There are a lot of numbers flowing around at the moment, the sizes of various multipliers in particular are very popular discussion points among economists (and non-economists debating economics) at the moment. I would like to remind everyone that studies have shown that accurate numbers aren’t any more useful than the ones you make up. And you needn’t take my word for it…
A propos my other post earlier today and Steen Bocian’s comments on “the economy” in the linked article, I also very much liked this rant from Will Wilkinson, posted a while ago. I’m pretty sure I haven’t linked to it before, but even if I have, it’s well worth reading a second time.
I must admit I just love Maria João Pires’ interpretation of Chopin’s nocturnes. Even if the audio of this clip is not optimal, spare five minutes and listen to this piece. (What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and all that… )
“En ny undersøgelse slår fast, at etniske danskere og etniske minoriteter i lige høj grad bakker op om demokratiet…
Det viser en ny undersøgelse fra Institut for Tværkulturelle og Regionale Studier ved Københavns Universitet. I interviewundersøgelsen er 1.500 førstegenerationsindvandrere fra Tyrkiet, Iran og Pakistan blevet spurgt om deres holdning til religion og demokrati. En gruppe på 1.000 repræsentativt udvalgte etniske danskere er blevet stillet de samme spørgsmål. Og ifølge undersøgelsen er der ingen forskel på de to gruppers støtte til demokratiet og afvisning af alternative styreformer som f.eks. diktatur.
“Tanken om at folk med muslimsk baggrund skulle have en mere fjendtlig indstilling til demokratiet end danskere passer altså ikke,” konkluderer lektor og ph.d. Peter B. Andersen, som har lavet undersøgelsen med kollega Peter Lüchau..
“Den her undersøgelse viser det stik modsatte af den, Cepos lavede. Undersøgelsen gør op med, at der skulle være en modsætning mellem islam og demokrati, og den viser, at modsætningerne mellem islam og religionskritik er manipulerede og konstruerede,” siger hun…
i) Antag X mener A er det optimale politiske endemål, der søges realiseret.
ii) Antag X samtidig mener, at Q er det optimale middel til at realisere A.
iii) Erstat X med “nogle muslimer”, A med “sharia” og Q med “demokrati”.
Man kan godt indføre sharia på demokratisk vis. Nu er Somalia ikke ligefrem et mønsterdemokrati, men nysgerrige kan med fordel følge Sharif Ahmed’s bestræbelser de næste måneder – han er faktisk, efter hvad jeg har hørt, allerede godt i gang med lige netop dette.
En anden propositionsrække:
a) Antag ytringsfriheden kan afskaffes/begrænses på demokratisk vis. (det sker over det hele lige for tiden, så det skulle ikke være noget problem)
b) Antag demokratier uden- eller med meget begrænset ytringsfrihed stadig kaldes for demokratier. (det er der en lang og stolt tradition for at gøre, så det skulle vist heller ikke være noget problem. Mange lande der ikke er spor demokratiske kalder sig også for demokratier, så problemerne med denne antagelse er til at overse…)
c) Antag X fra ovenstående propositionsrække kalder sig selv for demokrater.
Hvis disse antagelser holder, hvad fortæller det os så om et medlem af X’ holdning til ytringsfriheden (/eller andre frihedsrettigheder), når vedkommende kalder sig selv for demokrat, og siger at vedkommende bakker op om demokratiet?
Hvis en person kræver, at andre ikke må kritisere hans religion uden at blive straffet af statsmagten, at andre ikke må gøre grin med hans latterlige forestillinger, som er dybt godnat for enhver, der mentalt befinder sig i det 21. århundrede, så er jeg såmænd bedøvende ligeglad med, om han har tænkt sig at bruge demokratiske midler til at opnå den begrænsning af ytringsfriheden, han efterstræber, eller ej. Han er en trussel mod min frihed, mod vores frihed. Og det er han altså også, selvom han kalder sig selv for demokrat. Jeg er ligeglad med, hvad han kalder sig.
