Thursday, October 30, 2008
Not far away, there's a marker where a yellow poplar tree used to grow. By 1976, it had gotten so big that the UN observation post at upper right couldn't quite see the goings-on at a checkpoint just out of the frame to the left.
At the time, soldiers from each side could move about the JSA [Joint Security Area] freely.
So a group of UN soldiers, including U.S. Army Cpt. Arthur Bonifas, went to cut the tree down. The North Koreans took exception, and pretty soon, a bunch of them ax-murdered two of the UN guys, including Cpt. Bonifas.
Ever since, soldiers from each side can no longer move about the JSA freely.
And that's why the camp where we got our briefing is called Camp Bonifas.
Three days later, a complex raid ("Operation Paul Bunyan") involving a reported 813 men, 23 vehicles, 7 Cobra attack helicopters, a parade of B-52 bomber and F-4 and F-5 fighter planes, and a US Navy aircraft carrier placed into position offshore...
... and managed to cut down the tree.
So, yes. Kinda tense sometimes.
--Rob Harris, Boing Boing, on visiting the Korean DMZ
Saturday, October 25, 2008
The video showed how, in a few easy steps, the Nintendo Wii remote controller — or “Wiimote” — could transform a normal video screen into a virtual reality display, with graphics that seemed to pop through the screen and into the living room. So far, the video has been seen more than six million times.
Interactive whiteboards, which in commercial form generally sell for more than $1,000, make it possible to control a computer by tapping, writing or drawing on an image of the desktop that has been projected onto a screen. Mr. Lee’s version can be built with roughly $60 in parts and free open-source software downloadable from his Web site.
Some 700,000 people, many of them teachers, have downloaded the software, Mr. Lee says.
--Leslie Berlin, NYT, on one of MIT's Technology Review's top innovators under 35
After a week the responses stopped coming in and were ready to be tabulated. Fifteen people said they were attending, and 60 said maybe. A few hundred said not, and the rest just ignored the invitation altogether. I figured that about 20 people would show up. That sounded pretty good to me. Twenty potential new friends. ...
I would learn, when I asked some people who didn’t show up the next day, that “definitely attending” on Facebook means “maybe” and “maybe attending” means “likely not.” So I probably shouldn’t have taken it personally. ...
By now it was nearing midnight. My head was clouded by drink, and it was finally starting to sink in: no one else was coming. ...
Seven hundred friends, and I was drinking alone.
--Hal Neidzviecki, NYT Magazine, on the difference between Facebook and real life
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
Some of Heckman’s comments set off alarm bells for his fellow Institute committee member, GSB professor John Cochrane, who has long argued that the Institute will maintain academic integrity.
In an e-mail to Heckman, Cochrane wrote, “My strong, personal suggestion is that you are digging yourself deeper and deeper into public statements that you will regret. Now, not only is Friedman’s name expendable, the GSB political, but President [Robert] Zimmer ’rushed this through.’ He’ll be delighted to see that in print. You may have long, convoluted explanations, but that won’t do much good when this sort of thing gets out.” ...
Heckman e-mailed Cochrane a terse response to his concerns: “Screw off, John,” he said.
--Sara Jerome, Chicago Maroon, on drama in Chicago
Sunday, October 19, 2008
one two three
my name is sarah palin you all know me
vice president nominee of the gop
gonna need your vote in the next election
can i get a ‘what what’ from the senior section
mccain got experience, mccain got style
but don’t let him freak you out when he tries to smile
cause that smile be creepy
but when i be vp
all the leaders in the world gonna finally meet me
how’s it go eskimo
tell me what you know eskimo
how you feel eskimo
tell me tell me what you feel eskimo
i’m jeremiah wright cause tonight i’m the preacha
i got a bookish look and you’re all hot for teacha
todd lookin fine on his snow machine
so hot boy gonna need a go between
in wasilla we just chill baby chilla
but when i see oil lets drill baby drill
my country tis a thee
from my porch i can see
russia and such
all the mavericks in the house put your hands up
all the mavericks in the house put your hands up
all the plumbers in the house pull your pants up
all the plumbers in the house pull your pants up
when i say ‘obama’ you say ‘ayers’
obama. (ayers) obama (ayers)
i built me a bridge - it ain’t goin’ nowhere.
