Monday, August 27, 2018

August 27th Links

  • Mike Busch of Savvy Aviation was at Oshkosh talking about his new 500-page book. He described replacing a functional engine at TBO (usually around 2,000 hours of flight time) as "euthanizing an engine." He points out that old age problems are less sudden and severe than new-engine problems. [Greenspun]
  • The fourteen-point scale is provided to us on an attached sheet. It was developed by a food scientist at UC Berkeley named William Bruvold. In the '60s, he pioneered experiments in the acceptability levels of total dissolved solids in water, and he used his students as subjects; he incrementally increased the turbidity of the sample until the water came to resemble Turkish coffee and his students refused to drink it. [link]
  • "If you don't smoke pot when they offer it to you," warned a squinting gentleman named Tiedye Bob, "they're going to think you're a narc, and they won't talk to you. There are a few things you're going to have to do to get people to talk to you around here: smoke their pot, tell 'em their pot is the best you've smoked, and be seen talking to the old-timers." [Harpers]
  • The story of the Spanish Civil War is one of disillusionment. That was Orwell's model and it hasn't been superseded. Orwell arrived in Barcelona as a reporter for the New Leader in December 1936, and what he saw – 'a town where the working class was in the saddle', where men and women wore blue overalls, looked one another in the eye and said tu – struck him as 'worth fighting for'. He ended up on the front in Aragon somewhat by chance. Harry Pollitt, the general secretary of the British Communist Party, had flatly denied his request to join the International Brigades: his accent and background made him politically suspect. The International Labour Party had set up an office in Barcelona that October in support of its quasi-Trotskyist sister organisation, the POUM. John McNair, the ILP representative, wasn't sure he wanted Orwell around either but, aware of his fame, escorted him to the POUM barracks, where he was perfunctorily trained before being shipped west. After four months at the front, he arrived back in Barcelona in time for the 'civil war within the civil war', the Communist assault on the city's anarchist-held telephone exchange. Soon afterwards, the POUM was banned and its leader, AndrĂ©s Nin, murdered. As soon as Orwell returned, he noticed that Barcelona had changed: it no longer seemed to be a city controlled by its workers: private cars were back on the streets; quail could be bought. [LRB]
  • Polyakov thought Kickstarter was the likeliest place to scrounge up $20,000. That would allow them to buy a milling machine and set up a backyard foundry. If they were willing to discount to zero the value of their own labor, and put materials costs on their credit cards, they could hand-assemble 50 prototype units and price them at $200 apiece without losing all that much money. [NY Times]
  • The fall of the Soviet Union saw two radical transformations of the city take place in parallel. The first was the result of an irredentist war with Russian-sponsored Armenia in the mountainous province of Nagorno-Karabakh; as a result, 300,000 Armenians were expelled from Baku, and the city in turn took in twice as many internally displaced persons from territories now occupied by the Armenian and Russian armies. With the mass departure of the Jews for Israel and America, and the repatriation of many of the city's Russians, in less than a decade Baku was transformed from minority Azeri to more than 90 percent local. It was the first time in 200 years—which is to say pretty much ever—that Baku was actually an Azeri place. [link]
  • In the past decade, several schools have shown the four-year model can be cut to three. For instance, New York University offers an accelerated medical degree with early, conditional admission into its residency programs. The model remains controversial. Critics contend that three years is not enough time to learn medicine. Yet a review of eight medical schools with three-year programs suggests graduates have similar test scores and clinical performance to those who take more time. [WaPo]
  • Last year, 15 percent of American couples held their wedding reception at a barn or farm, up from just 2 percent in 2009, according to The Knot's annual wedding survey. [link]
  • The Brandywine crosses the Fall Line just north of Wilmington. The elevation falls from about 160 feet (49 m) above sea level in Chadds Ford, to just a few feet above sea level in Wilmington. The steep descent powered many early industrial activities, including flour milling and the original DuPont gunpowder mills, while the navigable channel to the Delaware River and Delaware Bay allowed manufacturers to load ocean-going ships from near their mills. [Wiki]
  • Even early economists like Adam Smith foresaw economic growth as a temporary phase lasting maybe a few hundred years, ultimately limited by land (which is where energy was obtained in that day). If humans are successful in the long term, it is clear that a steady-state economic theory will far outlive the transient growth-based economic frameworks of today. Forget Smith, Keynes, Friedman, and that lot. The economists who devise a functioning steady-state economic system stand to be remembered for a longer eternity than the growth dudes. [Economist stares into the distance as he contemplates this alluring thought.] [Do the Math]
  • "During an early meeting, one of them testified, Cohn presented folders containing embarrassing personal information about board members, which they saw as a threat to publicize the contents." [New Yorker]
