Friday, August 31, 2012

Modern Politics

"We're not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact-checkers" - Neil Newhouse, pollster for Mitt Romney"

"In his barnstormer of a speech to the swooning crowd at the Republican national convention on Wednesday night, Paul Ryan laid a mound of misdeeds at President Obama's door. To sustained applause from the floor, the vice-presidential candidate accused Obama of raiding Medicare, lying to auto workers and turning his back on the poor. But the speech (transcript here) was not always at pains to adhere to the historical record. At times, we are disappointed to report, Ryan baldly lied.
"And the biggest, coldest power play of all in Obamacare came at the expense of the elderly … So they just took it all away from Medicare. Seven hundred and sixteen billion dollars, funneled out of Medicare by President Obama."
Barack Obama's budget plan calls for $716bn in cuts to Medicare spending over the next 10 years, but in reimbursements to insurers and hospitals, not in payments to beneficiaries, which would be preserved. Ryan knows this because he has written these same cuts in to successive drafts of his famed budget. Politifact has weighed in on Ryan's Medicare claim and found it to be "mostly false."
"A lot of guys I went to high school with worked at that GM plant. Right there at that plant, Obama said: 'I believe that if our government is there to support you … this plant will be here for another hundred years.' That's what he said in 2008. Well, as it turned out, that plant didn't last another year."
Ryan accurately quotes Obama, who visited the plant as a presidential candidate in February 2008. Four months later, GM announced the plant would drastically scale back production. The plant laid off most of its workforce in December 2008, before Obama took office. The "government support" Obama spoke of – his auto bailout plan, which took effect in early 2009 – did not arrive early enough to save the Janesville plant, but it is credited with saving the American auto industry. The full audacity of this attack cannot be appreciated without noting that Ryan's would-be boss, Mitt Romney, published an op-ed in the New York Times in November 2008 under the headline Let Detroit Go Bankrupt."

etc. etc.

Paul Ryan's speech: a round-up of his most audacious untruths - Guardian

I am sure many Democrat politicians are no better, but this article lays the ridiculousness that is politics out beautifully. Luckily the voters are dumb. Are they? I don't really care any more what these US (or UK) politicians stand for, or say they stand for. The SOP seems to be say whatever you feel like and perceive that you are getting the electorate rallying to your "cause". Whatever you do, do not even think about talking straight, telling the truth, not twisting the facts, quoting your rival with accuracy. Are they so cynical that they believe this works. I guess it does? Do they recognise that it doesn't matter as once elected they appear pretty powerless to actually achieve anything anyway?

The People's Songs

"They form part of a new landmark series, The People’s Songs, which will be broadcast next year and aims to tell the story of Britain in 50 records."

Do these 10 songs represent modern Britain? - Telegraph

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Kid Snippets

If movies were written by our children...



via Only in India

The dude behind the Dude

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Typeface for Doctors

via Orion Creatives

Fast Track to Oblivion?

"In the 10 years before the credit crunch, our household debt rose from 90 per cent of disposable income to more than 160 per cent. It remains above 150 per cent today. A collective failure to grasp the scale of damage still being done to the economy by persistently overstretched consumers is why policy responses have been so ineffective.

The reason, as Disraeli noted, is that statesmen think of the next generation, whereas politicians care only about the next election. Those seeking power keep spending to buy approbation and then send the bill to people who are not on the electoral register: those too young to vote, tomorrow’s taxpayers.

What we have witnessed is inter-generational theft. In leaving today’s newborn babies with ballooning debts, unfunded pensions and a dysfunctional housing market, we have stolen their future and rendered ourselves morally bankrupt."

Despite the crisis, Britons are still spending like drunkards - Telegraph

Monday, August 27, 2012

Creationism PG-13

"Evolution is the fundamental idea in all of life science, in all of biology. According to Bill Nye, aka "The Science Guy," if grownups want to "deny evolution and live in your world that's completely inconsistent with everything we observe in the universe, that's fine, but don't make your kids do it because we need them."


I think I have made it clear how I feel about the man with previous posts on this site.

