Michael B. Duff

Lubbock's answer to a question no one asked

Archive for December 2010

links for 2010-12-03

  • An email to students at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs says: "The documents released during the past few months through Wikileaks are still considered classified documents. [The State Department] recommends that you DO NOT post links to these documents nor make comments on social media sites such as Facebook or through Twitter. Engaging in these activities would call into question your ability to deal with confidential information, which is part of most positions with the federal government."
  • …Gold. The backtested model of shorting gold ahead of NFP has just broken. Margins calls coming in. JPM/Blythe Masters scrambles to prevent an all out rout as the $1,400+ stops are triggered. [Of course, don't expect it to stay at this level. Recently gold has established a pattern of spike and retreat. But the long term trend points to higher prices. Gold responds to world inflation, not just U.S. inflation.]
    (tags: gold economics)
  • Each tree is owned by an identifiable person; none is subject to the theory of the commons. Individual tree-owners rent the leaf crop to other farmers. Thus, a specific individual has an important stake in making sure that the tree is not stripped so bare that it dies. Wood products are a significant portion of an essentially barter economy. All the land is privately held, with the exception of the most-used tracks between villages.
  • Health and wealth plotted over 200 years. MUST SEE. Everyone should watch this and get some perspective on how much technology, economics and trade have improved the world, even in the poorest corners of the globe.
  • I think the democratization of media has come full circle. Bloggers who have spent the last 10 years sneering at the rules and customs of mainstream journalism are having a moment of clarity, as WikiLeaks teaches them about the power of information, and the consequences of indiscriminate publication.
  • Talk to any woman in Moscow, and, regardless of age, education, or income level, she'll have a story of anything from petty infidelity to a parallel family that has existed for decades. Infidelity in Moscow has become "a way of life," as another friend of mine put it—accepted and even expected.
  • When, last year, it was revealed that the Russian navy had set 10 pirates adrift with no navigation aids in the middle of the Indian Ocean, there was little surprise in the shipping world. It's one way of dealing with them.
  • A report by Britain's Maritime Charities Funding Commission in 2007 found that "the provision of leisure, recreation, religious service and communication facilities are better in UK prisons than … on many ships our respondents worked aboard."
  • Every time I question whether the classes I build mean too much organized schooling for the students (I wish I could just trade for their hours in the regular classroom), parents tell me that I’m not the one stealing childhoods — it’s the sports. For a while I didn’t believe it was that bad. But now I’ve witnessed kids with 150 IQs who want to take a math class at MIST Academy reluctantly opt for the sport they’ve played for eight years (because four days of playing just isn’t enough), and then fall from third place to thirteenth place at local math competitions — or to win national awards in the sixth grade, but fail to make the school math team in the eighth grade. And then they don’t know how to catch up with the top students, and rarely do. Nobody tells them what they missed, and by high school there isn’t time left in the day for any but the most absurdly talented and interested students to catch up.
  • Ships always have to pay something to someone, either officially or unofficially. Traversing the canal costs somewhere between seven and 11 cartons of cigarettes in "gifts." Without Marlboro, a dissatisfied pilot or immigration official can have the ship stopped for hours. Unplanned customs inspections, audits, immigration checks, all running up delays and costing money. The cigarettes are cheap in comparison. In some West African ports, I am told, agents and port staff turn up in the bond room with a shopping list. Chocolate, cigarettes, Coke, please.
  • "Our people have grown to look upon this indispensable bridging of the ocean for the supply of our daily food as something no more needing our thoughtful attention than the recurrence of the seasons or the incidence of day or night." Or as the captain might say: Merchant navy, scum of the earth.

Written by Michael B. Duff

December 3, 2010 at 23:11

Posted in Uncategorized

links for 2010-12-02

Written by Michael B. Duff

December 2, 2010 at 23:01

Posted in Uncategorized

links for 2010-12-01

  • Basically this goes to show just how futile it is to attempt blocking servers in the internet where it takes a few keystrokes to change a client. It also brings up the point of how much further the US will go in its attempt to shut up the internet and ways to bypass such seizures. An interesting analysis out of TorrentFreaks contemplates a BitTorrent based DNS which would make shutting down sites virtually impossible.
  • It seems the days of Wikileaks are over. The Associated Press reports that the website appears to have lost its host. The question now is who will be the next Wikileaks.
    (tags: wikileaks)
  • Somewhere deep inside, you knew you'd end up paying for this didn't you? Notice how quickly the conversation has gone from "bailing out Greece" to "bailing out Europe."
  • Churchill agreed to meet Hitler, who was going to come to see him in his hotel in Munich, and said to the intermediary: "There are a few questions you might like to put to him, which can be the basis of our discussion when we meet." Among them was the following question: "What is the sense of being against a man simply because of his birth? How can any man help how he is born?"
  • "Let me tell you something. You can't write like Hunter S. Thompson unless you are perfectly willing to be cremated and have your ashes blown out of a cannon, or better yet have your remains eaten by a cephalopod of some sort. And thus, when all is said and written, we are left with nothing in Griftopia but the facts in each chapter."
  • The 'reflexivity' de Grauwe worries about is at least in part a function of the embedded moral hazard of the implied guarantees for bondholders. So far they have been told: 'No matter how foolish the risks you have taken, there are always millions of tax cows we can and will milk on your behalf'.
  • When people start to doubt your ability to pay money back, it costs more to borrow it. That means more and more of your current revenue must be spend on debt interest. Expect the European Central Bank to jump in soon and start buying these with printed money, driving the rates down but decreasing the value of the Euro. The trap is slowly closing on them now.
  • This scene is a total deconstruction of the Luke Skywalker/Darth Vader battle, done in a way that perfectly captures the postmodern twists you get with modern roleplaying. Every roleplaying campaign in the world ends up like this. You start with carefully crafted archetypes to tell a classic story, then one smartass goes postmodern on you and refuses to play by the rules. Only this time, the NPC has gone pomo and the hero is still trying to play by the rules.
  • Assange is now wanted by Interpol in connection with a rape allegation. He is in an "undisclosed location." Given the world's track record at finding notorious fugitives in the last 10 years, I suspect he is the safest person in the world, as long as he's in Pakistan.
  • "Secrecy is a form of power. The gaze is a form of power. In a healthy democracy, ordinary citizens should have some measure of both in all aspects of their lives. The WikiLeaks cablegate helps to restore the balance between government and people."
    (tags: wikileaks)
  • This is actually rather poignant and disturbing, but it makes an excellent point. In most cases, medical recovery is not so much a "positive attitude" as it is just not surrendering to despair while you wait for the science to work. The "positive attitude" stuff makes it sound like you should be all fake smiles and brave faces, denying any real fear or sadness so people will think you're brave. Fuck brave.

Written by Michael B. Duff

December 1, 2010 at 23:01

Posted in Uncategorized