Archive for the ‘Linklog’ Category

Darkness and homeopathic bartendering

February 21st, 2012 by Reinder

Darkness by Boulet is probably the best 24-hour comic ever made. The writing and art are just too good to be true and even in its current imperfect translation (the comic was originally in French) it has some classic lines in it.

Speaking of which, the other day I read Daniel Davies' The Christmas Sermon for the second time, a year after I'd first read it. Back then, I went as far as to read it aloud to Aggie. It's still hilarious a year later.

Recent reading reflecting my interests

September 15th, 2009 by Reinder

The Livejournal community Pollanesque.
The blog Unconventional Ideas: living meaningfully in a period of epochal change.
Some cracking reads from the Financial Times online:

Some cracking reads - actually, many of them, at Charlie Stross's diary:

  • Doing our bit, a skeptical look at The Guardian's campaign to reduce the carbon emissions of its readership by 10% by 2010. Summary: most of what the 10:10 campaign proposes is either illegal for him to do, or he's already doing it, or it doesn't contribute all that much compared to the kerosine slurping elephant in his living room.
  • Chrome-plated jackboots: what the political threats of the 21st century are not going to be.
  • Stross's chat with Paul Krugman

Paul Krugman has been ruffling a lot of feathers with his article How did economists get it so wrong. Apparently, either the notion that economists got it wrong, or his explanation for why they got it wrong (short and slightly tendentious summary: the dominant version of economic theory had become a closed-minded, scholastic discipline that prevented exposure to heterodox ideas and no longer had a connection to reality) are controversial. This is strange because all you need to know is that American economics departments have turning out graduates, even leaders, who really believe that the Great Depression was a Great Vacation. If a humanities graduate said such a thing, people would suspect another Sokal hoax, but these people have been, and still are, taken seriously and are not getting pelted with rotten fruit at all. There's no fairness in this world, I tell ya.

Not a cracking good read, because it's too rambling and not that well written, but Divorced one like Bush at Angry Bear did teach me a few things about two models of business: the Experience Curve and Moore's law and how they relate to manufacturing in the US and Japan, respectively. It takes some time to sit through and decipher, but you will come to a better understanding of why manufacturing in the US is in the state it is in.

I like Frugal Bachelor

August 29th, 2009 by Reinder

Frugal Bachelor seems to fit the bill for a frugality blogger who is more challenging than others in terms of having original ideas and questioning the fundamental assumptions like I said I wanted to read last week. I'll be spending a lot of time reading his stuff unless I can pull myself away from the PC.

Update: never mind. This guy's just a bit creepy-weird even if it takes a while for the picture of that creepy-weirdness to emerge. Once you see it, though, you can't un-see it and it really affects how I interpret his writing. So I don't like it that much after all.

Stuff worth reading

August 21st, 2009 by Reinder

Guest Post: Why the Austrian, Keynesian, Marxist, Monetarist, and Neo-Liberal Economists Are All Wrong at Naked Capitalism. Worth it just for this quote:

The ugly truth is that economics is a science in the way that medicine was a profession while it still used leeches to balance a person's vapours. Yes, some are always better than others, and certainly more entertaining, but they all tended to kill their patients.

which is what I for one have believed for years.

An officer's experience in our Christian military at Dispatches from the Culture Wars. This is what oppression looks like in a nominally democratic country: at no time does the writer gets told to Fuck Off And Die You Stinkin' Jew -though the assertion that ""the Army is not in the business of catering to people like you" comes close - instead, conformity gets imposed and dissidents weeded out through going to the regular channels, which collude in the oppression, and through dressing up the oppression as benign concern for the dissident's health - see the way the letter writer's refusal to eat pork gets him referred to councelling for anorexic behaviour.

Health care, Les Paul, Answers in Leviticus and the Rwandan genocide

August 14th, 2009 by Reinder

It's another episode of "Interesting stuff I'm reading":

Answers in Genesis refuses God's command and Ken Ham should repent (from Answers in Leviticus

Les Paul Youtube Friday an old Crooked Timber post rounding up music by Les Paul, pioneer of the electric guitar and multitracking, who died this week aged 94. One they missed, at Lawyer's, Guns and Money.

Also at Crooked Timber, a rather wrongheaded attempt at understanding the basis of Megan McArdle's position on healthcare reform (wrongheaded because engaging McArdle's opinions or indeed taking them seriously at all is a waste of time and only encourages her to post more) nevertheless leads to some good discussion on European health care systems.

But since people do take McArdle seriously for some reason, here's The Hunting of the Snark countering the argument that changing the health care system in the US will stifle innovation.

Also on health care, Cell phone service and healthcare at Angry Bear was good for a chuckle.

Daniel Davies, again at Crooked Timber, examines the claim that humanitarian intervention in Rwanda would have stopped the genocide and concludes that it wouldn't, because it didn't.

