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By TheophileEscargot (Sat Oct 18, 2008 at 07:21:10 AM EST) Reading, MLP (all tags)
Reading: "Backroom Boys: The Secret Return of the British Boffin". Web.

What I'm Reading
Backroom Boys: The Secret Return of the British Boffin by Francis Spufford. Surprisingly good book, composed of several long essays covering post-war British boffinry. Covers familiar territory but in intriguing detail: Black Arrow and the Prospero satellite; Concorde; Elite, the Wellcome Trust's rescue of the Human Genome Project from the intellectual monopolists; Racal/Vodafone's initial radio-mapping of cellphone cells; and the ill-fated Beagle 2.

It's written at a popular level and needs no special knowledge, but Spufford has an uncanny knack for conveying the romance of engineering in an entertaining way. But he's also good on the business side, explaining the financial wizardry behind keeping Concorde going for decades.

It's a slightly sad story despite his optimism, as the valiant boffins struggle against inadequate resources and official indifference, but nevertheless they seem to be down but not out.

Well worth reading if you're British and have any interest in engineering or technology.

Not coming soon after all
Was going to do a bit on what to do about the financial system after the credit crunch subsides. One theme was going to be the need not to overreact and go too far in restricting things. However, the *ankers are already filling the business pages and blogs with "wah wah wah we want more billions wah wah wah we want to pay dividends wah wah wah if you're not nicer to us we'll all fuck off to America wah wah wah the Americans just give out as many billions as we ask for with no strings attached wah wah wah". So it doesn't look like that will be a problem after all.

Videos. 1950 How to ride a London bus (BB). What's he building in there? Final countdown on kazzookulele. James Earl Jones recites alphabet. Richard Pryor at the Star Wars bar.

Essays. Confessions of a term paper writer. Assessed (MeFi). Worst case for US conservatives.

Word of the day: Xanthachroid.

Misc. Man eats burger. The long-awaited terrorist/paedophile link (K5 suggests false positives from "stegdetect").

Economics, Forget about small businesses. Tough economies mean older, chubbier Playboy models? Naked Capitalism: Innocent fraud?

Their once attractive valuations depend on the ability to anticipate future returns. The adage that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush is now old hat. A conservative accountant counts the bag at the end of the shoot and a less conservative one registers the numbers as the birds fall from the sky. But the modern accountant not only eats what he kills but also takes credit for the expected cull as soon as the hunters’ guns are primed.

Mr Skilling believed, as do many traders and financiers, that people should receive credit for the full discounted expected present value of their ideas at the moment of inspiration. Newton, thou shouldst be living at this hour! But it is easier to reward people on the basis of what they believe they are worth than to recover bonuses from people whose ideas turn out not to have been as good as they thought.

Seems like the intellectual monopoly disease again.
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And blow up a xenobathite | 10 comments (10 topical, 0 hidden)
The playboy link is useless by georgeha (4.00 / 1) #1 Sat Oct 18, 2008 at 09:37:38 AM EST
without pictures.

IAWTP by Herring (4.00 / 1) #2 Sat Oct 18, 2008 at 10:39:14 AM EST
But to cheer you up, a NSFW link.

You can't inspire people with facts
- Small Gods

[ Parent ]
Good grief by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #7 Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 04:22:42 AM EST
Via the Times, out:

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 ]
The first one is way too skinny by georgeha (2.50 / 2) #9 Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 06:51:50 AM EST
hugging her would be like hugging a duffle bag of clotheshangers.

[ Parent ]
You'd be more into her if the economy was better by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #10 Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 07:14:55 AM EST
According to the theory anyway.
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 ]
The bigger the hole bankers dig for themselves by nebbish (4.00 / 1) #3 Sat Oct 18, 2008 at 11:28:57 AM EST
in the popularity stakes, the happier I am.

All the moaning about leaving for America is undermined slightly by the fact we'd have been better off without them.

It's political correctness gone mad!

Can I note a sudden by wumpus (4.00 / 1) #4 Sat Oct 18, 2008 at 12:34:04 PM EST
specific need for a much lower immigration quota of UK *ankers to the US?


[ Parent ]
Nick Mamatas by Alan Crowe (4.00 / 1) #5 Sat Oct 18, 2008 at 01:00:14 PM EST
I enjoyed reading about the term papers. Nick Mamatas can really write. So I spent an hour Googling his novels and deciding whether to buy them. "Under my roof" might be a wonderful satire, but as I get older I find myself more and more obsessed with the final line of Pagliacci "La commedia è finita!"

Serious thinkers worry about the signaling model of education. I just learned about this from blog posts. It is a little alarming to Goggle for better links and find a Nobel Prize acceptance lecture. Why didn't I learn about the signaling model of education in school? There really is an issue that education is partly about signaling, and you have to get "educated" because otherwise the job will go to a rival "educated" candidate, even thought the "education" doesn't teach anything worth knowing.

Nick writes entertainingly about students defrauding teachers with bought term papers and teachers defrauding students by taking the tuition fees and giving nothing in return. However I don't want to be seduced into laughing and shrugging and accepting the status quo. I would rather study the lecture and try to understand how the world works. I would rather Nick studied the lecture and used his skill at writing to explain it to me.

Signaling theory by wumpus (4.00 / 1) #6 Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 04:07:03 AM EST
hit a big snag in economics once it became apparent that you could publish impressive theories by translating introductory poker strategy into econjargon. Wumpus

[ Parent ]
Cool word $ by Scrymarch (4.00 / 1) #8 Sun Oct 19, 2008 at 04:54:37 AM EST

The Political Science Department of the University of Woolloomooloo

And blow up a xenobathite | 10 comments (10 topical, 0 hidden)