatives like broadcast flags and indecency campaigns. In general, we think arguments that regulating the Internet is "ancillary" to some other regulatory authority that the FCC has been granted just don't have sufficient limitations to stop bad FCC behavior in the future and create the "Trojan horse" risk we have long warned about.


Obama Fails to Address Inflation in State of the Union
After the U.S. lost 8.36 million jobs over a two year period from December of 2007 through December of 2009, our economy has recovered 1.12 million jobs as a result of the Federal Reserve and U.S. government spending $4.6 trillion on bailouts and stimulus programs. That is over $4 million spent for each job created. Instead of bailing out Wall Street and allowing non-productive bankers to receive record bonuses, the U.S. could have sent a check for $550,000 to each middle-class American who lost their job.


Or we could have not stolen from the public via money printing and government debt instead of allowing those who made bad investments to steal from others to make up their losses. Why can't the public understand that it can't bail itself out? Transferring wealth through the government or bankers doesn't magically create more wealth. It only enables each of those parties to extract the wealth of the public.

Alpha Waves in a Gelatinous Conductor
March 17, 1993, technicians at St. Jerome hospital in Batavia test a bowl of lime Jell-O with an EEG machine and confirm the earlier testing by Canadian Doctor Adrian Upton in 1969 that a dome of wiggly Jell-O has brain waves identical to those of adult men and women. In 1969, Dr. Upton connected an electroencephalograph (EEG) to a dome of lime Jell-O, only to find the readings to be almost identical to those of healthy human beings.


Does this suggest anything about the claims that alpha waves are connected to deeply meaningful forms of thought?

What Krugman Is Saying Is Simply Untrue
Look at what's happening in Britain now. Are they suffering a Great Depression because the government is making deep spending cuts? No. The economy is doing okay and sterling has appreciated. Is the German economy about to tank because they announced spending cuts? Not at all; it seems to be doing rather well and the euro has appreciated. What Krugman is saying is simply untrue. I'm constantly surprised that the media take him so seriously.


How to Rob a Bank
[step] 7. What you'd now really like to do is enter into a large notional amount of longer-dated, short volatility trades. Book profit as theta decays, assuming you don't blow up. if you do, well, your downside is zero and you can get a job at another firm for even having been in the position to take such massive risk. If you don't, well hey now, all that time decay flows right to your bottom line. And with a large enough notional amount, your 8-12% of P&L can add up to some serious coin. Did you create value? No. Did you trade well? If being lucky counts, then yes. And if you get paid and shortly thereafter the chickens come home to roost and your book blows up? Well, you've just robbed the bank!


Zero Stroke
Zero stroke or cipher stroke was a term used to describe a mental disorder reportedly diagnosed by physicians in Germany under the Weimar Republic and which was caused by hyperinflation that occurred in the early 1920s...

"Cashiers, bookkeepers, and bankers were reportedly the most prone to this affliction. Besides a compulsion to write endless strings of zeros, individuals that suffered from this condition would reportedly become confused when referring to numbers and would state that they were ten billion years old or had forty trillion children."


Shorn of the sophistries that provide it with a moral disguise, pared down to its essentials, political government is the systematic use of exactly the same kind of criminal violence employed by Loughner, only on a much grander scale. This was illustrated the day before Loughner's murderous rampage, when agents of the government ruling us used a remote-controlled drone operated from the safety of an office building in Nevada to murder six people in Pakistan's North Waziristan region.

Americans were not admonished to observe a moment of chastened silence in memory of the victims of that exercise in criminal violence. This is, in part, because observances of that kind would quickly become tedious: Since 2008, Pakistan - a country with which the government ruling us is not formally at war - has endured at least 250 drone attacks, in which roughly 1,400 people have been killed.


Limb Regeneration via Single Gene Deletion
...researchers from The Wistar Institute demonstrate that mice that lack the p21 gene gain the ability to regenerate lost or damaged tissue.

Science daily article

ActorScript(TM) is a general purpose programming language for implementing discretionary, adaptive concurrency that manages resources and demand. It is differentiated from previous languages by the following: - Universality Everything in the language is accomplished using message passing including the very definition of ActorScript itself Directly express discretionary push and pull concurrency... Programs do not expose low-level implementation mechanisms such as threads, tasks, channels, queues, locks, cores, etc. Messages can be directly communicated without requiring indirection through brokers, channels, class hierarchies, mailboxes, pipes, ports, queues etc.


IIRC, the author, Carl Hewitt, is the father of actor based languages.

The U.S. government is insolvent. Who says so?
The U.S. Secretary of the Treasury.


Black Holes and Time Symmetry
Since within a black hole the forward light-cone is directed towards the center and the backward light-cone is directed outward, it is not even possible to define time-reversal in the usual manner...


I've heard the entropy issues of black holes discussed before, but not much about how they introduce an apparent time asymmetry - which outside of thermo, is unusual in physics.

Interesting G4 talk on the future of gaming.


Sony Bravia NX800
Cosmopolitanism can be traced back to the founding father of the Cynic movement in Ancient Greece, Diogenes of Sinope (c. 412 B.C.). Of Diogenes it is said: "Asked where he came from, he answered: 'I am a citizen of the world (kosmopolites)'".

This was a ground-breaking concept, because the broadest basis of social identity in Greece at that time was either the individual city-state or the Greeks (Hellenes) as a group. The Stoics, who later took Diogenes' idea and developed it into a full blown concept, typically stressed that each human being "dwells in two communities - the local community of our birth, and the community of human argument and aspiration".


I miss this show
Miles: What can I do for you, Michael? What do you want from me?

Michael: Something you're not going to give me.

Miles: And what's that?

Michael: An invitation. I want you to ask us if we'd like to come to work for you.

Miles: Instead of what?

Michael: Instead of our begging for it.

Miles: You ask me, I ask you, either way you end up here. What difference does it make?

Michael: ( smiling ) I took your advice; read Nashiru on the art of management. He tells the story of two samurai warriors standing in the rain, swords out, each ready to strike. But neither of them moves. They just stand there in the storm, poised.

Miles: Why?

Michael: You tell me.

Miles: Because whoever moves first loses the advantage.

Michael: So they stand there getting soaked, accomplishing nothing. Stupid way to make a living, isn't it?

Miles: Why don't the two of you ( Michael and Elliot ) come in and we'll have a more substantive discussion?

Michael: Sounds like a good idea.

Miles: It is. Remember: you came to me.

- Thirtysomething, Towers of Zenith

Libertarian Parenting
There are really two theories about children. One is that they are pets that can talk, and one is that they are small people that don't know very much.

Video 40m

Javascript Public Key Crypto
Here's everything you need to do secure, public key, browser-based transactions...


Apollo Architects
MissionWorkshop Bosun Jacket
Double Standard
How hypocritical will it now be for regulators to push for net neutrality when governments, particularly that of the USA, have resorted to extreme measures in the case of WikiLeaks, to make those arguments farcical. No doubt we will end with one set of rules for commercial and private use of the Internet and another for governments. That sounds about right, doesn't it?


LS Pen


Bankers in Control
ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast: Strongman Laurent Gbagbo's regime rejected as "illegal" Friday a decision by the West African central bank to hand control of his country's accounts to his rival Alassane Ouattara.


Whatever you may think about the fairness of the election, a central bank deciding an election sets an interesting precedent. What does it matter what the public or government wants if a central bank has the power to destroy the currency or collapse the banking system over night?

Money is one half of every economic transaction and the power to control it is greater than any other. If you think military force or political parties are more powerful, consider how neither can run without and both can be purchased with money.

Level 3 vs Comcast Peering Dispute
Video 10m

The gist is that Comcast and Level 3 had a peering agreement to not charge one other for roughly equal data exchange but Level 3 wanted a large increase in Comcast's direction in order to serve Netflix data to Comcast customers that would make the bandwidth exchange unequal. So it appears the fees Comcast was asking for from Level 3 were about asymmetric bandwidth usage, not for the particular content being delivered.


...where stars dance forever like bright puppets in the silent, staring void.

- Thomas Ligotti

Rabbit in your Headlights
Music Video 5m
Manning's Treatment
PFC Manning is held in his cell for approximately 23 hours a day...

He is not allowed to have a pillow or sheets. However, he is given access to two blankets and has recently been given a new mattress that has a built-in pillow.

He is not allowed to have any personal items in his cell...

He is prevented from exercising in his cell. If he attempts to do push-ups, sit-ups, or any other form of exercise he will be forced to stop.

He does receive one hour of "exercise" outside of his cell daily. He is taken to an empty room and only allowed to walk. PFC Manning normally just walks figure eights in the room for the entire hour. If he indicates that he no long feels like walking, he is immediately returned to his cell.

When PFC Manning goes to sleep, he is required to strip down to his boxer shorts and surrender his clothing to the guards. His clothing is returned to him the next morning.


Austrian Theory of Business Cycles
A one-paragraph explanation of the Austrian theory of business cycles would run as follows. Interest rates are held at too low a level, creating a credit boom. Low financing costs persuade entrepreneurs to fund too many projects. Capital is misallocated into wasteful areas. When the bust comes the economy is stuck with the burden of excess capacity, which then takes years to clear up ... Efficient-market theorists disliked the Austrians because they appeared to assume that businessmen could act irrationally.

Economic downturns do not occur because people stop spending, as Keynesians believe. Instead, people stop spending because the economy moves into recession, and stuffing more paper money into the hands of people so they can continue to spend only makes matters worse. Why? Because the recessions are centered on malinvestments which can no longer be supported by consumer spending patterns, the factors associated with those malinvestments also must be liquidated or transferred to other uses in order to allow a real economic recovery to begin.


Wikileak: Banking Crisis not Confidence Crisis
Monday, 17 March 2008, 18:27

1. Since last summer, the nature of the crisis in financial markets has changed. The problem is now not liquidity in the system but rather a question of systemic solvency, Bank of England (BOE) Governor Mervyn King said at a lunch meeting with Treasury Deputy Secretary Robert Kimmitt and Ambassador Tuttle.


Ryue Nishizawa
Espionage Act
By its terms, it criminalizes not merely the disclosure of national defense information by organizations such as Wikileaks, but also the reporting on that information by countless news organizations. It also criminalizes all casual discussions of such disclosures by persons not authorized to receive them to other persons not authorized to receive them-in other words, all tweets sending around those countless news stories, all blogging on them, and all dinner party conversations about their contents. Taken at its word, the Espionage Act makes felons of us all.


The American government paid $50,000 to attempt the first powered flight. The Wright brothers did it for a $1,000 and were actually successful. This day a hundred and seven years ago.

- Rhettsta on reddit

The Past
"Fictional narratives push out actual narratives," Prelinger said. We remember stories, and what isn't in them, we forget. It takes large archives like his, diligently collected and made public, to free us from selective memory. Constantly reunderstanding the past goes best when grounded in the true strangeness of what used to go on.

- Stewart Brand summerizing Rick Prelinger's Long Now talk

Assange Sex Crimes
Swedish prosecutors charge that while Mr. Assange did have consentual sex with his two accusers, he allegedly did not use a condom, which, according to The Herald Sun, is against Swedish law. Thus, Swedish authorities are in the process of re-issuing the once-closed arrest warrant for Assange.

The phenomena of social networking through the internet and mobile phones constrains Swedish authorities from augmenting the evidence against Assange because it would look even less credible in the face of tweets by Anna Ardin and SMS texts by Sofia Wilen boasting of their respective conquests after the "crimes".

In the case of Ardin it is clear that she has thrown a party in Assange's honour at her flat after the "crime" and tweeted to her followers that she "is with the world's coolest smartest people, it's amazing!".

SFGate article

The Greatest Heist of All Time
"The document dump confirms," The Nation reports, "that the $700 billion Treasury Department bank bailout - signed into law under President George W. Bush in 2008 was a small down payment on an secretive 'backdoor bailout' that saw the Fed provide roughly $3.3 trillion in liquidity and more than $9 trillion in short-term loans and other financial arrangements."...

"Morgan Stanley sold the Fed more than $205 billion in mortgage securities from January 2009 to July 2010," The Huffington Post reports, "while it's much bigger rival, Goldman Sachs, sold $159 billion. Citigroup, the nation's third-largest bank by assets, sold the Fed nearly $185 billion in mortgage bonds. Merrill Lynch/Bank of America sold about $174 billion. It's not clear how much these firms profited, but it's abundantly clear that they did turn a profit."


Video 10m
An Empire of Bad Apples
Why is there this massive outrage at these cables when there was virtual silence at the release of the Iraq and Afghan war logs? These cables show the elite at their venal worst, conniving with each other, making light of each other's failings. Imagine what must be in the Russian diplomatic dispatches or those of the Saudi intelligence services.

The war logs, on the other hand, showed the misadventures of teenaged working-class soldiers, suborned to a war that they did not understand. Their violence was dismissed as the work of a few "bad apples", men and women who had not been sufficiently civilized. In these cables, on the other hand, the civilised talk about their "dark plans of conquest". It is an abomination.


Get Around
Rent a car from someone nearby. Convenient hourly rentals from real people like you.

I love this kind of startup. Efficient allocation of resources by allowing every person to be their own business and make the most of their own assets.

Video 2m so true.
It is utter nonsense to say that/t2 is irrational, because this presupposes that it exists, as a number or distance. The truth is that there is no such number or distance. What does exist is the symbol, which is just shorthand for an ideal object x that satisfies x^2 = 2...

The statement... π = 3.14159... [is] meaningless... On the other hand π ∈ [31415/10000, 31416/10000] is correct and meaningful.

So I deny even the existence of the Peano axiom that every integer has a successor. Eventually we would get an overflow error in the big computer in the sky, and the sum and product of any two integers is well-defined only if the result is less than p, or if one wishes, one can compute them modulo p. Since p is so large, this is not a practical problem, since the overflow in our earthly computers comes so much sooner than the overflow errors in the big computer in the sky.

However, one can still have general theorems, provided that they are interpreted correctly. The phrase "for all positive integers" is meaningless. One should replace it by: "for finite or symbolic integers"...


This all makes sense to me but I seem to recall Feynman and Hillis being unable to find a discrete geometry in which rotations would be consistent with what we observe macroscopically. Has there been any new work on this?

Triple Signed Receipts
To me the amazing part of all this isn't that the balances are proved, or that the authenticity and authorization of an instrument can be proven. The amazing part, rather, is that it is done while simultaneously eliminating any need to store the account history, on both sides! Server and client only need to store the latest signed receipt, and the winner in any dispute is the one with the newer receipt.


Intuitionism say A or B, to an intuitionist, is to claim that either A or B can be proved. In particular, the law of excluded middle, A or not A, is disallowed since one can construct, via Godel's incompleteness theorems, a mathematical statement that can be neither proven nor disproved.

The interpretation of negation is also different. In classical logic, the negation of a statement asserts that the statement is false; to an intuitionist, it means the statement is refutable[1] (e.g., that there is a counterexample). The asymmetry between a positive and negative statement becomes apparent. If a statement P is provable, then it is certainly impossible to prove that there is no proof of P; however, just because there is yet no disproof of P, we cannot conclude from this absence that there is a proof of P. Thus P is a stronger statement than not-not-P.

Intuitionistic logic substitutes constructability for abstract truth and is associated with a transition from the proof to model theory of abstract truth in modern mathematics. The logical calculus preserves justification, rather than truth, across transformations yielding derived propositions...

...All forms of intuitionism reject the reality of uncountable infinite sets.

Wikipedia article

Mar 2009

PELLEY Is that tax money that the Fed is spending?

BERNANKE It's not tax money... we simply use the computer to mark up the size of the account that they have with the Fed. so it's much more akin to printing money than it is to borrowing.

PELLEY You've been printing money?

BERNANKE Well, effectively.

Dec 2010

BERNANKE "One myth that's out there is that what we're doing is printing money. We're not printing money...


We don't even need Wikileaks to catch the central banks lying to us.

Quote of the Day
The claim is that wikileaks will prevent the functioning of global diplomacy, but the fact is that global diplomancy has not been functioning.

- BBC commentator


If things are not what they seem - and we are forever reminded that this is the case - then it must also be observed that enough of us ignore this truth to keep the world from collapsing. Though never exact, always shifting somewhat, the proportion is crucial. For a certain number of minds are fated to depart for realms of delusion, as if in accordance with some hideous timetable, and many will never be returning to us. Even among those who remain, how difficult it can be to hold the focus sharp, to keep the picture of the world from fading, from blurring in selected zones and, on occasion, from sustaining epic deformations over the entire visible scene.

- Thomas Ligotti, The Mystics of Muelenburg

Quote of the Day
"I have told this to few people, gentlemen, and I suspect never will again, but one day when I was a young boy on holiday in Uberwald I was walking along the bank of a stream when I saw a mother otter with her cubs. A very endearing sight, I'm sure you will agree, and even as I watched, the mother otter dived into the water and came up with a plump salmon, which she subdued and dragged on to a half-submerged log. As she ate it, while of course it was still alive, the body split and I remember to this day the sweet pinkness of its roes as they spilled out, much to the delight of the baby otters who scrambled over themselves to feed on the delicacy. One of nature's wonders, gentlemen: mother and children dining upon mother and children. And that's when I first learned about evil. It is built in to the very nature of the universe. Every world spins in pain. If there is any kind of supreme being, I told myself, it is up to all of us to become his moral superior."

- Terry Pratchett, Unseen Academicals

Daft Punk: Electroma
Video 1hr
Quote of the Day
Here is someone supposedly of intellectual stature trying to claim that if governments only spend enough money, that the spending somehow will permanently revitalize the economy. In other words, we spend ourselves rich.


Quote of the Day
Nature is what we know. We do not know the gods of religions. And nature is not kind, or merciful, or loving. If God made me - the fabled God of the three qualities of which I spoke: mercy, kindness, love. He also made the fish I catch and eat. And where do His mercy, kindness, and love for that fish come in? No; nature made us. Nature did it all, not the gods of the religions.

- Thomas Edison

Once you overload the user, you train them not to pay attention. More clutter isn't free. In fact, more clutter is a permanent shift, a desensitization to all the information, not just the last bit.


Deuterium Reinforced Fatty Acids
In the research, Clarke and her colleagues show that polyunsaturated fatty acids can be strengthened by replacing their most vulnerable hydrogen atoms, which are easily stripped away, with much more stable deuterium, an isotope of hydrogen with one extra neutron. The result is the creation of a fatty acid that serves the same function as its predecessor, but without the same susceptibility to oxidation.


Low - Words
Music Video
Evolution and Programming Languages

Due to the size of search spaces, the biggest problem for genetic algorithms (or optimization in general) is finding genotype to phenotype mappings that are durable - that tend to produce working and possibly more fit systems under mutation. In effect, this is a smoothing out of the energy surface on which our state is moving.

Biological systems do this amazingly well. They can make dramatic phenotype changes that are still viable - creatures with extra limbs, heads, etc that rewire everything in such a way that it still works.

So what if we took this as a goal for language design? ie. we specifically designed a language to be durable under random mutation.

Clearly, machine language would be the worst at this as everything is positionally dependent. Assembly is a bit better as it has symbols. C is better still as it has constructs for common operations so they don't have to be reinvented each time but weak typing makes it fragile wrt to memory ops. Languages with strong typing and gc solve this problem by eliminating mutations which could stomp on or leak memory.

Object oriented languages further remove the fragility of having long range dependencies between logic and data. Languages with dynamic typing allow for true polymorphism and expand reuse possibilities. Prototype-based languages allow more flexibility for useful changes to meta behavior. The unification of methods and instance variables removes the fragility of references to ivars when it is useful to replace them with behaviors.

So all this leads me to the following question: Could it be that the language which is most likely to produce higher utility under random mutation will also be the most likely to produce higher utility under human directed mutation? And if so, in what direction does this point us?

Hedge Funds Bailed Out by Fed
Hedge funds and investors whose bearish trades on housing helped them profit amid the credit crisis were among those that benefited from a U.S. government emergency rescue program to kick-start lending, according to Federal Reserve data released Wednesday.


image XM25 gunner can aim the laser range finder at the top of the wall, then program the shell to detonate one meter beyond it, showering lethal fragmentation where the insurgent is seeking cover.


Werner Herzog on Klaus Kinski
Video 7min
A nice UI prototyping site.


Economic Parrots
... "Deflation is particularly damaging to economic growth as consumers delay purchases until prices fall further."

Series of Questions

If your refrigerator conks out, will you buy a new one or wait 6 months to take advantage of lower prices? If the transmission on your car fails will you wait 6 months to get it fixed? If your pantry is bare, will you wait 1 month to buy food even if you expect food prices to drop? If you need a new winter coat, will you wait and if so, how long?


Likewise, if the theory that deflation is economically damaging is true, how does one explain the tremendous success of the computer and electronics industry where prices deflate exponentially?

It's a Trap
The belief that an increase in the money supply will result in an increase in GDP relies on the assumption that velocity will not decline in proportion to the increase in money. Unfortunately for the proponents of "quantitative easing," this assumption fails spectacularly in the data - both in the U.S. and internationally - particularly at zero interest rates.

- Hussman Funds report

This graph of Japanese Velocity/MonetaryBase says it all.

Shoeller Mustang
Documentary: Phantoms In The Brain
BBC4 special hosted by neurologist V.S. Ramachandran...


Booms and Busts
A one-paragraph explanation of the Austrian theory of business cycles would run as follows. Interest rates are held at too low a level, creating a credit boom. Low financing costs persuade entrepreneurs to fund too many projects. Capital is misallocated into wasteful areas. When the bust comes the economy is stuck with the burden of excess capacity, which then takes years to clear up.

Take that analysis piece by piece. Were interest rates held too low? The case seems self-evident for Ireland and Spain... the central bank's tendency to slash rates whenever the financial markets wobbled.

Was capital misallocated? Again most people would accept that too many houses and apartments were built...


Quote of the Day
I once asked my history teacher how we were expected to learn anything useful from his subject, when it seemed to me to be nothing but a monotonous and sordid succession of robber baron scumbags...

- Sting

Hedge Fund Profits Based on Theft
But just because hedge funds do not directly benefit from a state guarantee doesn't mean that central bank policy towards the banking sector is irrelevant in determining their returns. ... the "alpha" that Magnetar generated would likely not have existed if it were not for the skewed incentives faced by bankers which in turn were driven by the rents they could extract from the state guarantees provided to them.


The term "moral hazard rent" is the "heads we win, tails you loose" system of banks backed by a central bank that prints money (thereby stealing from anyone holding cash or receiving cash income such as wages, retirement checks, bond returns etc) to cover significant looses.

Quantitative Easing Explained
Video 7m via Dru Nelson
NoSQL is a bullshit marketing term... If one were to attempt a classification system I'd imagine it would end up something like a 3 dimensional cube. Distribution Model vs. Data Model vs. Disk Data Structure.

For instance cassandra would be classified as (token ring dynamo, column store, log structure merge tree), riak would be (vnode dynamo, key/value, pluggable) and couch would be (offline replication, document w/ incremental mr, btree).

- /t Cliff Moon

I like this idea but would add a dimension for which bits of ACID are supported. On these terms vertex.js would be (single node, graph, btree, full ACID). And the current single node model limits you to roughly what one machine can store, which is atm 10s of TBs on disk + 100s GB in RAM or perhaps much more if the machine is talking to a large network filestore. Or, spending a bit of $ on FusionIO, then effectively to TBs of RAM and all of this without having to give up ACID.

Effects of Money Printing
The Fed promises $600 billion to speculators....The whole idea of pumping money into the bond market - Bernanke admitted himself - was to get asset prices up... Higher asset prices are supposed to make people feel richer. Then, they're supposed to act richer. What do rich people do? They spend money! And before you can say "prestidigitation" they will BE richer.

How exactly does that work? Oh never mind the details, it's like magic!

Ben Bernanke, one of the world's leading economists and certainly the most powerful economist in the world says it works.

Do you believe it, dear reader?


As Marc Faber likes to say:

If money printing created wealth, Zimbabwe would be the richest nation.

Nicaragua Canal
Sources in Latin America have told Haaretz that the border incident and the military pressure on Costa Rica, a country without an army, are the first step in a plan formulated by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, with funding and assistance from Iran, to create a substitute for the strategically and economically important Panama Canal.

The plan has aroused concern in Washington, and the U.S. has started behind the scenes efforts to foil it.

Link and Wikipedia article on Nicaragua canal

35 to 1
So while it may seem that great wealth was created from 1994 to 2006, we would argue the majority of it was not wealth at all. It wasn't capital either. It wasn't even money in the real sense. Ultimately it was overnight, unreserved credit...

The top row in this table shows the US Monetary Base, which is basically all outstanding currency and electronic bank reserves held at the Fed. We can see it almost doubled from 1994 to 2006 and then it really took off in the last few years from Quantitative Easing. Yet despite this enormous growth in base money, there still isn't nearly enough money in the system to repay our debts.

You can see total Treasury obligations in the second row. The Fed would have to manufacture about 7 times more dollars than exist today for the Treasury to be able to meet its obligations...

The seventy trillion dollar figure in the fourth row is an estimate of total dollar-denominated claims. This includes Treasury debt and unfunded federal obligations, as well as mortgage, auto, consumer, corporate, state and municipal debt. Think about this: 70 trillion in dollar denominated claims on top of 2 trillion in currency and bank reserves with which to repay it! The US economy is levered roughly 35 to 1 today.


I of the Vortex
Interview with Rodolfo Llinas on his theory of the locomotive origin and evolution of brains.

Video interview ~1hr

Quote of the Day
Greek philosophy seems to begin with an absurd notion, with the proposition that water is the primal origin and the womb of all things. Is it really necessary for us to take serious notice of this proposition? It is, and for three reasons. First, because it tells us something about the primal origin of all things; second, because it does so in language devoid of image or fable, and finally, because contained in it, if only embryonically, is the thought, "all things are one."

- Bertrand Russell

Left Hemisphere Serotonin Deficiency Theory of Autism
...studies have demonstrated that autistic children produce far less serotonin (a brain neurotransmitter) than normal children. PET studies, further, have shown in male autistic children, at least, that lower serotonin synthesis is left-sided, compared to the normal right hemisphere synthesis, and is coupled with increased serotonin synthesis in the right dentate nucleus of the cerebellum...

He postulates that "serotonin deficiency, by permitting excessive neuronal growth, might account for the postnatal brain enlargement seen in some autistic children." ... "serotonin has an important role in corticogenesis, particularly in modulating the branching and spread of thalamocortical axons. Serotonergic axons have direct inhibitory synapses onto thalamocortical branches transiently during cortical development, which appear to inhibit neurite growth and modulate transmission of action potentials.

With serotonin deficiency, thalamocortical axon branches may spread excessively, resulting in lower information-transmitting capability of the cortex." It is this excessive spreading of branches, he postulates, that might account for the overall brain enlargement [at 1-2 months and 6-14 months in autistic infants].


Airport Backscatter XRays
Unlike other scanners, these new devices operate at relatively low beam energies (28keV). The majority of their energy is delivered to the skin and the underlying tissue. Thus, while the dose would be safe if it were distributed throughout the volume of the entire body, the dose to the skin may be dangerously high.

Letter signed by UCSF physicians


And binding with briars, my joys and desires.

Ampakines are a class of compounds known to enhance attention span and alertness, and facilitate learning and memory. The ampakines take their name from the glutamatergic AMPA receptor with which they strongly interact. The AMPA receptor, in turn, gets its name from AMPA, which selectively binds to it.

Unlike earlier stimulants (e.g. caffeine, methylphenidate (Ritalin), and the amphetamines), ampakines do not seem to have unpleasant, long-lasting side effects such as sleeplessness.

Wikipedia article, also related to glutamate hypothesis of schizophrenia. If you experiment with ampakines, please do it with caution to avoid excitotoxicity.

The Slow Motion Banking Collapse
We've only had 294 failures this cycle, but it is a big deal: adjusted to current dollars, the Depression banking crisis was $100 billion, the S&L crisis was $923 billion, and the current crisis is nearly $8 trillion.

So while FDIC chairwoman Sheila Bair said the current crisis would be "nothing compared with previous cycles, such as the savings-and-loan days," it's actually much bigger, because the financial sector had grown to be nearly half the economy by 2006 - as measured by the earnings of the S&P 500.

...The Moody's Commercial Property Price Index (CPPI) has fallen 43.2 percent since its peak in October 2007. Raw-land and residential-lot values have fallen even further. Almost 3,000 of the 7,830 banks in the United States are loaded with real-estate loans where the collateral value has fallen over 40 percent, and yet less than 300 banks have failed?

We all know what's happened to the residential-property market, but to illustrate how bad the situation is for the commercial market, over 8 percent of commercial mortgages that have been packaged into bonds are delinquent; more than $51.5 billion of such loans are at least 60 days late on payments compared with $22 billion a year ago.

If anything the commercial property market would seem to be getting worse. Losses on loans packaged into US commercial-mortgage-backed securities totaled $501 million in August - more than double the $245 million in April, and over 10 times the $41 million in losses of a year ago.

Past-due loans and leases at the nation's banks and S&Ls increased 16.2 percent from second quarter 2009 to the second quarter of this year. Restructured loans and leases increased nearly 54 percent.

...Earlier this year, Elizabeth Warren and her Congressional Oversight Panel did a report that indicated 2,988 banks were in trouble because of real-estate concentration in their loan portfolios.

Ms. Warren noted that office vacancies had increased 25 percent since 2006-2007, apartment vacancy was up 35 percent, industrial was up 45 percent, and retail vacancy had increased 70 percent since 2006-2007. The report said the recovery rate for defaulted real-estate loans was 63 percent last year. Land-loan recoveries were only 50 percent. Development-loan recoveries were even worse at 46 percent.

Another banking expert who sounded a warning signal about the banking industry was bank analyst Chris Whalen, who, a year ago, estimated the number of troubled banks to be 1,900. The FDIC itself said there were 829 problem institutions on its top-secret radar by June 30, 2010 - almost exactly double the 416 announced by the FDIC a year ago at midyear.

In other words, problem loans are still causing problems

Douglas French
Speech at "The Economic Recovery: Washington's Big Lie"

Prop 19 and Media Bias
The media - or at least the editorial boards at the country's major newspapers - don't suffer from liberal bias; they suffer from statism. While conservatives emphasize order and property, liberals emphasize equality, and libertarians emphasize individual rights, newspaper editorial boards are biased toward power and authority, automatically turning to politicians for solutions to every perceived problem. [the article goes into examples like campaign finance reform, eminent domain, and drug laws]

Reason article

Carbon Based Lifeforms: Reaktion
Quote of the Day
I remember my grandmother saying to me when she was 97 "You know, when I see myself in my dreams, I am not this old."

- Tony Abbotsford

Supra Fall 2010
Apple vs Carriers
However, if Apple is doing an end run around the carrier by putting its own SIM inside the iPhone, it could do what Google with its NexusOne could not, which is create an easy way to sell a handset via the web without carrier involvement


John Carmack on Government
So, the federal government is essentially doomed to inefficiency, no matter who is in charge or what policies they want it to implement. I probably haven't lost too many people at this point - almost nobody thinks that the federal government is a paragon of efficiency, and it doesn't take too much of an open mind to entertain the possibility that it might be much worse than you thought (it is).

... There isn't a single thing that I would petition the federal government to add to its task list, and I would ask that it stop doing the majority of the things that it is currently doing. My vote is going to the candidates that at least vector in that direction.


DAF 16 Gene
...carbohydrates we eat... directly affect two key genes that govern youthfulness and longevity.

Link via Rich Collins


I wanted to believe that this artist had escaped the dreams and demons of all sentiment in order to explore the foul and crummy delights of a universe where everything had been reduced to three stark principles: first, that there was nowhere for you to go; second, that there was nothing for you to do; and third, that there was no one for you to know. Of course I knew that this view was an illusion like any other, but it was also one that had sustained me so long and so well--as long and as well as any other illusion and perhaps longer, perhaps better.

- Thomas Ligotti, The Bungalow House

In terms of the pace of evolutionary change, one advantage the single-celled have over complex organisms is reproductive speed. Unlike eukaryotes, bacteria usually reproduce by cloning, which simply copies the single parent's entire set of genes. If conditions are favorable, a population of bacteria can double every 20 minutes or so...

Group behavior has now been demonstrated so widely that many microbiologists view bacteria as multicellular organisms, much of whose activity - from gene swapping to swarming to biofilm construction - is mediated by a wide variety of chemical communications.


The fact that bacteria can evolve so much more quickly always made me wonder how macroscopic organisms could compete. Could it be that, say, macroscopic animals are more or less shells for the gut bacteria that they transport and find food for? A bacterial version of The Matrix?

US turned blind eye to torture
Leaked documents on Iraq war contain thousands of allegations of abuse, but a Pentagon order told troops to ignore them.


It seems that the US "liberated" Iraqi people are now "free" to be tortured by the police and army.

Quote of the Day
There is no nonsense so arrant that it cannot be made the creed of the vast majority by adequate governmental action.

- Bertrand Russell

This weekend, WikiLeaks released over 400,000 classified documents of the Iraq War detailing genuinely horrific facts about massive civilian death, U.S. complicity in widespread Iraqi torture, systematic government deceit over body counts, and the slaughter of civilians by American forces about which Daniel Ellsberg himself said, as the New York Times put it: "many of the civilian deaths there could be counted as murder."


LP Ballot Recommendations
State of California
City of San Francisco
The State
... in order to keep down the great American sin of self-righteousness, every public presentation ought to draw the deadly parallel with the record of the American State. The German State is persecuting a minority, just as the American State did after 1776; the Italian State breaks into Ethiopia, just as the American State broke into Mexico; the Japanese State kills off the Manchurian tribes in wholesale lots, just as the American State did the Indian tribes; the British State practices large-scale carpetbaggery, like the American State after 1864; the imperialist French State massacres native civilians on their own soil, as the American State did in pursuit of its imperialistic policies in the Pacific, and so on.

In this way, perhaps, our people might get into their heads some glimmering of the fact that the State's criminality is nothing new and nothing to be wondered at. It began when the first predatory group of men clustered together and formed the State, and it will continue as long as the State exists in the world, because the State is fundamentally an anti-social institution, fundamentally criminal. The idea that the State originated to serve any kind of social purpose is completely unhistorical. It originated in conquest and confiscation - that is to say, in crime. It originated for the purpose of maintaining the division of society into an owning-and-exploiting class and a propertyless dependent class - that is, for a criminal purpose.


RAF Simons
Acronym FW 2011
MapReduce still excels as a general query mechanism against masses of data, but real-time search requires a very specialized tool, and Google built one. Internally the successor to Google's famed Google File System, was code named Colossus.


Quote of the Day
The difference between libertarianism and socialism is that libertarians will tolerate the existence of a socialist community, but socialists can't tolerate a libertarian community.

- David D. Boaz

Schiff on Inflation
‎Corn prices are probably up 60% in the last 3 months... a record high in the price of gold, a 30 year high in the price of sliver... The [US] dollar is at a record low against the Swiss franc, Singapore dollar, Australian dollar...


Krugman Encouraged the Housing Bubble
Krugman in 2001:

Meanwhile, economic policy should encourage other spending to offset the temporary slump in business investment. Low interest rates, which promote spending on housing and other durable goods, are the main answer.


For those in San Francisco this weekend while the government puts it's killing machines on display.

Video 3m


...but of course, it was then much too late, as is always the case.

Latest Libertarian Strawman
A strange argument emerged overnight that illustrates how little even informed people understand about the market economy and its implications. This time the debate centers on a interesting case of a man in rural Tennessee who did not pay his fire-services fee, so the fire department let his house burn down. Here is the news report.

You can see that this incident is being used to attack libertarianism.

I don't get this debate at all. It is not even a real debate. The fire-protection services were government services. The fee in question was a government-mandated fee. The county lines in which the fee was applicable is a government-drawn line that is completely arbitrary. The policy of not putting out the fire was a government policy enforced by the mayor. As he said, in the words of a good bureaucrat, "Anybody that's not in the city of South Fulton, it's a service we offer, either they accept it or they don't."


Other examples of so-called market failures include telecom, energy, transportation and education. Notice that each "failure" involves markets which were destroyed via government created monopolies.

Prostitution Study
Whether prostitution is legal or not has ''little or no impact on the size of the industry'' but it does affect the health of sex workers, Australian research shows.


US Government Experiments on the Unwilling
The recently exposed case of the Guatemalans being infected with Syphilis without their knowledge was not an anomaly. The following article describes 46 different incidents of US government run medical experiments on the unwilling between 1931 and 1997. Given this history, who still thinks the government should be running healthcare?


Paul Krugman
In today's NYT Krugman writes:

I do know that I keep being told that Peter Schiff has been right about everything; so, how's that hyperinflation thing going?

And a reader responds:

Here are facts about inflation, which PK claims we have none of, for commodities in 2009 [1]: Industrials +96.4%, Softs (like coffee, orange juice, sugar) +63.5%, Energy +57.8%, Metals +43.1%, Livestock +4.0%. The Grains sub-sector was the only one closing lower at -0.9%.

Quote of the Day
One writes to make a home for oneself, on paper, in time and in others' minds.

- Alfred Kazin

Pot Decriminalized in California
Under the bill signed today, SB 1449, by Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), pot possession will be treated like a traffic ticket. The fine will remain at $100, and there will be no arrest record.


A victory for liberty! This will avoid 60,000 arrests per year. Now the governor needs to pardon all non-violent drug "offenders".

House in Ayora
Quote of the Day
Thanks to TV and the convenience of TV you can only be one of two kinds of human being, either a liberal or a conservative.

- Kurt Vonnegut

Minimum Wage
A simple graph of data from the US Bureau of Labor statistics which shows how the minimum wage has a net negative effect. Notice that the product of wage and employed drops when minimum wage is increased meaning both less net wealth is going to workers and (presumably) less net productive labor is being done. This effect is hidden unless one looks at inflation adjusted (real) wage values.

The graph also suggests that the market left to itself would quickly (within 4 years) converge at a average wage (~8% lower than it's lowest real value) for unskilled labor which maximized employment, production and net wealth transferred to those employed. In other words, it looks like the minimum wage harms those it's intended to help.

Russ Chimes: Midnight Club EP
Music Video
TAD: Stealth Hoodie
Unified Mind
The evidence supports another view: Our brains create an illusion of unity and control where there really isn't any.


Quote of the Day
The government and Wall Street are in bed together. Obama isn't taking on Wall Street. He was bought and paid for by Wall Street.

- Peter Schiff, Video 7m

You Do Not Own Your Head
Music 4m
Niall Ferguson on the Stimulus
and the limits of Keynesianism.

Video 3m

lan Moore's message for the beings of space:

Yeah, Hello? Uh, if you're there pick up, okay listen it's Alan calling, Alan from Earth. You probably don't remember, it's over in the western spiral of the Milky Way although obviously you might have named it after a completely different brand of chocolate. Basically just find the Oort Cloud and ask for directions from there. Anyway just calling to catch up. We're doing alright with the carbon base lifeform thing. Kids are diversifying nicely, going through a bit of a fad for spines and brains at the minute but it's probably the same where you are.

Well, that's about it really, we just hadn't heard from you in a while, like when we killed Michael Rennee, or Klaatu as you knew him in The Day The Earth Stood Still. So if you received this, get in touch, but actually thinking about it, don't bother calling after about, what, 2150, because I'm not expecting anyone to be in. Oh and I'm sending this song along. It's called God Song by Robert Wyatt. I hope you like it and that you don't communicate through perfume or minor variatrions in your sense of balance or something. Okay, you take care and I'll talk to you soon. Love you, Bye.

Link via George Papadakis

Greek Debt
In addition to its roughly $400 billion (and growing) of outstanding government debt, the Greek number crunchers had just figured out that their government owed another $800 billion or more in pensions. Add it all up and you got about $1.2 trillion, or more than a quarter-million dollars for every working Greek. Against $1.2 trillion in debts, a $145 billion bailout was clearly more of a gesture than a solution.

Vanity Fair article via Alexander Pagidas

Another socialist state bankrupt. And Portugal, Spain and Italy are bankrupt as well. Even the UK's socialism is collapsing and Castro himself admitted last week that Cuban socialism has failed.

Strange then that all I hear on NPR is how socialism will solve all our problems. Are they blinded by ideology or am I?

I have no problems with this [Diaspora] specific piece of pre alpha software having a billion XSS exploits. This can be easily corrected by the open source process. But the underlying ideas, the way privacy is thought [of] and implemented, are not subject to incremental enhancement. This is either well thought before, or [it] never, ever happens...

My greatest fear now is that the community will patch the gaping security holes. That through the amazing public relations work these guys did, it will succeed. And we will still not get our lives back.

- Ori Pekelman on the Diasporo mailing list

I lost interest in Diaspora when I read that it was federated. Federated systems are in control of the few not the many. Witness email and Jabber. How many people have personal control over those? Very few indeed.

The result being that your company, your service provider or various net services are spying on you or have the ready and often legal power to do so. And no matter how much you trust the folks currently holding that data, there will come a day when (as in a monarchy) it gets handed off to someone else.

Maybe you have nothing to hide, but that's not the point is it? I don't do anything I'm ashamed of in my bathroom, but I wouldn't want any company or government putting a video camera in there.

BTW, anything based on DNS is effectively controlled by a particular government (say what you will about Facebook, but at least they're not torturing and murdering people). This is why net identity shouldn't be connected to email or a web address. It should be nothing more than a public encryption key so no one controls it except the person who generated it.

While the introvert is evaluating the question ["how was your day?"] on at least two levels (how she is feeling and what she thinks about the question, perhaps also what this says about our society), the speaker is already moving on to sharing something about his day. The introvert must take the incoming message from the speaker and tuck it into working memory until she can get to it, while more information keeps flowing in that demands tracking, sorting, searching, and critical analysis.

The cognitive load becomes increasingly difficult to manage, as the internal talk competes with the external conversation. Moreover, while trying to keep the conversation going, introverts may miss social cues, which can make them appear socially inept. The conversation is also anxiety-provoking, because the introvert feels she has too little time to share a complete thought. She hungers to pull away and give time to the thoughts her brain has generated.

Psychology today article via Erin Heinemeyer

I also felt this way in school when having to deal with multiple classes in the same day. I didn't understand how people could think deeply on any of them when being deluged with all of them. It took me a while to see that no one was thinking deeply (or cared to) about any of them.

John Cage on Silence
Video 4m
Fecund Universes
The theory surmises that a collapsing black hole causes the emergence of a new universe on the "other side", whose fundamental constant parameters (speed of light, Planck length and so forth) may differ slightly from those of the universe where the black hole collapsed.

Each universe therefore gives rise to as many new universes as it has black holes. Thus the theory contains the evolutionary ideas of "reproduction" and "mutation" of universes, but has no direct analogue of natural selection. However, given any universe that can produce black holes that successfully spawn new universes, it is possible that some number of those universes will reach heat death with unsuccessful parameters. So, in a sense, fecundity cosmological natural selection is one where universes could die off before successfully reproducing, just as any biological being can die without having "offspring".


So the typical universe should be infinitely tuned for black hole creation and life (if our universe is typical and as life is something that exists in our universe) would presumably play some role in increasing black hole formation. That is, in a perfect organism one might expect symbionts but not parasites.

HRP4 Robot
Rothard on The Great Depression
Rothbard makes the case that the inflation that produced the capital markets bubble and burst of the Great Depression was the result of the Federal Reserve's choice to hold up the British pound during WWI (printing massive amounts of dollars to buy pounds). Had this not occurred, not only would the Great Depression have been avoided, but WWI may have ended in a truce and and there would have been no WWII.

Free PDF of the book

Minimalism in Writing
Hemingway was famous for a terse minimalist style of writing that dispensed with flowery adjectives and got straight to the point. In short, Hemingway wrote with simple genius.

Perhaps his finest demonstration of short sentence prowess was when he was challenged to tell an entire story in only 6 words:

"For sale: baby shoes, never used."


Aether Fall 2010
Music video
Arcteryx Fall 2010
Quote of the Day
Jeffrey Goldberg, a national correspondent for The Atlantic magazine, asked if Cuba's economic system was still worth exporting to other countries, and Castro replied: "The Cuban model doesn't even work for us anymore."


Quote of the Day
Reddit is the perfect example of laissez faire spontaneous order at work, that's why I can't understand why r/politics is so in favor of central planning, and big government. It's bizarre.


NRM Architects
During the 1930s, New Deal lawmakers doubled federal spending--yet unemployment remained above 20 percent until World War II.

Japan responded to a 1990 recession by passing 10 stimulus spending bills over 8 years (building the largest national debt in the industrialized world)--yet its economy remained stagnant.

In 2001, President Bush responded to a recession by "injecting" tax rebates into the economy. The economy did not respond until two years later, when tax rate reductions were implemented.

In 2008, President Bush tried to head off the current recession with another round of tax rebates. The recession continued to worsen.

Now, the most recent $787 billion stimulus bill was intended to keep the unemployment rate from exceeding 8 percent. In November, it topped 10 percent.


Gold Dinar, Silver Dirham
The 2000 rupiah now has become the new standard. But without realizing it, we lost half of our spending power. A 500 rupiah not is worthless now. Even fish chips will cost you 1000 rupiah. Eventually, even a 100,000 rupiah note will be worthless.

Paper money is a deception. It is used to rob us of our possessions.

- Video 10m

Atrium House
Quote of the Day
Our public school system is really quite unique, and profoundly unnatural that way, it is as if someone read Lord of the Flies and decided it was prescriptive rather than descriptive.


The amount the Fed and the U.S. government lent, spent and guaranteed to stem the recession and rescue the banking system peaked in March 2009 at $12.8 trillion, most of it following the September 2008 bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc.

Bloomberg article

Central Banking
I have had men watching you for a long time and I am convinced that you have used the funds of the bank to speculate in the breadstuffs of the country. When you won, you divided the profits amongst you, and when you lost, you charged it to the Bank... You are a den of vipers and thieves.

- Andrew Jackson, 1834, on closing the Second US Central Bank

Leaving Iraq
"First of all we are not leaving," Petraues insisted, adding that "there are 50,000 US troops that are remaining in Iraq" and that they retain an "enormous capability." It is a capability that is tough to reconcile with the official story that these are all just trainers.


"Everything is getting more expensive, I'm hardly earning any money, and then I'm supposed to pay more taxes to help save the country? How is that supposed to work?" asks Nikos Meletis, the shipbuilder. He predicts the situation will only become more heated. "Things are starting to simmer here," he says. "And at some point they're going to explode."


Greece's bluff got called first, but hasn't the debt burden of many of the world's major economies reached unsustainable levels as well?

Privatize Marriage
The question is, does the government need to specify a particular bundle of contracts, enforce this bundle and call it "marriage"?

The answer is no.

If government exits the marriage business, both same-sex and opposite-sex couples would be free to enter private contracts, picking and choosing which ones to sign. Do they plan to have kids? Sign the guardianship contract. Do they need to protect inheritances? Add in that contract. Do they want the whole bundle? No problem.


Brief History of Socialist Central Planning
The gist of the talk is that without markets there's no way to produce accurate prices and without prices there is no way to efficiently allocate resources.

The deep link is to the bit where he discusses examples of the consequences of removing all prices.


Arcteryx Blazer
Cold Cell
Informational Monism
The last major development in philosophy was Logical Positivism which distinguished between statements about physical observations (science) and purely abstract statements (math). This insight made it clear that metaphysical statements are meaningless since, as their terms don't map to observations, they say nothing about the world. e.g. the question of free will becomes a question of how to measure it and this reveals it's only meaning (as is "randomness") is simply unpredictability.

Since then philosophy has mostly been about showing how there's no clear line between these categories leaving us with the problem of how to construct a coherent theory of knowledge.

It seems to me that these issues can be resolved by noticing that we only have access to information and those categories can then be unified into informational constructs - patterns of information that appear to be fairly consistent.

That is, it's a fairly consistent pattern that the bits we associate with sensory input and body output tend to have stronger correlations with one another than with the bits we associate with abstract ideas e.g. we can manipulate objects but we can't think objects into existence. And while we may have built in (a priori) biases in the way in we process correlations, the only meaningful things we can talk about are correlations.

I don't know if this idea is a new one.

Representative Democracy
David Friedman has a good description of why representative democracy is inherently corrupt: it sets up a system where it is irrational for voters to care and rational for politicians to be short sighted.