Finally, does anyone know if anything that looks likethis creature is common in Austria? Many years ago while vacationing there, I was spooked by a large twitchy insect thing with false eyes, and seeing this picture brought it all back. The critter in the picture is a click beetle and was shot in the United States

Linklog: Some stuff I’ve read lately

August 8th, 2009 by Reinder

Out of the Kitchen, onto the Couch. Michael Pollan reminisces about Julia Child and discusses the contradictions inherent in the Food Network.
In Defense of Food Network. Tristero disagrees with Michael Pollan.
The Sociology of the Ayn Rand Cult. 1972 article by Murray Rothbard describing exactly in what ways Objectivism functioned as a cult and demanded blind loyalty to its leader and her doctrine, all in the name of reason. Useful to know about now that Ayn Rand's work is back in the limelight again.
A French Revelation, or The Burning Bush. James A Haught at the Council for Secular Humanism writes that former French President Jacques Chirac alleges that former US President George W. Bush invited him in 2003 to help invade Iraq to "thwart Gog and Magog, the Bible’s satanic agents of the Apocalypse". Seriously. If true, it's pretty much a miracle that the world survived eight years with Bush's hand on the red button.

Mac things I’ve found useful lately

August 8th, 2009 by Reinder

Mac Boot Key combos
Install & Boot OS X Leopard from a USB Flash Drive.

If you ever need to do a salvage operation after you've left your Time Machine disk on another continent for a month or two, these two articles will come in very handy. I think I've got everything now, so it's time to wipe and reinstall my normal configuration.

Afternoon update: Salvage and restore now completed - whatever I didn't rescue from that drive is now gone. Conclusions:
1. Late 2008 MacBook hardware is unreliable, rickety and prone to overheating.
2. However, there seems to be no permanent damage to the drive. I could restore to the hard drive I already had.
3. Time Machine is useful but is not the saviour of back-up and restore as I previously thought. I had a hard time importing from it and eventually gave up and imported from my external emergency disk (which was itself imported from Time Machine; funny that) instead.

Now I can at least scan my next update. That means I'd better go finish drawing it.

Two art blogs I like, plus two webcomics to check out

June 27th, 2009 by Reinder

Mythwood - The Art of Larry MacDougal and A Vintage Sky are both sketchblogs showing lots of fantasy art in neat storybook illustration style. I find them very inspirational.

Meanwhile, in her blog, Aggie linked to two comics that I need to check out: The Epic of Cuchulainn and Lovecraft is missing. I'll get around to reading'em one of these days - both are still new enough not to have inconveniently large archives.

Fairy-tale physics, plus laying the ‘cheese-eating surrender monkey’ meme to rest and putting a bit heavy tombstone on it so it won’t crawl out

May 7th, 2009 by Reinder

Chad Orzel at Uncertain Principles has started what looks like a series of posts on the physics of fairy tales. The first one, The Faulty Thermodynamics of Children's Stories, discusses the bowls of porridge in Goldilocks and the Three Bears:

After all, the Papa Bear, being the biggest, presumably has the largest bowl of porridge. Here, the story fits what we know about thermodynamics, as the largest bowl should take the longest time to cool, and thus should be the hottest at any time before the porridge bowls reach thermal equilibrium with their environment.

The description provided of the other two bowls, though, is not consistent with known physics. The Mama Bear, as the other adult, ought to have the second-largest bowl of porridge, which, in turn, ought to be the second-warmest bowl of porridge (assuming that equilibrium has not been reached). But the story says that this bowl is too cold! Meanwhile, the Baby Bear, who ought to have the smallest portion of porridge, has a bowl that is "just right," neither too not nor too cold. As the smallest bowl, though, the Baby Bear's porridge ought to be the coldest of the three (until equilibrium is reached, of course). There is no way for the bowls as described to have the temperatures described, while being consistent with the known laws of thermodynamics.

The only way that the story can make sense is if, for some reason, the Mama Bear has the smallest portion of porridge. In which case, this is a story with a very different moral than the original-- it's a story about the oppression of the Mama Bear, either because the patriarchy is forcing her to eat only the scraps left behind after her husband and child have had their fill, or because the unhealthy woodland media culture has saddled her with a negative body image, leading to an eating disorder.

and several dozen commenters fall over one another to deliver alternative explanations for this thermodynamical conundrum and challenging the underlying assumptions that the bowls were identical apart from their dimensions or that the three servings of porridge were served at the same temperature to begin with. I love this literal-minded kind of stuff. Show me a website that demonstrates empirically exactly how useless a chocolate teapot is, and I'm a happy nerd.

Prof. Orzel has already followed up with Fairy-Tale Physics 2: Spinning Gold which is about the nuclear physics of Rumpelstiltskin. Meanwhile, fellow Scienceblogger Matt Springer of Built on Facts has followed Prof. Orzel's lead and disusses The Physics of Rapunzel, specifically how much the mechanical problems of dropping that much hair down and bearing the weight of the Prince on it.

Elsewhere, and on a completely different subject, Robert Farley at Lawyers, Guns and Money has finally taken the time to write the post I've needed for years, one in which the stereotype of the French as having a cowardly military is examined and debunked. Actually, most of the debunking is done by the commenters - there's some excellent historical debate in that there post. So read both the post and the comments, pretty much all of them.

“Dog owners do look like their pets, say psychologists”

April 4th, 2009 by Reinder

An article in The Daily Telegraph claims that research shows that dog owners do to a certain extent resembles their pets, offering evidence and an explanation:

There were a number of physical reasons why owners looks suggested which dog they would have, including what clothes they wore and their build, said Dr Lance Workman, from Bath Spa University.

"There is a little bit of truth in the theory that owners look like their dogs, but if you are of a robust build you will probably have a more robust dog so that you can gets lots of exercise. If you are more slight you may want a poodle as you think that they need less exercise," he said.

But what really sells the article is the picture. Go look at it.