Saturday, October 11, 2008

Charlie Rose

I like Charlie Rose, he is friendly and interested and knowledgeable, and he has some interesting guests, like:

David Bowie

Warren Buffet, Bill and Melinda Gates

Scott Adams

The "Daily Llama"


Conan O'Brien

John Travolta

(Some of these interviews begin and end in the middle of things.)

Hey, Conan just said what I've been saying: "we're in a golden era of TV"!

I see that the John Travolta interview, one of the world's most popular actors, has been there over a year, and it's had less than a thousand views! Perhaps this explains the superficial normal talk show format: most people won't sit still for an hour's in-depth talk?

Update: Hunter S Thompson
I think this one mainly shows that if you do lots of drugs, it hurts your mental and vocal abilities.
The second half though has Isabella Rossellini, who wrote a book. She is cute and has a mind. Her face is fantastic, she is one of those women who can pull off a very short hair style.

John T

I'm looking forward to Bolt, voiced by John T and Miley C.
I love the Hamster. "Let it begin!"

I also want to see Lonely Hearts and Hair Spray. Though I was only a lukewarm fan of version 1.0 of the latter.

Friday, October 10, 2008


Article on famous street photographer Gary Winogrand, and how one can loose control over quality and quantity in one's work.
"How do you go from the process of thinking, seeing, and capturing an image to the simple mechanical operation of traveling around and snapping frames in a haphazard manner?"
It's written by Kenneth Jarecke, who is the guy that took the famous Gulf War photo of a burned soldier sitting in a tank.

Winogrand took this famous picture:

Dudley Moore on Muppet Show

One of the best Muppet Shows ever was the one with Dudley Moore.
(I'm now ripping a bit which I've remembered through thirty years, and now have on DVD: Dudley Moore playing Cow Cow Davenport with his music machine. Update soon.)

Update: here it is. (Notice the sound/picture quality. I make them bigger than they end up.)

How about Animal and Rita Moreno? Hot and funny.

Operation Pink October

Operation Pink October, article about breast cancer, by Pascal.
"It is fear of words that gives them power over you. War, death, God, sex, parents, caricatures... dare to think, and dare to live.
Me, it is ignorance I'm terribly afraid of. There is no forbidden Knowledge, only bad uses of its Power."

Doubts and becoming

The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today.
-- Franklin D. Roosevelt

At first I thought he had it backwards. But then I saw that by "realization" he probably meant "to make thoughts real". And then it makes kind of sense.
But if we take the word to mean "new understandings", then it really is backwards. I think the premier barrier to new understandings is too much certainty. Doubt is not pleasant, but I think it's a necessary part of the process of elevation, and a loooong one.


"I dream, therefore I become."
-- Cheryl Renée Grossman

"I dream, therefore I come."
-- unknown teenage boy

Tarran says re the Roosevelt one:
Nah, you are completely getting it wrong.
That statement was an attempt to refute claims by FDR's critics that his policies would have bad economic consequences (it is instructive to note that the Great Depression ended shortly after his successor abandoned those policies BTW).
The critics were pointing out that the U.S. economy lacked the resources to behave in the way he envisioned. That was his response, basically accusing them of sabotaging the future.
Of course his critics were right. A strongly held belief that is at variance with natural laws or praxeology is merely delusional. If I think I float, no matter how strongly I believe I float, I will still be yanked to the ground by gravity.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Savings safety

Guide to UK savings safety. There are probably similar resources for other countries.

'Q: Will my bank/building society go bust?
A. In the first incarnation of this guide, published in Sept 07, my answer was "extraordinarily, unthinkably, ridiculously unlikely", now I believe it is "unlikely".'

Get help

This explains why I feel "executive" even without any human helpers.

Sony DSLR success

It seems in some surveys Sony is top in the low end DSLR camera sales. I did not see that coming. But good to get some pressure on CaNikon. Maybe they'll start taking in-body stabilization seriously. (Funny enough I have a feeling that if and when they implement it, it will come first in entry level models.)

Related, though not much about cameras: Sony CEO interviewed by Charlie Rose. (The beginning of the show is about finances.)

Hand-built house

A "wild and crazy" guy Internet friend of mine built his own home from scrap wood!

Union Square NYC 1908

Love this picture. The tones, the lines.
Get it even bigger here.

