Econstudentlog

Vegan? – No thanks, I’m not hungry…

fail-owned-carnivore-win

Failblog.

June 29, 2009 Posted by | fun, Random stuff | Leave a comment

Occam’s razor

hammer-graph-3-us-temps

hammer-graph-4-us-temps

Here’s the link. At least when it comes to the second half of the century, the two variables track each other quite closely. Follow the link for more.

June 29, 2009 Posted by | climate, global warming | Leave a comment

How many firms “deal” with their economic troubles

My previous post on newspapers just reminded me of this strip, which I would assume is actually more relevant now than it was when it was first made four years ago:

2005-01-07 (strategy)

June 25, 2009 Posted by | Cartoons, fun, Random stuff | Leave a comment

Just browsing…

Random wikipedia browsing. The arrows indicate that I followed a link leading to the article on the other side of the arrow head. I had been reading about exoplanets (did you know that we have detected only ~350 planets outside our own solar system?) a couple of days ago, so there was nothing random about the article I started out with:

55 Cancri -> 55 Cancri d -> Argument of periapsis -> Orbital mechanics -> Universal variable formulation -> Laguerre’s method -> (jump) trebuchet -> Torsion engine and Battle of Xiangyang -> Yuan Dynasty and Song Dynasty -> I felt tired and went to make a cup of coffee, so I stopped browsing even if I did get rather curious about the early development of forensic science that took place in the Song Dynasty centuries before this field was first studied in Europe…

If you have but the least bit of interest in any given subject X, obtaining more knowledge about X is usually both fun and rewarding. Don’t ever let anybody tell you differently.

June 25, 2009 Posted by | Astronomy, Engineering, History, Mathematics, Physics, Random stuff, Wikipedia | Leave a comment

Huge estimation errors – dinosaur edition

Scientists have discovered that dinosaurs may have been much lighter and sleeker than previously thought because of potential flaws in the equations used to calculate their weight.

The findings could force researchers to rethink many of their beliefs, particularly about giant plant eaters such as apatosaurus which had been thought to weigh up to 37 tons. The creature’s real weight was closer to 18 tons, according to new calculations.

“Palaeontologists have for 25 years used a statistical model to estimate the body weight of giant dinosaurs and other extraordinarily large extinct animals,” said Gary Packard, from Colorado State University, whose research will appear in the Zoological Society of London’s Journal of Zoology this week.

“We have found that the statistical model is seriously flawed and the giant dinosaurs probably were only about half as heavy as is generally believed.”

The research does not suggest that dinosaurs were shorter in length or height. These dimensions are clear from the size of their bones. Instead, Packard’s work challenges the depiction of many giant herbivores. Until now they have been shown as well-rounded, powerful animals, when they are more likely to have been skinny and muscular.

Such findings would affect more than just appearance. It would suggest that these animals were leaner and faster, needed less food and had significant differences in lifestyle from what was previously thought.

Here’s more, HT: Razib. No link to the study, which I would just love to read, as it will not be published until later this week.

I’m pretty sure these findings, if Packard is rigth, will have a profound impact on the field. As the article mentions, size is but one of several variables that need to be reestimated and -explained: A lot of the theory on behaviour, metabolism, thermoregulation ect. on the megafauna inhabiting the earth back then will also need to be rewritten.

June 22, 2009 Posted by | Biology, Paleontology | Leave a comment

Maybe it doesn’t need to be so hard after all…

The clip is from The Big Bang Theory. I’ve seen the first two and a half episodes, and so far I think it’s hilarious.

June 20, 2009 Posted by | Random stuff | Leave a comment

Why culture matters…

Jewkes and her colleagues interviewed a representative sample of 1,738 men in South Africa’s Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal provinces.

Of those surveyed, 28% said they had raped a woman or girl, and 3% said they had raped a man or boy. Almost half who said they had carried out a rape admitted they had done so more than once, with 73% saying they had carried out their first assault before the age of 20.

The study, which had British funding, also found that men who are physically violent towards women are twice as likely to be HIV-positive. They are also more likely to pay for sex and to not use condoms.

