Friday, 9 April 2010

Interactive Ramble

Yes folks, today we’re going to try something different.

I don’t have time this morning to post the regular Friday Morning Ramble—the regular read of links and websites that lasts you all weekend!—but I’d hate for you all to miss out.  So let’s use the sort of division of labour that the internet does so well.  How about we try an Interactive Ramble, where each of you posts in the comments a site or blog or news story—or YouTube clip, what have you—that you think everyone else just has to enjoy too.

Post the title, a link, and a short note telling other readers why they’ll get something out of it.

And to start you off, here’s Dvorak—with Mr Karajan holding the baton.


  1. I'll go first. Just about my favourite Youtube vid of all time is here.

    Stephen Fry was in a public debate with Christopher Hitchens and slam dunked a couple of defenders for the church.

    It was so horribly one sided I nearly felt sorry for the church duo. Nearly. Video is well worth the watch. The before and after score comparison from the crowd at the end is staggering.

  2. And came across this this morning. The interviewer was hilarious. His last question is very good.

  3. Re-post: also liked this vid, found it this morning. Interviewer is hilarious.

  4. Tonga never forgets the outside help it received during WW2 for its defence against Japs aggression, especially from the US and as the former Tongan Prime Minister Lavaka Ata (late King Taufa'ahau The 4th’s son) said back in 2004, that Tonga remembers that the United States came to defend the islands nation and the region from the invading Japanese during the World War II.

    There was a Tongan small contingent was attached to the US Marines during the landing in the Solomon Isles where the Tongans fought alongside with the US Marines. Again, the Tongan Marines has been working alongside with the US Marines in recent years in Iraq, where they were assigned the task of taking care of the security for Al Faw Palace in Baghdad. The Tongan Marines are first trained in Kuwait by US Marines before being deployed to Baghdad, where the Tongan Marines (different contingents at various times) have been there since 2004.

    Here is the ceremony for the end of the Tongan marines mission in Iraq for 2008.

    It is not the number of Tongan Marines who have been or are there in Iraq, that's important, it is the good gesture that it is willing to show Uncle Sam (the Good Samaritan) that its help in defending the small island kingdom during WW2 is not forgotten.

  5. Richard Dawkins, the evolutionary biologist speaks to the University of Auckland on his recent visit.

    The university has a home page with other material from his visit. But for his lecture to the university, have a look at:

    The Greatest Show on Earth


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  9. Permission, indeed encouragement, to beat your kids.

  10. Sam Harris: Science can answer moral questions; This is a link


    A charity with a difference. Rather than giving a handout, it helps people who help themselves.

    "Kiva empowers individuals to lend to an entrepreneur across the globe. By combining microfinance with the internet, Kiva is creating a global community of people connected through lending."

    I haven't lent any money out myself, but I know a couple people who have lent small amounts, and they even got it back :)

  12. A few link on religion on One of many there...

  13. Interesting commentary from econophysics forum:

    The striking feature is how little most of those present seem to know about complexity theory and agent based modelling. Much of the difference between those here and the mainstream is dispute about policy.

    That said, Soros himself this morning referred constantly to his own theory of 'reflexivity', by which he essentially means interacting agents, the feedback which takes place between such agents

    the session last night was on Keynes and Hayek. A bit strange at a conference on NEW thinking to go back to the works of someone who died in 1946 (K) and someone whose major contributions were complete by the mid-1950s (H). But we need to junk compeltely the macroeconomics of the past 30-40 years, so it kind of makes sense.

    I think Hayek in particular was the brilliant precursor of complexity theory, he stressed the inherent limits to knowledge. Very interestingly, the Hayek man last night did refer if only briefly to complex adaptive systems and how Hayek lacked the mathematcial tools to work in this area - true, but we now have them

    Just listened to Soros himself. I thought it would just be indulging the money man, but he gave a very interesitng and lucid account of the political economy of the past 40 years

    A point he stressed was the difference between humand and physcial systems - in the former the 'particles' can act with purpose and intent. I think the most realistic models of behaviour arer much closer to 'particle' than to 'rational', but to really connect with social scientists this is somehting econophysics must constantly bear in mind

    On this point, you have to speak a bit of the native language to communicate. Soros discussed at some length - it ahs become suddnely very fashionable - Frank Knight's distinction betwen risk (probability distribtuion of outcomes fairly well known) and uncertainty (very limited or even no knowledge of the prob distrib of outcomes). It is v useful as a referecne point, as a sign that econophysicists can speak the language

    Soros' 'reflexivity' is repeated in about every book he's written (I've read quite a few of them over the years), and he's written a lot. The idea that one cannot know 'social reality' in advance, that there is always a gap between what someone thinks and what you think someone thinks (or, even you misunderstand what you yourself think that you think) is true but cannot be turned into a falsifiable model of anything observable. That said, he has surrounded himself with a barrier of traditional economists like Roman Frydman. He perhaps listens to Stiglitz. Stiglitz has written qualitatively about market instability, and then turned 180 degrees and wrote a ,new, book on 'equilibrium finance' a few years ago. I am sorry to have to disagree with some of my esteemed colleagues who would like to find common ground with traditional economic theorists, but there is no evidence whatsoever for any form of stationarity/equilibrium in any known economic data. In fact, economic data beyond finance probably cannot be modeled in any falsifiable way. The idea of co-integration, based on a stationarity assumption, is a prime example of completely misleading economic theory. There are unfortunately even some econo-physicists who think that they can co-integrate economic data.

    It was lifted from here.

  14. David S, most people DO get their money back - I think the average rate is somewhere over 98% for the entire time that Kiva has been operating. Give it a go, you can't plug it and NOT do so!

  15. Polish politicians, military leaders and senior civil servants killed in plane crash on way to commemorate the 1940 Katyn massacre (NKVD killed 20k Polish officers).

    What the hell are senior bureaucrats doing there representing Poland? A jaunt?

    Without saying anything about the politicians or military leaders, Wyatt's Torch has been at work.

  16. Does the fact that Putin is taking personal responsibility for the investigation make it more or less likely the truth will out?

  17. Hi Andrew

    I reckon Puton's involvement means he sees this as a very important affair, potentially disasterous for his government. He wants it dealt with properly.

    The massacre of Polish at Katyn Wood was an atrocity of WW2 which has resulted in deep mistrust and enmity between Poles and Russians ever since. It remains within living memory. This aircraft crash will, rightly or wrongly, focus Polish suspicion on Russian government agencies.

    On a related note, recently an agreement was exectued between Poland and Russia regarding the construction of a new gas pipeline from Russia, across Poland and into Western Europe. If this is completed it will mean Europe can import greater quantities of gas from Russia than presently. It will also allow the Rusiian government the option of halting gas supply to Eastern Europe, Ukraine etc. without affecting West European custom. For Russian foreign policy in the region this would be most advantageous. Is it likely Russia's government would want to upset things with a mass assasination at this time?


  18. I'm a little late to the ramble party, but I thought PC and others might get a kick out of the attempt to arrest the king pedophile in the funny hat himself.

    Make sure you read the first comment by Dawkins which clarifies the somewhat dramatic headline though. Still, great stuff!


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