Dr Doug - A Wide Halo Of Ease And Leisure
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Below are the 10 most recent journal entries recorded in the "Dr Doug - A Wide Halo Of Ease And Leisure" journal:
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I'm trying to get my head around current cameras for enthusiast photographers, and here's what I've found about what sorts of cameras are available these days. Short version: mirrorless are the business.
( Read more...Collapse )
Those of you who know about cameras: does that sound about right?
Next step is looking at specific mirrorless models. Anyone any recent experience?
This entry crossposted to http://doug.dreamwidth.org/269302.html, where there are comment(s) not shown here.
Tags: ask-the-audience, tell-the-audience
Hit-and-run thought, new to me but probably obvious to most:
Election results on low turnouts are like prices in a thinly-traded market. Lots of volatility, with outcomes a long, long way from what you might think of as equilibrium or efficient results, and highly vulnerable to manipulation by small-group interests.
I thought of this in the context of the Co-op's recent woes, and how (many of) the elected senior managers seemed to be very obviously clueless compared to the appointed ones. But it's not that surprising: almost none of the Co-op members vote, the ones who do vote are very not-representative of the general membership, and they get almost no useful information about the performance or views of the people they're voting for. You see similar effects in other mutual and voluntary organisations, including trade unions - though of course never in any I've been involved in, and certainly not in the election that kicked me out, no no, I lost fair and square. There's a huge information gap: most of the potential voters have very low engagement to start with, and so know very little about the candidates, and see very little potential difference in the possible outcomes.
It also accounts for how come local, European and by-elections are often miles away from general election outcomes.
This entry crossposted to http://doug.dreamwidth.org/268868.html, where there are comment(s) not shown here.
For the birds|
A group of 7-to-10-year-old nature enthusiasts is prompted to ask anything they like about penguins, and the questioning goes:
- What's the biggest penguin in the world?
- How big is it?
- What's the smallest penguin in the world?
- How big is it?
- How can you tell the difference between a Rockhopper penguin and a Macaroni penguin?
No problem spotting which one of these kids was **FIXME, who's wanted to be a marine biologist for years, then. When the conversation turned to Wandering Albatrosses, he wanted to know if they ever ate baby penguins, which again rather took the room aback. The other adults at least seemed reassured when he appeared content to learn that they didn't.
The Rockhopper vs Macaroni answer - which I've looked up since nobody knew - is that Macaroni penguins are bigger, about twice the mass; their yellow eyebrow crests go forward from their eyes, as well as back, so they meet in the middle above the beak; and they have a bare pink patch of skin from behind their beak towards their eye. However, it seems they can interbreed, so by some lights that makes them the same species. Taxonomy of crested penguins (Genus Eudyptes, which includes the Macaroni and all the Rockhoppers, plus Fiordland, Snares and Royal penguins - the latter of which is argued to be a Macaroni in disguise) is not totally-settled science. Like, it seems, pretty much all taxonomy.</a>
This entry crossposted to http://doug.dreamwidth.org/268694.html, where there are comment(s) not shown here.
Tags: **fixme-daffodil, science-is-great
Money makers the world go round|
Late one night some time in 1991/1992, in the depths of the recession, an economics-y friend and I were having one of those silly-serious conversations. There was an awful lot of forged currency making its way into circulation, some of it so good it was hard to spot. We speculated that it was not in fact the work of ordinary criminals, but direct action by highly principled neo-Keynesian desperadoes - entirely shut out of the monetarist-dominated Tory Government, but still committed to inflating the money supply to end the recession, by any means necessary.
And now, a similar thought has come up, in the FT, of all places. Cast your mind back to 2008. A massive financial shock has very nearly caused total economic meltdown, and pretty much the entire world economy has plunged in to the worst economic slowdown since the 1930s, and is still sinking fast. Monetary policy has been loosened as far as it can possibly go: interest rates have plunged to zero (or very-nearly-zero). And the recovery is not happening. Now what?
Neo-Keynesian economics says you need to increase the money supply even further to fix the problem, but there are serious practical problems in having negative nominal interest rates. (If the bank proposes to charge you -7% on your savings, the mattress suddenly looks very attractive.) Central bankers thrash around desperately for unconventional monetary policy to fill the gap, and the US and UK embark on an unprecedented programme of 'quantitative easing'.
What the world economy really needs is another bubble, goes the joke. If some group of assets would take off in value, people would feel wealthier and less desperate to hoard cash, and would spend and invest more, the economy would pick up, and the virtuous economic circle would reassert itself. But creating a bubble in real assets causes all sorts of real-world problems - just look at the housing problems we still have. The ideal asset class for a bubble would be a purely virtual one, so when the eventual crash comes, there's nothing left lying around causing problems.