I would recommend the following two posts for further reading.

Lance Armstrong Quits - Inner Ring


Now. Go turn on the Vuelta. So far it has been bloody excellent and looks to continue to be an exciting Grand Tour.

5 Stars please

"In the fall of 2010, Mr. Rutherford started a Web site, At first, he advertised that he would review a book for $99. But some clients wanted a chorus proclaiming their excellence. So, for $499, Mr. Rutherford would do 20 online reviews. A few people needed a whole orchestra. For $999, he would do 50.

There were immediate complaints in online forums that the service was violating the sacred arm’s-length relationship between reviewer and author. But there were also orders, a lot of them. Before he knew it, he was taking in $28,000 a month.

Reviews by ordinary people have become an essential mechanism for selling almost anything online.

He says he regrets his venture into what he called “artificially embellished reviews” but argues that the market will take care of the problem of insincere overenthusiasm. “Objective consumers who purchase a book based on positive reviews will end up posting negative reviews if the work is not good,” he said.

In other words, the (real) bad reviews will then drive out the (fake) good reviews. This seems to underestimate, however, the powerful motivations that writers have to rack up good reviews — and the ways they have to manipulate them until a better system comes along."

"Todd Jason Rutherford inside his home in Bixby, Okla. He says that he is now suspicious of all online reviews — whether of books or of anything else."

"There were books I wished I could have gone back and actually read,” said Brittany Walters-Bearden, who wrote reviews for Mr. Rutherford. “But I had to produce 70 pieces of content a week to pay my bills.”"

The Best Book Reviews Money Can Buy - NYT


"The collapse of Nadir's empire had been one of the biggest in British corporate history, and one of the City of London's blue-chip accountancy firms had been appointed as administrators. But while the administrators controlled Polly Peck's assets on paper and in law, in Northern Cyprus and Turkey those properties and businesses remained firmly in the hands of the tycoon's placemen. They couldn't be seized, and they certainly couldn't be sold to pay off any creditors."

Asil Nadir, Polly Peck and the headless chickens - Guardian

Many years ago, whilst working on Threadneedle Street, Polly Peck marked the start of my career in the finance industry. They were a corporate account. I have a Polly Peck pen at home. Should stick it on EBay!

"Polly Peck International (PPI) was a small British textile company which expanded rapidly in the 1980s and became a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index before collapsing in 1990 with debts of £1.3bn, eventually leading to the flight of its CEO, Asil Nadir to Northern Cyprus in 1993. The Polly Peck scandal, and Chief Executive Asil Nadir's escape, along with a number of corporate scandals, spurred on reform of UK company law, leading to the early versions of the UK Corporate Governance Code. On 26 August 2010 Nadir returned to the UK to face trial for some specimen charges taken from multiple counts of false accounting and theft he had originally been charged with prior to his escape. Prosecutors allege that he stole more than £150m from Polly Peck in total and on his return he faced trial on 13 specimen charges, totalling £34m. Nadir was found guilty of 10 counts of theft from the company totalling £29m and on 23 August 2012 at the Old Bailey he was sentenced to 10 years in prison." via Wikipedia

Friday, August 24, 2012


"Fill your bowl to the brim and it will spill. Keep sharpening your knife and it will blunt. Chase after money and security and your heart will never unclench. Care about people’s approval and you will be their prisoner. Do your work, then step back. The only path to serenity." - Tao Te Ching


"Seven-year-old Jón Haukur Vignisson unexpectedly won the highest score among non-professionals in the annual national ram groping tournament last weekend.

Spirits were high at the tournament where approximately 200 people gathered. The ram groping contest takes place in two categories. Among professionals, farmer Kristján Albertsson at Melar in Árneshreppur stood up as winner, Morgunblaðið reports.

“Consultants come here and use the latest technology to evaluate the rams and give them points. The gropers then use their hands to try and reach the same conclusion as the consultants,” explained Ester Sigfúsdóttir, managing director of the Sheep Farming Museum.

“Laymen rank the rams and must reason why,” Ester said. “It can be funny to hear their arguments, for example, that their ranking depended on which ram bleated the loudest or whether they managed to get eye contact with it.”

