Curiosity Over Pride (FYI: To comment, send an e-mail to

Monday, May 31, 2010

Sol Invictus

The Invincible Sun. In better moods, this is how I see the human "spirit".

As demonstrated by a former Seattle Times columnist that I always enjoyed

Sunday, May 30, 2010


Surely we all want to be compassionate cooperators. Yet also pragmatic, system-evaluating thermodynamicists. Is it possible to reconcile?

Observation #1: Giving money to people who don't have enough money seems like a nice thing to do. Assuming that the only problem is the intake of money and once they have it they'll manage it wisely. Perhaps the problem is more extensive (intake and spending) or even the opposite (just spending). In these last two options, giving them money almost seems like a sick joke on them.

Observation #2: Americans don't seem to have a clear vision of what poverty actually is. In other places on the globe people starve to death. That is actual tragedy. It seems Americans have come to define any sort of threat to self-esteem as tragedy. I have heard people with cell phones cooler than mine, in jeans more expensive than my Levis, bitching about the cost of insurance on their cars that are newer than mine. Perhaps they are not aware of the geek option? Perhaps there should be reality TV shows called Real Lives of the Solvent?

Observation #3: We have had this national identity of self-reliance, rugged individualism, and free will. But we gotta be realistic. If someone throws themselves on the mercy of the collective, the collective has the right to set some boundaries. I seem to have some hazy recollection of a proposal to require welfare recipients use birth control; there was backlash that this was infringing on their free will. OH COME ON!! If you someone tells the collective "I can not manage my life right now" then they're lucky if the collective offers to step in and manage it for them. Lucky, I say!! If your decisions thus far have gotten you into this situation, maybe you need a break from making decisions. So yeah, pee in this cup.

Hmmm. I'm not sure if I'm becoming a Libertarian or a Communist....

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Still paying for his/our sins...

So Nixon really did get rid of the line item veto...

All I can say is "WHAT A FU"(!)ING !)!0T@#!!!&(!!!"

Nixon permitted the repeal of a functional line item veto used since the time of Thomas Jefferson.

... Of course you could argue (and I would agree) that we voters really did it to ourselves in our overzealous wish to "throw all the bums out". E.g "down with imperial power" and all, etc...

By the way, take a closer look at when US Federal debt really did start to take off in earnest lest you think there might be no correlations:

The first rapid uptick in federal debt started in 1973-74, right when impoundment was eliminated. And while it is true that federal debt briefly dropped (a little) in 1977-78, I think we all see this drop was both small and brief.

OK, my first short health care thoughts

So here is my first line of thinking...

A little background for those with their head in the sand: municipalities nationwide are approaching bankruptcy.

Nuff background.

And while it is true that spending is spending and therefore ANY spending cuts will help a budget crisis, still I chose to believe that high value spending is not at as great a risk as low value spending. This is my first model assumption.

... For all my cynicism, I truly think it is rare to meet someone who is evil. Selfish people are rather common, evil ones are truly rare.

So with my first assumption, we also know firefighters and in particular EMS represent one of the larger budgetary items in any municipality's budget. Indeed in my own county, EMS spending (which is 85% salaries) has increased almost 100% over the last 8 years while staffing has only increased by about a third (you can guess where the money went).

Well what if I told you there was almost zero evidence that paramedics improve outcomes?

In truth I am over stating my case (a little) as there are a few things that paramedics do which have been shown to improve outcomes (but only a few).

Don't believe me?

Think I'm being "sensational"?

Take a look at the keynote address at their own 2010 Gathering of Eagles Conference. Look at the data yourself.

So I ask again (municipalities are in desperate need of cash, they are spending lots of it on EMS, they are getting very little bang for the buck, etc...): "what would you do?"

PS- To top it all off, most administrative energy in EMS (which is actually quite a few resources) are centered around whether people follow process.

Let me repeat this again so it sinks in: follow process on procedures that add little or no value.

I kid you not.

It matters not whether what is done improves outcomes, it only matters whether process was followed.

