Mike Beversluis

Saturday, January 30, 2010

heh

Unhappy hipsters:


"You can come out when you can properly explain the differences between Modernist architecture and postmodern ornamentation."

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Friday, January 29, 2010

a bit of mavenry

The Chaos Poem

Dearest creature in creation
Studying English pronunciation,
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse and worse.
I will keep you, Susy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy;
Tear in eye, your dress you'll tear;
Queer, fair seer, hear my prayer.
[...]

It goes on like that, near as I can tell, forever... Hey, it would be a good way to practice for a vocabulary exam.

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Meet the new boss

Pardon the gen-x post-millennial tension, but if Stuff White People Like is the 95 Theses, then here's the Confession of Sins:

Church?

I read blogs to align my tastes and opinions with the creative elite
I frown upon anything my newly blog-aligned perspective (bap) deems typical
I publicly acknowledge my superficiality, believing (via bap) that this equals self-awareness
I try to fit in by forging a personal brand that exhibits a unique blend of accepted alternative characteristics
...
He's a little off though, since self-awareness isn't absolution.

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Halved bankers

Banchieri dimezzati by Francesco Giavazzi; Jan 23rd.

The problem of how to regulate banks is perhaps the most difficult market economy has ever had to dealt with. As all of complex problems, this admits too some solutions that are apparently simple, but most often wrong or ineffective. Minister Tremonti* wasted the occasion of the G7 presidency deluding himself (with the proposal of the "legal standard", book-keeping principles that would be the same for everyone) that it would be enough to force banks to apply new criteria when balancing their books. Most of the politicians, in Europe as well as in the US, went after popular approval claiming that the true problem were bankers bonuses. In reality they fell for a trap.

The most cunning among the bankers are happy when the issue of bonuses is debated (even if, evidently, they do not admit they are and apparently they protest). Bonuses often generate perverse effects. But discussing about bonuses avoids the question of what banks are or are not allowed to do, that is the discussion on rules that could make a dent in their profits. If the profits are large, a way to distribute them will be eventually found, whatever the rules on bonuses are. The proposals of President Obama put finally on center stage the true issue, that is that the same institution cannot be at the same time a bank (that collects savings and lends it to families and companies) and a hedge fund that is engaged in financial speculations. The quarterly reports of some of the large banks, published yesterday, show that most of the profits have been achieved by trading.

But in those quarterly reports there is no information on how many of those trades were made on their customers's account and how many on the opposite were made on their own account, with the bank's own capital, that is acting just like an hedge fund. Trades on their own account (that according to Obama's plan wouldn't be allowed anymore) are the most profitable, but also the riskiest ones. A bank should not be allowed to expose itself to the risks of a hedge fund. Because banks (as Alberto Giovannini is explaining since two years on the pages of the Financial Times, in columns that have influenced Paul Volcker, the man who drawed up the Obama plan) are also clearinghouses for trades: if a bank declares bankruptcy, the trades it has done on its own client's accounts risk to be nullified, that is, there is a risk of contagion spreading.

But there is another important difference, that explains why the bankruptcies of hedge funds have been exceedingly rare, unlike those of banks: if a fund registers a loss, the manager has to shoulder the costs, because he invests his own money in the funds he manages. This does not happen in a bank. But separating the two activities will not be easy, perhaps will not even be possible. Obama has to be credited with having started up a process and with having understood which is the right direction to aim to. Now the ball is in the hands of the Financial Stability Board, the institution which will have to translate these principles into concrete rules.



* Tremonti is the Italian minister of Economy and Finances.

Monday, January 25, 2010

A bit of youtube-ry



Some nice CGI of a shuttle that done got blowed up real good.

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doh



Via the intarnet and the four winds

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Friday, January 22, 2010

Gary Kasparov on AI and Chess

Here is a nice article here on chess and computers.

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Another good idea

From Ironic Sans


2) A map of Earth inverted.
What would Earth look like if it were inverted? The lowest valleys become the highest peaks and vice versa. Where would the lakes and oceans be? How high would the highest mountain be? And what would the new land masses, trade routes, and waterways suggest for an alternate history on this inverted Earth?

You know, I think I can do this... more later (or maybe not)

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Ringworld



A horizonless-map of Manhattan.  What a good idea!

Gives a whole another meaning to "up-town girl," no?

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

.ʎɐpoʇ 46 sı ɥɔuʎ1 pıʌɐp



1) The Straight Story, 2) the 1st season of Twin Peaks, 3) Mulholland Drive 4) Wild at Heart 5) Dune, etc.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Coolography 30


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In which I move very far into Uncle Monkey-ness

Congratulations to my sisters, Sarah et al and Laura et al on their recent additions, Levi and Theodore, respectively! Sheesh, they're competitive.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Coolography 29


[Image copyright Baback Tafreshi via]




I'm not sure what to call it, but "Landscape Astronomy" is very appealing to me, and would be a good reason to invest in a high-end DSLR and a nice tripod.

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Sunday, January 17, 2010

Swords for hire - IV

Swords for hire - fourth (final) part

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Whoa

Very strong optical illusions based on color - although, I wonder what they look like to someone who's colorblind?

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Keep chocolate out of your house

Some good money-saving tips and advice from Vanguard.

