Pseudo Random News and Comment

Supporting redistributionist policies, including corporate welfare, is the same as a pickpocket going to a pickpocket convention and expecting to come out ahead.

But if you’re part of the can’t beat em join em camp, step up to the trough with 7 little-known health care reform gems.

Excellent post on justifying science. It works.

A ridiculous tale of bad people using bad science.

A new data analysis tool for finding relationships in large, complex data sets. While it could certainly be a useful tool for directing research, no doubt it will also be killing a hedge fund near you in the near future.

Young infants’ imitation not guided by rational thought after all. Judging by herding behavior in the stock market adults aren’t either.

Bo Xilai scandal in China. There is no way to know what the real story is in Chinese politics. They’re all crooked and they all do similar things. His main offense seems to be getting political power through public appeals rather than back room deals. The trouble is when there is no rule of law all prosecutions become political [persecutions]. Something the US should be giving more heed since it’s getting a little difficult to tell the difference between the two countries in enforcing the law.

Very interesting analysis of Chinese internet censorship practices in social media. The geographic distribution is quite interesting. The lower rate of deletions in Beijing and Shanghai may also be a case of putting on a better public face for the foreigners in those areas. I had some interesting VPN connection issues in Beijing which made me wonder if that was a concern.

I think indicators should always be adjusted by issues, market cap, volume, etc to make them comparable over time but this chart of margin debt at TBP is still interesting.

Bipartisan support for 401k skimming. Spot on about fiduciary duty and the unsurprising bipartisan support, but deciding policy based on surveys of consumers will always lend support to “free money for everyone.” Returns lag not just because of hidden expenses, but also poor investor decision-making and bad advise – especially inflated return expectations causing people to save far less than they should to have any margin of safety. One of the largest secular bull markets in human history is hardly a valid sample from which to draw conclusions, yet the 8% annual return number so commonly used is based on exactly that. If you’re born at the wrong time it’s going to be rough sledding. (see Improving the Horny Parents Market Timing Model).

I have made it a point not to post about global warming but this really stuck in my throat: Global Warming Close to Becoming Irreversible. Though there are measurement issues with temperature numbers I don’t dispute humans have caused warming. However, on a geologic time scale the only thing notable about it is the rapidity. The magnitude and duration are in no way special and all those previous increases and decreases reversed. This kind of scare tactic isn’t science, and reflects the quasi-religious anthropocentric assumption that the current climate and species are somehow the “right” ones simply because they existed when we became aware of the issue. The universe doesn’t give a rat’s ass about humanity or our preferences. It’s going to do what it does and until we know where we are on the long cycle of warming and cooling due to orbital and solar variations there is no way to know whether we should be fighting or promoting warming, and risk doing exactly the wrong thing. As Long Term Capital Management and others found out, modeling short-term noise eventually leads to trouble no matter how accurate the model.

Great advice on how to present money choices to yourself. If an alternative has no emotional impact it’s going to lose out. Descartes’ Error by Antonio Damasio has some fascinating stuff on the unavoidable interconnections between reason and emotion. Well worth reading.

Interesting reinterpretation of the California bungalow, but Japan continues to be where it’s at in modern architecture. It really seems to be a case of constraints forcing creativity, and the small, oddly shaped lots in Japan seem more inspirational than most. The latest example from Apollo Architects is actually rather conservative.

3D solar towers improve efficiency 2-20x vs flat panels.

The perils of Java. It’s a never-ending battle. Using 2 browsers and 2 user accounts is a pain. NoScript is another option.

Has modern science become dysfunctional? It seems like it in many cases. Humans respond very well to incentives, but rarely to the ones you want.


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