Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Going for broke...

I think the US is right to not do the bail out

1. the moral hazard is too high to reward bad banks
2. some banks go bust - so?

in this scenario, my understanding is that
someone will realize their assets
by acquiring them cheap -

that organisation will not foreclose on all their
customers mortgages because
a) if anyone does that to a significant size of hosuing stock, the
price will fall so fast they wont realize much money
b) the people they foreclose mortgages on will then buy the property
for cash cheap

instead, they will foreclose on hopeless caes, extend the loan on
others and quite a lot of people will find themselves renting
accommodation they were formerly trying to buy, but without a debt.

the price for buy/rent, and the confidence level in remaining loans
will stabilize....

making the organisation that acquires the bust banks,
the government makes no sense to me at all. bailing out broken lenders
makes even less sense.

alternative: make usury a crime as well as a sin:)

Monday, September 29, 2008

scientific ad hoc disease

as gregory bateson commented in one essay in the seminal work "Towards an Ecology of Mind" a lot of science is deployed in a very ad hoc way - so one example of this is the treatment of scizophrenics by use of electric shock therapy - it was noticed that
monkeys that were schizoid and epileptic had a reduction in symptoms of psychosis after a fit. it was noticed that shocks induced fits - so some bright spark (pun intended) had the idea of shocking human psychotics in the vain attempt to cure them. the rest is a sad sad history

there are other examples where the arbitrary relationship between symptoms is used, metaphorically, to establish a bogus cause/effect, which, at first, has the appearance of effectiveness...

they should all be fired.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

all sexed up and nowhere to go

i just finished cherie blairs memoir/autobiography, and quite an interesting read it is

I wonder if all the folks involved in or connected to government at the time of the
gilligan/kelly "sexed up" weapons of massed destruction dossier (which the hutton report and others found to be "unsexed up" but was nevertheless simply wrong:(
have conspired to make sure their story of events is consistent? Certainly Alistair Campbell's diaries and Cherie Blair's bio are what a lawyer on a tv copshow might call
"remarkably" consistent - so if one does evntually find something wrong about their memories of events, and their reports are consistent in the error, would that be reasoanble evidence to doubt the veracity of their entire version of events?
[wouldn't that be ironic:- to catch out a bunch of legal types:-) of course it won't happen - it is much more likely that the dossier was rubbish because the secret service (and US) were rubbish at their job, than it is that they faxed it - frankly, if they faked it, then theyd have known that they'd get into all saddam's secret places and fail to find any WMD and they'd have pulled the whole mission to avoid that later embarrasment - so its more likely that they just believed bad info....especially since the US couldn't actually get a competent level of covert info out of the middle east since allegedly, the CIA wasn't able to persuade people to work there due to the food/climate etc:)

I found BLair's early life much more interesting than the later stuff - the tories about liverpool and her parents and other older relatives were fascinating, whereas most the later stuff is well documented in too many other places - and I dont care for the politically correct reportage on the royal family, the bushes, the pope, etc etc....
but the Booth and other earlier characters in this fable are definitely worth readin all about...

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

how long ago the world was created

so here's a question (apologies to isaac asimov who wrote that amusing story about the last trump and the problems of figuring out when Ragnarok should really be).

why do creationsts say the world was created in 4000 BC? why not in 1900? why not in
2001? that would get rid of all sorts of problems surely (like the millenium bugs).

Indeed, if, as Sarah Palin says, god created the world with dinosaur fossils intact already hundreds of millions of years after the alleged Jurassic, who is to say that he didn't create the world last tuesday, and that Sarah Palin is a figment of our imagination (or God's or both).

Solipsists unite. We need to be revisionist about creationism every nanosecond.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Richard Dawkins is disingenuous because....

because his timing for the attack on religion is atrocious in terms of clear targets

he is disingenuous because he thinks that the "madness" (delusion) that possesses people is separable from politics and yet religion is likely to be about to be the biggest political
cause of problems for a long time - the problem is not the fundamentalist Muslims - the problem is the continuing ascendancy of the American fundamentalist christian, but the problem is not their religion, but the politics that it aspires to - contrariwise, the politics many muslim's aspire to might actually evolve to be harmonious (i don't count jihad as politics - perhaps thats a bit naive of me since it is often used as a method to enlist the poor by failing leaders in failing economies) - the difference, I suppose, is that jihad is so far a flea, whereas the worlds markets tumble and fall and trash entire economies - and yet these people that think that dinosaur fossils were created 4000 years ago as the devil's lizards, are in the driving seat.