Sony 700 e-book reader

Nice to see the field is developing.

I hope to see the Kindle in UK soon, and to see Apple enter this market.

There are rumors of a Kindle 2, and this should indicate that it's a success.

Tom Rush: Looking For My Wallet

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Ego battles

I am amused and confused by witnessing the battles of ego in life.

For example I'm watching one more Grand Designs episode (I bought series 3 and 4 recently), and it's the story of a very big and expensive conversion of an old warehouse in the middle of Londinium (near the London Eye ferris wheel). It will be home to only two people, and yet it will have features like six toilets and a gas cooker which cost thirty-four thousand pounds! (That's exactly what I paid for this apartment.)

These people are almost asking for the neighbors to want to take them down a peg*, and they did not have to ask very long: a wall had to be built up, and it was only accessible from the neighbor's courtyard. And the neighbors contested every single one of the 28 points of the contract, and the build stood still for 11 months.

And not only that, when they were done they had used slightly different bricks from what they had specified, and not asked the neighbors first. And the neighbors filed a complaint over that and won't accept it! And this a question of an old, decrepit wall which is already a big patchwork of different kinds of bricks and remnants of old lean-tos. I think it's pretty clear that these people are simply taking a stand against their "stuck up rich neighbors": "I'll be blown down if they're gonna get a free ride around here while I'm around..."

Sweet be-geezus.

* Only not really, because the outside of the building was hardly changed at all.
Of course as far as I'm concerned, people can use their money however they like. They provided work for many people when building this thing. And it's meant also to be an architect's showcase, the wife has an architectural company.

The neighbors though (the London Festival Orchestra), in my opinion are crossing over from being obstinate into being downright distructive when they use city planning trifles to willfully cost their neighbors bad heartache and seriously big amounts of money in building delays and legal costs. The planning officer says something similar when he comes around: that it is the full extend of the planning rules being used to fight over something which should have been solved over the dining table. In other words, a neighbors' feud which has nothing to do with the wall really.

Of course as one might predict, not everybody would agree! I found this comment on a forum, somebody replying to somebody else's comment echoing mine:
'"Mean-spirited LFO"? What about the arrogant conceit of two people with more money than sense (I am shocked that they can stomach a single meal from a £34k cooker when there are people starving in the world) who are so far up their own a***s they think their redevelopment for their own selfish purpose of making yet more money to spend on themselves takes precedence over the LFO being able to practise properly - the LFO actual having some social and cultural purpose!!!!!!'

I'm not sure how the cosmetics of a wall in the courtyard might prevent the orchestra from practising. But the intensity of this comment shows that there may be something like those feelings behind the animosity in this drama.

To be honest there are also one or two more reasoned arguments later in the thread.
... Anyway, you probably don't care! Tomorrow, back to our regular programming. Whatever that is!

Doorbell layout

Confusing layout. Do the middle numbers point up or down? At first glance, not clear. I live in number 53, and I get so many bell rings from people who intended to ring number 47.
(Also 57 actually, though I can't explain that.)

Buy Chinese

Buy Chinese stuff, for fun or for real.

A "massager" for three bucks and free world wide shipping? Is this for real?

... Some of the items are sort of skirting the limits of good taste...
As is this video.
And while we're at it, how about a guy who put up with any hidden camera harrassment. Good for him. :-)

Visible Light Wireless Network

Visible Light Wireless Network.
"I don't get it, it seems every time I am downloading videos from Thin Chicks Dancing In The Buff dot com, Johnny in the next cubicle gets an epileptic fit."

Iceland melts

Iceland may become a big victim of the credit crisis.

Iceland is knows a one of the wealthiest countries in the world in recent years... and also as one of those with the biggest debts. You know, it seems to me that in a sane world, those two things would be mutually exclusive. In a sane world, your assets minus your debt should determine how wealthy you are, not your lifestyle!

An observer says of the Icelandian banks:
"I believe it is absolutely wrong to say these banks were reckless," said. "Quite the contrary. They were hugely unlucky."

But the article also says:
The country's top four banks now hold foreign liabilities in excess of $100 billion, debts that dwarf Iceland's gross domestic product of $14 billion.

Acquiring a debt SEVEN times the gross national product is not reckless?! WTF? How did they expect to ever pay it off?
What is it about their business that these banks couldn't possibly have known? Did a meteor drop? Aren't they supposed to know how things work?