“One year a contestant was able to rank the rams correctly and described them all in a poem. That was very interesting,” commented Ester.

Ram gropers are of all ages and walks of life. Among the prizes is sperm from the Insemination Center of West Iceland, which is much appreciated among sheep farmers."

Seven-Year-Old Wins Iceland Ram Groping Contest - Iceland Review via Marginal Revolution

Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Badger

"Just don't be in the toilet when we dive deep," executive officer David "Bing" Crosby advises me. "The bulkheads bend and you can't open the doors."

The submarine is two separate worlds: the front half, where the men (and at the moment it is all men, though there are likely to be female submariners from next year) sleep and eat and make war; and the back half, where the nuclear reactor sits beneath the tunnel that separates for'ard from back'aft and where the engines are. "We push, they fight," as one back'aftie explains succinctly."

Life on board a British nuclear submarine - Guardian


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Monday, August 20, 2012

The Panic over Fukushima

"The tsunami that hit Japan in March 2011 was horrendous. Over 15,000 people were killed by the giant wave itself. The economic consequences of the reactor destruction were massive. The human consequences, in terms of death and evacuation, were also large. But the radiation deaths will likely be a number so small, compared with the tsunami deaths, that they should not be a central consideration in policy decisions.

The reactor at Fukushima wasn't designed to withstand a 9.0 earthquake or a 50-foot tsunami. Surrounding land was contaminated, and it will take years to recover. But it is remarkable how small the nuclear damage is compared with that of the earthquake and tsunami. The backup systems of the nuclear reactors in Japan (and in the U.S.) should be bolstered to make sure this never happens again. We should always learn from tragedy. But should the Fukushima accident be used as a reason for putting an end to nuclear power?

Nothing can be made absolutely safe. Must we design nuclear reactors to withstand everything imaginable? What about an asteroid or comet impact? Or a nuclear war? No, of course not; the damage from the asteroid or the war would far exceed the tiny added damage from the radioactivity released by a damaged nuclear power plant.

It is remarkable that so much attention has been given to the radioactive release from Fukushima, considering that the direct death and destruction from the tsunami was enormously greater. Perhaps the reason for the focus on the reactor meltdown is that it is a solvable problem; in contrast, there is no plausible way to protect Japan from 50-foot tsunamis. Do we order a permanent evacuation of the coast to 20 miles inland? Do we try to build a 50-foot-high sea wall all around the eastern coast, including Tokyo Bay?

Looking back more than a year after the event, it is clear that the Fukushima reactor complex, though nowhere close to state-of-the-art, was adequately designed to contain radiation. New reactors can be made even safer, of course, but the bottom line is that Fukushima passed the test.

The great tragedy of the Fukushima accident is that Japan shut down all its nuclear reactors. Even though officials have now turned two back on, the hardships and economic disruptions induced by this policy will be enormous and will dwarf any danger from the reactors themselves."

The Panic Over Fukushima - WSJ

Good article. Worthwhile read. Doesn't allow for the complete incompetency of TEPCO though.

Just wait

"The daily and stubborn reality for everybody building businesses on the strength of Web advertising is that the value of digital ads decreases every quarter, a consequence of their simultaneous ineffectiveness and efficiency. The nature of people's behavior on the Web and of how they interact with advertising, as well as the character of those ads themselves and their inability to command attention, has meant a marked decline in advertising's impact.

I don't know anyone in the ad-­supported Web business who isn't engaged in a relentless, demoralizing, no-exit operation to realign costs with falling per-user revenues, or who isn't manically inflating traffic to compensate for ever-lower per-user value.

Facebook has convinced large numbers of otherwise intelligent people that the magic of the medium will reinvent advertising in a heretofore unimaginably profitable way, or that the company will create something new that isn't advertising, which will produce even more wonderful profits.

Facebook currently derives 82 percent of its revenue from advertising. Most of that is the desultory, ticky-tacky display advertising that litters the right side of people's Facebook profiles.