You can kill the patient as long as you used the correct procedure. ;-)

Indeed, as I think on what has happened in the world of EMS, perhaps the best financial industry analogy I can think of is the synthetic CDOs on CDSs on sub-prime mortgage backed bonds. The underlying bonds themselves may be worthless (like a lot of EMS procedures) but the energy is focused on the overlying structure of process that rests atop the worthless processes and procedures (like a synthetic CDOs made from worthless CDS on top of worthless bonds, etc...).

You can't make this stuff up.

I will start looking at who supplies EMS when I get some free time. ;-)

PPS- For all my views on America's health care bubble, do not misunderstand me either. I truly think most of the men and women in EMS are heroes. I truly think they do want to help people (whatever else may be going on with their unions, pensions, etc...). I simply also think they can't (though sometimes they do) and that their inability to help is no fault of their own. But no matter how much water you put in your gas tank it will not run your car, so too will throwing money at EMS not help the underlying problem it is trying to solve. Good people get caught up in bubbles along with everyone else.

Is it any wonder our economy is a mess?

I'm sure I do not need to remind any of you of what has happened to basic science in the US?

The drop in both % American high school students entering sciences as well as the drop in their absolute numbers is well documented. I just want to add that in 2008, America spent $140 billion in basic science R&D, just under 42% was non-defense.

And I do hope you put $142 billion into perspective, it is estimated that the American diet industry alone is between $40 and $100 billion. Marijuana alone is $120 billion a year market.

Clearly we have priorities we must keep.

... Next time you read about how it was either Clinton or Regan or Bush or Obama who got the country going again with either tax cuts, or universal health care, or it was the bankers, etc... or some other such policy win:

I think this graph makes quite clear that GDP growth has been dropping for quite some time despite fiscal gimmicks.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Bubble bubble toil and trouble...

Blame the heterosexuals...

Moral of the story, it's time to:

A. Change median American sexual mores.

B. Abort female fetuses.

C. Reduce female fertility.

D. License womens' ability to bear children and selectively re-bestow this right amongst them.

Strategic dilemmas

What to do? What to do?

H/T- Tyler Cowen

Another one bites the dust...

And so I'm guessing you all saw this?

PS- I think I have chosen my tools to hedge the coming collapse of the health care bubble: LEAPS and (of course) puts. I have a bunch of work ahead of me back testing certain stock prices and LEAP prices/put prices against major recent medicare votes. I'll let you know.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Why JS Mill Matters

Thanks to Dink for inspiring me to post on my hero John Stewart Mill. I will not attempt a Wiki redux for this great man but simply make a few comments about why his writing matters so much to me and has to many at least in theory.
I actually came across "On Liberty" for the first time when my work as a psychiatrist compelled me to involuntarily detain pts created what we in this business call "cognitive dissonance". (I hated my work) One argument that Mill develops further than any previous philosopher is the harm principle. The harm principle holds that each individual has the right to act as he wants, so long as these actions do not harm others. If the action is self-regarding, that is, if it only directly affects the person undertaking the action, then society has no right to intervene, even if it feels the actor is harming himself. This is an extremely complex idea and I cannot do it justice in this post but after 20 years of watching Govt. make attempts at trying to coerce people into certain behaviors and spending huge sums of money in the attempt, I have come to the conclusion it is a massive failure on almost every conceivable level. i.e. "The Drug War"

As seminal a work and as influential in political philosophy as "On Liberty" has been, Mill's work "A System of Logic" is perhaps equally as impressive. In it he formulated highly influential principles of inductive reasoning which outlined the basic tenant of science: To unify disparate theories to explain the widest possible range of observations with the simplest of explanatory models. The more I study the history of physics the more I find how influential Mills work was to 19th and 20th century scientific philosophy.

"On Liberty" is on my shelf with a few other treasures I consider to be the most critical works I have ever come across. Sadly, I think it's concepts are as alien to most now as the day it was written.

JS Mill

Externality quote of the day...

"I’m no prude but it’s probably not the safest idea in the world to have a mobile strip club distracting drivers."

- B.S. Report


Plugging oil leaks, Russian style

I guess this is one approach.