Jaycee has left a new comment on the post Blood on the market floor:

You imply you don't understand the 'business cycle' of booms and busts. It's simple enough to understand. Think of booms and busts as waves, up and down, around a central trend.

Now, if you're an engineer and you see continual waves of this kind, you look for a driving force that's driving the oscillation. Here's a sample of how it works.

Imagine that we have a starting point where interest rates are low. This could happen because people have been risk averse and steady savers and so there's a lot of capital available, but it doesn't really matter how we got there.

Now, some entrepreneurs say to themselves 'the cost of money is low, so I can borrow some and use it to fund a high-return but risky venture'. Others are willing to invest a portion of their money to get the higher returns. Invested by sane entrepreneurs, the returns are risk-rated acceptable.

Now, others see the returns being made, and they borrow money too. Over time this demand for money bids up the interest rates. Note that this makes newer investments more costly.

The driving force now becomes greed and me-too-ism, which is a constant in human affairs. People see the good returns being made and jump on the ship. This drives the cycle past the central point and into over-developed. This is one side of what drives the oscillation.

Eventually the enterprises being founded do not justify the risk being taken and the cost of money. Some start to collapse at the margins. People start to lose their money. Fear of loss, another part of the human condition, drives selling, which drives the market down; this is the other side of the oscillator.

Eventually people are so scared that they're willing to accept low cash rates rather than share investments, and interest rates bottom out as share market prices drop.

So the driving forces that continue the oscillation are greed or desire for high returns on the upside, and fear of loss on the downside. This is why the business cycle will always be with us, because the drivers are part of human nature, and even to some extent rational.

The current cycle is particularly volatile, and this has been cause by a number of things, including government keeping interest rates too low for too long, which forced the 'upside' push to be far too strong, and also various de-regulations of lenders which limited the size of previous up-cycles, and mis-pricing of risk in il-liquid debt instruments.

Because we swung too far on the upside, the downside swing will be too violent too, as many actually unprofitable ventures now crash to earth.

This is all simplified, but I've tried to put it into a physical driving-force context to show why we have ups and downs and why there will never be a simple flat trend line.


Thank you very much. That makes sense, I guess.
Except for why it's human nature to be sheep instead of wolves. It would even out if not for the big rush to greed and the big rush to panic.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Engrish signs

It's been long since I've visited Engrish, it's still fun.

Pascal said:
"Me, fail Engrish? That's unpossible!"
"Engrish" comes from Japanese pronunciation, since in that ranguage L and R are exactry the same retter. But the phenomenon extends to a far wider part of the Far East, as illustrated by the notoriously "creative" translations of instruction manuals, usually in China. I had begun blogging precisely about this, but then as usual I got carried away in some utterly pointless chatter. So just cast a glance at the cool asian image (I am have doned it by my own self), and skip the boring text altogether.

You know, Eo? I think you like Engrish for the same reason you like some spam e-mails with random text. Because for some freaky reason, it becomes eerily fascinating

That's surely part of it. Like Dadaist poetry, or Lewis Carrol. I'm just reading his work, in full for the first time, he was a genius.
It's surprisingly hard to be creatively illogical.

The ones below just say it all.


I found this cartoon from the beginning of the Iraq war.

Leopard dock tip

I am sick of the dock on Mac OS X Leopard not being able to make folders open with a simple click, like sanity demands and like it used to be. It's just embarrassingly poor usability to change very useful and logical behavior and not even leave the old behavior as an option.

A bit of research found no solutions short of messing with code, which I don't like to do.

I found out that command-click opens the folder which contains the folder in the dock. I wonder who asked for that?

But I asked myself: how about if I placed a file from the folder in the dock and command-click that?
Voila! That actually opens the folder the item is in.

Update: I got irritated about this after a folder got so large that even in List view it does not fit on my monitor, so the "open in finder" command normally seen at the bottom is not visible until I have scrolled all the way down...
In the Fan view, the command is at the top, so I have to move the cursor all the way up...
In the Grid view it's close by the cursor, but it's so graphical that it not instant, even on a Mac Pro.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Blood on the market floor

Today the US stock market set a new record for one day fall, in points (not in percentage, I'd think). Here's a comment from Farmann. (And a video article.) (Hans also points to this site,, which seems interesting.)