Sudbury Schools
Sudbury schools are based on the belief that no kind of curriculum is necessary to prepare a young person for adult life. Instead, these schools place emphasis on learning as a natural by-product of all human activity. Learning is self-initiated and self-motivated. They rely on the free exchange of ideas and free conversation and interplay between people, to provide sufficient exposure to any area that may prove relevant and interesting to the individual.

Wikipedia article

Quote of the Day
Man produces little that is lasting... Fear, conformity, immorality, these are heavy burdens - great drainers of creative energy. And when we are drained of creative energy we do not create. We procreate but we do not create.

- the man with the sixth finger

Quote of the Day
In technology, once you have bad programmers, you're doomed. I can't think of an instance where a company has sunk into technical mediocrity and recovered. Good programmers want to work with other good programmers. So once the quality of programmers at your company starts to drop, you enter a death spiral from which there is no recovery.

- Paul Graham

Small Bust or Big Bust, You Choose
When creditors ultimately decide to curtail loans to America, U.S. interest rates will finally spike, and we will be confronted with even more difficult choices than those now facing Greece. Given the short maturity of our national debt, a jump in short-term rates would either result in default or massive austerity. If we choose neither, and opt to print money instead, the run-a-way inflation that will ensue will produce an even greater austerity than the one our leaders lacked the courage to impose.

Those who believe rates will never rise as long as the Fed remains accommodative, or that inflation will not flare up as long as unemployment remains high, are just as foolish as those who assured us that the mortgage market was sound because national real estate prices could never fall.

- Peter Schiff

Quote of the Day
Me: I'd like to talk to you about something...
Him: Let me guess - you want to use Smalltalk.
Me: Er, no...
Him: Lisp?
Me: Right.
Him: No way.



The diamonds and the gold, they are for real
Depending on the way they make you feel

- The Ocean Blue

The idea that you can solve a problem of too much debt and too much consumption with more debt and more consumption defies comprehension.

- Jim Rogers

Quote of the Day
Commentator on legalizing cannabis:

...make sure it pays taxes rather than fill the pockets of criminal gangs.

Having watched the roughly $10T in bailouts and seen the insanely high compensation of government union employees, I have to ask: What's the difference? One criminal gang wears suits and has more guns?

NRM Architects
Why Japan is Doomed
Put a savings rate approaching zero together with a national debt that exceeds 200% of GDP and a "lost generation" earning far less than their parents, and you have a nation on the slippery slope to insolvency...

Japan was able to buy itself 20 years of stagnation because its populace saved vast quantities of money which they dutifully handed over to their government in exchange for low-yield bonds...

Those in denial about Japan's reliance on ballooning debt to fund its status quo (and on America's exact same reliance) basically claim that "It can't happen because it hasn't happened."...

Link via Rich Collins

The "it hans't happened before" logic is what led LTCM to bet on the Russian bond market before Russia defaulted in 1998 and brought down LTCM with it.

Krugman Gives Up
Occasionally, Krugman attempted a reply. For example, he dissembled that Reinhardt and Rogoff had "highlighted" a single postwar American experience, which he dismissed as "spurious." The commenters did not let him get away with it. Within 24 hours, Sean had pointed out that Reinhardt and Rogoff had found similar effects of debt in six countries on three continents over four decades, including Canada, Japan, Greece, and Belgium. Krugman then struggled to find something "spurious" about each of these. Sean's rebuttal showed that Krugman was refusing to meet any burden of proof. Still worse, Samuel showed that Krugman's reasoning, if applied generally, would forever insulate Krugman's ideology from any refutation of any kind...

On July 23, Krugman showed that he was clearly no longer "in love" with his commenters. Now he called them "ranters" and "trolls." On July 28, Krugman changed his comment moderation policy.


Quote of the Day
Nothing is more unpopular today than the free market economy, i.e., capitalism. Everything that is considered unsatisfactory in present-day conditions is charged to capitalism. The atheists make capitalism responsible for the survival of christianity. But the papal encyclicals blame capitalism for the spread of irreligion and the sins of our contemporaries, and the Protestant churches and sects are no less vigorous in their indictment of capitalist greed.

Friends of peace consider our wars as an offshoot of capitalist imperialism. But the adamant nationalist warmongers of Germany and Italy indicted capitalism for its 'bourgeois' pacifism, contrary to human nature and to the inescapable laws of history. Sermonizers accuse capitalism of disrupting the family and fostering licentiousness. But the 'progressives' blame capitalism for the preservation of allegedly outdated rules of sexual restraint.

Almost all men agree that poverty is an outcome of capitalism. On the other hand many deplore the fact that capitalism, in catering lavishly to the wishes of people intent upon getting more amenities and a better living, promotes a crass materialism. These contradictory accusations of capitalism cancel one another. But the fact remains that there are few people left who would not condemn capitalism altogether.

- Ludwig von Mises

The Jest of the Gods
Once the Older gods had need of laughter. Therefore They made the soul of a king, and set in it ambitions greater than kings should have, and lust for territories beyond the lust of other kings, and in this soul They set strength beyond the strength of others and fierce desire for power and a strong pride. Then the gods pointed earthward and sent that soul into the fields of men to live in the body of a slave. And the slave grew, and the pride and lust for power began to arise in his heart, and he wore shackles on his arms. Then in the Fields of Twilight the gods prepared to laugh.

But the slave went down to the shore of the great sea, and cast his body away and the shackles that were upon it, and strode back to the Fields of Twilight and stood up before the gods and looked Them in Their faces. This thing the gods, when They had prepared to laugh, had not foreseen. Lust for power burned strong in that King's soul, and there was all the strength and pride in it that the gods had placed therein, and he was too strong for the Older gods. He whose body had borne the lashes of men could brook no longer the dominion of the gods, and standing before Them he bade the gods to go. Up to Their lips leapt all the anger of the Older gods, being for the first time commanded, but the King's soul faced Them still, and Their anger died away and They averted Their eyes. Then Their thrones became empty, and the Fields of Twilight bare as the gods slunk far away. But the soul chose new companions.

- Lord Dunsany

Inertial Fields
The phenomenon of Inertia may be explained if the four-dimensional scale of spacetime were to change during acceleration. Although a dynamically changing scale cannot be modeled by coordinate transformation it is compatible with General Relativity, and it is observationally indistinguishable from Special Relativity, except that it admits cosmological simultaneity.

...if inertial frames were to differ by metrical scale-factors that depend on their relative velocities they would not be related via the Lorentz transformation, but via Voigt's transformation [Voigt, 1887] that was derived prior to the Lorentz transformation. The resulting dynamic scale theory would be observationally indistinguishable from SR, but would allow simultaneity regardless of motion. And, it would allow us to treat Inertia as a gravitation-type phenomenon [Masreliez, 2008].

...Under certain conditions the field energy induced by acceleration could become negative.


Cosmological Models with No Big Bang
In the late 1990s, observations of Type Ia supernovae led to the astounding discovery that the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate. The explanation of this anomalous acceleration has been one of the great problems in physics since that discovery. In this article we propose cosmological models that can explain the cosmic acceleration without introducing a cosmological constant into the standard Einstein field equation, negating the necessity for the existence of dark energy.

There are four distinguishing features of these models: 1) the speed of light and the gravitational "constant" are not constant, but vary with the evolution of the universe, 2) time has no beginning and no end, 3) the spatial section of the universe is a 3-sphere, and 4) the universe experiences phases of both acceleration and deceleration. One of these models is selected and tested against current cosmological observations of Type Ia supernovae, and is found to fit the redshift-luminosity distance data quite well.


Free Banking
Free banking refers to a monetary arrangement in which banks are subject to no special regulations beyond those applicable to most enterprises, and in which they also are free to issue their own paper currency (banknotes).

In a free banking system, market forces control the supply of total quantity of banknotes and deposits that can be supported by any given stock of cash reserves, where such reserves consist either of a scarce commodity (such as gold) or of a artificially limited stock of "fiat" money issued by a central bank.

In the strictest versions of free banking, however, there either is no role at all for a central bank, or the supply of central bank money is supposed to be permanently "frozen." There is, therefore, no agency capable of serving as a "lender of last resort" in the usually understood sense of the term. Nor is there any government insurance of banknotes or bank deposit accounts.

Wikipedia article

Why do we insist on the dichotomy between matter and mind, making it permissible to take vitamins for the body but not for the soul? A hormone that enables a man to make love more effectively is touted in medical journals. But what would be the public reaction to a hormone that simply make him a more loving human being?

...Why... are the mind-manifesting drugs still regarded with so much fear? Can it be because modern science still lingers on the threshold of the unconscious, hesitating to knock to loudly for fear of what might be revealed if the door should open?

- Journeys into a Bright World

SIS High Top
Intellectual Property
IP law is unlibertarian and unjustified. I realized this myself after trying, and failing, for years to figure out a way to justify IP and square it with libertarian principles. IP is a type of systematic redistribution of property rights, contrary to Lockean homesteading rules, that can only be implemented by the state and its legislation. So the IP libertarians have nothing left but the tired old arguments of the type you might hear dashed off in law school or in a mainstream economics class.


I find it disappointing that these debates tend to be as crude as those related to gun control. Neither is a black and white issue as either extreme, AFAICS, has serious net negative effects on utility. Until this is acknowledged, we can't move the debate to the real issue of which rules maximize utility and how to best test and measure such rules.

Quote of the Day
Duke: There's a uh, big machine in the sky, some kind of, I dunno, electric snake, coming straight at us.
Gonzo: Shoot it.
Duke: Not yet, I want to study its habits.
Private vs Public Funding
With it [private money], we sequenced the human genome in nine months instead of many, many years. The public money that flowed into the Human Genome Project, above all, created an enormous, inflexible bureaucracy.

- Craig Venter

SEC Immune to FOIA
Turns out that Dodd-Frank ["Financial Reform" bill] exempts the Securities and Exchange Commission from the vast majority of Freedom of Information Act requests.


Where Did the Money Go
The Department of Defense is unable to account for the use of $8.7 billion [96%] of the $9.1 billion it spent on reconstruction in Iraq.


How does the government get away with this? Who is going to prison for embezzlement over this? If a public company reported to it's shareholder that $8.7B mysteriously disappeared, would there be no shareholder law suits? Am I allowed to only pay taxes on 4% of my income and claim the other 96% is "unaccounted for"?

Ratigan on the Bailouts
These people [banksters] are stealing our money by the trillions.

Video 10m

Add $1T in central bank junk bond purchases, $1T in US Treasury bailouts and $6T in Fannie/Freddie (so far) liabilities and potentially trillions in AIG liabilities (again, so far) and you've got upwards of $10T that has been effectively stolen so far. This isn't counting the interest on all the debt used for these purchases or the tripling of the monetary base that will, in time, steal another $10-20T plus interest via the fractional reserve money multiplier.

Wage and Price Controls in Ancient Egypt
Control took on frightening proportions. There was a whole army of inspectors. There was nothing but inventories, censuses of men and animals ... estimations of harvests to come... In villages, when farmers who were disgusted with all these vexations ran away, those who remained were responsible for absentees' production... [one of the first effects of harsh price controls on farm goods is the abandonment of farms and the consequent fall in the supplies of food]. The pressure [the inspectors] applied extended, in case of need, to cruelty and torture.[5]

Egyptian economy collapsed at the end of the third century BC, as did her political stability. The financial crisis was a permanency. Money was devalued. Alexandria's commerce declined.

article via Alexander Pagidas

Slim Monolite
Documentary: Joy Division
TRON Legacy Trailer 2
Shutdown the CIA
If you think this is a radical idea, think again. What is radical is to empower a mob of covert operatives to roam the planet, wreaking havoc as they go with not a care for morality or, for that matter, the tenets of mercy implicit in any of the great faiths. The idea of not prosecuting CIA interrogators (i.e., torturers), as President Obama has said, is chilling. These crimes have to be stopped somewhere, sometime, or they will occur again.

Veterans Today article

Minimum Wage
Sure enough, the mandated increase to $7.25 took effect in July, and right on cue the August and September jobless numbers confirm the rapid disappearance of jobs for teenagers...

WSJ article


FWIW, Zaha Hadid would get my vote for this year''s Sterling Prize.


And in the word, no less than in the mind, the Medusa fascinates much more than she appalls, and haunts us just this side of petrification. On the other side is the unthinkable, the unheard-of, that-which-should-not-be: hence, the Real. This is what throttles our souls with a hundred fingers - somewhere, perhaps in that dim room which caused us to forget ourselves, that place where we left ourselves behind amid shadows and strange sounds - while our minds and words toy, like playful, stupid pets, with diversions of an immeasurable disaster.

- Thomas Ligotti, The Medusa

Bagjack iPad Case
Cinnamon Chasers
Music Video 5m

Wonder is worry without animal anxiety.

- Terence McKenna

Bill Moyers on Liz Fowler
Every time the power of government is caught doing the opposite of what was intended, the proposed solution is always to give the government more power. There is another way.

Video 5m

Video 14m
Hotellings law
Hotelling's law is an observation in economics that in many markets it is rational for producers to make their products as similar as possible. This is also referred to as the principle of minimum differentiation as well as Hotelling's "linear city model".

An extension of the principle into other environments of rational choice such as election "markets" can explain the common complaint that, for instance, the presidential candidates of the two American political parties are "practically the same". Once each candidate is confirmed during primaries, they are usually established within their own partisan camps. The remaining undecided electorate resides in the middle of the political spectrum, and there is a tendency for the candidates to "rush for the middle" in order to appeal to this crucial bloc. Like the paradigmatic example, the assumption is that people will choose the least distant option, (in this case, the distance is ideological) and that the most votes can be had by being directly in the center.

Wikipedia article

It seems to me that this breaks down as long as there are more than two options. Though vote polling in US style representative democracies force voters into two party systems.

Gary Fisher Bike
Divide Chair
...when one meets with someone who believes something that common sense would call absurd and for which there is little evidence to convince the not already convinced the usual question that is asked, and then the answer argued over is "Why do you believe X?" In the above book the suggestion is made that a different question might be asked: "Why do you believe THAT you believe X?"

It is pointed out that often people who profess weird beliefs do not act as though they believe them. There seems to be two levels of belief, one is simple belief and the other is to believe that you believe something. The distinction is very interesting to me. It turns the light of inquiry from the thing believed toward the dynamics of the psychology of the believer and usually, if intellectual honesty is maintained, there are very revealing personalistic answers to this second question.

- Terence McKenna in conversation with Robert Hunter


...and in the dream the angel said to Descartes:
"The conquest of nature is to be achieved through measure and number."

Today, both The New York Times and The Washington Post confirm that the Obama White House has now expressly authorized the CIA to kill al-Alwaki [a US citizen] no matter where he is found, no matter his distance from a battlefield. I wrote at length about the extreme dangers and lawlessness of allowing the Executive Branch the power to murder U.S. citizens far away from a battlefield (i.e., while they're sleeping, at home, with their children, etc.) and with no due process of any kind.

Salon article

Only congress can suspend habeas corpus but it looks like the argument is that the AUMF act did just that.

Quote of the Day
We don't see things as they are, we see things as we are.

- Anais Nin

Crowdsourcing SEC Petition
Paul Spinrad and the Sustainable Economies Law Center have submitted a petition to the SEC for a de minimis exemption to current securities regulation. They're requesting that crowdfunding and the sale of securities should become legal as long as the total amount raised is under $100,000 and each individual buys no more than $100 of securities.

sign the petition

My email:

    Subject: /tRe: File # 4-605

    These are comments in regards to a petition for rulemaking change. I'm a technology entrepreneur and feel this change would facilitate the creation of highly innovative micro startups for technologies that are outside of the risk/reward/time-frame of traditional venture capital and angel investor markets.

    I understand that the original rule was created to protect small investors, but feel the qualifications of this rule change sufficiently address that issue.

Minix 3
There was a study in BSD, which has very good quality control that found 3 bugs per 1000 lines of code. At that rate, Minix would have maybe 18 bugs in the kernel and Linux would have 18,000...

Our OS runs as multiple user level processes. So the operating system runs basically in user mode.

Video 1hr

Very cool stuff.

Rust is a curly-brace, block-structured statement language. It visually resembles the C language family, but differs significantly in syntactic and semantic details. Its design is oriented toward concerns of "programming in the large", that is, of creating and main- taining boundaries - both abstract and operational - that preserve large-system integrity, availability and concurrency.

It supports a mixture of imperative procedural, concurrent actor, object oriented and pure functional styles. Rust also supports generic programming and metaprogramming, in both static and dynamic styles.

Link via the mysterious "ry"

With regard to "stimulus" plans, my difficulty with last year's policies is not so much an aversion to government spending as it is a rebuke of the notion that government spending is by its nature stimulative or beneficial to the economy. The issue is how this real value is used. Is it used to advance socially useful outcomes which private individuals, through some failure of coordination, could not achieve? Or is it used to defend bondholders, industries, and institutions with which the policymakers are most closely aligned?

The Keynesian view is that government spending is simply a monolithic letter "G." Keynes cared little about the productivity or lack thereof to which public resources were devoted, even writing " If the Treasury were to fill old bottles with bank-notes, bury them at suitable depths in disused coal-mines which are then filled up to the surface with town rubbish, and leave it to private enterprise on well-tried principles of laissez-faire to dig the notes up again... there need be no more unemployment." The only difference between Keynes and Tim Geithner is evidently that Geithner prefers to place the bottles a bit closer to Wall Street...

By all appearances, Ben Bernanke has a four-second tape in his head that says "We let the banks fail during the Depression, and look what happened." Then the tape repeats. There is no subtlety that says, "yes, but we let the banks fail in the most disruptive and disorganized way possible, forcing them into piecemeal liquidation as Lehman had to do. Today, the FDIC is fully capable of preserving and transferring the operating entity while properly cutting away the failing bondholder and stockholder liabilities so that depositors and customers are not affected." This understanding would prove useful in the event we observe further credit strains.

Link via Mish

Asynchronous Reversible Computing
Reversible computers usually work in a synchronous mode, i.e., in the presence of clock signals, but in the light of the asynchronous nature of microscopic physical phenomena this may be an anomaly. The alternative, an asynchronous mode of operation, has therefore attracted attention from researchers, witness the proposal of a reversible circuit element in (Morita 2001) that works in such a mode. Simplicity of circuit elements like this is an important design objective since it correlates positively with the efficiency by which they may be realized physically...


The architecture of the human visual system, along with that of most animals, is tetrachromatic. The performance of the human system at very short wavelengths is blocked by the absorption of its own optics. Therefore it can be more properly described as a blocked tetrachromat instead of a trichromat.


Happy 4th of July
Last night, as part of a procedural vote on the emergency war supplemental bill, House Democrats attached a document that "deemed as passed" a non-existent $1.12 trillion budget. The execution of the "deeming" document allows Democrats to start spending money for Fiscal Year 2011 without the pesky constraints of a budget...

Never before -- since the creation of the Congressional budget process -- has the House failed to pass a budget, failed to propose a budget then deemed the non-existent budget as passed as a means to avoid a direct, recorded vote on a budget, but still allow Congress to spend taxpayer money... The measure does not satisfy even the most basic criteria of a budget resolution as set forth in the Congressional Budget Act.



Go to a party. Listen to the laughter, that brittle-tongued voice that says fun on the surface and fear underneath. Feel the tension, feel the pressure. Nobody really relaxes. They are faking it. Go to a ball game. Watch the fan in the stand. Watch the irrational fit of anger. Watch the uncontrolled frustration bubbling forth from people that masquerades under the guise of enthusiasm, or team spirit. Booing, cat-calls and unbridled egotism in the name of team loyalty. Drunkenness, fights in the stands. These are the people trying desperately to release tension from within. These are not people who are at peace with themselves. Watch the news on TV. Listen to the lyrics in popular songs. You find the same theme repeated over and over in variations. Jealousy, suffering, discontent and stress.


Before and After
Handful of big banks controlled 1/3 of the US assets before the crisis. Now they control 2/3.

Video 6m

The Economic Propaganda Machine
Video 6m
Cliff Edge
Get ready for the cliff-edge. Be maximum long duration of nominal government bonds in safe haven markets. This means US, UK, Germany, in that order, and perhaps others. Be long gold. Think the unthinkable.

Get ready for sub 2% on 10-yr USTs; sub 2% on 10-yr bunds; and the UK not far behind, 2.5% 10-yr Gilts. We strongly believe that a cliff-edge may be around the corner, for the global banking system (particularly in Europe), and for the global economy (particularly in the US/Europe).

Royal Bank of Scotland Report

Another iPhone rival. Like Windows Series 7 Mobile, some of the design elements are nicer/cleaner/simpler than the iPhone, but the UI performance is terrible - scroll lag, visible redraw, etc.


A Harvard study on major U.S. newspapers shows that the papers, when reporting on waterboarding, were drastically inconsistent about when they did and did not describe it as torture. When used by non-U.S. countries or groups, it was almost always described as torture. But when the technique was used by the U.S. after 2000, it was almost never described as torture.


[Patriot Act, collateral damage, Department of Defense...] The government owns the language that is used to describe the government's activities. And the reason that people are drawn to that language is because they don't like what the government is doing and so they need to cover it up... like covering a dead body with a sheet.

Video 5min

Communism and the Fall of Rome
Most emperors continued the policies of debasement and increasingly heavy taxes... At this point, in the third century A.D., the money economy completely broke down... This forced the state to directly appropriate whatever resources it needed wherever they could be found... Eventually, the state was forced to compel individuals to continue working and producing.

The result was a system in which individuals were forced to work at their given place of employment and remain in the same occupation, with little freedom to move or change jobs. Farmers were tied to the land, as were their children, and similar demands were made on all other workers, producers, and artisans as well. Even soldiers were required to remain soldiers for life, and their sons compelled to follow them...

People fled to the countryside and took up subsistence farming or attached themselves to the estates of the wealthy, which operated as much as possible as closed systems, providing for all their own needs and not engaging in trade at all. Meanwhile, much land was abandoned and remained fallow or fell into the hands of the state, whose mismanagement generally led to a decline in production.



In a real awakening, it is the dreamer that vanishers.

- Steven Norquist, The Haunted Universe

Jamaica vs Barbados
This American Life looks at two countries that dealt differently with their debt crises. Jamaica, which assumed further debt (the Keynesian/Krugman solution) and Barbados, which cut spending (the Austrian/Friedman solution). Can you guess how each turned out?

Podcast ~1hr

Fannie/Freddie Price Tag
Congressional Budget Office estimated that the mortgage buyers Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac could end up costing taxpayers $389 billion during the next decade.


It would seem that the claim that this wasn't a bailout and would be profitable for taxpayers might not have been entirely accurate.

Quote of the Day
Most people prefer to believe their leaders are just and fair even in the face of evidence to the contrary, because once a citizen acknowledges that the government under which they live is lying and corrupt, the citizen has to choose what he or she will do about it.

To take action in the face of a corrupt government entails risks of harm to life and loved ones. To choose to do nothing is to surrender one's self-image of standing for principles. Most people do not have the courage to face that choice. Hence, most propaganda is not designed to fool the critical thinker but only to give moral cowards an excuse not to think at all.

- Michael Rivero

Britain Raises VAT to 20%
The economic collapse death spiral: increased debt spending and followed by increased taxes with each wave being larger than the last.


Entropy USB Key
The Entropy Key uses P-N semiconductor junctions reverse biassed with a high enough voltage to bring them near to, but not beyond, breakdown in order to generate noise...


Stealth Shirt
Portugal Legalizes Drugs and Crime/Usage Falls
BBC Video 3m
Quote of the Day
When I disagree with Obama, people always say, "Well, you're a big Bush guy then." And I'm like no, I didn't like Bush either. I disagree with Bush and Obama on all the stuff they agree on, which is pretty much everything. They both want to kill people, they both want the government to be bigger, and they both want less freedom for individuals.

- Penn Jillette

Book: The Machinery of Freedom
David Friedman's book is now available free online. Recommended.


TARP: The Real Story
The Fed now holds $909 billion of mortgage-backed securities. In the past year it has purchased 73% of the mortgages that government-backed Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and Ginnie Mae have turned into securities. Purchases by the Treasury pushed total government purchases above $1 trillion. The Fed says it plans to top off its purchases at $1.25 trillion by the end of March, but must decide in the months ahead whether the economy is strong enough to stick with that plan.

- WSJ article

The mainstream media is reporting that TARP is being paid back and that this shows the economy is ok now and that the US public actually wasn't forced to assume the losses of the banks. AFAICS, the truth is that TARP was just one of many bailout programs. It was a hold over until the Fed and Treasury could spend $2T buying the overpriced junk bonds from the banks.

Genius of Design BBC Series
Quote of the Day
Anyone with a thorough understanding of existence is either silent or raving mad.

- Thomas Ligotti

Howard Zinn on War any discussion on war, at a certain point in the discussion, somebody would say "oh well, it's human nature"...

...the consequence of believing that war is the result of human nature is to place the blame for war on the citizenry and to take away the blame from the leaders of the nation who are driving the country into war.

Video 8m

The Decline of Rome: Inflation and Price Controls
Rome was forced to rely ever more heavily on debasement of the currency to raise revenue. By the reign of Emperor Claudius II Gothicus, who served from 268 to 270, the silver content of the principal coin, the denarius, was down to just 0.02%. As a consequence, prices skyrocketed. According to research by economist Prodromidis, a measure of Egyptian wheat that sold for 19 drachmas (a Greek coin used in Egypt, which was a province of Rome) in the middle of the third century had risen to 982 drachmas by the end of it, suggesting an average annual inflation rate of almost 9%.

At this point, the very survival of the state was at stake. Emperor Diocletian, who served from 284 to 305, attempted to stop the inflation with a far-reaching system of price controls. They were justified by Diocletian's belief that the inflation was due mainly to speculation and hoarding, rather than debasement of the currency.

In 301 Diocletian issued an extensive edict fixing the prices for just about all goods and services, including 900 commodities, 130 different grades of labor and a number of freight rates. The most complete version of the edict that we have takes up 100 pages in Tenney Frank's Economic Survey of Ancient Rome. The death penalty applied to violations of the edict. Nevertheless, they failed in their purpose. As Lactantius tells us, "much blood was then shed over small and cheap items." Soon there was nothing for sale and the inflation got worse. Finally, after "many had met their deaths, sheer necessity led to repeal of the law."


Government money printing resulting in hyper-inflation and being met with price controls leading to a breakdown of markets (e.g. food shortages) has happened many times in the past. It happened in post war germany, it happened 2003-2009 in Zimbabwe, and it's happening right now in Venezuela. Each time, the public forgets the lessons of the past and blames the market instead of the government and central banks.

A simple and robust SGML/HTML parsing library for Objective-C based on Matt Miller's libsgml.


VMs for Tiny Computers
Nils Gilman: Deviant Globalization
An interesting talk, but while Nils admits that communism was a complete failure, he keeps pointing to problems caused by socialist governments with oppressive regulations as problems of "capitalism".

Video 1hr30min

Regulations Creating Monopolies
...the power of the duopoly privilege enjoyed by Moody's and Standard & Poor's is what drew Warren Buffett to make his Berkshire Hathaway the biggest shareholder in Moody's.

"So state after state has regulations relating to insurance companies that ties in with the rating agencies. And the agencies are specified. And so I can't go to the XYZ rating agency and say, "Will you do this for half the price?", and have it accepted by anybody," Buffett said.


A Conversation with Alan Kay
If you look at software today, through the lens of the history of engineering, it's certainly engineering of a sort - but it's the kind of engineering that people without the concept of the arch did. Most software today is very much like an Egyptian pyramid with millions of bricks piled on top of each other, with no structural integrity, but just done by brute force and thousands of slaves.


There is No Money
So, the squandering governments in Northern Europe have pledged about a trillion dollars' worth of bailout money for the even more wasteful governments of Southern Europe. Everyone knows there will be some sort of default, but they do not expect this in the near term. It will be later. How much later? No one knows and no one cares. Until then, investors lend money to governments that will surely default. This is the foundation of international finance. It is also the basis of Social Security, Medicare, Federal pensions, and the municipal bond markets.

Most voters don't know and don't care. Politicians do know but don't care. There are no negative sanctions for continuing to pooh-pooh the inescapable reality of the unfunded liabilities of all Western governments. There are instant negative sanctions for any politician who admits the truth and publicly calls for the immediate reform and partial default of these programs. No one in the electorate wants to face the truth: either granny will get stiffed near-term or the working-age voters will get stiffed long-term.


Essay: Judd Furniture
Anyway, what kind of a society is it when you can't even buy a chair?


Quote of the Day
When people are free to do as they please, they usually imitate each other.

- Eric Hoffer

We are systems that, so to speak, look through their own representational structures as if they were in direct and immediate contact with their content.

...The respective data structures are being activated so fast and reliably that the system cannot recognize them as such anymore... simply because of a lower temporal resolution of meta-representational functions...

I think there has been no evolutionary selection pressure on the relevant parts of our functional architecture... We only needed to represent "there's a wolf there".. We did not need to represent the fact that "there's an active wolf representation in my brain now."

We operate under the condition I would call the naive realistic self misunderstanding. ...Metaphorically speaking, you are a system that constantly confuses itself with the content of it's own self model.

- Thomas Metzinger

Bill Moyers interview on Banking Oligarchy
The Economic Propaganda Machine
One of the basic principals of Keynesian economics is that you lower interest rates, create liquidity and thereby stimulate economic growth. This is basically saying that by increasing the paper currency supply, you can increase the production of real value within the society...

Hopefully that is intuitively illogical to anyone to begin with. If that were logical, you would just legalize counterfeiting and everyone would become wealthy.

Video 6m

Capitalist Sweden / Socialist Sweden
I didn't know that Sweden's school system was mostly private and based on vouchers.



Do you now, as you read this, consciously experience the dramatic incompleteness of your own visual model of the world? Do you consciously experience the expanse of nothingness behind your head?

- Thomas Metzinger, Being No One

vertex.js is a graph database inspired by filesystems that supports automatic garbage collection and is built on node.js and tokyocabinet. It uses HTTP as it's communication protocol and JSON for its request and response data format.


Economic Suicide
Publicly guaranteed debt is now financing 90% of US mortgages. So AFAICS, the banks are lending taxpayers money to lend home buyers money to buy overpriced assets. Then Fannie, etc then sell these mortgages to the banks and guarantee the returns on them - putting taxpayers on the hook for the losses on all defaults while the buyers of Fannie's bonds receive no-risk (nominally) profits.
Quote of the Day
Some years ago I myself made some observations on this aspect of nitrous oxide intoxication, and reported them in print. One conclusion was forced upon my mind at that time, and my impression of its truth has ever since remained unshaken. It is that our normal waking consciousness, rational consciousness as we call it, is but one special type of consciousness, whilst all about it, parted from it by the filmiest of screens, there lie potential forms of consciousness entirely different.

We may go through life without suspecting their existence; but apply the requisite stimulus, and at a touch they are there in all their completeness, definite types of mentality which probably somewhere have their field of application and adaptation. No account of the universe in its totality can be final which leaves these other forms of consciousness quite disregarded. How to regard them is the question,--for they are so discontinuous with ordinary consciousness. Yet they may determine attitudes though they fail to give a map.

At any rate, they forbid a premature closing of our accounts with reality. Looking back on my own experiences, they all converge towards a kind of insight to which I cannot help ascribing some metaphysical significance. The keynote of it is invariably a reconciliation. It is as if the opposites of the world whose contradictoriness and conflict make all our difficulties and troubles, were melted into unity.

- William James. The Varieties of Religious Experience

Marc Faber Quotes
"If deficits didn't matter as many like Economist James Galbraith argue today, why should citizens even pay taxes? It would make everyone happier if they didn't."

"If debt and money printing equaled prosperity then Zimbabwe would be the richest country."


Rubberhose transparently and deniably encrypts disk data, minimising the effectiveness of warrants, coersive interrogations and other compulsive mechanims, such as U.K RIP legislation. Rubberhose differs from conventional disk encryption systems in that it has an advanced modular architecture, self-test suite, is more secure, portable, utilises information hiding (steganography / deniable cryptography), works with any file system and has source freely available. Currently supported ciphers are DES, 3DES, IDEA, RC5, RC6, Blowfish, Twofish and CAST.


Interview with 27 Year CIA Veteran Ray McGover
Video 1hr
Latvian cyber-avenger
For months he was Latvia's cyber Robin Hood. After hacking into secret tax files, Ilmars Poikans, alias Neo, showed his compatriots how the country's elite lined their pockets during the crisis.

Link via Alexandros Pagidas

Rand Paul
Two videos address the controversy on Rand Paul wrt civil rights.

Stossel and Friedman

Freedomain on the BP Oil Spill
If it doesn't care about your children and it doesn't care about the lives of Iraqis and it doesn't care about people getting gang banged in prison, it's not going to care about your freaking shrimp...

No one in the government is going to loose their job because they failed to provide oversight to this.

Video 15min

Corporate Welfare
The Archer Daniels Midland Corporation (ADM) has been the most prominent recipient of corporate welfare in recent U.S. history. ADM and its chairman Dwayne Andreas have lavishly fertilized both political parties with millions of dollars in handouts and in return have reaped billion-dollar windfalls from taxpayers and consumers. Thanks to federal protection of the domestic sugar industry, ethanol subsidies, subsidized grain exports, and various other programs, ADM has cost the American economy billions of dollars since 1980 and has indirectly cost Americans tens of billions of dollars in higher prices and higher taxes over that same period. At least 43 percent of ADM's annual profits are from products heavily subsidized or protected by the American government. Moreover, every $1 of profits earned by ADM's corn sweetener operation costs consumers $10, and every $1 of profits earned by its ethanol operation costs taxpayers $30.

Cato article

Yes, I'm familiar with Jeffers. Like the members of VHEM, he has a sentimental, romanticized feeling for this planet and its life forms. People like Jeffers believe that there is something innately wonderful about the earth. There isn't. There's only the belief in some or most people's minds and the feeling in some or most people's bodies that there is something innately wonderful about the earth.

Plenty of people for various reasons do not share this belief and this feeling. Depressives, for instance. In his "Dejection: An Ode," Samuel Taylor Coleridge writes about some flowers or something: "I see, not feel, how beautiful they are." By this symptom alone, Coleridge could be declared as clinically depressed, and perhaps anhedonic, even if by the end of "Dejection" he starts feeling how beautiful things are. (How else could he have written the poem in the first place if he hadn't already recovered from the effects that inspired it?)

The beauty he saw before was all in his head. It's not in the interest of people in general to relegate the beauty that they see in the world, or the ugliness for that matter, to something outside themselves. This would signify that we're all trapped in a world of our own psycho-physical making. Next we would begin wondering if we're the way we think we are or if what we think we are is all in our imagination. That would demoralize or terrify most people.

- Thomas Ligotti, interviewed by Michael Gottert

Robert Anton Wilson on the word Is
James Perse Clothing
Good stuff, though not special enough to justify the prices IMO.


Save the Euro
In Europe, the ECB's plan to "save the Euro" consists of printing $1 trillion worth of Euros. Given that it is impossible to strengthen a currency by printing more of it, the real goal was not to save the "Euro" but to bail out European banks sitting on bad Greek debts.


Suzanne Segal
She was troubled deeply by the change in her. She said her personal identity disappeared and she began to live in terror. She describes her situation this way: "The personal self was gone, yet here was a body and a mind that still existed empty of anyone who occupied them. The experience of living without a personal identity, without an experience of being somebody, an "I" or a "me," is exceedingly difficult to describe, but it is absolutely unmistakable. It can't be confused with having a bad day or coming down with the flu or feeling upset or angry or spaced out. When the personal self disappears there is no one inside who can be located as being you. The body is only an outline, empty of everything of which it had previously felt so full. The mind, body, and emotions no longer referred to anyone-there was no one who thought, no one who felt, no one who perceived."

...In early 1997 X-Rays revealed a brain tumor. As the cancer progressed, she felt less connected with what she had called "the vastness". She died on April 1, 1997, age 42.


From this interview, it seems like she did gain some perspective:

There are many spiritual systems and traditions that say you should only live like this, you should only eat these things, you should dress like this, you should be celibate, you should this and this and this. One of the most important things that I think my life has been put here to convey to the West is that it doesn't look a certain way, that everything is there, too...

This means that looking for life to be a certain way comes completely out of the mind and its ideas of how things are supposed to be.


Long exasperated by questions without answers, by answers without consequences, by truths which change nothing, we learn to become intoxicated by the mood of mystery itself, by the odor of the unknown. We are entranced by the subtle scents and wavering reflections of the unimaginable./t

- Thomas Ligotti, The Spectral Estate

Talk: Tim Hunkin
"The Secret Life of Machines" creator talks about his latest projects.


Street wear is a distinctive style of fashion not to be confused with hip hop fashion. Its roots are in skateboarding and the "skatewear" of the 1980s. It was later adopted as an urban fashion in Japan before growing to an international business. An important element to the style is vintage or vintage-style sneakers.


Firmament Linienstrasse
Black iPhone Headphones
Sanders Gutted Audit the Fed Bill Passes Senate
A clever move by the banks to give the appearance of an audit without actually having one.


Btw, both Boxer and Feinstein voted against the Vitter amendment that would have restored the bill to a full audit.


Amazon S3 Command Line Tools
Somalia and Socialism
In 1970, under the influence of the Soviet Union, Barre transformed his military dictatorship into a socialist one... In 1975 all land was nationalized along with nearly all major industries and the financial sector...

State control of industry in Somalia created inefficiencies like in the Soviet Union. Between 1984 and 1988, for instance, the government-owned Kismayo Meat Factory was open only three months per year...

In the late 1970s Barre abandoned full-blown socialism to attract aid from the IMF. However, government continued to rely on central planning... In the 1980s there was only one bank in Somalia, state owned and operated. Government used it to keep afloat failing public firms and to reward political supporters. Only state enterprises or politically well-connected Somalis were able to obtain loans (Mubarak 1997).

Government also remained involved in most other important economic sectors. Livestock and pastoral-product exports have long been critical to Somalia''s economy. In the 70s Barre nationalized most of this trade, and continued to control it throughout the 80s.

Government restricted imports and exports and introduced a bewildering array of regulations. Foreign exchange controls were also strict. They required exporters to exchange at least half their foreign exchange earnings at the state-set rate, which in 1988 overvalued the Somali shilling to the US$ by more than 120 percent (Little 2003). This benefited wealthy political patrons who consumed imports but decimated Somalia''s export industry.

In the 1980s government turned to inflation to finance its corrupt and bankrupt projects. Between 1983 and 1990, average annual depreciation of the Somali shilling against the US$ was over 100 percent. In some years depreciation exceeded 300 percent (Little 2003). Hyperinflation destroyed the savings of Somalis who managed to accrue modest sums over time. It also incapacitated the monetary unit as a means of economic calculation...


Of course that can't happen in the US or Europe. The government hasn't been taking ownership of companies. It hasn't been removing civil liberties. It hasn't been moving towards one favored bank. It hasn't been using the printing press to finance it's unfunded government programs... Has it?

On the Greek Bailout
Looking at the current state of the world economy, the underlying reality remains little changed: there is more debt outstanding than is capable of being properly serviced.

It's certainly possible to issue government debt in order to bail out one borrower or another (and prevent their bondholders from taking a loss). However, this means that for every dollar of bad debt that should have been wiped off the books, the world economy is left with two - the initial dollar of debt that has been bailed out and must continue to be serviced, and an additional dollar of government debt that was issued to execute the bailout. [Greece stills owes ~$1T (just now to the ECB ) and the ECB now owes the banks a new $1T]

Notice also that the capital that is used to provide the bailout goes from the hands of savers into the hands of bondholders who made bad investments. We are not only allocating global savings to governments. We are further allocating global savings precisely to those who were the worst stewards of the world's capital. From a productivity standpoint, this is a nightmare. New investment capital, properly allocated, is almost invariably more productive than existing investment, and is undoubtedly more productive than past bad investment. By effectively re-capitalizing bad stewards of capital, at the expense of good investments that could otherwise occur, the policy of bailouts does violence to long-term prospects for growth.


Allandale House
The Drug War
It's time to stop pretending that feigned ignorance or political compromises remove responsibility. If you vote for candidates that support the war on drugs YOU are responsible for this.

video of swat team raid

Since I wrote Io and was forced to think more deeply about contexts and stacks, something about the notion of stacks has bothered me.

Locals contexts look like objects but they have certain asymmetries with objects. Stacks also seem very functionally oriented - on a high level, they feel like manipulations of data instead of a OO union of data and logic. Also, they create problems for the expression of objects in hardware which is perhaps the most telling point as OO as a paradigm seems so perfectly suited to hardware.

So the interesting thing about all this is that a fully asynchronous version of the actor model would allow for the elimination of stacks and for methods to become proper objects. The synchronization provided by stacks is replaced by the synchronization of actor queues and objects are responsible only for processing these messages in order instead of explicitly considering external synchronization.

Programming in this model raises a lot of questions and our first thoughts turn to how to implement stack-like behavior with actors. But what if we take the opposite position and try to listen to what this difficulty is telling us - that if our code feels like it needs stacks, we've structured it wrong to begin with. Where does that lead us?

Quote of the Day
This is great stuff, but why didn't you do it in Smalltalk?

- Charles Perkins at early NeXTstep developer demo

Interview: Frank Herbert and David Lynch
A port of UIKit for Mac OS X desktop.

github project


To be at eye level with the world clearly leads straight to nowhere; on the other hand, once your gaze slips off the horizontal, everything else goes with it. That is to say, no one can any longer vouch for your sanity. You have become... wayward./t

- Thomas Ligotti, Ten Steps to Thin Mountain

Emergency Taxes
Greece imposes emergency tax
Australia imposes 40% mining tax

If there is anyone who thinks this sort of thing can't happen in the US, I'd be happy to take the other side of that bet.

Grayson on the Fed
What we are seeing is under the guise of monetary policy, a vast transfer of wealth from the taxpayer to private interests. And that is accomplished through the guarantees by the Federal Reserve that are undisclosed, through loans that are undisclosed, through massive multi-billion dollar transactions that there is no accountability for.

Take the half a trillion dollars in foreign currency swaps that I just described. One man says he wants to do it, ten others say it's ok with them and over a thousand dollars for every man woman and child in this country is transferred overseas. And I asked the chairman who got that money and he said "I don't know."


Peter Schiff on what caused the housing bubble and how it's even worse now.


Future of Money Conference
Besides networking with some interesting folks (check out zipmark) the interesting bits were learning about Check21 which has the potential to create instant mobile payment systems to completely bypass the credit card companies and the secondary market deals that allow early IPO like stock incentives for employees of companies that may take a decade to go public.

Btw, the only reason these secondary market "illiquid assets" are illiquid is that the government makes it illegal to conduct open markets in them - by law, only the rich are allowed to purchase them. This is supposedly done to protect the poor/middle class from buying overpriced assets, but if this was really the goal, would the government have created institutions and tax incentives to encourage these same people to buy overpriced real estate costing 30x their yearly income?

Congress Members Bet on Fall in Stocks
Some members of Congress made risky bets with their own money that U.S. stocks or bonds would fall during the financial crisis, a Wall Street Journal analysis of congressional disclosures shows.

WSJ article

What I want to see is if they bet on the institutions they bailed out preceding the bailouts...

Jeff Hawkins: Hierarchical Temporal Memory
2010 02 22 talk video 1hr

I understood his original description of HTMs but didn't follow all of this new stuff. Can anyone point me to a clearer description?

Obama Admin to Fight Fed Audit
Obama administration officials have declined to weigh in on any specific amendments, with one exception: a move by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) to give the government more power to audit certain operations at the Federal Reserve. Fed and administration officials have signaled they would fight to stop it at all costs.

WSJ article

The Fortune Teller
music video 2m
Founders vs Professional CEOs
First, the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business just published an analysis of recent exits for high technology companies such as BlackBoard, BladeLogic, Concur, Danger, Liveperson, LogMeIn, and Netsuite. Looking across these nearly 50 companies, the study finds that founding CEOs consistently beat the professional CEOs on a broad range of metrics ranging from capital efficiency (amount of funding raised), time to exit, exit valuations, and return on investment.


I've heard the mantra that founders can't run companies repeated by many supposed experts (often VCs that want to insert their own CEOs which will in turn work to hand back more equity to the VCs by various means such as acquiring other companies funded by the same VCs) but never heard them cite anything beyond anecdotal evidence.

Now that it looks clear that they were wrong, how many of them will admit it? More importantly, how many people will continue listening to the unfounded pronouncements of these "experts" regardless of how often they are wrong?

Sony Mini USB Drives
Payback Lies
GM's phony bailout payback. Take $43 billion, borrow $7 billion, then pay back the $7 Billion with the money you took, borrow $10 billion more, and annouce you've 'paid back the loan'. Enron and Lehman got nothing on these guys.


A similar trick was used for the banking "paybacks". The financial institutions paid back bailout loans by selling overpriced junk bonds to the US Treasury who bought them by borrowing from the Fed. In other words, the banks where generous enough to lend the taxpayers the money to buy the bank's bad assets. Essentially, this amounts to a few trillion pulled out of taxpayers pockets and put into the pockets of the financial institution employee bonus payments.

And what does all this transfer of money mean in the end? As the government uses force to collect taxes, it makes the public the forced labor force of the banks.

Supra Summer 2010
Trailer: Nature by Numbers
Video 4m
Far more people in India have access to a mobile phone than functional sewage systems. Can you guess which one is controlled by the market and which is controlled by the government?


VDB Interview
Pere Urbon's short email interview with me on VertexDB.


The Food that Talks
"Whatever else we may be as creatures that go to and fro on the earth, we are also just meat. A cannibalistic tribe that once flourished had a word to describe what they ate. That word translates as ' the food that talks.'

Most of the food that humans have eaten over the course of our history has not talked. But it does make other noises, terrible sounds as it transitions from living prey to dead carcass on the slaughterhouse floor. If we could hear these sounds every time we ate a meal, would we still be the proficient gobblers of flesh that most of us are now?"

- Thomas Ligotti, The Clown Puppet

Drug Decriminalization
Another article on Portugal's data:

The Cato paper reports that between 2001 and 2006 in Portugal, rates of lifetime use of any illegal drug among seventh through ninth graders fell from 14.1% to 10.6%; drug use in older teens also declined. Lifetime heroin use among 16-to-18-year-olds fell from 2.5% to 1.8% (although there was a slight increase in marijuana use in that age group). New HIV infections in drug users fell by 17% between 1999 and 2003, and deaths related to heroin and similar drugs were cut by more than half. In addition, the number of people on methadone and buprenorphine treatment for drug addiction rose to 14,877 from 6,040, after decriminalization, and money saved on enforcement allowed for increased funding of drug-free treatment as well.


The Story of Your Enslavement

UPDATE: Thought it could use some background music: video



Healthcare Bill
Curious how older people are upset about a law requiring everyone to buy insurance for themselves, but not upset by laws forcing the young to pay for the insurance of the old via medicare, medicaid and social security.

Politics, n. A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles.

Copying and Theft
A new "Copying isn't theft" video was posted to BoingBoing.

By this logic, copying hundred dollar notes isn't theft and if someone printed billions of them and made your wages and cash savings worthless through inflation they would not have stolen from you.

UPDATE: I submitted this response to the BoingBoing comments and it was rejected.

As individuals, we profit from hypocrisy, this is true. But we realize its blessings most intensively when we band together into societies and societal institutions. Great nations and religions must be frontmost in hypocrisy, all of them having run up a record of crimes that, should they be brought to light, would commit them to a well-deserved decline or ruination.

"Well-deserved?" one might ask. By what laws, in a world a fabricated reality, should such entities be judged? Answer: by their own. Even further, it is not great nations and religions that compete with one another but their hypocrisies, their lies.

- Thomas Ligotti, The Conspiracy Against the Human Race

Quote of the Day
I feel that life is divided into the horrible and the miserable. That''s the two categories. The horrible are like, I don''t know, terminal cases, you know, and blind people, crippled. I don''t know how they get through life. It''s amazing to me. And the miserable is everyone else. So you should be thankful that you''re miserable, because that''s very lucky, to be miserable.

- Woody Alan, Annie Hall

Healthcare Bill Taxes
Healthcare Bill adds new taxes to medical devices, drugs and healthcare providers. Prediction: healthcare costs will only rise faster as a result of this bill.


