Monday, December 25, 2017

Christmas Links

  • Simons smokes constantly, even in enclosed conference rooms. He pointed out that, whatever the potential fine for doing so is, he can pay it. [Bloom]
  • For the Senate's first 100 years, no one ever served into their 80s, according to Senate Historical Office data. Over the next 100 years, there were a few brief moments with two or three. Only 49 senators have ever turned 80 in office, and 15 of those came in the past 20 years. [Post]
  • There was a village in Japan where an extraordinary number of residents were living to the age of 100+. When medical researchers visited searching for the source of this amazing longevity, they found all the centenarians had died 20-30 years ago. Their families hadn’t reported their deaths to keep receiving their pension checks. [PhilG]
  • I decided to see how practical it would be to mine Bitcoin with pencil and paper. It turns out that the SHA-256 algorithm used for mining is pretty simple and can in fact be done by hand. Not surprisingly, the process is extremely slow compared to hardware mining and is entirely impractical. But performing the algorithm manually is a good way to understand exactly how it works. [link]
  • The regular phone system has already been made useless due to spam (see Set a minimum price for phone calls?) and now maybe we can declare straight-up email as also useless for this kind of public-facing role? [PhilG]
  • I was asked why I thought 2017 had gone so horribly wrong for the Alt-Right. My answer was unequivocally that 2017 had turned out this way because of Donald Trump. He was the prime mover behind everything that happened in 2017. [link]
  • Toyetic is a term referring to the suitability of a media property, such as a cartoon or movie, for merchandising tie-in lines of licensed toys, games and novelties. [Wiki]
  • "In countries like Ethiopia and Madagascar, where they're experiencing extreme drought, a lot of the people there are actually surviving on cactus," Taguchi said. "When they can’t grow anything else, cactus is there to feed the people as well as their animals." [link]
  • Assuming Google's efforts don't slow (and they show no sign of slowing), is it even possible for Apple to catch up to Google? Google's lead in data is reminiscent of Apple’s lead in smartphones in 2007. [link]
  • I'm not one to embrace conspiracy theories with alacrity but I do believe the government is purposely orchestrating an environment where cryptocurrencies can thrive—albeit for a truncated period of time—but with a baneful ulterior motive in store for the middle class. I believe governments are currently in the process of vetting the cryptocurrency space and using bitcoin as its primary test case. Their goal is to allow the public to gain trust and familiarity with electronic currencies before crushing private cryptocurrencies altogether, then replacing them with one government-sanctioned "bitcoin"—call it Fed-coin. [link]
  • I worked out the price of transporting mass to the Moon, and it works out to be — in 2015 dollars, it works out to be about 160 2015 dollars to the kilogram. And so, to that end, in Artemis, the kind of de facto monetary unit is called "slugs," which means soft-landed grams. [link]
  • So maybe there really is an Inner Party of all-knowing insiders after all? Perhaps your average Al Franken-level senator isn't clued in to the really big secrets, but if you come from a small-population state without much political competition and keep getting reelected, finally they induct you into the club within a club that worries about the things that really matter, such as UFOs? [Sailer]
  • At only about two thirds of the cube-root value of the population (as of 2010 census), the current US House is indeed one of the world's most undersized. However, there are some even more deviant cases. Taking actual size over expected size (from cube root), the USA has the seventh most undersized first or sole chamber among thirty-one democracies in my comparison set. [link]
  • If the timing of this event were random, we should see roughly one a year in the future, and with new better instruments coming online in a few years we should see them even faster. So within a decade we should learn if this first visitor is very unusual, or if we should worry a lot more about travel dangers between the stars. [link]
  • The two books show at least one solution to the Fermi paradox, with electromagnetically noisy civilizations being snuffed out by the arrival of self-replicating machines designed to destroy any potential threat to their (possibly long-dead) creators. [Wiki]
  • Krugman is his own cruel libertarian caricature of himself. "I'm not saying aliens, to just print more money... but aliens, so we can print more money." [Sailer]
  • Logistic and OLS regression models illustrated a robust association between physical attractiveness and various measures of health, controlling for a variety of confounding factors. In sum, the more attractive a respondent was rated, the less likely he or she was to report being diagnosed with a wide range of chronic diseases and neuropsychological disorders. Importantly, this finding was observed for both sexes. These analyses provide further support for physical attractiveness as a phenotypic marker of health. [link]
  • I met Bannon for lunch at the Bryant Park Grill in Midtown Manhattan. I found him at an outdoor table, wearing an untucked shirt and cargo shorts. His hair was a tangled nest of platinum gray and it looked like he hadn't shaved in days. If I didn't know him I'd have thought he just rolled off a bus at the Port Authority. Bannon shook my hand graciously. He told me he enjoyed my book on Ailes. What about all the hit pieces he published? "Ha! Those were love taps, dude. Just business." We proceeded to have a highly entertaining lunch swapping media and political gossip. [VF]
  • But this week, one or more people delivered 275 bitcoin (valued at $4.5 million at the time) to the LedgerX clearinghouse, and wrote one-year calls 1 at a strike of $50,000 ($13.75 million in total) against them for a premium of $3,600 per coin ($990,000 total). [Bloom]
  • The left exists as a class barbell: plutocrats and wards. Soros writes the checks and José casts the votes. The right, in contrast, resides deep in the sucker’s middle. But if political warfare was a game played by two, republicans could have absolutely crushed the globalist money men with punitive brackets on very high incomes, matched with elimination of the earned income tax credit on the bottom. [K]
  • The iodine that Americans get from sources other than salt comes from: milk and dairy products (70-90% of non-salt iodine intake for infants and children; roughly 50% of intake for adults) and grain products (between 10 and 23% of non-salt intake, depending on age and sex). Milk doesn't naturally contain iodine any more than salt does, but iodine is used as a disinfectant on the cows' udders and the milk cans, and some makes its way into the finished product. And grains don't typically contain a lot of iodine either, but it’s used as a preservative in many processed bread mixes. This might seem a little strange: the top three iodine sources in the modern diet are all completely artificial. None of them contain iodine naturally. [link]
  • Modafinil, an FDA approved wakefulness drug prescribed to narcolepsy patients, has recently been shown to have anti-inflammatory effects and provides protection against neuroinflammation. It is unknown if modafinil can also protect against atherosclerosis, pathogenesis of which implicates inflammation. Using an apoE-deficient mouse model, we tried to elucidate the effects of modafinil treatment on the development of atherosclerosis. [link]
  • Everything I consume in the States is of a vastly, abysmally lower quality. Every single thing. The food, the media, little things like fashion, art, public spaces, the emotional context, the work environment, and life in general make me less sane, happy, alive. I feel a little depressed, insecure, precarious, anxious, worried, angry-just like most Americans do these day. So my quality of life?—?despite all my privileges-is much worse in America than it is anywhere else in the rich world. Do you feel that I exaggerate unfairly? [link]
  • The highly insoluble iron(II) oxalate appears to play a major role in gout, in the nucleation and growth of the otherwise extremely soluble sodium urate. This explains why gout usually appears after age 40, when ferritin levels in blood exceed 1 µg/L. [Wiki]
  • For bees, the thing they truly care about is how cold it gets, so from their perspective the temperature is the underlying and the sunlight angles are the derivative thing that they analyze and interact with. [link]
  • Each purported use case — from payments to legal documents, from escrow to voting systems—amounts to a set of contortions to add a distributed, encrypted, anonymous ledger where none was needed. What if there isn’t actually any use for a distributed ledger at all? What if the reason that, ten years after it was invented, the reason nobody has adopted a distributed ledger at scale is because nobody wants it? [link]

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