Print Story There will be blood
By TheophileEscargot (Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 05:18:46 AM EST) Reading, Listening, MLP (all tags)
Reading: "A Question of Blood". "Great Philosophical Debates: Free Will and Determinism". Web.

What I'm Reading
A Question of Blood by Ian Rankin. Another good entry in the Rebus series. This one has another high life / lowlife angle, with one crime involving a public school, the other the death of a petty criminal. Found it pretty gripping, raced towards the end.

Do have a nitpick though you'd think by now his bosses would have noticed that every time they suspend him he just keeps working the case anyway. Try assigning him to traffic duty or something for a change. This is number 14: three more to go...

What I'm Listening To
Great Philosophical Debates: Free Will and Determinism. Good course exploring how these can be reconciled, with a particular emphasis on the ethical aspects. Because it's a somewhat specialized area, managed to mostly tell me stuff that was new to me.

There are no easy answers to the issues involved though.

A random terminology post
I have found the following sets of terms causing confusion at some point. World: please note the differences.

  • Libertarian: philosopher who believes in free will rather than determinism
  • Libertarian: guy who wants the darn government out of his face
  • Chicago School: Group of right-wing economists
  • Chicago School: Group of left-wing sociologists
  • Idealist: Believer that ideology should shape foreign policy: e.g. Hitler
  • Idealist: Person with high ideals: e.g. Gandhi
  • Broken Window: Economic fallacy that randomly destroying stuff boosts growth
  • Broken Window: Criminological theory that minor crimes generate major ones
Attention UK sports fan infidels
Is there a British sporting equivalent to "do an end run around"? I keep wanting to use it but it seems unbearably pretentious, especially since I've never watched a single baseball match.

Video. Great Orb spoof: Grey Fluffy Clouds

Every What Are You Doing Here from Doctor Who (8min)

Shorter word thesaurus (via Monkeyfilter).

Historical article: Rockets from 1804 to 1815

Robot cow milker

Bailout Web
VoxEU on the value of the assets.

Greg Mankiw letters for and against.

YouTube: Dark Knight bailout.

Naked Capitalism on IMF study of many banking crises. Plan not necessary, not enough?

Marginal Revolution. Plan is making things worse. Credit is still robust.

Daily Mash: Stock markets running out of underpants.

< Attn: London Infidels | Diary >
There will be blood | 12 comments (12 topical, 0 hidden)
(Comment Deleted) by yicky yacky (4.00 / 1) #1 Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 06:03:15 AM EST

This comment has been deleted by yicky yacky

It is by ucblockhead (4.00 / 2) #3 Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 06:53:26 AM EST
"end run" is a football term.  It is when the runner runs around the side of the defensive line rather than trying to run through the center.

[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
Pah by herbert (4.00 / 2) #2 Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 06:46:33 AM EST
Alex did that gag better.

That Vox EU article by jump the ladder (4.00 / 1) #4 Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 10:46:49 AM EST
Is the best one I'ver seen on the Residential Mortgage Backed Security valuation. The thing is that judging my memory of coding the ratings model to see whether they were AAA etc for RMBS for a ratings agency, they used something fairly similar. However this was for UK mortgages where you are still liable even if you hand in the keys so the put option is lessened.

Anyway the raings agency was dependent on the quality of info coming from the mortgage provider. They got a text file usually a csv with anoymised data of say 60,000 mortgages with LTVs, income etc. So if there was fraudulent activity as seems to have happenned  in the US then the data is meaningless and thus the model won't work.

Another bit of systematic risk was that the rating agency wanted me to produce a blackbox application that they would sell on to an arranger of these RMBS such as one of big investment banks so that they could see roughly what the ratings would be on their bunch of mortgages before submitting them to a ratings agency. The danger with that is that arranger can massage the data to get it through the rating agency model.

Free will and determinism by Dr H0ffm4n (4.00 / 1) #5 Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 11:28:33 AM EST
So what did you learn?

I tend to take a view that the two concepts are incommensuarable since they are really from different areas of discourse. Choice and free-will are ethical concerns whereas determinism is a physical one.

Well by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #6 Sat Sep 27, 2008 at 10:19:44 PM EST
Determinism seems to add a lot of constraints to your ethical system. If someone commits a crime, you shouldn't really punish them more than is absolutely necessary, since it's not their fault.

Also there was an interesting study where they got people to do a cheatable test; one group having read a passage explaining determinism, another having read a neutral passage. The people who'd been told about determinism cheated a lot more.
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 ]
Fault is an ethical concern, by Dr H0ffm4n (4.00 / 1) #7 Sun Sep 28, 2008 at 01:38:40 AM EST
not physical. The world can be viewed as 100% physically deterministic, but people can still be at fault ethically and still make ethical choices.

Knowledge of physical concepts (e.g. determinism) might affect moral judgements, but so can knowledge of religion. So can knowledge of Mickey Mouse. People have fickle ethical systems.

[ Parent ]
Not really by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #9 Sun Sep 28, 2008 at 06:20:00 AM EST
For example, he points out that psychopaths show abnormal responses from a very early age. Even very young children, if they're normal, can distinguish between things that are wrong because they hurt someone, and things that are wrong because they are against a rule; but psychopathic children cannot.

Also, if you show images of a suffering human being to a normal person while monitoring their brain activity, there's a lot of activity in the amygdala of the brain (an emotional centre). A psychopath shows no such response.

So, a psychopath can't really be held wholly responsible for his actions if determinism is true.
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 ]
Under determinism... by priestess (4.00 / 1) #8 Sun Sep 28, 2008 at 03:30:13 AM EST
Under determinism surely if someone commits a crime I have no choice but to punish them the amount I'm pre-determined to do so.


Chat to the virtual me...
[ Parent ]
He thinks that's a pretty weak argument by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #10 Sun Sep 28, 2008 at 06:20:20 AM EST
Even if it's determined what decision you will make once you've weighed up all the factors; nevertheless your decision must still be a product of those factors. If one of those factors is "determinism is true", then that still affects your decision, predetermined or not.
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 ]
What are you doing here? by nebbish (4.00 / 1) #11 Mon Sep 29, 2008 at 12:40:16 AM EST
Mental. My head hurts.

It's political correctness gone mad!

Thanks for the rocket article by TurboThy (4.00 / 1) #12 Tue Sep 30, 2008 at 04:36:33 AM EST
I never tire to read about how the British invented terror bombings - and in my home city no less.

Sommerhus til salg, første række til Kattegat.
There will be blood | 12 comments (12 topical, 0 hidden)