  • It is depressing to note just how much political correctness colors perceptions and distorts otherwise sensible thought processes. In the realm of population, perhaps no recent event more vividly illustrates this than the vote of the conservation-minded Sierra Club to take no position as an organization on America's record levels of immigration. Members allowed themselves to be intimidated into conformity by ideologically motivated shrieks of 'racism' and 'xenophobia.' [link]
  • It's a bad idea because in this case, the cost of this debt (these are taxable bonds, so Chicago will have to offer higher rates than other muni offerings) will require the assets bought with the proceeds to be riskier than the usual allocation, just to justify issuing the debt in the first place. In other words, they're going to have to buy a lot of stocks. It's absolutely possible that positive returns in some periods could exceed the cost of debt and the assumed rate of return. It's also absolutely possible that in one of those years, the negative returns on an equity portfolio could be enough when levered up to 2x that they would, for all practical purposes, wipe out the plan's assets. Not impair. Not reduce fundedness. Take to zero. [Epsilon Theory]
  • Over the past year, at lunches with various Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, I have been told at least four times that magic mushrooms will help me become a better reporter (maybe) and three times that Ecstasy will make me a nicer person (doubt it). I have also been offered several chances to microdose on LSD (pass!) and now that it is legal in California, weed, weed and more weed in every conceivable delivery method (yum, gummy bears!). And, of course, ayahuasca, a brew made from plants that includes the hallucinogen DMT. [NY Times]
  • Some psychology studies find that CO2 impairs cognition, and some sleep studies find that better ventilation may improve sleep quality. Use of a Netatmo air quality sensor reveals that closing my bedroom tightly to reduce morning light also causes CO2 levels to spike overnight to 7x daytime levels. To investigate the possible harmful effects, I run a self-experiment randomizing an open bedroom door and a bedroom box fan (2x2) and analyze the data using a structural equation model of air quality effects on a latent sleep factor with measurement error. [Gwern]
  • If you think bird photography is as easy as snapping away with a long lens, you're asking for trouble. My avid bird photographer friends spend hours every dawn and dusk crawling around in the mud sneaking up on birds, and even with 500mm lenses and teleconverters they're having to crop everything. No matter how close you get, it's rarely close enough. I'll get into gear below, but your efforts are better spent learning how to get close and pay attention to light. [link]
  • In 1929, Pierre du Pont built the Ballroom to house the new organ and to better insulate the organ pipes from temperature changes. Staff organist Firmin Swinnen drew up specifications for the instrument which was then crafted by Aeolian. The organ is composed of 10,010 pipes divided into 146 ranks, making it one of the largest Aeolian organ ever constructed. Over the years, du Pont hosted about 1,500 organ concerts. [link]
  • In my opinion, Alden makes the most balanced wingtip boot of any vendor selling on the market today. Their pattern has the perfect balance. Additionally, Alden offers their Wingtip Boot on various lasts, which can completely change the feel of the boot completely. The sleekness of the Plaza Last versus the presence of the Barrie Last on the Wingtip Boot can completely change the boot. [link]
  • Rapamycin is produced by the bacterium Streptomyces hygroscopicus, which lives in the soil of Easter island. This wonderful microbe had no intention of slowing time on its mysterious island; instead, it sought to slow down the growth of fungi, its natural enemy. But since rapamycin slows growth, it should also slow aging if aging is a continuation of growth. In fact, it does just that; rapamycin prolongs the lifespan of yeast. [NLM]
  • Based in part on leaks by an unusually forthcoming police official in Kashgar (now himself incommunicado), scholars have estimated that about 5 to 10 percent of the adult Uighur population has been interned without criminal charge. In one township, police told reporters from Radio Free Asia that they were expected to send 40 percent of the population, including nearly 100 percent of men between the ages of 20 and 50, to the internment system. For international audiences, the Chinese state has denied the existence of what have come to be known as “re-education camps,” but local officials continue to build new compounds, and openly call for construction contracts online, providing details on everything from camp sizes (up to 883,000 square feet) to the types of materials (“bomb-proof surfaces”) required. [Foreign Policy]
  • As a trained pathologist I accepted the reality that I was in rather poor shape. My fasting blood sugar was up, my creatinine blood level was elevated indicating renal insufficiency and I couldn’t fit into any of my pants. I then began trying to learn about aging. I discovered a story more extraordinary and improbable than anything I had ever encountered in my lifetime. [link]
  • Employers ("plan sponsors") start out wanting to cover everything. Then they find out what their generosity will cost and change their minds. In-vitro fertilization (IVF) is a good example. The employers are initially thrilled to help add more children to Spaceship Earth. Then they find out that 30% of IVF births are multiple, that the risk of prematurity is higher with multiple births, and that an average triplet birth is a $300,000 event compared to $11,000 when one baby emerges. IVF generates 1.6% of US births, but 16% of all twins and 38% of all triplets. (Which plan sponsors are so stuffed full of cash that they don't care about these costs? Universities and the U.S. military's TRICARE.) [Phil G]

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