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Diary
By TheophileEscargot (Wed Jan 24, 2018 at 01:16:02 AM EST) Reading, MLP, Me (all tags)
Reading: "The City: London and the Global Power of Finance", "Blindsight". Me. Links.


What I'm Reading
The City: London and the Global Power of Finance by Tony Norfield. Book by a Marxist former City worker about how the city works. He has a fairly traditionally Marxist perspective, citing Marx, Lenin and some early 20th century Marxists like Rudolf Hilferding on the subject of finance. In this view the City appropriates surplus value from workers worldwide and distributes them to shareholders and its own workers. However in addition, Norfield describes the City as having its own hegemonic power, which serves "imperialist" interests in the UK as a whole. Developed nations have better access to capital, can borrow at lower interest rates, can threaten other nations with boycotts, are more secure and can exert power over weaker nations this way.

Norfield attacks several ideas which he sees as fallacies. First, that the City is simply an extension of US power: he regards it as having its own distinct interests and points out cases of the UK government acting against US wishes. While smaller less powerful than the US, it's still one of the larger financial powers of the world having inherited Imperial advantages.

The second fallacy is that the interests of financial sector can be separated from "productive" sector. He points out that manufacturing and other firms use the the City extensively to raise finance, to launch takeovers, to hedge against risk and process payments. In his view the City cannot really be reigned in without getting rid of capitalism itself.

Norfield is more convincing in the first than the second. He largely ignores the specific arguments usually made for the City acting against the interests of the wider economy. For instance, by taking risks and then relying on bailouts if they fail, the city extracts value as taxes from the non-financial sector: he doesn't try to calculate whether this outweighs the imperial power it provides.

Others regard the City as being a "resource curse" in the same way as oil discoveries can cripple a developing economy. A valuable resource raises the value of the currency, meaning that the rest of the economy's products and services become more expensive, crippling everything else.

Norfield sometimes seems to regard the UK governments careful pampering of the City as evidence of the City's value, when it could also be a part-ideological, part-cynical nexus of interests between politicians and financiers.

One of the best aspects of the book is the detailed economic history of UK finance. In particular I liked the analysis of Churchill's return to the Gold Standard as being in the conscious interests of the British Empire. While he's often regarded as just being too ignorant of economics to understand that it would hurt UK citizens, he may have regarded that as an acceptable price to defend the Empire. He cites Churchill's speech:

In our policy of returning to the gold standard we do not move alone. Indeed, I think we could not have afforded to remain stationary while so many others moved. The two greatest manufacturing countries in the world on either side of us, the United States and Germany, are in different ways either on or related to an international gold exchange. Sweden is on the gold exchange. Austria and Hungary are already based on gold, or on sterling, which is now the equivalent of gold. I have reason to know that Holland and the Dutch East Indies – very important factors in world finance – will act simultaneously with us today. As far as the British Empire is concerned – the self-governing Dominions – there will be complete unity of action. The Dominion of Canada is already on the gold standard. The Dominion of South Africa has given notice of her intention to revert to the old standard as from 1st July. I am authorised to inform the Committee that the Commonwealth of Australia, synchronising its action with ours, proposes from today to abolish the existing restrictions on the free export of gold, and that the Dominion of New Zealand will from today adopt the same course as ourselves in freely licensing the export of gold...

Thus over the wide area of the British Empire and over a very wide and important area of the world there, has been established at once one uniform standard of value to which all international transactions are related and can be referred. That standard may, of course, vary in itself from time to time, but the position of all the countries related to it will vary together, like ships in a harbour whose gangways are joined and who rise and fall together with the tide. I believe that the establishment of this great area of common arrangement will facilitate the revival of international trade and of inter-Imperial trade. Such a revival and such a foundation is important to all countries and to no country is it more important than to this island, whose population is larger than its agriculture or its industry can sustain, which is the centre of a wide Empire, and which, in spite of all its burdens, has still retained, if not the primacy, at any rate the central position, in the financial systems of the world.

Overall, quite interesting and a useful balance to the convenient assumptions that the city can be easily divorced from the rest of the economy, but has too many gaps to be really definititive.