Facebook's answer to its critics is: Pay no attention to the carping. Sure, grunt-like advertising produces the overwhelming portion of our $4 billion in revenues, and yes, on a per-user basis, these revenues are in decline. But this stuff is really not what we have in mind. Just wait."

The Facebook Fallacy - Technology Review

Friday, August 17, 2012

Let the poets

Let The Poets Cry Themselves to Sleep - Arian Storey

Career advice

"A spurious tail is the performance of a certain number of operators that is entirely caused by luck, what is called the “lucky fool” in Taleb (2001). Because of winner-take-all-effects (from globalization), spurious performance increases with time and explodes under fat tails in alarming proportions. An operator starting today, no matter his skill level, and ability to predict prices, will be outcompeted by the spurious tail. This paper shows the effect of powerlaw distributions on such spurious tail. The paradox is that increase in sample size magnifies the role of luck.

To conclude, if you are starting a career, move away from investment management and performance related lotteries as you will be competing with a swelling future spurious tail. Pick a less commoditized business or a niche where there is a small number of direct competitors. Or, if you stay in trading, become a market-maker."

Why It is No Longer a Good Idea to Be in The Investment Industry


"While NASA and JPL put a nuclear powered laser-eyed roving chem lab on another planet, Kentucky legislators want to teach kids that the world is 6000 years old, and Missouri wants schoolchildren to be able to stick their fingers in their ears if their teachers discusses evolution."

The most amazing contrast of the 21st century - Bad Astronomy

Faith distribution


Thursday, August 16, 2012


“As the value of Facebook goes down, the value of Instagram goes down with it,” said Mr Quinn. “Six months ago Instagram employees thought they were getting $1bn, now they’re getting a half-billion dollars. Is that fair? That’s a question the court is facing.”

Facebook tries to speed Instagram deal - FT

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Risk On

"Otmar Issing is looking a bit tired. The former chief economist at the European Central Bank (ECB) is sitting on a barstool in a room adjoining the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. He resembles a father whose troubled teenager has fallen in with the wrong crowd. Issing is just about to explain again all the things that have gone wrong with the euro, and why the current, as yet unsuccessful efforts to save the European common currency are cause for grave concern."

Investors Prepare for Euro Collapse - Spiegel Online

"Banks, companies and investors are preparing themselves for a collapse of the euro. Cross-border bank lending is falling, asset managers are shunning Europe and money is flowing into German real estate and bonds. The euro remains stable against the dollar because America has debt problems too. But unlike the euro, the dollar's structure isn't in doubt."

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Monday, August 13, 2012

Mo 'burns

"And think about the talented athletes who did make the right choice and walked away. They were punished for following their moral compass and being left behind. How do they reconcile the loss of their dream? It was stolen from them. When I was racing in the 1990s and early 2000s, the rules were easily circumvented by any and all — and if you wanted to be competitive, you first had to keep up. This environment is what we must continuously work to prevent from ever surfacing again. It destroys dreams. It destroys people. It destroys our finest athletes."

How to Get Doping Out of Sports - NYT

Big fan of Vaughters.

Friday, August 10, 2012


In Okinawa for the weekend attending a CrossFit Level 1 Trainer Course.

"The Level 1 Trainer Course is an introductory course on CrossFit's methodology, concepts, and movements.

The course includes classroom instruction on: CrossFit's conceptual framework, CrossFit's foundational movements, programming to optimize training results, and nutrition strategies to support fitness.

Hands on small group training sessions include instruction on CrossFit's foundational movements under low intensity with a focus on improving technique. Students will have their movement observed and corrected, and engage in dialogue concerning effective correction techniques.

Large, group CrossFit workouts are conducted as an example of bringing it all together; establishing an example of how to conduct a class and how to hold a standard of proper technique under high intensity and scaling for any ability level.

The purpose of the course is to provide students with an introductory level education on the fundamental principles and movements that make up the CrossFit Program.

The L1 course is structured to meet a two-fold goal:

Provide attendees the understanding to better use CrossFit methods for themselves; and
Provide attendees an initial and foundational education to begin training others using CrossFit.

