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wasoxygen  ·  33 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: It's been too long! Book thread time. What have you been reading?

With time to spare, I am in sight of ten thousand pages for the year, a goal I don't often achieve. E-books made it possible, contributing about two-thirds of the total. A lot of these were free downloads, starting with a bootleg copy of Orwell's amazing The Road to Wigan Pier, which paired well with The People of the Abyss, but mostly Gutenberg classics.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn were good reading; the first made me wonder what all the fuss over content was about, the second relieved my confusion. Additional hits were The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.

    Sherlock Holmes sat moodily at one side of the fireplace cross-indexing his records of crime, while I at the other was deep in one of Clark Russell's fine sea-stories...

William Clark Russell was a great discovery. I much enjoyed The Wreck of the Grosvenor, The Death Ship, and The Frozen Pirate (though this last title had some passages that made Mark Twain's racial insensitivity seem mild).

Reamde was a $3 selection on Bookperk, and with a November repeat of Quicksilver gave me nearly 2000 pages from the author who dominates a word cloud based on my reading records.

Most of my more serious reading is still on paper, where I can scribble notes. The News: A User’s Manual was a reminder to focus on things of lasting importance, mostly unheeded, with some memorable exceptions.

And one more Alain de Botton title, thanks to a Hubski tip.

Vaclav Smil's Making the Modern World was relatively small and densely-packed, like the landfills he says are the endpoint for much of Europe's recycling.

    Collection rates of post-consumer plastic waste are impressive, more than 90% in eight EU countries and in Switzerland, and an average of 43% (25.1 Mt) in 2011 for the EU-27; but more than 40% (10.3 Mt) of collected plastics were then landfilled and of the 14.9 Mt (60%) that were recovered nearly 9 Mt were incinerated (energy recovery) and only about 6 Mt (or close to 10% of annual production) were recycled (Plastics Europe, 2019).
wasoxygen  ·  33 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Times Literary Supplement on Jack London's People of the Abyss

Updated link: Grape stems

by the same author: Jack London, a century on

wasoxygen  ·  35 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: The Yoda of Silicon Valley

    Well, I asked him, “How can I read it? It’s so hard.” He said, “You start at the beginning and you read as far as you can get, until you are lost. Then you start at the beginning again, and you keep working through until you can understand the whole book.”
Devac  ·  35 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I'm not saying that Feynman's lectures are easy. I'm saying that IMO they are a lot easier than TAOCP. Possible bias notwithstanding, Feynman uses less advanced mathematics (seriously), so there's your barrier to entry difference right here. Conceptually they are probably around the same difficulty, but Feynman's presentation is – again, IMO – much more approachable.

Also, TAOCP uses some oddball defined-in-the-book variant of assembler for all code examples, which isn't the friendliest language out there. Getting through 200+ lines of asm code is most definitely one of those 'acquired taste' things.

wasoxygen  ·  38 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Friday Fun Facts: Deep

Eh, you earned it, what with all your smartness and sarcasm.

1 tacocat

1 WanderingEng

1 spencerflem

1 am_Unition

wasoxygen  ·  38 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Friday Fun Facts Four

That’s correct, the AI detects cardiovascular risk factors, for now.

1 tacocat

1 WanderingEng

1 spencerflem

wasoxygen  ·  39 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Friday Fun Facts Four

Glad you enjoyed it! I plan to continue the series here, a Hubski exclusive.

There's a scoreboard for those who are first to find errors. So far:

1 WanderingEng for micrometeorites

1 tacocat for cloned baby

wasoxygen  ·  39 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: D.C. Hubski Meetup

flagamuffin  ·  38 days ago  ·  link  ·  

actually been looking all over for that first one. couldn't remember where i saw it

wasoxygen  ·  40 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Microsoft accepts Bitcoin payments

It’s been four years.

    1 BTC is a near yearly low of $354 right now.

Add a zero, and this is still true.

mk  ·  40 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Interesting. Care to guess on four years from now?

I am going to say $30k.

Ethereum didn't exist four years ago, and from what I see, it is eating BTC's lunch:

although the market doesn't reflect it yet.

wasoxygen  ·  40 days ago  ·  link  ·  
wasoxygen  ·  40 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Microsoft accepts Bitcoin payments

You were quicker than me, and I had seen the question before so I was pretty sure I knew the rule.

wasoxygen  ·  49 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: US Treasuries Never Wrong - well, not really

The U.S. Yield Curve Just Inverted.

A little.

  1 Mo 2.30

2 Mo 2.35

3 Mo 2.38

6 Mo 2.56

1 Yr 2.72

2 Yr 2.83

3 Yr 2.84

5 Yr 2.83 (!)

7 Yr 2.90

10 Yr 2.98

20 Yr 3.15

30 Yr 3.27

blackbootz  ·  45 days ago  ·  link  ·  

Super interesting. This bit of news came out in time to make it into my presentation on monetary policy, the main thrust of which is that quantitative easing and interest payments on those newly created reserves will become conventional monetary policy.