So in 2008, in what will later be seen as the very darkest days of the Great Recession, a person or group of people claiming to be Satoshi Nakamoto release Bitcoin, an electronic 'cryptocurrency'. Over the next four or five years, it explodes in value, with the price of a single Bitcoin rocketing from almost valueless to over $1,000. For a completely virtual asset that has absolutely no use-value beyond what other people are prepared to trade for it.
Is it too much to speculate that Satoshi Nakamoto is in fact the nom-de-guerre-de-l'argent of a bunch of highly principled neo-Keynesian desperadoes, bent on inflating the money supply to save the world economy? Like the NSA with its hand-crafted security breaches, they were sitting on some red hot unpublished computer science, having solved a long-standing seemingly intractable problem in computer science, and they knew they could use this for their purposes. But they knew they would have to cover their tracks well - having more or less lost the argument for fiscal stimulus (or failed to win it wholly in the USA), they knew monetary policy would have to do even more. So what better than to cloak the most spectacular loose-money experiment in history in the language of ultra-hard currency right-wing Austrian economics? A "completely deterministic and irrevocably fixed money supply"! Like gold, only better! Just pay no attention to the exchange rate.
When even a comedy self-avowedly joke cryptocurrency like Dogecoin can go from silly joshing on Twitter to being worth $72m in a month or so, and can raise the money to send the Jamaican Bobsleigh team to the Sochi Winter Olympics in less than a day (man, I love that story), you know there's some serious bubbliness going on.
Which is just the dose the world economy needs. Thank you, Satoshi Nakamoto, stealth neo-Keynesian genius and saviour of the financial world!
(Of course, just as with the forged money in the 90s, we're not actually talking about anything remotely big enough to register as much more than a macroeconomic blip. Bitcoins are currently worth of the order of $12bn (plus or minus 50% daily), but US QE1 was $2tn, and the current tapered rate of purchases is $65bn *per month*. The UK's QE programme is worth about £400bn, and the Bank of Japan's is set to hit $1.4tn over two years. Unless the BTC price climbs another few tens of thousands of percentage points - which can't be entirely ruled out - it must remain just a beautiful speculation.)
This entry crossposted to http://doug.dreamwidth.org/268346.html, where there are comment(s) not shown here.
Tags: conspiracy-vs-cock-up, economics, whimsy
This year's RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch totals:
2 blue tits, 2 robins, 2 jackdaws, 2 white doves, 1 great tit, 1 house sparrow, 1 collared dove, 1 magpie.
Although the raw total isn't very different compared to last year, it seemed even more quiet in the garden - we had only a single jackdaw for the first 25 minutes, and the other birds we did see didn't hang around long at all, although there was a five-minute period around 45 minutes in where the tits and robins were around quite a bit like they used to be. The kids and I were delighted to see two robins. The blue tits and great tit are eating the fat balls - we saw one of them having a good long munch (like about an entire minute). But the other feeders (one mixed seed, one nyjer seed, one sunflower hearts) weren't touched - which matches how fast they're going down (i.e. not at all). The white doves are semi-domesticated from down the road.
**FIXME is very, very keen on goldfinches, hence the nyjer seed feeder, supplemented by a pair of teasels strapped to the garden arch. It has entirely failed to attract anything, so far, and **FIXME is "a bit sad" about that.
The official count doesn't include birds that fly over, but we note them. The local jackdaw population was in evidence again - only 2 landed in our viewing area, but on the wing we saw a max of 6 jackdaws nearby, and 12-14 in the far distance. There was also a small flock of about 6-8 small birds, probably chaffinches but moving too fast to see for sure, and a medium-largish gull of some sort.
This was a small window of nice weather after a lot of overnight rain, from 11-12 on a Saturday morning. We would've waited longer, but it promises to rain later too. There seemed to be someone working in next door's garden in the early part of the session, which might have kept the birds away. Although it's generally seemed very short on birds in our garden this winter - I was worried we'd see almost nothing.
Historical data for comparison and so I don't lose it:
Jan 2013: 2 bluetits, 2 jackdaws, 1 blackbird, 1 chaffinch, 1 goldfinch, 1 great tit, 1 house sparrow, 1 long-tailed tit, 1 woodpigeon, plus one unidentified little brown bird.
Jan 2012: 6 jackdaws, 5 chaffinches, 3 crows, 2 blackbirds, 2 collared doves, blue tit, goldfinch, sparrow.