David Lynch Sings
Ghost of Love
Imaginary Girl
Innocents Tortured to Justify War
Now, in a sworn declaration obtained exclusively by Truthout, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, who was chief of staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell during George W. Bush's first term in office, said Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld knew the "vast majority" of prisoners captured in the so-called War on Terror were innocent and the administration refused to set them free once those facts were established because of the political repercussions that would have ensued.


Seven Languages in Seven Weeks
Io gets you about as close to object oriented Lisp as you're likely to get...

excerpt of chapter on Io and full book

Quote of the Day
We were told to just shoot people, and the officers would take care of us.

- Iraqi War vet


Political vs Economic Means
The reason opponents of the recently legislated health care reform have such a high degree of certainty regarding the failure of the cost saving features of health care reform is simple. There can be no cost savings by substituting the economic means of allocating capital with the political means.

The health care industry, consuming 1/6th of the US economy, already sees somewhere in the neighborhood of 1/2 of all money being spent having some level of government as the consumer. Already, there are gross market distortions, but they were implemented gradually and piecemeal, with no obvious abrupt, identifiable effects. With the imposition of so-called reform, we have entered a phase of market manipulation where capital and resources will, more so than before, be allocated for political reasons, with a regard for economic reasons only as an unintended byproduct of government's intentional gaming of free market dynamics.

A market can be made more efficient by practices of contract law, transparency, the imposition of a system of debt liquidation, and a formalized mechanism dedicated to the preservation of private property rights. A market cannot achieve a greater degree of efficiency, in the form of lower prices, by government exercising the political means over the economic means when deciding how to allocate capital.


Quote of the Day
A liberal is someone who thinks the system is broken and needs to be fixed, whereas a radical understands it's working the way it's supposed to.


Chrome: Backbone Messenger Pack

One must picture everything in the world as an enigma. To live in the world as if in an immense museum of strangeness...

- Giorgio de Chirico

PWNAT: P2P without IPV6
pwnat, pronounced "poe-nat", is a tool that allows any number of clients behind NATs to communicate with a server behind a separate NAT with *no* port forwarding and *no* DMZ setup on any routers in order to directly communicate with each other. The server does not need to know anything about the clients trying to connect.

Link tested on Linux and OSX

See the "How it works" section - clever.

Healthcare Bill contains Capital Controls Clause
...on page 27, known as Offset Provisions - Subtitle A - Foreign Account Tax Compliance, institutes just that. In brief, the Provision requires that foreign banks not only withhold 30% of all outgoing capital flows (likely remitting the collection promptly back to the US Treasury) but also disclose the full details of non-exempt account-holders to the US and the IRS.


related Wegelin article on Swiss banking

Utah Takes Back Federal Land
Fed up with federal ownership of more than half the land in Utah, Republican Gov. Gary Herbert on Saturday authorized the use of eminent domain to take some of the U.S. government's most valuable parcels.


Five Suggestions for Banking Reform
... as we have seen in housing, banking, (and I suspect soon in higher education), an oversized safety net -- in which risk is ultimately fully borne by taxpayers -- results in wildly misdirected capital flows. And while at the time it all feels great, as we are now seeing, the ultimate consequences are devastating.

Over the past 80 years, while done with the noblest of intentions, we've traded bank runs for country runs. The sooner we address this risk, the better.


P21 Gene
The ability for mammals to regenerate damaged tissue without scarring has been demonstrated for the first time by a research team based at the Wistar Insitute, Philadelphia. Their findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last week.



... like everything else, even the most inviolable or obscure phenomena eventually find their way from good dreams into bad, or from bad dreams into the wholly abysmal./t

- Thomas Ligotti, The Troubles of Dr. Thoss

What to Expect from ObamaCare
We need look no further than Massachusetts, that implemented ObamaCare like reforms in 2006. Today, Massachusetts residents pay the highest premiums in the country. And worse, Mass Health, the state's medicaid program is rationing care. Mass Health denies 23.8 precent of claims - a far higher denial rate than private insurers.

Video 9m

Governments Faking SSL Certificates
Today two computer security researchers, Christopher Soghoian and Sid Stamm, released a draft of a forthcoming research paper in which they present evidence that certificate authorities (CAs) may be cooperating with government agencies to help them spy undetected on "secure" encrypted communications

EFF post

Tea Party Proposal
The Tea Party movement has been accused of being a shill for the Republican party and not actually concerned with spending or taxes. To counter this, I propose that all Tea Party activists be invited to sign (and swear to) a public petition saying that they will not vote for any candidate of any party who has voted to increase spending or taxes.
Health Insurance Bailout
If, when most of the provisions of the plan are in effect, it appears to be working very badly, if health insurance is more expensive than it used to be, if many younger workers find they are being required to spend a lot of money for insurance they don't want, there will be two political consequences...

The obvious solution is to find ways of pushing the costs of the program into the future... when the crunch comes the U.S. treasury will come to their rescue.


Quote of the Day
The Federal Reserve believes it is possible that, ultimately, its operating framework will allow the elimination of minimum reserve requirements...

- Ben Bernanke

Mish's article shows how this effectively happened when Greenspan allowed SWEEPS in 1994 (aka the beginning of the internet and housing bubbles).

History of US Health Care
During World War II, wage and price controls prevented employers from using wages to compete for scarce labor. Under the 1942 Stabilization Act, Congress limited the wage increases that could be offered by firms, but permitted the adoption of employee insurance plans. In this way, health benefit packages offered one means of securing workers. In the 1940s, two major rulings also reinforced the foundation of the employer-provided health insurance system... As a result of this tax-advantaged form of compensation, the demand for health insurance further increased throughout the 1950s (Thomasson 2003).


The US Telephone Monopoly
The demise of competition within the industry was brought about by three primary forces:

1. The removal of "wasteful" or "duplicative" competition through exclusionary licensing policies, misguided interconnection edicts, protected monopoly status for dominant carriers, and guaranteed revenues for those regulated utilities;

2. The mandated social policy of universal telephone entitlement, which called for a single provider to easily carry out regulatory orders; and

3. regulation of rates (through averaging and cross-subsidization) to achieve the social policy objective of universal service.[3]

The combination of these government-induced policies, which were introduced in rapid succession, was enough to kill telephone competition just as it was gaining momentum....

...once the nationalized system was in place, AT&T wasted no time applying for immediate and sizable rate increases. High service connection charges were put into place for the first time. AT&T also began to realize it could use the backing of the federal government to coax state commissions into raising rates. Vail personally sent Postmaster General Burleson studies that displayed the need to raise rates. By January 21, 1919, just 5 1/2 months after nationalization, long-distance rates had increased by 20 percent. In addition to being much greater than returns earned during more competitive years, the rates established by the postmaster during the year of nationalization remained in force many years after privatization. Consequently, AT&T's generous long distance returns continued to average near or above 20 percent during the 1920s.


Does the fact that nationalization destroyed competition and raised prices in the telephone industry suggest anything about what we might we expect of nationalization in the healthcare industry?

History of the Telephone Monopoly
After Bell's patents expired, there was an explosion of competition:

After seventeen years of monopoly, the United States had a limited telephone system of 270,000 phones concentrated in the centers of the cities, with service generally unavailable in the outlying areas. After thirteen years of competition, the United States had an extensive system of six million telephones, almost evenly divided between Bell and the independents, with service available practically anywhere in the country.



All space is virtual; the infinite is illusory.

- Thomas Ligotti, The Eternal Mirage

Debt Saturation
The latest U.S. Treasury Z1 Flow of Funds report was released on March 11, 2010, bringing the data current through the end of 2009. What follows is the most important chart of your lifetime...


Note: the word "productivity" is used loosely to mean GDP (which is measured in terms of exchanges, not value e.g. two parties could exchange 1 dollar, 100 trillion times and skyrocket the GDP without producing anything of value). Fractional reserve debt does not "create" productivity, it destroys it by theft. At first glance I'd say this chart is really a measure of the drag of that theft on the economy.

Mish on Deflation
At some point however, the stock market will start reacting to actual fundamentals, and at some point investors will stop believing nonsense about the nascent recovery. At that point liquidity will turn, marked to market valuations of debt will again nose-dive, and stocks will take a nasty turn with it.

In the meantime, those who continually tell me that price is what matters need to look at 14 out of 18 charts and tell me they signal deflation or impending deflation, because by their measure they do.


The caveat is that value/dollar going down can happen even while share/dollar goes up. ie you can't measure inflation by prices alone.

For example, how many companies depend on consumer debt to fund the purchases of their products? If such a company's stock drops by half, but more than half of it's sales disappear as credit dries up or consumer debt servicing approaches disposable income, has deflation or inflation occurred?

A minimal, zero-config, BSD licensed, readline replacement [in less than 400 lines of code].


Acronym S-LA2 Cotton Shirt


Supra Red Carpet Series
Census and Japanese Internment
Two scholars say in a new research paper that despite earlier denials, the Census Bureau was deeply involved in the roundup and internment of Japanese Americans at the onset of U.S. entry into World War II.

NYT article

Stossel on the Bailouts
Video 7m
Santok iPod Boombox
Pinker on Violence
Video 21m
DBA Products
Beautiful minimalist design.



There is one respect in which we, the inhabitants of the unholy city, diverge from all other others in this world, who are so caught up in the game that is going on, who identify so completely with the parts they have been given to play in this stage show universe that they actually believe themselves to be somebody or something.

We on the other hand suffer from no such delusions. We are nobodies. We are nothings. And even to speak in such terms may be claiming too much for ourselves. Which is to say that we are just like everyone else. While they, without ever knowing or suspecting the true facts, are just like us.

- Thomas Ligotti, Nobody is Anybody

Time Machine, Designed to Fail
A little searching on the web reveals that there's a list of stuff Time Machine doesn't back up which, on a normal MacOS client machine might be OK, but for a server is disastrous. The list, stored at

/System/Library/CoreServices/backupd.bundle/Contents /Resources/StdExclusions.plist

Link via rentzsch

Katana Release
Thanks to everyone that sent feedback on Katana beta. There's a new release today with lots of new features and fixes. If you get a chance, please send me your thoughts and suggestions.


TRON Legacy Desktops
0 1 2 3
BECNF Theory
Theory of Bose-Einstein condensation nuclear fusion (BECNF) has been developed to explain many diverse experimental results of deuteron induced nuclear reactions in metals, observed in electrolysis and gas loading experiments.

The theory is based on a single conventional physical concept of Bose-Einstein condensation of deuterons in metal and provides a consistent theoretical description of the experimental results. The theory is capable of explaining most of the diverse experimental observations, and also has predictive powers as expected for a quantitatively predictive physical theory.

It is shown that the fusion energy transfer to metal can be accomplished by the stopping power of metal without invoking hypothesis of fusion energy transfer to metal lattice vibrations. It is also shown that observed anomalous tritium production can be explained by a sub-threshold resonance reaction mechanism. The basic concept and important features of the BECNF theory is presented, and theoretical explanations of the experimental observations are described. Key experimental tests of theoretical predictions are proposed and discussed.

Purdue paper, Jan 2010

They propose experiments to verify the theory and suggest that output may be enhanced by higher pressure, lower temperature, and denser deuteron clusters on palladium film which can be produced using modern nano-fabrication techniques.

Inflation or Deflation Prediction
I keep getting asked which way I expect this depression to go and have to keep answering that it isn't clear yet, but I'm guessing the clearest sign (for the US) will be whether or not the US Federal government and/or Federal Reserve allow states to start defaulting on debt or pension obligations or whether they set up some program to start purchasing state and city level debt. If they don't, I expect severe deflation, if they do, I'd bet on high or possibly hyper inflation.
Installing Io via Homebrew
Installing Homebrew:

You'll need to install XCode first. Then:

    sudo mkdir /usr/local
    sudo chown -R [yourUserName] /usr/local
    curl -L
IRS to start tracking Paypal payments
Prepare to start paying income tax for every tchotchke you sell on eBay.


Germann House
How the State Mandates Urban Sprawl
sprawl - an umbrella term for the pattern of development seen virtually everywhere in the United States - is not caused by the free market. It is, rather, mandated by a vast and seemingly intractable network of government regulations, from zoning laws and building codes to street design regulations.


I also suspect underpriced credit created by the central banks (again, an intervention of the state) played no small part creating the funding for strip malls. When credit is tighter, development is necessarily incremental and additive.

Homebrew Package Manager
Good article on using and contributing to Homebrew.


Maximally Computable Universe
Take a computing machine generation function M(i). The resulting output bit stream of a machine will be R(M(i)) or r(i) for short. The correlation between the output bits of two machines is: C(r(i), r(j)) or c(i, j) for short. We'll define the "maximally computable" I to be the i with the max value for Sum(j, c(i, j)).

Hypothesis: The universe that a random observer (such as ourselves) will most likely find themselves in is described by the M(I) bit stream.

Obama and the Truth
As it happened, that night Barack Obama made an even bolder (read: less truthful) claim: that "we've excluded lobbyists from policymaking jobs."

In fact, more than 40 former lobbyists work in the administration, including such policy makers as...


Released a new version that is free for images and only requires a license for viewing movies.

WebGrazer3 for OSX

The Tao of Programming

At some point in the development of most programmers it becomes clear that the fundamental problem of programming is dealing with the complexity that arises from interactions between state and behavior.

The most obvious approach to a solution is to label one of these elements as evil and attempt to remove or suppress it. For example, functional programming attempts to remove state and declarative programming attempts to remove behavior. When either fails, it explains it's failures in terms of it's own assumptions - as lack of purity, as having not sufficiently suppressed what it has labeled evil.

Taoism has a similar concept of how complexity arises through the interaction of yin and yang but it rejects the notion that either is evil and instead focuses on the idea of balance. From this perspective, object oriented programming might be seen as a Taoist programming philosophy. Instead of rejecting state or behavior, a balance is sought by combining the two into small worlds of interaction in ways that minimize net communication while still accepting that it must take place.

Facebook app: Mall World
My friend Jack Wu just released the most polished FB app I've seen.

Mall World

TRON Legacy Trailer
Meaning and Muse
Radically new patterns of personal relationships and general life circumstances do occasionally disrupt things, but these instances are exceedingly rare, and they're often tamed and even counteracted by a kind of existential gravity that inexorably pulls our lives back into what comes increasingly to seem like a predetermined shape...

Can you grasp what it would be like to understand your life's trajectory in terms of meaning, in the same way that you find meaning in music, literature, films, and so on - and to refer the resulting truths and patterns to the influence of a deep aspect of yourself that's guiding you through life and creating exactly the circumstances that are vitally necessary for you to encounter, experience, know, and respond to?

Equally to the point, can you grasp what it would be like to look around and realize that everybody else is similarly engaged?


James Turk on the Money Supply
March 1, 2010:

The Federal Reserve reports M1 to be $1,716 billion as of February 15th. When deposit currency created by the Federal Reserve is added to the traditional definition of M1, M1 after adjustment is actually 170% higher at $2,918 billion. Its annual growth increases to 29.5%, nearly 3-times the rate reported by the Fed and more importantly, is an annual rate of growth in the quantity of dollar currency that is approaching hyperinflationary levels.

This restatement of M1 explains why crude oil is back at $80 per barrel; copper is $3.25 per pound; and commodity prices in the main are rising in the face of weak economic conditions.


Documentary: Front 242
Kiila Lounge XP
Gorillaz: Stylo
Music video
A Perfect World
Assuming that anything has to exist, my perfect world would be one in which everyone has experienced the annulment of his or her ego. That is, our consciousness of ourselves as unique individuals would entirely disappear. We would still function as beings that needed the basics—food, shelter, and clothing—but life wouldn’t be any more than that. It wouldn’t need to be. We would be content just to exist.

There’'s only one problem in this world: none are content with what they have. We always want something else, something “more.” And then when we get it, we still want something else and something more. There is no place of satisfaction for us. We die with regrets for what we never did and will never have a chance to do. We die with regrets for what we never got and will never get. The perfect manner of existence that I’m imagining would be different than that of most mammals, who feed on one another and suffer fear due to this arrangement, much of it coming at the hands of human beings.

We would naturally still have to feed, but we probably would not be the omnivorous gourmands and gourmets that we presently are. Of course, like any animal we would suffer from pain in one form or another—, that’s the essence of existence—, but there wouldn’t be any reason to take it personally, something that escalates natural pain to the level of nightmare.

I know that this kind of world would seem terribly empty to most people - —no competition, no art, no entertainment of any kind because both art and entertainment are based on conflict between people, and in my world that kind of conflict wouldn’t exist. There would be no ego-boosting activities such as those which derive from working and acquiring more money than you need, no scientific activity because we wouldn’t be driven to improve the world or possess information unnecessary to living, no religious beliefs because those emerge from desperations and illusions from which we would no longer suffer, no relationships because those are based on difference and in the perfect world we’'d all be the same person, as well as being integrated into the natural world.

Everything we did would be for practical purposes in order to satisfy our natural needs. We wouldn’'t be enlightened beings or sages because those ways of being are predicated on the existence of people who live at a lower epistemological stratum.

- Thomas Ligotti

Eastern Sun: Rapture at Sea

Song 7m

The Red Tower
I myself have never seen the Red Tower - no one ever has, and possibly no one ever will. And yet wherever I go people are talking about it. In one way or another they are talking about the nightmarish novelty items or about the mysterious and revolting hyper-organisms, as well as babbling endlessly about the subterranean system of tunnels and the secluded graveyard whose headstones display no names and no dates designating either birth or death.

Everything they are saying is about the Red Tower, in one way or another, and about nothing else but the Red Tower. We are all talking and thinking about the Red Tower in our own degenerate way.

I have only recorded what everyone is saying (though they may not know they are saying it), and sometimes what they have seen (though they may not know they have seen it). But still they are always talking, in one deranged way or another, about the Red Tower.

- Thomas Ligotti, The Red Tower


The problem with the near perfect design of the original Gallardo is that changes tend to only make it worse.

The Illegal AIG Bailout
So what did Geithner do? He took equity, but he used a fictitious "Trust" to accomplish that which he could not do legally...

The brute fact that now standing exposed before us is the use of an invalid Trust structure to conceal the unlawful ownership and control over 77.9% of AIG's equity and voting rights by the FED. If Geithner knew he was breaking the law, then this just happens to be the definition of criminal money-laundering under Title 18, Section 1956.


Nirvana Radio
Ambient, Meditation and Relaxation radio streams
Globe Zero Sofa
Depressives and Insight
His depression left him "not able to do anything one day out of three," choking on his "bitter mortification." He despaired of the weakness of mind that ran in his family. "The race is for the strong," Darwin wrote. "I shall probably do little more but be content to admire the strides others made in Science..."

Several studies found an increase in brain activity (as measured indirectly by blood flow) in the VLPFC of depressed patients. Most recently, a paper to be published next month by neuroscientists in China found a spike in "functional connectivity" between the lateral prefrontal cortex and other parts of the brain in depressed patients, with more severe depressions leading to more prefrontal activity.

One explanation for this finding is that the hyperactive VLPFC underlies rumination, allowing people to stay focused on their problem. (Andrews and Thomson argue that this relentless fixation also explains the cognitive deficits of depressed subjects, as they are too busy thinking about their real-life problems to bother with an artificial lab exercise; their VLPFC can't be bothered to care.) Human attention is a scarce resource - the neural effects of depression make sure the resource is efficiently allocated.

NYT article

Short Film: Connected
Video 8m
Obama FY2011 Budget
In his recent State of the Union address, President Obama pledged to "go through the budget line by line to eliminate programs that we can't afford and don't work." One week later, he sent his FY2011 budget request to Congress, which included a record-breaking $3 billion in military aid to Israel.


Supra NS Cutter
Greek Sovereign Debt
When Greece joined the EU in 1980, all that changed. It was party time. Money that was sent to build the Greek infrastructure was funneled pretty much directly into the pockets of the oligarchy as well as the new Socialist oligarchy that emerged.

This was not chump change. It was 6% of GDP for 30 years. With the exception of farmers, who did extremely well off of the Common Agricultural Policy, the rest of the money went pretty much straight to Swiss bank accounts. As an example, Greece has paid 250% over list for F16's and Mirage fighters and has spent EUR 750 million for an airport that was built by the same company that originally bid EUR 220 million for the project. No prizes for guessing what happened there. Once the addiction to easy money set in, the government of Greece was transformed from a lean provider of defense, basic health, basic education, a basic road network and extremely basic pensions to an auctioneer of projects to the oligarchy.

The families who control business in Greece used a system of bribes the government was happy to accept and set up a newspaper each to deliver threats its members would rather not. Sticks and carrots, and lots of Euros. And once the system was established, there was no need to stick to the money that was coming from the EU. ERM entry cost our politicians the printing press, but thanks to low EUR rates, the government could now service previously unthinkable amounts of debt with impunity. A residual part of that money may have ended up in useful projects, but the bulk ended up in the pockets of the twenty families who run Greek business.


Poor Choose Private over Free Public Schools
But what Tooley found, in four years of site visits and a five-country study described in his book The Beautiful Tree, throws a wrench in this familiar-sounding reasoning. Between two-thirds and three-fourths of students in the impoverished areas he studied were in fact attending these allegedly nonexistent schools, even when public options were available.... They are also achieving better results: the students in private schools outperformed their public school peers in nearly every subject they were tested in.


Fed Lost $12 Billion in cash shipped to Iraq
Henry Waxman: In a 13 month period from May 2003 to June 2004, the Federal Reserve sent nearly $12 billion in cash, mainly in $100 bills from the United States to Iraq. To do that, the Federal Reserve Bank in New York had to pack 281 million individual bills ... onto wooden pallets to be shipped to Iraq. The cash weighed more than 363 tons and was loaded onto C-130 cargo planes to be flown into Baghdad...


Quote of the Day
If the Nuremberg principles were applied, every post-WWII U.S President would be given the death sentence for war crimes

- Noam Chomsky interviewed by Bill Zimmerman

Small States are Successful States
1 in 4 US Mortgages in Negative Equity

So because the government guaranteed returns on home loans to encourage home ownership and distorted interest rates, tens of millions of people are in bought overpriced homes and are now in negative equity and trillions in debt has been stolen from the taxpayers and given to the banks. Each new intervention to "fix" the problem has been larger and caused more economic damage than the last. Where will this end?

NYT on Climate Change
Evidence is emerging that the data had been rigged all along. Russian analysts noted that British temperature calculations excluded data from 40 percent of Russian territory, much of which showed no increase in temperature in the past 50 years. The U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration also cherry-picked data, cutting Canadian data sources from 600 to 35 and relying on only one monitor for all of Canada above the Arctic Circle. This was done even though Canada operates 1,400 weather stations, 100 of which are in the Arctic.

NYT editorial

Quote of the Day
Hope deceives more men than cunning does.

- Vauvenargues

Book: The Conspiracy against the Human Race
Now available for pre-order.


UK Keynesianism
Britain has been following the mainstream prescriptions of his [ John Maynard Keynes] followers more than any developed nation. It has cut interest rates, pumped up government spending, printed money like crazy, and nationalized almost half the banking industry.

Short of digging Karl Marx out of his London grave, and putting him in charge, it is hard to see how the state could get more involved in the economy.

The results will be dire. The economy is flat on its back, unemployment is rising, the pound is sinking, and the bond markets are bracketing the country with Greece and Portugal in the category marked "bankruptcy imminent."


This could equally well describe US Federal Reserve and Treasury economic policy. How many economies does Keynesianism need to destroy before it's considered a failure?

Montana Speed Limit Repeal
For years, motorists' advocates have used engineering-based facts against artificially low speed limits. They have claimed that by raising speed limits to reasonable levels, accident and fatality rates will actually be reduced.

This seemingly wild assertion has been documented by the traffic engineering profession for 50 plus years. This fact-based position has again been proven to be true by the repeal of the National Speed Limit. The nation has recorded the lowest highway fatality rate since such records have been kept.


Engadget on Series 7
The design and layout of 7 Series' UI (internally called Metro) is really quite original, utilizing what one of the designers (Albert Shum, formerly of Nike) calls an "authentically digital" and "chromeless" experience. What does that mean? Well we can tell you what it doesn't mean -- no shaded icons, no faux 3D or drop shadows, no busy backgrounds (no backgrounds at all), and very little visual flair besides clean typography and transition animations



I'd love to see this trend spread to other mobile devices, as well as web and desktop UIs. Amazing to see MS leapfrogging Apple on UI design.


I do wish the typography was less stylized though (cut-off lettering, etc), and the remaining boxes (plusses, box "icons") and unnecessary animations and colors were removed. Also, there are a lot of small details that are poorly done - like the "Call" and "Save" buttons on the dialer.
2011 US Federal Budget
Has more revenue from debt than from taxes. This won't end well.

PDF via reddit

Supra TK


Stone Island Shadow SS-2010 Shirt


Ripple Payment System
Other alternative (to standard public clearing houses such as ACH) payment/monetary systems already exist, including internet currencies such as PayPal, and local currencies, such as LETS.

Ripple is fundamentally different from both these models in that it provides a level playing field that treats all participants equally. Both PayPal and LETS are modelled on a single central authority that issues obligations based on its policy and handles the accounting of payments between leaf nodes.

In Ripple, no node has any greater or lesser capability than any other node -- this is acknowledgement that every participant in a debt-based monetary system does in fact issue their own currency (or obligations). A node's connectedness is based on the trust of the other participants and nothing else.

Wikipedia article

The Federal Poisoning Program
Frustrated that people continued to consume so much alcohol even after it was banned, federal officials had decided to try a different kind of enforcement. They ordered the poisoning of industrial alcohols manufactured in the United States, products regularly stolen by bootleggers and resold as drinkable spirits. The idea was to scare people into giving up illicit drinking. Instead, by the time Prohibition ended in 1933, the federal poisoning program, by some estimates, had killed at least 10,000 people.


Ricky Gervais on Atheism
Video 2m
Conference: The Future of Money
Hotel Kabuki
San Francisco, CA
Monday, April 26, 2010
9am - 6pm + cocktail party


Windows Phone 7
On first glance, the UI looks cleaner and sexier than the iPhone.


Brick Lamp
Quote of the Day
The more I study religions the more I am convinced that man never worshipped anything but himself.

- Sir Richard Francis Burton

Kansas Affirms Sovereignty
...the State of Kansas hereby claims sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States over all powers not otherwise enumerated and granted to the federal government by the Constitution of the United States.


Kudos to Kansas. Now lets see if Kansas:

  1. stops prosecuting for unconstitutional federal crimes
  2. releases prisoners held for such crimes
  3. arrests Federal officers attempting to enforce such laws
  4. raids Kansas Federal prisons to release such prisoners
    The Case Against DMT Elves
    The archetypal DMT "entities" are pretty well categorized, with most people seeing elves or aliens or fairies or angels or some kind of loopy little spirits that dance about and tell riddles... the times that I did see elves I tried very hard to press them into giving up some non-transient feature that would confirm at least a rudimentary "autonomous existence" beyond my own imagination.

    Of course, I could not. Whenever I tried to pull any information out of the entities regarding themselves, the data that was given up was always relevant only to me. The elves could not give me any piece of data I did not already know, nor could their existence be sustained under any kind of prolonged scrutiny. Like a dream, once you realize you are dreaming you are actually slipping into wakefulness and the dream fades. So it is with the elves as well. When you try to shine a light of reason on them they dissolve like shadows


    Box Light
    Quote of the Day
    The graveyards are full of indispensable men.

    - Charles de Gaulle

    Defakto Watches

    Not being seen allows a god to have much greater powers without the human analog constantly being bothered to perform miracles. The Priests still get bothered some, but they can simply promise to "put in a good word." They can also much more plausibly ask for money than can someone claiming to be omnipotent.

    - God Wants You Dead via Operator Speaking

    OAuth + HTTP + XMPP for distributed financial data exchange.


    CA Sheriff makes $640K/year
    The tip of the kleptocracy iceberg that is sinking governments around the world.


    Keynesian Economists Track Record
    The Four Assumptions of Statists
    that authority...
    confers virtue...
    bestows wisdom...
    implies benevolence...
    creates wealth


    The Existential Nihilism of Bill Murray
    The Sorry State of Payment Standards
    There are many reasons why banking related standards are complex. Most of them are historical. For example banks still operate 5 days a week with close of business at some time like 6pm decided many decades ago by gentlemen in top hats. Of course they do work 24 hours but all their processes are still based on this pre online world.


    Dasic Architects
    TRON Coffee Table
    Dr. Norman Finkelstein at the University of Waterloo
    Every single member of my family on both sides was exterminated. Both of my parents were in the Warsaw ghetto uprisings. And it is precisely and exactly because of the lessons my parents taught me and my two siblings that I will not be silent when Israel commits it's crimes against the Palestinians.

    And I consider nothing,more despicable than to use their suffering and their martyrdom to try to justify the torture, the brutalization, the demolition of homes, that Israel daily commits against the Palestinians.

    So I refuse any longer to be intimidated or browbeaten by the tears. If you had any heart in you, you would be crying for the Palestinians...

    Video 3m

    Solar Fields: Dust
    music video
    Language and Social Structure
    That we use the word "please" (meaning compliance is voluntary and will be reciprocated) on imperative statements suggests that the default imperative implies the threat of force and no reciprocation. If languages evolve such that shorter expressions represent the more common semantic case, does this tell us something about our society?
    NYT on the iPad
    The iPad bet could prove a loser for Apple. Some skeptics see it occupying an uncertain ground between an iPod and a notebook computer, and a pricey gadget as well, at $499 to $829. Do recall, though, that when the iPod was introduced in 2001, critics joked that the name was an acronym for "idiots price our devices." And we know who had the last laugh that time.


    To be fair, one would also have to mention that Apple has had it's share of flops e.g. the Apple Cube, iPod HiFi, etc.

    TokyoCabinet Persistence for Objective-C
    Significantly faster than SQLite. See the Readme file for details.


    Homebrew Package Manager for OSX
    Homebrew uses the GoboLinux approach - packages are installed in a single folder with the package name. eg:
      ../FOO/[bin, include, lib, ..]
    instead of scattered across the file system eg:
      ../lib/FOO, ../include/FOO, ../lib/FOO


    Comet with node.js and V8
    A presentation on how to build realtime web applications using node.js, V8 and WebSockets.


    An open implementation of Chaum's digicash algorithm?


    Criticism of Verlinde's Gravity Theory
    So we had defined change of entropy for our screen, and that lead us to a Newtonian force. Now, to me, it seems that it only was able to lead us to such a force because we already knew the Newtonian definitions. Force didn't arise, we just continued the analogy. The fact that we got evidence of Newtonian Mechanics isn't remotely surprising here nor does it seem significant. Verlinde continues this logic through to arrive at the Newtonian definition of gravitational force.


    I still haven't read the original paper, but this particular criticism seems weak as Newtonian mechanics have been shown to drop out time and space symmetry via Noether's theorem.

    If there is an entropic argument for why information should produce these symmetries, then perhaps Verlinde's theory could be seen as a natural extension of Noether's theorem into information theory.

    Intelligence Amplification and Chess
    The winner was revealed to be not a grandmaster with a state-of-the-art PC but a pair of amateur American chess players using three computers at the same time. Their skill at manipulating and "coaching" their computers to look very deeply into positions effectively counteracted the superior chess understanding of their grandmaster opponents and the greater computational power of other participants.


    Qwstion Backpack


    Iolaus is a git porcelain which uses some code and ideas from an older SCM I created called darcs. Thus Iolaus is kin to Easy Git, Yap, darcs-git, vng, StGIT, Guilt and TopGit.


    Dawkins on Pat Robertson
    Educated apologist, how dare you weep Christian tears, when your entire theology is one long celebration of suffering: suffering as payback for 'sin' - or suffering as 'atonement' for it? You may weep for Haiti where Pat Robertson does not, but at least, in his hick, sub-Palinesque ignorance, he holds up an honest mirror to the ugliness of Christian theology. You are nothing but a whited sepulchre.


    David Ungar Stanford Talk
    David talks about the history of Self and shares his perspective on career choices. Recommended.


    This is a parser for HTTP messages written in C. It parses both requests and responses. The parser is designed to be used in performance HTTP applications. It does not make any allocations, it does not buffer data, and it can be interrupted at anytime. It only requires about 136 bytes of data per message stream (in a web server that is per connection).


    Internets vs the iPad
    Remember when the iPhone was announced? No 3G? No MMS? No apps? No replaceable battery?.. And what happened? Well, Apple has become the largest mobile device company in the world.


    Documentary: Synth Britannia
    It may be a killer platform, but I was expecting Apple to release a killer app. Will be interesting to see what third 3rd parties come up with.
    Entropic Force
    If the two free ends of an ideal chain are attached to some kind of micro-manipulation device, then the device experiences a force exerted by the polymer. The ideal chain's energy is constant, and thus its time-average, the internal energy, is also constant, which means that this force necessarily stems from a purely entropic effect.

    This entropic force is very similar to the pressure experienced by the walls of a box containing an ideal gas. The internal energy of an ideal gas depends only on its temperature, and not on the volume of its containing box, so it is not an energy effect that tends to increase the volume of the box like gas pressure does. This implies that the pressure of an ideal gas has a purely entropic origin.


    More on Gravity from Entropy
    The statement that gravity is an entropic force is more then just saying that "it has something to do with thermodynamics". It says that motion and forces are the consequence of entropy differences.

    My idea is that in a theory in which space is emergent, forces are based on differences in the information content, and that very general random microscopic processes cause inertia and motion. The starting point from which this all can be derived can be very, very general. In fact we don't need to know what the micrco-scopic degrees of freedom really are. We only need a few basic properties.

    For me this was an "eye opener"... It is clear to me now that it has to be this way. There is no way to avoid it: if one does not keep track of the amount of information, one ignores the origin of motion and forces. It clarifies why gravity has something to do with entropy. It has to, it can not do otherwise.


    Will physics embrace informational monism before philosophy does?

    Gravity from Entropy
    Starting from first principles and general assumptions, Newton's law of gravitation is shown to arise naturally and unavoidably in a theory in which space is emergent through a holographic scenario. Gravity is explained as an entropic force caused by changes in the information associated with the positions of material bodies. A relativistic generalization of the presented arguments directly leads to the Einstein equations. When space is emergent even Newton's law of inertia needs to be explained. The equivalence principle leads us to conclude that it is actually this law of inertia whose origin is entropic.

    Paper and more (see bottom post)

    Being No One
    What I want to point out is that there is a very important central term - the notion of a first person perspective and the notion of a self from which this first person perspective originates.

    In philosophy it is very fashionable these days to say things like first person facts are not reducible to third person facts, but nobody ever asks what a first person perspective is and what a self is and this is what I will try to do.


    Steve Keen Google Talk
    Keen presents lots of good data, but his model of "capitalism leading to unstable cycles" fails to account for the role of the central banks allowing massive credit bubbles that could not happen in a free banking system as interest rates would rise as leverage increases, providing negative feedback on credit expansion.


    Google Using Lua
    Porro Storage
    David Faber: Do you believe Japan is in a position where it might default and/or devalue its currency as well, in the next 3-4 years?

    Kyle Bass: I do not think Japan has a way out of this.

    David Faber: Why Not?

    Kyle Bass: You have a secular decline in population, and you have a huge funding structure at below market rates. So Japan's weighted cost of capital is only 1.4% and their sovereign balance sheet is much worse than the rest of the developed world. If their cost of capital goes up 250 basis points [ie 2.5%], their interest expenses of the government will exceed their total government revenue...


    FDIC Removes Capital Requirements
    Bankrupt banks told to give more loans.


    Ketamine Coma Therapy for RSD
    Video 1
    Video 2

    80% success rate according to the 2nd report.

    "So you think that money is the root of all evil?" said Francisco d'Anconia. "Have you ever asked what is the root of money? Money is a tool of exchange, which can't exist unless there are goods produced and men able to produce them. Money is the material shape of the principle that men who wish to deal with one another must deal by trade and give value for value. Money is not the tool of the moochers, who claim your product by tears, or of the looters, who take it from you by force. Money is made possible only by the men who produce. Is this what you consider evil?"

    "When you accept money in payment for your effort, you do so only on the conviction that you will exchange it for the product of the effort of others. It is not the moochers or the looters who give value to money. Not an ocean of tears not all the guns in the world can transform those pieces of paper in your wallet into the bread you will need to survive tomorrow. Those pieces of paper, which should have been gold, are a token of honor--your claim upon the energy of the men who produce. Your wallet is your statement of hope that somewhere in the world around you there are men who will not default on that moral principle which is the root of money, Is this what you consider evil?"

    - Ayn Rand via Peter William Lount

    New Money Market Law
    A key proposal in the overhaul of money market regulation suggests that money market fund managers will have the option to "suspend redemptions to allow for the orderly liquidation of fund assets." ... Money Market funds, which account for nearly 40% of all investment company assets. The next time there is a market crash, and you try to withdraw what you thought was "absolutely" safe money, a back office person will get back to you saying, "Sorry - your money is now frozen. Bank runs have become illegal."

    ZeroHedge article

    Another "heads we win, tails you lose" law to "regulate" our supposedly free market.

    Housing Prices
    The quote is the headline of a story on CNN money. The author seems to take it for granted that it is good for housing to cost more, bad for it to cost less. I don't know if it has occurred to him that every time a house is sold, it is also bought, and that while a lower price is bad news for the seller, it is good news for the buyer.

    - David Friedman
    The Bells Will Sound Forever
    At midnight on January 29th/30th, Resonance FM will broadcast a reading of Ligotti's "The Bells Will Sound Forever", with Mordant Music providing a "sonic backdrop". Details are as yet sketchy: my main sources are this page and the schedule on the Resonance website.

    Mordant Music being who they are, there is a fair chance that we are in for an audiohallucinatory treat on par with I Have a Special Plan for This World

    - Viva June

    The Typographic Desk Reference
    Review: Kanto SYD5


    A decent stereo for a small apartment - especially when coupled with an Apple Airport Express. It's not audiophile quality (deep bass as in this track sounds warbly - perhaps because the bass is vibrating the treble speakers, which is why these are best kept seperate) but it's fine for pop music and it's nice to not have to deal with the typical mess of cables, speakers and amp.
    What Keynesianism has Accomplished in Japan
    Japan has the highest debt-to-GDP level of any industrialized country to the tune of 227% of GDP. It has built bridges to nowhere, held interest rates at .1% for a decade, tried massive amounts of quantitative easing, Keynesian stimulus, and even at times sold Yen to buy dollars.

    The result is two decades of total failure. Japan's recession is 19 years running. The Nikkei hit 38,900 in 1990 and sits at 10,800 today, down 72% two decades later


    Rumor Has It
    That the US Federal Reserve indirectly bought $260-360B in US treasuries recently by buying Fannie and Freddie mortgage junk bonds from foreign banks who, as part of the deal, used the cash to buy US treasuries. Only a rumor, but it might explain the low yields despite a weakening dollar.
    Tony Benn's a war crime that's been committed in Iraq. There's no difference between a stealth bomber and a suicide bomber - both kill innocent people for political reasons.

    Video 1m

    Encrypted TimeMachine Backups
    Steven Wolfram at Singularity Summit
    Continuing a bit on Wolfram's thoughts on computational universes... It seems to me that any automata that can compute a transcendental number (and perhaps most do) could be said to contain all finite universes since it would contain all finite sequences of bits.

    The question I keep coming back to when considering this is the relevance of sequences - of bit ordering.

    Video 30m

    Self Discipline and Education
    A critical look at the self-discipline studies and more.


    B60 Sloop
    Wrap House
    The Terrorism of the Rich

    It is a scandal in contemporary international law, don't forget, that while "wanton destruction of towns, cities and villages" is a war crime of long standing, the bombing of cities from airplanes goes not only unpunished but virtually unaccused. Air bombardment is state terrorism, the terrorism of the rich. It has burned up and blasted apart more innocents in the past six decades than have all the antistate terrorists who ever lived.

    Something has benumbed our consciousness against this reality. In the United States we would not consider for the presidency a man who had once thrown a bomb into a crowded restaurant, but we are happy to elect a man who once dropped bombs from airplanes that destroyed not only restaurants but the buildings that contained them and the neighborhoods that surrounded them.

    I went to Iraq after the Gulf war and saw for myself what the bombs did; "wanton destruction" is just the term for it.

    - C. Douglas Lummis

    Murray Gell-Mann on beauty and truth in physics
    Murray criticizes "wrong stuff" said about Quantum Mechanics but then repeats the most common misunderstanding when he says QM asserts non-determinism.


    OnLive Math
    In the talk, Perlman says they need 5Mbit/s for HDTV and they have 10GBit connections to a number of providers. Doing the math, that means after 2000 simultaneous users (per provider), HDTV would no longer be sustainable. As most users will play at peak hours, will 4000 or so users per provider be enough to sustain such a service?


    Bankers Get $4 Trillion Gift From Barney Frank
    [bill H.R. 4173] supports the biggest banks. It authorizes Federal Reserve banks to provide as much as $4 trillion in emergency funding the next time Wall Street crashes. So much for "no-more-bailouts" talk. That is more than twice what the Fed pumped into markets this time around. The size of the fund makes the bribes in the Senate's health-care bill look minuscule.

    Bloomberg article

    Changing TIME_WAIT on OSX
    A Message From Muji
    Now that's my kind of company.


    US Debt Explosion
    As we pointed, the number one reason why 2010 is set to be a truly "interesting" year is a result of the upcoming explosion in US Treasury issuance. Fiscal 2010 gross coupon issuance is expected to hit $2.55 trillion, a $700 billion increase from 2009, which in turn was $1.1 trillion increase from 2008. For those of you needing a primer on the exponential function, click here.

    Zero Hedge article

    Gigabyte RAMDIsk
    SATA interface, 1.5Gb/s reads/writes with 4GB capacity for less than $1K. Any good reason why aren't they making larger capacity versions? Are there any competitors in this price range?


    Sugar: The Bitter Truth
    Video 1h30m via Rich Collins
    Atollo XL Sofa
    Beautiful Calendar
    War Veteran Speech
    The poor and working people in this country are sent to kill the poor and working people in another country in order to make the rich richer. And without racism, soldiers would realize they have more in common with the Iraqi people than they do with the billionaires that send us to war.



    If you were of the world they would love you...

    Java Implementation of Lua
    ioFusion Prices
    ioFusion makes what looks like a very fast SSD and their 320GB ioDrive looks like the sweet spot of storage, performance and price. It writes at 490MB/s and reads at 700MB/s. Also, the sales rep said they have Linux drivers. Prices:

    80GB = $3,600
    160GB = $7,000
    320GB = $7,500

    ioDrive Duo:
    320GB = $14,000
    640GB = $15,000


    Snaidero Cleo Closets
    Tum: Monochromes
    Minimal ambient music. Free downloads.

    Link via Alex Payne

    Most payment standards are overly complex as they have to link to lots of different legacy systems such as credit card clearing systems, trading systems etc.. We aim to create a new standard from scratch ignoring all legacy systems, while leaving it flexible enough to allow applications built on top of it to deal with legacy systems.

    Link via Pelle Braendgaard

    TARP Paybacks
    A few media outlets cheered the announcement that Bank of America was repaying its $45 billion of bailout money ahead of time. Bank of America is now obviously healthy again, so it's time to celebrate, right?...

    Bank of America raised $19 billion of new equity. It paid the government $45 billion of TARP funds back. To make up the difference, it borrowed $26 billion of new funds from the Fed (at a subsidized rate, no less).


    Bebot, a new multi-touch performance synthesizer for the Apple iPhone and iPod Touch.


    Tax Penalty Waver Act
    Congressmen John Carter (R-TX) and Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA) yesterday introduced the Geithner Penalty Waiver Act, requiring that the IRS assess the same penalty against U.S. taxpayers that came forward in the UBS tax fraud investigation as paid by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner for failing to pay taxes on his IMF income - zero.


    Eco Motors
    Goldman Sachs pays 1% tax, how about you?


    Kernighan: Elements of Programming Style

    Video 1hr

    Treasury Loan Modification Program
    Notice how the plan operates. It takes mortgages and dumps them on the taxpayer via a passthrough of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

    If you get the idea that Fannies and Freddie are going to need another bailout you have the right idea.


    Propping up overvalued asset prices by buying them with tax dollars is pure insanity - no different than if the Dutch government had used tax money to buy million dollar tulip bulbs in an effort to prevent a collapse of the Dutch tulip bubble of 1637. The only result is to transfer losses from those that took the risk (and rewards) to unwitting taxpayers.

    Quote of the Day
    A pre-emptive war in 'defense' of freedom would surely destroy freedom, because one simply cannot engage in barbarous action without becoming a barbarian, because one cannot defend human values by calculated and unprovoked violence without doing mortal damage to the values one is trying to defend.

    - J. William Fulbright

    Bernanke's Record
    Revisiting Lua
    I did a lot of Lua work between 1998 and 2002 but haven't touched it since then until last week. Sadly, most of the "batteries not included" issues remain unchanged. I couldn't find any key/value database bindings that both included cursors support and worked with the latest version of Lua.

    Also, no luck getting the "luarocks" package system to work on OSX. Most every package I ran across seemed to be written for different and incompatible versions of Lua and none of them tell you which versions of Lua they work with. Disappointing.

    It's a great language but isn't a viable choice if you need external packages unless your willing to put in the work to build and maintain everything yourself.

    WSJ on Rigging a Climate Consensus
    The furor over these documents is not about tone, colloquialisms or whether climatologists are nice people. The real issue is what the messages say about the way the much-ballyhooed scientific consensus on global warming was arrived at, and how a single view of warming and its causes is being enforced. The impression left by the correspondence among Messrs. Mann and Jones and others is that the climate-tracking game has been rigged from the start.


    Mirror Watch
    Dagoba Lead Recall
    Lead at 4.5 parts per million.

    Link and more

    Treasury Yields
    In this post, Mish suggests that the low treasury yields are the result of confidence in the dollar. But could it instead be explained by the Federal Reserve (and/or other central banks) heavily buying treasuries? And could this also explain the stock market rise as that cash flows into the markets?

    UPDATE: After an email exchange with Mish, I checked the Fed's balance sheet here and according to their numbers, the Fed only purchased $8M in US treasuries last week. So it looks like the Fed wasn't directly responsible for last weeks low yields.

    An interesting side note is that it looks like they've purchased $800B in mortgage junk bonds since last year while re-accumulating the $800B in US treasuries they had before the debt crisis. Where did the money to buy all those mortgages come from if it wasn't effectively printed?

    ODOS Architects

    There is never a design to arrive in this place. Destination is always elsewhere. Only when the end of one's journey is reached too soon, or by means of a strange route, may suspicions arise. Then everything requires a doubting gaze./t

    - Thomas Ligotti, New Faces in the City

    The Tired Sounds of Stars of the Lid
    Aching sadness... the only way I know how to describe this album.


    Ministry of Information
    Image comparing google Tiananman protest search in US vs China
    Climate Change Code
    Curious comments found in climate data analysis code. Sample:

    ; Specify period over which to compute the regressions (stop in 1960 to avoid
    ; the decline that affects tree-ring density records)


    China is no longer buying Treasury debt. It ceased in May 2009, when holdings peaked at $801.5 billion. This is now down to $799 billion.

    Then who is buying this debt? The Federal Reserve. It reversed course in June. Since then, it has accelerated the rate of expansion. Since August, the adjusted monetary base has risen at about 100% per annum.


    Ommwriter, the Beautiful Text Editor
    Imagining a code editor like this...


    Experiential Liminality
    Amazonian Piraha tribe's verb modifiers describe evidence supporting assertions. Christian missionary describes how contact with this language caused him to abandon his faith.

    Video 5m via Drive By Blogging

    Documentary: Unconstitutional
    A documentary that investigates the ways in which the civil liberties of American citizens and immigrants have been rolled back since the September 11 and the Patriot Act.

    Video 1hr

    Climate Change Research Fraud Exposed
    Many of the email exchanges discussed ways to decline such requests for information, on the grounds that the data was confidential or was intellectual property. In other email exchanges related to the FOIA requests, some U.K. researchers asked foreign scientists to delete all emails related to their work for the upcoming IPCC summary. In others, they discussed boycotting scientific journals that require them to make their data public."

    Wall Street Journal article

    Too Big To Fail Bill
    While I agree with the intent, the bill assumes that the government is not in the control of such institutions. If this assumption is false, the bill would only give those institutions the power to eliminate their competitors directly by having the relevant committee label them as "too big to fail".

    If stability is the goal, the bill needed is one that eliminates the fraud of fractional reserve banking whose leverage allows (and ultimately causes) mass credit collapse.


    Economists Opposing Fed Audit on Fed Payroll
    But far from a broad cross-section, the "prominent economists" lobbying on behalf of the Watt bill are in fact deeply involved with the Federal Reserve. Seven of the eight are either currently on the Fed's payroll or have been in the past...

    In September, Huffington Post reported that the Federal Reserve has accomplished a soft form of effective control over the field of monetary economics simply by employing -- and being the means for career advance -- for an overwhelming proportion of the discipline.



    The Constitution says in the 9th and 10th amendments that any power not granted to the government by the Constitution is left up to the states and to the people. A public option for healthcare is not listed as a power, and neither are a lot of other powers that our government is using these days, therefore they are not allowed to legislate on them.


    The audience is so willing to suspend disbelief, that the elaborate play we call law and order requires only the simplest of masks.

    Then and Now
    I will provide our intelligence and law enforcement agencies the tools they need to track and take out the terrorists without undermining our constitution and our freedom.

    - Obama, August 1, 2007

    In Warrantless Wiretapping Case, Obama DOJ's New Arguments Are Worse Than Bush's

    - EFF report, April 7th, 2009

    VertexDB slides from today's Cloudera talk
    On 280slides and slideshare, also see vertex home page
    SpaghettiFS is a FUSE filesystem that stores data in a Git repository.

    github project

    Canadian Healthcare
    By 1971, all Canadians were guaranteed access to essential medical services, regardless of employment, income, or health (Kraker, 2002). Amid rising costs for health care, accompanied by low fees to doctors (which caused most to simply increase their daily caseload), many doctors opted out of the system and billed patients themselves. By the late 1970s and early 1980s there were calls to ban such extra billing and user fees - some Canadians could hardly find "opted-in" providers.

    The Canadian Health Act of 1984, which was drafted in response to these protests, denies federal support to provinces that allow extra-billing within their insurance schemes and effectively forbids private or opted-out practitioners from billing beyond provincially man- dated fee schedules.



    I noted to myself that we North Americans (and I'm not even native born) tend to get excited (with reservations) about future possibilities. We are curious about what is to come, good or bad, and how we might be part of it, and possibly find our niche or avoid the worst. Here in Europe, where admittedly things are often more "civilized," the weight of the past consumes people's thoughts.

    While a European sees oneself as part of a continuum - a long line of culture receding into the dim and distant past - North Americans can only feel in their guts that they are standing upon a thin veneer of history. They are both excited and stimulated by the idea of what can be imagined, what might come into existence that never existed previously - sometimes stimulated to the point of dangerous insanity. This is, I guess, a bit of a cliche, but here I was having examples thrown in my face. There might be a grain of truth to it at least.

    - David Byrne's Journal

    I've noticed that there seems to be some confusion between futurism and entrepreneurialism. US culture is certainly more entrepreneurial than Europe or Japan but even among the tech elite here, very few are capable of doing anything more than parroting what they were told in school or read in scifi novels when it comes to predicting or creating the future. What change they are willing to embrace tends to be decades after it's introduction and in highly diluted forms. You can see this in everything - art, design, technology, politics, etc.

    Much of what we call culture seems to be focused on wallowing in the stagnation of culture itself. The search for what is, could and should be (if it ever really existed) has been replaced by dreary blending, a diffusion and disintegration of what has been. Postmodernism, hipsterism, punk, gothic, steam-punk, grunge, retro - the implicit message of each is that "there is no future, and that's how we like it".


    It is whispered among students of enlightenment that one may achieve a state of being in which enlightenment itself loses all meaning, with the consequence that one thereby becomes subject to all manner of strange destinies.

    - Thomas Ligotti, The Master's Eyes Shining with Secrets

    Quote of the Day
    To rest one's case on faith, is to concede that reason is on the side of one's enemies.

    - Ayn Rand

    A Man's Word
    I will promise you this, that if we have not gotten our troops out by the time I am president, it is the first thing I will do. I will get our troops home. We will bring an end to this war. You can take that to the bank.

    - Barack Obama Campaign Promise - October 27, 2007

    Video Clip of Quote

    A Tale of Two Demagogues
    In the meantime, the Left has gone completely nuts. Worshipping a president who promised "change," liberals continue to ignore the fact that little has. On foreign policy -- the Left's primary gripe against Bush -- Obama's war mentality is remarkably similar to his predecessor. In drawing down in Iraq, Obama has simply transferred the massive U.S. presence from Iraq to Afghanistan.

    Meanwhile, controversial war on terror-era measures like the Patriot Act, extraordinary rendition, and warrantless wiretapping remain intact. Notes observant liberal Noam Chomsky, "As Obama came into office, [former Secretary of State] Condoleezza Rice predicted he would follow the policies of Bush's second term, and that is pretty much what happened, apart from a different rhetorical style."

    ...Liberals who note the hypocrisy of the tea partiers who now protest Obama yet were silent when Bush was expanding government have a valid point. But on the one-year anniversary of the last election, Obama Democrats have proven themselves no less hypocritical than Bush Republicans, particularly on the issue that most defined the Left during the last administration: foreign policy. Though few will admit it, liberals who voted for a "change" from Bush have not gotten it. And like the Republicans before them, the Democrats' faith in their president will likely continue to blind them to the fact that they may never get it.


    Zimbabwe Returns to a Free Market
    Price controls and foreign exchange regulations have been abandoned. Zimbabwe literally joined the real world at the stroke of a pen. Money now flows in and out of the country without restriction. Super market shelves, bare in January, are now bursting with products.


    A perfect demonstration of how central banks and government intervention destroy economies and how their removal allows economies to flourish.

    A similar example is the price controls in Berlin after WWII - once removed, the bare markets became full of products again. An example closer to home would be the gas price controls of the 1970s which caused the gas shortages and gas lines.

    The US occupation imposed gas price controls in Iraq had the same effect - massive gas shortages, but because of the low quality of black market gas providers, a significant percentage of the vehicles were made inoperable which was devastating for Iraq's economy.

    Socialized Dental Care
    Was just talking with a friend in Italy who is flying to Slovakia to have some dental work done. When I asked him why he didn't take advantage of Italy's socialized medicine he said it was socialized in an "Italian way" - no one trusts the public physicians and they are very difficult to find. As he put it "If it is French socialised, probably it would be better."

    So why haven't the Italians been able to fix their system? And which sort of socialized medicine could the US expect?

    Nice, but it's no Acronym.


    Nov 6 Marc Faber Interview
    Long term, my target for the US dollar is the value of exactly zero.


    Reg Wing
    Finally, a decent boot that comes in EEE wide.


    In psychology, bicameralism is a hypothesis which argues that the human brain once assumed a state known as a bicameral mind in which cognitive functions are divided between one part of the brain which appears to be "speaking", and a second part which listens and obeys.

    Wikipedia article

    Could you tell me, please, which technologies are used in e.g. what is the scripting lanuage, databases, caching, etc.?And what its capacity and number of visitors?

    The site is a single page Javascript app that talks directly to an earlier version of VertexDB for user data, and to Amazon S3 to load product indexes. As all the processing is done on the client (no CGI), it should scale to tens of millions of users with only a single Vertex server with a decent amount of RAM - though this is theoretical since it doesn't get much traffic now.

    We really like Cappuccino and wanted to use it for Stylous, but after some performance issues on IE, we wrote our own Javascript UI framework called Domino.

    On the back end, we (Rich and Meg Collins and I) use Io scripts to crawl shopping sites and generate our product indexes. We periodically launch a number of EC2 instances to do each crawl. The results are stored in Vertex and then collected and pushed to S3 as product indexes. We use Vertex's queueing APIs to manage the workers for the crawling and other jobs.

    Dirac Sea
    The Dirac sea is a theoretical model of the vacuum as an infinite sea of particles possessing negative energy. It was first postulated by the British physicist Paul Dirac in 1930 to explain the anomalous negative-energy quantum states predicted by the Dirac equation for relativistic electrons.

    The positron, the antimatter counterpart of the electron, was originally conceived of as a hole in the Dirac sea, well before its experimental discovery in 1932.



    The hallucinogens produce visionary states, sort of, but morphine and its derivatives decrease awareness of inner processes, thoughts and feelings. They are pain killers; pure and simple. They are absolutely contraindicated for creative work, and I include in the lot alcohol, morphine, barbiturates, tranquilizers - the whole spectrum of sedative drugs.

    - William S Burroughs

    VertexDB Q&A
    1. How can I store a list of items in key value (for example, tags for the post)?

    Depends on what you want to do with them. You could store them in as a string in a value, but presumably you want to be able to index a post using them. For this you could do something like have a tags folder with subfolders for each tag name. When you make a post, add a link to it in each of the corresponding tag folders that match it's tags.

    Basically, just imagine how you would do things if you were to map your database to your filesystem. (but have a proper cursor access API)

    2. How can I sort a list of objects when getting through "select"? (for example, by date).

    They are always in the lexical order of the keys in the folder. If you want a different ordering, either use different keys or have another folder with keys that are in the desired order. It's up to the client to maintain these indexes.

    3. Is it possible to use VertexDB for web-applications? (posts, comments, tags, users, etc.). If yes - can you show for example, a sample of storage posts with comments & tags in VertexDB?

    It certainly could be used for that. Right now we use it for , but I don't have any tag/post examples. That sounds like it would make for a good tutorial example.

    4. What is the difference between your Graph database VertexDB and others Key/Value databases (Redis, MemcacheDB, etc.)?

    Two significant differences are that Vertex is focused on essentially merging filesystems and databases, and that it supports automatic garbage collection - records are never directly deleted, only unreferenced - the database then removes them when no references are left. Garbage collection avoids the common problem of having keys to non existent records found in other databases.

    Which advantages has VertexDB over other schema-less databases (CouchDB, MongoDB)?

    Couch and Mongo are document databases, not graph databases. They may be more appropriate if your database is focused on document storage instead of arbitrary data. They may also have very different performance characteristics.

    5. Which future do you see for your VertexDB? For what tasks it will be used (if it's possible could you get a sample)?

    In the long term, I'd like to use it as a tool to make people see the advantages of making filesystems usable as databases (but not relational databases).

    Will be any improvements in the nearest future? Will appear more flexible/powerful possibilities of data managing?

    Some things I'd like to do:
    - provide direct MacFUSE and LinuxFUSE interfaces
    - rewrite Vertex in Lua and use Lua as a query language
    - replace TokyoCabinet with a rewrite of SkipDB
    - support for automatically distributing the database

    The Prisoner Remake
    Milton Friedman - Free to Choose
    Video in 5 parts ~1hr
    Nokia Aeon Sketch
    History of Iran
    Video 10m
    VertexDB Update
    The key/value database and HTTP server for vertex have been abstracted into Store and HttpServer so they can easily be swapped out for other implementations. eg. TokyoCabinet could be replaced with BDB and libevent could be replaced with libev.
    LuaJIT 2.0
    An innovative trace compiler is integrated with advanced, SSA-based optimizations and a highly tuned code generation backend. This allows a substantial reduction of the overhead associated with dynamic language features. It's destined to break into the performance range traditionally reserved for offline, static language compilers.


    Impressive. Many times faster than Python or Ruby while being far simpler and more dynamic than either - and roughly the same performance as Scala but without it's static limitations.

    Inflation Adjusted Dow Jones Industrial

    It's not clear to me why a market in a well developed economy would significantly increase in value except nominally through inflation (via money printing) or increasing the distribution reach of the represented products and services overseas.

    In the absence of money printing or massive technological change (free energy, human level AI, etc), it seems like it should maintain a relatively steady state with value gradually decreasing as the market matures and margins approach zero.

    Ron Paul on Forbes
    Government intervention cannot lead to economic growth. Where does the money come from for Tarp (Treasury's program to buy bad bank paper), the stimulus handouts and the cash for clunkers? It can come only from taxpayers, from sales of Treasury debt or through the printing of new money.

    Link via Mish

    Governments Encouraging More Consumer Debt
    Moreover, this increase in debt servicing costs would come on top of the removal of the First Home Buyers Boost (FHBB) - which I prefer to call the First Home Vendors Boost.

    Prior to that foolish policy, Australian households were deleveraging - reducing their debt levels. Thanks to it, they increased their debt levels so that the ratio of mortgage debt to GDP in Australia is now at an all-time record, and exceeds the level in the USA (though not the UK).



    Thus far one can see that the drama enacted is a familiar one: the stage is rigidly traditional and the performers upon it are caught up in its style... the puppets in these plays always find everything new and unknown, because they have no memories to speak of and can hardly recall making these stilted motions countless times in the past. They struggle through the same gestures, repeat the same lines, although in rare moments they may feel a dim suspicion that this has all happened before.

    - Thomas Ligotti, Nethescurial

    I am struggling to understand what is surprising other than how bad this all looks once you break down the numbers. The government sloshed trillions around and yet disposable income is down, jobs are horrendously weak, and the only reason GDP rose is wasteful government spending, cash-for-clunkers and extremely unaffordable housing tax credits whose effect is soon going to start diminishing even though the program was just extended.

    Link and an important graph

    Bias in Emotive Labels
    Suppose there are two people:

    A's views align with the mainstream and will be labeled as positive, optimistic, friendly and unbiased.

    B's views are are not aligned with the mainstream and will be labeled a pessimist, difficult and opinionated.

    And this will be the case even if they have same ratio of positive to negative views. eg: someone that expresses strong opinion that others agree will not be considered opinionated while someone who even questions an opinion that others agree with will be considered strongly opinionated.

    Docs for Vertex
    Put up the initial docs for the graph database Rich Collins and I have been working on.

    docs and project page

    NoSQL East 2009
    Day 1
    Day 2
    Only does in-process communication right now, but looks well implemented (by Chris Moo).


    It Just Works
    1. Clojure works. We were obviously cautious about using a relatively new system for real work. We tried Clojure, and then we tried some more. Everything* just worked. We took a snapshot at 1.1.0, and we didn't update it. [* The JVM does SEGV on us occasionally...


    That's the JVM folks - the one Sun spent hundreds of millions developing for a decade. The one that people say you should implement other languages on top of in order to gain stability.

    I've noticed that people are extremely forgiving of technologies that are considered mainstream by their peer group and have the opposite bias for less mainstream technologies - all the while claiming that their choices are pragmatic and objective.

    Slime Molds that Learn
    Single-celled slime molds demonstrate the ability to memorize and anticipate repeated events, a team of Japanese researchers reported in January. The study [pdf] clearly shows - a primitive version of brain function - in an organism with no brain at all.


    Religion and the Schizotypal Personality
    Sapolsky video lecture
    Free Font: Public Gothic Light
    External XP boot on MacBook
    Unlike Mac OS X, Windows XP is not designed to boot from external hard drives. Thus, getting XP to boot from an external drive to be used with your Intel Mac requires some work.

    Link also see this

    Minimal iPhone


    Scalable Bloom Filters
    ...can adapt dynamically to the number of elements stored, while assuring a maximum false positive probability. The technique is based on sequences of standard bloom filters with increasing capacity and tighter false positive probabilities, so as to ensure that a maximum false positive probability can be set beforehand, regardless of the number of elements to be inserted.


    Why Tablet Computing will Fail
    MIT press article

    The Kindle seems to be an existence proof against these arguments.

    Swine Flu
    CDC guesstimated H1N1 cases and refused CBS freedom of information act request.

    CBS video

    Looks like the CDC says there are ~100 confirmed H1N1 deaths in the US. What I'd like to know is how much more dangerous is H1N1 than the flu for people aged 5-50.

    Quote of the Day
    There's no such thing as a cool electronic musician.

    - Moby

    Trailer: N is a Number
    jacket, easy pants, shirt, sweater, hoodie
    Music video
    Memory Allocators
    I'm looking for a memory allocator that I can point to a region, do allocations, then save the region to disk, and stop the program. Later, restart the process, load the region from disk, and point the allocator to it again and have it pick up where it left off. Also, I'd like to be able to expand the region it is allocating on periodically.

    Anyone know of an open source allocator suitable for this purpose?

    UPDATE: APR alloc via Cory Bloyd

    Don't Crash
    Music video
    Beware of TokyoCabinet
    From the API spec:

    bool tcbdbclose(TCBDB *bdb);

    Update of a database is assured to be written when the database is closed. If a writer opens a database but does not close it appropriately, the database will be broken.

    In other words, if your process or OS crashes, your database is likely to be corrupted. So don't use TokyoCabinet unless you make a backup each time you open your database and can deal with loosing all data after the last backup.

    Given this situation, I don't know why they bothered supporting a write ahead log.

    How Wall Street is making its billions
    What kind of bonds are they buying? Are they investing the money in American business? "No, they are mostly buying Treasuries." So the money is just being shuffled from one Federal bank account to another, with each Wall Street bank skimming off $1 billion per month for itself? "Pretty much."

    Philip Greenspun post

    Paul Krugman vs. The Daily Show
    Today's scientists have substituted mathematics for experiments, and they wander off through equation after equation, and eventually build a structure which has no relation to reality.

    - Nikola Tesla

    Had this been a modern quote, I'd assume it was about superstring theory.

    I've never thought much of Oakley, but this new line looks pretty good. I'm guessing Acronym had a strong influence on this line as well as the new technical jackets from Nike and others.


    AudioBook: The Great Depression
    Murray Rothbard tells the story of how the monetary policy of the Federal Reserve created the Great Depression through the massive inflation caused by the attempt to support the British Pound after WWI (which the British government had massively inflated during WWI). Recommended.


    Cybersecurity Act of 2009
    Section 18.2: may declare a cybersecurity emergency and order the limitation or shutdown of Internet traffic to and from any compromised Federal Government or United States critical infrastructure information system or network;


    In Section 2.9 they define "critical infrastructure" in a way that seems to include all telecommunication networks. So it would appear that this bill gives the government the power to control any network and in any way it chooses.

    Quote of the Day
    Patriotism is the willingness to kill and be killed for trivial reasons.

    - Bertrand Russell

    TCHO Chocolate
    Went to a talk at their factory the other week. Their "chocolatey" bars may the best chocolate I've had.


    Wifi Direct
    In simple words you would no longer need a WiFi Router for a peer to peer file transfer. This means days of Bluetooth are numbered. This means very high speed peer to peer transfer (30 times faster than Bluetooth) with in a radius of 300 feet.


    Wifi Direct to unify wireless, and LightPeak to unify wired. The future is looking a lot simpler than the present.

    I met a traveller from an antique land,
    Who said -- "two vast and trunkless legs of stone
    Stand in the desert ... near them, on the sand,
    Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
    And wrinkled lips, and sneer of cold command,
    Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
    Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
    The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
    And on the pedestal these words appear:
    My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings,
    Look on my Works ye Mighty, and despair!
    Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
    Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
    The lone and level sands stretch far away.

    - PB Shelly

    IMath is a library written in portable ANSI C that allows you to perform arithmetic on integers and rational numbers of arbitrary precision... IMath was designed to be small, self-contained, easy to understand and use, and as portable as possible across various platforms. The API is simple, and the code should be comparatively easy to modify or extend.


    Biggest Mall in the World
    Empty, but kept open via subsides from the Chinese government. What an enormous waste of resources.


    Minimum Wage
    "We need the minimum wage for social stability," one guest asserted. I asked if they considered Norway, Singapore, Switzerland, and Sweden to be unstable, as those countries had no minimum wage law. Then I asked if they thought it made our society more stable to have 25 percent of the young workforce out on the street instead of working at a job...

    Link via Rich Collins

    Dollar Looses Reserve Status
    Over the last three months, banks put 63 percent of their new cash into euros and yen -- not the greenbacks -- a nearly complete reversal of the dollar's onetime dominance for reserves, according to Barclays Capital. The dollar's share of new cash in the central banks was down to 37 percent -- compared with two-thirds a decade ago.


    Carl Sagan on Cannabis
    Not sure what he was smoking that caused hallucinations. I've never heard any first hand accounts of cannabis having that effect. Maybe only certain people are susceptible? The typical effects are either 1) mellow and happy or 2) confused and paranoid with optional increased appreciation for art, food and humor and creative thinking.


    SSL for libevent.


    If we take in our hand any volume; let us ask, Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No. Commit it then to the flames: for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.

    - David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding

    Moving to 64bit
    To move your macports to 64bit, add +universal to /opt/local/etc/macports/variants.conf and then do "sudo port upgrade --enforce-variants installed". Thanks to Jason Watkins for the tip.
    The question of the link between information entropy and thermodynamic entropy is a hotly debated topic. Some authors argue that there is a link between the two, while others will argue that they have absolutely nothing to do with each other...

    There are many ways of demonstrating the equivalence of "information entropy" and "physics entropy", that is, the equivalence of "Shannon entropy" and "Boltzmann entropy". Nevertheless, some authors argue for dropping the word entropy for the H function of information theory and using Shannon's other term "uncertainty" instead



    Do you understand? The attic is not haunting your head - your head is haunting the attic.

    - Thomas Ligotti, "Purity"

    Book: Bright Sided
    Then the financial crisis hit. "Wham," she said. "It was so clear to me that it was connected." The relentlessly optimistic forecasts about subprime mortgages and endless increases in real estate values were the product of the positive-thinking culture. One of the fundamental tenets of the literature, Ms. Ehrenreich said, is to surround yourself with other positive thinkers and "get rid of negative people. We've been weeding out anybody capable of rational thinking, of realism".

    NYTimes article


    Doug McIlroy:

    Bad notations can stifle progress. Roman numerals hobbled mathematics for a millennium but were propagated by custom and by natural deference to authority. Today we no longer meekly accept individual authority. Instead, we have "standards," impersonal imprimaturs on convention. Some standards are sound and indispensable; some simply celebrate bureaucratic littleness of mind.

    A harvest of gimmicks to save appearances within the standard has grown up, then gimmicks to save the appearances within the appearances. You know how each one got there: an overnight hack to paste another tumor onto a wild cancerous growth. The concern was with method, regardless of results. The result is extravagantly worse than Roman numerals: you can't read the notation right to left or left to right.

    As an amalgam of languages, it can't be deciphered by a native speaker of any one of them, much as if we were to switch at random places in a number between Roman and Arabic signs and between big-endian and little-endian order. But now that it all "works" - at least for the strong of stomach - the tumors themselves are being standardized.

    via Russ Cox's blog

    Google Memory Study
    DRAM error rates that are orders of magnitude higher than previously reported.


    When will we get ECC memory in typical consumer machines?

    Btw, why do these technical papers have such terrible typography? Is it required by the journal they hope to publish in?

    Ethical Questions
    Oleg asked me to answer these questions:

    Harming the Innocent

    1. Would stay straight and is consistent with utilitarianism.

    2. Not enough info about the causes of the war. Who is the aggressor, etc. Utilitarianism takes into account long term effects of actions in minimization of conflict.

    3. No, torture is not ok. And yes, utilitarianism takes into account that the consequence would be that any suspect could be tortured.

    4. No. See 3.

    Telling the Truth

    1. Not enough info to caclulate utility.

    2. Not enough info to caclulate utility.

    3. No.

    Living Your Life

    1. Not likely, because utilitarianism is only justified via egoism and social instincts. If your social instinct are strong enough, perhaps so.

    2. See 1.

    Dawkins in Menlo Park
    Richard Dawkins is giving a talk at Kepler's book store tonight.

    Link via Dru Nelson

    Type Systems
    Some points I think might be worth mentioning in this article:

    1. True polymorphism (with non-shared base class methods) is broken by most type systems.

    2. Polymorphism makes non trivial type inference impossible.

    3. Type loses all meaning in systems with message forwarding as all objects can potentially respond to all messages.

    Autonomous Car Kits
    It takes about 4 hours to install a Pronto4 System autonomous vehicle kit onto almost any car. After that, the car can drive itself.


    The future of car bombs?

    Anti-Hebian Networks
    Magnasco's model differs from traditional models of neural networks, which assume that each time a neuron fires and stimulates an adjoining neuron, the strength of the connection between the two increases. This is called the Hebbian theory of synaptic plasticity and is the classical model for learning.

    "But our system is anti-Hebbian. If the connections among any groups of neurons are strongly oscillating together, they are weakened because they threaten homeostasis. Instead of trying to learn, our neurons are trying to forget."

    One advantage of this anti-Hebbian model is that it balances a network with a much larger number of degrees of freedom than classical models can accommodate...

    Science Daily article

    Server side Javascript framework.


    Nike Air Pegasus
    Apple DataCenter
    FWIW, here's my guess on what's up with Apple's massive new data center: It's the server side of a new digital convergence product which will be something like AppleTV + good GPU + iPhone OS. Gaming, movies, music, internet, wifi - all in one box.

    Also, I'm expecting them to build it into the display itself - like the iMac - with it and iMac (and macbooks) supporting a common set of functionality. Perhaps the lack of a new 30" Cinema display has some connection to this.

    The speaker seems to have overlooked that one of the consequences of sacrificing the innocent is that the world becomes a place where no one is safe from being forced to become a sacrifice. Also overlooked is that there is no meaningful way to differentiate moral systems apart from employing consequential reasoning (emotional response also being a consequence of choice).


    Schiff on the FDIC Bailout
    A young Afghan girl died after a box of public information leaflets, dropped by a British Royal Air Force plane over Afghanistan, landed on her, a newspaper said.

    Britain's Ministry of Defence said it was investigating the accident which it described as "highly regrettable," The Times said.


    Had an Afghan plane done the same to a British girl, would it be considered "regrettable" or a murder whose perpetrators should be brought to justice?

    On the Ideas of Quine
    Willard Quine talks about his contributions to philosophy, hosted by Bryan Magee.


    Language Talks
    Alex Payne: Why Scala?
    Erlang and Haskell creators discussion
    Baby Signing
    Imagine: Knowing what your baby wanted before he or she were able to talk. Reducing frustration, encouraging thought, increasing language development.

    Video and Baby Signs site

    Acronym Fall/Winter 2009
    The Hundreds
    Slam Hype
    Hype Beast
    Definitive Touch
    The Self Handbook
    Mammalian Ethics
    It would seem that either this orangutan is religious, or the argument that religion is required for ethical behavior is invalid.


    Fed Manipulation of Gold Market
    I've heard a number of gold bugs make this claim but AFAIK none have been able to cite any credible sources. Until now.

    MANCHESTER, Conn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Federal Reserve System has disclosed to the Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee Inc. that it has gold swap arrangements with foreign banks that it does not want the public to know about.

    Yahoo finance

    LightPeak from Apple/Intel
    ...obviates the need for almost every type of connector you use today.


    Really good news.

    Why Haven't Prices Collapsed?
    Peter Schiff makes a good argument agaist Mish's deflation position.


    Miami Vice
    Thought I'd watch an episode to remember how cheesy this show was and was impressed that this episode picked at random was actually good.

    hulu video

    Playing in Oakland on August 7th.


    Friedman and Sachs
    While Goldman Sachs was appealing to the government for $5 billion in emergency funding last year, Stephen Friedman - the man who would eventually give Goldman the money it needed - was buying 37,300 shares of Goldman. He booked a nice $3 million profit from his Goldman "trade."

    - Phil Berg commenting on this story: nytimes article

    High IQ can result in lower grades
    COMT - like many genes active in the human brain - plays a nuanced role in behaviour that depends on other genes and on environment. The Met-158 mutation does not only [positively] affect memory and verbal IQ: previous research has also linked it to mental illness, anxiety and emotional vulnerability. So in the context of an extremely stressful, high-stakes exam, it makes sense that students with the Met-158 allele tested more poorly than others, Chang suggests.

    newscientist article

    Implications for high stress interviews or management techniques?

    Taking Children Seriously
    Taking Children Seriously (TCS) is a parenting movement and educational philosophy whose central idea is that is possible and desirable to raise and educate children without either doing anything to them against their will, or making them do anything against their will.

    wikipedia page, tcs site and unschooling site

    FDIC Broke
    The proposed solution is to borrow from banks to cover the deposits of failed banks. In other words, bankers get to make interest on their own failures. Why not raise the deposit insurance rates on the banks instead?

    nytimes article

    Marc Faber
    I think one stimulus package will lead to the next stimulus package, to the next one and more money printing. And so in five to ten years time the real crisis will break out when the whole system collapses. That will be the end.

    ...[this time] the government was in a position to bail out, but the next time around, the government will go bust.

    Video 9m

    Steve Keen on Deflation

    He makes a good point that ~$1T more in base money supply won't put a large dent in the total money supply anytime soon given that private debt is ~$45T. That said, it certainly has inflated the areas where the new money has flowed to ie the pockets of the bankers and their stock market portfolios.

    I don't understand why he proposes bank nationalization though. Why not keep the government out of it and let the debt collapse via normal bankruptcy and liquidation of debt purchased assets?

    If the concern is deposit insurance, print to cover them (they are small compared to the total money supply) and end the disastrous fractional reserve banking system in the process. This solution also prevents the collapse of the dollar which is more important than perpetuating credit as credit collapses if the dollar collapses anyways.

    Audi etron
    Another all electric drive train vehicle with reasonably good looks.


    Recovery or Inflation
    Fed money printing vs the S&P 500: Link
    P/E ratios now more insane than before the bust: Link

    Links via David Rhodes.

    2081: Everyone Will Finally Be Equal
    Movie Trailer via Operator Speaking
    Government Intervention
    After trillions on Fannie and Freddie and hundreds of billions in bank and AIG bailouts, billions on the GM bailout, billions more in debt spent on so-called "stimulus" packages and at least a trillion in toxic asset swaps:

    "The problems are worse than they were in 2007 before the crisis."


    If history is any guide, we can expect the statists to ignore these failures and call for ever more economic intervention - just as the those that create failed states through military intervention ignore their failures and call for ever greater amounts of military intervention.

    The Company

    The company that employed me strived only to serve up the cheapest fare that its customers would tolerate, churn it out as fast as possible, and charge as much as they could get away with. If it were possible to do so, the company would sell what all businesses of its kind dream about selling, creating that which all our efforts were tacitly supposed to achieve: the ultimate product - Nothing. And for this product, they would command the ultimate price - Everything.

    This market strategy would then go on until one day among the world-wide ruins of derelict factories and warehouses and office buildings, there stood only a single, shining, windowless structure with no entrance and no exit. Inside would be - will be - only a dense network of computers calculating profits. Outside will be tribes of savage vagrants with no comprehension of the nature or purpose of the shining, windowless structure. Perhaps they will worship it as a god. Perhaps they will try to destroy it...

    - Thomas Ligotti, My Work is Not Yet Done

    The Moral
    Video 1m
    Bottom line: Taxpayers are now on the hook for a record $59.1 trillion in liabilities, a 2.3% increase from 2006. That amount is equal to $516,348 for every U.S. household. By comparison, U.S. households owe an average of $112,043 for mortgages, car loans, credit cards and all other debt combined.


    A tool that exports C headers to json.


    The primary goal of this project is to define a portable and efficient C programming interface (API) to determine the call-chain of a program. The API additionally provides the means to manipulate the preserved (callee-saved) state of each call-frame and to resume execution at any point in the call-chain (non-local goto). The API supports both local (same-process) and remote (across-process) operation.

    Link via Amos Wenger

    Orc is a library and set of tools for compiling and executing very simple programs that operate on arrays of data. The "language" is a generic assembly language that represents many of the features available in SIMD architectures, including saturated addition and subtraction, and many arithmetic operations.


    Diet and Healthcare Costs
    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, three-quarters of health care spending now goes to treat "preventable chronic diseases" Not all of these diseases are linked to diet - there's smoking, for instance - but many, if not most, of them are.

    We're spending $147 billion to treat obesity, $116 billion to treat diabetes, and hundreds of billions more to treat cardiovascular disease and the many types of cancer that have been linked to the so-called Western diet. One recent study estimated that 30 percent of the increase in health care spending over the past 20 years could be attributed to the soaring rate of obesity, a condition that now accounts for nearly a tenth of all spending on health care.

    NYT article

    Facet Design
    What I've been calling shard design appears to be called facet design (PDF). Examples: KTM RC6 motorcycle and Ghost sofa. Also ran across a technique for generating natural looking facet designs: Voronoi diagrams
    Azul Hardware Garbage Collection
    The Dr. Feelgood
    1 double espresso dark chocolate mocha
    1 half teaspoon cannabis peanut butter (~0.1 dry gram)
    1 shot 100% agave tequila
    add benzo of choice to taste
    UN Resolution to Ban Blasphemy
    Video 10m
    Bink Video Codec
    Bink Video is our ubiquitous video codec. It is super, super fast, uses massively less memory than other codecs, and is optimized for each platform specifically. Bink includes a great audio codec with multi-channel and multi-language support. Bink is available for all game platforms.

    Link via Ivan-Assen Ivanov

    Those that believe that they can choose what they think and feel are incapable of choosing what they choose. Should they still believe themselves to be in control of what they choose to choose to think and feel then they could still not choose to choose to choose... and so on.

    - Thomas Ligotti, Thinking Horror

    Chess: A systematic testing tool for concurrent software
    This paper proposes an alternative called concurrency scenario testing which relies on systematic and exhaustive testing We have implemented a tool called CHESS for performing concurrency scenario testing of systems programs. CHESS uses model checking techniques to systematically generate all interleaving of a given scenario. CHESS scales to large concurrent programs and has found numerous previously unknown bugs in systems that had been stress tested for many months prior to being tested by CHESS. For each bug, CHESS is able to consistently reproduce an erroneous execution manifesting the bug, thereby making it significantly easier to debug the problem.

    Paper via Steve Collins

    Finally, something both interesting and useful from Microsoft Research.

    1929 compared to 2009
    Not a pretty picture.


    p-Adic Physics
    To describe results of the measurements, we can always use rationals. To do mathematical analysis, one needs a completion of the field Q of the rational numbers. According to the Ostrowski theorem there are only two kinds of completions of the rationals. They give real R or p-adic Qp number fields...

    There should be quantum fluctuations not only of metrics and geometry but even of the number field. Therefore, it was suggested [2] the following number field invariance principle: Fundamental physical laws should be invariant under the change of the number field.

    PDF: On p-Adic Mathematical Physics and others

    These papers make me wish I had studied mathematics instead of physics. That said, I'm skeptical of the interpretation of QM involving virtual particles (or in this case, geometry and metric fluctuations) and suspect the phenomena currently attributed to them will find better explanations.

    Magnetic Monopoles Found
    Science Daily
    Libertarian Straw Men
    Ran across this video today that is based on the common misunderstanding that free markets don't involve the protection of property rights. From wikipedia:

    A free market requires protection of property rights, but no regulation, no subsidization, no single monetary system, and no governmental monopolies.


    Quote of the Day
    These banks are not too big to fail.
    They are failing because they are too big.


    Machian Dynamics
    If there is just one particle in the Universe, the RCS (Relative Configuration Space) does not even exist, so there is no theory at all. If there are two particles, the RCS is the positive half of the axis, but no equation of motion can be formulated because equation (1) becomes trivial; the particles may approach or recede but no meaning can be attached to the rate at which this happens...


    An interesting connection between time and complexity - as if Universes with analytic solutions are timeless.

    iPhone apps
    The icons for the first three apps that Rich Collins and I have written for the iPhone. GridWars and Gutenburg are awaiting AppStore approval.
    Nike Release
    The Nike Dunk Hi AC TZ will be available at select Nike Sportswear retailers on September 5th.


    The Paradox Of Choice - Why Less Is More
    Video 1 hour

    The speaker mentions that more choice is worse unless you know what you want, then it's better. An interesting observation that doesn't get applied in the other tests. If it's true that there are different categories of people (the decisive and indecisive, or different levels of specificity of tastes) then we have to ask how the ratios of those in a given sample effect the results.

    That is, the lesson is only "less choice is more" if you aren't in a position to offer different levels of choice. Apple navigates this problem nicely by offering "good, better and best" pre-configured options to satisfy the indecisive and then allowing customization to satisfy the decisive.

    Programming Language Research
    These results corroborate the first hypothesis, namely that code comprehension is improved when programmers can utilise common grounds to comprehend cognitively very dense code. I cannot say whether programmers only benefited from reusing their mental models for constructs, or whether the more literary style found in this code contributed to these results.

    The fact that sub jects mentioned how "messy" and "annoying" the Java-like style was may however be interpreted in favour of the latter explanation. The fact that comprehension time per token did not differ based on the cognitive content of these tokens is unexpected. If this property can be generalised, it would give language designers a precise goal: the shorter the code, the better. It may also explain why domain-specific languages are so effective.

    PDF via Zooko

    I agree with the general conclusion but question the monotonicity assumption implicit in "the shorter the code, the better." I suspect it's true only up to the point that the words used become unfamiliar. To test this, one could take the code used in this test and start reducing the number of characters per word while maintaining their uniqueness as needed and correlate with measured comprehension times.

    Paul Rodriguez Skate Pack
    Quote of the Day
    I also heard you say that you're going to let us keep our health insurance. Well *thank you*. It's not your right to decide whether I keep my current plan or not.

    - David Hedrick to congressman Brian Baird Video 2m

    Economist Steve Keen
    The scale of debt that America is carrying is about 1.7 times the level of the debt that caused the great depression.

    Video 19m

    A nice Cocoa framework for sending user feedback from desktop apps.


    Soviet Nationalized Healthcare
    Not surprisingly, government bureaucrats and Communist Party officials, as early as 1921 (three years after Lenin's socialization of medicine), realized that the egalitarian system of healthcare was good only for their personal interest as providers, managers, and rationers - but not as private users of the system.

    So, as in all countries with socialized medicine, a two-tier system was created: one for the "gray masses" and the other, with a completely different level of service, for the bureaucrats and their intellectual servants. In the USSR, it was often the case that while workers and peasants were dying in the state hospitals, the medicine and equipment that could save their lives was sitting unused in the nomenklatura system.


    Something experience has taught me is that most software technologies, even the ones we use every day and depend on, are broken. Or at least, they break (in undocumented ways) if you use them outside of the typical use case.



    Broken for years on OSX and possibly BSD. OS crash.


    Broken for years on 64bit Linuxes and AFAIK still broken on OSX.

    large folders

    For many years, putting thousands of small files in a folder could crash OSX and result in severe performance problems on many filesystems.


    Using mmap could crash OSX - don't know the current status of this.

    async file i/o

    There were some versions of OSX that would crash on this.

    These are just a few of the ones I've run into. My point with this is to remind people just how broken and unreliable these systems are despite popular opinion to the contrary.

    This article on how Afghan drug lords spend their money is a good example of what happens when you make a crime of something that isn't a crime. The rent seeking gained by regulation that prevents competition (such as gov run trade licensing) could also be viewed in this light.


    As a little boy of four and a half, Lovecraft was simultaneously appalled and thrilled when he saw a newspaper with the dateline January 1, 1895:

    "To me the symbol 1894 had represented an eternity -- the eternity of the present as distinguished from such things as 1066 or 1492 or 1642 or 1776 -- & the idea of personally outliving that eternity was absorbingly impressive to me

    - Introduction to the Penguin edition of "The Dreams in the Witch House and Others"

    Is it not enough to carry about this image in which nature has enclosed us? Do you really think I must consent to leave, as a desirable spectacle to posterity, an image of an image?

    - Plotinus, when asked to sit for a portrait

    On a logarithmic scale, we are half way between the plank length and the edge of the universe.

    - David Gross

    OpenAL Objective-C Binding
    Threw this together for a small iPhone game I was working on. It seems to work, but is pretty basic. Patches appreciated.


    Hiroyuki Komatsuzaki
    A Whirlpool of Numbers
    An article on the Zeta function.


    Mykita Book Cover

    Mykita also has a beautiful website

    Then said the King:

    "I like not this grey doom, for dreams are empty. I would see action roaring through the world, and men and deeds."

    Then answered the Prophet:

    "Victory, jewels and dancing but please thy fancy. What is the sparkle of the gem to thee without thy fancy which it allures, and thy fancy is all a dream. Action and deeds and men are nought without dreams and do but fetter them, and only dreams are real, and where thou stayest when the worlds shall drift away there shall be only dreams."

    - Dunsany, Time and the Gods

    Kdb+ helps address latency issues with its million messages per second speed; typical streaming data solutions offer 100,000 - 200,000 messages per second. It can also be used with hardware accelerators to achieve extremely high speeds and flexibility. and Kdb+ whitepaper

    FDIC Bankrupt
    Government Destruction of Wealth
    Cope said he buys about 300 cars a month, supplying him with motors, transmissions and body parts to sell. He said all he understands about the Cash for Clunkers program is that the old cars being traded have to be destroyed, making good used parts even harder to find. "I've got to crush those cars," he said. Cope has more than 6,000 cars in the yard that need to be crushed.


    Rand Paul on Socialized Medicine
    How in our market place are we able to distribute cell phones for $14 and yet we can't distribute health care with any kind of competition.

    The difference is when you go to buy a cell phone you pay cash, so there is competition. When you go to buy health care, it's either the government ..[or].. insurance prepays.. so you're not directly paying for it and there is no price competition... .

    He offers examples of areas in healthcare (contact lenses, lasik, etc) that have price competition and goes on to discuss how to get price competition back into other areas.

    Video 4m

    Stealth Coat
    New from Stone Island Shadow.


    Zaha Hadid Book
    I find her designs overly organic, complex and often fascist in their proportions, but some of the rounded shard elements are stunning and brilliant.


    Mix for the iPhone
    Mix, my multi-touch audio mixing app inspired by AudioPad, was approved for the App Store today. This is a minimal version (and only costs $1) to test the viability of this as a product. Feedback welcome!


    LG BL40 Phone
    FWIW, I prefer it's UI look to that of the iPhone.


    Krugman on Canadian Health
    Killing Time

    Julian Barbour on time relativity Video 23m and his web site.

    So Much For Green Shoots
    Call it a sign of desperate times: [Arizona] Legislators are considering selling the House and Senate buildings where they've conducted state business for more than 50 years.


    Inner Garden House
    L House

    Thumbs up for the simple design and large windows. Thumbs down for the use of spotlights instead of indirect lighting. Strange how even the best architects treat lighting as an afterthought. An inset wall area near ceilings and/or floors for lighting seems like an easy solution.

    Tech Industry Mythologies
    Like Microsoft in the past, Google has been given a "they are wealthy, so they can do no wrong" image because the hero archetype resonates with our emotional instincts. The truth is that their few successes subsidize their many failures. Today's datapoint:

    As Time Warner (TWX) prepares to spin AOL off as a separate company, it's bought back the 5% stake in AOL that Google (GOOG) bought in 2006 -- for almost a quarter of what Google paid for it.


    God on Trial
    Video 6m
    Bernanke on Housing
    In 2005 Bernanke said there was no housing bubble to bust.
    [there was]

    Less than two years ago he said things were contained.
    [they weren't]

    In January 2008, he said housing would improve by the end of the year.
    [it didn't]

    Link and a Video

    Max Ernst
    Max Ernst - a German painter, sculptor, graphic artist, and poet... one of the primary pioneers of the Dada movement and Surrealism.



    There seems to be an inborn drive in all human beings not to live in a steady emotional state, which would suggest that such a state is not tolerable to most people. Why else would someone succumb to the attractions of romantic love more than once? Didn't they learn their lesson the first time or the tenth time or the twentieth time? And it's the same old lesson: everything in this life - I repeat, everything - is more trouble than it's worth. And simply being alive is the basic trouble.

    This is something that is more recognized in Eastern societies than in the West. There's a minor tradition in Greek philosophy that instructs us to seek a state of equanimity rather than one of ecstasy, but it never really caught on for obvious reasons. Buddhism advises its practitioners not to seek highs or lows but to follow a middle path to personal salvation from the painful cravings of the average sensual life, which is why it was pretty much reviled by the masses and mutated into forms more suited to human drives and desires. It seems evident that very few people can simply sit still. Children spin in circles until they collapse with dizziness.

    - Thomas Ligotti

    Quote of the Day
    There are two types of people--those who come into a room and say, 'Well, here I am!' and those who come in and say, 'Ah, there you are.'

    - Frederick L Collins

    Bernhardt Design

    A beautifully designed furniture site. Also, there are some new items at Decarus.

    Schizophrenia Genes Implicated in Life Cycles of Pathogens
    Certain genes associated with schizophrenia, including those also concerned with neurophysiology, are intimately related to the life cycles of the pathogens implicated in the disease. Several genes may affect pathogen virulence, while the pathogens in turn may affect genes and processes relevant to the neurophysiology of schizophrenia.

    For such genes, the strength of association in genetic studies is likely to be conditioned by the presence of the pathogen, which varies in different populations at different times, a factor that may explain the heterogeneity that plagues such studies. This scenario also suggests that drugs or vaccines designed to eliminate the pathogens that so clearly interact with schizophrenia susceptibility genes could have a dramatic effect on the incidence of the disease.

    Pubmed article

    So what's wrong with Goldman posting $3.44 billion in second-quarter profits, what's wrong with the company so far earmarking $11.4 billion in compensation for its employees? What's wrong is that this is not free-market earnings but an almost pure state subsidy.


    Otake House
    The Federal Reserve Under Fire
    A growing number of members in congress are calling for the Fed to be fully audited for the first time in it's history.

    Video 8mins and a link to the book The Secrets of the Temple

    Religion, the Foundation of Morality
    The National Government will preserve and defend those basic principles on which our nation has been built. It regards Christianity as the foundation of our national morality, and the family as the basis of national life.

    - Adolf Hitler

    An Actor Model for Language Bindings

    An Example

    There's a standard library for dealing with the jpeg codec (libjpeg) and each language has to write it's own bindings to this. Now imagine if this library was wrapped in actor in such a way that any language could launch this actor process and asynchronously send it requests for encoding and decoding jpeg data.

    This would allow all languages that support the messaging protocol to easily support the jpeg codec without dealing with C code bindings and all the problems that go with that.

    Pros and Cons

    This would be slower than a direct binding, but the actor:
    • could naturally use many cores and/or machines
    • allows reuse of tested code without adding untested layers
    • is language neutral


    Each binding actor would have a folder containing a file describing how to launch it (the language to invoke or executable to start) and standard subfolders for it's code and data - similar to OSX's services folders. These could be put in a project's subfolder or in a common place in the filesystem.

    Actors would communicate asynchronously and contain in and out queues of messages. The first version could communicate using sockets and the http protocol and perhaps use Google's protocol buffers as a message format.

    Later versions could use mmap or processor cache communication to do high performance communication on the same machine.

    - thanks to Amos Wenger for reviewing this article


    With me, as with every other person of whom I have heard, the keynote of the experience [of nitrous oxide] is the tremendously exciting sense of an intense metaphysical illumination. Truth lies open to the view in depth beneath depth of almost blinding evidence.

    The mind sees all logical relations of being with an apparant subtlety and instantaniety to which its normal consciousness offers no parallel; only as sobriety returns, the feeling of insight fades, and one is left staring vacantly at a few disjointed words and phrases, as one stares at a cadaverous-looking snowpeak from which sunset glow has just fled, or at a black cinder left by an extinguished brand.

    Article and the book Zen and the Brainimage

    TEDTalk: Kary Mullis
    Getting the immune system to attack pathogens by attaching molecules to them which the body already has an immune response to.


    CDG Backpack
    Finally, a simple backpack. But is there anywhere it can be purchased online?


    Paper: Aesthetic Evolutionary Design with Data Flow Networks
    BBC Radio: Discussion of Logical Positivism
    PBS Religious Broadcasts
    Please help the Freedom From Religion Foundation raise awareness of and protest the recent PBS board decision to continue religious programming on its member stations. Send a clear message to PBS that the public objects to member stations airing devotional broadcasts.

    Link via Erin Heinemeyer

    It's been said that physical minds are the way in which the universe contemplates itself. But as all notions including that of the universe are informational structures, could we say that minds are how information contemplates itself - or more directly that minds are informational structures which encode a mapping of larger informational structures, a sort of a 2nd level informational fractal?
    Documentary: Fog of War
    Fascinating movie on the life of Robert McNamara.


    Folding Paratrooper Bike

    Montague and SwissBike

    Tesla Model S Sedan
    Telsa had the opportunity to create an modern design for the world's first serious fully electric drive train production car but chose something deliberately conventional (vaguely 1950s aero-futurist, very alfa-romeo). There are elements of more modern minimalist organic/shard hybrid design there (notice those door interiors), why not run with that?

    I'm looking forward to seeing these drive train platforms commoditized so the body design can be left to indy producers.

    Model S Wikipedia entry

    OOC Manifesto
    I wish this language was available when I was implementing Io.


