What is wrong with The Register? When it comes to climate change they seem to manage to post the ridiculous and retarded “science” articles you’re ever likely to see.

Japanese scientists have made a dramatic break with the UN and Western-backed hypothesis of climate change in a new report from its Energy Commission.

Wow! That’s sounds like really groundbreaking news… 

One of the five contributors compares computer climate modelling to ancient astrology. Others castigate the paucity of the US ground temperature data set used to support the hypothesis, and declare that the unambiguous warming trend from the mid-part of the 20th Century has ceased.

Really? Climate change has stopped? That’s a relief, because i for one was starting to get worried. And they really cut those stupid western scientists down to size, “ancient astrology”, pfffssst!

These top scientists are probably the equivalent of the Royal Society in the UK, or the NASA climate research groups in the US. Let’s go check their website:

President: Dr. H. Ishitani (Prof. Keio University, Prof. Emeritus of Univ. of Tokyo)

Vice Presidents: Mr. T. Hattori(President, Japan Atomic Industrial Forum, INC, Adviser, Tokyo Electric Power Co., Ltd)

Mr.H.Nakatani(Advisor, Osaka Gas Co., Ltd., Chairman, Osaka Gas Chemicals Co., Ltd. )

Director of general affairs: Mr. Y. Kato (Executive Officer, Research & Development, The Kansai Electric Power Co., INC)

How odd! They all seem to be funded by power companies, the top polluters in Japan. Still, i’m sure they know what they are talking about – they went to universities you know…

What pisses me off about all of that is that it’s a ten second job to find, visit the JSER website, and determine that they a industry lobbying group. Not a scientific body. They no more represent mainstream science in Japan than… bah! Idiots. Why even waste the bandwidth on publishing such crap? It’s almost as if all they are interested in doing is stirring up controversy for the traffic it generates. Poor. Very poor.


Saturday morning madness. Been reading about the ongoing slow motion nationalisation of Citibank… got me thinking…

The current banking model is based in the love of growth, and not the kind of directed growth that the world seems to need, but growth at any cost, and in the short-term. See Taleb’s article in the FT, for a description of this madness, but in summary they’ve lost ever penny they’ve ever made (and then some).

Wouldn’t you rather put your money in a ‘bank’ that is run along very conservative lines? A kind of ‘enlightened’ bank that’s goals are things like:

  • maintain the value of deposits at all costs
  • maintain enough liquidity to turn the current fractional banking system on it’s head; 90 / 10, instead of 10 / 90.
  • invest cautiously with the goal of funding the running of the bank and protecting capital against sudden and unexpected shocks to the system
  • push any surplus cash into ethical, long-term focused projects that may only marginally impact the depositors, but have a very high chance of not negatively impacting them

Given that commercially run, publicly listed, banks effectively pay 0% interest on deposits, and still run the risk of losing all of your money (above minimal government guarantees), why isn’t someone pushing a depositor owned bank model like the above? Something tells me that it’d gather a lot of deposits from people like me who just don’t want to see their saving pissed away on coke and strippers for the potential reward of 0.01% interest. The risk / reward of the current system is obviously broken.

Any one know how to run a bank? Surely there must a banker out there somewhere humbled by the size of his failure, who’d be willing to give it a go…


It’s funny how you have days when it seems like everything clicks. Back at the end of last year we spent some time in the bath with the camera, just being silly, taking underwater shots with the flash, high iso / low light stuff. It was great fun gurning for the camera underwater.

Periodically i’m going back and looking at the pictures just because they make me smile, and always seem to find one i’d missed before that just slaps me about.

As you  might imagine there are quite a few you really wouldn’t want to see…

Thin Lens Equations

This has been turning my head inside out for days, so i’m going to write it down.

There are a set of simple equations for describing the behaviour of lenses. One of these is an approximation that can used when working with thin lenses, and is called, drum roll, the thin lens equation! It looks like this:

where  f is the focal length, and S1 and S2 are the distances between the object, the real image, and the lens:

This means that with the lens focused at infinity we can simplify things down to:

1/∞ + 1/s2 = 1/40

0 + 1/s2 = 1/40

∴ s2 = 40

And with the lens focused at it’s closest, 500mm:

1/500 + 1/s2 = 1/40

s2 = 1/(1/40 – 1/500)

∴ s2 = 43.47

Which implies that the lens moves 3.47mm further away when focused at it’s closest.

Having got this far, we can now do something stupid and try to calculate what happens when you add an extension tube of 32mm between the lens and the camera.

1/s1 + 1/(40 + 32) = 1/40

s1 = 1/(1/40 – 1/72)

∴ s1 = 90

Which implies that, with the extension tube, the furthest object we can focus on is 90mm. And further:

1/s1 = 1/(40 + 32 + 3.47) = 1/40

s1 = 1/(1/40 – 1/75.47)

∴ s1 = 85.1

These numbers look completely crazy to me, but what they imply is that the distance between being focused at infinity, and focused at 500mm, is reduced to 4.9mm.

Also, i don’t see how to relate these number to the physical camera… mostly because a Distagon 40mm lens with something like 13 elements is just about as far from a “thin lens” as it’s possible to get without building a space telescope.

Regardless, if i haven’t screwed up my maths, the implication is that the distance within which it is possible to focus is really really slim, and that does at least match my experience with physical camera.

Tell me if it’s screwed up.

But more:

There’s another part to this that is also interesting… the wikipedia page goes onto say that the magnification of the lens (the size of the real image relative to the size of the object is simply the ratio of S2 / S1.

Plugging in the numbers above for when lens is focused at it’s closest you get a magnification of roughly 113%. This is pretty hard to guess at through the viewfinder, but thinking about how much of my diving watch filled the frame, it might be close to correct.

Reading the Entrails

Back in November, the last time that DIJA was testing it’s pre-bubble (1997 & 2003)  lows, a lot of people were writing that 7k looked like a bottom for the average. Their rational is that if you draw a straight line on the chart that extends from the start of the bull market being in 1982 you end up at around 7k for now. This is a good example for the S&P.



Take a look at the two graphs above, but ignore anything after about the year 2000. Do they you remind you of anything?

Obviously what i’m suggesting is that those are exponential growth curves. The increases are a function of things like the rise in population, or money supply, or any other measure that you’d like to pick that has shown exponential growth since the madness of the Reagan years. Come up with an unsustainable system, be happy living in the now; let the future reap the misery sown.

My guess is that just like the situation with population dynamics, where numbers increase exponentially for a period of time, before hitting some kind of carrying capacity limit, and turning chaotic, the stock market averages are now essentially unpredictable. You see similar patterns in graphs of natural processes all the time… and after all, we’re just another natural process.

Quite what that means for the stock market i can’t really say… it just seems a little arbitrary to go around drawing straight lines on curves. 5k before 7k… overshoot? Hmm. We’re back to population dynamics.

The Quick Road To Global Insurgency

Ah, it just warms the cockles of your heart:

The summer of 2009 will see protests in the ‘West’ as the newly financially destitute vent their anger at both the incompetence (unable to anticipate events or formulate plans that work) and corruption (due to looting of government coffers by firms like AIG, RBS, an Citibank) of their respective governments. 

In my darkest hours, i guess i don’t find the prospect all that unreasonable… but at the same time, it doesn’t seem like the sort of thing for which anyone would / should be wishing.

Sign me up for wanting to see the currently system of global domination by corporations brought to an end… but despite all my cynicism about how unlikely it is that the kleptocracies will police themselves, i’d still rather see them bought to heel by a few enlightened leaders applying the rule of law.

Who’s the irrationally optimistic one now, eh?

Social Networking

I’ve come to the conclusion that this social networking thing is nothing more than a front for advanced marketing data collection. As far as i can tell you don’t need to provide anything in the way of content or value to your users, and in turn get to extract from them huge amounts of valuable data about their age, their hobbies, their associations, level of education, business interests, etc.

My expectation of the standard business plan for a social networking site would be along those lines. Use the natural instinct that people seem to have to use the internet to re-connect with friends, and to amass collections of things (connections, friends, adds, etc) to build a accurate portrait of millions of users, which you can then directly or indirectly sell access to to potential advertisers. Throw in some psychology in order to develop a sense of fear about security. Then build a sense of trust and approval in all steps to encourage people to share more about themselves while re-assuring them that it’s all secure and for their benefit. But at the end of it all: build the biggest, most detailed, marketing list possible.

I can already hear the indignant screams of, “oh, but they’re selling a service!” and “The ads generate revenue to support all the things that you use for free on the ‘net!”, and i say what a pathetic use of human effort. Don’t be so mind-numbingly naive.

Since the start of the twentieth century, the early stages of industrialisation of the west, it has been known that advertising is necessary to stimulate the desire for consumption that is not driven by need. The ‘captains of industry’, as they were once so cutely called before becoming ‘masters of the universe’ need the workers to buy the crap that they produce regardless of how little of it they really need – there would be no point in paying them to produce if they couldn’t get their money back…

All that sounds so ‘last century’, like a throw back to class struggles of the 1930s, or industrial strife in the 1970s, and that’s because nothing has really changed. The last couple of decades have been an orgy of credit based consumption that have opened up the gaps between the rich and poor to Victorian levels, but now the tide of credit is rolling back, it’s going to become increasingly obvious that we’ve all been playing the same old games, just with an increased average standard of living.

We’re still the suckers, and i’m guessing we always will be!

Hmm. That didn’t end up where i expected at all… but it was great fun to spew out. In summary, i think Social Networking sites are a scam, driven by the boom in advertising that Google has fostered in the ‘net content business. My views on advertising seem to be pretty self-explanatory.

I wonder if i’m a communist?


Since the start of the year my work schedule has been changed such that i’m much more tied to my desk for a set period of hours. This has resulted in my swimming time slowly getting squeezed out of my daily routine. For the last two weeks i’ve not swum at all. The end result has been mental mayhem.

Today i went back to the pool. Two weeks is a long time. The first ten minutes of swimming were really rough. In the end i toughed it out for thirty minutes and feel much better for it.

Now of course i have to build the routine, and my level of fitness, back up… time to stop smoking tabs and sniffing glue i guess.

More Reinhardt Redux

Didn’t have time to do this during the week. I wanted to look at what actually happened during the week of 2/9. Let’s imagine that you’d bet money that the DJI would be lower at the end of the week of the 9th than at the start, ie. you’d shorted the Dow based on Reinhardt’s prediction.

DJI 2/8 - 2/20

That graph (thieved from Yahoo!) pretty much tells the story. The average was down just shy of 10%, two weeks after the prediction. I see only two days when it moved up, and those are very slight.

This is no way is meant as a validation of his future predictions, but does at least go to show that it’s a hard environment in which to be too gloomy.

On the subject of which, there is speculation that the amount of bad debt in the european banking system is as much as €18 Trillion. That’s an astonishing large number. Just astonishing. The entire GDP of the european union is €12 Trillion… and i think you can expect that to be falling rather rapidly in the immediate future.

If i was a european banker i’d be getting pretty nervous about my personal safety right about now…