The Geithner banking plan explained

It’s really very simple:

Via MR

February 28, 2009 Posted by | economics | Leave a comment

The latest project

I must admit I just love Maria Jo√£o 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… ūüėČ )

February 25, 2009 Posted by | Chopin, music | Leave a comment

Quote of the day

The more I understand people, the more I like cats.

Perry de Havilland. I sometimes feel the same way, and I believe I’ve made a similar point a while ago somewhere on this blog.

February 22, 2009 Posted by | quotes/aphorisms | Leave a comment


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.

This site allows you to watch the games live and stay updated with the score – unfortunately the official site is only in Spanish. Susan Polgar will probably cover many of the games.

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.

February 20, 2009 Posted by | Chess | Leave a comment

Quote of the day

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.

Greg Mankiw

February 19, 2009 Posted by | economics, quotes/aphorisms | 2 Comments

Religion and evolution

Not all religious groups are equally dismissive of Darwin’s idea. Here are some stats from the US:


Pew, via Gene Expression.

February 17, 2009 Posted by | evolution, religion | Leave a comment

What I’m reading

i) Sun Tzu, The art of War.

ii) Solzhenitsyn. Still a hundred pages to go.

February 16, 2009 Posted by | books | 2 Comments

An overview

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.

2. Microalbuminuria and Mortality

3. Incipient nephropathy in Type 1 diabetes

3a. “The early natural history of nephropathy in type 1 diabetes” (part I)

3b. -ll- (part II)

4. Vision loss and diabetic retinopathy (in Danish). Also contains a few Danish numbers on type 1 diabetes and mortality.

4a. Linking corneal structure and -sensitivity in type 1 diabetic patients with the risk of developing polyneuropathy.

5. Coronary heart disease in young Type 1 diabetic patients

5a. The relationsship between coronary artery calcification and later onset coronary artery disease and myocardial infarction among adults with type 1 diabetes.

6. Lower extremity foot ulcers and amputations.

6a. Linking foot ulceration hazard with peripheral neuropathy

7. Increased Risk of Common Infections in Patients with Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus

8. Insulin misuse among young females with type 1 diabetes (among other things).

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.

February 15, 2009 Posted by | diabetes, personal, studies | Leave a comment

Lidt mere om de der f√łlgesygdomme (eller i hvert fald en af dem)

Jeg var i morges til regelm√¶ssig kontrol/screening p√• √łjenafdelingen ved √Örhus Sygehus. Det var jeg, fordi diabetespatienter har en markant √łget risiko ifht. befolkningen som helhed for p√• sigt at udvikle synstab – diabetes er den hyppigste √•rsag til blindhed blandt erhvervsaktive danskere – og derfor er der nu de fleste steder (overalt?) i landet indf√łrt regelm√¶ssig screening af diabetespatienter med henblik p√• at fange √łjenforandringerne, f√łr de leder til synstab.

At f√• type 1 diabetes tidligt i livet udg√łr p√• langt sigt en ganske alvorlig risiko for at udvikle synstab: Ved en unders√łgelse af patienter fra Fyn fulgt gennem 35 √•r (!), fra 1973 til 2008, der havde f√•et konstateret diabetes mellitus, type 1, havde kun 3% af de 255 overlevende diabetikere ingen retinopati ved unders√łgelsens afslutning – hvilket naturligvis sagt p√• en anden m√•de vil sige, at 97% af patienterne p√• det tidspunkt havde diabetiske √łjenforandringer. Over halvdelen (52%) havde i unders√łgelsesperioden udviklet hvad der i unders√łgelsens terminologi kaldes “synstruende retinopati”, hvilket betyder, at de p√• et tidspunkt i perioden havde haft s√• sv√¶re synstruende komplikationer i √łjnene, at de blev laserbehandlet p√• mindst et √łje. I perioden fra 1981 til 2008 blev 7.5% blinde. Jeg kan anbefale nysgerrige l√¶sere at f√łlge linket til unders√łgelsen ovenfor; det har meget mere, og det forklarer ogs√• kort lidt om hvordan og hvorfor sygdommen udvikler sig.

Phd-studerende Kathrine Bonde Tilma arbejder lige nu p√• et projekt ved navn: Farmakologisk intervention mod forstyrrelser af nethindens blodgennemstr√łmning ved diabetisk √łjensygdom. Hun mangler fors√łgspersoner til at deltage i projektet, og kontaktede mig i l√łbet af min screening i dag, og spurgte om jeg √łnskede at deltage, s√•fremt 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 v√¶ret at se p√• mine √łjne (endnu), og hvis det ogs√• g√¶lder denne gang – hvad jeg selvf√łlgelig h√•ber p√• – vil jeg ikke v√¶re interessant at inddrage i projektet. Jeg gav dog udtryk for, at jeg i udgangspunktet godt kunne t√¶nke mig at deltage, hvis der var mulighed derfor.