    Decorators vs Designers
    Decorators add the unnecessary, designers remove it.
    Nova on Hulu
    Full length episodes available for free.


    How to use Ritalin
    While amphetamines and Ritalin do stimulate you and keep you awake, using them to pull an all nighter completely subverts their awesome power. If you want a stimulant, drink coffee or Red Bull. Amphetamines should be saved for reinforcement...

    As a public service announcement, don't worry too much about grades. This is America, not Germany, where success is determined by the solidity of your goal and the amount you are willing to work. I know you don't believe it now, but it's true. Go have a drink.


    Good advice.

    Matte Black Macbook Pro
    Klein and Squeak VM architectures
    So far, I believe we've only had to 'cheat' (dip down into a lower-level style) in two small places: we had to write the message-sending routine without doing any message sends, and the object-cloning routine without doing any cloning (which meant we couldn't use blocks).

    But I believe that even those compromises are just temporary - now that we've got an compiler that can inline away message-sends and block-clones, we should be able to rewrite even those two routines in a normal OO Self style.


    My Mothers Garden
    A documentary on hoarding and (from my perspective) human aesthetic culture in general.



    Illusion is the first of all pleasures.

    - Oscar Wilde

    A C based OO language that looks very promising. Fairly simple and consistent syntax and semantics and garbage collection. It looks like it even has support for proper polymorphism via interfaces. What C++ and/or Java should have been.


    Rick Owens Boots
    iGLU is an implementation of the OpenGL Utility Library (GLU) for iPhone OS.


    Unfortunately, it's missing GLUquadric.

    The Enigma of Amigara Fault
    Horror manga, read right to left.


    Conference On Emerging Programming Languages
    Alex Payne is putting together a conference in SF on languages created in the last 3 years. Looking forward to it.


    1.5Ghz Asynchronous FPGA
    If they can make these cheap, could we be on the verge of a dynamic logic revolution?


    Dawkins: Slaves to Superstition
    Superstition is Harmless
    I was witnessing a horrific practice which appears to be on the increase in Kenya - the lynching of people accused of being witches. I personally saw the burning alive of five elderly men and women in Itii village.

    BBC News

    Islam Means Peace
    Iranian cleric calls for election fraud protestors to be executed because they are "waging war against god". Apparently god is in favor of election fraud.

    Reuters Now Supports Delivery
    GoldMoney allows its customers to redeem and take physical delivery of their gold in handy units of 100 gram or one kilo (1,000 gram) gold bars. Through our partnership with Baird & Co. Limited in London, England, a major refiner in the UK, conversion of goldgrams into physical gold bars for insured mailing or collection may be completed at any time.



    45 killed by US drone strike in Pakistan while attending funeral for people killed in US drone strike in Pakistan... There have been more than 35 US strikes since last August - killing over 340 people - and most have landed in the North and South Waziristan tribal regions.


    Movie: Objectified
    Objectified is about our complex relationship with manufactured objects and the people who design them.

    Playing June 24-28 at the YBCA in San Francisco. I'll be going this Saturday at 7pm.

    Trailer and tickets

    Latest from Peter Schiff
    Robert Sapolsky: The Uniqueness of Humans
    Richard Dawkins Interviews Steven Pinker
    Discussing evolutionary psychology applied to music, language, sexuality, aesthetics, phobias, pain, education, goose bumps, voice pitch, emotional signaling and more.

    Video via 3quarksdaily

    Rick Owens
    Aeon Flux style clothing.

    Site and Video

    Junichi Sampei
    Quote of the Day
    The ancient Romans built their greatest masterpieces of architecture, their amphitheaters, for wild beasts to fight in.

    - Voltaire

    On the Value of Internet Properties
    The dotcom boom of the late 90s was often referred to as the internet land rush - the thinking being that as with land, there was a limited amount of space and as with early market movers in traditional industries (governed largely by control of physical distribution channels) the early settlers would be able to build strongly defended market positions.

    This thinking continues today, despite a long list of dotcoms that were said at some point to be "taking over the world" which are now, only a few years later, seen as relics. Wasn't Friendster supposed to "own" the social networking market (until Facebook)? Wasn't Geocities supposed to own the personal webpage market (until myspace)? Wasn't Yahoo supposed to own search (until Google)? Etc.

    The pattern seems to be an ever increasing rate of production new, more specialized forms of tools and communication. For example, flickr is a social network of photography, youtube is a social network of video, is a social network of fashion and is social network of avid readers. Will some Facebook app replace these? It seems more likely to me that we will instead see these networks diverging into ever more specialized interests.

    And as the rate of divergence increases, the ability to control the market for any (wide) amount of time plummets. Eventually, the model of large investments to take market share reaping large profits in the long run dies, as there will be no long run for large market shares.

    Google Lies
    Google is not about search. It's a citation engine -- it provides an ordered listing of how people cite your work. The theory being that if a lot of people cite you, you must be on to something...

    What this means in reality is that it's all just smoke and mirrors at the search engines. The king has no clothes. Yes, they try to put the most relevant content in front of the user. But anytime you're dealing with a algorithm people are going to game the system, whether on purpose or by accident. And once some people start gaming the system, everybody has to game the system. It's the prisoner's dilemma.

    We'd like to believe that search is about quality, just like we'd like to believe that people who make the coolest technology solutions go on to make tons of money. And the best-sounding bands make the most records. And the best doctors have the happiest lives. And the best ideas get the most attention. But that's so far from the truth it's laughable. Still, the myth persists.


    The Fed's $13.9 Trillion Commitment
    Both Geithner and Bernanke maintain that banks are well capitalized. Indeed many banks are returning TARP funds. However, if banks are well capitalized then why not cancel the remaining $7 Trillion of this taxpayer ripoff right now? Pray tell, what's the need to go ahead with the PPIP?



    You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake
    You are the same decaying organic material as everyone else
    We are all part of the same compost heap
    We are the all-singing all-dancing crap of the world

    You are not your bank accounts
    You are not the clothes you wear
    You are not the contents of your wallet
    You are not your bowel cancer

    You are not your grande coffee
    You are not the car you drive
    You are not your fucking khakis

    You have to give up
    You have to give up
    You have to realize that someday you will die
    Until you know that you are useless

    - The Dust Brothers, This is Your Life

    Stem Rust
    The Ug99 fungus, called stem rust, could wipe out more than 80% of the world's wheat as it spreads from Africa, scientists fear. The race is on to breed resistant plants before it reaches the U.S.

    LA Times article


    Woe to him who doesn't know how to wear his mask, be he king or pope!

    - LuigiI Pirandello, Henry IV

    Nationalized Healthcare
    Heard on NPR this morning that the latest proposal would allow those with private healthcare to opt-out of the system if they choose. This seems like a deliberately deceptive description as I suspect those that do opt-out would still have to pay for the system via their taxes.

    This is like a restaurant that says you have to pay for an item you did not order and insisting that that's ok because you aren't obligated to eat it. The fact that NPR repeated this deception without criticism is telling.

    Given that Javascript:
    • is the dominant web programming language (winning out over Java and Flash)

    • is more flexible than mainstream scripting languages (except for message forwading)

    • has or will soon surpass mainstream scripting languages in performance due to the new compilers (V8/Nitro)
    is it inevitable that it will also become the dominant scripting language on the desktop and the server?
    The first website/blog creation site I've seen with a good sense of design. They still don't get WYSIWYG editing though.

    Link via Rich Collins

    A little known 1980's TV show about an eccentric scientist turned investigator.


    On Programming Language Shootouts

    While shootouts can be an effective way to motivate performance improvements in languages, they can also give distorted impressions to readers that don't take into account that the shootouts make no attempt to test real world usage.

    Writing a Mandelbrot set calculator in a high level language is like trying to run the Indy 500 in a bus. While it might be amusing for a car magazine to test circuit times for various busses on a race course, it really tells potential bus buyers very little about which bus they should buy as the problem of cost efficiently maximizing transportation throughput on normal roads involves different tradeoffs than the problem of no-expense-spared maximization of transportation speed on an extremely windy road. Likewise, high level languages make deliberate speed trade-offs in favor of reducing various other costs (like development time), yet shootouts make no real attempt to measure the attributes that the speed was traded for.

    For example, where is the test that measures the amount of time developers spend dealing with memory leaks in non garbage collected languages, on heisenbugs in languages with shared memory concurrency, on rewriting instead of reuse in non-OO languages, on API complexity in non-polymorphic languages, on re-implementing high level features in low level languages, etc and how do decision makers weigh these costs in the absence of objective measures?

    Fast Food Hamburgers
    Fast food hamburgers are comprised of little meat (median, 12.1%). Unexpected tissue types found in some hamburgers included bone, cartilage, and plant material; no brain tissue was present. Sarcocystis parasites were discovered in 2 hamburgers.


    Chromatic, This Saturday in SF
    Chromatic (formerly The Drawing Room)* combines the spirit and goals of developer-oriented events like hackathons and hackerspaces with the practical structure needed for designers and students of design to truly learn, receive feedback, and improve their design skills by talking with their peers.


    Representative Democracy in Action
    After studying campaign contribution data for 1998-2008 (compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics) and earmark data for FY2008 and FY2009 (from both Taxpayers for Common Sense and Legistorm), the connection between those PMA Group clients that contributed money to Visclosky's campaigns and the earmarks they received is clearly evident. The visualization -- created by the Sunlight Foundation's terrific designer Kerry Mitchell -- shows how connected the earmarks are to the receipt of campaign contributions.


    Factory 413
    Quote of the Day
    When I was a kid, I had an imaginary friend and I used to think that he went everywhere with me, that I could talk to him and he'd hear me and grant me wishes and stuff. And then I grew up - and I stopped going to church.

    - Jimmy Carr

    Aix Em Klemm
    Another good ambient/lowercase band on the Kranky label.


    They've extended WebKit's Javascript APIs to include the iPhone native APIs for geo location, vibration, accelerometer and sound.


    Rogers Calls it Again
    Jim Rogers on 2009 01 21:

    If I were you and I owned bonds, unless they were short term bonds, I would go home and sell the bonds. All of them.


    And four months later:

    The difference in yields between Treasury two and 10-year notes widened to a record on concern surging sales of U.S. debt will overwhelm the Federal Reserve's efforts to keep borrowing costs low...

    Ten-year notes have lost 10.3 percent this year, according to Merrill Lynch & Co. indexes, while 30-year bonds have lost 27.5 percent. Two-year notes have gained 0.2 percent.


    Geithner, The Comedian
    BEIJING, June 1 (Reuters) - U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner on Monday reassured the Chinese government that its huge holdings of dollar assets are safe and reaffirmed his faith in a strong U.S. currency...

    "Chinese assets are very safe," Geithner said in response to a question after a speech at Peking University, where he studied Chinese as a student in the 1980s.

    His answer drew loud laughter from his student audience, reflecting scepticism in China about the wisdom of a developing country accumulating a vast stockpile of foreign reserves instead of spending the money to raise living standards at home.


    Cat House on the Kings
    A short video about a animal sanctuary in rural California.

    Video and contributions link


    He pictured life as faultless marble, granite of even grain, out of which he could hew his own image with the hard chisel of will; and instead he finds a lump of mucky dung in his hands which either cannot be molded, or which, molded indeed, will not hang together.

    Too much idealism, say the wiseacres who have gotten used to the smell. And "too much" is right! Young men die of that "too much" more often than of the little piece of lead they shoot through their hearts. But verily I say unto you: there is no surer sign of "smallness" of nature than contentment with everything.

    Peace can come only when youth is over, when the cycle of inner and outer experience has been completed, when we find solace for the eternal nothingness of things, in exquisite enjoyment of the Now that will never return again.

    - Giovanni Papini, from "The Failure"

    ABS Canyon 695
    ABS is in a league of its own. If you can afford to pay $600 for a case without a power supply that doesn't include a complete water cooling kit, there's really no competition. The design, construction, and quality of the Canyon 695 are unparalleled by any other case here.

    Link and Tom's hw review

    I wondered how this cat got half a million twitter followers until I saw this nicely edited video.

    The greatest mystery is not that we have been flung at random between the profusion of matter and of the stars, but that within this prison we can draw from ourselves images powerful enough to deny our nothingness.

    - Andre Malraux

    Social Conservatism Negatively Correlated with Intelligence
    The paper is misleadingly named "Conservatism and Cognitive Ability" though it only looks at social conservatism. I'd expect the inverse correlation for radical economic conservatism.


    Windy and Carl
    A tip of the hat to Alex Payne for the heads up on the space rock show last night at the Rickshaw. Here are some music videos by the performers:

    Windy and Carl
    Jonas Reinhardt

    "Nudge" also played, but I couldn't find any music videos by them. I'd love to see these kinds of shows at a venue full of bean bag chairs or some other comfortable seating.

    Small Ironies
    Funny how print-on-demand book machines are entering the mainstream at the same time that printed material has effectively become archaic.
    Multitouch Zune
    Except for the icons, the design in these snapshots actually looks good. It will be interesting to see if the UI is any good.



    Under the plump blankets of my bed I lay freezing and pale, my temples sweating with shiny sickles of fever. Through the frosted panes of my bedroom window I watched in awful devotion as dull winter days were succeeded by blinding winter nights. I remained ever awake to the possibility, as my young mind conceived it, of an 'icy transcendence.' I was therefore cautious, even in my frequent states of delirium, never to indulge in a vulgar sleep, except perhaps to dream my way deeper into that landscape where vanishing winds snatched me up into the void of an ultimate hibernation.

    - Thomas Ligotti, A Soft Voice Whispers Nothing

    Friedman: Two Great Depressions
    The second half of the story is trickier, because it depends on assumptions about what would have happened without the New Deal - that the Depression would have continued forever, or at least for much longer.

    That seems implausible, judging by other depressions and recessions; the Great Depression was unusually long, not unusually short. Arguing that since the economy eventually recovered the New Deal was a success is like arguing that if the doctor bleeds the patient and the patient survives and eventually recovers, the treatment was a success.


    Javascript Hash Functions
    Paul Johnston's MD5, SHA, HMAC and RIPEMD implementations in Javascript.


    OOPSLA 2009: Dynamic Languages Symposium
    Call for Papers
    Worlds: Controlling the Scope of Side Effects
    A new world can be "sprouted" from an existing world at will. The state of a child world is derived from the state of its parent, but the side effects that happen inside the child do not affect the parent. (This is analogous to the semantics of delegation in prototype-based languages with copy-on-write slots.) At any time, the side effects captured in the child world can be propagated to its parent via a commit operation.

    PDF paper

    Adaptive Resonance Theory
    ...An alternative theory unifies these several hypotheses into a single hypothesis: "All conscious states are resonant states" (2), and suggests how resonant states enable brains to learn about a changing world throughout life (3). Resonance arises when bottom-up and top-down, or "reentrant", processes reach an attentive consensus between what is expected and what is in the world. Because resonance dynamically regulates learning of sensory and cognitive representations, this theory is called adaptive resonance theory, or ART.

    ART implies all the properties noted by Tononi and Edelman, but also clarifies their critical link to learning, and explains why only a certain type of excitatory top-down matching can stabilize learning (4): When top-down attentional signals match bottom-up sensory input, their mutual excitation strengthens and maintains existing neural activity long enough for synaptic changes to occur. Thus, attentionally relevant stimuli are learned, while irrelevant stimuli are suppressed and hence prevented from destabilizing existing memories. Recent experiments support these predictions during vision (5), audition (6), and learning (7).

    Why dorsal cortical circuits that control action do not support consciousness now follows easily: Such circuits use inhibitory matching. For example, after moving your arm to an expected position, movement stops (viz., is inhibited) because "where you want to move" matches "where you are" (8). Inhibitory matches do not resonate, hence are not conscious.

    A detailed model of how the laminar circuits of neocortex use resonance to control cortical development, learning, attention, and grouping of information has recently been proposed (9), and suggests new experiments to test the predicted linkages between learning, attention, and consciousness.

    Link and Wikipedia article

    The algorithm described on the Wikipedia page looks very similar to a Hopfield associative memory network to me.

    The Washington Measles Monument

    Nationalism is an infantile disease.
    It is the measles of mankind.

    - Albert Einstein

    Anosognosia is a condition in which a person who suffers disability seems unaware of or denies the existence of his or her disability. This may include unawareness of quite dramatic impairments, such as blindness or paralysis.

    Although largely used to describe unawareness of impairment after brain injury or stroke, the term 'anosognosia' is occasionally used to describe the lack of insight shown by some people who suffer from psychosis, and who therefore do not have the insight to recognize that they suffer from a mental illness

    And here's the interesting bit:

    ...(squirting ice cold water into the left ear) is known to temporarily ameliorate unawareness of impairment. It is not entirely clear how this works, although it is thought that the unconscious shift of attention or focus caused by the intense stimulation of the vestibular system temporarily influences awareness.

    Wikipedia article

    SomaFM iPhone App
    The Lisp community has long battled with the perception that it's syntax is difficult to read but I suspect it's actually it's assembly-looking naming conventions that are to blame. To test this, I wrote a script to rewrite Io code in this assembly style while keeping Io's syntax. Here's some sample input:
    show := method(
      attributeNames foreach(k, 
        writeln(k alignRight(10), ":", self perform(k))
    And the output:
    nqq := pah-sqk(
      fhc muy(uxu, 
        lwt(uxu tla-jho(10), ":", lce bdh(uxu))
    This is an extreme example, but I think it's suggestive of how bad naming conventions might be confused with bad syntax.

    Btw, here's the Io source for the converter:

    Message lispize := method(
      if(cachedResult == nil, setName(name asAssembly))
      arguments foreach(lispize)
      if(next, next lispize)
    File with(System args second) contents 
      asMessage lispize
    War Poster
    Grayson Questions Federal Reserve Inspector
    Grayon asks Federal Reserve Inspector General about the $1T expansion of the Federal Reserve balance sheet.

    Video 5m

    It's great to see Grayson asking these questions and I hope he continues to. In this particular case, neither Grayson or the Inspector appear to even understand that the balance sheet question is about assets that (according to their accounting) were put into, not taken out of the Fed.

    AFAICS, the story there is that that's the Fed's accounting trick to loan out treasuries in exchange for overpriced junk bonds and to treat the junk bonds as reserves in order to allow the bankrupt banks to technically meet their reserve requirements.

    InCase Skate Messenger Bag



    I picked up one of these today and can recommend it. The biggest difference with other bags are the excellent ergonomics (after adjusting the various straps). My old bag would start to bother me after walking a few blocks, but I feel like I could walk or stand all day with this bag without noticing it.

    The bag is a bit large, but this provides plenty of room for a light jacket and cap and the internal zip pockets will fit any size macbook, headphones and laptop lock and power supply nicely. Also, the mobile phone strap pocket looks like it was designed for the iPhone.

    And soon those well-aligned streets reveal that they are, in fact, situated among bizarre landscapes where simple trees and houses are marvelously obscured, where everything is settled within the depths of a vast, echoing abyss. Even the sky itself, across which the sun spreads its expansive light, is merely a blurry little window with a crack in it - a jagged fracture beyond which one may see, at twilight, what occupies and envelops a vacant street lined with gently stirring trees and old silent houses./t

    /t/t - Thomas Ligotti, In the Shadow of Another World

    Bubble fusion, also known as sonofusion, is the non-technical name for a nuclear fusion reaction hypothesized to occur during sonoluminescence, an extreme form of acoustic cavitation. Officially, this reaction is termed acoustic inertial confinement fusion (AICF) since the inertia of the collapsing bubble wall confines the energy, causing an extreme rise in temperature. The high temperatures that sonoluminescence can produce raise the possibility that it might be a means to achieve thermonuclear fusion.[1]


    Doug Crockford on Javascript

    I got a kick from hearing Doug mention "differential inheritance". IIRC, I may have coined this term when documenting Io around 2002. I thought I had read it in the NewtonScript manual, but when going back to it, couldn't find it in the glossary or anywhere else online.


    A search on google scholar turned up an earlier use of the term:



    Throughout the town, all places and things bore evidence to striking revisions in the base realm of matter... At last the faces of Muelenburg became subject to changing expressions which at first were quite subtle, though later these divergences were so exaggerated that it was no longer possible to recapture original forms. It followed that the townspeople could no more recognize themselves than they could one another. All were carried off in the great torrent of their dreams, all spinning in that grayish whirlpool of indefinite twilight, all churning and in the end merging into utter blackness.

    - Thomas Ligotti, The Mystics of Muelenburg

    Tim Ferris Workout
    1. Follow Arthur Jones' general recommendations for one-set-to-failure from the little-known Colorado Experiment, but with lower frequency (maximum of twice per week) and with at least 3 minutes between exercises.

    2. Perform every repetition with a 5/5 cadence (5 seconds up, 5 seconds down) to eliminate momentum and ensure constant load.

    3. Focus on no more than 4-7 multi-joint exercises (leg press, trap bar deadlift, overhead press, Yates bent row, dips, incline machine benchpress, etc.) and exercise your entire body each workout to elicit a maximal hormonal (testosterone, growth hormone + IGF-1) response.

    4. Eat enormous quantities of protein (much like my current fat-loss diet) with low-glycemic index carbohydrates like quinoa, but drop calories by 50% one day perweek to prevent protein uptake down-regulation.

    Link via Rich Collins

    As it only takes two months and only takes one hour a week, I guess I'll give it a try.

    MD5 on a GPU
    We've recently had an interesting discussion at a local HPC Users Group meeting, on how (in theory) GPUs should be perfect for a range of cryptanalysis/cryptography applications. So last weekend I wrote a simple CUDA MD5 hash computation routine (based on RSA's Md5.c source) to test it out in practice.

    The results were pretty good, with speedups (when run on 8800 Ultra) of ~36x over a single core...

    In absolute terms, the GPU was able to compute ~110 million MD5 hashes per second, while it was even faster (~160 Mhash/sec) when the results weren't stored to global memory but instead compared against a "target" hash and discarded if no match was found ("search mode"). In laymen terms, this means a single 8800 Ultra can brute-force break an MD5 hashed password of eight or less alphanumerics+numbers (A-Z, a-z, 0-9) in about ~16 days. Kind of scary.


    libSIMDx86 supports Intel's MMX, SSE, SSE2, SSE3; and AMD's 3DNow!, 3DNow!+, and MMX+. Additionally, standard x87 (i.e. non-SIMD) versions of the functions have been provided as a fallback and a control.


    Peter Schiff Google Talk
    Religion, it's all about Peace and Love
    Grayson questions Citigroup CEO
    So the government gets $7B in preferred stock and the government is on the hook for $250B in losses, is that correct?


    Pandit smirkingly refers to the deal as being similar to "insurance" but he fails to mention that real insurance premiums are adjusted for risk. Citi's situation is like buying a cheap but large life insurance policy for one's spouse after they diagnosed as terminally ill.

    DDRDrive: Deal Knell for NetApp
      Random 512B Reads up to:300,000+ IOPS
      Random 512B Writes up to : 200,000+ IOPS
      Random 4KB Reads up to: 50,000+ IOPS
      Random 4KB Writes up to: 35,000+ IOPS
      Sustained Sequential Reads up to: 215+ MB/s
      Sustained Sequential Writes up to: 155+ MB/s

    Review and product page

    If Stylous keeps growing, I'd like to move our custom database onto one of these.

    Hash Table Tricks
    When rewriting Io's hash table implementation, I noticed that I was using a hash table that mapped symbol pointers to slots in objects via hashing the pointer on each lookup.

    I probably did it this way because I already had a pointer hash table and just reused it but on looking at it again, it was obvious that I could both get more evenly distributed hash values and avoid the hash computation on lookup by storing a good random number used for a hash value in the symbol instead of calculating a hash of the symbol's pointer on each lookup. This small change made message sends 10% faster.

    This also got me thinking about another possible trick: when you create a slot for a symbol that doesn't have a random number for it's hash yet, choose a random empty slot and use the the masked bits used for the table lookup as the low bits in the symbol's random number (generating the rest of the bits normally). With a cuckoo hash tables like Io's, this might result in most lookups only searching the first slot.

    Nicolas Gwenael
    Flower Services
    My ideal flower service would allow me to put in important dates (birthdays, anniversaries, etc), related addresses and my credit card and then remind me of them each year with an email a week before and have single click ordering via the email. An option to automatically send them unless I intervened after the reminder would be nice too. Does anyone do this?


    Garth Patil sent in this site: - Thanks Garth!

    Geithner's Plan
    Here is the real plan that now seems odds on to succeed.

    The Plan: Dump $500 billion of toxic assets on to unsuspecting taxpayers via a public-private partnership in which 93% of the losses are born by the taxpayer.

    This is not a new revelation, there have been many articles on that theme over the past week. However, most missed the corporate bond connection...


    American Intervention
  5. Covertly overthrew President Salvador Allende in Chile and replacing him with Augusto Pinochet who would kill and torture over 100,000 people

  6. Currently providing over $3 billion a year in military aid to Israel while it systemically cleanses greater Palestine of non-Jews

  7. Currently providing over $3 billion a year to Pakistan and Egypt, despite wide-spread human rights abuses and lack of democratic rights

  8. Spearheaded efforts to impose a UN Blockade to Iraq, leading to an estimated 200,000 deaths in the late 1990's

  9. Currently providing over $1 billion a year to Saudi Arabia, including $3 million dollars of electro-shock devices used to torture inmates and political prisoners

  10. Funded and headquartered in Georgia the School of the Americas Assassins (currently named the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation), which trained and armed 'anti-Communist' fighters in Latin America. These have included dictators and gross human rights abusers such as Bolivia's Hugo Banzer and Panama's Manuel Noriega.

  11. Overthrew the democratically elected government of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mosaddeq in 1953 and replaced it with the dictatorship of the pro-Western Shah

  12. Funded the Mujahideen in Afghanistan, including Osama Bin Laden, to fight the Soviets in the early 1980s

  13. Provided Saddam Hussein with the chemical weapons he would use to kill over 100,000 Kurds


  14. Daily Caffeine Usage Pointless
    In contrast to what most of us coffee lovers would think, our study showed no difference between when the participant was maintained on chronic placebo and when the participant was stabilized on chronic caffeine administration. What this means is that consuming caffeine regularly does not appear to produce any net beneficial effects, based on the measures we examined.


    This matches what I've seen with my own caffeine usage (both with caffeine pills and coffee). Taking them once a week or less can significantly increase productivity for a day or two but it quickly reverts to the mean and is paid for with a loss of productivity when going off it.

    H.L. Mencken Speaks represents the American lust for the hideous, the delight in ugliness for it's own sake.


    Torture and Religion
    More than half of people who attend services at least once a week said the use of torture against suspected terrorists is "often" or "sometimes" justified. ... People unaffiliated with any religious organization were least likely to back it.

    CNN article

    Morals are the enemy of ethics.

    Zaha Hadid Concert Hall
    The Spiral Cache
    Recent work on non-uniform cache architectures (NUCA) recognizes the fact that uniform access latency has become a useless assumption even for on-chip memories. Since the access latency of a memory array is proportional to its side length, it helps to split a large memory into a set of smaller memory tiles. Tiles farther away from the processor incur larger access latencies than those closer to the processor.

    In such a design, the tile placement policy is a fundamental aspect. By using the well-known move-to-front heuristic as placement policy, we designed a theoretically sound memory architecture, which guarantees competitively low access latencies compared to any conceivable architecture. The spiral cache is a systolic design, capable of maintaining multiple accesses in flight, providing high throughput. Furthermore, the spiral cache exploits the dimensionality of Euclidean space, enabling lower access latencies in future 3D technology.


    Hardware Instructions You Always Wanted...
    Everyone who wrote assembly code probably has cursed the lack of some instuctions in the instrcution set of their target architecture, be it due to the work needed to workaround it or the complexity and consequently speed loss of the resulting code. Heres a list of what i think is lacking in the x86 instruction set...


    Quote of the Day
    How to get smaller government? Move election day to April 15th.

    - David Friedman


    In more extreme cases you begin to glimpse a blackness, like none you have ever seen. And wonder for a time whether this blackness is inside your head or outside, which makes no difference once it begins to compose the outlines of the unholy city you are about to enter./t

    - Thomas Ligotti, Welcome to the Unholy City

    A Generalized Cuckoo Hash Table
    The two papers mentioned above extend cuckoo hashing in different ways: one extends the number of hash functions used (and, to simplify the analysis but with impaired capacity, splits the table into disjoint ranges for different hash functions); the other suggests using bins of size larger than 1, and two hash functions. We can unify these by considering cuckoo hashing using a two-parameter family: a bin size, and a set of hash functions...

    Paper via Jason Watkins

    In reimplementing Io's cuckoo hash tables, I've been thinking along these lines. It seem like the two tables are just around to ensure no collisions between the two hash functions but this could be ensured more simply by requiring that the two functions have opposite parities. For example, I use this trick:

    CHashRecord *CHash_record1_(CHash *self, void *k)
      // the << ensures an even pos
       size_t pos = (self->hash1(k) << 1) & self->mask;
       return Records_recordAt_(self->records, pos);
    CHashRecord *CHash_record2_(CHash *self, void *k)
      // the 
    Mish vs Kaufman
    Every economic problem we face can be traced back to excessive regulation, not the lack of regulation.

    • The Fed
    • Fractional Reserve Lending
    • Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac
    • The Rating Agencies
    • Congressional Sponsorship of Unfunded Pet Projects

    ...The Fed is a failed institution. Fannie Mae is a failed institution. Freddie Mac is a failed institution. Fractional reserve lending is a fraud.

    The correct policy decision is to abolish all of them, not to add layer after layer after layer of regulators watching over other regulators, who in turn watch over still other regulators, where some "god-like" super-regulator at the top supposedly has infinite wisdom and knows exactly how to regulate.

    Thus, the correct question is not "If we were to create a new central bank from the ground up, how would it differ? "

    The correct question is "How do we get rid of the Fed and phase out fractional reserve lending?"

    The ultimate irony is that Kaufman blames Libertarianism when the very existence of the Fed is 180 degrees removed from Libertarianism. There is not a true Libertarian in existence who thinks the Fed is a good idea.

    The problem with regulation is easy to describe: Regulation typically fails, often spectacularly. And every time it fails, people come out of the woodwork begging for more of it.

    When does the madness stop?


    My Best Friend
    Werner Herzog's film about his very weird friend, Klaus Kinski.


    The Origins of The Smiths
    On the face of it we wanted to ditch everything that people superficially think is rock and roll - leather trousers and long hair and drugs. But the most important aspect of the rock and roll ie the gang mentality with something exclusive, which is to say an arrogance, was our forte and still is.


    The TARP, a Criminal Enterprise
    When Kudlow mentions twenty allegations of fraud in the TARP program, Seidman, former head of the Resolution Trust Corporation that cleaned up the savings and loan debacle, replies: "And let me say about fraud, I'm surprised there aren't 50, not 20 [allegations of fraud in the TARP program]. This program is made for fraud. And it's just too big to control,"


    Unfortunately, no mention of the largest underlying fraud at the root of the problem - the fractional reserve central banking system itself.

    The Dead Flag Blues
    Music Video
    Swine Flu Map
    Current cases in Mexico, 5 US states, Canada, UK, Spain, France, New Zealand.


    Securities Fraud: Paulson, Bernanke, Lewis
    New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo's letter to the SEC and Senate Banking Committee on the Bank of America, Merrill Lynch Merger provides strong evidence of coercion to commit securities fraud by former Treasury Secretary Paulson and Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, and actual securities fraud by Bank of America CEO Kenneth D. Lewis...

    Bank of America's attempt to exit the merger came to a halt on December 21, 2008. That day, Lewis informed Secretary Paulson that Bank of America still wanted to exit the merger agreement. According to Lewis, Secretary Paulson then advised Lewis that, if Bank of America invoked the MAC, its management and Board would be replaced...

    It's crystal clear from the letter that a strong case can be made that Paulson and Bernanke coerced Lewis to carry out a merger agreement that was not in Bank of America's shareholders best interest. Lewis arguably did so only to save his own job and the board.


    420 420
    A video clip from our trip the event last Monday on San Francisco's Hippie Hill.


    Top Lamp
    Libhashish is a powerful and generic hash library for C and C++. The library attempt to combine the best algorithms in this area and take all kinds of optimizations into account.


    Representative Democracy
    On the day the new Congress convened this year, Sen. Dianne Feinstein introduced legislation to route $25 billion in taxpayer money to a government agency that had just awarded her husband's real estate firm a lucrative contract to sell foreclosed properties at compensation rates higher than the industry norms.


    The fatal flaw of representative democracy is that only interests which "representatives" represent are their own.

    Music Video: Bat For Lashes
    Documentary: JR Oppenheimer
    A well made documentary on his life and how he was branded as untrustworthy because he thought the US plans to produce tens of thousands of hydrogen bombs was madness. It's dangerous to be sane in a mad world.


    MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - A deadly strain of flu never seen before has killed as many as 61 people in Mexico and has spread into the United States, where several people were reported ill...

    The virus is an influenza A virus, carrying the designation H1N1. It contains DNA from avian, swine and human viruses, including elements from European and Asian swine viruses, the CDC has said.


    Saturday Evening UPDATE:

    I work as a resident doctor in one of the biggest hospitals in Mexico City and sadly, the situation is far from "under control". As a doctor, I realise that the media does not report the truth. Authorities distributed vaccines among all the medical personnel with no results, because two of my partners who worked in this hospital (interns) were killed by this new virus in less than six days even though they were vaccinated as all of us were. The official number of deaths is 20, nevertheless, the true number of victims are more than 200. I understand that we must avoid to panic, but telling the truth it might be better now to prevent and avoid more deaths.


    Sunday Morning UPDATE:

    Official death toll at 81 and cases reported in Kansas, NYC, San Diego, London and New Zealand.


    BAGHDAD - Iraq's government has recorded 87,215 of its citizens killed since 2005 in violence ranging from catastrophic bombings to execution-style slayings, according to government statistics obtained by The Associated Press that break open one of the most closely guarded secrets of the war.


    Floating Roof House
    After optimizing our Domino Javascript framework Rich Collins and I have finally gotten to be usable even on IE7 running on a 6 year old PC laptop (our worst case scenario). The framework is Cocoa inspired and based on our Crux JS framework which cleans up JS object instantiation and provides some utility methods for it's base types. Here's a small Domino example:

      started: function()
          .setText("Hello world!")

    AFAIK, there are currently only three JS frameworks that allow you to write in JS as you would a proper desktop application - SproutCore (from Apple - used for, Cappucino (from 280 North - used for 280slides) and Domino.

    Quote of the Day
    If a man is offered a fact which goes against his instincts, he will scrutinize it closely, and unless the evidence is overwhelming, he will refuse to believe it. If, on the other hand, he is offered something which affords a reason for acting in accordance to his instincts, he will accept it even on the slightest evidence. The origin of myths is explained in this way.

    - Bertrand Russell

    FUSE Based File Systems
    Ran across this list and thought that NHFS looked interesting.
    Star Defense
    There are all sorts of ways to make a tower defense game more interesting (such as orthogonal tower and unit attributes, tower interactions, etc) but (imo) this isn't one of them.


    World Builder
    A nice short. I thought it might have been more mysterious and poignant if it had started when the woman walks outside (so I've made the following link to that point) and ended at 7m53s.

    Video via Snarmarket

    In 1913, the first federal income tax bracket was 1% and the top was 7%. In 2009 the first is 10% and the top 35%. [1] And that's just federal tax - adding state and sales taxes can easily take away 50% of a middle class income.

    IIRC, in Ben Franklin's autobiography, he said something to the effect that if taxes ever exceeded 4%, the people would overthrow the government. I suspect he was correct at the time but if so, what has happened since then? Could it be that after a certain quality of life (food, shelter, and some steady income and small savings) that people value their earnings less and will tolerate the government taking the rest? Does it feel like after taxes, you only have enough to get by?

    Quote of the Day
    There's always free cheddar in the mousetrap, baby. It's a deal, it's a deal.

    - Tom Waits, God's Away On Business

    Mission Accomplished

    According to this study, 86% of those killed in Iraq air bombing were women and children. This is the real face of military intervention.

    Central Banking Fraud
    We have lost the ability to be blunt. Now we have a situation where Treasury Secretary Geithner can speak of a $2 trillion hole in the banking system, at the same time all the major banks report they are well-capitalized. And you have seen no regulatory action against what amounts to a $2 trillion accounting fraud.

    - William Black interviewed by Bill Moyers

    Urbanomic: Collapse
    Finished Collapse Volume IV and enjoyed it enough to order volumes 1-4. If you like philosophy and don't mind skipping the less interesting articles, I recommend them.


    Mark Twain Invented the LOL Cat Dialect
    Behind Every Great Fortune...
    It would have been nice to have cash on hand to meet margin calls, but [the Harvard Endowment] had next to none. That was because these supremely self-confident money managers were more than fully invested. As of June 30 they had, thanks to the fancy derivatives, a 105% long position in risky assets. The effect is akin to putting every last dollar of your portfolio to work and then borrowing another 5% to buy more stocks...

    Although the full extent of the damage won't be known until Harvard releases the endowment numbers for June 30, 2009, the university is already working on the assumption that the portfolio will be down 30%, or $11 billion.


    It would appear that Harvard grads not only managed to bring down the nation's largest financial institutions, but also the Harvard endowment itself. Fortunately for the ones on Wall Street, they've had fellow alumni in high places (Bernanke, Paulson, etc and now Obama) to allow them to steal from the public coffers to make up for their losses. More importantly, they have alumni enriched by their roles in the corrupt fractional reserve banking system which contributed to the endowment in the first place.

    Why Things Go Wrong
    Tim Hunkin on "Trial and Error" and "Why Things Go Wrong". Good tips for engineering in general.



    "Happy" celebration of the selective terrorist slaughter of Egyptian children by a fictional evil deity still worshipped by millions. I'll personally be celebrating that the world can maintain some small assemblance of order in the face of such widespread insanity.

    Little wonder the source of the holiday has been hidden behind a veil of bunnies and and brightly colored eggs just as a corpse would be traditionally wrapped in linen and spices to disguise it's horrific appearance and putrid stench.

    The Lie We Call Representative Democracy
    Just got a chance to play with Apple Numbers and was disappointed to find that the nearly 20 year old Lotus Improv is still the best spreadsheet app I've used.

    In a moment the earth will cover us. Then the earth too will change, and then further successive changes to infinity. One reflecting on these waves of change and transformation, and the speed of their flow, will hold all mortal things in contempt.

    - Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

    The Poster
    The Bill
    Quote of the Day
    I feel like an alternate route my life could have taken is the route of a programmer and I think that's every bit as much an art form as music is.

    Trent Reznor interviewed by Kevin Rose

    Schizophrenics Immune to Some Optical Illusions
    According to the article, if someone sees this mask as concave, there's ~50% (correction thanks to Adam Langley) chance they have schizophrenia.


    Movie Preview: Let the Right One In
    C1 House
    The Role of Commitment in Negotiation
    I've been reading the The Strategy of Conflict recently and the first chapter is on the value of commitment in negotiation. For example, when playing chicken, throwing your steering wheel out the window commits you to driving forward and forces the competitor to turn. Likewise, deliberately stirring up a labor union for a certain wage increase allows the union negotiators to say that they can't keep their jobs unless they get that price. Both are examples of how deliberately reducing your flexibility can strengthen your negotiating position.

    This got me wondering if there may be a connection to the curious fact that some muscles involved in facial emotional displays aren't under voluntary control. Could this have been selected for as a means to lend more commitment value to facial communication in conflict negotiation? It seems that there would also be selection pressure to have this under voluntary control (to gain negotiating power via display of false commitment) and that these might converge on some relatively narrow equilibrium.

    Jared Diamond on the Adaptive Value of Religion
    The major point he discusses is the theory that religion may have been useful for suppressing territorial aggression during the transition from small tribes were everyone knows each other to large chiefdoms were many people don't know one another by giving them a common bond.

    The flip side of this is that it may also serve to support larger genocidal conflicts between chiefdoms or nations. That is, seeing a larger group as family tends to also mean seeing other large groups as strangers.


    The Secret Life of Machines
    Tim Hunkin and company's brilliant TV series now free for download. I think Dru Nelson introduced me to this series back in college.


    Internet Color Pallette
    Interesting. The pallette suggests this a design site.


    Fiat Flexibility
    One of the most popular arguments against having gold as money is that a gold-based monetary system would be inflexible...

    Today's official money is very flexible, and it's not hard to see the cost of this flexibility. The following chart ... reveals one method of quantifying this cost. The chart shows that the total quantity of debt in the US economy was around 185% of net national income in 1957 and was still around this level at the beginning of the 1970s. However, by 2008 the total debt had grown to about 500% of net national income. Bear in mind that the current "flexible" monetary system came into being in the early-1970s. In other words, the introduction of "flexible" money led to a veritable explosion in the quantity of debt.


    Excitotoxins: MSG and NutraSweet
    The negative effects of glutamate were first observed in 1954 by T. Hayashi, a Japanese scientist who noted that direct application of glutamate to the CNS caused seizure activity, though this report went unnoticed for several years. The toxicity of glutamate was then observed by D. R. Lucas and J. P. Newhouse in 1957 when the feeding of monosodium glutamate to newborn mice destroyed the neurons in the inner layers of the retina.[6]

    Later, in 1969, John Olney discovered the phenomenon wasn't restricted to the retina but occurred throughout the brain and coined the term excitotoxicity. He also assessed that cell death was restricted to postsynaptic neurons, that glutamate agonists were as neurotoxic as their efficiency to activate glutamate receptors, and that glutamate antagonists could stop the neurotoxicity.[7]

    Wikipedia page on Excitotoxicity

    Quote of the Day
    In the middle of the turf, a boy of nine or ten was standing all alone, with something of an air.

    'The eldest,' said Wilson. 'Havelock. Well, Lockie, what are ye doing now? And where are your brother and sister?'

    The boy was not at all shy. Indeed, he seemed eager to explain the course of events.

    'I'm playing at being Gawd,' he said, with an engaging frankness. 'And I've sent Fergus and Janet to the bad place. That's in the shrubbery. And they're never to come out any more. And they're burning for ever and ever.'

    'What d'you think of that?' said Wilson admiringly. 'Not bad for a youngster of nine, is it? They think a lot of him at the Sunday-school.'

    - Arthur Machen

    Steven Pinker on Romantic Love
    The theory Pinker describes of romantic love's evolutionary value being one of a signal of commitment to a mate would suggest an asymmetry in gender (men experiencing more romantic love) as women that have a stronger evolutionary interest in commitment (to have resources for offspring). But my impression is that men are actually less prone to romantic love. Also, romantic love has been shown to be short lived and is therefore a poor predictor of long term commitment.

    It seems to me that a simpler theory that fits the data better is that it's a pair bonding emotion designed to keep a couple together long enough to raise a child to the point where it can take care of itself.


    President Barack Obama's budget would produce $9.3 trillion in deficits over the next decade, more than four times the deficits of Republican George W. Bush's presidency, congressional auditors said Friday.


    Punching Bags
    If you've watched any "reality" TV show, you may have noticed the tendency for groups under pressure to spontaneously isolate and attack individuals in a coordinated way. Could this be a means for groups to release tension without it spreading to larger conflicts and could this happen between nations as well (Korea, Vietnam, Kashmir, etc)?
    Russia Calls for Gold Standard
    Russia backs return to Gold Standard to solve financial crisis Russia has become the first major country to call for a partial restoration of the Gold Standard to uphold discipline in the world financial system.


    It would only help if combined with the removal of central bank fractional reserve systems.

    Talk: Steven Pinker: The Blank Sate
    When a surgeon severs the corpus collosum and disconnects the two cerebral hemispheres, the result can be two largely independent consciousnesses coresiding in one skull - as if the soul can be bisected with a knife.


    Peter Schiff: The Fault Lines Emerge
    Printing money is merely taxation in another form. Rather than robbing citizens of their money, government robs their money of its purchasing power. Many people assume that if government provides the funds we can spend our way back to prosperity. However, it's not money we lack but production. If the government simply prints money and doles it out, we will not be able to buy more stuff; we will simply pay higher prices. The only way to buy more is to produce more. It is production that creates purchasing power, not the printing press!


    S&P 500
    If you bought [the S&P index] in May 1997 - congratulations - you are now even (not counting inflation and dividends).


    With 4% inflation, one would be about 40% underwater for non-dividend yielding stocks.

    A4 Lamp
    Improving Javascript Load Performance
    It turns out its actually better to place scripts at the bottom of the HTML document. But why is this? It appears that the HTTP 1.1 specification is the culprit. According to the document, whilst a browser can download only 2 resources from any 1 hostname at one time (2 images for example), when downloading scripts, the browser cannot download anything else at all.


    UPDATE: Best Practices for Speeding Up Your Web Site via Mike Austin

    Starving people pan for gold to buy bread
    This photo does a nice job of showing how whitespace is certainly not "wasted" space.


    Peter Schiff
    Best video on the economic meltdown I've seen so far.

    Video ~1hr

    DHTML Leaks Like a Sieve
    Seeing some JS memory leaks in the latest IE, FF and Safari I did some digging and found this article:

    Internet Explorer uses the native windows COM model, while Mozilla uses a very similar XPCOM model. One of the things these two models have in common is that objects allocated within them are not garbage collected - they are reference counted...

    ...neither Internet Explorer nor Mozilla free these objects even after a page is unloaded, so the browser will just blow more and more memory.

    Link (2005)

    I'm wondering if Google's principle motivation for Chrome was to simply have a browser with a JS that is usable for writing real apps.

    Quote of the Day
    Confidence taken in, by a sun tan and a grin

    - Depeche Mode, Everything Counts

    Joan Anguita


    Nano Car
    As with the OLPC, if there is something interesting about the Nano project it's not the price as one can buy a good (and likely more reliable) used car for the same price or less.

    Time article on the Nano

    No one mentions that AIG was the insurance company that insured the Twin Towers specifically against terrorism a month or so before 9/11 happened, and then paid off on the towers' collapses twice based on a friendly lawsuit between friends Larry Silverstein (who owned the Towers) and his buddy Maurice Greenberg (CEO/owner of AIG).

    - on the LPSF mailing list

    I'm not a 9/11 conspiracy theorist (yet) but I do find these connections interesting.

    How to stop AIM Spam
    from the Trout, Salmon, Coho screen names
    Quotes of the Day
    A scrum of executives sit around a table, laptops in front of them, as they sort through resumes, college transcripts and quarterly reviews. The conversation is unemotional, at times a little brutal. One candidate got a C in macroeconomics. "That's troubling to me," Ms. Mayer says. "Good students are good at all things."

    - Google's Marissa Mayer

    ...his inability to master French was the bane of his school days, and may have been chiefly responsible for his failing college entrance examinations.

    - NYT article on Albert Einstein

    Just Following Orders
    Where have we heard that line before?


    Almost all the reporting I've heard on the economy (including NPR) tacitly supports the assumptions on which the government (purportedly) is basing it's actions.

    Witness the recent AIG bonus scandal. All the news can talk about is how the bailout money is being spent but hardly a word is uttered about whether the bailout should have happened in the first place. I'm reminded of the war in Iraq, when the media covered the war intensely but were almost completely silent on whether the war was just.

    The effect in both cases is to divert attention from the real crooks - the members of our representative government that were bought by one industry or another. The people suffer and the representatives and their masters benefit. AFAICS, as long as we have a representative democracy (instead of a direct democracy), this pattern will repeat itself until the system collapses under the weight of the resulting murder and theft.

    Quote of the Day
    Please note that Bernanke has already failed. "It" (deflation) has arrived. And deflation has arrived in spite of the fact that Bernanke has slashed rates to 0%, instituted numerous lending facilities that have all failed, squandered $trillions in taxpayer money, and has already implemented phase II (or do I mean phases 2 through 20) of his plan, that being the "offer fixed-term loans to banks at low or zero interest, with a wide range of private assets as collateral."

    - Mish

    I, Incredulous
    What evidence does Robert Cringley have for his claim that this Parrot site he reports on actually makes $400K a year? The word of the site owner who stands to benefit from the publicity raised by such claims?
    Music Videos: Explosions in the Sky
    The Only Moment We Were Alone
    So Long, Lonesome
    Acronym Spring/Summer 2009 Collection
    iPhone OS 3.0
    Documentary: Andy Warhol
    Baseball Cards
    Ive said it before, a stock that doesnt pay dividends is valued like a baseball card. Just whatever you can sell it for. The concept that you own "your share" of the company is a joke. You are completely at the whim of the CEO and board who will dilute you on a daily basis with stock options, then try to buy back stock to cover it up and push up the price, rewarding the shareholders who get out, rather than those that continue to hold the shares. Meaning you.

