Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for October 13th, 2008

Secret rooms and hidden passages

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They still have an enormous appeal to me. Go look.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 October 2008 at 4:10 pm

Posted in Daily life

Peak Oil and the financial meltdown

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It is not a coincidence that just as we are hitting peak oil, world monetary systems seem to be edging toward collapse. Monetary systems are debt based, and depend on growth to continue. Resources are finite, and we are reaching limitations on them. Many of us have predicted that monetary systems may collapse, either as we approach peak oil, or shortly after peak oil. I have talked about the connection between peak oil and monetary system collapse in a number of posts. In this post, I reprint relevant sections from one of my earliest TOD posts, written in April 2007.

Back on April 30, 2007, Prof. Goose posted an article I had written called Our World Is Finite: Is This a Problem? as a guest post. In that article, I talked about the fact that we are reaching limitations on resources of many kinds, and that whenever we try to overcome one kind of resource limitation with a substitute, such as corn ethanol for gasoline, we run into other resource limitations. This is a where I saw things going, back in that early post.By the way, I do not claim originality in predicting the connection between peak oil and collapse of the monetary system. Collin Campbell also predicted such a collapse as early as 2006. This video by Collin Campbell is from October 2007.

This is the section from my April 2007 post dealing with monetary collapse, and also the conclusion section from the same post:

What if we don’t find technological solutions?

We can’t know for sure what will happen, but these are some hypotheses: …

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 October 2008 at 1:52 pm

Forestalling corrective actions

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Interesting article:

While Wall Street financiers stoked today’s financial meltdown with explosive investing in high-risk mortgage loans, politicians, federal officials and lobbyists shielded them from lawsuits that would have protected borrowers and tempered the frenzy.

A principle known as assignee liability would have allowed borrowers to sue anyone holding paper on their loan, from the originators who sold it to them to the Wall Street investment bankers who ultimately funded it.

Without the measure in place, Wall Street increased by eightfold its financing of subprime and nontraditional loans between 2001 and 2006, including mortgages in which borrowers with no proof of income, jobs or assets were encouraged by brokers to take out loans, according to statistics provided by mortgage trackers.

The Bush administration and members of Congress — including a key Republican subcommittee chairman who was later sent to prison for political corruption — sided with lending-industry lobbyists and free marketers who hotly and successfully opposed blanket liability for Wall Street firms selling mortgage-backed securities, according to congressional testimony, other records and interviews.

Those loans are what taxpayers will be buying under the $700 billion bailout plan approved by Congress and signed by President Bush last week.

The Seattle P-I examined the roots of today’s mortgage crisis from downtown Seattle to Wall Street in New York. The research included government records, court cases, industry reports, congressional testimony and interviews with experts from all sides of the issue. Although many factors contributed to the crisis, including low interest rates, demand for housing and predatory lending, experts agree that the lack of liability played a key role.

Beginning in the 1990s, …

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 October 2008 at 1:49 pm

Posted in Daily life

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights

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Via Andrew Sullivan:

Written by LeisureGuy

13 October 2008 at 12:20 pm

Posted in Daily life, Government

The Certainty Bias: a mental flaw

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Good article in the Scientific American. It begins:

Robert Burton is the former chief of neurology at the University of California at San Francisco-Mt. Zion hospital. He recently wrote a book, On Being Certain, that explored the neuroscience behind the feeling of certainty, or why we are so convinced we’re right even when we’re wrong. He and Jonah Lehrer, the editor of Mind Matters, discussed the science of certainty.

LEHRER: What first got you interested in studying the mental state of certainty?

BURTON: A personal confession: I have always been puzzled by those who seem utterly confident in their knowledge. Perhaps this is a constitutional defect on my part, but I seldom have the sense of knowing unequivocally that I am right. Consequently I have looked upon those who ooze self-confidence and certainty with a combination of envy and suspicion. At a professional level, I have long wondered why so many physicians will recommend unproven, even risky therapies simply because they “know” that these treatments work.