well doh - i suppose they think a hedge fund is for the plants by the white picket fence outside their house, and that a derivative is a poor copy of a Tammy Wynnette song.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

why the US thinks everyone else hates them, when really , we love them, but tough!

here's a theory about why the US may perceive everyone as critical

I've noticed that in outher countries i've been in recently (e.g. France, Italy,
Spain, Greece) it is rare to make a big deal out of doing something positive -
perople don't really celebrate success in the way I have noticed in the USA (e.g.
my brother-in-law's family) do - when someone "does good" everyone
ring sbells claps hands and CELEBRATES it - which is good. but when this happens
in the UK, everyone mutters "pretty good" and gets on with things

I've noticed this in professional life too - people are always getting awards in
the US for best teacher or best researcher or best paper - this is almost frowned
on in much of Europe in my experience

so it is entitrly possible that people like myself are guilty of only every
emitting critical remarks and never saying congratulatory remarks on the plus
things that the USA has done for itself and everyone else, and so, very much like
newspapers (and TV news) we are seen as only commenting on (reporting) negative

this reminds me of the scene in Life of Brian when the people's republic of judea
(or whatever) are moaning - "so what did the romans do for us"...and one says
"well, good roads" , "oh ok, roads. but apart from roads what did the romans do
for us", "well,, law" - "oh, ok apart from roads and law, what did the romans ever
do for us..." etc etc...


meanwhile, given we all have to pay for oil in dollars, and the exchange of other
currency for dollars is subject to charges, I think this is a tax - so since I am
a US taxpayer, how come i don't get a vote? eh? eh? this weas a founding
principle and principal cause of the indepenence of the USA from England :-) :-)

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

sarah palin seperated at birth from...

sharon osbourne - uncanny similarity - see
sarah and

do we really want the apparent sister-in-law of a bat eater as possible commander in chief of nuclear family USA?

my mum says Palin is "common" - explaining this to americans, i said, by contrast, McCain has class - class=katherine hepburn, common=shirley temple - bizarrely, it turns out they were in one film together - viz
American Creed, which it is hard to tell if is a horror movie, a religious tract, or a documetary about a Native North American Tribe (are there any differences in these three subjects,either?).

meanwhile, BBC had a nice article on
which is quite helpful:)

Monday, September 08, 2008

last word on arthur c. clark - The Last Theorem

i just read the not very goood last book (called the last theoren) by arthur c. clark (with frederick pohl) - i'd love to know how much ACC actually put in to this - it has some typical arthurian moments, but is in general not great - i was also dismayed at the (airport edition) number of typos - two things struck me
1. the use of the term "oxcam" to describe a 4th generation indian-uk immigrant's accent - oxbridge, surely? and the phrase "arab republic of egypt" - i wasn't aware egpytions called themselves arabs...oh well (wikipedia claims similar)

but worse was to come - despite Wiles' proof of Fermat's last theorem, one of the author's claims that there will perhaps never be a "short" proof (in the sense that Fermat probably thought he had found, as the problem might be allegedly "undecidable".
That's plain wrong, since we have a proof, we can terminate any checker on another proof. Does the author mean that the existence of a shorter proof is undecidable, perhaps? that might well be true...or do they mean something more subtle?

Thursday, September 04, 2008

metrics for balance in journalism - disproportionate warfare and reportage

so whenever someone is killed on one side of a war where each side claims the other is terrorist, or another there's a demand by the other side for balanced reporting.

However, what really constitutes balance? is it number of events, or body count?

certain lobbies exist to make sure every event is balanced by a report of all the events of the other side. However,. recently, sides have complained about "disproportianate responses" in war. However looking at recent press on Georgia and Russia (and Ossetia etc), and older events in Ireland, South Africa, Israel, and many others, one can surely say that asymmetric warfare is carried out just as much in the information domain as in the real world, and not necessarily (ever) in a correlated way between the two domains/worlds. Indeed, one expects since many clashes happen in the edges between the tectonic plates of 1st, 2nd and 3rd world, and that asymmetry in weaponry and information/media power are not simply connected, one might expect to see big seismic shifts between the two ways of shooting your neighbour and shooting your mouth off.

good site for this is cardiff journalism:http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/jomec/research/researchgroups/mediatizedconflict/fundedprojects/index.html> which has great stuff about iraq for example