On completing a Level 1 CrossFit Trainer Course, attendees will have the resources and sufficient foundation from which to continue development as a CrossFit trainer and/or athlete.

This course has a 50 question multiple-choice test, which will be required to pass in order to attain the distinction of CrossFit Level 1 Trainer (CF-L1). All of the questions on the test come directly from the course and the UPDATED CrossFit Training Guide.

For further Information on the Level 1 Course and Test please see the CrossFit Level 1 Participant Handbook and the Level 1 Test FAQ."

UPDATE: Passed the test 41/45. Which is nice. Just call me CF-L1 from now on.

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Sikh And Tired

LOLy Part II

and there's more..


Chris Hoy, men's Keirin.

Nick Skelton, Ben Maher, Scott Brash and Peter Charles, Equestrian Team Jumping.

Jason Kenny, men's sprint.

Alistair Brownlee, men's triathlon.

Carl Hester on Uthopia, Charlotte Dujardin on Valegro and Laura Bechtolsheimer on Mistral Hojris, Team Dressage.

Laura Trott, women's Omnium.


Victoria Pendleton, women's Individual Sprint.

Nick Dempsey, men's RS:X Sailing.


Elizabeth Tweddle, women's gymnastics asymmetric bars.

Jonathan Brownlee, men's triathlon.

Robert Grabarz, men's high jump.

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

It can be done

Economist Roger Bootle, who won the £250,000 Wolfson Prize for developing a practical plan to dissolve the Eurozone.

Olympic links

via The Economist.

Youngest and Oldest Participants

Discontinued Olympic Events

Mettle for medal

Worth a click, great interactive graphic for where the medals have gone by Day 10


"We can lay out the dynamic of Japan's currency and export-dependent economy thusly:

1. Export-dependent economies such as Japan, China and Germany rely on strong exports to sustain their employment and growth.

2. This means they must maintain positive current accounts (trade surpluses).

3. As their currencies strengthen, their exports become less competitive globally.

4. Export-dependent economies must pursue strategies to keep their currencies aligned with their buyers, the importing nations.

5. Germany has done so via the eurozone, which aligned its largest import market, Europe, with its own currency.

6. China has done so by pegging the renminbi (yuan) to the U.S. dollar and restricting foreign exchange (i.e. not allowing a free-floating renminbi).

7. Japan has neither of these advantages, and must intervene in the FX markets by buying and selling yen and dollars.

8. Despite its well-known debt problems (see chart below), Japan retains a massive and diverse industrial base, a current-account surplus (or modest deficit with its nuclear power plants largely offline) and large overseas assets.

9. These assets, plus its homogeneous culture, makes Japan an island of stability in an increasingly unstable global economy.

10. For these reasons, the yen is considered a "safe haven" currency and yen-denominated bonds as "safe haven" liquid investments.

11. As demand for yen rises, the currency strengthens, weakening the competitiveness of Japanese exports.

12. The "safe haven" status of the yen ends up hurting the Japanese economy's primary engine, exports.

13. The stronger yen ends up weakening the very attributes that make the yen and Japanese bonds "safe havens."

14. As the global economy slides into recession, exports decline sharply under the double-whammy of falling demand and a rising currency."

"As long as Germany stays within the Eurozone, Japan is the primary example of this dynamic. Should Germany leave the euro and return to its own currency, it too will begin orbiting the financial black hole of declining exports driven by a strengthening currency in a global recession.

Economies that are less reliant on exports are much less exposed to the consequences of a strengthening currency."

While All Eyes Are On Europe, Japan Circles A Black Hole - ZH

Tuesday, August 07, 2012


via O, ye’ll take the high road and Harry Reid Really IS the Honey Badger

Thought this was simply funny. Not sure there would be any difference between Romney or Obama. It would seem that being US President is quite ineffective these days. Congress far too partisan. I think the US political system needs strong reform.


