Sunday, March 31, 2013

Sunday: Easter

Which means:
And turning this:

Into this:
Gravity defying angle.
I went with a less complicated Easter dinner this year, with just a simple lamb stew.  It did take four hours to cook, so "less complicated" is more just that I didn't have to schedule things in any significant manner.  I had thought about doing something with potatoes, but couldn't decide if I wanted to chop them and add them to the stew, mash them for a pie style, or something else (my one thought was to pan fry them crispy, and use that as a topping).  In the end, I decided to just skip the potatoes for today.

Don't predict the future. You'll just look silly.

I saw this on twitter: Paul Krugman predicts the future from the distant past of 1997.  The tweet kind of had the feeling of "what a dumbass for under-predicting the success of the internet."  However, Paul Krugman isn't really who I would go to for tech predictions.  That's not really his job.  Besides, not predicting the internet is kind of a running theme.

So let's go through the predictions:

  • Productivity will drop sharply this year. Nineteen ninety-seven, which was a very good year for worker productivity, has led many pundits to conclude that the great technology-led boom has begun. They are wrong. Last year will prove to have been a blip, just like 1992.
Fred doesn't seem to have a "productivity" dataset.  Instead I used GDP vs. potential GDP:
Ok, not a great start.  1997 was good, but 1998 and 1999 were better.  However, 2000 shows a turnover, and then started significantly underperforming the potential GDP in 2001.  Not quite a blip, but not a missed boom either.

  • Inflation will be back. Wages are rising at almost 5 percent annually, and the underlying growth of productivity is probably only 1.5 percent or less. Sooner or later, companies will have to start raising prices. In 1999 inflation will probably be more than 3 percent; with only moderate bad luck--say, a drop in the dollar--it could easily top 4 percent. Sell bonds!

Fred does have inflation:

Inflation in 1999 was 2%.  Again, not a clear cut miss.  Inflation a year later? 3%. Average over the following decade? About 3%.  That's not too bad.

  • Within two or three years, the current mood of American triumphalism--our belief that we have pulled economically and technologically ahead of the rest of the world--will evaporate. All it will take is a few technological setbacks or a mild recession here while Europe or Japan recovers a bit.

Well, within two or three years, terrorism jumped up to the top of the concern pile, and then we dicked around in poorly planned wars while other countries developed infrastructure.  Europe has its own problems now, and Japan never did really recover.  I'd buy this one.

  • The growth of the Internet will slow drastically, as the flaw in "Metcalfe's law"--which states that the number of potential connections in a network is proportional to the square of the number of participants--becomes apparent: most people have nothing to say to each other! By 2005 or so, it will become clear that the Internet's impact on the economy has been no greater than the fax machine's.

The internet prediction.  A definite miss.

  • As the rate of technological change in computing slows, the number of jobs for IT specialists will decelerate, then actually turn down; ten years from now, the phrase information economy will sound silly.

"Ten years from now" sets the prediction point at 2007, just before the economy crapped itself.  Still, it looks like the values at 1997 and 2007 are basically the same.  This might be debatable if you just had those points, but that spike in the middle, the fallback, and then the flattening seems to match the prediction.

  • Sometime in the next 20 years, maybe sooner, there will be another '70s-style raw-material crunch: a disruption of oil supplies, a sharp run-up in agricultural prices, or both. And suddenly people will remember that we are still living in the material world and that natural resources matter.

Rare earth metals.  That ignores the perpetual oil/environment struggle.

  • Implicit prediction that all webpages will always look great with a fixed width set at 600 pixels?


Saturday, March 30, 2013

Saturday: I hate this commercial

I've noticed before that a lot of national companies have Hawaii specific versions of their commercials.  This seemed odd when I first moved here, but now I've discovered that this is a far better strategy than the opposite.  As an example, this stupid commercial has been playing constantly on every channel I watch.  It's for "Hawaii Jobs on Demand" that is part of some larger national job search company.

The important thing from this first shot is the tree in the background.  There are no leaves on that tree.  This doesn't happen in Hawaii.

Plus, she's wearing gloves and is bundled up for the apparent fall weather.  That also doesn't happen in Hawaii.  I'm also pretty sure that lawns that big aren't very common in Hawaii either.