... To think Russia tried this 5 times.

Oy vay!

Monday, May 24, 2010

It's bad enough that Rush Limbaugh is our distant cousin...

But now we are literally distant cousins of the slime mold??????

... I'm just saying that some cooperation is going to be a bit tougher than others.

Finally!! I have been wondering this forever.

It's about time!

I mean how long have we been waiting for evidence of this????

... It wonderful when fact and theory come together.

Yet more evidence we live in a fractal world and that the singularity is coming. ;-)

War is fractal

Health Care Bubble Ideas

I'm going to start research into the subject of value in health care spending (a moral minefield if ever one existed which actually makes it rather interesting to me). In particular, I'm going to start looking at where I think some of the lowest value spending resides in health care and what public companies/bonds currently exist in these spaces and what/how they are supported by this low value spending.

I'm simply curious to know if any of you have ever had any thoughts on this subject.

For just like everything else, health spending value is non-linear. Some is low value and some is high. And just as low value sub-prime was the first part of the housing system to blow wide open, so too will low value products and services be eliminated in the health care shake out.

Please share any and all thoughts.

PS- One of the nicer things about the internet is how much of the work others have already done for you. ;-)

(This is an Excel file from UK's NHS NICE Website which says where they think the low hanging fruit lie)

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Do you agree?


Friday, May 21, 2010

Why the fractal nature of health care will doom health reform

Health care spending is fractal; I won't belabor this point further.

I didn't always think this way, but as I spent more time in "the numbers" of health care and health care finance, this "fact" has became pretty obvious.

My group staffs 5 different emergency departments within a 125 mile radius which means the two furthest facilities are about 250 miles apart.

250 miles may not seem all that far but it in the world of medicine, it is worlds apart. So while a casual observer might think "they're just emergency departments", e.g. plain vanilla, let me add there is actually a world of difference between various vanillas. Or as a friend of mine who runs two emergency departments in Waco Texas likes to often say "all medicine is local".

Each of our department is unique. Not only are the communities and therefore the patients very different, so too are the facilities' staff, the facilities' capabilities,etc... I mean unique.

And as a medical bean counter for my group, where even my own natural tendency is to make everything "process, process, process", this uniqueness poses particular challenges to policy wonks. I can attest.

With that background in mind, reading Maggie Mahar today will make you smile.

Looks like the policy wonks are catching on to the fact that there are a few more levels to the fractal after all. Not only is the doctor the problem, now it's the region's doctors and how they cooperate with each other. Now its the patients.

... I wonder what they would find if they lumped clusters of regions together as well? Would these differ? You know my own view. ;-)

-"We have met the enemy and he is us."

All I can repeat is "all medicine is local" and we docs have know this for a very long time. Changing one person's behavior (like your own when you want to loose a few pounds) is hard enough. Changing entire communities' behavior is something entirely different. Having personally been down this very road many times (and I am only talking about 5 hospitals 250 miles apart where I know all the providers by first name), I can verify that it is really really really hard changing groups of people.

Here is an example: if people would stop shooting each other, this would save a boat load of money. So why not change this behavior?

Yet somehow they wonks think they can change the health provider behavior of entire regions of the country?

Will they use money to change behavior?

Oooohhhh, money! In our evil "money driven medicine" culture? (Sorry, I had to get that dig in, Maggie can be... I'll let it go) Now we will use the root of all evil to solve "their" problem?

PhD policy wonks are so good at seeing the interchangeable nature of people within their own models. I only wish they would cooperate with a few MBAs so they could see that people are not always as interchangeable as they often would like them to be.

Perhaps the military term that comes to mind to best predict what will happen is "fragging".

... And by saying this I most certainly do not want to imply in any way that I will personally "frag" policy wonks in their attempts to change collective behavior. Indeed far from it, I actually really do support their general goals and will try my darnedest to help them out.

But do I think it will work?

Do I think they will change enough people on a regional basis to change regional differences?

I might again ask if we are still shooting each other? Do we still use plenty of drugs as a society?

