Friday, February 27, 2015

Q&A - 27/2


[Paraphrasing] Maybe [the Greek finance minister] Varoufakis should not act like a game theorist so he can do a better job during his talks with EU ministers.


.. but this comment is based on a widely held assumption that  Game Theory is all about "one-up'ing the other guy". This is an incorrect view of the theory. A lot of GT deals with how cooperation can emerge out of situations; the math is about optimality, at whatever, whichever point it may be.


Why is [the German finance minister] Schauble such an hard-ass? Why does he want to keep Greeks in Euro and punish them? 

He supported Grexit actually

.. when the crisis started, but he didn't get his way.
An economist

Excessive free marketism caused the 2008 recession.

No it didn't

Guy is still mumbling this trash believing it's real. Here are a few key points about the existing "global" economic system, choices and pillars it runs on.

1) Create a central bank which does central things trying to "guide" the economy.

2) Don't f**k with the banks

3) China is world's manufacturer

None of the items above have anything to do with the free market philosophy. #1: Central bank, with its "central" design is the very antithesis of a free-market institution. It came into being during the modern era, and it tries to influence the market through a backdoor. #2: we all know banks have a special status in the economy. If Wal-mart were to go bankrupt tomorrow, it would be chalked to bad management, and people would simply watch. If equally sized banks on the other hand, were to go under, government would step in and save them in a second. Because they are special. #3: US / West (with aggreement from China of course) made a strategic choice to turn China into a manufacturing base. Why? Decision makers wanted to see capitalism in China, turning foe into a potential friend (if systems are more alike, there can be more friendship, etc). Also, China's cheap labor could be guaranteed to stay cheap for a while due to the presence of an opressive government.

These are the pillars. Here is what happened before 2008.

#1, central bank pushed the interest rates down, and kept it there for too long. A non-free market actor, doing a non-free market thing, causing a mess in the process.

#2: Politicians f***d with the banks by repealing Glass-Seagall.

#3, China, which in no shape or form was "needed" as a manufacturing powerhouse (because even during the 80/90s countries could automate instead of sending production to China) generated huge surpluses, that money needed somewhere to go, it coult stay in its home country (no mature financial infrastructure) so it came to US. Boat loads of investment blew through all checks and balances. This was the point when financial institutions started giving loans to dead people, or homeless and wrapping the shit up under AAA rating. Free market? Right...

Oh and there is a 4th item actually.

#4: Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.


Geoengineering comprises technologies designed to counteract human-caused climate change: towering “carbon scrubbers” that would suck carbon dioxide from the atmosphere [and clean it].

It could work

I remember hearing once if the Earth was an orange, its atmosphere would be, get this, not its peel, but the thin color film on the peel of the orange. Like wow dude, I totally did not know that! So we dont have much of this thing called air. How much do we have exactly? It is estimated at  4.2 billion cubic kilometers, if you take a cubic root (to imagine one side of an imaginery cube) it is 1613.42 km. We have a cube whose one side is 1613.42 km and some machine needs to clean the contents of this cube. Maybe?

Paul Graham

American technology companies want the government to make immigration easier because they say they can't find enough programmers in the US. Anti-immigration people say that instead of letting foreigners take these jobs, we should train more Americans to be programmers. Who's right?

The technology companies are right. What the anti-immigration people don't understand is that there is a huge variation in ability between competent programmers and exceptional ones, and while you can train people to be competent, you can't train them to be exceptional. Exceptional programmers have an aptitude for and interest in programming that is not merely the product of training.

The US has less than 5% of the world's population. Which means if the qualities that make someone a great programmer are evenly distributed, 95% of great programmers are born outside the US [..].

I asked the CEO of a startup with about 70 programmers how many more he'd hire if he could get all the great programmers he wanted. He said "We'd hire 30 tomorrow morning." And this is one of the hot startups that always win recruiting battles. It's the same all over Silicon Valley. Startups are that constrained for talent.


The new economy is all about talent whose output can be scaled to billions. No wonder there is such high unemployment.

A character in a novel

Those Jesuits can teach

Yes they can

They say Jesuits teach well, especially how to research, gather information, etc.  The character making this comment is from a Tom Clancy book, I believe it was his Jack Ryan. Clancy himself apparently was educated by Jesuits too. And yes, the man could do research.

But let's not forget how and when the Jesuits were created; They came into being during Renaissance, as a response to Renaissance. Basically the Catholic Church was being slapped around pretty badly during this era by the new way of thinking, they figured they had to "win back the minds", had to keep up, and this is when Jesuits were born. The new pope BTW happens to be a Jesuit now. And that's good. The man is trying to fix some things, I hope he succeeds.


In this fraught American media landscape, who can be trusted? Brian Williams is a faker, and Bill O'Reilly is too [really?]. The credibility of our most cherished cultural lodestars is crumbling before our eyes, and the mighty haven't stopped falling. That's right: Xzibit is a fraud, and Pimp My Ride was insane bullshit.

What is going on?

The paint is coming off on a lot of stuff all of a sudden.

Gallup CEO

Jim Clifton, the CEO of Gallup, has backtracked on claims he publicly made about the job numbers [..] as being a “big lie,” saying he was concerned that his statement might cause him to “suddenly disappear” due to foul play.

Ha ha