[Og lige en lille tilføjelse til Prins Knud: Nej, jeg "skærer selvfølgelig ikke alle over en kam" med ovenstående betragtninger. Der findes mange muslimer, der ikke går ind for eksempelvis en begrænsning af ytringsfriheden. Ifølge Cepos' undersøgelse er det faktisk næsten halvdelen. Men næsten halvdelen er ikke "flertallet af muslimerne". "Næsten halvdelen" er faktisk et mindretal af muslimerne.]
The more I understand people, the more I like cats.
The Wimbledon of chess has started in Linares, Spain, and as always the field is pure dynamite: Anand, Ivanchuk, Carlsen, Radjabov, Aronian, Yue, Grischuk and Dominguez – the rating average is 2755 (!), and only one of the 8 contestants, Dominguez, aren’t in the world’s top 15.
The first round had three draws and one decided game. Anand, who won the tournament both last year and the year before, started out by outplaying Radjabov in a brilliantly played endgame:
Arguably the position is already won for white here, but the way Anand converts this win is just beautiful: 54…h5, 55.g5+!! …Kxg5, 56.Ne7! …Kf6, 57.Nd5+ …Kg7, 58.Qe5+ …Kh6, 59.Qf6+ …Kh7
Many players would probably take on b6 now and expect the opponent to resign. But Nxb6 is not the strongest move: 60.Qf7+! …Kh6, 61.Ne7, 1-0 (resigned). The only way to avoid a mate for Black is to sacrifice his Queen.
Watch the whole game here.
The expression “create or save,” which has been used regularly by the President and his economic team, is an act of political genius. You can measure how many jobs are created between two points in time. But there is no way to measure how many jobs are saved. Even if things get much, much worse, the President can say that there would have been 4 million fewer jobs without the stimulus.
An actual answer to the question “What metric?” could have taken the form: “If the unemployment rate on [insert date] is below [insert threshold], I will judge the plan to be a success.” Given the uncertainties inherent in the economy, however, no sensible politician would hold himself to such a measurable standard. But the President also wanted to avoid sounding like he was avoiding accountability. So he gave us a non-measurable metric. A clear and specific benchmark, without any way of ever knowing whether it has been reached.
Not all religious groups are equally dismissive of Darwin’s idea. Here are some stats from the US:
Here follows a collection of diabetes studies that I at some point have read/skimmed and considered interesting and informative, and well, relevant for my own future health prognosis:
1. Mortality trends among diabetics. A study on 1,075 patients with early onset (<18 years old at the time of diagnosis) type 1 diabetes.
3b. -ll- (part II)
4. Vision loss and diabetic retinopathy (in Danish). Also contains a few Danish numbers on type 1 diabetes and mortality.
9. Prevalence and predictors of sexual dysfunction in patients with type 1 diabetes. (do notice that the sample might be biased. Are diabetics living in a stable relationsship more or less likely to have sexual problems than diabetics living alone?)
These days, with the internet and the loads and loads of knowledge that are just flowing freely around online, there really is no good reason why a diabetic shouldn’t know at least as much about his/her disease than his/her primary care physician does.
Jeg er lige nu hjemme ved mine forældre, og dagen i dag var bare alt for smuk til at lave noget som helst fornuftigt. Så jeg har været ude at tage et par billeder (eller -hundrede). Et par smagsprøver herunder, flere billeder her. Klik på billederne for at se dem i fuld størrelse.
(Måske ser han lidt farlig ud med det gevir, men han er i virkeligheden rigtigt nuttet. Han kan håndfodres uden problemer)
(…nysgerrig. Har vist aldrig set et digitalkamera før)
Jeg var i morges til regelmæssig kontrol/screening på øjenafdelingen ved Århus Sygehus. Det var jeg, fordi diabetespatienter har en markant øget risiko ifht. befolkningen som helhed for på sigt at udvikle synstab – diabetes er den hyppigste årsag til blindhed blandt erhvervsaktive danskere – og derfor er der nu de fleste steder (overalt?) i landet indført regelmæssig screening af diabetespatienter med henblik på at fange øjenforandringerne, før de leder til synstab.