Are there regional differences in these behaviors? ;-)

I will be very interested to see if the people of New York or Miami will truly be willing to change their own collective attitudes towards uncertainty. Will they become as comfortable as someone from Minnesota with statement from their doctors like: "yes, you might have heart disease but what are we really going to do about it anyway so don't go looking for something that isn't a problem. If you do, you'll save someone else money."

... Indeed in a kind of twisted version of this logic, why not get rid of screening all together? ;-)

All I can say is that Gallipoli comes to mind. (start at 5:35)

I do not think policy wonks see how providers will frag them on this issue which is a shame. Providers are not their enemies.

Think about your own family, what you would be willing to hear a physician tell you and then tell me what you think?

... Or maybe if the physician tells you a different way. After all, physicians do not really serve you, physicians serve the collective. We all know this. ;-)

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Terrific Disorder?

This billboard started showing up in Akron recently. I am deeply confused by it. What exactly are we supposed to think about this disorder? I cannot imagine seeing a billboard selling an upside to necrotizing fasciitis. Who is paying for these and what are they trying to accomplish and how are we to understand it given the billboard on the left which I have also seen in the area?

Why don't we do more of this?

No one wants to admit it but we really need more of this...

From Tyler Cowen's: "much cheaper, almost as good".

If something does 80% of what is needed for only 20% of the price, there would be a great many situations where this absolutely makes sense.

Of course this kind of thinking is currently illegal in this country as it runs contrary to the concept of "standard of care" (unless we modify this concept) and if it were pursued by a physician, (s)he would loose their license.

When will we grow up?

Well, we finally did it...

Unleash the philosophical dogs of war, the day has finally come.

PS- I'm in the "and this is a good thing" camp but I see there is going to be a firestorm.

It is what it is

PPS- JP, any thoughts on patent issues you care to share?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Wouldn't you just love one for your backyard?

PS- I don't think they could do this without fractals ;-)

Saying "thanks" to the Flying Spaghetti Monster...

Sometimes we must stop and truly say "thanks".

Trying to be a good dad, a few years ago I went in with a couple of buddies and purchased Washington Wizards season tickets. The Wizards are no LA Lakers but the games are fun and the team was improving (a few years ago). Then this past season, Gilbert Arenas decides to go all postal on his fans: talk about your Black Swans!!!.

All I can say is "it was a very long season" this past winter. Arenas literally destroyed the team.

PS- a buddy of mine is their chief legal council (he negotiates all the trades) and the stories I could share but won't...

Let's just say the Wizards were in rebuilding mode this year. Watching JP's Miami Heat spank us was simply beyond truly painful.

Last night everything changed as the Flying Spaghetti Monster decided to touch us with his appendage and bestow THE NUMBER ONE DRAFT PICK!

Now I'm not saying I know they will pick John Wall as I really don't know and my friend won't say.

But if they don't, I'm not sure that I'm renewing my season tickets this year as they are no longer worthy of my attentions being such FU(#@!!NG MORONS!!!!!

Here is hoping they don't do something stupid; you can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink.

And crazies say immigrants are the problem?????

Clearly someone we all wanted on our team.

On this issue Krugman can go FU(&$!! himself as he worries about who is entitled to what benefit which he and his buddies get to control delivery of.

This is really sad...

Bummer, Kramer's on board. It looks like gold has peaked.

I hope you all have really secure mattresses.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

How many times do we have to go throught this!!!!!

Sorry if you read this post John as I know this is day 1 medical school. Please feel free to skip this post. It's just that this issue drives me nuts as I continue to read these misleading media reports and am dumbfounded that readers still haven't woken up to basic issues concerning statistics. I already discussed the issue of study power here when I spoke about tPA in stroke- nuff said. Yet here we go again.

OK, with that in mind, I'm sure you have all read about the latest on cell phones and brain cancer. All I can ask is "was it P.T. Barnum that said 'there's a sucker born every minute and none of them ever die?'"

Just read the very first sentence of the entire article:

"A long-awaited study of cellphone use and brain health has finally been released, but the data are raising more questions than answers."

Long awaited??????