  • This rant from North Korea is funnier if you read each mention of "puppets" as "muppets."  "the puppet warmongers", "puppet army's bases", etc.
  • It's a good thing that Republicans believe in small government and things like that.
  • The new pope.  I had to make this after reading that story.
  • This is funny when you know two important facts.  1) Deadpool is an (hilariously) annoying jerk all the time.  2) He has regeneration abilities like Wolverine, so he's basically immortal.

Friday: The best fridays are the fridays without work

And today was one of them.  First up, tasty burger from the Counter.  I've been there before, but I've been doing sushi on my trips to Kahala recently, so since today wasn't a saturday, I figured I'd change things up a bit.  Plus, I wanted something spicy, but like chicken wing type spicy, and they have that as an optional sauce for the burgers:
Mixed greens, sauteed onions and mushrooms, bacon, cheddar, on a whole wheat bun. With hot sauce.
I also discovered that they do sell a small size cheese fries, which is good, because I can never finish the big size.

Also, my burger was made of bison.
I then came home, burned through more DVR stuff, and discovered this episode of pokemon where the gang has to all dress up like girls to get into a gym run by other girls, but who only let girls into the gym.  Plus, those girls were jerks earlier, so Team Twerp had to go beat them up and push them into the mud.  Not kidding.  That's what they did.  Don't fuck with Team Twerp.  However, since everyone had to be a girl, they did this:

Yes, they added a cutout to Pikachu's tail so he'd look like a girl Pikachu.  Pansage got a ribbon (because boys can't wear ribbons, duh), and Snivy got nothing, because Ash's Snivy is already a girl.

So, an exciting day for me.  I also went all over town trying to find ground lamb, only to find it at WF.  Unfortunately, they only had a single half pound package.  That's all they had.  Given that I'd already checked three other grocery stores, I resigned myself to having to mix meats, and bought an accompanying half pound of ground beef.

  • My understanding is that zerohedge is kind of on the borderline of "fucking loons."  As an example, this post.  If I'm running a business, and need to have more than 15% of my money totally liquid, I'm probably very bad at running my business.  Why have that much cash on hand?  Do you not have income that covers your standard expenses?  Why do you not have that money invested in something more robust than a bank in Cyprus?  You understand how bank deposit insurance works, right?  Can't you distribute your cash into more than one account?  Oh, wait, you're going to switch everything over to bitcoins.  Yes, you are bad at running your business, and are a moron.
  • Now I want a corn dog.
  • Number 25.
  • Jiggly-PUFF!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Thursday: So that was a serious problem

But I think it's fixed now, or at least in any case, I think there's a workable solution to make it work better.  I think my solution also explains why it preferentially impacted one filter over the others.  I think this also explains the non-commutativity I saw yesterday: instead of taking the average or median of the valid values, we just take the first from the list.  Therefore, if the first entry is bad for some reason, we introduce an order dependence.

Look! A puppy!

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Wednesday: nondeterministic

I hate when things are like that.  More specifically, when things that should be commutative are not.  A + B + C should always equal C + B + A.  If that's not true, then I end up spending an entire Thursday figuring out why.

Guess what I'm doing tomorrow?

Another wonderful episode showing why Ice King is a great tragic hero.  Plus: Soupery.  I wish they had those here.

At least today's hearing seemed like it's more likely to lead to a reasonable decision.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Tuesday: wait, did I just skip a day of work?

Nope! Prince Kuhio Day! Kind of an unfortunate reason for a day off, but it's always good to have time off.

My day large went like this:

Then I went to get sushi.

Yes, I got double ahi.
  • Tony Scalia continues to be made entirely of shit.
  • Bach isn't even that high on my list of composers, but 14 hours for a dollar is a pretty good deal.
  • It's actually far easier to do this in debian.  I had to do the apt-get thing, and then I think I had to enable the module in apache.  Add a user, import the xml file from google takeout, and I was done.  I'm still using GR for now, but that's mostly just an inertia thing.
  • Come up with your own list of what's wrong in this kitchen.  Here's mine:
    • That oven in inconveniently placed, so you can't put things in it directly.
    • Do you really need a potato tippy thing?
    • I always want to place things on a shelf above my sink.  Again, why are the faucets on that side?
    • A silverware tippy thing?
    • Plates stored on the cabinet doors?
    • All of those panels can't hold things, right?  How do you know which are real and which are fake?
    • Cutting board and baking sheet storage.  In two places?