At få type 1 diabetes tidligt i livet udgør på langt sigt en ganske alvorlig risiko for at udvikle synstab: Ved en undersøgelse af patienter fra Fyn fulgt gennem 35 år (!), fra 1973 til 2008, der havde fået konstateret diabetes mellitus, type 1, havde kun 3% af de 255 overlevende diabetikere ingen retinopati ved undersøgelsens afslutning – hvilket naturligvis sagt på en anden måde vil sige, at 97% af patienterne på det tidspunkt havde diabetiske øjenforandringer. Over halvdelen (52%) havde i undersøgelsesperioden udviklet hvad der i undersøgelsens terminologi kaldes “synstruende retinopati”, hvilket betyder, at de på et tidspunkt i perioden havde haft så svære synstruende komplikationer i øjnene, at de blev laserbehandlet på mindst et øje. I perioden fra 1981 til 2008 blev 7.5% blinde. Jeg kan anbefale nysgerrige læsere at følge linket til undersøgelsen ovenfor; det har meget mere, og det forklarer også kort lidt om hvordan og hvorfor sygdommen udvikler sig.
Phd-studerende Kathrine Bonde Tilma arbejder lige nu på et projekt ved navn: Farmakologisk intervention mod forstyrrelser af nethindens blodgennemstrømning ved diabetisk øjensygdom. Hun mangler forsøgspersoner til at deltage i projektet, og kontaktede mig i løbet af min screening i dag, og spurgte om jeg ønskede at deltage, såfremt screeningsresultaterne gav anledning til at betragte mig som et potentielt interessant datapunkt (ikke lige med de ord, men…). Ved tidligere screeninger har der ingen forandringer været at se på mine øjne (endnu), og hvis det også gælder denne gang – hvad jeg selvfølgelig håber på – vil jeg ikke være interessant at inddrage i projektet. Jeg gav dog udtryk for, at jeg i udgangspunktet godt kunne tænke mig at deltage, hvis der var mulighed derfor.
Forskningsprojektet indebærer kun nogle for mig ret få, begrænsede risici – nej, jeg har ikke tænkt mig at beskrive hele forløbet i detaljer her – men også kun en meget lille potentiel upside. Alligevel vil jeg sige ja tak til at deltage, hvis jeg kan. Den bedste begrundelse jeg kan finde for min egen tilbøjelighed til at deltage, er at “jeg synes jeg bør”, men det “bør” vejer ret tungt. Hvis jeg forventede at få børn på et tidspunkt, ville det nok også være en væsentlig variabel i overvejelserne, eftersom diabetes har en arvelig komponent, men det gør jeg ikke.
Hvis jeg kommer med i undersøgelsen vil jeg naturligvis følge op på den her på bloggen, når resultaterne publiceres.
I found the map here, it displays the countries’ nominal GDP/capita and each color represents a certain range of economic performance. The numbers are not PPP-adjusted, but it’s better than nothing. Click on the map to view it in a higher resolution.
Geert Wilders had been refused entry to the United Kingdom to broadcast his controversial anti-Muslim film Fitna in the House of Lords.
Mr Wilders said he had been told that in the interests of public order he will not be allowed to come to Britain.
The short ministerial statement is just great:
Ministers discussed the release of “Fitna”, a controversial short film on Islam, by the Dutch MP Geert Wilders. They reaffirmed that the right of freedom of expression was a basic value of the EU but stressed the importance of respect for others’ religious beliefs.