While it is possible that the people running the study were a bunch of bumbling idiots and simply could not execute on the data they had, "long awaited" is medical speak for "It took the researcher a long time to enroll enough patients to be able to even say that they had something to say".

Now this can only mean one of two things:
1. It was hard to find patients to enroll in the study because they are very rare, etc... and therefore hard to find.
2. They enrolled lots of patients in the study but whatever effect they noticed was so small and insignificant that they needed to enroll a very large number of patients before they could even say that they had something to say.

I'll let you decide whether cell phones are rather common and therefore whether it would likely be hard to find people who use them and enroll them in a study.


This leaves only scenario B. Whatever effect they found was small

Now is the effect real? That is another issue entirely. But whether it is real or not, it is not likely very meaningful.

So I'll let you decide for yourself whether it is real and/or whether meaningless to all might still be still meaningful to others, but in the mean time I will personally worry more about bigger problems like whether I'm going to get killed by a drive who is texting while driving, etc...

What do we need to do to get people to understand this relatively simple issue?


PS- lest you think this issue "unimportant", think again.


I'm not sure you saw this post by David Andolfatto reacting to Ron Paul's comments that the Fed can create money "out of thin air"?

-H/T Economist's view.

Just in case you missed it, it is worth a "touche" chuckle.

If you just want the Cliff Notes money shot:

"But I am missing the point: The Fed has the ability to create money "out of thin air!" Whenever I hear this expression, I chuckle. We all have the power to create debt out of "thin air." When Microsoft creates shares to finance an acquisition, it creates the shares "out of thin air." If you bum a beer from a friend and promise to repay him next week, you create a debt obligation "out of thin air." Ooooo..."out of thin air!"

PS- Do you think Ron Paul has a response? I don't follow Paul closely though I do find he has certain endearing qualities. How can you not admire someone who votes "no" 95% of the time? Predictability can be good.

The dangers of retrospective modeling...

As an owner of index funds (really ETFs), I am as guilty of drinking the Kool-Aid as everyone else. Alas we all know that reductionist models using inductive reasoning can have their own risk, especially when everyone else seems to be using the same model.

With this thought in mind, Felix Salmon has an interesting piece in Reuters today that is well worth reading (H/T Megan McArdle)

PS- All medicine is retrospective modeling hence the old adage: "Half of what is taught in medical school is wrong, but no one knows which half."

PPS- Any of you see areas where you think inefficiency exists. JP has spoken about "personalized" medicine based on better information and this is a very interesting topic

Sunday, May 16, 2010

She Won't Float But She'll Feed the Hungry

Ok. Thai got his boat post. This is mine.Just finished the stone work although I have been honing my skills with the oven since last fall. Pizza wood fired with cherry and hickory. My dough proofs all day. The best San Marzano Tomatoes charred topped with fresh basil and mozzarella. The crust is crisp and light as air with a perfect chewy texture. The wood gives it all a hint of smokiness. If you were all close I would make you some pies.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Thought for the weekend

So all this chat on non-zero sum/zero sum has me thinking about a phenomena I'm sure you have noticed as well...

Is there a relationship between zero-sum and the particular attraction people have towards the idea that Jesus Christ died for your sins?

How often do you hear "he died for you"?

I can't be alone in this experience.

All thoughts appreciated

So now I'm not such a fool after all?

It may not be a full on "pop", but it sounds at least like a little hiss to me.

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

-- T.S. Elliot

Curse those doctors!!!

Looks like many of us chose to practice in the wrong country!

So I need to make $2,000,000/year to finally get a small break!?#@!?


Let's hope nationalized medicine comes quick as I'm getting a little weary and baby needs news shoes. ;-)

Friday, May 14, 2010

My question for ANY of you (as I don't know the answer)...