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Well, that's kinda neat


Freezelight Magic Forest from FREEZELIGHT.RU on Vimeo.

In some of the shots, you can see the blurred motion of the painter, so it seems like each frame is individually drawn.  I wonder how you make them so precisely? (well, relatively) Probably it's just a lot of practice, but I could imagine putting some sort of template behind the camera that you could use to line up each drawing, or at least some key points.   More likely, it's just a lot of practice.

Update: Or you could just watch this video on how they did it...  How to freeze light.

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Nothing costs as much as it used to

Verizon's CTO has broached the idea of eliminating flat-rate data plans in the future and replacing them with a pay per byte approach. Most people seem to think this is worrisome.  Not me, as I've done so wherever possible already, and would like more of it ASAP.

I happily ditched a flat-rate mobile phone plan for a T-mobile prepaid plan because I use so relatively few minutes on my mobile phone - I use OneSuite for long-distance calls - that it's much more cost effective to pay $100 once a year than to pay that same amount every two months for "unlimited" calls. I supposed there are people for whom this calculus does not apply, but that's the whole point - I'm not interested in subsidizing their use.  Frankly, I think with a little restraint or accommodation, even that person can find a very cheap prepaid plan, or use VOIP, etc, etc, which is a better deal than the unlimited calling plan.

This somewhat assumes that these networks are fungible;  T-mobile's service reception is okay - it's not as good as Verizon, but better than AT&T.  YMMV, but 8$/month is a very low minimum payment.  Plus, in some sort of luddite fashion, I feel proud that my phone is so basic.  It's just a very cheap, reliable way to talk to anyone from any semi-urban place in the US.

On the other hand, and perhaps hypocritically regarding my basic-phone stance, I also have a broadband Mifi card with a 5GB plan.  My thought was that if I'm going to surf the web in random spots, I'd like to use a 15" screen with a full-sized keyboard.  Overall, it's pretty sweet - a little slower than DSL, but not too bad.  It's connected via one of the ubiquitous 5GB for $60/month data plans.  I haven't gotten anywhere near that 5GB data use limit, with my heaviest month clocking in at around 1GB or so, but then it's also only being used as a supplemental internet access point.  Right now, I think the available mobile broadband pay-per-byte rates are too high to making switching to them effective, but since mobile broadband is rapidly expanding and is, within cities, a commodity, I get the feeling that in 10 years 1GB/month will cost $8 too.  In the shorter term, I very much think that Verizon's introduction of data rates will erode the cost per byte, as it seems to have for prepaid long distance.

This is all based on my being a lightweight user of mobile services, not unlike moving the longer phone calls to a very cheap long-distance provider and watching internet TV shows etc over a cheap DSL connection.  So, on the other other hand, if you want to bittorent via 4G, well, yeah, I think you're going to get a big bill.  Seems fair to me.

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Ah, modern life

On one hand, printers can be annoying... on the other, if toner cartridges are the biggest problem you face, the rest of the world - for all of recorded history - would like to offer you some perspective.

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Friday, January 08, 2010

Coolography 29



Happy Birthday, young Elvis.

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Thursday, January 07, 2010

Coolography 28



I coulda been a contender edition

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Baseball Hall of Fame

FWIW, which isn't a lot, there are many baseball fans who were upset by the recent (ridiculous) Baseball Writers Association of America's Baseball Hall of Fame votes.  Adding insult to injury were the many laughable justifications these writers produced.  Let me suggest that "all writers with 10 years of membership in the BBWAA get to vote on the hall of fame" isn't a good criterion for who gets to vote, as is now manifestly obvious. Instead, let's introduce a little feedback into the system, so that fans get to vote on who gets to vote.  So an HOF Elector is a position somewhere between a Senator and a Supreme Court Justice, but maybe not the Electoral College Voter.

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Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Monumental



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Coolography 27



Corvette Summer - edition.  Skip the matching numbers and NOS fan belts, and add some coke bottle mags with some meaty billboard tires...

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Monday, January 04, 2010

Friends don't let friends


...go to graduate school

Just Don't Do It, to coin an anti-phrase.

Keep in mind that all of the recent End of Capitalism talk is going to be swamped by the recriminations that come once the higher-education tuition bubble pops.  Yes, this is sour grapes and schadenfreude cocktail on my part, but that doesn't change the fact that tuition (and for PhD's, years of apprenticeship / indentured labor) has grown far more than inflation over the last twenty years.  I'm certain enough of that to wonder how one could short the market, in a please pay me today for an Ivy-league degree and upper-class starter kit tomorrow sort of way...

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Saturday, January 02, 2010

Numerology abounds

Happy Palindrome Day (01 02 2010)

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Friday, January 01, 2010

Opening up the Two-Oh One-Oh.



Twenty-Ten?  The erstwhile Year of the Ox / impending Year of the TigerStardate 313000?  In any case, may it bring you and yours wealth, health, and springs in your steps.  I want to send a shout-out to my folks for the nice dinner and very enjoyable evening at the concert.  Thanks!

On a programmatic note, "interestingness" and "responsibility" will be themes for next year.  Those themes are too nebulous to serve as goals themselves, but it's easy to make specific goals from them, e.g., expand my emergency fund to 20% of my income and nail down my travel plans and so forth.

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