Monday, March 25, 2013

Monday: There was going to be math here

Unfortunately, I'm not sure that the intended math was actually the problem with things, so I'm going to skip that for now.  I now have some concern that the eta parameter I've been assuming is defined only on [0:1] probably isn't actually bounded on the large side.  The approximation I'm using needs to be, as the expansion around zero needs higher order terms, and I don't feel like deriving them.

In any case, I don't think that actually solves the main issue I'm seeing, which I think is a generic failure of the model to match observations as eta->infinity.

On top of all that math crap, I apparently can no longer grill a cheese.  My last two attempts have had side A ending up burnt, despite me doing things exactly the same as I've always done.  Maybe my stove has recalibrated itself hot?

Ok, I'm writing this post, and I just saw that MSNBC is having a story about a fucking groundhog not predicting the weather correctly.  An animal.  Didn't predict the weather correctly.  You can take a moment if you want.

Then, just to make my brain try to burn down everything, they posted this graphic:
Thanks for making the video available online.
Ok, so 39% over 127 years, and this was claimed as support for an animal not being "that bad" at predicting weather.  That works out to 44 successes in 127 trials, which just happens to be why I have a script named "" that calculates the Bayesian PDF for a given coin.  This is conveniently just the binomial theorem, such that:
PDF(H) = (n!/(h! (n-h)!)) H^h (1-H)^(n-h)
Plotted up for this case.
The assumption would be that an even coin is distributed around 0.5.  As you increase the number of trials, the width of the distribution shrinks.  In any case, I'm not entirely sure that you'd use this distribution to claim that a groundhog is better than randomly flipping a coin.

"Why don't we teach math better?"

  • I haven't actually read through this too much.  My quick understanding is "better than previous plans," but "still pretty bad."  One odd thing I heard on the radio was that the bank holiday is going to extend until Thursday, as there's concern that if they opened on Tuesday, there'd still be a run on them.  If I'm going to panic withdraw all my money on Tuesday, I'm going to be more panicky withdrawing it on Thursday.
  • I wonder if The Bloggess has heard of this.  It's in NYC, though.  Also: "Please do not bring any dead animals with you to the class."
  • Squirrel!
  • Imagine how weird it would be if modern sports bars required this level of attire.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sunday: Burger Sunday

Similar to Sushi Saturday, but not quite.  I also skipped Sushi Saturday this week, as I think I'm going to do a Sushi Tuesday, or Sushi Kuhio Day, whichever is the preferred syntax.

My phone upgraded last night, and now my images have different name syntax.  This was unexpected.
"Rar! I'm totally biting you, water! You're all bitten!"

  • I think it's pretty clear that asteroid searches aren't really a government priority, given that a certain very cheap and effective project could easily be duplicated multiple times for a very small fraction of just about any part of the federal budget.
  • Cookie squirrel.
  • Yes.
  • Neil deGrasse Tyson of New 52 Earth Prime has far better telescopes than our universe's.
  • I've been catching up on things on my DVR, and spent a chunk of today batch-watching new TMNT. Pizza gyoza is the point of this item.  Brilliant idea.
  • I like the font, but I think the circular key caps would be hard to use.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Friday, March 22, 2013

Friday: so sleepy

Conferences are always hard.  Waking up early, sitting in uncomfortable chairs,

Even if they do kind of look like quagsire
eating tasty food,
I only remembered to take a picture at dessert.  I also just discovered that this is the only post I have on the blog about the last conference dinner.
and generally being all about science all day, hoping that people like all the stuff you've been working on for the past six months.

Um...I guess so?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Thursday: billion percent humidity

Technically it's only 92%, but still, that's enough to make things horribly uncomfortable.