It is easy to be cynical and suspect the worst of motives, from greed to ignorance, but I have known many first-rate, highly concerned and seemingly well motivated physicians who, nevertheless, operate based upon gut feelings and personal beliefs even in the face of contrary scientific evidence. After years of rumination, it gradually dawned on me that there may be an underlying biological component to such behavior.

LEHRER: In your book, you compare the “feeling of certainty” that accompanies things such as religious fundamentalism to the feeling that occurs when we have a word on the-tip-of-our-tongue. Could you explain?

BURTON: There are two separate aspects of a thought, namely the actual thought, and an independent involuntary assessment of the accuracy of that thought.

To get a feeling for this separation, look at the Muller-Lyer optical illusion.

Even when we consciously know and can accurately determine that these two horizontal lines are the same length, we experience the simultaneous disquieting sensation that this thought—the lines are of equal length—is not correct. This isn’t a feeling that we can easily overcome through logic and reason; it simply happens to us. …

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 October 2008 at 12:17 pm

Posted in Daily life, Science

GOP: Party of lies

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Just go read. They lie and lie and lie and lie.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 October 2008 at 12:13 pm

Posted in GOP

Corruption still bubbling up in Alaska

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Read this post, which begins:

Remember back to the first week in September, when it seemed like every day there was a new “gate”?  Actually, believe it or not, “Troopergate” used to be known as “Palingate” in Alaska because we naively believed there was only one.  Oh, how innocent we were.

Since that long ago time, our naivete has fallen away, and “gates” have been springing up like mushrooms all over Alaska:  Troopergate, babygate, bookgate, pastorgate…the list seemed endless.  Add to that a whole host of more recent and harder to say “gates” – Leaving-your-town-in-debt-gate, collecting-per-diem-while-living-at-home-gate, charging-victims-for-rape-kits-gate, trying-to-rid-the-world-of-wolves-and-polar-bears-gate, and we’ve been busy people.  We’ve been focusing on John McCain’s I-didn’t-vet-my-running-mate-so-I’m-going-te-let-everyone-else-do-it-gate.

But now, a brand new “gate” surfaces.  I present “House Gate”.  There will be more digging on this one in the days to come, but here’s what we know now.

Six months before Palin stepped down as mayor in October 2002, the city …

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Written by LeisureGuy

13 October 2008 at 11:33 am

Posted in Daily life, GOP, Government

GOP’s vote suppression strategy

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It dates way back:

Read this good post (from which I found the video). It begins:

Judging from big media’s slobbering acceptance of right wing attacks on ACORN’s voter registration efforts, it remains a far greater sin in America to be suspected of voter registration misdeeds than to forcibly and publicly, through deception and armed muscle, keep a registered citizen from voting.

Why is this?

Republican’s are brazen. They conduct their voter suppression campaigns in the open. Voter roll purges. Phone calls into minority neighborhoods on election day giving inaccurate polling locations. Armed thugs hired to play police or border patrol agents at the polls. Black people harassed by the cops on their way to vote. …

Written by LeisureGuy

13 October 2008 at 11:30 am

Posted in Daily life, GOP, Government

Our idiot administration

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Dean Baker has a good post, which begins:

I know it’s rude in DC policy circles to ever hold people accountable for the things they said way back when they were two weeks younger, but I like to break rules.

Remember all those folks who said that it was absolutely essential that the bailout bill be passed immediately or the economy would collapse? How can these people explain the fact that 10 days after he has had the full legal authority to act, Secretary Paulson has still done nothing with the $700 billion that Congress handed him. Doesn’t Paulson realize the urgency?

Remember those who said that it was so urgent to pass a bailout package that even a badly designed bill had to be approved. Even if Secretary Paulson’s proposal for buying bad assets through a reverse auction mechanism was a complex and inefficient way to re-capitalize the banks, it was still essential that he be given the money to go this route. What does it mean that even Secretary Paulson has now abandoned this approach? (Give Paulson credit for good judgment and being willing to change his mind, but what a waste it would have been if he had followed the initial course.)