Are there any other scenarios where you can see non-zero sum cooperative economics without:

A. Creating an externality that exactly equals the non-zero sum gain?

i.e. (non-zero sum gain) + (externality created) = 0

B. Increasing the risk of an individual who cooperates with another person(s) to benefit from non-zero sum economics such that the increased risk of no gain + loss of energy put into the cooperative failure exactly offsets the non-zero-sum gain?

i.e (non-zero sum gain)(probability of cooperation succeeding) + (loss from non-zero sum failing)*(probability of cooperation succeeding) = 0

Both of these examples should probably be thought of as non-linear integrals but the single instances I have highlighted have exemplified the problem well enough

Is this a kind of universal law for all economics? The equivalent of saying "there is no free lunch" for all of cooperation? Or am I missing something?

I don't really know what it is as I can't think of an example so any comments/thoughts would be greatly appreciated.

PS- It is kind of depressing if true

This is why they call it the dismal science

... Another piece for the "not quite sure where to file this" file.

People have too much time on their hands (and I read too much)

Interesting Automatic Earth Post Today

In case you are interested

Have a great weekend

The more things change, the more they stay the same

Try practicing a little perspectives flipping. ;-)

When we don't coopeate...

This is what happens.

As a 4th generation Californian, I'm simply astonished.

My heart goes out to everyone, including The Governator

This is really sad

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Defending the undefendable

Now let me add up front that I certainly do not think of myself as a spokesperson for the Pharmaceutical industry- not that my self image is worth anything. Further, in the interest of complete financial disclosure, my 401k has a total stock market index fund so I guess you could say I have pharmaceutical investments. Again, I have never thought of my index funds in this manner, but this conflict of interest should be highlighted up front.

That embarrassment off my chest, I want to comment on this rather tiring attack on one of the more ugly of the uglies in our world today. We all know them: Big pharm.

They are bad.

Let me further get out of the way that I'll answer "yes" to any and all questions you may have regarding their sleazy sales practices. As I think on this, the makers of Invanz brought the entire emergency department sandwiches from Panera Bread the other day and handed many of us all their plastic logo pens (I think I still have one in a bag somewhere). I ate my entire sandwich.

My bad

That embarrassment off my chest, I want to address a common wisdom known as "do not use an expensive drug when a cheaper alternative is available".

For just like in the last post, where I said: "the sum of the parts equals the whole, yet when you only look at a single part you can easily miss the whole", do any of you see the problem this kind of logic misses?

... I'll admit, it is subtle and easily overlooked. That said, it is not insignificant either.


1. Life is lived forwards but understood backwards
2. Price is not the same as cost of production

Paul Says "No"

Krugman has an interesting piece on Greece. Long story short, he thinks the parallels are over blown.

It looks like the health bubble has a few years left.

Be careful what you wish for...

Being a hospital based specialist, I'm always interested in stories like this. And for the record, I really don't have a problem with this kind of approach. But in the classic spirit of "the sum of the parts equals the whole, yet when you only look at a single part you can also easily miss the whole", do any of you see the obvious problem with this bill?

And while I wouldn't really have any issues if such a proposal came from a Republican- there would be a certain consistency to the proposal- it is interesting such a bill comes from a Democrat. I suspect he does not understand health care very well though I freely admit I could be wrong.

Hint: we live in a non-linear world

PS- John, don't spill the beans too soon ;-)

What a Waste.

I wish we had this money and the last 40 years we wasted on this back

Sometime I just love Tyler Cowen

More links for the fractalholics

More assaults on national sovereignty ;-)

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Keeping things in perspective

PS- I still think it's the dentist's fault

Monday, May 10, 2010

TED didn't come down

Look for yourself

A demon of our own design

H/T Greg Manikw

All the "other" things I like are only 23%!

I think everyone needs to stare in awe at a 12th Sigma event

Even in this time of everyday turbulence, sometime I simply must stop to smell the roses for a few minutes. A 12th sigma event is one of those times.

Why we think we can tame a hurricanes is beyond me?

So the ECB is buying bonds and Europe went overdrive with the STOXX 50 up almost 9%, the Euro back above 1.29, gold down a bit and oil following with a lackluster 3.5%.

Of course one must ask: where does this money come from?

Now if any of you can explain this last last link to me I would be most grateful. Trying to understand when things are QE and when they are not can be most maddening.

... And of course you could have predicted Jesse's take of all this.