    Have you ever seen Warren Buffet talk about buying 100 shares of anything? or does he take control of, or purchase a material percentage of a company?


    I recall having a conversation with one of the founders of Rocket Mail back during the dotcom boom and employing the same analogy. I think the point is still valid and occasionally have this conversation with gold bugs with respect to mining companies. It seems strange to me that the stock market even exists when common stock means so little. Why not have some form of bond market with revenue sharing clauses instead?

    Talk: Dan Ariely on Cheating
    How Rich Countries Die
    Greenspun reviews Olson's new book:

    Chapter 2 summarizes Olson's groundbreaking work on how interest groups work to reduce a society's efficiency and GDP...

    Chapter 3:It takes a long time for special interest groups to form...

    Olson preempts the question of "How come the Swiss aren't poor given that they've had stability for so many centuries?" by looking at their constitution, which "makes it extremely difficult to pass new legislation. This makes it difficult for lobbies to get their way and thus greatly limits Switzerland's losses from special interest legislation."


    The Swiss also have a direct democracy, so any lobbyists would have to lobby the entire public.

    Sapolsky Talk on Stress and Neurodegeneration
    [the Serengeti is]... a great place to live if you are a baboon. What's the implication of that is that if you only have to work three hours a day for your calories, you've got nine hours of free time every single day to be unspeakably shitty to some other baboon.

    And that's critical. That's absolutely critical. Think about it: none of us get ulcers because the locusts have eaten our crops or we've got to wrestle people for canned food items in the supermarket. We are ecologically buffered enough that we have the luxury to invent social and psychological stress and make ourselves sick with it.


    Sapolsky Talk on Toxoplasmosis
    And other parasites - fascinating stuff.


    Sapolsky Talk on Primate Sexuality
    Touches on a lot of interesting ideas. Recommended.

    Video via BoingBoing

    As there seems to be a strong correlation between self proclaimed christians and people who support the use of torture, I suggest bringing up the following scenario when debating them:

    An abortion clinic receives a terrorist bomb threat and people are locked in the building with the timer counting down. Should the police have the right to round up local fundamentalist christians as suspects and torture them to possibly discover how to defuse the bomb?

    Shelter, Slow Phase
    Music Video
    Terence McKenna on Alienation
    The reason we feel alienated is because the society is infantile, trivial and stupid. So the cost of sanity in this society is a certain level of alienation. I grapple with this because I am a parent, and I think anyone with children comes to this realization: What will it be? Alienated, cynical, intellectual or slack jawed, half-wit consumer of the horse shit being handed down from on high? And we all want our children to be well adjusted - unfortunately there's nothing to be well adjusted too.

    Video 2min

    Silicon Graphics will have its shares delisted from the Nasdaq stock market beginning Thursday morning, according to an SEC filing it made Monday.


    Is there a dead pool for these companies? I'd like to see the odds on Sun being delisted in the next few years.

    Antinatalism is the philosophical position that asserts a negative value judgment towards birth. It has been advanced by figures such as Arthur Schopenhauer, Brother Theodore and David Benatar.

    Video and Wikipedia entry

    Interesting that both Schopenhauer's and the video's discussion of the motivations for having children miss the nurture instinct given that it seems to be one of the strongest archetypal behaviors and appears in human development right after caregiver seeking, eating and locomotion.

    Talk: Mitch Altman on TV-B-Gone
    One of the big rules, BIG rules, for doing business is (and this is my only rule for doing business): Don't work with people you don't like. No matter how much money you think might be made, it's not worth it!


    In a talk yesterday, reports the Financial Times' Richard Waters, the head of Microsoft Research, Rick Rashid, said that about 20 percent of all the server computers being sold in the world "are now being bought by a small handful of internet companies," including Microsoft, Google, Yahoo and Amazon.

    The consolidation of server sales into the hands of just a few companies also portends a radical reshaping of the server industry, something already apparent in the vigorous attempts by hardware vendors to position themselves as suppliers to the cloud.


    In markets (steel mills, dotcoms, newspapers, etc), consolidation often precedes collapse.

    pHash is an open source software library released under the GPLv3 license that implements several perceptual hashing algorithms, and provides a C++ API to use those functions in your own programs.



    Thanks to the various folks reposted this and my link to the image diff lib to reddit. I'm usually too lazy to post things there myself.
    Documentary: Kurt Cobain: About A Son
    It's sad to think what the state of rock and roll will be twenty years from now. It just seems like when rock and roll is dead the whole world is going to explode... It's already turned into nothing but a fashion statement and an identity to use for them to fuck and have a social life.


    Apple Compact Keyboard
    Kudos to Apple's new compact keyboard for answering (by coincidence, I'm sure) a request I made last year.

    My next request is for a fold out trackpad at the same location that it's found on mac laptops.

    Swarming Phase
    Violent protests and riots are breaking out everywhere as economies collapse and governments fail. War is bound to follow.

    Salon article

    Hydrogen from Aluminum and Water
    Scientists at Pennsylvania State University and Virginia Commonwealth University are producing hydrogen by exposing clusters of aluminum atoms to water. Rather than relying on the electronic properties of the aluminum, this new process depends on the geometric distribution of atoms within the clusters and requires the presence of Lewis acids and Lewis bases in those atoms. Unlike most hydrogen production processes, this method can be used at room temperature and doesn't require the application of heat or electricity to work.

    Link via Slashdot

    No mention of whether this is endothermic? Otherwise, it seems it would be a violation of conservation of energy.

    Quote of the Day

    There was a silence as we descended into the Vale of Oxford from the Chilterns, so I talked about the colonisation of Mars. Apparently it might be possible to plant simple life forms like lichen, and then, later, hardy trees, and over the course of thousands of years an oxygen-based atmosphere could develop. The temperature would rise, and in time it could be a beautiful place. Clarissa stared through the windscreen at the road rolling under our feet and, to the left and right, the thickening fields and the cow parsely just out along the hedgerows. "What's the point? It's beautiful here and we're still unhappy."

    - Ian McEwan, Enduring Love

    Dawkins Interviews Ian McEwan
    David Lynch on the 1950's
    "All the problems were there," he once explained, referring at least to the atomic bomb, and probably to McCarthy, "but it was somehow glossed over. And then the gloss broke, or rotted, and it all came oozing out." In a now-famous quote published in Lynch on Lynch, he explained that he'd grown up in "middle America as it's supposed to be. But on the cherry tree there's this pitch oozing out - some black, some yellow, and millions of red ants crawling all over it. I discovered that if one looks a little closer at this beautiful world, there are always red ants underneath."


    Safari 4
    I'm happy to see javascript implementations getting fast. I'm neutral on the new tabs - I like that the new tabs save space and make the visual hierarchy more consistent, but bookmarks break this consistency. The top sites view would be useful for me if they scrapped the visual view and just made it a bookmarks drop-down menu of page titles.
    Angry citizen(s) spray paint Congressmans car and home
    On October 22, just after the first round of bankster bailouts was passed by Congress against the will of the American people several representatives in Minnesota found their cars and homes spray painted by angry constituents.


    Karl Sims: Evolved Virtual Creatures (1994)
    A longer version of this video than I had seen before.


    Wired, the latest Wall Street Apologist
    This article tries to blame the debt collapse on quant risk analysis techniques.

    Wired makes its living mysticizing technology and deifying it's celebrities, so its no surprise that the editors would choose this story, but were they interested in actually informing their readers (or were their readers actually interested in being informed) they might start by observing that no elaborate math is needed to see a bubble in assets prices that suddenly rise to 2x their long term inflation adjusted norms and that these techniques weren't about assessing risk - they were about creating a facade of respectability to sell junk bonds, of plausible deniability when the obvious happened.

    Once that's clear, the question becomes why our so-called banking system contains so much debt in the first place. Why is it considered sane for "bank" deposits to be leveraged 10x (or more) and dumped into speculative bond investments? And why is an inflationary monetary policy that forces depositors into such speculative investments and constantly transfers wealth from the public to the bankers tolerated?

    As scores of historians have not failed to point out, this standard narrative is inherently implausible inasmuch as the medieval conception of the cosmos was less anthropocentric than diabolocentric, the earth being regarded as "the filth and mire of the world, the worst, lowest, most lifeless part of the universe, the bottom story of the house" (Montaigne as quoted by Arthur Lovejoy, The Great Chain of Being, op. cit., 102) and the actual centre of the universe being identified with hell...

    Thus, from the perspective of pre-modern cosmology and theology, Copernicanism, far from entailing the demotion of the earth and of man, actually amounted to their exaltation.

    - Damian Veal, Introduction to Collapse V

    Work in Small Batches
    Eric Ries' list of the benefits of small batches:
    • faster feedback
    • problems are instantly localized
    • reduced risk
    • reduced overhead

    Eric's post

    I agree with these and have been experiencing the same thing with the project I'm currently working on. If you have a persistent atomic queue server, it's easy break work into small pieces which can be transparently distributed.

    In this model, the chain of events normally held in a stack on a single worker is replaced by a chain of queues from which any number of workers can process items and place them in the next queue.

    For my project, each queue has four subqueues - "waiting", "active", "done", and "error". Workers atomically pop an item from waiting to active and a qtime and qexpireTime are set on the item. On completion, the item is popped from active to done. On failure, the item is popped to the error subqueue. If the worker crashes, the active item will eventually expire and get pop back to the waiting queue. I'll post later on how we're using this with Amazon EC2.

    MUJI Lamp

    Just got mine and I dig it. A nice feature is that it's hard polycarbonate and sturdy enough to put books, laptop, drinks etc on so it can double as a nightstand when placed next to a bed - meaning one less piece of furniture.

    AC Power Plugs
    Why so many? We can have a single standard for our networking protocols but not the power plugs for networking hardware.


    Documentary: Kraftwerk and the Electronic Revolution
    Congressman McFaddenon on the Federal Reserve, 1934
    "In defiance of this and all other warnings, the proponents of the Fed created the 12 private credit corporations and gave them an absolute monopoly of the currency of these United States- not of the Fed Notes alone- but of all other currency! The Fed Act providing ways and means by which the gold and general currency in the hands of the American people could be obtained by the Fed in exchange for Fed Notes- which are not money- but mere promises to pay.


    Promises which were broken in 1971 when the US abandoned the gold standard because the ran out of gold to exchange for dollars when requested. And just where did all the wealth of gold go? AFAICS, it went into the pockets of the bankers that got to lend out the new money that was printed in excess of the reserves.

    Quote of the Day
    If you have a gun, you can rob a bank,
    but if you have a bank, you can rob everyone!

    - Bill Maher


    Let it happen I say. The world's been saved once, while every ungrateful son and daughter slept and dreamt their baseball and apple pie dreams. And all they can do when they wake up is raise the chant for death again.

    - Move Under Ground by Nick Mamatos

    Collapse V
    We are pleased to announce that Collapse Volume V, entitled The Copernican imperative, will be published on 15 December 2008...

    In his Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, Galileo proclaimed, through his mouthpiece Salviati, that he could 'never sufficiently admire the outstanding acumen' of those early advocates of Copernicanism who, 'through sheer force of intellect' - that is, without even the benefit of a telescope to confirm the theory observationally - 'had done such violence to their own senses as to prefer what reason told them over that which sensible experience plainly showed them to the contrary'.

    ...In this volume of Collapse, we bring together samples of the most intellectually challenging contemporary work devoted to exploring the philosophical implications of 'Copernicanism' from a variety of overlapping and complementary standpoints.


    Just ordered my copy.

    Raza Interviews Dawkins
    Raza and Dawkins theorize on how religion may be the product of agency bias. In our evolutionary history, it may have been a selective advantage to be biased towards false positives for agency (mistaking a bush for a tiger) than false negatives (mistaking a tiger for a bush). In these terms, religion (and many other supernatural beliefs) take the form of a false positive detection of patterns of agency in the world.


    Zimbabwe - gold for bread
    Kanto Syd4


    Marconi Union
    If you like Boards of Canada, you might like this band.

    Audio samples

    War Atrocities
    One way to deal with group serving biases is to directly ask a question whose answer is obvious but in contradiction to the hidden assumptions of the bias. For war atrocity denial, one might ask questions like: Does your military have a significantly lower percentage of sociopaths than the military of your enemy?
    Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation
    While I drew, Snyder continued his lecture. ''You could call this a creativity-amplifying machine. It's a way of altering our states of mind without taking drugs like mescaline. You can make people see the raw data of the world as it is. As it is actually represented in the unconscious mind of all of us.''

    NYT article and Wikipedia article

    Apple HiFi BoomBox
    Whatever happened to this product? I liked the idea, even if the first iteration wasn't great (price too high, quality too low). It's curious that Apple doesn't have a decent set of speakers for their desktops. I've yet to see third party speakers that don't look out of place next to a Mac, iPod or iPhone. No third party seems to understand Apple design (which is to say they go out of their way to add design complexity to their products and Apple doesn't).

    This Altec speaker set for example. Why the empty space at the bottom? Why the curvature on the speaker and dock areas? Why the odd angles around the sides? The designer had to spend time adding all these details but each of them only makes the end product less attractive.

    This Bose set is better, but again - why the curvature on the speaker area? Why the oval shaped dock and the oval speaker vertical axis? All of these details took time to add and none of them match the style of the iPod.

    The inMotion is closer to a decent design, but is still full of unnecessary details that ruin it.

    Why don't these companies just do a thinner version of the Apple BoomBox sans batteries and handles? Is the sad state of industrial design the result of designers feeling the need to appear busy?

    UDPDATE: Alexandros Pagidas pointed out the Kanto SYD which looks like a possible nice successor to the Apple BoomBox. Here's a site that sells them.

    Moved my server to a new location today. It's curious that the DNS system requires Verisign to "approve" a DNS server 72 hours before it is allowed to be used as an official server for a domain (this isn't about DNS caching - it's an approval to allow the server to be used as a DNS server). What exactly do they need to approve and why does it take so long? A single request could verify that there is a DNS server at a given IP within 10s of miliseconds. Is it possible that the companies that run the DNS system have an interest in making life difficult for folks running a DNS server instead of purchasing their $10/year/domain DNS hosting?
    Artist: Edmund Monsiel
    Structure dissolved into oceans of noise from which fractals of archetypal forms appear in the foam to stare back at us.



    And in those last screaming moments someone wonders how anyone could be duped by all this ludicrous glitter, how anyone could bear confronting the face of a world that writhes in darkness without for a moment relaxing its blinding and inexcusable smile. How easily the old nonsense leads us on and, with neither warnings nor answers, delivers us into a nonsense that seems so different, so new.

    - Thomas Ligotti, "Ghost Stories for the Dead"

    Fannie Mae
    Just watched a Bloomberg interview with Fannie Mae President Herbert Allison where he stated that the financial crisis was a product of "our free market". Is he not aware of what his organization does? In what sort of free market are more than half of the nation's mortgages purchased and resold with guaranteed returns through a governmental organization?

    He also makes a prediction: "I think the housing market will stabilize by the year end and pick up after that." Has he not looked at the Alt-A reset timeline?

    Marc Faber Interview 02/06
    Peter Schiff Interview 02/05
    ...everybody in the Soviet Union had a job - they all worked for the government and they were all flat broke.

    Video via Rich Collins

    Movie Preview: Tokyo!
    Dollar Policy
    Interview with Louis Federal Reserve President James Bullard

    At 4:38 when asked about the possibility of a weakening dollar, he says "I have a policy not to comment on the dollar. The dollar is the Treasury's policy and so, I'm going to leave it at that."

    AFAIK, the Fed decides monetary policy and therefore has the most direct influence on the dollar, while the Treasury can only print bonds. Is his answer very odd, or am I missing something?

    Distributed Indexing
    To decrease the amount of bandwidth wasted by web crawlers for search engines, how about a standard (keyword and url) index format that can be linked to by a site's robots.txt? The site's admins would set up a local periodic crawler which would produce this index and then publish it. Search engines could then grab this compressed index instead of crawling the site (saving bandwidth and computation on both sides), sample it for inaccuracies and accept it if it looks ok.
    Base Money Supply 1910 to Present
    Chart via St. Louis Federal Reserve
    The Bilking of America
    ...How can Wells offer a fixed rate of 3.875% for 30 years given the current rate term structure and conditions in the MBS/CDO markets?

    The only answer I can come up with is Wells Fargo is going to promptly bundle and dump those securities straight into the insolvent arms of Freddie Mae (FNM) and Fannie Mac (FRE). Who else would take them?

    Mish post

    Now that Fannie and Freddie are nationalized, the loss on every single junk mortgage bond they buy and sell (since their returns are guaranteed) must be payed for by US taxpayers. Which is to say that every bad deal transfers wealth from the American public to the bankers.

    Life at Walmart
    Several of my co-workers had relocated from other areas, where they had worked at other Wal-Marts. They wanted more of the same. Everyone agreed that Wal-Mart was preferable to the local Target, where the hourly pay was lower and workers were said to be treated with less respect (an opinion which I was unable to verify). Most of all, my coworkers wanted to avoid those "mom-and-pop" stores beloved by social commentators where, I was told, employees had to deal with quixotic management policies, while lacking the opportunities for promotion that exist in a large corporation.

    Of course, I was not well paid, but Wal-Mart is hardly unique in paying a low hourly rate to entry-level retail staff. The answer to this problem seems elusive to Barbara Ehrenreich, yet is obvious to any teenager who enrolls in a vocational institute. In a labor market, employees are valued partly according to their abilities. To earn a higher hourly rate, you need to acquire some relevant skills.

    Boing Boing article

    Another nice tower defense game. I like the fact that strategic "defense games" now have their own genre on many gaming sites.

    Flash game

    New NSA Whistleblower


    Says the Bush admin was using wiretaps to monitor newspaper reporters. Is there a futures market to bet on whether executive consitutional violations will ever be prosecuted? Someone (besides the executives) could make a bundle betting against the US justice system.

    David Friedman on the Stimulus
    Another part of it is that the credit crunch seems to bear at least a family resemblance to what Keynesians expected to see, indeed believed they had seen, as the cause of depressions. Interest rates are so low that holding money makes more sense than investing it, so demand drops, so everything spirals down - underemployment equilibrium due to the economy falling into the liquidity trap. The solution they proposed was fiscal policy. The government borrows the money that was accumulating under mattresses, spends it, gets things going again.

    There is, however, one small problem with this account of the present situation. The Keynesian liquidity trap was supposed to be a result of running out of investment opportunities. All the productive things that could be done with capital had been done, so firms were only willing to offer a trivial reward to investors, so nobody bothered to invest.

    That story has nothing to do with what actually happened. Firms are eager to borrow money and invest. The problem is not that we have exhausted investment opportunities but that lenders don't know what borrowers, or what intermediaries, to trust, due to a malfunction of the capital markets set off by the bursting of the housing bubble. One can argue about who to blame for that malfunction and what to do about it. But whoever is to blame, it is not a liquidity trap, hence it isn't any reason to resurrect the economic doctrines of fifty years ago.


    Macross Frontier 2008
    I remember seeing the original show as a kid.

    Episode 1 video

    How do people who are subscribed to a 1000+ twitter feeds keep up with them? Do they use some special client that does keyword filtering? If not, of what use are so many feed subscriptions? Are subscriptions being confused with social network friend connections?

    Btw, on the first day of my recent jury duty, the judge instructed us not to "tweet" or blog about the details of the trial.

    Daschle Financial Disclosure
    As a politician, Mr. Daschle often struck a populist note, but his financial disclosure report shows that in the last two years, he received $2.1 million from a law firm, Alston & Bird; $2 million in consulting fees from a private equity firm run by a major Democratic fundraiser, Leo Hindery Jr. (which provided him with the car and driver)
    Quote of the Day
    JOBS: We're living in the wake of the petrochemical revolution of 100 years ago. The petrochemical revolution gave us free energy - free mechanical energy, in this case. It changed the texture of society in most ways. This revolution, the information revolution, is a revolution of free energy as well, but of another kind: free intellectual energy. It's very crude today, yet our Macintosh computer takes less power than a 100-watt light bulb to run and it can save you hours a day. What will it be able to do ten or 20 years from now, or 50 years from now? This revolution will dwarf the petrochemical revolution. We're on the forefront.


    Apple Acquisition Targets
    As an Apple shareholder, here are some companies I'd like to see Apple acquire (for the right price):

    • NetApp If Apple wanted to seriously get into the server space, this is the company to look at.

    • Adobe, Flash for positioning, and to complete control of desktop media.

    • Data Robotics: for their zero configuration NAS. Btw, it would be nice to see one that supported notebook drives.
    Keynes on "the Jews"
    If Keynes was an intellectual hero of the Right, rather than the Left, do you think those quotes would be so little known?


    To test his hunch he designed Rat Park... A colony of rats, who are naturally gregarious, were allowed to roam together in a large vivarium enriched with wheels, balls and other playthings, on a deep bed of aromatic cedar shavings and with plenty of space for breeding and private interactions. Pleasant woodland vistas were even painted on the surrounding walls. In this situation, the rats' responses to drugs such as opiates were transformed. They no longer showed interest in pressing levers for rewards of morphine: even if forcibly addicted, they would suffer withdrawals rather than maintaining their dependence.

    Nth Position article via 3quarksdaily

    Paper: Global Currency and Gold
    [1] As an interesting aside, one may note that the present U.S. debt of US$10.5 trillion easily exceeds the value of ALL circulating currencies in the world PLUS the value of all gold ever mined! A naive person may wonder just exactly how the American government ever intends to pay this debt off...


    The naive person being one who doesn't consider printing money?

    Effigies of ourselves made by our own hands and minds, puppets were created to be actors in a world of their own, one that exists inside of ours and reflects back upon it. What do we see in that reflection? Only what we want to see, what we can stand to see. Through the prophylactic of self-illusion, we hide from what we fear to let into our heads. But puppets have nothing to hide. They are more than willing to betray a secret too terrible for us to know.

    Our lives are full of baffling questions that virtuosos of speculation trifle with and the rest of us forget about. Naked apes or embodied angels we perhaps may be, but not self-conscious nothings. We are somebodies who move freely about and think what we choose. Puppets are not like that. They have nothing in their heads. They are unreal. When they are in motion, we know they are moved by an outside force. When they speak, their voices come from elsewhere. Their orders come from somewhere behind and beyond them. And were they ever to become aware of that fact, they would collapse at the horror of it all, as would we.

    - Thomas Ligotti, The Conspiracy Against the Human Race

    Public Signage Typefaces

    Some beautifully crafted typefaces in there.

    Krugman on the Developing World
    When I went to grad school in the mid-70s, I thought about doing development economics - but decided not to, because it was too depressing. Basically, circa 1975 there weren't any success stories: poor countries remained obstinately poor, despite their access to 20th-century technology.

    Since then the success stories have multiplied, with China and India finally emerging as the economic superpowers they ought to be - though if truth be told, we really don't know why development economics started working better around 1980.

    - Paul Krugman

    Might it have something to do with China (early 80s) and India (early 90s) lifting their heavy state control on business?

    In this video, Paul Krugman praises the Japanese government for it's handling of their recession by "putting a lot of money into the banking system" and suggests that if they had done it in 92 instead of 98, they could have avoided 6 years of recession. I'd like to know what makes him think these measures were helpful. I don't see any evidence in the Japanese stock market data for that period (not adjusted for inflation).
    Could the distribution of food and other products be made significantly more efficient if the packaging was standardized to a small number shapes? This seems to have happened to some drinks to allow for their use in vender machines. Produce aside, could most of a typical grocery store could be made into a vending machine via the use of across the board packaging standards?

    If vending machines were in cargo container shapes, could we replace the store with a warehouse where the cargo containers are dropped off periodically? This would avoid all in-store stocking of shelves, and any unsold items could be safely and easily returned to the supplier for redistribution.

    Kahnemann and Taleb on Human Biases
    How could "medicine" fool people for 14 centuries? Because all of these problems [that doctors killed more people than they helped] were known by the empiricists in 2nd, 3rd, 4th century. You can fool people for a long time, and that explains to me what has happened in economics...

    ... explain to me why they have a profession where nobody replicates out of sample. They only person that got a Nobel in economics for something that replicates out of sample is him [pointing to Kahnemann].

    Video (can skip first 5m)


    Mission Bicycles
    Minimal fixed gear pedal bikes.


    UPDATE: Chainless bikes

    Recent studies have shown cannabidiol to be as effective as atypical antipsychotics in treating schizophrenia.[6]

    Wikipedia Entry

    Google Analytics Visualization
    On Reddit today, I spotted this image with the quote:

    When I give the poor food, they call me a saint.
    When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist.

    The largest cases of mass starvation in the modern world have been in communist states and are directly attributable to the collectivisation of farming (Lenin himself admitted the failure of collectivized farming in his "Commanding Heights" speech). So statistically, if one asks the question "why are do the people have no food?" the answer is communism.

    This vs. Self
    Does the use of the external perspective "this" keyword instead of the internal "self" keyword in certain OO languages suggest anything about the perspective of the language designers?

    When I'm writing code within an object, my mental model puts me as the object interacting with other objects and "self" is the natural english expression of this. The use of "this" instead suggests some external command issuer directing the object that may have a perspective on the system that is different and wider than the object's perspective.

    New Government in Iceland
    Conservative Prime Minister Geir Haarde announced the resignation of his cabinet, after talks with his Social Democratic coalition partners failed. He said he could not accept the Social Democrats' demand to lead the country.


    If the people of Iceland want to, they can elect a parliament that will un-nationalize the country's banks (that is, not make the people of Iceland responsible for paying off the banks debts) and make the bankers themselves responsible for the banks liabilities, starting with Iceland's depositors.

    Jim Rogers Jan 21
    If I were you and I owned bonds, unless they were short term bonds, I would go home and sell the bonds. All of them.


    Mish on Schiff
    ...I would like to see the average returns posted by EuroPacific clients for 2008. I have talked with many who claim they have invested with Schiff and are down anywhere from 40% to 70% in 2008.


    Basically, Peter Schiff correctly predicted the depression, the early commodity rally, and a strong physical gold value but was wrong on foreign stocks being a safe haven. I'd like to see Mish take a look at Jim Rogers. IIRC, Jim was also bullish on China. A time series chart comparing the performance of Mish, Rogers, Schiff and Faber along with their asset holdings would make for interesting reading.

    Beleaguered Citigroup is upgrading its mile-high club with a brand-new $50 million corporate jet - only this time, it's the taxpayers who are getting screwed.


    Merrill Lynch (Saved via BofA bailout money) CEO Spent $1,220,000 On Office Renovation As Company Prepared To Burn


    Stories like these add to my impression that large corporations are plutocracies filled with and run by parasites. A modern version of medieval robber baron in miniature.

    BTW: Congress has the power to drop these loan guarantees. There is a precedent.

    Power, the Female Aphrodisiac
    Scientists have found that the pleasure women get from making love is directly linked to the size of their partner's bank balance.


    Randi on the Hudson Crash
    CNN's Campbell Brown takes President Obama to task for already making an exception to his restriction on lobbyists.

    Video via Alexandros Pagidas

    Shutting down Gitmo and secret prisons is a great start, but it begins to look like a simple political (instead of principle) play as the broken promises stack up.

    Yes We Can
    Obama is offering voters "change" on his policy regarding the insane War on Drugs.

    "The war on drugs has been an utter failure. [W]e need to rethink and decriminalize our [nation's] marijuana laws." - Barack Obama, January 2004 (Watch the video here.)

    "I inhaled frequently, that was the point." -Barack Obama, November 2006 (Watch the video here.)

    "President-elect Obama is not in favor of the legalization of marijuana." -, Obama's post-election blog 2009

    Yes we can -- say one thing before the election, and another afterwards.


    Odos Architects


    The chemical compound JWH-018, sold as Spice or Dream, was recently banned in Austria and was this week outlawed in Germany after tests showed it affected the brain like THC, the natural psychoactive substance contained in cannabis, but was four times stronger.

    Link and Wikipedia article on JWH-018


    A series of pre-clinical ADME/Toxicity studies were conducted on JWH-018 including CYPs, Genotox, hERG, Cytotox, Rodent Tox (LD50, Acute Dose, Repeat Dose & Pharmakinetics). All tests passed within tolerable guidelines. JWH-018 tested negative for genotox (ie cancer) using standard GreenScreen HC both with and without S9 (fraction from liver hepatocytes which metabolizes compounds and looks for genotoxic metabolites).

    Forum discussion


    The synthesis and pharmacology of 30 1-pentyl-3-arylacetylindoles (R = H and CH3) are described. Two of these compounds are highly efficacious and selective ligands for the CB1 receptor.


    Design Note
    Making one thing look like another (i.e. a footstool like a keyboard key) is not design, it's comedy in the form a visual pun. Yet it, along with the visual equivalent of cake decoration, is what most designers spend their time on. A particularly tragic fact in a world of garbage dumps overflowing with clunky, absurd human artifacts. Humanity is aesthetically drowning in mountains of bad jokes and rotting cakes.
    The Black Book of Communism
    Wikipedia article

    Was thinking today of how remarkable it is that openly supporting Nazism is taboo (and for good reason) while openly supporting Communism is only considered eccentric, despite the fact that the Communists killed far more people (see the numbers in the above article).

    The BofA Bailout
    "Jan. 16 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. government agreed to invest $20 billion more in Bank of America Corp. and backstop a $118 billion asset pool to help the lender absorb Merrill Lynch & Co..."

    [that's] nearly $1,000 from each and every American household - for just ONE bank... The amount of money provided and guaranteed by We The People to this august banking institution dwarfs its entire market capitalization by 2.6 times. What are we getting in return for this extremely generous bailout, I wonder? A logical person would presume we are getting 100% of the equity, every seat on the board plus every single asset that current and past managers and board members possess. Somehow, I'm pretty sure that's not happening, eh?


    Leverage Comparisons
    [see link for chart] Clearly leverage levels in Europe and the UK are markedly higher. More staggering is the size of the balance sheets. Deutsche Bank's is almost as big as those of Bank of America and JPMorgan combined. And yet, amazingly, the bailout and other US actions make the current situation look like it's a US problem.


    British Banks Insolvent
    Analysts working for RBS, one of several British banks to have received emergency funding from the UK Government last year, told the City that "the domestic UK banks are technically insolvent on a fully marked-to-market basis".


    As are US banks, behind the mask of the Fed trade facilities.

    It seems entirely natural that, should anyone gain full knowledge of this degenerate little town, they would deny the truth of this greatest, most terrible of secrets - and, as a consequence, as an act of self-protection, would fabricate some other set of circumstances, a more companionable picture of the way of things.

    This would explain so many of the deranged idols and beliefs that have arisen in our world. At least we would be able to account for the multitudes of mannikin saviors, as one might view them - their faces smooth and serene behind display windows, welcoming the faithful who, upon their death, will enter a department store paradise of the most vague and intangible delights.

    And some mention must be made of what might be called the Sect of the Puppetlands, whose highly deranged adherents posit a transcendent universe of infinite and harmless antics that are imperfectly mirrored in the chaos and crises of our own world, which, in any case, will end nicely when the Great Puppet Play is concluded in a sweet bedtime of slumber... until the next show begins./t

    - Thomas Ligotti, This Degenerate Little Town

    How Universes Give Birth? you creep up on extremality, increasing the charge of the black hole while keeping its mass fixed, and therefore driving r- ever closer to r+, the spacetime volume of the region in between them does not go to zero. It approaches some finite size and stays there.

    So we have a region of spacetime of fixed volume, which doesn't shrink to zero as you increase the charge, but which suddenly disappears entirely when you hit exactly the extremal value. In other words, the limit is discontinuous.

    Cosmic Variance post

    OSX app that uses MacFUSE to mount SSH/SFTP/FTP connections as drives accessible in the Finder. My new favorite app.


    A nicely made tower defence game, though only 3 of the units appear to be worth using.

    Flash game

    War Crime
    Thomas Metzinger: Philosophical Neuroscience
    Obviously, any good future philosophical theory of mind should be able to incorporate the "existence denial" exhibited by Cotard subjects... There exists a whole range of neurological disorders characterized by an unawareness of specific deficits following brain injuries, all of them falsifying the Cartesian notion of epistemic transparency for phenomenal self-consciousness, i.e. the idea that one cannot be wrong about the contents of one's own mind, that unnoticed errors are impossible because the light of knowledge shines through and through the self.

    In pure and extreme versions of the Cotard delusion we are confronted with a particularly interesting example of this type of representational configuration: Patients may explicitly state not only that they are dead, but also that they don't exist at all. In other words, something that seems an a priori impossibility on logical grounds - a conscious subject truthfully denying its own existence - turns out to be a phenomenological reality. And phenomenology has to be taken serious.

    In this case the first lesson to be drawn is this: You can be fully conscious and still truthfully describe the content of your own phenomenal self-experience as "non-existence". In other words, there are actual, nomologically possible representational configurations in the human brain, which lead truthful subjects into logically incoherent autophenomenological reports.

    Paper and Video

    It seems to me that Metzinger is using the word "exist" to mean "have active experience" while the Cotard's Syndrome sufferers may be using the word in a different sense. If Cotard's Syndrome is an inwardly directed form of Capgras Syndrome, they may not be denying a set of sensory experiences but their own emotional connection to them. If a significant component of the experience of self is based on these connections, their description may be both accurate, consistent and more meaningful.

    Debating Central Banking
    Argument for Fractional Reserves: The use of central bank backed fractional reserves allows for more investment (via debt) in innovation.

    Response: It doesn't increase the amount of wealth available for investment in real terms as each virtually printed dollar proportionally reduces the value of all investment dollars (and in a system where everyone holds their cash in banks, that's basically the entire money supply). What it does do is give the banks a greater ratio of the profits gained on savings which are invested.

    Argument for Fiat Money: There wouldn't be "enough" money to go around if they didn't keep printing more. A fixed or precious metal currency wouldn't allow this.

    Response: If the problem is that the smallest unit has too much value, pull larger bills out of circulation and print fractional denomination currency to replace them.

    Argument for Fiat Money: The ability to print more money provides a means of avoiding a deflationary spiral.

    Response: AFAICS, deflationary spirals are unobserved theoretical entities and observed periods of deflation have been the result of credit bubble collapses (following credit booms caused by central bank inflationary monetary policy).


    These arguments all come from a failure to see this equality:

      value of itemcost of item

      net value of all itemstotal money in system

    And to be clear, I have no problem with fractional reserve banking in the absence of a central bank and legal tender laws as it would be naturally regulated by rejection of credit to over leveraged banks.


    In his book Wealth, War, and Wisdom published last year, former Morgan Stanley chief global strategist Barton Biggs advised people to prepare for the possibility of a total breakdown of civil society. A senior analyst whose reports are read at hedge funds all over the city wrote just before Christmas that some of his clients are so bearish they've purchased firearms and safes and are stocking their pantries with soups and canned foods.


    Max Keiser in 2007 Predicting the Collapse of Iceland
    It's all so easy with free money. What could possibly go wrong?

    Video (8m)

    Shigeru Ban Architects: Metal Shutter Houses
    BBC:The Mysterious Edward Hopper
    [his characters seem to be asking] Is anything worth doing next?

    Video (50m)

    Chax is a collection of minor modifications and additions that make using Apple's iChat more enjoyable.

    Link via Zach Bir

    Engelen Moore Architects

    I've posted the O'Reilly house before but just ran across this much larger photo.

    Impatient youths of the sun
    Burning with many colours
    Flick combs through hair in bathroom mirrors
    Fucking with fusion and fashion
    Dance in the beams of emerald lasers
    Mating on suburban duvets
    Cum-splattered nuclear breeders
    What a time that was

    - Derek Jarman's filmic essay on his blindness and impending death

    Video clip

    Latest Marc Faber Interviews
    2009 01 06
    2008 12 25
    Top Gear vs. Telsa
    Clarkson's Response to the Telsa Debacle

    I love the show and would like to believe Clarkson if I hadn't run across this before. When they did their comparison of new and old models of the Toyota MR2 a while back, there were some curious results. On looking it up, I found a forum where the owners of the cars used for the tests reported that Top Gear had significantly distorted the results.

    Vitamin D and Seasonal Effective Disorder
    Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a form of depression that occurs during the winter months, possibly due to reduced exposure to sunlight. In one study, vitamin D was found to be better than light therapy in the treatment of SAD. Further studies are necessary to confirm these findings.

    Mayo Clinic article and study paper

    Arbitration and Mediation Clauses
    When entering into a legal contract (be it getting married or starting a business), I recommend having a binding arbitration clause. Example:

    Any/tcontroversy/tor/tclaim/tarising/tout/tof/tor/trelating/tto/tthis/t/t contract,/tor/tthe/tbreach/tthereof,/tshall/tbe/tsettled/tby/tarbitration/t administered/tby/tthe/tAmerican/tArbitration/tAssociation/t/t in/taccordance/twith/tits/tCommercial/t/t[or/tother]/tArbitration/t Rules/t[including/tthe/tOptional/tRules/tfor/tEmergency/t Measures/tof/tProtection],/tand/tjudgment/ton/tthe/taward/t/t rendered/tby/tthe/tarbitrator(s)/tmay/tbe/tentered/tin/tany/tcourt/t having/tjurisdiction/tthereof.

    These few words can keep your life savings from being lost in legal fees and level the legal playing field with counter-parties that have deeper pockets.

    Wikipedia Arbitration Clause entry
    Guide from the American Arbitration Association

    A freeware fractal flame editor.

    sample art, windows download and osx download

    Quote of the Day
    After the first glass, you see things as you wish they were. After the second, you see them as they are not. Finally, you see things as they really are, and that is the most horrible thing in the world.

    - Oscar Wilde

    Kafka in the Present Day
    Kafka may be the most important writer of the twentieth century, far more important than James Joyce. He describes the fate of the isolated man who is surrounded by a vast and impenetrable bureaucracy, and begins to accept himself on the terms the bureaucracy imposes. Human beings today are in a very similar position. We are surrounded by huge institutions we can never penetrate: the City, the banking system, political and advertising conglomerates, vast entertainment empires. They've made themselves more user-friendly, but they define the tastes to which we conform. They're rather subtle, subservient tyrannies, but no less sinister for that.

    - J. G. Ballard, Kafka in the Present Day

    Hop Lists

    Having tinkered a bit with skiplists, I've been thinking about a datastructure that might be called a minimal statistical binary search list. Here's the idea:

    the hop list structure

    Imagine a doubly linked ordered list where each node also has a double link to a random node forward in the list (so each node has a key pointer and 4 pointers to nodes).


    Start with the first node and compare the input key with it's own, if equal or greater, exit. Otherwise, compare it to the random forward node's (if there is one) key and if it's less than the key or equal, move to it, otherwise move to the next node in the single link chain. Repeat.

    As the average jump will be to the bisection of the list between the node and the end point, statistically this results in a binary search.


    Find the insertion point via search and add to the double linked next/prev chain. Next choose the random node to link to from the array space holding all the nodes (some of which may be empty/removed) and if the node is empty, we choose another. Assuming the ratio of unused to used nodes isn't too high, it shouldn't take many guesses to find a used node.

    If the randomly chosen node's key is greater than the inserted node, we have the new node point to it and uncouple the existing link (if any). Otherwise, we set the other node's random link to point to our new node, uncoupling it's existing random link (if any). Over time, this should average out to half the nodes having no forward random pointer, which is ok.


    When removing a node, uncouple it's links following normal double linked list rules and mark it as free.


    I wasn't a compsci student so I'm probably missing something, but at the moment it looks to me like this structure should have log(n) reads per search, and 3-5 small writes per insertion or removal. As mutations require few writes and are well distributed, this algorithm may be a good match for flash disks.

    UPDATE: I did a quick implementation with correctness and performance tests. Haven't had much time to look at the numbers in detail, but it doesn't look log(n). The problem appears to be the distribution of forward pointers. Perhaps finding hop nodes via a hybrid random search strategy instead of just purely random would help.


    To know yourself to an excessive degree is to know the uselessness of knowing yourself, as if there were anything one could call a self.

    - Thomas Ligotti, Notes and Aphorisms

    Uninterruptible Power Supplies
    I noticed the price for a UPS goes up much more than linearly with the hours of power it can provide at a given wattage. Is there's any good reason why people can't buy two and daisy chain them in order to save a bundle?
    The Third Barrier to High Concurrency
    There are several barriers to highly concurrent systems, fortunately there are also solutions:

      thread memory usagelightweight threads
      thread interactionmessage passing actors
      resource limitsresource/queueing coordination

    The programming world is slowly waking up to the first two problems and their solutions, but I haven't heard much about the third.

    For example, once you can launch 10K lightweight threads talking on 10K sockets you suddenly have a resource allocation problem and you find you need a system to express rules like:

      Open sockets until the network resource reaches X% usage or system memory usage reaches Y%.
    Often queues also need resource allocation hints that express feedback relationships and dependencies between queues that help maximize the type of throughput you want. For example, a web crawler that wants to grab images and maximize the number downloaded per unit time might benefit from the following rule:
      Limit the page crawler queue to N active items and don't allow new items to be activated unless the image downloading queue has fewer than M items.
    But the parameters would have to be hand tuned to the situation so it would be nicer to have a more adaptive interface like:
      Limit the page crawler queue to X% of process memory and Y% of process bandwidth but give priority on both to the image downloading queue.

    The ideal framework would also allow all processes on a given machine to coordinate their usages - something like OS CPU priorities and file usage limits, but extended to memory usage, network, and file i/o bandwidth.

    I'm using these techniques in some projects I've written but haven't abstracted them. Has anyone run across good frameworks for this? When time permits, I'd like to write an Io framework to explore this area.

    Eric Stenbock
    Stenbock's life is just as interesting as his writing. He was a wealthy eccentric and a drug fiend. He used to travel with a monkey and a life-sized doll he dubbed, "The Little Count". Stenbock is often considered by many as the "first Goth".


    Kubata Architects
    Debt Collapse
    U.S. consumers have never before been so deeply in debt. There was nearly $1 trillion of credit and charge card debt outstanding as of October, up more than 25 percent since 2003, according to the U.S. Federal Reserve. That is in addition to $10.54 trillion in mortgage debt.


    What happens to a fractional reserve system whose debt can no longer be serviced? Answer: a massive chain reaction of defaults. If the central banks lend or governments borrow and lend to prop up the debt chain, it will only delay and increase the size of the next round of defaults. If the central banks print to pay for defaults, then the currencies devalue and risk collapse. Any intervention will only make the problem worse. The world's central banking fractional reserve financial system is a Ponzi scheme (where the ever growing debt bubble is kept precariously inflated by continuous devaluation) which may well have reached it's last round.


    Years later he'd stood in the charred ruins of a library where blackened books lay in pools of water. Shelves tipped over. Some rage at the lies arranged in their thousands row on row. He picked up one of the books and thumbed through the heavy bloated pages. He'd not have thought the value of the smallest thing predicated on a world to come. It surprised him. That the space which these things occupied was itself an expectation. He let the book fall and took a last look around and made his way out into the cold gray light.

    - Cormac McCarthy, The Road

    Github moves
    Moved my active open source projects to github today:

    skipdb (needs work)

    I like how git deals with sub repos (ignoring them). Now if only github had a page you could go to to grab tarballs of tagged releases...

    The Founding of the Federal Reserve
    A talk by Murray Rothbard on the history of the US Federal Reserve with an astute question at the end regarding debt collapse due to the weight of debt service by a very young Ron Paul.


    Moved tagdb to github today and updated it to my latest version that has a bunch of bug fixes, and appears stable as it's been used for WebGrazer without problems for the last 4 months.

    Was it not some deranged poet who began to eat truth as one partakes of a strange and perhaps deadly food? Little nibbles to start off, tiny nips which cause the tongue to tingle, a weird but not yet unpleasant sensation. He continues munching, full-grown mouthfuls now. But already the meal is overwhelming in its oddity, an experience that is unreal yet hellishly tangible. Unfortunately the deranged poet has also learned that he must keep eating away if he doesn't want to end up a permanent resident of one of those intolerably eerie dreams his feast has induced. He wanders from dream to dream, hoping to find a way out of this maze of psychic indigestion he has found within.

    - Thomas Ligotti, The Deranged Poet

    Slaughter, by any Other Name
    The US bombs thousands of innocent arabs who are doing US citizens no harm and the media calls it "war". Israel kills hundreds of innocent arabs in an area launching rockets at Israeli citizens and the media calls it "genocide". Palestinian rockets kill tens of innocent Israelis and the media calls it "terrorism".
    The Two Faces of Silicon Valley
    There are the bright people who love tech, and there are the bright people who love tech and will socially ladder climb, play political games, lie and sociopathically manipulate others to get what they think they want.
    Dec. 18 (Bloomberg) -- Home prices in the San Francisco Bay Area plunged a record 44 percent in November... [median] Prices fell.. 21 percent to $648,000 in San Francisco...


    So much for San Francisco being immune to housing price drops. Folks that bought a $777K home at the peak just lost $129K last month - double that if you count interest payments on a typical loan. Ouch. If I were a recent purchaser, I'd consider using the CA law that allows the owners to hand the keys to the bank and legally walk away from the loan.

    Robert Ebert on the Future
    Under Bush we doubled our national debt in only eight years. Now the experts say Obama will have no choice but to increase it even further, with "bailouts" of an increasingly leaky ship. That means spending money we do not have--printing it, in the final analysis. That leads to inflation. Inflation leads to legends of fortunes in pre-war Germany reduced to worthless paper, of people trading shopping bags full of banknotes for a loaf of bread. What does money mean when it is backed only by debt?


    Mish Interviewed on Lew Rockwell
    Citigroup is bankrupt. The whole banking system is bankrupt... If banks start lending, they'll increase the bad debts they already have... It was reckless lending that got us into this problem...


    Vertical Windpower Turbine
    Said to be quieter and more bird friendly than traditional designs.


    Kitson Welder Watch
    China's Credit Problem
    Peter Schiff and others keep reminding us that China has relatively low debt, but I wonder how much of the debt in China is outside of the normal reporting channels - in credit lent to manufacturers by suppliers. And what will happen to it as tens of thousands of manufacturers shut down due to decreased demand and default on the debt to their suppliers?
    Norman Foster: Free University of Berlin Library
    I had a conversation the other day with someone who said that they could communicate with their "guardian angel" and get answers about future events from it, describing in detail some remarkable past events where it's answers were correct. Intrigued, I mentioned some of the great things that could be done to eliminate human suffering if one had access to an accurate predictor of future events and suggested that we test it by asking it the result of a series of coin tosses that we could then perform. Suddenly, he didn't want to talk about angels anymore.
    iPhone Buddha Machine
    Generative ambient music for your iPhone. Recommended.


    The Mysterious Explorations of Jasper Morello
    Nominated for an Oscar and for a BAFTA award, Jasper Morello is a short feature made in a unique style of silhouette animation.


    Ross Lovegrove Studio

    via Alexandros Pagidas

    Peter Schiff Interviewed by Alex Jones

    What's happening right now... falling home prices, people losing their jobs, credit no longer flowing - none of this is the problem. This is all the consequence of the problem. The problem is all the reckless borrowing and spending that took place in the years that preceded the collapse.

    And why did all that take place? That all took place because of the Federal Reserve, because of the monetary policies it pursued that led to all this irresponsible borrowing both on Wall Street to finance speculation and on Main Street to finance consumption...

    All of these problems are a consequence of inflation. The government has been too easy and created too much money. For a while the cheap money went into stocks then it went into real estate and distorted the economy. It distorted our decision making process, our consumption and savings decisions and the economy is way out of balance.

    But right now as the market is trying to correct the imbalances brought about by all the inflation government created, they are creating more inflation... Basically, there is a fire and the only way the government knows to put it out is with gasoline.


    Quote of the Day
    The plain fact is, religion must die for mankind to live. The hour is getting very late to be able to indulge in having key decisions being made by religious people, by irrationalists, by those who would steer the ship of state not by a compass, but by the equivalent of reading the entrails of a chicken. George Bush prayed a lot about Iraq, but he didn't learn a lot about it.

    Faith means making a virtue out of not thinking. It's nothing to brag about. And those who preach faith and enable and elevate it are our intellectual slave holders, keeping mankind in a bondage to fantasy and nonsense that has spawned and justified so much lunacy and destruction.