I never understood economic crashes. We still have the same people, knowledge, machinery, houses, and factories we did a year ago, so how can the economy suddenly be a lot worse?

I guess the crux is credit. But it still does not make sense to me.

I also guess that if economic crashes don't make sense, then economic booms don't make sense either. Like I wrote in the updated money article, in the wider picture you can't expect any growth larger than 5%. And it'd be less if not for inflation. And in the smaller picture you can get higher growth, but it depends upon luck.
And it's simply because you can only build factories and educate people so fast. Faster growth is based on credit and optimism, and those always crash sooner or later when they have stretched too far from reality, like right now.

Here's an interesting article.
"For many years, the money supply in the form of banknotes and deposits (M3) has grown at an average rate of over ten percent per year (which means that every six or seven years the total volume of money circulating in the world has doubled)."

Wow!!! This explains a lot to me! Anybody with common sense can see that this is just like having water gun fights with gasoline and then having a nice relaxed cigarette after. And then the government is blaming the crisis on "the greed of investors"...

"Economic theory teaches us that, unfortunately, artificial credit expansion and the (fiduciary) inflation of media of exchange offer no shortcut to stable and sustained economic development, no way of avoiding the necessary sacrifice and discipline behind all voluntary saving. (In fact, particularly in the United States, voluntary saving has not only failed to increase, but in some years has even fallen to a negative rate.)"

On The West Wing there was an astute observation: the president's aide asked the president: "but don't you want people to save up?" The president said: "Yes, but we want them to do it while the other guy is president."
Because spending booms the economy in the short term, and saving helps it in the long term. And how can we get re-elected if we think in the long term?

"Indeed, the artificial expansion of credit and money is never more than a short-term solution, and often not even that."

In the SF novel Battlefield Earth (which was a hundred times better than the movie based on it, trust me) near the end they have to save the economy of the entire universe (!). The way they do it is to extend new credit to everybody, secured by new planets being discovered. And it is projected that it will become a big problem when they run out of new planets far in the future. ... And yet it's not even speculated that you could have a healthy economy which is not based on credit! That's insane, it's like saying you can't have a good personal economy if you don't have any debt! (And some people even do say that, I remember my former brother-in-law who is a high-ranking insurance executive say to my mother that it was nuts having so little debt in her house.)

TidBITS e-book sale

TidBITS is having a 50% sale on their excellent tech e-books.

Alyson on Ferguson

She is just too cute.

Adam Stayed Out Late

It was late one night in the Garden of Eden and Adam and Eve were having an argument. Adam had stayed out late for several nights in a row and Eve was not happy.

"You're running around with other women!" she exclaimed. "I just know it!"

"Come on, be reasonable!" Adam countered. "How could I be? You're the only woman on earth!"

Eve did not have a reply to that.

A short time later, Adam went to sleep.

He was awakened in the middle of the night by Eve poking him in the side.

"What are you doing?" Adam asked.

Eve replied, "I'm counting your ribs!"

"Teen Horniness is Not a Crime"

Abbey McBride and Sarah Michelle Gellar - Teen Horniness is Not a Crime.

I was looking for more with Abbey, since she is pretty and funny. (According to IMDb, it's "Abbey", not "Abby".)

She's quite underused (just like Sarah is these days). Apropos, here is Sarah at five.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Sailor - Panama

Back in 1977 as a young lad I'd bought my first serious camera (a Konica TC), and I went nuts photographing that summer, and a record which is associated with that time for me is Sailor's LP "Trouble".

The video is a bit gay and they don't even show any cameras, but I still like the songs from that record, Panama (below), Girls-girls-girls, Glass of Champagne, The Old Nickelodeon Sound, it's good pop and they take me back to one of the most creatively expansive periods in my life.

Red One in use

Article about using the Red One video cinema camera (for stills too). Very positive, with a few caveats.
McLain and Thelia were also surprised at how much bigger and heavier the Red One was than they had imagined. Thelia estimated that with a battery and lens attached along with other assorted hardware such as a viewfinder, the camera weighs about 25 pounds. "It's pretty damn big and pretty damn heavy," McLain says. "You're not a fly on the wall with that camera."

"One of the limiting factors is motion," he notes. "Anything you can't freeze is going to come out as blur when it's extracted as a still."

Hmmm... can't you adjust the shutter speed on an upmarket video camera?