Long story short (ok it's still long), QE was a method of bringing down long-term interest rates when nominal short-term rates were already near zero. Saved the economy? The Fed certainly thinks so, and the argument is coherent (bring down cost of borrowing, spur investment, recover, etc.). So all the trillions of dollars in bonds and mortgage-backed securities banks were holding the Fed purchased with (digitally summoned from thin air) money. But trillions of dollars entering circulation would lead to hyperinflation, so the Fed incentivized banks not to lend this new money out. How did they do that? Simple: They killed the Batman, er, the Fed started paying banks interest on their reserves. The rate was quite low: .25% between 2008 and 2016. But .25% interest on an amount that fluctuates between $1 and $2 trillion is still quite a lot. By my math, interest payments to banks grew gradually from $2 billion to $11 billion by 2016. Then $25 billion in 2017. It'll hit something like $50 billion by the end of 2019.

I'm tempted to expand the tangential point that these interest payments are a de facto subsidy of the banking industry. That of the 6,800 banks in the US, the top 25 institutions get half these payments. That a third of interest payments on reserves go to foreign own institutions. But I'm not an economist (yet).

Controlling inflation is an obvious function of paying IOR (interest on reserves). But the Fed still has to achieve its monetary goals and promote "maximum employment." And its conventional instrument--targeting a federal funds rate by manipulating the supply of reserves through open market operations--requires a scarcity of excess reserves. Now they're not so scarce. But there's another important benchmark interest rate that the Fed can set: the rate of interest it pays on reserves. Raise that rate and banks will park more of their money in reserve, restricting the money supply, and discourage lending, or lower it and get the opposite effects.

My conclusion was that this may be the new, "conventional" policy instrument. Even though the Fed started "normalizing" its balance sheet in September 2017 by selling more of its bond holdings, this process will almost certainly not finish before the next recession. And if it's a particularly bad recession, with nominal rates (i.e. IOR-rate) pretty low at 2.25%, there's not a lot of room to wiggle room. I can't imagine the Fed standing by idly, and so may well do more QE and, for the reasons explained above, continue to pay interest on reserves.

This yield curve inversion bolstered my point that a recession is a-comin'.

wasoxygen  ·  49 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Getting into Go

I played a lot of fast 9x9 games with friendly, consistent bots to get the hang of things. It was fun to see my rating slowly climb as I learned some of the tricks.

Sensei's Library is a great resource.

Merlin  ·  49 days ago  ·  link  ·  

I've been devouring that site. So much fun

wasoxygen  ·  53 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Trip Report: Amsterdam

We had a great time, thanks for the suggestions!

I did not miss another chance to sample a pepernoot after the first one. And I brought a bag back to the office to ingratiate myself with coworkers.

While I was working nine miles (14 km) from home, I bought a decent used road bike and commuted with it until I figured my metro savings had paid it off. It's fun, but the ride was hard, I didn't save so much time, and flat tires were more of a headache.

Now I'm commuting half as far, and when I ride I almost always take my heavy old hybrid. With the wider tires and upright posture I feel more stable at low speeds, and can even manage a track stand. Slow, safe and comfortable is better than arriving a few minutes sooner.

wasoxygen  ·  55 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Trip Report: Amsterdam

The hygiene literature runs deep. I enjoyed the observational studies showing that men spend e.g. 3.5 seconds washing hands, women a little more (though both are probably averages skewed by abstainers).

It doesn't seem like we know much. The research is disconnected from reality. Soap and water, used as directed, are effective at mechanically removing microbes, but you're going to touch a knob or phone or keyboard in another minute anyway. Dry hands transfer microbes less so it helps to reduce moisture residue.

Disposable towels have a "friction effect" that removes microbes after a 3.5-second wash, but it is hard to standardize, so study participants just press their hands on a towel for ten seconds. Dyson warns that people leave moist paper towels strewn about the WC, or try to flush them and cause overflows. But no one ever picks up a paper towel from the floor to wipe their nose. The air dryers (tested when new, and not contaminated by use) tend to blow particles all over the place.

I appreciate having a single-use barrier with which to grab the doorknob.

Everyone measures bacteria (using titres of "glove juice") but do bacteria make people sick? Sure they do, and pianos can kill, but I worry more about viral infections. Probably that is harder to measure.

Manila: another Waterhouse for another time.

flagamuffin  ·  54 days ago  ·  link  ·  

quite so

    Like a client of one of your less reputable pufferfish sushi chefs, Randy Waterhouse does not move from his assigned seat for a full ninety minutes after the jumbo leaves Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
wasoxygen  ·  55 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: Trip Report: Amsterdam

    Such nice people.

Yes, this is a factor that is hard to gauge on TripAdvisor but makes a difference in quality of visit. Venice was probably the worst, Rio and Montreal are the only ones that could give the Netherlands any competition on the nice scale.

flagamuffin  ·  55 days ago  ·  link  ·  

probably because the only people who live on the island proper are in the tourism/service industry. i went to a venetian party with some wonderful people last year, but they were mainlanders who'd come over to have fun just like i had, so it may not count.