Any woman raped by a man over the age of 25 has a one in four chance of her attacker being HIV-positive.

Here’s the link, via MR.

Stuff like this is also one of the reasons why I’m not an anarchist. I’m not inviting to a long discussion here, I’m just saying that things like these certainly do not in my mind disprove that Hobbes had a point.

June 18, 2009 Posted by | Africa, culture | Leave a comment

If research papers had a comment section…

phd052709s

Link.

June 15, 2009 Posted by | education, fun | Leave a comment

Bombardér hovedkvarteret 1.5

Her kan du finde min første post relateret til Mikkel Plums bog, hvis du ikke allerede har læst den. I denne post følger herunder nogle flere citater fra bogen, som jeg allerede nu ikke har noget problem med at anbefale, selvom jeg indrømmet stadig mangler at læse halvandet hundrede sider:

i) For at arbejderne kan leve, må de dræbe kapitalisterne. For at arbejderklassen kan komme til magten, må den sende borgerskabet i døden. […] Der er for lidt had her i verden, og det bor i de forkerte hjerter. Der er for få våben her i verden, og de ligger i de forkerte hænder. Der er for lidt revolutionær bevidsthed her i verden, og den sidder i de forkerte hoveder.

Leif Varmark, Vindrosen #3, 1973. (gg. s.135 i B.h.)

ii) Baader-Meinhof-gruppen kan og skal naturligvis forsvares over for borgerlige, men en tilbundsgående diskussion indadtil af sabotageaktioner – af problematikken omkring legalitet-illegalitet er en forudsætning for, at den danske venstrefløj kan tage ved lære af f.eks. den tyske venstrefløjs erfaringer … De fleste af os er parate til at blæse en lang række virksomheder i luften, for vi har snakket så længe, men vi har åbenbart ikke snakket længe nok og godt nok. Det må være vores opgave at hjælpe til med at få arbejderne og arbejdernes kommende parti til at give startskuddet til åbning af fronten.

Vibeke Sperling, Politisk Revy, august 1972 (gg. s.236 i B.h.).

iii) Vi afviser, at den palæstinensiske befrielsesbevægelses flykapringer og aktioner i Israel er terrorisme. Det palæstinensiske folk står bag disse kampformer, og dette er for os det afgørende.

Anne Grete Holmsgaard, International Bulletin #14, 1978 (gg. s.263 i B.h.).

iv) Teorier om og forsøg på ad fredelig vej at gennemføre socialismen, har altid ført til nederlag for arbejderklassen. Arbejderklassen kan ikke tage den borgerlige statsmaskine i besiddelse og sætte den i bevægelse for sine egne formål. Tværtimod må arbejderklasssen sønderknuse det borgerlige statsapparat og erstatte det med arbejderklassens egen statsmagt, proletariatets diktatur. Arbejderklassen må forberede sig på væbnet kamp i opgøret med borgerskabet … Historien har med al tydelighed vist, at den herskende klasse aldrig frivilligt giver afkald på sin magt, men vil anvende statsmagten til at under trykke arbejderklassens kamp for socialismen.

Kommunistisk Arbejderparti (KAP)’s principprogram, 1976 (gg. s.266 i B.h.).

June 14, 2009 Posted by | bøger, citater, kommunisme | 10 Comments

Ezra Levant still going strong

It’s against the law in Canada to publish anything that is: “Likely to expose a person to hatred or contempt.” Steve, that’s crazy. Exposing a person to feelings is against the law? I mean – according to that definition, if you go to Yat Vashem, the Holocaust museum in Israel, and you leave with hateful feelings towards Germany, Yat Vashem the Holocaust memorial is guilty of a hate crime…

[…]

Freedom of speech is the strangest thing, Steve, it’s a gift you’ve got to give your enemies, if you want to keep it to yourself. […] It’s something we have to give to the folks we totally despise, people who are wrong and rude and offensive, because if they can’t have it, well then we won’t have our rigth to be dissidents.