Jan 2011: Data lost! Bah. But definitely more than 2012 - loads of jackdaws - the whole local crowd dropped by - and chaffinches, and I'm pretty sure others including a goldfinch.)
This entry crossposted to http://doug.dreamwidth.org/268099.html, where there are comment(s) not shown here.
How to negotiate like a (five-year-old) boss|
We're playing ice cream shop, which is a very old favourite game:
**TODO: Would you like to buy an ice cream?
D: Yes please.
**TODO: What flavour would you like?
D: Oooh, what flavours do you have?
**TODO: We have ... vanilla, mint choc chip ... strawberry ... erm ... that's it.
D: Ok, I'll have a strawberry ice cream then please.
**TODO: That'll be sixty pounds.
D: Sixty pounds! Sixty pounds?! I'm not paying sixty pounds for an ice cream! That's absurd.
**TODO: Ok, fifty pounds.
D: Fifty pounds! That's still way too much for an ice cream.
**TODO: Four pounds.
D: That's still quite a lot.
**TODO: (firmly) Four pounds.
D: Oh, Ok. There you go.
This entry crossposted to http://doug.dreamwidth.org/267961.html, where there are comment(s) not shown here.
This title is false|
This has been doing the rounds on social media and in my festively-addled brain:
Sir Mix-a-lot likes big butts and cannot lie. His twin brother does not and cannot tell the truth. You may ask one question.
The question you should ask, of course, depends on what you want to find out.
Possible candidate questions:
- Does my butt look big in this?
- Are you awake?
- Is he your brother?
- Are you called Epimenides?
- Does your brother like my butt?
- Would your brother say he likes my butt?
- Would your brother say that you would say that you like my butt?
- Would your brother say (that you would say that he would say)^N that you like my butt?
- No, seriously, does my butt look big in this?
- Does there exist an x such that (i) x is a butt liked by you, (ii) for any x and y, if x is a butt liked by you, and y is a butt liked by you, then x=y, and (iii) for every x that is a butt liked by you, x is big?
- What question would your brother tell me to ask?
Or, as the old anecdote goes:
(morganj): 0 is false and 1 is true, correct?
(alec_eso): 1, morganj
Of course, this is all easily resolved in practical applications by using multi-valued logics, where statements can take on any of a number of truth values, such as:
- DON'T KNOW
- DON'T CARE
- DON'T TELL ME
- FROM A CERTAIN POINT OF VIEW
- NOT IN SO MANY WORDS
- NOT AWARE AT THE TIME
- NOT TELLING YOU
- NOT INSTALLED
- LOOK I TOLD YOU DON'T TELL ME ABOUT ANY MORE DAMN ERRORS OR INCONSISTENCIES
This entry crossposted to http://doug.dreamwidth.org/267558.html, where there are comment(s) not shown here.
Tags: sex-is-more-fun-than-logic, stupid-lists, whimsy
Arguments with five-year-olds|
I told **TODO to do something. He didn't want to. This exchange followed:
**TODO: I'm not doing it! Unless you insist.
D: I'm afraid I insist.
**TODO: Ok then.
And off he pottered without further quibble.
This entry crossposted to http://doug.dreamwidth.org/267433.html, where there are comment(s) not shown here.
Tags: **todo-daffodil, absurdly-brief-posts
There's a rather appealing meme going round where people ask what their readers would like them to post about. I have lots more ideas for stuff to post than I ever get round to writing up, and many good ideas just get forgotten about. So I've been noting them down over the last little while. Knowing what people would like to read would help me prioritise writing.
So here's a list of posts I could write. Which of these would you like to read? Or what else would you like me to write about? I can't promise to do whatever anyone asks, but I will give it serious consideration.
( This could take a while to get through...Collapse )
Or any other suggestions for things you think I should write?
This entry crossposted to http://doug.dreamwidth.org/267059.html, where there are comment(s) not shown here.
Move your bag to the lower peg|
Watching **TODO go in to school today, I realised that the process seemed very like a wilfully challenging puzzle in a piece of interactive fiction. It's actually quite complex, and I'm not sure that it is possible to do it without a fair amount of juggling.
To give you an idea of what I mean, I've written it up in the style of interactive fiction:
80% OF SUCCESS IS SHOWING UP
A short piece interactive fiction about getting yourself in to school.
Made up interpreter 1.0.
( Nobody gets eaten by a grue ...Collapse )
This entry crossposted to http://doug.dreamwidth.org/266826.html, where there are comment(s) not shown here.
Tags: **todo-daffodil, original-thought, whimsy
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