Or: “Why teaching the median voter some basic economic principles may be much harder than you think”. I actually found it a bit painful to watch in the end, but you shouldn’t miss it, in case you haven’t seen it before (I seem to remember having heard a similar recording a while ago, however I seriously doubt it’s the first time this problem has arisen):
Just stumbled upon this video on youtube:
This Liszt-interpretation by Hamelin is wonderful too (in a different way):
I had been looking for the video below, but I didn’t find it until just now. This one is simply a must see:
US – (anonymous unrated player), closed Ruy Lopez, blitz (10 min + 0 incr.):
(all theory so far, and I’ve probably played dozens of games with this setup, both with white and black. I’d have liked to continue following the main line, however at the next move I made a mouse slip that threw me a bit off track – the intended response was of course the much more sound 11.d4, even if d3 is also ‘playable’)
16.Nf5?! (Nxd5 is probably objectively stronger, but I didn’t see anything for white after that exchange, and I wasn’t quite ready to settle for a draw at this moment) …Bf6
17.Bd2 (I have a hard time finding a plan, having never played this setup with 11.d3 before) …Nc3,
20.Be3?! (I spent a lot of time on that move, almost two minutes, and I’m quite sure it’s not even close to being the best move. If black were to play 20…f5, I would have jumped into complications by playing 21.Nxc5, and if 21…Nxe3, I was pretty sure 22.Ne6 was playable. In such a position, the white light-squared bishop could become very strong) 20…Nxe3
28.Qg5 …Be7 (these moves with the black bishop are objectively bad, and doesn’t help black in any way. Also, the main point with 27.Qd2 is to gain better access to the g5-square, so of course removing the one light piece defending it, even temporarily, cannot be optimal for black)
…Bf8?? (doing the Be7-Bf8-Be7 maneuver the first time was just a waste of time; repeating it lost my opponent the game)
Excerpt from a 10 minute blitz game I played yesterday, I was white. In the position below it’s black’s turn to move, the position is materially equal, however Fritz claims that the position is already very much winning for white (+4.0). At the time I was thinking the same thing:
The game went on like this:
33…Re6? (better, but still losing, was …Nf6 or …Rd8. However neither of these moves can prevent the move I made next)
34.Rcxc6+! …Kd8 (only move; both 34…bxc6 and Qxc6 leads to a forced mate),
In this position, there are six ways for black to avoid mate in the next move, …Qxf4+, …Qe6, …Qb5, …Qxd6, …Rh1+ and …Rxc7. After …Qxf4, the simple 39.Qxf4 wins – black can’t take back the Queen on account of the mating threat on b8. …Qe6, …Qb5, …Qxd6 and …Rh1+ are only moves that postpone the inevitable, and after …Rxc7 39.fxe5 black is just dead.
I have quoted from the book before, here are two other quotes from the book. The first one is from a conversation between two students living in Moscow (one of which is Nadya, Nerzhin’s wife from the first quote):
“Well, forgive me, I’m completely worn out. I don’t have the strength to revise it again. How many times can you revise a thing?”
With this, Olenka’s anger completely disappeared, and she said in a friendly way, “Oh, you’ve got to throw out the foreigners? Well, there, you’re not the only one. Don’t let it get you down.”
“Throwing out the foreigners” meant going through the thesis and replacing every reference to a foreigner: “Lowe demonstrated,” for instance, would have to read, “Scientists have succeeded in demonstrating”; “as Langmuir demonstrated” would become “as has been shown.” Or if a Russian, or a Dane, or a German in the Russian service had done aything at all to distinguish himself, then you had to put in his full name and duly emphasize his high patriotism and immortal services to science.
“Not foreigners. I got rid of them long ago. Now I have to throw out Academician B—–.”
“Our own Soviet?”
“— and his whole theory. And I’d built the whole thing on that. And now it turns out that he — his –”
Academician B—— had fallen into the same abyss as Nadya’s husband.
“Well, don’t take things so hard!” Olenka was saying. “At least they’re going to let you revise it. It could be worse. Muza was telling me—”
But Muza did not hear her. She was buried in her book now, and the room around her did not exist.