Monday, August 06, 2012


"Shepherds may soon have a bit of technology on their side in the battle to keep wolves from devouring their precious sheep: heart rate monitors that can scare away wolves or send a message to the shepherd when the herd is under attack. A prototype model has yet to be developed — that's on its way this autumn — but a test this past week in Switzerland showed that the increase in heart rate due to a threatening wolf is a viable trigger for such a device. In the test, two (muzzled) Czechoslovakian wolfdogs were set loose on a small herd of twelve sheep. In the rush to get away from the wolfdogs, the heart rate of the sheep bumped up from 60 to 80 BPM to 225, wolf expert Jean-Marc Landry told the SDA. The final monitors — which must be worn on a shaved patch of the sheep's chest — would be able to send a text message warning the shepherd of the attack and its location. The plan is that the monitors will also be equipped to scare away and disperse the wolves with a displeasing spray or sound. It's surprising that such a device hasn't already made it to market, but the wait shouldn't be too much longer: trials are set to begin in Switzerland and France next year."

Sheep vs. wolves: SMS-enabled heart rate monitor will warn shepherds of attacks

Best use of a HR monitor yet?


Nasa Mars Landing: live blog

NASA explores the red planet


Pick a SPOTY from this lot. And it's not over yet...


Day five, Helen Glover and Heather Stanning, rowing, women's pair.
Day five, Bradley Wiggins, cycling, men's time trial.
Day six, Etienne Stott and Tim Baillie, canoe slalom, C2.
Day six, Peter Wilson, shooting, men's double trap.
Day six, Chris Hoy, Philip Hindes and Jason Kenny, cycling, men's team sprint.
Day seven, Katherine Grainger and Anna Watkins, rowing, women's double sculls.
Day seven, Ed Clancy, Geraint Thomas, Steven Burke and Peter Kennaugh, cycling, men's team pursuit.
Day seven, Victoria Pendleton, cycling, women's keirin.
Day eight, Alex Gregory, Pete Reed, Tom James, Andrew Triggs Hodge, rowing, men's four.
Day eight, Katherine Copeland and Sophie Hosking, rowing, women's double sculls.
Day eight, Joanna Rowsell, Dani King and Laura Trott, cycling, women's team pursuit.
Day eight, Jessica Ennis, athletics, women's heptathlon.
Day eight, Greg Rutherford, athletics, long jump.
Day eight, Mo Farah, athletics, men's 10,000m.
Day nine, Ben Ainslie, sailing, finn.
Day nine, Andy Murray, tennis, men's singles.


Day two, Lizzie Armitstead, cycling, women's road race.
Day four, Tina Cook, William Fox-Pitt, Mary King, Zara Phillips, Nicola Wilson, eventing equestrian, team.
Day five, Michael Jamieson, swimming, men's 200m breaststroke.
Day six, Peter Chambers, Rob Williams, Richard Chambers, Chris Bartley, rowing, lightweight men's four.
Day six, David Florence and Richard Hounslow, canoe slalom, C2.
Day six, Gemma Gibbons, judo, women's -78kg.
Day eight, Zac Purchase and Mark Hunter, rowing, men's lightweight double sculls.
Day nine, Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson, sailing, Star.
Day nine, Louis Smith, gymnastics, men's pommel horse.
Day nine, Andy Murray and Laura Robson, mixed doubles tennis.
Day nine, Christine Ohuruogu, women's 400m.


Day two, Rebecca Adlington, swimming, women's 400m freestyle.
Day three, Louis Smith, Max Whitlock, Daniel Purvis, Sam Oldham and Kristian Thomas, gymnastics, men's team.
Day five, Alex Partridge, James Foad, Tom Ransley, Richard Egington, Mohamed Sbihi, Greg Searle, Matthew Langridge, Constantine Louloudis, Phelan Hill, rowing, men's eight.
Day five, Chris Froome, cycling, men's time trial.
Day seven, George Nash and William Satch, rowing, men's pair.
Day seven, Alan Campbell, rowing, men's single sculls.
Day seven, Karina Bryant, judo, women's +78kg.
Day seven, Rebecca Adlington, swimming, women's 800m freestyle.
Day nine, Max Whitlock, gymnastics, men's pommel horse.
Day nine, Ed Clancy, cycling, omnium.