Forskningsprojektet indeb√¶rer kun nogle for mig ret f√•, begr√¶nsede risici – nej, jeg har ikke t√¶nkt mig at beskrive hele forl√łbet i detaljer her – men ogs√• 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 tilb√łjelighed til at deltage, er at “jeg synes jeg b√łr”, men det “b√łr” vejer ret tungt. Hvis jeg forventede at f√• b√łrn p√• et tidspunkt, ville det nok ogs√• v√¶re en v√¶sentlig variabel i overvejelserne, eftersom diabetes har en arvelig komponent, men det g√łr jeg ikke.

Hvis jeg kommer med i unders√łgelsen vil jeg naturligvis f√łlge op p√• den her p√• bloggen, n√•r resultaterne publiceres.

February 13, 2009 Posted by | diabetes | 2 Comments

A map


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.

February 12, 2009 Posted by | economics | 11 Comments

An interesting graph


Found here.

February 11, 2009 Posted by | economics | Leave a comment


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:

February 6, 2009 Posted by | music | Leave a comment

A game

US – (anonymous unrated player), closed Ruy Lopez, blitz (10 min + 0 incr.):

1.e4 …e5,
2.Nf3 …Nc6,
3.Bb5 …a6,
4.Ba4 …Nf6,
5.0-0 …Be7,
6.Re1 …d6,
7.h3 …b5,
8.Bb3 …0-0,
9.c3 …Na5,
10.Bc2 …c5


(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’)

11.d3 …Bb7,
12.Nbd2 …Qc7,
13.Nf1 …Rad8,
14.Ne3 …d5,
15.exd5 …Nxd5,
(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,
18.Ng3 …Rfe8,
19.Ne4 …Be7,
(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
21.fxe3 …c4,
22.d4 …exd4,
23.exd4 …b4


24.Ned2 …bxc3,
25.bxc3 …Bf6,
26.Ne4 …Be7,
27.Qd2 …Bf8,
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)
29.Qh5 …


…Bf8?? (doing the Be7-Bf8-Be7 maneuver the first time was just a waste of time; repeating it lost my opponent the game)

Resigned, 1-0

February 6, 2009 Posted by | Chess | Leave a comment

From a 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),
35.Rc7! …Qe8,
36.Rbxb7 …Re1+,
37.Kh2 …Qe5+,


Resigned, 1-0

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.

February 4, 2009 Posted by | Chess | Leave a comment

The First Circle (1)

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.

February 4, 2009 Posted by | books, quotes/aphorisms, Russia | Leave a comment

Theory meets practice


Here’s the link.

February 3, 2009 Posted by | xkcd | Leave a comment


Jeg bankede lige en Fide Mester, Jan Wendt, i lyn. F√łles rigtigt godt!

Corus-turneringen er for √łvrigt f√¶rdig. Vinder af A-gruppen blev, efter lang tids sp√¶nding, Sergey Karjakin. Inden den sidste runde var 6 spillere lige i toppen, s√• der var pres p√• lige til det sidste. I B-gruppen tabte Short sin sidste kamp mod Caruana, og m√•tte derfor, p√• trods af en position alene i front f√łr sidste runde, og en i √łvrigt meget velspillet turnering, overlade 1. pladsen til netop Caruana. C-gruppen blev vundet af den unge philipinske stormester Wesley So, som jeg regner med man kommer til at h√łre meget mere om – og dette g√¶lder bestemt ogs√• for en anden af C-gruppens deltagere, Anish Giri, der med sine bare 14 √•r med en flot delt andenplads opn√•ede sin tredje stormesternorm. Hans nuv√¶rende rating hos FIDE er 2469, men med en 16 points forventet stigning fra en turnering i Groningen kombineret med hans resultat i Wijk aan Zee vil han opfylde b√•de norm- og ratingkrav, og dermed blive den yngste stormester i verden. Den nye Nakamura? Hvem ved?

February 3, 2009 Posted by | skak | Leave a comment

Quote of the day

Comparing belief in God to belief in the Celestial Teapot is absurd, because it’s like comparing a belief only some people know is absurd to a belief everyone knows is absurd.

Michael Drake, via Will Wilkinson.

February 1, 2009 Posted by | quotes/aphorisms, religion | Leave a comment