i. Population pyramids. Pretty neat. A few examples below. First, the world population pyramid, 2010:

Here’s how it looked like in 1950:

Here’s the population pyramid for Western Africa, 1950:

And here’s how it looks today:

No, I didn’t copy the same image twice. When you’re at the site and click from one version to the other you can spot the difference, but it’s not easy if you’re just comparing the images even if you look carefully. Try to compare that ‘development’ with what happened in Western Europe. First 1950:

Notice the ‘hole’ in the middle? It looks really strange. I wonder what happened 30-35 years before 1950 that might have impacted birth rates so significantly… Here’s how the pyramid looked like in 2010:

The site has more.

ii. The case for personal responsibility?

iii. Vihart has a new cute doodling in math class video up:

iv. I want to play this game at some point (while in the presence of at least one female. Otherwise it’d probably just be weird). Any ideas on how best to implement elo-difference-related handicaps here?

v. I linked to the Vice Guide to North Korea a long time ago. By accident I came across the site again recently, and I liked this video:

vi. The short version of why I may not ‘work blog’ the paper I’m reading right now:

I may decide to blog it anyway and just talk my way around the math, I haven’t decided yet. Much of the stuff the paper covers is also covered to some extent in the paper I linked to earlier today, so that’s certainly a better place to start for people with a time constraint who are curious to know more about these things.

Incidentally while reading the second paper a hidden assumption that had crept into my first work blog post became apparent to me for some reason. I wrote that the article I covered was “an overview article that can be read by pretty much anyone who understands English”. This is not true and I should have known better. I measured the Gunning fog index of my own post about the article and that came out at about 15,2 or so (‘the index estimates the years of formal education needed to understand the text on a first reading’). Surely the article itself has a lower readability level than my blog post about it.

I know that most of you know this, but maybe it’s worth rehashing even so: I’m not a journalist, and I will generally neither think about nor care about how ‘readable’ my stuff, or the stuff I link to, is. That’s not to say I do not try hard to be very precise when it comes to terminology and choice of words and so on.

vii. This is an awesome video:

The future is now.


September 5, 2012 - Posted by | blogging, Demographics, Economics, Mathematics, Random stuff


  1. Except the obvious idea of starting with fewer pieces?

    You can also have a move limit, meaning that they can turtle up and you have to beat them in a certain number of moves. Perhaps just losing pieces every set number of moves.

    Another idea is to let them buy an expert move (using a strong chess AI) for a price, or just have a set number of such moves from the beginning.

    Comment by Emil | September 9, 2012 | Reply

    • Good ideas. There’s also the standard ‘change the time control’-solution, if the game has a time control. Though I was thinking more along the lines of very specific solutions: How should a 400 elo rating difference be handled, for example? A 600 rating difference? Do we take Kaufman’s estimates as the baseline, or just the ‘standard 1-3-3-5-9’ material values? The latter approach is unlikely to work. The material value estimates from Kaufman’s analysis emphasize how dynamic the value of a pawn or a piece is likely to be over the course of a game, making handicaps only based on starting differences of material unlikely to be ‘fair’. And rules can get very complicated if one tries to deal with the accuracy issues, because different pawns have different values (h- and a-pawns are worth less, centerpawns are worth more) and the value of the material depends on the time control, among other things. How to correct for the fact that the better player may know much more about which type of positions the specific material handicap is least likely to cause problems in?

      Oh, well. The best way to figure out the optimal handicaps would probably be to just try out different approaches and see what ‘works’.

      Comment by US | September 9, 2012 | Reply

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