Angry otter is annoyed with you, The Weather.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Oh, here's an interesting idea:

Let's say I'm a casually amoral multinational finance corporation.  The number I've been hearing for the Cyprus bailout is something like $13e9.  That's like 10% of what Apple (which is not actually a financial corporation, but still) has in cash, on hand, so that's not an excessively large amount of money.

So I'm casually amoral, and have lots of money that could be used to fix the Cyprus debt crisis.  Why would I do that?  Well, maybe you take out a pile of put options on the Euro.  The idea being that you promise people that you'll sell them Euros at today's price sometime in the future.  When that time comes around, you buy Euros on the open market, and fulfill your options.  This is what "shorting" something is.

Now, you have a pile of put options on the Euro, so you need to do something to ensure that the Euro price tomorrow is lower than it is today.  I'm not an expert, but I'm pretty sure that stepping in "out of the goodness of your heart" to help the people of Cyprus where the European Central Bank and Eurozone partners have been unable or unwilling to do so would throw a series amount of uncertainty at the ability of the ECB to solve future crises.

Basically, you crash the Euro by suggesting to people in a dramatic and obvious way that they're unable to solve problems on their own, and use that crash to make more than your initial investment in the bailout.  Plus, you probably have some leverage to get repaid by Cyprus, although since you've decimated their currency, that's unlikely to get you much.

Wednesday: Apparently yesterday's post was disappointing

  • Something like this happened to me in 7th grade.  It turns out ignoring your English class because he's teaching something you already know by reading a book is somewhat frowned upon.  Actively not paying attention is somehow worse than passively ignoring, even if you're trying to be productive.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Tuesday: I'm tired, and don't have anything

Except angry bear cub:

Monday, March 18, 2013

The continuing saga of youtube videos too cool to not post immediately

"Secret Society Pizza Delivery Man Prank"

"Rafael Nadal and Ben Stiller play vs Juan Martin del Potro and a little girl"

(Hint: put your money on "little girl" to kick ass)

Monday: "What the fuck is a samoflange?"

I hate waking up early, and those chairs are seriously uncomfortable.  I've spent all evening attempting to find someway to sit so that my back doesn't freak out.  On a slightly better note, I was able to include these two images in slides, with the following slide titles:
"Stacking Questions?"
I was concerned no one got the joke, but it turns out that at least one person did.  That was really all I was hoping for: someone to get the joke I've just told with squirrels.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sunday: I am really not looking forward to tomorrow

Waking up early, giving a presentation for two hours, sitting in uncomfortable chairs all day.  At least I think my talk is done.  It's not perfect, as I couldn't get one result to work nicely, so I'm going to have to claim, "crap, this crap is crappy, and doesn't work right."  Not what I was hoping for.

Today was burrito day.  It turns out that the place that was once BC Burrito (as seen here, and here, and complained about here) is now Verde Kaimuki.  They still have dumb hours (who closes at 3?), but they're not closed any more, so that's good.
 They still have chips and queso.
 They still have a too-big-to-eat burrito.  This one wasn't bad, but the pico de gallo made half the burrito cold.  The rest was nicely mixed, but that cold side was a mistake.

My understanding is that they closed, the manager bought out the location from the owner, and now it's the same restaurant, but with a new owner, and therefore a new name?  At least it's still there, so I can get burritos (even if they aren't the best ever).

  • This is not going to end well.  Taking a cut from shareholders is generally accepted as fine, as they invested their money and understood the risk.  Taking a cut from depositors is going to end in riots.  Especially when you're taking money from people who believed that those deposits were insured by the (EU version of the) FDIC.  I know it's basically a scam to take money from the Russians, but if you're going to run a scam, why not just do so?  Confiscate all foreign investments, know you're not going to be a financial powerhouse in the future, and use that money to fix things.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Saturday: Late sushi is a bad idea

I think this means that the prime sushi time is about 4:00.  That usually has no wait, and they're ramping up for the dinner rush, so they have more things on the belt.  Tonight I arrive around 7, and had to wait far longer than I wanted to.
It turns out Christmas Kitty wasn't a one time thing.


Friday, March 15, 2013

Friday: And that's when I realized I was asking myself to solve the Navier-Stokes equation in a rotating cylinder

Which is a substantially harder problem than I wanted to deal with on a Friday night.