From this 18 minute interview with Ezra Levant, who is still going strong (I was unable to embed the video, but I recommend it, especially to those of you who haven’t heard the name of Ezra Levant before). These two articles are great too – do follow the link in the latter to the Power Play episode – the whole setup is just hilarious.

June 13, 2009 Posted by | Canada, freedom of speech | Leave a comment

What I have been reading

i) Dickens. I have completed the book now, well a little while ago, but I never got to tell you people what I thought afterwards. That’s an easy task: Read the damn book! Nuff said.

ii) Catch-22, by Joseph Heller – I have finished that one since my last book update too. It was very good, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, even the parts I wasn’t supposed to be enjoying.

The book is very funny, but you should not read it (only) for the laughs. The sheer absurdity of almost everything that goes on in the book is a big part of what makes it so wonderful, but that absurdity applied just as well to the real world at that time, which is a point Heller gets across with great force. I’m still very impressed by the way the book changes direction about half way in or so, without ever really breaking the flow of the story: It gradually becomes more serious, more tragic, as Yossarian’s “friends” keep dying all around him, for no good reason, and people all around him keep trying to kill him too, for no good reason. The moronic XOs and COs, people like Major Major Major Major Major, and their various stupid ideas, even more absurd proposals, their own motivations for doing what they are doing – and their complete lack of understanding of their soldiers’ motivational setup – combined with the stupid bureaucratic setting that these people work in, makes for a lot of very funny pages – until you remember that not all of this is made up by Heller, and that some of those people were actually very real. It’s that way about a lot of what happens in the book; it’s funny, but you know deep down that you’re actually not really supposed to be laughing here. Heller seems to all the time be telling us between the lines that if you think the book is messed up, then you’re wrong; it’s not the book that’s messed up, it’s the real world that’s messed up.

iii) Franz Kafka: The Trial, translated by Breon Mitchell. I have completed the novel, even if I have still not yet read the last 20 pages of the “Fragments” section of the book (Kafka died before the novel was ever finished, and he wrote in his will that it was to be destroyed when he died. The Fragments part of the book consists of additions, unfinished chapters ect. that never made it into the novel proper).

It’s not a fun book to read. In a way, it is actually a horrible book to read. But you can’t lay it down. At least I couldn’t. It wasn’t anything like I’d expected, but then again, after having read it, I realized that I actually didn’t really know beforehand what to expect. It’s absurd like Heller, but not much fun to read. Just like Yossarian, Josef K. is caught in a catch-22, before that term had ever been coined. As the novel progressed, I couldn’t stop thinking about how I might have done things differently from Josef K., had I been in his situation; but the more pages you read, the more you realize that whatever you might have said or done differently, very little would have changed. The novel is so well written that the slow but still immensely brutal realization that there is no escape, no hidden loophole somewhere that you (or Josef K.) can find to bring a stop to the nonsensical trial, which incidentally pretty much nobody – including the people who are trying to get you convicted – seem to know anything about, is almost as hard on the reader as it is on Josef K. As you read on, you get to feel K’s despair, and I must say it really got to me. All the way through, you can’t stop looking for loopholes that just aren’t there and never were.

Heller was greatly inspired by Kafka’s authorship, and the impact of two other authors I have read recently, Fyodor Dostojevskij and Charles Dickens, are also easily recognisable in his novel. Catch-22 is, even if it has twice as many pages as the latter, easier to get through than The Trial, even if it is not exactly a walk in the park. If you’re not sure if you can handle Kafka, my advice would be to start out with Heller and then perhaps later move on from there. As Howard Jacobsen puts it in his introduction to Catch-22, Heller’s book is: Kafka popularized rigth enough, Kafka made available to those who would never go near Kafka, but by no means Kafka alleviated.

iv) Bombarder Hovedkvarteret, by Mikkel Plum.

I have in a recent post made it clear that I find the book very promising. I naturally still do.

June 11, 2009 Posted by | Books, History | Leave a comment

Update

I have moved, and I don’t have an internet connection at my new place yet. So I probably won’t update this blog for a while.

June 4, 2009 Posted by | blogging, Random stuff | Leave a comment