Krugman can be so darn helpful at times... I may not always share his values but I'm very fond of him and I do think one day we minions of the blogoshere should bestow on Paul (and a few others, like Jesse) honorary "thank you" degrees or something.

PS- Interesting older Yves piece on Naked Capitalism for the fractalholics amongst us.

Health care has definitely been bubbling for 40+ years now ;-)

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Friday, May 7, 2010

More "Have we lost our marbels?" links



And the real SOS screaming emergency in all of this: now they are outpacing professionals... Them's fighting words! ;-)

Anyone care to guess what percentage of GDP consumption total public spending now constitutes here in the US?

PS- While I totally support this, I don't think it will make much of a difference anymore. What percentage of public consumption goes to things that politicians can actually touch?

PPS- Another fractal fanatic

"The more things change, the more they stay the same" ;-)

PPPS- Now this one really pisses me off! I had no idea. Did any of you?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Krugman thinks Greece will withdraw from the Euro anyway

The fact he even thinks it means others are thinking it too...

The first rule of disasters is don't panic.

The second rule of disasters is if you are going to panic, you better be the first to do so.

Britain is not in much better shape and with a public sector that now accounts for more than 52% GDP, Britain has issues.

This is quite interesting in light of the following report from the UK's own NHS, health access disparities have significantly increased in the UK despite equality being a primary goal of the NHS.

So what will happen to US banks?

Have they sufficiently looted the US Treasury to withstand a collapse of US treasury funding?

I guess the better question to ask is: where are the stable war-chests?

This is getting scary. Maybe Edwardo is correct and we should all keep some physical bullion in a can at home.

... My wife will never agree to this btw.

Symmetry and Spontaneous Symmetry Breaking

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Artistic Merit

Might I suggest some Netflix choices?

Visually stunning, The Fall offers art without too much art geek obnoxiousness.

Kind of a Russian thriller with a style a la Matrix, Nightwatch and its sequel Daywatch. I didn't invest too much into following the supernatural plot, but I still enjoyed.

Mongol was made by a Russian director using mainly locals for the cast. I can't speak for historical accuracy, but being Genghis Khan didn't look all that fun.

And for equal parts martial arts and plain art, Hero (English Title) was worth the time.

Monday, May 3, 2010

For Dr John: the problem of prediction

As I said, we can't :-(

Another one for Okie

A great website to explore.

And this is really a great video series shamelessly lifted from their site:

Be well

Yet another practical use for fractals

Think of the mischief you can do with this.

Harry Potter, watch out

You simply gotta love anything named "metamaterials"

PS- this one is for Okie

... I said I'd share with Okie how quarks are fractal and thought an actual image might make the point best of all. But then I realized I'm not sure there are any images of quarks- this is the most microscopic actual fractal image I could find. If any of you ever come across any actual images of quarks, please share.

For Budding Fractalists

This is a great website to share with your little ones to start the addiction at an early age.

Never too young to get the little ones hooked. ;-)

Oil Spills

Here is a very interesting Nature article from 2008 on the issue of oil spills.

I'm always interested in reading these from the perspective of prediction. Prediction accuracy is a very real issue to all of us as I'm sure we can all agree.

FWIW, I had no idea 160,000 tons of hydrocarbons were released from the sea floor annually. It does make sense.

"That is more than 53 times the total for offshore extraction and about 4.5 times as much petroleum as was released when the Exxon Valdez tanker ran aground in Alaska in 1989. That said, the natural sources are far more diffuse and thus not necessarily as disruptive as concentrated slicks."

Here are also some images from NASA's JPL satellites. They estimate the current spill releases 5000 barrels/day though I have read reports the number may be much higher.

... FWIW, I never know what to think when I read such reports since I absolutely know such reports can be true and at the same time I also absolutely know the news media makes a living off hype. That old prediction thingy keeps rearing its head.

Also, if you too were having the same conversion troubles I had, 1 metric ton is 7.2 barrels so a 5000 barrel/day spill is approx 694 oil-tons/day.

Finally, here is today's Nature article on the impact.


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