My original "solve this for fun" problem was going to be to compute the results of this Japanese show rolling different tires down a ski jump, but the youtube video I was going to use was taken down.  I guess I'll have to work with this lower quality version tomorrow.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Thursday: Everyone does puns today

And I bought this today:
See, I like math, and I like puns, but I just don't have the love for this one that everyone else seems to have.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Basically what my thoughts are:

(I wonder how long this will stay up.  I thought I heard that the production company was shutting down these parodies.  I heard it on google reader.)

Wednesday: I'll make my own cloud services! With blackjack! And hookers!

In case you don't get the reference.
In the constant strategy of "fucking with shit that works," google announced today that they're shutting down google reader, which I use every day.  All day.  It is the sieve that brings me the entire internet each day, allowing me to read more than I would ever be able to do without it.

Since people who actually write news stories (and also like to have the entire internet brought to them each day) are complaining about this, I have some hope that it's a decision that google will reverse.  It can't be difficult for them to maintain, and quiet neglect seems to have worked well for most users.

Unfortunately, I'm not so naive as to trust them to do the right thing on this, and I know that I wouldn't be happy to live in a world where information needs to be hunted down each day across the wild savannas of a thousand webpages, knowing that there once existed a way to get everything delivered.  I looked at a number of other options, but they seemed to all have one of the following problems:

  1. Tied to one device.  I read nightly on my laptop, and periodically on my phone.  Sushi Saturdays wouldn't work if I didn't have things to read on my phone instead of interacting with other people.
  2. Formatted in a stupid way.  Apparently, a lot of RSS readers think I want some sort of newspaper style mosaic of random stories.  No. That's dumb. I want to be able to hit 'n', and skip to the next thing immediately.  I don't need to see it before it's active, but I want to be able to scroll through things in a single dimension.
  3. Isn't tied into the browser.  I'm reading stories from the web.  I don't want to have another thing open all the time that duplicates browser functionality, and I don't want to have to use external connections to open links into a new browser tab.
  4. Requires me to hand my feed information to a company.  I (used to) largely trust google with things.  I'm less happy providing this same information to some random company.  I would prefer they not know exactly how many cute animal feeds I follow to come up with all these bear perspective images.
This led me to thinking about how easy a homebrew google reader style application would be.  You need a task to poll the feeds, store the information in a database, and then serve that information up on a webpage.  The polling/data handling side is largely trivial, but I do giant data processing/data mining tasks every day.  It's the UI side of things that's complicated.  It would also require android development to handle reading on my phone.

And then I discovered that someone had already done that work for me.

TT-RSS has a package in Debian, requires a webserver with attached mysql server, and it turns out I already have one of those for my mythtv DVR.  I did a quick install, futzed with the configuration until it worked, and added a test feed to see that it works correctly.  It does, and has a clunkier UI than reader, but solves all the problems listed above.  Yes, all of them: there's an android reader already in the store.

I'm still hoping for google to come to their senses, but at least now I know that I have a backup route.  This is somewhat of an extension of a number of other things I run off of my home computers (CVS, phone autosync program to backup USB drives, DVR with media streaming, etc.), in that it allows me to have my own cloud service solution that I know will work without needing to worry about a capricious external corporation.  This is why we have open source.

  • This misunderstands the point of food.
  • Groucho Marx.  It's a fun story, take five minutes to read it.
  • Paper stars. It's a sad story, but take a minute to go read it.
  • Yes, Brad DeLong is probably right here, but we should also note that Spain and Italy never had to deal with decades of US economic sanctions.
  • So new pope.  I heard he was a Jesuit, and that kind of gave me hope, as they're generally less batshit crazy.  Of course, then his actual views came out, and that kind of crushed that idea.  Then there's this, which kind of is a face-palm-y kind of thing.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Tuesday: I suspect it will never be easy to see this comet from Hawaii


Baby squirrel.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Monday: The answer was no

Somewhere in that picture is the comet, but it's either hidden behind the buildings in the center or the clouds in the gap to the left of center.  It turns out that I don't own a compass, so I had to make due with the google sky app on my phone.  It is not terribly reliable at consistently telling you where a direction is.

Here's a completely unrelated video about gun control: