Friday, February 27, 2009

bankers enbezzling

enbezzeling is like embezzelling only its the opposite, and thinner - just as an
en is thinner than an em, and it takes n en's to make 1 em.

lovely headline in the metro today - picture of said baker's waste bin with apparently discarded cardboard box for a piggy bank!! given their ability at the job, I am surprised the bin wasn't just full of 50 pound notes.

Meanwhile, the row about Sir Fred's pension rolls on and on. There seems to be some confusion in the world - people claim :-

i) you have to pay people this much to get good people. well the banks got idiots, so the pay is obviously not the key to attracting able and smart individuals
ii) you can't take away his pension.

well, yes you can - its called tax. we could have a 99% tax for unearned income - given RBS went broke, he obviously didn't earn the money - this would be neat as it wouldn't impact bonuses for people that actually increased the value of a company

Finally someone said (many times) we can't have a high tax, low income economy as we would drive the smart people away. How come Sweden has Saab and Volvo and Ericsson and so on then? THey have high taxes, plausible income, and still make stuff.

Ah, I know what it is thatcher and major and blair and brown wanted the right kind of
stupid bankers who don't make anything useful (not even trickle down). You can't get those in a country that just wants to build stuff people want and provide good health and education. oh no.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

digital britain misses the point

lord carter's report on digital britain misses the point.

If it doesn't make stuff (buildings, food, entertainment, heat/light, transport)
more, or cheaper, or both, then it is no use.

services are out. manufacturing is in.

digital is just an enabler.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

hall of shame for economists, think tanks, bankers

we really need a sort of "amnesty international" site for all the bloody economists, advisory think tank and quangoes, government treasury officials and especially bankers who got us in this mess. a sort of fc for these bozos.

it is so clear that beneath the veneer of fancy maths (and a few people that might actually get it but know their limitations), things like black swan, etc, the reality is that there is no economic theory of value whatsoever. all that talk about stopping boom/bust by controlling interest rates, and rate limiting computer based automatic trades on the stock market to keep the system stable, and similar things are superficial - fundamentally, the root of economics that seem to support the free market idea was
the Chicago school, rooted in Nash Equilibria and game theory - but these assume rational players - as we know, people aren't rational selfish, they can be barking mad, they can exhibit herding and they can be altruistic - all of these mean that a market doesn;'t operate - Behavioural economists try to capture this, but once you open the door to including a "psychological" element to your model of the market, you have to admit that it is essneitally not a predictive model any more - it is just descriptive - and you have to agree that not only are the arrival processes of information/value heavy tailed (i.e. hard to predict rare events happen when you don't expect - so large deviation theory models, but doesn't help you contain the rare large event) but also synchronised irrational behaviour is hard or impossible to predict - some of this behaviour includes paranoia (i.e. non sharing of information) which means that the market doesn't operate correctly (e.g. bankers don't pass on risk information correctly)

all of this means that we should be haning out all the free market morons to dry in the cold cold wind.

bu alas, noone in positions of power seems to have the guts.

my proposals

1. let all the banks go broke -
get their acount information details, and bail out all indivudal savers only.
let all debtors off the hook.

2. institute a usuary-free world, worldwide - lenders can
lend for
i) share of profit only (sharia style - or just like venture capitalists, amusingly)
ii) as mutuals
all risk assesment must be published. non secondary trading (i.e. you are not allowed to sell or buy money)

of course, all the people that gave money to the democrats, republicans and tories and labour would then be broke - so?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

carp ark

this is what caused the willy-measuring excercise recently under the deep atlantic when the french and english navy tested the soundness of their nuclear subs....thee captains were momentarily distracted by a passing Carp Ark.

on the train recently , a joking driver said "please remember to take all their belongings with you ,and keep your seatbelt buckled at all times

meanwhile, Popco by scarlett thomas is an excellent book - it is the first time I've read a fictional work which has crypto jokes down to the main characters being called Alice Bob Carol, Dave, Esther etc....

I have to ask you, dear reader, are you an uncle or an aunt?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

what do comedy, music, video have in common?

answer: beat

a beat is a pause to elicit a response - musicians use a pause (breath)
and comics use it, and videos use it - even xkcd uses it:)

Monday, February 09, 2009

bbc news uncritically shows israeli politician redefining war terms

yet again, western media allows an Israeli politician slightly to the right of le Pen, get away with claiming all the children killed in gaza were human shields used by Hammas.

Just as with the american redefinition of people to get away with locking up
random suspects in gitmo (neither civilian nor army), the israeli right are basically redefining "civilian in the way" to be "shield". unfortunately for them, despite not letting in western press, there is not only plenty of evidence of (and witnesses to) cases where the children killed weren't actually in front of anyone, but there are also plenty of people who aren't stupid - if you invade another territory, and its urban, then if you don't give the people a) a place to go and b) time and means to get there and c) make sure they have gone, then when you drop bombs on it, you are killing civilians - it doesn't actually matter that you might also kill people in the army of the "other side" - of course, if the "opposing army" was about to fire a rocket that killed a zillion of your side, you might make some sort of Hiroshima-like judgement call. But you better have a pretty strong case - since this is blatantly not the case, then the only interpretation is that this is a war crime.

of course, the Hamas charter doesn't really help matters, given its fairly insane repetition of 80 year old nazi distortions of reality.given the nazis would have very happily gassed the palestinians alongside the jews, (given they're all semitic and un-aryan) its fairly suicidally stupid of the author's of Hamas charter to mention this B.S.

but that isn't sufficient excuse

meanwhile (pace, godwin) Hamas aren't exactly doing themselves any favours with this self inflicted harm

Friday, February 06, 2009

banker bonuses - what's the problem?

in the tech. area, when you want to give someone a bonus, you give them stock - this strongly incentivizes them to think about
a) working for the company
b) working for the long term

why are banks different? why do they get cash bonuses? bogus.
give them stock and let them rise or fall by their own success/failures:)

bad science in the news again.....more mmr (but also copyright)

see for the whole shebang - I think it is tricky to post more than a small extract of audio (ditto text from writing) in copyright aw, no matter that it is hard to see how really stupid the Jeni thing is without hearing the entire thing. I suspect, legally, there's no argument (the copyright infringement will trump the right of the public to discuss the abuse of media to give wrong medical advice)

one simple solution is to take THEM to court for risking kids lives, and then the evidence will be part of the court case, and in the public domain ...

it turns out that fraudulent medical advice is criminal...

meanwhile, the times reports that the report that started this whole sorry saga was (probably) based on fudged data

Thursday, February 05, 2009

legarchy - new (wrong) type of government...

so the government behaviour (in US and UK) in the current banking crisis and economic woes and excuse making (without any sorry) reminds me of the previous woes (iraq war, no weapon of mass destruction) and the NHS IT Programme, and other unapologetic massive mistakes of judgement and strategy that have gone on in the last 12 years.

Basically, the way the government(s) have gotten off the hook is by arguin the minutiae, like they are in court (indeed, actually in court when it came to the death of david kelly).

The minutiae aren't the point. they are lawyers tricks to distract people from the real
problem - huge failures of ethics and gigantic misunderstanding of the limitations of intelligence and market economics.

its like since Blair and Bush, everyone can get off "on a technicality" even though we all know they are guilty.

time for less credulous jurors.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

wildlife in an urban winter garden

on saturday, at 11am, in quick succession, we had a large grey squirrel, a big black&white cat, a VERY large wood pigeon, and a huge fox, sitting in the garden.
I hope they are
a) all ok in the snow we now have
b) are not about to test the food chain

the squirrel looked to fast for the fox and too big for the cat - the pigeon was about right for the fox, but probably too big for the cat - i have no idea whether a fox would go for a domestic cat (I doubt it but it would be a big meal).

Sunday, February 01, 2009

socialism 2.0 v. depression 2.0 - maybe governments will topple?

All over Europe (and elsewhere) people are starting to express their anger at the financial mess and it looks like the population at large (the great unwashed people that havn't stopped working harder and harder for the last 20 years, and can't see why they have to pay more tax to bail out banks whose bosses retire on multimillion dollar bonuses despite screwing up) are finally starting to demand some sort of significant change - one small aspect of this is the recent complaints about migrant workers taking local jobs - c.g. brown telling workers they are wrong to complain about people being moved 1000s of miles to provide cheap labour

The only reason this can work is that those people are coming from an area that
a) is in the EU (otherwise the availability of local labour would rule out work permit)
b) an area in the EU that has very low housing cost (otherwise the people moving would be paying for local housing and for housing their families back home)
c) apartment rent must be very low in the worker site compared with local labour's housing cost - if you move enough people, this will also impact local housing costs
and finally there is no allowance for carbon costs (let alone social cost) of moving people around peridocally

there's a short term argument (like shortselling shares) that this is just adjusting the labour market. but it doesn't allow for long term market (like transport and housing and so on - e.g. schools etc - if a person moves to Doncaster from Warsaw to do some work, then where do their taxes go to pay for infrastructure (schools, hospitals, police).

No sorry, this is not as simple as Brown likes to think it is and in the current climate, using free labour market arguments is really really going to annoy a lot of people.

interestingly the latest news appears to indicate the government has realised that allowing companies to move people from EU country A to B and to exclude employees who are from country B is not exactly the intention of "free" markets in anything...just dodgy company behaviour!

Davos - clueless - possibly as evil as Dr Who's Davros...