Finally, remember the political leaders who assured the public that …

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 October 2008 at 11:27 am

Interesting idea from James Fallows

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Read the entire post, which includes:

… My dream [for financial reporting] would be something equivalent to on-line real-time traffic congestion maps, which show you, in red, the areas that are jammed and, in green, those that are flowing OK. (This one shows the conditions a little while ago in my former home of Kuala Lumpur. These features are not just for Americans any more.) …

His suggestion comes from the observation that finanical reporting focuses WAY too strongly on the DOW Industrial Average and the S&P 500, rather than looking at the full range of financial activity and highlighting problem areas. I would think that a good programmer could creative an informative chart that updates itself in real time via feeds from the Internet. Someone should do that.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 October 2008 at 11:25 am

Restaurant fish tricks

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If a heavily harvested fish, such as Patagonian toothfish (aka Chilean sea bass) goes extinct, restaurants will continue to serve it—they just use the name for some other fish. Read this article, which suggests “Diner beware!”.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 October 2008 at 11:21 am

Posted in Business, Daily life, Food

Sound problem resolved for now

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Once again, I abruptly lost all sound through the soundcard (Sound Blaster Live! 24-bit). After trying a restore again (didn’t work) and go through the troubleshooting routine offered by Windows XP, I gave up and found a newer version of the Sound Blaster driver, downloaded and installed it, and all is well again. I guess I should make a restore point now.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 October 2008 at 10:58 am

Posted in Daily life, Technology

Henry Markram: Designing the Human Mind

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Interesting talk on a simulation of the whole human brain.

more about "Henry Markram: Designing the Human Mind", posted with vodpod

Written by LeisureGuy

13 October 2008 at 9:40 am

Posted in Daily life

Kidney bean & caramelized onion spread

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Really, the kidney bean & caramelized onion creation was more of spread than a dip. And it was supposed to be faux chopped chicken liver, and indeed it was very like it. The purpose of the chopped hard-boiled egg was to push it closed to chopped chicken liver. In fact, if you tinker with it a bit (a dash of Tabasco, for example), you could probably get it even closer. It was very good, and I’ll be making it again.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 October 2008 at 9:03 am

Posted in Daily life

We live in a weird universe

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And we’re still finding out just how weird. For example:

Patches of matter in the universe seem to be moving at very high speeds and in a uniform direction that can’t be explained by any of the known gravitational forces in the observable universe. Astronomers are calling the phenomenon “dark flow.”

The stuff that’s pulling this matter must be outside the observable universe, researchers conclude.

When scientists talk about the observable universe, they don’t just mean as far out as the eye, or even the most powerful telescope, can see. In fact there’s a fundamental limit to how much of the universe we could ever observe, no matter how advanced our visual instruments. The universe is thought to have formed about 13.7 billion years ago. So even if light started travelling toward us immediately after the Big Bang, the farthest it could ever get is 13.7 billion light-years in distance. There may be parts of the universe that are farther away (we can’t know how big the whole universe is), but we can’t see farther than light could travel over the entire age of the universe.

Scientists discovered the flow by studying some of the largest structures in the cosmos: giant clusters of galaxies. These clusters are conglomerations of about a thousand galaxies, as well as very hot gas which emits X-rays. By observing the interaction of the X-rays with the cosmic microwave background (CMB), which is leftover radiation from the Big Bang, scientists can study the movement of clusters.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by LeisureGuy

13 October 2008 at 8:57 am

Posted in Science

QED Chocolate

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Monday calls for a shave stick, and the QED Chocolate seemed a good choice, particularly as I worked up the lather and inhaled the fragrance. The Simpsons Emperor 3 Super, a wonderful brush, made a fine lather, and the new Merkur Slant, still with the same blade, left me with an exceptionally smooth face, with no nicks or irritation. The best aftershave for the event seemed to be Coty’s Raw Vanilla, so that’s what I used.

Written by LeisureGuy

13 October 2008 at 8:39 am

Posted in Shaving


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