“— Muza was saying there was a girl in the litterature department who defended her thesis on Zweig four years ago, and was made assistant professor. Suddenly they discovered that she had said three times in the thesis that Zweig was ‘a cosmopolitan’, and that the thesis supported it. So they called her in to the Highest Credentials Commission and took her degree away. Awful!”
In freedom Isaak Kagan, who had never completed his engineering course, had been head of a stockroom of materials and parts. He had tried to live an obscure life and pass through the Era of Great Accomplishments sideways. He knew it was more peaceful and profitable to be quietly in charge of a stockroom. In his seclusion he concealed an almost fiery passion for gain, and this was what occupied him. Yet at the same time, as far as possible, even in the stockroom he observed the laws of the Sabbath. He was not drawn toward any sort of political activity. But for some reason State Security had selected precisely this Kagan to be hitched to its chariot, and they had dragged him to closed rooms and conspiratorial assignations, insisting that he become a secret informer. That proposal was repulsive to Kagan. He had neither the candor nor the boldness – who did? – to tell them to their faces that what they were suggesting was vile. But with inexhaustible patience he kept silent, mumbled, dragged things out, demurred, fidgeted on his chair – and never did sign an agreement to work for them. It was not that he was incapable of informing. Without a tremor he would have informed on anyone who had harmed or humiliated him. But it would have nauseated him to inform on people who had been good or even indifferent to him.
But because of this stubbornness he was in the bad books of State Security. One cannot protect oneself against everything in this world. There was talk among the people in his own stockroom. Someone cursed out a tool. Someone complained about supplies, someone else about planning. Isaak said nothing and went on writing out his invoices with his indelible pencil. But it became known – indeed, it had probably all been prearranged anyway – and everyone told on everyone else, and all of them received, under Section 58, Paragraph 10, ten years each. Kagan underwent five confrontations, but no one proved that he had said a word. If Section 58 had been tighter, they would have had to let Kagan go. But the iterrogator knew that he had a last resort, which was Paragraph 12 of the same section: failure to inform. So it was for failure to inform that they gave Kagan the same astronomical ten years as the others.
I’m not finished with it yet, it is a long book, but I’ve read enough to know that I highly recommend it.
Btw. I’ve also completed Stjernfeldt & Thomsen. I thoroughly enjoyed Stjernfeldt’s contribution, whereas I was a little bit disappointed with Thomsen’s part of the book. I might write more about it later in a separate post, but I make no promises.
- 180 grader
- alfred brendel
- Arthur Conan Doyle
- Bent Jensen
- Bill Bryson
- Bill Watterson
- Claude Berri
- current affairs
- Dan Simmons
- David Copperfield
- david lynch
- den kolde krig
- Dinu Lipatti
- Douglas Adams
- economic history
- Edward Grieg
- Eliezer Yudkowsky
- Ezra Levant
- Filippo Pacini
- financial regulation
- Flemming Rose
- foreign aid
- Franz Kafka
- freedom of speech
- Friedrich von Flotow
- Fyodor Dostoevsky
- Game theory
- Garry Kasparov
- George Carlin
- george enescu
- global warming
- Grahame Clark
- harry potter
- health care
- isaac asimov
- Jane Austen
- John Stuart Mill
- Jon Stewart
- Joseph Heller
- karl popper
- Khan Academy
- knowledge sharing
- Leland Yeager
- Marcel Pagnol
- Maria João Pires
- Mark Twain
- Martin Amis
- Martin Paldam
- mikhail gorbatjov
- Mikkel Plum
- Morten Uhrskov Jensen
- Muzio Clementi
- Nikolai Medtner
- North Korea
- nuclear proliferation
- nuclear weapons
- Ole Vagn Christensen
- Oscar Wilde
- Pascal's Wager
- Paul Graham
- people are strange
- public choice
- rambling nonsense
- random stuff
- Richard Dawkins
- Rowan Atkinson
- Saudi Arabia
- science fiction
- Sun Tzu
- Terry Pratchett
- The Art of War
- Thomas Hobbes
- Thomas More
- walter gieseking
- William Easterly