What I'm Reading 2
Blindsight by Peter Watts. Hard science fiction novel about future humans making first contact with aliens. It asks you to suspect a lot of disbelief, but is very rewarding if you do. The science and ideas are top notch, and the book has a dark, tense atmosphere. The author is apparently a marine biologist and the aliens are some of the most satisfyingly alien and plausible I've ever read about.

Well worth reading, it seems to have become a bit of a classic. Be aware that it has a grimdark tone and isn't exactly bubbling with optimism.

Me
Been feeling a bit down and lacking in energy. Doesn't seem to be any particular reason for it, except maybe January blues.

Weight is still OK and I've been keeping up with the running though it takes up a lot of my very limited free time. Getting some personal bests again, seem to be over that plateau thanks to a bit of hill work: did a few short hilly runs in my lunchbreak at work. The guys at work are mad keen on running and vastly fitter than me. My personal best for 10km is a little under 57 minutes if I go flat out. Four of them went out for a little lunchtime jog the other day, and the slowest of them did 10km in 52 minutes.

Kid had to go the dentist. Feel so sorry for him: he has a problem where his tooth enamel is thin or missing, so he's prone to need fillings even though he's really good about brushing and barely eats sweet things. So he's really good but he has the same tooth problems as a brat who shoves candy in his face all day and never brushes: it's so unfair for him. I feel sad and guilty for him: feel I'm not able to give him the kind of childhood I had.

Links
Socioeconomics. Telling interests and ideas apart. Do Politicians Serve the One Percent? "In 2009 center-right parties maximized the happiness of the 100th-98th richest percentile and center-left parties the 100th-95th richest percentile."

Video. 1896 snowball fight. Bruce Lee with lightsaber.

Politics. "Although Michael Wolff’s book appears to have done little to hasten the end of the Trump era, it has at least killed the myth of Secret Genius Trump"

Sci/Tech. What it feels like to be an open-source maintainer. Why Modern Computers Struggle to Match the Input Latency of an Apple IIe. Building for just one browser. Is the future made of wood?

Pics. Picard wig. Coventry Evening Telegraph building. Rhetological fallacies.

Articles. China's fake European cities succeed by getting more Chinese. Davos: You will find me eager to help you, but slow to take any step. The ex-dominatrix teaching women to demand respect. The Man Who Made Black Panther Cool.

Random. Strange historical sports bets: The Barclay Challenge. "Baby Got Back" translated into Latin. 1920s wrist-mounted navigation.

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Magnae clunes mihi placent, nec possum de hac re mentiri | 24 comments (24 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
So Churchill wanted a common currency... by Metatone (4.00 / 1) #1 Wed Jan 24, 2018 at 04:41:49 AM EST
for the Empire? Interesting angle...

The Sterling Area by TheophileEscargot (4.00 / 1) #4 Wed Jan 24, 2018 at 01:47:15 PM EST
Lasted from roughly the Thirties to the Seventies. Norfield reckons it was a reasonable advantage for the UK. I think financiers tend to overestimate the advantages of single currencies though.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sterling_area
--
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
Latency by ucblockhead (4.00 / 1) #2 Wed Jan 24, 2018 at 12:20:58 PM EST
The question is: what are you doing?  The difference between 30 msecs latency and 300 msecs latency is mostly meaningless when editing text and of utmost importance in a first person shooter.
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
Even with typing by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #3 Wed Jan 24, 2018 at 01:42:17 PM EST
A reasonably fast typist easily types 3 characters per second, so 300ms latency means you can't see what you're typing in real time. But in lots of apps latency seems to end up a few seconds, I often have to stop typing and wait for the words to appear, which is annoying.
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It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
Not necessarily true by ucblockhead (4.00 / 4) #7 Wed Jan 24, 2018 at 09:20:55 PM EST
When you type, you aren't waiting for each character to appear before typing the next.  You are sending a stream out your fingers and seeing a stream appear in front of your eyes.  These streams are more out of sync than you realize as the latency of the human nervous system is itself pretty terrible.  If you are typing quickly, you will generally take multiple keypresses before you notice that one in the sequence was incorrect.
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
Your point is fine but those numbers by dark nowhere (4.00 / 1) #5 Wed Jan 24, 2018 at 05:43:07 PM EST
Doesn't keypress auto-repeat delay default to 250ms? I remember I used to bump it down. Long-press on my phone is only comfortable in the 150-200ms range. So 300ms is too high for my thumbs. On a real keyboard, I think I'd see benefit below 60ms, not sure how far below it matters.

30ms latency is at least 2 frames at 60fps. That's not too terrible (though you'd notice, and hate it) but since games process input by the next frame, it means you're running at 20-30fps depending on how you slice it. 20fps isn't cinematics, it's a slide-show, and 30fps is unacceptable for an FPS, even at 4k resolution.

See you, space cowboy.

[ Parent ]
Keep in mind by ucblockhead (4.00 / 2) #6 Wed Jan 24, 2018 at 09:14:03 PM EST
Anything online has additional latency that exceeds a 16 msecs, so you are already multiple frames behind.  But anyway, yes, you want to minimize latency on your local hardware.

But given that most console games ran at 30 fps or worse prior to this generation, I don't think you can say "30fps is unacceptable for an FPS".  Halo argues otherwise.

What I've seen is that a smooth 30 fps beats 40 fps where you have lots of random frame drops.

Auto-repeat delay isn't really relevant. You will only have a problem if your latency is highly variable.  In any case, I believe in PCs, auto-repeat is at the hardware level, so all the software mucking about that causes the problems the article describes are not an issue.
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman

[ Parent ]
Input latency by dark nowhere (4.00 / 1) #8 Thu Jan 25, 2018 at 12:29:21 AM EST
is usually measured locally, which is where the my 30fps comes from (as opposed to the 20ms.)

FPS on console "prior to this generation" has been hugely damned. And I don't know if you noticed the shitstorm that rolled in when people started supporting 4K at lower fps, but I have news for you: it's not okay. People are, by and large, not okay with it.

Halo's a great exception, but it's an insane example: the aiming correction is so extreme you're better off with a controller than a mouse, this is the experience of a PC gamer. Anyway: I played Halo at 60fps.

40fps with lumps in it is going to dip below the slide-show threshold, so duh?

Acceptable values for auto-repeat delay makes for empirical data on acceptable keyboard input latency. Too low and you'll trigger it sometimes while making a normal keypress. Too high and you'll be impatient waiting for it to kick in. Guess what? Standard delay values puts 300ms input latency in the "patently unacceptable" category, even for typing. So yeah, I guess that's "irrelevant" since it wasn't pulled out of your ass.

I mean shit, I was okay with made up numbers, I just like to obsess over the details. You wanna defend those precise numbers and throw out the actual evidence in the process, you have problems.

See you, space cowboy.

[ Parent ]
Autorepeat by ucblockhead (2.00 / 0) #10 Thu Jan 25, 2018 at 02:03:20 PM EST
I don't believe the auto-repeat delay shows what you say it shows.  But I'm not interested in being told I'm pulling stuff out of my ass, so I'm out. 
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[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
Are you mad about the phrasing? by dark nowhere (2.00 / 0) #11 Thu Jan 25, 2018 at 09:06:18 PM EST
That's just my way of saying your asserted, undefended figures are "irrelevant" without an argument.

See you, space cowboy.

[ Parent ]
Latency by Herring (4.00 / 5) #9 Thu Jan 25, 2018 at 12:34:53 PM EST
If you've ever played a church organ, then it's the oddest thing compared to a piano. You press the key and a valve opens on some pipe round the back of the instrument, the sound bounces around the church and you hear it quite a bit later. The only way to play is to keep mashing at it and hope for the best.

You can't inspire people with facts
- Small Gods

[ Parent ]
Feedback by anonimouse (4.00 / 1) #12 Fri Jan 26, 2018 at 05:58:51 AM EST
 Is it helpful to wear earplugs or headphones so you're not influenced so much by the delayed tune?

Girls come and go but a mortgage is for 25 years -- JtL
[ Parent ]
It might do by Herring (4.00 / 1) #16 Mon Jan 29, 2018 at 04:32:21 PM EST
But the delay varies. Some pipes will be quite close to you, others not.

I've only played one a couple of times. It's always one of those things where you think you can get one to it and bash out a mighty noise and sound cool. There's a lot more to it though. I'd like to learn properly but there's the time factor and the whole going to church bit.

You can't inspire people with facts
- Small Gods

[ Parent ]
I hear you can make some decent cash by lm (2.00 / 0) #23 Sat Feb 03, 2018 at 04:46:43 PM EST
At least stateside. There are a declining number of people that can play a pipe organ well.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
I can't play anything well by Herring (4.00 / 1) #24 Sat Feb 03, 2018 at 05:10:21 PM EST
I can play lots of instruments to varying levels of "bad".

You can't inspire people with facts
- Small Gods

[ Parent ]
Its always struck me as very interesting by gmd (4.00 / 1) #13 Sun Jan 28, 2018 at 06:51:26 AM EST
 that the city of London allows businesses to vote, giving them majority control of the council, and the the Queen is banned from entering without the Mayor’s permission. The City is anomalous in many ways. On a more personal level it is one of a few places that have a very unsettling “vibe”. Similar to Tintern. A feeling of very old (and not benign) power/magic. I can sense when I have crossed inti the city from outside it’s a little disquieting.

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gmd - HuSi's second most dimwitted overprivileged user.
s/Tintern/Tintagel by gmd (2.00 / 0) #14 Sun Jan 28, 2018 at 06:53:21 AM EST
 

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gmd - HuSi's second most dimwitted overprivileged user.
[ Parent ]
It's bad vibes by jump the ladder (4.00 / 1) #15 Mon Jan 29, 2018 at 12:07:05 PM EST
From all the dirty money flooding the place, not "old magic"

[ Parent ]
It has a noticably different vibe compared to by gmd (4.00 / 1) #17 Tue Jan 30, 2018 at 03:24:18 AM EST
 Canary Wharf, which also has a bad vibe. Canary Wharf’s vibe is pure greed and power, with a large helping of paranoia, whereas the City of London’s vibe seems more complicated, and perhaps more sinister. It has that quality of making me want to look over my shoulder, there’s a sense of being watched by malevolent entitie(s).
Or I could be mentally ill I guess.

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gmd - HuSi's second most dimwitted overprivileged user.
[ Parent ]
Naw by Merekat (2.00 / 0) #18 Tue Jan 30, 2018 at 06:29:24 AM EST
It’s just the cctv.

[ Parent ]
The CCTV is everywhere by gmd (2.00 / 0) #19 Tue Jan 30, 2018 at 07:48:10 AM EST
Not just in the City of London. To clarify I am specifically talking about the “square mile”. The intensity of the bad vibes seems to coincide with proximity to certain buildings. The inns of court is one good example as is St Dunstan’s in the East and the area to the east of St Paul’s Cathedral. It would be interesting to know if any othe husi readers have noticed these wierd vibes...


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gmd - HuSi's second most dimwitted overprivileged user.
[ Parent ]
Ah by Merekat (4.00 / 1) #20 Tue Jan 30, 2018 at 12:18:31 PM EST
Ghost of bitcoin future.

[ Parent ]
When I heard about Excitonium by wumpus (4.00 / 1) #21 Tue Jan 30, 2018 at 08:03:42 PM EST
(which is partially made up of the missing parts of potential electrons), I thought of the hog belly futures' storage in Ankh-Moorpork.

Wumpus

https://physics.illinois.edu/news/article/24114
Such things are closer to reality than you might think.

[ Parent ]
I haven't felt it by Scrymarch (4.00 / 2) #22 Wed Jan 31, 2018 at 08:50:20 AM EST
But I approve of this new psychogeographic gmd.

As a mark of my sincerity, I come bearing cartoons.

https://www.theransomnote.com/musings/psychogeography/psychogeography-9-hawksmoor/

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/B6cbVOICEAEBJv6.jpg

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DKaOwC8VwAAq3cV.jpg

Iambic Web Certified

[ Parent ]
Magnae clunes mihi placent, nec possum de hac re mentiri | 24 comments (24 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback