And PB, you're like a bazillion years old. You're not freaking 19, what the heck?

Saturday, July 04

World

Happy Fourth!

Hope you're enjoying the festivities and the warm summer weather.

Meanwhile, it's nothing degrees here in Sydney.  Woke up this morning and looked at my Nexus 7 and the weather widget is showing a little snowflake.  IT'S NOT SUPPOSED TO DO THAT.

Turned out that it was the frost symbol, not actual snow, but still.

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Friday, May 01

World

Je Suis Protein World


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Monday, March 23

World

Stupid Facts

So for some reason I was looking at the Wikipedia entry for the geography of the Northern Territory.  Blah blah blah, largest lake is Lake Amadeus, with an area of WTF km2.

There's a lake of over 1000 km2 in the Northern Territory?!  I know the northern parts along the Gulf of Carpentaria and Timor Sea are positively soggy, but most of the state is arid, and I'd have noticed a lake that big on a map just by casual inspection.

Oh.

Right.

Salt lake.

Most of the time, dry salt lake.

Like Lake Eyre, which is the largest lake in Australia, and the 18th largest lake in the world....  When it has water in it.

Or the Todd River, where the annual regatta had to be cancelled in 1993 because there was water in the river.

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Wednesday, March 11

World

Am I The Crazy One?

I've been arguing today with people who think that the letter by 47 Republican Senators - explaining to the leaders of Iran the principles of enumerated powers and the branches of the US government - constitutes treason.

In other words, I've been arguing with crazy people.  What does that make me?

On the other hand, I got my first Reddit Gold.  Which means that someone essentially paid money to upvote me.  So I'm not the only crazy one.

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Tuesday, March 10

World

Idiots And The Games They Play

Every day we are presented with new evidence of the of the boundless incompetence of the Obama administration when it comes to foreign policy.  From giving a press conference detailing plans to retake territory captured by ISIS to chasing a deal with Iran that everyone knows they won't honour, the White House seems unable to put a foot right.

Why?

Russia, for example, and to some extent Iran, are in game theory terms rational actors.  In an uncertain world, they will look to their short term interest.  That means that unless you pose a convincing threat, they will cheat every single time, treating international politics as an Iterated Prisoner's Dilemma scenario.

The West is both affluent and peaceful precisely because it has learned not to do that.  Except under extreme provocation, Western nations co-operate with each other every time, a strategy known as superrationality.

Superrational actors take into account not only their short-term interests, but the interests of the other party in the interaction, and that party's own reasoning.

If you know that another party is a superrational actor, by far the most rewarding long-term strategy is superrationality on your part.  This involves convincing them that you are superrational as well, of course, because superrationality can only work when it's known to be mutual.

Rational actors in a superrational world are shut out of the peace and affluence of the superational, because, as far as the superrational actors are concerned, the rational actors are a bunch of lying cheating back-stabbing murderous lunatics.

Where to the rational actors, the superrational actors are easy pickings and, frankly, soft in the head.

But if you can persuade everyone to take up the superrational strategy, everyone will benefit.  Defense budgets will drop to essentially zero, with the world's military turned into International Rescue.  No-one will be imposing economic sanctions on anyone else.  No-one will be starving or rioting.  There will be no need for spies or secret police.  For the cost of any of the recent relatively minor wars, we could have established a self-sustaining colony on Mars.

But while a rational strategy against a superrational actor throws away enormous potential in the long-term for real short-term gains, a superrational strategy against a rational actor always loses.  

Only a complete idiot would follow a superrational strategy against a known rational player.

And that's precisely what the Obama administration does.

Why?  Well, because they're complete idiots.  Why are they complete idiots?  For now I'll leave that as an exercise for the reader.

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Saturday, February 28

World

Periwinkle And Bistre

The llamas' names are Periwinkle and Bistre.

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Monday, February 09

World

I'm Gonna Sing The Doom Song Now

Google News search for Greece is doomed.

/images/Doom.jpg?size=720x&q=95

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Sunday, January 18

World

Charge Of The Rights Brigade

Fascists to right of them,
Fascists to left of them,
Fascists in front of them
    Splutter'd and blunder'd;
Storm'd at with speech and spell,
Boldly they code and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
    Rode the cryptographers.

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World

Let One Hundred Fascists Bloom

The leader of the free world weighs in on the debate:
"If we find evidence of a terrorist plot… and despite having a phone number, despite having a social media address or email address, we can’t penetrate that, that’s a problem,” Obama said. He said he believes Silicon Valley companies also want to solve the problem. "They’re patriots.”
They may be patriots, Mr Obama.  You are not.

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Friday, January 16

World

In Other News...

The Oxford University Press issued a guideline to authors not to mention bacon for fear of offending unspecified parties, possibly Presbyterians.

The publisher didn't specify whether they were referring to Roger, Francis, or Kevin.

(If this is a joke, then it's a very widely sourced one.)

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