    Religion is dangerous because it allows human beings who don't have all the answers to think that they do. Most people would think it's wonderful when someone says "I'm willing Lord, to do whatever you want me to do". But since there are no actual gods talking to us, that void is filled in by people with their own corruptions and limitations and agendas...

    This is why rational people, anti-religionists, must end their timidity and come out of the closet and assert themselves. And those who consider themselves only moderately religious really need to look in the mirror and recognize that the solace and comfort that religion brings you actually comes at a terrible price.

    If you belonged to a political party or a social club that was tied to as much bigotry, misogyny, homophobia, violence and shear ignorance as religion is, you'd resign in protest. To do otherwise is to be an enabler, a mafia wife for the true devils of extremism that draw their legitimacy from the millions of their fellow followers.

    - Bill Maher, Religulous

    Jim Rogers interview on FOX
    East Hastings
    Quote of the Day
    They say we have to do this. They said we had to go into Iraq because they had weapons of mass destruction. They were wrong. This plan is a weapon of mass destruction to destroy our economy and to destroy our currency.

    - Peter Schiff on the US bailout plan

    The Bottom
    We are not quite at the bottom yet. Because we don't really know what's going to happen next. Everyone is saying, "Oh, look, the dollar is getting stronger!" [As it was when we spoke.] I say, that's really temporary. It's simply because a lot of people need to cash in, they need U.S. dollars in order to pay back their creditors. But after a short while, the dollar may be going down again.

    The Atlantic


    Unlike cities both ancient and modern, the unholy city has never been marked on a map and is far more likely to find it's way to you, than you are to it... As for the quality or characteristic of unholiness, this is also misleading - a nominal facade designed to make things interesting for a world born out of blackness, where nothing holy or unholy has ever existed. Where nothing exists at all except dreams and fevers and names for nothing.

    - Thomas Ligotti, The Name is Nothing

    The odious nutters from the Westboro Baptist Church, run by Fred Phelps, had flown to Boston to carry their hate signs blaming gays for every woe in the world... The church members gathered outside a showing of The Laramie Project, the play about the murder of Matthew Shepherd, a young gay man. The church regularly pickets this play.

    But on the other side of the street there was a demonstration of another kind. They called it a Phelps-a-thon. Each participant in the Phelps-a-thon raised pledges from people based on each minute that the Phelps family/sect/church was demonstrating. If someone pledge $1 per minute that meant that for each 10 minutes the sect demonstrated $10 was raised for various gay rights projects. The longer the Phelps remained in their demonstration the more funds that were raised for gay rights groups.


    Magnesium is a vital component of a healthy human diet, and plays a part in over 300 enzymes. Human magnesium deficiency is relatively common, with only 32% of the United States meeting the RDA-DRI,[5] and has been implicated in the development of a number of human illnesses such as asthma, osteoporosis, and ADHD.[6]...

    There are a number of magnesium supplements available. Magnesium oxide, one of the most common, has been reported as the least bioavailable.[11][12] Magnesium citrate has been reported as more bioavailable than oxide or amino-acid chelate (glycinate) forms.[13]

    Wikipedia entry

    60 Minutes on Coming Alt-A Defaults
    The Mortgage Bankers Association says one out of ten Americans is now behind on their mortage.


    Juan Enriquez on the Global Economic Crisis
    Video via Alexandros Pagidas
    For those thinking the recent market upswing is a sign of recovery, be careful to account for inflation by looking at what the dollar index is doing. Likewise for deflation when estimating stock loses.
    Weimar-style Hyperinflation
    The Federal Reserve has bluntly refused a request by a major US financial news service to disclose the recipients of more than $2 trillion of emergency loans from US taxpayers and to reveal the assets the central bank is accepting as collateral. Their lawyers resorted to the bizarre argument that they did so to protect 'trade secrets.' Is the secret that the US financial system is de facto bankrupt? The latest Fed move is further indication of the degree of panic and lack of clear strategy within the highest ranks of the US financial institutions. Unprecedented Federal Reserve expansion of the Monetary Base in recent weeks sets the stage for a future Weimar-style hyperinflation perhaps before 2010.


    Junichi Sampei
    In the mid-1990s, Albania was transitioning into a liberalized market economy after years under a State-controlled economy reinforced by the cult of personality involving longtime Communist leader Enver Hoxha; the rudimentary financial system became dominated by pyramid schemes, and government officials tacitly endorsed a series of pyramid investment funds. Many Albanians, approximately two-thirds of the population, invested in them. By 1997 the inevitable end came: Albanians, who had lost $1.2 billion, took their protest to the streets where uncontainable rioting and attacks on government infrastructure led to the toppling of the government and the temporary existence of a stateless society. Although technically a Ponzi Scheme, the Albanian scams were commonly referred to as Pyramid Schemes both popularly and by the IMF.[17]

    Wikipedia entry on Ponzi Schemes

    What will happen when the populations of countries around the world begin to wake up to the debt pyramid scheme known as central fractional reserve banking?

    Shinichi Ogawa

    via Kevin Greer

    Piracy vs. Theft
    Anyone who agrees with the message of this image (that piracy is not theft) should logically conclude that counterfeiting of currency doesn't constitute theft. It would be interesting to see how such a person would react to seeing their life's saving made worthless though counterfeiting of the currency it is held in.
    Bernard Madoff, a quiet force on Wall Street for decades, was arrested and charged on Thursday with allegedly running a $50 billion "Ponzi scheme" in what may rank among the biggest fraud cases ever...

    We're hearing that the smart money KNEW Bernie had to be cheating, because the returns he was generating were impossibly good. Many Wall Streeters suspected the wrong rigged game, though: They thought it was insider trading, not a Ponzi scheme. And here's the best part: That's why they invested with him.


    Over all these years, none of the investors ever asked for an audit?

    Totally Bankrupt

    Without giving specific names, most of the significant American banks, the larger banks, are bankrupt, totally bankrupt," said Rogers, who is now a private investor.

    "What is outrageous economically and is outrageous morally is that normally in times like this, people who are competent and who saw it coming and who kept their powder dry go and take over the assets from the incompetent," he said. "What's happening this time is that the government is taking the assets from the competent people and giving them to the incompetent people and saying, now you can compete with the competent people. It is horrible economics."

    - Jim Rogers, at the Reuters Investment Outlook 2009 Summit

    Exactly, and when it all falls apart they'll blame the "free market".

    Auction Sniping
    This article mentions an interesting solution to auction sniping: the auction period is extended some amount each time a bid is placed. Could ending the auction at a random (and unknown to buyers) point within some range around the end of the auction also solve the problem?

    And is auction sniping actually a problem? If a bidder puts in the max amount (with auto bidding up to that amount turned on) they are willing to pay, how can they consider the result unfair if another bidder offers a higher price at the last moment or any other time?

    AFAICS, the only people who would rationally see sniping as a problem are other snipers.

    Inositol Supplements
    Patients suffering from clinical depression generally have decreased levels of inositol in their cerebrospinal fluid.[6]

    Myo-inositol has been found in a single double-blind study to significantly reduce the symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) with effectiveness equal to SSRIs and virtually without side-effects.[7] In a double-blind, controlled trial, myo-inositol was superior to fluvoxamine[Prozac] for decreasing the number of panic attacks and had fewer side effects.[8] A double-blind, placebo-controlled study of depressed patients showed that a high dose of inositol (12 grams daily) resulted in significant improvement of symptoms, with no changes noted in liver, kidney, or hematological function.[6]

    Wikipedia article

    The media consistently reports thats Zimbabwe's problems can be solved by the removal of Mugabe but this ignores Zimbabwe's biggest problem - monetary policy. The way to address this problem would be to:
    1. eliminate the Zimbawean currency
    2. legalize the use of foreign currency
    3. eliminate price controls
    4. end government control of food distribution

    No matter who takes power next, I don't see how they can revive Zimbabwe's economy without taking these steps. Sadly, no major news organization will mention any these solutions because of their tacit belief that government control of any aspect of an economy can only be for the best.

    C Reference

    My 2nd edition K&R has been donated to my local library.

    OSK Architects
    Quote of the Day
    I note an accusation of pessimism and I would simply respond that generally speaking, a pessimist is merely a well-informed optimist.

    - Dr. Basketter

    Riots in Athens
    I asked a friend of mine who lives in Greece if the riots were related to the souring economy. His reply:

    At least 40% to it, yes. People are angry, students get half a dozen diplomas and cant' get a job, or if they do its for no more than 700 euro /month. Everything is more expensive than ever. Greece has the highest unemployment.. in Europe. Its so bad.

    Speaking of expensive, I noticed that the standard fresh baked loaf of bread I used to buy for $1.20 in 2000 is now $3.12. And apartments that were $900 are now $1800. And all this without a matching rise in wages.

    Scaling Past 16 Cores
    This Ars Technica article has been making the rounds. In short, it restates what's been known since the beginning of computing - the Von Neumann bottle neck is an unnavoidable wall that all Von Neumann architectures will eventually hit. What the article doesn't mention is that the solution (which has also been know since the beginning of computing) is to move to DM-MIMD, non-Von Neumann architectures:

    The advantages of DM-MIMD systems are clear: the bandwidth problem that haunts shared-memory systems is avoided because the bandwidth scales up automatically with the number of processors.


    Btw, MD-MIND's tight coupling of computation with data is a perfect match for object oriented programming but is problematic for functional programming. Will FP's lifespan will be limited to that of Von Neumann architectures - 10 more years?


    Everyday there are more and more of them sprouting up in the blackness, which was there at the beginning. The blackness that, perhaps by chance, began to produce these heads and continues to produce them, always calling out for more heads to carry out the business it wants done. It's black voice roaring across the infinite black spaces of it's head factory. But none of the heads has any idea of the blackness that surrounds them, or the blackness that hides itself inside each one of them.

    - Thomas Ligotti, You Do Not Own Your Head

    End Games

    California May Pay With IOUs, Minnesota $5.2 Billion in the Hole

    Jobs Contract 11th Straight Month; Unemployment 6.7%

    ECB Biggest Rate Cut On Record; Other Central Banks Join Party

    Hedge Funds Impose Emergency Measures To Block Withdrawals

    Chinese officials urged the U.S. to do everything possible to restore calm to financial markets and said they are preparing for a "worst-case scenario" as the global crisis deepens...

    The problem is fractional reserve lending that allows banks to leverage lending 12-1 and broker dealers like the now defunct Bear Stearns and Lehman 40-1. It does not take much to cause a run on the bank when leverage is 40-1. Fannie Mae is leveraged many times more than that.

    Without that excessive leverage, no one would be in trouble over falling prices. Actually everyone would benefit. The cure is not to defeat deflation, the cure is to embrace deflation and stop fractional reserve lending and the serially bubble blowing activities of the Fed.


    Javascript clone
    A workaround for Javascript's bizarre constructor semantics:
    Object.clone = function()
      var constructor = new Function;
      constructor.prototype = this;
      obj = new constructor;
      return obj
    Object.init = function() {}
    Example use:
    View = Object.clone()
    View.init = function()
      this.subviews = new Array
    BridgeSupport files are XML files that describe the API symbols of frameworks or libraries that cannot be introspected at runtime. These are generally ANSI C symbols that are non-object-oriented items such as constants, enumerations, structures, and functions but can also include some additional information about classes, methods, and informal protocols.

    BridgeSupport files are a major component of the Objective-C bridges (RubyCocoa and PyObjC) supported in Mac OS X for scripting languages such as Ruby and Python.

    gen_bridge_metadata(1) is the tool used to generate BridgeSupport files for particular frameworks or libraries.


    I like the direction, but I don't see how bindings can be automated until C library APIs follow some shared standard of data structure initialization and alloc/free responsibility.

    Packaging Plastics and Obesity
    EHP has published a study showing that the additive BPA can cause cells to suppress adiponectin. That would cause insensitivity to insulin and may be behind "metabolic syndrome"... it's also called insulin resistance syndrome. It's symptoms include obesity, heart disease, diabetes, general inflammation, prothrombic state (meaning you're more likely to stroke out). Sweet.

    Anyway, here's the kicker. The levels were environmentally relevant. 1-10 nM are common in people (some up to 20 nM). The study found effects at 0.1 and 1.0 nM. Good 'ole plastics. Is there anything they can't do?


    A utility to close the OSX single user boot mode security hole.


    Economic Euphemisms = Economic Misinformation

    Injecting Money = Injecting Debt

    As all the money is borrowed.

    Credit Crisis = Debt Crisis

    The problem isn't a lack of credit, but that too much was given out.

    Liquidity Crisis = Insolvency Crisis

    It's appropriate for banks to be unwilling to lend to insolvent banks.

    Bank "Panic/Run" = Rational Insolvency Response

    When a bank's liabilities exceeds it's assets.

    Housing Bust = Return to Normal Prices

    Houses were 2x their inflation adjusted averages.

    Stockmarket Crash = Return to Sane P/E ratios

    P/Es should generally be 5-10, not 25-50.
    Michelin's Active Wheel more engine under the front or rear bonnet, no more traditional suspension system, and no more gearbox or transmission shaft thanks to the Michelin Active Wheel. That's because all essential components have been integrated into the wheel itself. Cars equipped with this integrated solution deliver an array of unique advantages. In a sense, the Michelin Active Wheel is an intelligent wheel capable of propelling cars without gasoline, while ensuring suspension and braking functions and providing unrivalled road handling and comfort.


    Icelanders Storm Central Bank
    REYKJAVIK, Iceland: Thousands of Icelanders marked the 90th anniversary of their nation's sovereignty with angry protest Monday, and several hundred stormed the central bank to demand the ouster of bankers they blame for the country's spectacular economic meltdown.


    For now it's eggs and red paint. When there are bread lines will it be Molotov cocktails?

    Also in the news:

    NEW YORK, Dec 1 (Reuters) - Kaupthing Bank hf, Iceland's largest bank, has sought bankruptcy protection from its U.S. creditors.


    The Ascent of Money
    Night Talk: An Interview With Niall Ferguson, author of The Ascent of Money.


    I found the history interesting, his suggestions less so.

    End Of Line

    I dropped by the Hard Assets 2008 Conference today in San Francisco to catch Peter Schiff's keynote. Some of his points (as I recall them):

    • This depression will be worse than the 20 year Japanese recession that began in 87 because the Japanese had savings and a strong manufacturing economy while the US has debt and a service economy based on debt.

    • This depression may be worse than The Great Depression if the government attempts to print it's way out of it's debt, destroying the dollar in the process.

    • Expect a rapid rebound of commodities once the deleveraging subsides.

    • Expect the bottom to drop out on the dollar when t-bill rates spike upward as investors stop buying when they realize they will be losing value from printing devaluation.

    • Many people are blaming the crisis on greed, but in a free market, greed is balanced by risk. People limit their greed as risk (the risk involved in repayment as interest rates are higher) goes up. The problem is when the government steps in to eliminate or reduce risk. Two of the major ways they did this were by guaranteeing Fannie and Freddie (which in turn kept mortgage rates undervalued with respect to risk), and more importantly, through the Fed's low interest rate policies, reducing the risk of debt and encouraging a debt bubble.
    The Tragic Effects of Religious Belief
    Faber Interview 2008 02 25
    Opus 20 Modern Masterworks: John Cage
    Part 1
    Part 2

    My choices consist of choosing which questions to ask.

    - John Cage

    Quote of the Day
    Speak the truth, but leave immediately after.

    - Slovenian Proverb


    We sometimes imagine that we have heard voices, strange and harsh voices faintly calling from beyond the blackness of night or from deep in our bones. And even if there are no actual words, no actual language we know in which the voices speak, still there is a terrible understanding delivered into our world that ... this degenerate little town, that greatest of secrets, is only a facade or a mirage. A pictureasque lie or illusion in the guise of twisted streets and tilting houses, all the rotteness and disease which we sense as the source of all the things we know or can ever know.

    When in fact there is something else alltogether. Something which none could comprehend or desire to comprehend, yet which they cannot fail to hear when it slips through the sounds of those strange and harsh voices. When it drifts through during the briefest moments of silence, and beyond the blackness of night or from deep in our bones, comes forth as the hollow resonence... of a most dismal laughter.

    - Thomas Ligotti, This Degenerate Little town

    Trailer: The Chocolate War
    Obama Puts Volcker in Charge of Economic Team

    A good sign for those of us worried about high inflation once all the new debt is flows through the system.

    Paul Volcker, a Democrat[3], was appointed Chairman of the Federal Reserve in August 1979 by President Jimmy Carter and reappointed in 1983 by President Ronald Reagan.[4] Volcker's Fed is widely credited with ending the United States' stagflation crisis of the 1970s by limiting the growth of the money supply, abandoning the previous policy of targeting interest rates. Inflation, which peaked at 13.5% in 1981, was successfully lowered to 3.2% by 1983. [1]

    Wikipedia: Paul Volcker

    Nike Court Force High Lux
    Acronym Fall/Winter 2008 Collection

    Consumption lust.

    iPhone TouchOSC
    The application allows to remote control and receive feedback from software and hardware that implements the OSC protocol such as Pure Data and Max/MSP.


    Terms of the Citigroup Bailout
    Taxpayers are conceivably on the hook for... about $249 billion.


    Book: The Illusion of Conscious Will
    Do we consciously cause our actions, or do they happen to us? Philosophers, psychologists, neuroscientists, theologians, and lawyers have long debated the existence of free will versus determinism. In this book Daniel Wegner offers a novel understanding of the issue. Like actions, he argues, the feeling of conscious will is created by the mind and brain. Yet if psychological and neural mechanisms are responsible for all human behavior, how could we have conscious will? The feeling of conscious will, Wegner shows, helps us to appreciate and remember our authorship of the things our minds and bodies do. Yes, we feel that we consciously will our actions, Wegner says, but at the same time, our actions happen to us. Although conscious will is an illusion, it serves as a guide to understanding ourselves and to developing a sense of responsibility and morality.

    The Illusion of Conscious Will (Bradford Books)

    Peter Schiff Interview
    Confirmation of the Broken Windows Theory
    Kees Keizer and his colleagues at the University of Groningen deliberately created such settings as a part of a series of experiments designed to discover if signs of vandalism, litter and low-level lawbreaking could change the way people behave. They found that they could, by a lot: doubling the number who are prepared to litter and steal.

    When the alley contained graffiti, 69% of the riders littered compared with 33% when the walls were clean...

    In a condition of order, 13% of those passing took the envelope (instead of leaving it or pushing it into the box). But if the post box was covered in graffiti, 27% did.


    The doubling would fit with the theory that 1/3 of people will do the wrong thing by default, 1/3 will do the right thing by default, and the middle third will opportunistically do what it appears others are doing. If true, it would explain how societies can experience rapid phase shifts in behavior as the opportunitist flock from one side to the other.

    Those that do not learn from history...
    will attempt to spend their way out of a depression:

    It has been suggested that the Japanese economy in the 1990s suffered from a "liquidity trap" scenario.[1] This diagnosis prompted increased government spending and large budget deficits as a remedy. The failure of these measures to help the economy recover, combined with an explosion in the Japanese public debt suggest that such a fiscal policy, may not have been adequate.


    SF Restaurant Recommendations 2008
    Sandwiches: Ike's Place
    Burritos: Taqueria Cancun
    Chinese: Eliza's
    Tapas: Allegra's
    Vegetarian: Greens
    German: Suppenkuche
    Thai: Osha
    Paulson's Martial Law Threat
    Senator James Inhofe has revealed that Henry Paulson was behind the threats of martial law and a new great depression prior to the passage of the bailout bill, having made such warnings during a conference call on September 19th, around two weeks before the legislation was eventually approved by both the Senate and Congress.


    Winter Blues
    Apophenic Basis of Religiosity
    We measured visual attentional capture in a reaction time experiment, and correlated it with scores on questionnaires about religious and other beliefs and about meaningfulness and surprisingness of coincidences. We found that visual attentional capture predicts a belief in meaningfulness of coincidences, and that this belief mediates a relationship between visual attentional capture and religiosity...

    We conclude that (a) religious people have a stronger belief in meaningfulness of coincidences, indicative of a more general tendency to maintain strong schemata, and that (b) this belief leads them to suppress, ignore, or forget information that has demonstrably captured their attention, but happens to be inconsistent with their schemata.


    Fiber to the Home in San Francisco Fiber DIA is the next generation of scalable high-speed business connectivity. In addition to offering low-cost symmetric connections at speeds from 5Mbps to 1Gbps, the line will integrate seamlessly into your existing network through a flexible fiber connection that terminates as simple Ethernet.


    Sonic quoted me $1500/month for symmetric 5Mbit and $50K/month for symmetric 1Gbit. In Japan, you can get 1Gbit to the home for $62/month.

    UPDATE: They also quoted their synchronous "Flexlink Ethernet" prices: 15mbps for $900/month or 10mbps for $700/month.

    Minimalist Showcase
    Link via Alex Payne
    Turk Kiosks Idea
    An alternative to the homeless collecting cans - outdoor mechanical turk kiosks that dispense a reusable debit card after some amount of work is done. Though I imagine it will be some time before the cost of kiosks becomes low relative to the value of the work.
    It seems to me that a withdraw rush is an irrational panic when:
    bank investments > deposits
    And a rational response to insolvency when:
    bank investments < deposits
    Though I've noticed that when the media discusses withdraw rushes, it always labels them "panics" without looking at the bank's balance sheet. From this perspective, the so-called "liquidity" crisis is actually a solvency crisis as the balance sheets of many of the banks and financial companies (AIG, Fannie, Freddie, etc) involved are actually negative.

    And it was this very remoteness from the designs of my dream universe, this feeling of fantastic homelessness amid a vast alien order, that was the source of unnameable terrors. I was no more than an irrelevent parcel of living tissue caught in a place I should not be, threatened with being snared in some great dredging net of doom, an incidental shred of flesh pulled out of its element of light and into an icy blackness. In the dream nothing supported my existence, which I felt at any moment might be horribly altered or simply. . .ended. In the profoundest meaning of the expression, my life was of no matter./t

    - Thomas Ligotti, The Sect of the Idiot

    Japanorama is a series of documentaries presented by Jonathan Ross, exploring various facets of popular culture and trends of modern-day Japan.


    BBC Steam Engine Documentary

    Fred Dibnah's excellent documentary on the history and modern use of steam engines.


    Monetary Policy Made Simple
    Here's my attempt at being succinct:
    • Interest rates are nothing more than the cost of money

    • Without intervention, markets would assign a cost of money (the interest rate), which would be based upon the supply of money (savers), with respect to the demand for money (borrowers)

    • It is at this market determined interest rate, where both sides, on the margin, feel they are getting a good deal. Otherwise, there would be no lending.

    • If the government steps in and changes the cost of money by lowering or raising the interest rate, (using new dollars to buy short term debt instruments or vice versa), then by definition, one of the parties (either savers or borrowers) are worse off then they had been before this intervention. Usually it is the savers that get the short end.
    Everything else is just smoke and mirrors designed to confuse you. Just remember this: We trust the market to set the price for countless goods and services. Why do we not trust it to set the price of money?

    - Derek Jensen on LPSF

    And of course unnaturally low interest rates also encourage excessive investment resulting in bubble/boom cycles.

    A Letter from Iceland
    Bjork, Iceland's ambassadress of cool, summed it up in The Times on October 28: "Young families are threatened with losing their houses and elderly people their pensions. This is catastrophic. There is also a lot of anger. The six biggest venture capitalists in Iceland are being booed in public places and on TV and radio shows; furious voices insist that they sell all their belongings and give the proceeds to the nation. Gigantic loans, it has been revealed, were taken out abroad by a few individuals and without the full knowledge of the Icelandic people. Now the nation seems to be responsible for having to pay them back."

    Link via Rich

    How many countries will fractional reserve banking destroy before this is over? And how much taxpayer money will be swindled away by bankers?:

    One of the most telling images was the departure of Jon Asgeir's private jet on news that the government had nationalised Glitnir Bank (in which his investment vehicle Stodir was a leading shareholder), wiping out his shareholding and rattling the debt-burdened house of cards that is his Baugur business empire. Painted black and as sleek as a Stealth bomber, the aircraft was photographed taxiing from its hangar by Morgunbladid, a daily newspaper. Like the last helicopter out of Saigon, the departure of Asgeir's jet symbolised the end of an era, the last act of Iceland's debt-fuelled spending spree.

    Bjorgolfur Thor and his father Bjorgolfur Gudmundsson have, to date, disappeared from the radar. Together they own a majority stake in Landsbanki, and Gudmundsson owns West Ham United football club. Their jets have also flown the coop.

    It's tragic how people think bailout bills will solve the problem. It just creates more debt (whose interest also goes to the bankers). As with ballot propositions for bonds, I suspect most people don't understand that a bond or bailout is simply a loan - it's not wealth out of thin air. The piper will be back to collect an even larger payment when the song is done.

    Human Mad Cow via Blood Transfusions
    In 2004 up to 4000 individuals were sent letters informing them that they may be at increased risk of carrying vCJD because they had received blood products donated by people who subsequently developed the disease. All recipients were advised to tell their doctors and dentists in order to reduce the possibility of secondary transmission...

    Further cause for concern comes from a study of anonymised appendix and tonsil samples, which assessed the presence of PrPres in these tissues.20 An analysis of nearly 13 000 samples found PrPres in three. If these figures are extrapolated to the population of the UK it would indicate that almost 4000 people aged between 10 and 30 years may be asymptomatically harbouring the prion proteins that cause vCJD.


    Movie: Primer
    The film stars Carruth as Aaron and David Sullivan as Abe, two engineers who create a device which will allow an object or person to travel backwards in time. The pair initially use the device to cheat on the stock market, but ultimately they cannot resist the temptation to meddle with every aspect of their lives. Through recklessness they create increasingly complex paradoxes, and ultimately their newfound power begins to destroy their friendship.

    Primer is of note for its extremely low budget, experimental plot structure and complex technical dialogue, which Carruth chose not to dumb-down for the sake of his audience. One reviewer said that "anybody who claims [to] fully understand what's going on in Primer after seeing it just once is either a savant or a liar."[2] The film collected the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance in 2004 before securing a limited release in cinemas, and has since gained a cult following.[3]


    Watched this last night and enjoyed it, though (aside from a plot device) I didn't see why the main characters went back themselves instead of sending themselves notes from the future.

    The Strange Case of Falling International Reserves
    As of August 2008, as you can see from the graph, according to Alex Tanzi International Reserves were growing at the explosive annual rate of 26.5%. Suddenly, since August, Reserves have stopped growing...

    Now, if the Reserves are no longer growing but diminishing, this might indicate that the exporting countries are no longer buying and accumulating more US, British and European debt...

    Now if the US deficit is not being funded, then that means that the fiscal deficit is simply being monetized by the Fed. Or what else can it mean?


    AVPR1a Ruthlessness Gene Test
    Screening for AVPR1a, known alternately as the "ruthlessness" gene or the "bonding" gene, is likely an indicator of marital happiness. Marriages born out of mutual respect and mutual interest rather than self-interest are much more likely to succeed and probably less likely to end in divorce. Is your fiance just after your money? Those with the "ruthlessness" gene may very well be. Those with the altruistic version of AVPR1a probably aren't. Ruthless people will lie, cheat and steal to get what they want. Genetics may not be a guaranteed indicator of human behavior and motivation [genetics is only one half of the nature vs. nurture debate] but genes don't lie. Before you make a lifetime commitment, have your fiance tested.


    End The FED: November 22nd, 2008
    Void Watches
    American Express now a Bank
    Nov. 10 (Bloomberg) -- American Express Co. won Federal Reserve approval to convert to a commercial bank, gaining access to funds as credit losses build and sales of asset-backed bonds plummet.

    The Fed waived a 30-day waiting period on the application ``in light of the unusual and exigent circumstances affecting the financial markets,''


    Heh, why not just make every legal entity in the US a bank and give us all the right to print 9x our cash holdings and borrow from the central bank at 1%?

    iPhone Now Top Selling Mobile Phone in US
    No Alarms and No Suprises

    Nov. 10 (Bloomberg) -- The Federal Reserve is refusing to identify the recipients of almost $2 trillion of emergency loans from American taxpayers or the troubled assets the central bank is accepting as collateral.

    Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said in September they would comply with congressional demands for transparency in a $700 billion bailout of the banking system. Two months later, as the Fed lends far more than that in separate rescue programs that didn't require approval by Congress, Americans have no idea where their money is going or what securities the banks are pledging in return.


    Book: Minimalist Interiors
    These are serene, uncluttered havens, achieved through the harmonious application of concepts central to Zen: simplicity, inner calm and harmony.

    architecturebooks review (scroll down for photos)

    An online catalog of minimal design furniture.


    The company's current high-profile effort in that arena is the xServe, a sleek metal computer meant to handle the file-sharing needs of a small or medium business. While beautifully designed in the way that all of Apple's products are, the xServe screams to the world of business that it was not designed with them in mind... Simple hardware doesn't connect with its intended audience, and the xServe has no traction whatsoever with business customers.

    - Cult of Macblog on the Apple xServe

    The problem with xServe isn't it's case, it's the OS and the price. While OSX is IMO, the best desktop OS around and OSX Server is the easiest to configure for basic server tasks, OSX's networking and filesystem performance is very poor compared to Linux. Easy configuration + poor performance + high prices makes xServe only worthwhile for small businesses with a need for a relatively low load server. Btw, don't try to use HFS+ under high load.

    Two More US Bank Failures
    WASHINGTON (AP) - Regulators shut down Houston-based Franklin Bank and Security Pacific Bank in Los Angeles on Friday, bringing the number of failures of federally insured banks this year to 19.

    The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. was appointed receiver of Franklin Bank, which had $5.1 billion in assets and $3.7 billion in deposits as of Sept. 30, and of Security Pacific Bank, with $561.1 million in assets and $450.1 million in deposits as of Oct. 17. AP article

    Oddly, AP's number of 19 bank failures disagrees with the 26 listed on the FDIC website.

    The FDIC had $53B in reserves and used ~$8B on IndyMac leaving ~$45B. Franklin's failure may eat another $5B leaving $40B. Given that the WSJ reported that the FDIC was expecting around 100 bank failures between July 08 and July 09, it would appear that the first 15% of the expected failures have used 25% of the FDIC's reserves.

    DRM Free Ligotti/Current93 Works
    Dutro is selling two of Ligotti's collaborations with Current93:

    I Have a Special Plan for this World
    In a Foreign Town, in a Foreign Land

    Craigslist and Sex Workers
    In March, Craigslist began requiring people advertising in its "erotic services" section to provide a valid phone number before the ad could appear on the site. Now people must also pay a small fee for each ad, and they must pay with a credit card. The proceeds will be donated to charities that combat child exploitation and human trafficking.

    LA Times

    I'm guessing the net result will be more sex workers moving off craigslist and onto the street.

    Apple as a Registrar
    I'd like to see Apple have their own registrar so part of the process of setting up a Mac desktop would include the option to choose or switch a domain to point to it as a personal mail, web, DNS, etc server if the user has a static IP (which everyone should have as IPv6 use spreads).

    The mainstream tech pundits (the same people that thought the network computer and OLPC were going to be hits) probably wouldn't see the value in this, but don't think they understand the fundamental decentralizing force of technology.

    BBC Civilization Series
    Heavy on pretension, but a good look across the history of western styles of art and architecture.


    Making Fractals without a Computer
    I found a way of quickly making a wide variety of fractal images without a computer by using a camera and 3-4 projectors. Basically, it's possible to use this technique to make any fractal that's defined by a set of affine transformations.


    Cold War Modern
    Interview with Braun designer Dieter Rams. A quote:

    [Fashion] has nothing to do with good design.


    Of the designers I've read about, Rams' design philosophy seems to be the closest in spirit to my own.

    Bill Maher & Mike Huckabee Discuss Faith
    Libertarian Ballot Recommendations
    California propositions:

    1A: NO
    2: NO
    3: NO
    4: NEUTRAL
    5: NEUTRAL
    6: NO
    7: NO
    8: NO
    9: NEUTRAL
    10: NO
    11: NO
    12: NO


    San Francisco propositions:

    A: NO
    B: NO
    C: YES
    E: NO
    F: YES
    H: NO
    I: NO
    J: NO
    K: YES
    L: NO
    M: NO
    N: NO
    O: NO
    Q: NO
    S: YES
    T: NO
    V: NO


    Prop 8
    If one replaces "same-sex marriage" with "mixed-race marriage" on this Yes on Prop 8 site, the underlying bigotry becomes clear. Example:

    Unless we pass Prop. 8, nearly all California schools will teach children about mixed-race marriage "whether we like it or not" and parents will not even have the right to be notified.

    $14B in bonuses
    Goldman Sachs takes $12B bailout, hands out $14B in Bonuses

    That's a hell of a bonus - about $624K per employee. Should people find themselves in bread lines, how long would it be until someone publishes a list of Goldman (and AIG) employees and incomes so taxpayers can go to their homes and reclaim their stolen earnings?

    A friend who works at a major downtown clothing store says sales for their location and the brand's locations across the world are the lowest they've ever seen - down ~60% from two months ago.
    Happy Halloween
    Face Like a Frog Video
    Jonathan Miller's Rough History of Disbelief
    Newsflash: anyone who must receive instruction in morality will not benefit from it. Those concerned with morality are not the ones who need concern themselves with morality. The ones who need to be concerned with morality are those who will never be concerned with morality.

    Ask any sociopath, whose deficit of fellow-feeling is evened out by others with a hyper-developed, unhealthy sense of moral responsibility. The latter group will take on the guilt from which the remorseless are spared, blaming themselves for tragedies they cannot lawfully or logically be connected with. One is as helpless as the other to be anything but what they are, morally speaking. Everyone in between these groups will go with the wind.

    The majority cannot be taught how to feel about their behavior, only bludgeoned or cajoled into doing one thing or another. Rewards and punishments may be effective, but there can never be a mathematics of morality. Either the chemistry and neurology are there or they are not.

    - Thomas Ligotti, The Conspiracy Against the Human Race

    Darcs 2
    Was just poking around with the new Darcs 2 installer for OSX and Darcs OSX UI. It's come a long way from the days of waiting 6 hours for GHC to compile. Git is effective, but difficult to use. I miss the elegant darcs command line and being able to do things like cherry picking patches with a single keystroke.
    Profile of Photographer Michael Kenna
    A Day in the Afterlife of Philip K. Dick
    Carry Trade

    Are we finally witnessing the unwinding of the yen carry trade? As the yen goes up, the hedge funds that took out massive zero interest loans from the Bank of Japan now have to sell assets and buy yen before the price to pay back those loans gets too high.

    Currency Crisis Meltdown in Europe, Japan, Australia

    The Mindscape of Alan Moore
    The Fed's Balance Sheet
    I had a call from a reporter this week asking me to explain why the Fed raised the interest rate paid on reserves... It's not an encouraging development because it means that the heroic efforts that the Fed has taken previously weren't enough. The Fed's first $100 billion didn't do it. The Fed's first $1 trillion didn't do it. Having the Treasury take over the $5 trillion in debts and guarantees of Fannie and Freddie didn't do it. The Treasury's $3/4 trillion rescue/bailout package didn't do it. And another quarter trillion will?


    On Krugman
    Let's first agree that the demand for money does go up in a downturn, as my friend's story illustrates. Krugman's "or whatever reason" sweeps under the rug the real question: why does the demand for money suddenly go up? Keynesians don't care about that question, because they are so confident (even cocky, as you can tell from Krugman's tone) they can deal with whatever comes after the demand for money goes up; as Professor Krugman so elegantly summarized his advice to the Japanese facing their post bubble blues in the 90's:
      "So never mind those long lists of reasons for Japan's slump. The answer to the country's immediate problems is simple: PRINT LOTS OF MONEY."


    A nice critique of Krugman's positions and the Keynesians in general - basically, that they confuse production with value creation and fail to see that production resources need to be reorganized when it is discovered that what they are producing isn't of much value (such as an over supply of housing).

    It's sad that despite both causing the boom/bust cycles and failing to predict them, the Keynesians are still in charge of monetary policy.


    The earth is not our home. We came from nothing, and to that condition our nostalgia should turn.

    - Thomas Ligotti, The Conspiracy Against the Human Race
    Worse Than The Great Depression?
    Interview with Nassim Taleb, famous economist and author of "The Black Swan" and Dr. Mandelbrot, professor of Mathematics. Both say that the present economy more serious than the Great Depression, and the economy during the American Revolution.


    Petition: Abolish The Federal Reserve Act of 1913
    $540B to Prop up Money Market Funds
    Oct. 21 (Bloomberg) -- The Federal Reserve will provide up to $540 billion in loans to help relieve pressure on money-market mutual funds beset by redemptions.


    The Federal Reserve currently has around $225B in net TAF loans. Add this $540B and we're only $35B short of exhausting the $800B in treasuries the Fed has to lend.

    The Boom, Gloom and Doom Report
    In Japan you had a bubble in 89. You also had a bubble in Taiwan in 89. By the way in Japan the bubble peaked out with the Nikkei at 39,000. The Nikkei is now around 9,000 - that's 19 years later. So yes, "stocks always go up in the long run". And in Taiwan the market peaked at around 12,000 in 1990, and it's now down to around 5,000 - also 19 years later.

    So when the bubble bursts, it bursts. Now in Japan and Taiwan, the bubble was concentrated in real estate and equities but you didn't have a bubble in US stocks at that time. You didn't have a bubble in the bond market. You didn't have a bubble in real estate [elsewhere] and you didn't have a bubble in commodities.

    Now in 1980, you had a bubble in gold, and in silver and in oil. But the bond market had been going down throughout the 1970s with government bond yields increasing... So normally, a bubble is in one sector or one region of the world.

    Like in 2000 we had a bubble in the TMT sector (technology, media, telecommunication) but you didn't have a stock market bubble - steel stocks where depressed, commodity stocks where depressed, commodity prices had been going down since 1980. And you didn't have a bubble in say shipping companies and anything that was all the economy stocks - so one sector.

    But Mr. Benanke and Mr. Geenspan have acheived what nobody has achieved ever before. They created a bubble in everything.

    Marc Faber video lecture - recommended.

    RAID 0 SSD
    Typical use: 90MBps and ~6K IO ops/sec
    Only sequential: 396MB/s read, 130MB/s write

    HotHardware article

    Boom and Bust: The Austrian View
    According to the Austrian Business Cycle Theory, it is the central bank's policy of ineffectually attempting to control the complex multi-faceted ever-evolving market economy that creates volatile credit cycles or business cycles. By the central bank artificially "stimulating" the economy with artificially low interest rates (thereby creating excessive increases in the money supply), the bank itself induces inflation (often focused in asset or commodity markets) and speculative investment, resulting in "false signals" going out to the market place, in turn resulting in clusters of malinvestments, and the artificial lowering of the returns on savings, which eventually causes the malinvestments to be liquidated as they inevitably show their underlying unprofitability and unsustainability.[17]


    With respect to the business cycle, the Cantillon tradition [of Austrian School Economists] shows that disturbances in the supply of money and credit, especially when a monetary authority expands the supply of paper money, changes relative prices in the economy. Artificial reductions in interest rates encourage investment and increase the valuation of capital assets. The resulting alternations in the structure of production (buildings, technology, and the pattern of industrial organization) are called Cantillon effects. This is the boom - a phase when resources are misallocated, both to malinvestments and misdirected labor. As relative prices correct themselves in the bust, resources are reallocated via such mechanisms such as bankruptcy and unemployment.

    Paper: Who Predicted the Bubble? Who Predicted the Crash?

    Deja Vu
    In their [the Austrian School Economists] view, the key cause of the Depression was the expansion of the money supply in the 1920s that led to an unsustainable credit-driven boom. In their view, the Federal Reserve, which was created in 1913, shoulders much of the blame.

    In opinion, Hayek, writing for the Austrian Institute of Economic Research Report in February 1929[16] predicted the economic downturn, stating that "the boom will collapse within the next few months."

    Ludwig von Mises also expected this financial catastrophe, and is quoted as stating "A great crash is coming, and I don't want my name in any way connected with it,"[17] when he turned down an important job at the Kreditanstalt Bank in early 1929.

    "Great Depression" on Wikipedia

    Quote of the Day
    Congress should act to remove taxpayer support from the housing GSEs before the bubble bursts and taxpayers are once again forced to bail out investors who were misled by foolish government interference in the market.

    - Ron Paul, September 10, 2003

    Less than a week after Europe and the United States coordinated moves to ease the crisis, the Swiss government said it would take a 9 percent stake in UBS, the financial giant that has been among the hardest hit by losses from American subprime mortgage debt, and provide it with 6 billion Swiss francs ($5.36 billion) in capital.

    Rebuking UBS for failing to maintain adequate risk controls, regulators also set up a $60 billion fund to absorb troubled assets lingering on its books, a move intended to strengthen its financial and competitive position.


    It would seem that other world governments are anxious to join Iceland in it's fate.

    There is no flag large enough to cover
    the shame of killing innocent people.
    Takao Shiotsuka Atelier

    With adjustable opacity (images 24 and 25) interior walls.

    The Politics of Simplicity
    Conservatives tend to be neat and liberals love a mess. Researchers found that the bedrooms and offices of liberals tend to be colorful and full of books about travel, ethnicity, feminism and music, along with music CDs covering folk, classic and modern rock, as well as art supplies, movie tickets and travel memorabilia. Their conservative contemporaries, on the other hand, tend to surround themselves with calendars, postage stamps, laundry baskets, irons and sewing materials. Their bedrooms and offices are well lit and decorated with sports paraphernalia and flags - especially American ones.

    Scientific American article

    As both are full of ornament and debris, I don't see how either of the described personal spaces is more neat or messy than the other.

    Americans transfer about one trillion dollars a year to low-income families at the bottom fifth of the U.S. income distribution... Had that money gone directly to those poor families--with no "leakage" by the federal bureaucracy middleman--that trillion would break down to about $81,000 for a family of three--higher than the median income of all American families and far greater than the poverty threshold of $15,577, according to Browning.



    Most people prefer to believe their leaders are just and fair even in the face of evidence to the contrary, because once a citizen acknowledges that the government under which they live is lying and corrupt, the citizen has to choose what he or she will do about it. To take action in the face of a corrupt government entails risks of harm to life and loved ones. To choose to do nothing is to surrender one's self-image of standing for principles. Most people do not have the courage to face that choice. Hence, most propaganda is not designed to fool the critical thinker but only to give moral cowards an excuse not to think at all.

    - Michael Rivero via Alexander Pagidas

    Quote of the Day
    John [Waters]'s apartment in SF isn't as chock-a-block with items as his other places, at least not yet. There was a lovely embroidered pillow that his mom did of a burning police car.

    David Byrne's journal

    The New MacBooks
    Steve Jobs presentation video

    The new MBP has all connectors on one side - looking forward to seeing the third party docking stations if Apple patents don't block them.

    Talk: Garrett Lisi, E8 Based TEO
    Nice use of graphics to explain the ideas. Recommended.


    "Rescue" Plan
    In essence, money is taken from the poor (via taxes, printing, and weakening of the dollar) and given to the wealthy so the wealthy supposedly will have enough money to lend back (at interest) to those who have just been robbed.

    Mike Shedlock

    How Much?

    Yet how much slack do you give to what you believe is a lie, even a lie that holds steady the social order and braces up everything you have become accustomed to your most cherished image of yourself, your country, your loved ones, and the value you place on your work, your hobbies, your possessions, your "way of life"?

    How much slack do you give to what you believe to be a lie before you say you have had it with lies, before you forsake everything to live with what you really think and feel about the way things are? How much slack? Answer: all the slack in the world.

    - Thomas Ligotti, The Conspiracy Against the Human Race

    Infinite Credit
    Major central banks said Monday they would offer unlimited short-term dollar credits to banks in an effort to relieve ongoing stress on the world financial system.

    Business Week article

    Only two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former.

    - Albert Einstein

    I was expecting it to possibly take a few years for inflation to kick in after the debt ballon deflation and bailout increases in central bank reserve checks, but now they're hooking a high pressure currency hose up to the debt ballon. How long until all the major governments either default on their bonds (if the hose is from the treasury debt) or see their currencies go into hyperinflation (if the hose is from the central bank printing)?

    Talk: The Stuff of Thought
    Steven Pinker on language and it's insights into human thought.


    The Escape
    One day, when Marco and I were playing against two computer opponents, we forced one of the AI cycles to trap itself between its own walls and the bottom game border. Sensing an impending crash, it fired a missile, just like it always did whenever it was trapped. But this time was different - instead of firing at another trail, it fired at the game border, which looked like any other light cycle trail as far as the computer was concerned. The missile impacted with the border, leaving a cycle-sized hole, and the computer promptly took the exit and left the main playing field. Puzzled, we watched as the cycle drove through the scoring display at the bottom of the screen. It easily avoided the score digits and then drove off the screen altogether.

    Shortly after, the system crashed.

    Link via Drive by Blogging


    "Depressing" is the adjective that ordinary persons affix to the life-perspectives expressed by men such as Zapffe, Schopenhauer, and Lovecraft. The doctrines of any world-class religion, dolorous as some of them are, will never be similarly defamed. The world dotes on its lunatics, whether saintly or sadistic, and commemorates their careers. Psychopaths make terrific material for news agencies and movie studios; their exploits always draw a crowd. But the moment a discouraging word is spoken, some depressing knowledge, that crowd either disperses or goes on the attack. It is depression not madness that cows us, demoralization not insanity that we dread, disillusionment of the mind not its derangement that imperils our culture of hope.

    - Thomas Ligotti, The Conspiracy Against the Human Race


    Headed back to San Francisco tomorrow. Will miss Greece - hope to return soon.

    Coordinated Destruction
    Oct. 8 (Bloomberg) -- The Federal Reserve, European Central Bank and four other central banks lowered interest rates in an unprecedented coordinated effort to ease the economic effects of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

    The Fed, ECB, Bank of England, Bank of Canada and Sweden's Riksbank each cut their benchmark rates by half a percentage point. The Bank of Japan, which didn't participate in the move, said it supported the action. Switzerland also took part. Separately, China's central bank lowered its key one-year lending rate by 0.27 percentage point.


    The central banks reduce rates by pumping money into the banks by buying up assets. They may have to do a lot of printing (reserve check writing) to keep these rates low.

    Electroma, Final Scene
    Music Video
    Any VCs listening that would like to fund a digital gold currency startup similar to but with lower transaction fees and some form of credit card processing?

    If not, it would be nice if Paypal just provided gold as a currency option and had their own audited vaults. If they did, they could become the world's next major currency.

    Monetary Policy
    The typical argument I hear in favor of a non-fixed money supply from the more economically well read folks is that it is beneficial if it is used to maintain price stability.

    The problem I see with this argument is that what we should be concerned about isn't price stability, but that prices reflect value. In the long run the ratios of prices will reflect the ratios of value after the new money finishes sloshing around the system. So injecting or removing money will simply create price distortions around the insertion/removal point of the money (for example, if it's the banking system, it might distort interest rates first) and when relative prices don't reflect relative values, it results in ratios of resource allocations that don't match the ratio of values, that is, inefficiencies.

    The View from the End of the World
    Sam Harris' Long Now talk on religion
    Paper Gold
    I'd been hearing rumors about gold coins selling for $100/ounce over the "market" price but this didn't make much sense to me until I ran across this:

    CNBC Jurg Kiener Interview video

    Jurg's theory is that the paper gold market (which consists of lots of non-backed paper trades) is the source of the disparity. The real price is on the street and the market price will jump to meet it as paper trade defaults start appearing.


    For ages they had been without heads. Headless they lived, and headless they died. How long they had thus flourished none of them knew. Then something began to change. It happened over unremembered generations. The signs of a transfiguring were being writ ever more deeply into them. As their breed moved forward, they began crossing boundaries whose very existence they never suspected . . . and they trembled. Some of them eyed their surroundings as they would a strange land into which they had wandered, even though their kind had trod the same earth for countless seasons. And during idle moments after dark, they looked up at a sky filled with stars and felt themselves small and fragile in the vastness.

    More and more, they came to know a new way of being. It was as if the objects around them were one thing and they were another. The world was moving farther and farther away, and they were at the center of this movement. Another world was forming inside the heads they now had. Each of them, in time, became frightened in a way they had never known. In former days, they were frightened only by sights and sounds in the moments they saw or heard them. Now they were frightened by things that were not present to their senses. They were also frightened by visions that came not from outside them but from within them.

    Everything had changed for their kind, and they could never return to what they once had been. The epoch had passed when they and the rest of creation were one and the same. They were beginning to know a world that did not know them. This is what they thought, and they thought it was not right. Something which should not be . . . had become. And something had to be done if they were to flourish as they had before, if the very ground beneath their feet were not to fall away from under them. They could do nothing about the world which was moving farther and farther away from them and which knew them not. So they would have to do something about their heads.

    - Thomas Ligotti, The Conspiracy Against the Human Race

    AIG's Death Masquerade
    ABC: Less than a week after the federal government committed $85 billion to bail out AIG, executives of the giant AIG insurance company headed for a week-long retreat at a luxury resort and spa, the St. Regis Resort in Monarch Beach, California, Congressional investigators revealed today...AIG documents obtained by Waxman's investigators show the company paid more than $440,000 for the retreat


    Sam Harris on Sarah Palin
    The actuarial tables on the Social Security Administration website suggest that there is a better than 10% chance that McCain will die during his first term in office. Needless to say, the Reaper's scything only grows more insistent thereafter. Should President McCain survive his first term and get elected to a second, there is a 27% chance that Palin will become the first female U.S. president by 2015. If we take into account McCain's medical history and the pressures of the presidency, the odds probably increase considerably that this bright-eyed Alaskan will become the most powerful woman in history.


    Synthesis Kernel and LLVM
    Brainstorming with Mark Papadakis (who I met in person for the first time last week here in Crete) the other day about uses for LLVM's JIT capabillities when Massalin's Synthesis Kernel came to mind:

    The Synthesis kernel written by Dr. Henry Massalin as his Ph.D. thesis is commonly viewed to be the "mother of all self-modifying code." Massalin's tiny Unix kernel takes a structured, or even object oriented, approach to self-modifying code, where code is created for individual quajects, like filehandles; generating code for specific tasks allows the Synthesis kernel to (as a JIT interpreter might) apply a number of optimizations such as constant folding or common subexpression elimination.


    online store for minimal design products
    Gold Eagles
    NEW YORK, Oct 7 (Reuters) - Unprecedented demand for precious metals and volatile markets forced the U.S. Mint to cease production for the half-ounce and quarter-ounce popular American Eagle gold coins for the rest of this year and to supply other bullion coins on an allocation basis.

    "Due to the extreme fluctuating market conditions for 2008, as well as current market conditions, gold and silver demand is unprecedented and the demand for platinum is unusually high," the U.S. Mint said Monday in a memorandum to its authorized coin dealers.


    As If Things Couldn't Get Worse
    WASHINGTON (AFP) - The US Federal Reserve opened up its coffers Tuesday to companies hit by the credit crunch with a new program that will buy up commercial paper, short-term debt critical for many corporate operations.


    The Seeds of Inflation
    The Bank of Japan injected 1 trillion yen ($9.8 billion) into money markets...

    The Reserve Bank of Australia added A$1.815 billion ($1.3 billion)...

    The Federal Reserve yesterday said it would double its auctions of cash to banks to as much as $900 billion to help unfreeze lending markets...


    The Fed only has $800B in treasuries, do they have enough cash on hand for the rest or are they writing reserve checks?

    Fixing the System
    The people in the government and the media who didn't predict the crisis are now the ones telling us how to fix the banking system. For what it's worth, those of us that did predict it have some suggestions:

      End Fractional Reserve Banking

      Allow banks only to lend their deposits. This also eliminates the need for central banks - let people use 100% deposit banks when they want deposit security. This will prevent large debt bubbles (speculative investment bubbles) and the resulting massive misallocation of resources.

      End Inflationary Monetary Policies

      Never print more money. Period. Use smaller denominations as slow deflation occurs due to an increasing population. This will keep prices in line with value and allow people to save without making high risk investments.

    That's all. No need for complex regulations or massive new government bureaucracies to enforce them. No need for transferring wealth from taxpayers to bankers. Simply treat lending out money you don't have (fractional reserve banking) or creating money out of nothing (central bank inflation) as the respective fraud and theft they actually are.

    Free Fall


    BERLIN (AP) - Germany's finance minister said Monday he is considering creating a "shield" that would protect the country's entire financial sector, arguing it would not be possible to continue to address troubled financial institutions on a case by case basis.



    The emergency bill, which parliament was due to adopt last night, would also allow the government to take over housing loans held by the banks and put them in a government housing fund.


    Sweden, Denmark, Ireland, Belgium, UK...

    Last week, Ireland moved to guarantee both deposits and other liabilities at six major banks. There was grumbling in London and Berlin about the move giving those banks an unfair advantage. But Germany proposed its deposit guarantee Sunday after Britain raised its guarantee.


    Feels like the economic version of watching the live 9/11 television coverage. Though in this case, it's the central banks that are the terrorists. We know the Fed will print, but what will the ECB do?

    Treasury Bills Selling at 0.05%
    Some people, including Buffet, are asking how T-Bills can sell at such low yields. A theory: It's large financial entities expecting the market to tank so they don't want to put their money in stocks and they don't want large amounts of cash that won't be insured by the central banks when the banking system (and trading houses) collapse. T-Bills effectively allow them to insure their cash deposits. If this theory is correct, could we see negative yields in the coming months?

    Btw, if I were playing options, I'd be making some small bets on 6 month puts on the NASDAQ at 50% under the money.

    Zeigeist 2
    mp4 video from google

    Thanks to Stelios and George Papadakis for the pointers.

    IMO, the movie gets the corruption inherent in central banking right but their understanding of basic economics gets confused and inconsistent thereafter.

    Warren Buffet, Wall Street Apologist
    This is an economic Pearl Harbor... No one saw the sunami coming, fully.


    Oh really? In libertarian circles, the collapse of the debt bubble (and subsequent hyperinflation from an attempted rescue attempt by the central banks) has been a major topic of conversation since the 1970s. And the collapse of the housing boom and potential resulting depression has been a hot topic since around, IIRC, 2004.

    Btw, Buffet's statements about wealth in the last 2 years don't account for inflation. Also, if he thinks the government purchasing bad debt is such a great deal for the taxpayers, why isn't he buying this bad paper? The cynic in me suspects that Berkshire may have holdings that are selling this paper to the treasury.

    Iceland 2
    The country's debt-driven economy has been thrown into turmoil...

    Grimur Eiriksson... compared the financial troubles to leaving home for a long weekend without bringing cash and then discovering none of your credit cards work either. "The scary thing is," he said, "nobody knows how long the weekend is."...

    Gudni Freyr Ingvason says food and gas are particularly painful, though "everything" is going up...

    "Many people in Iceland are losing everything because of this,".


    Notice how the graphs show the inflation rate as going from 6% to 14% this year while the value of the kronur to the euro went from ~1 to about .6 (which suggests inflation is ~3x higher). Just how are they calculating inflation?

    No Surprises
    Fast-forward to today, and Iceland has indeed bailed out Glitnir. But here's the thing: Iceland's credit default swaps are now suggesting that the sovereign itself is a distressed credit...

    How bad can things get in Iceland? Here's what one local emailed Tom Braithwaite:

      The main supermarket can't get imported goods because they have no currency. The shops are half empty. One of the store managers has advised people to start hoarding. We're running out of oil. And winter came last night - about a month early.


    Does this suggest anything about the result of bailouts? I suspect Iceland's bankers aren't the ones running out of food and oil.

    AIG "Credit Facility" Almost Gone Already
    Just when it seemed that things couldn't possibly get any worse for the U.S. government-controlled insurer American International Group, they did...

    The company said it has drawn down $61.0 billion of its $85.0 billion credit facility from the Federal Reserve as of Tuesday. (See " Investors Not Assuaged Over AIG.")


    Derivatives Settlement Day
    The "auction season" starts tomorrow, when the International Swaps and Derivatives Association has scheduled an auction for Tembec, a Canadian forest products company. This is followed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac auctions on October 6. Then, Lehman is settled on October 10, and Washington Mutual is scheduled for October 23.

    Even though it is possible that some participants in the credit derivatives market will have to make large payouts, the flipside is there could also be big winners. For every loss in credit derivatives, there is a gain.

    The amount of contracts outstanding that reference Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac alone is estimated to be up to $500bn.

    Financial Times article

    Using LLVM for JIT Compilers
    Link (thanks to Mark Papadakis for the pointer)
    Lifeboats for the Rich

    The Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 gives Paulson, 62, immediate authority to buy as much as $250 billion in troubled assets from banks and other financial institutions. The White House may expand the program by another $100 billion, and the Treasury can access the remaining $350 billion with Congressional consultation.


    95% of the American public did not support this. The house and senate web sites were going down from all the email traffic of citizens against the bill and yet it still passed. If there were ever any doubt, we now know who our representatives actually represent.

    List of Senate votes (Feinstein (D-CA), Yea)
    List of House votes (Pelosi (D-CA), Yea)

    In the house, this was an overwhelmingly Democratic Party bill. I'd like to see an analysis of which representatives are getting bribes (aka campaign funding) from Wall Street.

    Federal Reserve Board Abolition Act
    The trillion-dollar Wall Street bailout plan negotiated by the White House and Congress has reinvigorated the debate about Texas Republican Rep. Ron Paul's Federal Reserve Board Abolition Act (HR 2755), which was introduced into Congress in June 2007.


    Harvard Stupid
    Harvard stupid comes from thinking that you're smarter than everyone without recognizing that you still might not be smart enough to control the evil your creations threaten to unleash. The genius financial products that kept your eyes deep in Cristal and vacation homes nearly caused the global financial system to seize up. Do you think that the titans from the University of Maine could bring the free market, the global economy to its knees? I sure don't, if for nothing else because they don't come from the right families.


    Quote of the Day

    I thoroughly disapprove of duels. If a man should challenge me, I would take him kindly and forgivingly by the hand and lead him to a quiet place and kill him.

    - Mark Twain

    FDIC Insurance Upped in Bailout Bill
    The package adds provisions to the House version - including temporarily raising the FDIC insurance cap to $250,000 from $100,000.

    The FDIC only has $53B to cover $4.24T in insured deposits. ~$8B of that was used to cover IndyMac. So if more than 1% of bank deposits need to be covered, they'll run out of funds. This was when the insurance was only up to $100K. I would guess that with this provision, they will run out of cash if well under 1% of deposits need to be covered.

    Senate Approves Bailout
    The legislation, approved last night on a 74-25 vote, authorizes the government to buy troubled assets from financial institutions rocked by record home foreclosures. It contains two provisions favored by House Republicans: One raises the limit on federal bank-deposit insurance; the other reiterates the authority of securities regulators to suspend asset-valuing rules that corporate executives blame for fueling the crisis.

    Bloomberg article

    So not only are they trying to have the public pay to bailout Wall Street`, they are also allowing the banks to lie to shareholders about their assets. The fact that this passed the Senate with 74% voting "yes" while 95% of Americans oppose it is a pretty strong data point supporting the position that representative democracy does not work. The public will perpetually be looted by the rich until we move to a direct democracy.

    Ioke is a strongly typed, extremely dynamic, prototype based object oriented language. It's homoiconic and got built in support for several kinds of macros. The languages that most closely influence Ioke is Io, Smalltalk, Self, Ruby and Lisp (Specifically Common Lisp).

    The language is currently built on top of the JVM, but I'm currently considering compiling it down to JavaScript and run it on V8.


    It's cool to see other Io implementations.

    Ron Paul on the Bailout
    The unfortunate thing is that we've already spent at least $700 billion on other bailouts that did not solve the problem. And while all this negotiation was taking place, the auto industry was quietly bailed out, with no controversy, no discussion, to the tune of $25 billion.


    Short video of Ron Paul on the House floor

    Leverage in European Banks

    The dozen largest European banks now have an average overall leverage ratio (shareholders equity to total assets) of 35, compared to less than 20 for the American banks...

    Deutsche Bank leverage ratio 50x, total liabilities 2 trillion Euros, equivalent to 80% of German GDP.

    Barclays 60x, 1.3 trillion pounds, equivalent to 100% of UK GDP

    Fortis 30x, equivalent to 300% Belgium GDP.


    Monetary Base
    10% inflation in one month...

    Chart from the St. Louis Fed

    Boing Boing Economics
    From Boing Boing:

    The main point of the original plan was for the federal government to buy distressed assets - like mortgages - from banks and other institutions. "Distressed" doesn't necessarily mean these are bad assets, or that the mortgages won't be paid back. It simply means these are debts that are selling way way below their longterm value. No one wants to pick up anyone's mortgages because housing prices are going down, foreclosures are going up, and shareholders of banks don't want them on the books.


    Houses were selling for 2x their inflation adjusted norm. AFAICS, this means they are in fact 2x overvalued from the "long term" perspective.

    Jeffrey Miron on the Bailout
    The current mess would never have occurred in the absence of ill-conceived federal policies. The federal government chartered Fannie Mae in 1938 and Freddie Mac in 1970; these two mortgage lending institutions are at the center of the crisis. The government implicitly promised these institutions that it would make good on their debts, so Fannie and Freddie took on huge amounts of excessive risk...

    The fact that government bears such a huge responsibility for the current mess means any response should eliminate the conditions that created this situation in the first place, not attempt to fix bad government with more government.


    Google OSX Update Engine
    Similar to Sparkle?


    Ballout Letter
    I wrote my senator requesting a "no" vote on any bailout. Here's is my response to her response:

    On 2008-09-28, at 3:15 AM, wrote:
    > Yet, I believe prudent action must be taken.
    > The bill should include the following principles: a phase-in of funding;
    > oversight, accountability and transparency;...

    As I stated in my previous email, I will not vote for anyone that votes to give handouts to the banking industry, in any form or with any conditions. I will also support investigations into conflict of interests and inquires into which representatives are receiving campaign contributions from any industries benefited by such handouts and will encourage the prosecution of any and all representatives found guilty of directly or indirectly accepting bribes.

    95% of the American public does not support a bailout and if any such bailout happens, it will be clear who our representatives are actually representing.

    Minimal furniture made with old wood craftsmanship.


    Arnold Kling on the Bailout
    Arnold blasts the Paulson plan as essentially corrupt.


    A Drop in the Bucket
    "Looking at the size of the credit default swap market, which is around $62 trillion now, and the world wide derivatives market which is now $1,300 trillion dollars, I very much doubt that $700 billion would make any difference at all," he told CNBC.

    Martin Weiss, president of Weiss Research, shares a similar view. He said in a Sept. 25 press release that not only would the amount not be enough to end the crisis, but "the additional burden of a $700 billion bailout (would put) major upward pressure on U.S. interest rates, aggravating the ... debt crisis."

    According to the press release, 1,479 U.S. banks and 158 U.S. thrifts are at risk of failure, with total assets of $3.2 trillion. There are also multiple problems with U.S. interest-bearing debts valued at $51 trillion.


    Fortis Collapses
    BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) -- Dutch-Belgian bank and insurance giant Fortis NV was given a 11.2 billion euro ($16.4 billion) lifeline to avert insolvency as part of a wider bailout plan agreed to by Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg, officials said Sunday.

    Chinese Banks to Stop Lending to US Banks
    BEIJING, Sept 25 (Reuters) - Chinese regulators have told domestic banks to stop interbank lending to U.S. financial institutions to prevent possible losses during the financial crisis, the South China Morning Post reported on Thursday.


    Peter Schiff on Collapse of the Dollar
    Anatomy of a Debt Bubble


    InterestPayment = MonyeSupply*FractionLent*InterestRate
    For simplicity, suppose lending is cyclic and InterestPayments are due when each cycle ends. Now if:
    FractionLent * InterestRate > 1
    there won't be enough money in the system to make all the repayments and there will have to be enough defaults to balance things out. If much greater than 1, there could be so many defaults that the system of debt collapses in on itself.

    If banks were only able to lend out their deposits, then FractionLent would always be well under one unless InterestRate was astronomically high.

    But in most countries they allow banks to lend out money they don't even have. In the US banks can lend ~10x the money they have in deposits, so FractionLent can approach 10 and if InterestRate is greater than 10%, the system can collapse. Given that large parts of the system have higher leverage than the banks (hedge funds, credit card debt, etc), F can be higher than 10 and even interest rates lower than 10% could cause a debt collapse. So why doesn't this happen all the time?

    In practice, the reserve is supposed to be kept high enough and interest rates low enough (through the central bank printing more money by buying bonds with central bank reserve checks) to avoid this debt event horizon, but this also results in a constant % devaluation of the unit of currency, which is an exponential drop over time as we actually see in fiat currencies run by central banks. And this devaluation is constantly transferring wealth to those who get new money first (the banks) from those who get it last (the public).

    This can work in the short term but exponentially inflating debt isn't going to be stable in the long run as (it seems to me) the potential for debt collapse on one side or hyperinflation (from injecting money to avoid collapse) on the other will increase over time. So it's not a question of if, but when a collapse will come and how much wealth will be stolen from the public in the mean time. There have been 24 of cases of hyperinflation in fiat currencies since 1980 alone.

    When Paulsen asks for a trillion dollars to prop up the system, that's a trillion more dollars funneled to the rich and it will only delay and increase the size of the inevitable collapse.

    This Degenerate Little Town

    The greatest secret, which appears in no religious doctrine and is found nowhere in the world's overburdened library of myths and fables nor receives the slightest mention in any philosopher's system or scientist's speculation... The greatest secret, perhaps the only secret, is that the universe, all of creation, owes it's existence to a degenerate little town.

    And if it were possible to strip away the scenery that surrounds us, to pull up the landscape of every planet, to rip away the skies and shove away the stars and sun, to tear from ourselves our own flesh and delve deep into our bones, we would find it standing their eternal, the origin of all things visible or invisible, the source of everything that is or can be, this degenerate little town.

    And then we would discover it's twisted streets and titling houses. It's decaying ground and rotting sky. And with our own eyes we would see the diseased faces peeking from grimy windows. Then we would realize why it is such a secret. The greatest and most vile secret. This degenerate little town where everything began and from whose core of corruption everything seeps out...

    There are those among us who claim to have seen this degenerate little town, although they may be unaware of it's true nature. There are those who have emerged from some painful ordeal of the body or of the mind, and then come speaking of how they saw in the distance an outline of crooked houses tilting this way or that, or walked along some twisted street, and felt the ground soft with decay beneath their steps, or even glimpsed those diseased faces, their skin rough and pale as plaster, peeking from behind grimy windows. But those who have claimed to have seen such things always tell a somewhat different story - failing to compose a consistent picture of what they may have seen, or imagine they have seen. And so we stare at them suspiciously for a moment, and then start to walk away, leaving them to their lies or their illusions, which of course are the very essence of this degenerate little town.

    - Thomas Ligotti & Current 93

    He joined Goldman Sachs in 1974, working in the firm's Chicago office. He became a partner in 1982. His net worth has been estimated at over US$700 million...

    In August 2007, Secretary Paulson explained that U.S. subprime mortgage fallout remained largely contained due to the strongest global economy in decades.

    On July 20, 2008, after the failure of Indymac Bank, Paulson reassured the public by saying, "it's a safe banking system, a sound banking system. Our regulators are on top of it. This is a very manageable situation." [23]

    On August 10, 2008, Secretary Paulson told NBC's Meet the Press that he had no plans to inject any capital into Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.[24] On September 7, 2008, both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac went into conservatorship.[25]

    Wikipedia entry

    1. Given that he's been wrong three times in a row, should his judgement regarding a "fix" be trusted? Would it make more sense to look to the people that predicted the current situation for solutions?

    2. Could handing $700B in taxpayer debt to his old pals at Goldman and the other investment banking houses present a conflict of interest? If so, who will be providing oversight?
    Koji Tsutsui
    Paulson was Staff Assistant to the Assistant Secretary of Defense at The Pentagon from 1970 to 1972.[7] He then worked for the administration of U.S. President Richard Nixon, serving as assistant to John Ehrlichman from 1972 to 1973.

    He joined Goldman Sachs in 1974, working in the firm's Chicago office. He became a partner in 1982...

    In August 2007, Secretary Paulson explained that U.S. subprime mortgage fallout remained largely contained due to the strongest global economy in decades. [22]

    On July 20, 2008, after the failure of Indymac Bank, Paulson reassured the public by saying, %93it's a safe banking system, a sound banking system. Our regulators are on top of it. This is a very manageable situation.%94 [23]

    On August 10, 2008, Secretary Paulson told NBC%92s Meet the Press that he had no plans to inject any capital into Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.[24] On September 7, 2008, both Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac went into conservatorship.[25]

    Defazio Before Congress on the Bailout
    The Greater Fool

    AFAICS, The US Treasury proposing to buy $.7T in overpriced mortgages (on top of the $5T from Fannie/Freddie) is no different than if the Dutch government proposed to use public debt to buy debt on $1M tulip bulbs during the collapse of the Dutch tulip bubble.

    The purchase of overvalued assets is a game of "who is the greater fool" and right now Wall Street is pulling strings in Washington to make sure that fool is the public.

    They'll try to justify it by saying it will avoid more serious problems but the truth is that the resources have already been misallocated and misallocating even more resources will only make the problem worse and shift the cost from those who choose to take risks to those who did not. We'll soon learn just how foolish the American public is.

    Frankly, I'm amazed there aren't (yet) riots in the streets. These public purchases of overpriced assets are a transference of wealth from the poor and middle class to the wealthy on the grandest of scales. Apparently "liquidity" means the ability of the wealthy to unload their bad investments on the public.

    The most absurd result of all this is the blame being placed on the "free market" when it is exactly the lack of a free market in currency (via handing a monopoly on currency that caused credit bubble.


    Headed to Greece for a month. If time allows, I'll be working on a few free-time projects that have been in the queue.

    I'm releasing an early open beta for WebGrazer3. Feedback is welcome.

    PS. There are free licenses for the first 100 users that use the coupon code "free" via the app's "License with Coupon" menu.

    Jim Jarmusch on Music in Film
    It Happened

    The US Treasury is making US taxpayers responsible for paying the guaranteed return rates to investors on $4T in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac loans.


    Paulson said it was to keep housing prices up and ensure continued low interest rates for new home buyers, but why should we want either of these if prices are 2x their inflation adjusted historical norm? Should the Dutch government of 1637 have taken over the banks that were giving loans to people buying tulip bulbs in order to maintain high tulip prices and allow people to continue to buy million dollar tulips?

    In other news, the FDIC is renting 5 more floors of office space in Dallas to prepare for a rise in bank failures. Given that IndyMac alone used up 10% of the FDIC's reserves, it seems likely that the FDIC will be knocking on the Treasury's door soon with taxpayers assuming potentially trillions more in bailout costs.

    I think it's worth pointing out that the Treasury will just issue more debt (bonds) to pay for all the bad debt and this debt in turn will be bought by the banks. So the banks get bailed out with taxpayer money and then get to profit from the interest on the debt used to bail them out.

    Fortunately for the banks, people like to think in terms of social hierarchies and will assume any problems were caused by elected officials and can be solved through elections, but these are distractions. The president isn't in control of monetary policy, the Federal Reserve (a private bank) is and just as they did between 1913 and 1929, they are the ones that cause the credit booms.

    The only way out is to abolish the central banking system and move to sound money, but no one will do this until it's too late because a collapse of the credit bubble, though inevitable, will be painful. Instead they'll keep trying to inflate it, making the eventual collapse bigger and longer lasting.


    In every man sleeps a prophet, and when he wakes there is a little more evil in the world.

    - Emile Cioran, A Short History of Decay

    Google's Floating Data Center Patent

    Sounds impractical, unless they want data centers outside of national legal jurisdiction or isolation from a local breakdown of civil order.

    Ron Paul - Rally for the Republic
    Ron Paul at the Rally For the Republic in Minneapolis, September 2, 2008. Apparently, it had a larger turnout than the RNC.



    We are afraid of the enormity of the possible.

    - Emile Cioran

    When I Lost Respect For...
    John McCain: supporting torture
    Hillary Clinton: FL/MI primaries
    Barack Obama: voting for FISA
    Bob Barr: supporting the Patriot Act
    A Lua based wiki engine with a great sense of design.

    Link via

    Google's Chrome UI
    Chrome intro video


    URL suggestions seem useful.
    The tabs are more semantically consistent.


    Clunky bookmarks. I prefer Safari's drag and drop.
    Homely. Google's kindergarden + Vista's awkward.
    Gaudy. Excessive use of color and icons.
    Bad typography. ~7 font sizes in at least 3 faces and 3 colors
    Login Panel Suggestions
    1. Don't make the user retype their username. Ever.
    2. Have a user preference setting for login cookie expiration time.
    Is it possible that existence is our exile and nothingness our home?

    - Emil Cioran

    Stephen Fry on GNU
    I enjoy Stephen Fry's work but this video has a few bits of (I'm sure unintentionally) misleading information:

    He suggests Apple's operating system is not open source. It is. The source can be found here. The closed source bit is the windowing system and various dev frameworks.

    He conflates free software with the GNU license. There are many open source licenses and GNU isn't the most free. For example, many GNU licensed libraries require you to pay to use the license in a closed source project while BSD/MIT licensed libraries require no such payments.

    Southern California Home Prices

    When real value doesn't change, inflation adjusted prices will eventually return to the real value.


    Wake Up
    Kucinich's speech was great until he proposed to replace one set of special interests (state mercantilist corporations and big government neocons) with his own (labor unions and big government socialists).


    Let's hope America wakes up and sees that it doesn't have to give up either social or economic freedom and that switching between parties that want to eliminate one of the other simply ratchets us towards fascism.

    WASHINGTON (AP) - The Bush administration can prohibit meat packers from testing their animals for mad cow disease, a federal appeals court said Friday.

    - AP Newswire

    It's a good thing we have government regulators to protect us from safe beef.

    Blocks in Clang (C on LLVM)

    Neat! Were my tweet prayers answered? If GCC and Microsoft support it, we could actually start using it in portable code. Btw, you can already do the same thing in C now, the difference is the syntax burden.

    Statistical results of sketches and color choices expressing various emotions.


    Signs a Website Needs a Redesign
    1. The layout looks (through squinted eyes) like a domain squatter.
    2. The color scheme looks like a high level on Missile Command.
    3. The type selection looks like a ransom note.
    4. It looks like the designer is waging (and winning) a war on white space.
    Quote of the Day
    ...conventional processes will make conventional products.

    - Andy Hertzfeld

    Dark themed, resolution independent UI controls for OSX.


    Quote of the Day
    Some days you wake and immediately start to worry. Nothing in particular is wrong, it's just the suspicion that forces are aligning quietly and there will be trouble.


    Italian Coffee Etiquette

    To drink a milk based espresso drink after mid morning is considered gauche, very poor form. To drink a milk based espresso drink with your meal, don't. It's just wrong. You'll see people crossing themselves.

    - John Brinkman article from

    Movie: The Money Masters
    The Money Masters - How International Bankers Gained Control of America

    Video via Jamie Vargas

    Criticism of Design Criticism
    I find it interesting that every time I see a link to a commentary on design, the author's website is itself an example of bad design (or at least what I consider bad typography). Examples:

    Don Norman
    Jakob Nielsen

    There seems to be a folk notion that writing a book on an activity qualifies someone as being good at that activity.

    A Map of Desire
    We asked hundreds of people where it feels best to be caressed, and where they most like to caress their lovers.


    Paleolithic Diet Research
    Based on the subsistence patterns and biomarkers of hunter-gatherers studied in the last century, advocates argue that modern humans are well adapted to the diet of their Paleolithic ancestor.[59] The diet of modern hunter-gatherer groups is believed to be representative of patterns for humans of 50 to 25 thousand years ago,[59] and individuals from these and other technologically primitive societies,[60][61] including those individuals who reach the age of 60 or beyond,[62][63] seem to be largely free of the signs and symptoms of chronic disease (such as obesity, high blood pressure, nonobstructive coronary atherosclerosis, and insulin resistance)[C] that universally afflict the elderly in western societies (with the exception of osteoarthritis, which afflicts both populations).[4][13][59] Moreover, when these people adopt western diets, their health declines and they begin to exhibit signs and symptoms of "diseases of civilization".[12][59] In one clinical study, stroke and ischaemic heart disease appeared to be absent in a population living on the island of Kitava, in Papua New Guinea, where a subsistence lifestyle, uninfluenced by western dietary habits, was still maintained.[62][64] The results of initial prospective medical studies on the Paleolithic diet have shown positive health outcomes.[65][66][67]...

    Wikipedia article

    Quote of the Day
    It's funny how in one breath those who claim to support a woman's right and ability to choose what she can do with her own body will clamor in favor of abortion yet will not support a woman's right to make a well-informed decision about how to have sex.

    - Laurence on the decriminalization of prostitution

    Fantastic Contraption
    A well executed physics based puzzle game (my favorite web game since Desktop Tower Defense). I love how these games can have lots of solutions that the game designers never expected.


    South Ossetia
    Russians move 2 SS-21 Tactical Nuke Ballistic Missile Launchers into South Ossetia.


    UPDATE: Evgeny Tarasov points out:

    "The 9N123K submunition warhead can probably carry either bomblets or mines. The SS-21 *can* also carry the AA60 tactical nuclear warhead. Other warheads are believed to include chemical, terminally guided warhead, and a smart-munition bomblet warhead"


    So the presence of SS-21s doesn't tell us what warheads they have been armed with. Either way, it's likely a signal to NATO to not interfere.

    The 5 Moral Dimensions
    In brief, the theory proposes that five innate and universally available psychological systems are the foundations of "intuitive ethics." Each culture then constructs virtues, narratives, and institutions on top of these foundations, thereby creating the unique moralities we see around the world, and conflicting within nations too. The foundations are:

    1) Harm/care, related to our long evolution as mammals with attachment systems and an ability to feel (and dislike) the pain of others. This foundation underlies virtues of kindness, gentleness, and nurturance.

    2) Fairness/reciprocity, related to the evolutionary process of reciprocal altruism. This foundation generates ideas of justice, rights, and autonomy.

    3) Ingroup/loyalty, related to our long history as tribal creatures able to form shifting coalitions. This foundation underlies virtues of patriotism and self-sacrifice for the group. It is active anytime people feel that it's "one for all, and all for one."

    4) Authority/respect, shaped by our long primate history of hierarchical social interactions. This foundaiton underlies virtues of leadership and followership, including deference to legitimate authority and respect for traditions.

    5) Purity/sanctity, shaped by the psychology of disgust and contamination. This foundation underlies religious notions of striving to live in an elevated, less carnal, more noble way. It underlies the widespread idea that the body is a temple which can be desecrated by immoral activities and contaminants (an idea not unique to religious traditions).

    Link and Vialog

    In their paper, 3 and 4 were combined under "Hierarchy", which makes more sense to me. The dimension names in the paper are: Suffering, Hierarchy, Reciprocity, and Purity. A dating compatibility test based on these measures might be interesting.

    Hidden Truths
    Well, first you have to assume that there is some hidden truth in the world. Fiction can do that even better than philosophy, although both are based on the opinions of some writer. But I think you've really hit on what makes for a great horror story, that is, a great supernatural horror story. It's the pretense that there really is some hidden truth in the world and it's the truth that behind the scenes of life there are machinations at work that make a horror of our lives - James's ghosts, Machen's cults, Lovecraft's "gods," Ambrose Bierce's "damed things," William Hope Hodgson's various monstrosities, T.E.D Klein's "dark gods," Ramsey Campbell's whole world of other-worldly bogeys, Blackwood's menacing natural forces, etc..

    For the great supernatural horror writers, this truth in principle has nothing to do with good versus evil, which are concepts that we feel have some reality to them but really do not. But we are forced to see the universe as anthropocentric, which is a real tragedy. If we didn't see it this way, we wouldn't be so at odds with one another and everything else. So even the great supernatural horror writers like have to depict some kind of good versus evil scenarios, or at least a human versus nonhuman scenarios, which is why I added "in principle" above.

    In his later letters, Lovecraft mused about writing stories in which he described only the play of nonhuman forces in the universe, forces that would be alien to the reader and therefore very disturbing. But fiction doesn't allow one to do this. Lovecraft tried to get his readers to see the world from the perspective of his monsters, but without success. There has to be a human perspective with respect to which nonhuman forces are a horror. I attempted the sort of thing that Lovecraft wanted to do in a story called "The Red Tower," which has no characters until the end, when an anonymous narrator shows up. But that narrator had to be in there or the story would have lacked a perspective that made the preceding events and descriptions horrific, or at least strange. Ultimately we are stuck with ourselves, and that's a pity.

    - Thomas Ligotti on on hidden truth themes in horror fiction

    Quatsi Trilogy

    After seeing Baraka, I rented the Quatsi Trilogy and found them disappointing (Naqoyqatsi was unwatchable) but also picked up Chronos, which I recommend. I'd like to see more of Ron Frike's work.

    Dubai Skyscrapers
    Why build vertically at a tremendous cost when there is no shortage of undeveloped horizontal space? Somehow I'm reminded of Easter Island.


    The Demonization of the New
    When people say they don't like video games involving violence, I find it interesting to ask them if they avoid movies or books involving violence. After all, there are only two themes in all of literature: sex and violence (both subsets of the single theme of gene replication). If they aren't consistent in their avoidance of these themes, then what is it they are really trying to do by targeting a particular media or art form?

    The argument that the more interactive nature of video games is different than other forms would be more persuasive if:

    1. When watching a movie or reading a book, one wasn't taking an active roll in choosing the particular "passive" form of entertainment.

    2. If there wasn't a pattern of opposition to every new art form - comic books, rock and roll, etc.

    Quote of the Day
    We're just children, we're just dust
    We are small and we are lost
    And we're nothing, nothing at all

    - Faithless, Bombs

    War Nerd on Georgian invasion of South Ossetia
    The Georgians bided their time, then went on the offensive, Caucasian style, by pretending to make peace and all the time planning a sneak attack on South Ossetia. They just signed a treaty granting autonomy to South Ossetia this week, and then they attacked, Corleone style. Georgian MLRS units barraged Tskhinvali, the capital city of South Ossetia; Georgian troops swarmed over Ossetian roadblocks; and all in all, it was a great, whiz-bang start, but like Petraeus asked about Iraq way back in 2003, what's the ending to this story? As in: how do you invade territory that the Russians have staked out for protection without thinking about how they'll react?


    The Mismanagement of America, Inc.
    Interview with Wharton management professor Lawrence G. Hrebiniak.


    I Met the Walrus
    Short interview with John Lenon.


    Movie: Larry Flynt, The Right to Be Left Alone
    Preview Video
    Talk: Erlang

    I agree regarding problems with shared memory systems but don't understand how he can say that any language that can use a disk or that can communicate with the external world doesn't have mutable state (immutable objects are handy for passing by reference but that is another matter) or why he doesn't see that erlang processes *are* objects.

    Conversations with Paul Rand
    Movie: I.O.U.S.A.
    Trailer and Live Event at local theaters on August 21st
    Welcome to the Fringe

    The "systemic risk" and "systemic failure" of the West''s financial system have been concepts hanging around the fringes of economic thought for months. The expressions, suggesting a complete breakdown in the complicated arrangements by which money is channelled around the world, attracting fees and doing little else, were shunned by the bulk of the economic community.

    But by late this week, they suddenly seemed to be on the lips of economic pundits. This followed the announcement that big banks and brokerage firms had agreed to policy changes aimed at "easing the risk of a collapse in the $US62 trillion market for credit-default swaps".


    Integral - Pet Shop Boys Vs I, Robot
    Music Video
    Fed Loans Over Time
    Bryan Magee Interviews
    Renowned philosophers interviewed by Bryan Magee.


    TAF Assessed
    In A Black Swan in the Money Market (NBER Working Paper No. 13943), John Taylor and John Williams... find no evidence that the Fed's liquidity measures reduced these spreads...

    ... Any increase in liquidity that comes from banks borrowing from the Fed using the TAF will be offset by open market sales of securities by the Fed to keep the total supply of reserves from plummeting. The actions are essentially automatic in the sense that the Fed must sell securities to keep the federal funds rate on target. For these reasons, Taylor and Williams conclude that counterparty risk is a key factor in explaining the spread between the Libor rate and the OIS rate, and the TAF should not have an effect on the spread.


    NZ Five Year Study of Prostitution Legalization
    "The report indicates that the numbers have remained more or less the same since the Act came into force and that most sex workers are better off under the PRA than they were previously, which was the intention of the Act.

    "There's no evidence of increased numbers of people being used in underage prostitution. In fact, the PRA has raised awareness of the problem," Lianne Dalziel said.

    "The PRA has had a marked effect in safeguarding the rights of sex workers. Removing the taint of illegality has empowered sex workers by reducing the opportunity for coercion and exploitation."

    I was ready to post a response to "Why Free Software has poor usability, and how to improve it" when I ran across John Gruber's post which put it well:

    I posit that the usability and elegance of any product, software or hardware, tends to reach and seldom surpasses the level that satisfies the taste of whoever is in charge of the product. This applies universally, not just to free and open source software. For example, it explains why Microsoft produces such crummy software even though the company employees thousands of talented programmers and even designers - Microsoft's decision makers have no taste.

    Many others have been expressed the same opinion since people have been writing about aesthetics - perhaps going back to the Greeks. The fact that so many people are still scratching their heads over this is enough to make one wonder if the only people that need to be told this are those that lack the taste required to see the significance of problem in the first place.

    Quote of the Day
    Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.

    For I have come to turn "'a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law--a man's enemies will be the members of his own household.'

    Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

    - Jesus in Matthew 10:34-37

    And a bonus quote:

    If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

    - Jesus in Luke 14:26

    While popular culture focuses on the Sermon on the Mount (pretty good stuff), the New Testament is in fact full of hatred, intolerance, cruelty and violence.

    Quote of the Day
    Everyone accuses me of being negative. But I am very positive.
    I am positive that we are going to hell in a handbasket.

    - Bill Bonner (on the US economy)

    i am neurotic . com

    An anonymous poster writes:

    I have to watch a clock change every hour, on the hour - even at night i set my alarm 2 minutes before the hour change and reset for the next hour - i haven't had a good night sleep because of it in nearly 5 years.


    Progressive Mathematics
    I keep hearing people say that "we should take the money we are spending on war and spend it at home". The first part of this plan - not spending money on war and a unnecessarily large military - seems sound, but the second part confuses me considering:

    The federal government recorded a $1.3 trillion loss last year - far more than the official $248 billion deficit - when corporate-style accounting standards are used, a USA TODAY analysis shows...

    Bottom line: Taxpayers are now on the hook for a record $59.1 trillion in liabilities, a 2.3% increase from 2006. That amount is equal to $516,348 for every U.S. household. By comparison, U.S. households owe an average of $112,043 for mortgages, car loans, credit cards and all other debt combined.


    So the government is drowning in debt, consumers are drowning in debt and US corporate debt is around $5T. Just where is the money to supposed to come from?

    Amazon Payment Services

    Fees are $0.30 per transaction +
    2.9% for <$3K/month
    2.5% for <$10k/month
    2.2% for <$100k/month
    1.9% for >$100k/month



    Film Review: Helvetica
    It turned out to be more about design in general than Helvetica in particular. The interviews were interesting and in some cases inspiring. I recommend it for those passionate about design but anyone else might be put to sleep.

    Links: Helvetica and the follow-up film Objectified

    TAF News
    The Fed announced it will extend the TAFs for 6 more months and will start offering 84-day loans. The ECB and Swiss National Bank are following suit. Got to keep pumping debt into the system to delay collapse of the debt monster that the central banks have created.


    SF Prostitution Decriminalization Initiative Gets on Ballot
    It's great to see that we got enough signatures for this. I collected a few dozen myself from the crowd at City Hall while we were handing out roses to the newly married same sex couples last month.

    It was surprising to me how many people who are progressive on gay marriage are oppressive when it comes to prostitution. If anyone, you would think these people would understand the civil right principle that what consenting adults do in their bedrooms is no one else's business. Particularly since these are the same people who were disappointed that the black community was unable to see same sex marriage as a civil rights issue. It would seem that for most people, civil rights only extend to actions they personally benefit from.


    Home Prices
    Home sales increased 17.5 percent in June in California compared with the same period a year ago, while the median price of an existing home fell 37.7 percent, the California Association of Realitors reported today.


    Fannie and Freddie
    Their unique clout derives from a combination of liberal ideology and private profit. Fannie has been able to purchase political immunity for decades by disguising its vast profit-making machine in the cloak of "affordable housing." ...

    The abiding lesson here is what happens when you combine private profit with government power. You create political monsters that are protected both by journalists on the left and pseudo-capitalists on Wall Street, by liberal Democrats and country-club Republicans. Even now, after all of their dishonesty and failure, Fannie and Freddie could emerge from this taxpayer rescue more powerful than ever. Campaigning to spare taxpayers from that result would represent genuine "change," not that either presidential candidate seems interested.

    WSJ editorial

    Your Hand in Mine

    Video. Another great amateur cover.

    Bella Depaulo on her book Singled Out
    Diavlog - 62 min

    An interesting discussion. I agree with Bella that it's time to make legal and tax policy fair for single people though I'd prefer it be done by dispensing with any dependent benefits instead of widening the definition of dependency.

    If people wish to have dependents it's a personal responsibility. How is it fair for the government to force others to subsidize their dependents via reducing their share of the net tax burden? Likewise subsidies, tax deductions for charitable giving and tax exemptions for non-profit organizations unfairly shift tax burdens.

    Two More Banks Fail
    SAN FRANCISCO (MarketWatch) -- Two more banks were shut down by federal regulators late Friday, who sold the banks' deposits to Mutual of Omaha Bank. It brings to seven the number of bank failures so far this year.

    Link via Margo Martinez

    Tron 2 Teaser Trailer
    The Seahorse Rears To Oblivion
    Depeche Mode Documentary
    Quote of the Day
    You know the banking system is unsound when Paulson appears on Face the Nation and says "Our banking system is a safe and a sound one."

    - Mike Mish Shedlock


    24. There is roughly $6.84 Trillion in bank deposits. $2.60 Trillion of that is uninsured. There is only $53 billion in FDIC insurance to cover $6.84 Trillion in bank deposits. Indymac will eat up roughly $8 billion of that.

    25. Of the $6.84 Trillion in bank deposits, the total cash on hand at banks is a mere $273.7 Billion. Where is the rest of the loot? The answer is in off balance sheet SIVs, imploding commercial real estate deals, Alt-A liar loans, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac bonds, toggle bonds where debt is amazingly paid back with more debt, and all sorts of other silly (and arguably fraudulent) financial wizardry schemes that have bank and brokerage firms leveraged at 30-1 or more. Those loans cannot be paid back.


    If the FDIC has $53B to cover $4.24T in "insured" deposits then if more than 1.25% of banking deposits need to be covered, they'll run out of funds. In that event, the Fed can print money to cover the deposits, but if most existing loan interest rates aren't adjusted for inflation, we can expect a surge in inflation to create a death spiral of collapses and inflation.

    Interpreting Donnie Darko

    Warning: spoilers.

    The first few times I watched this film, I took the everyday scenes as being "real" and the apparent hallucinations as being under question (was time travel actually involved?, etc). But recently I've come to see it from an inverted perspective - the hallucination scenes were "real" from the perspective of Donnie and the everyday scenes where all metaphorical impressions that Donnie has of what is happening to him. This is the "Tangent Universe" - the world broken down into component metaphors in the mind of a schizophrenic.

    Some examples: the jet engine killing Donnie in his sleep is a metaphor for mental illness striking him unexpectedly in his youth. Grandma Death is a metaphor for his future and Frank, the illness itself. The deaths of his girlfriend, mother and sister and the absence of his father, etc are metaphors for his separation from his loved ones due to his illness. His sister's acceptance to Harvard is related to his feelings of everyone else passing him by as his illness brings his own life to a halt. From this perspective, his laughter at the end is a much darker moment than it seems at first. I'll leave the interpretation of his killing of frank and the laughter scene to the reader.


    Part of the beauty of the sunset - and the sunset is always beautiful - is the fear it inspires. Night and the view it opens into the void above cannot help but be unsettling to anyone lately attentive to the sun. The sun is warm and friendly; it informs us that the sky is blue, and if that is not the sky's entire truth, we seldom refuse to be taken in by the sun's report. We don't say, That blue is just an illusion, a trick of the atmosphere. In fact, the sky is black and space a vacuum. But at sunset we're reminded that even if we avoid saying this, it is so. The sky is black. The moon is lifeless, and the planets too, and the stars, though many, are far away and exert no influence across the light-years on our small lives.

    -Thomas M. Disch, The Businessman

    Pocket Sphinx
    Sphinx is a speaker-independent large vocabulary continuous speech recognizer released under a BSD style license. It is also a collection of open source tools and resources that allows researchers and developers to build speech recognition systems.

    The newest stable version of PocketSphinx is now available. This release is about 50% smaller and up to 18% faster than the previous one, and introduces a new, re-entrant and "modern" API.


    How the Man finally brought e-gold down
    The government had been after them for a while and where they finally got them to plea bargain admitting ... Conspiracy to Commit Money Laundering charge, which has nothing to do with Douglas Jackson carrying suit cases filled with $100 bills into banks in the Cayman Islands. It is failure to do "Know Your Customer" or KYC as it's known in the financial industry.

    ...In the US PayPal innovated by inventing that tiny authenticating payment to your bank account, which seems to be enough KYC for single purpose financial institutions such as payments and savings...

    KYC since it was introduced in the late 90s as a requirement has been the single most destructive concept for innovation and startups in the financial space. e-gold was the last proud hold out against it as it went so against the principles of their operations. You could pretty much open any amount of accounts that you wanted to without any real documentation.

    Link via Rich Collins

    Radio Head: Scotch Mist
    Video 52min
    Book: Feeling Unreal
    "Everything feels unreal to me, like a dream...I feel detached, like a stranger to myself." These are quotes from actual people, experiencing something they don't understand. What they are saying is being heard by friends, families, and physicians today more than ever before. They do not simply suffer from anxiety, or depression, and they are not schizophrenic. They have found themselves trapped in a very real and singular disorder, yet few even know its name. Their enigmatic state of mind has been studied for more than 100 years, but only recently has it become clear how prevalent and how distinctive it really is. The condition is called Depersonalization Disorder, and Feeling Unreal is the first book to reveal what it's all about.

    This important volume explores not only Depersonalization, but the philosophical and literary implications of selflessness as well, while providing the latest research, possible treatments, and ways to live and thrive when life seems "unreal." For those who still believe that such experiences are merely part of something else, that depersonalization is just a symptom and not a disorder in its own right, Feeling Unreal presents compelling evidence to the contrary. This book provides long-awaited answers for people suffering from Depersonalization Disorder and their loved ones, for mental health professionals, and for all students of the condition, while serving as a wake up call to the medical community at large.

    Feeling Unreal on Amazon

    YouTube videos from people with the disorder

    Amazon S3
    S3 is having problems again today. If the intermittent problems continue into next week, I'll be looking for a new provider.

    Amazon explains its S3 outage

    Estimated losses in the international banking system keep rising. This time last summer, the largest credible estimates were around $400 billion. By the end of the year, it was almost twice that.

    Last quarter, we saw estimates approaching $1 trillion. By last week, the number had jumped to $1.6 trillion, according to Bridgewater Associates, one of the top analytical firms in the world.


    Collapse IV: Concept Horror
    Collapse IV features a series of investigations by philosophers, writers and artists into Concept Horror. Contributors address the existential, aesthetic, theological and political dimensions of horror, interrogate its peculiar affinity with philosophical thought, and uncover the horrors that may lie in wait for those who pursue rational thought...


    Schizophrenia Retrovirus
    In a report in the April 10 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) ... The researchers found the "molecular footprint" - a specific sequence of genetic material - of a retrovirus in the cerebrospinal fluid of nearly 30 percent of the subjects with new-onset, acute schizophrenia. In addition, they found the same retroviral signature in postmortem samples of brain tissue in 7 percent of subjects who had been diagnosed with chronic schizophrenia. The virus was not detected in any of the brains or cerebrospinal fluid of two comparison groups: one of healthy individuals and one of individuals with noninflammatory disorders of the nervous system.

    In a separate article, also appearing in the April 10 PNAS, researchers found that five genes associated with the formation and maintenance of myelin sheaths are commonly "turned off" in the brains of patients with schizophrenia, further bolstering a possible link between schizophrenia and multiple sclerosis.

    Psychiatry Online, 2001