mccain, palin, gonna put the nail in the coffin
of the media elite
(she likes red meat)
shoot a mother-humpin moose, eight days of the week
now ya dead, now ya dead,
cause i’m an animal, and i’m bigger than you
holdin a shotgun walk in the pub
everybody party, we’re goin on a hunt
la la la la la la la la
--Lyrics courtesy of TKBB
“I feel like I’m at home,” Ms. Palin said, looking out at a boisterous crowd of about 6,000. “I see the Carhartts and the steel-toed boots,” she said, the first reference being to a clothing brand favored by construction workers and the burly types who make up much of the “Sarah Dude” population. “You guys are great,” she said while signing autographs.
The fact that the NYT has to badly explain the "first reference being to a clothing brand..." is a nice giveaway about the Times, and the NYT readership. Imagine a parallel in a small-town paper: "I feel like I'm at home - I see the pumpkin soy chai lattes and iPhones," he said, the first reference being to a hot beverage favored by urban yuppies who make up much of the Obama base.
--Sophist on a cultural disconnect
Friday, October 17, 2008
A simple rule dictates my buying: Be fearful when others are greedy, and be greedy when others are fearful. And most certainly, fear is now widespread, gripping even seasoned investors.
--Warren Buffett, NYT, giving investing advice
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
The law firm representing Barclays filed the motion (download PDF) on Friday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York, seeking to exclude 179 Lehman contracts that it said were mistakenly included in the asset purchase agreement. The firm — Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP — said in the motion that one of its first-year law associates had unknowingly added the contracts when reformatting a spreadsheet in Excel.
--Heather Havenstein, ComputerWorld, on a lawyer who's about to get fired
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
--Tina Fey on how long she'll do her Sarah Palin impression
Presidential impersonators do influence elections, and in this one, Tina Fey is well on her way to ruining Sarah Palin's political career.
--Jerald Podair, Professor of American Studies at Lawrence University
Prasher, 57, works as a courtesy shuttle operator at a Huntsville, Ala., Toyota dealership. While his former colleagues will fly to Stockholm in December to accept the Nobel Prize and a $1.4 million check, the former Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution scientist will be earning $10 an hour while trying to put two of his children through college.
After the American Cancer Society gave Prasher a $220,000 grant in 1988, he set about isolating and copying the GFP gene. ...
Four years later, as Prasher's grant dried up and he was no longer able to continue his own research, he voluntarily gave samples of the GFP gene to Chalfie. ...
"(Prasher's) work was critical and essential for the work we did in our lab," Chalfie said. "They could've easily given the prize to Douglas and the other two and left me out." ...
After stints at a U.S. Department of Agriculture laboratory and working for NASA in Huntsville, Prasher was out of work for a year before he took a job at the car dealership.
--Aaron Gouveia, Cape Cod Times, on tough luck (HT: Boing Boing)
Quote of the day (from a trader): "This is worse than a divorce. I've lost half my net worth and I still have a wife."
--Credit crunch jokes posted at BBC News
Monday, October 13, 2008
The capital injections are not voluntary, with Mr. Paulson making it clear this was a one-time offer that everyone at the meeting should accept.
--Mark Landler, NYT, on the U.S. government's "offer" to invest in banks
Saturday, October 11, 2008
--Joe Nocera, NYT, on how deeply the efficient market hypothesis goes against our intuitions
Friday, October 10, 2008
The economics Nobel is announced Monday. If I’m not mistaken, this very colleague is sporting a snazzy new haircut.
--Steve Levitt, Freakonomics blog, on who thinks they're all that
Thursday, October 9, 2008
--Yale economics professor Ray Fair, via the Economix blog, on the genesis of a global financial meltdown
Tuesday, October 7, 2008
When you enable Mail Goggles, it will check that you're really sure you want to send that late night Friday email. And what better way to check than by making you solve a few simple math problems after you click send to verify you're in the right state of mind?
By default, Mail Goggles is only active late night on the weekend as that is the time you're most likely to need it.
--Gmail Blog on preventing drunk e-mailing (HT: Chris Blattman's Blog)
Saturday, October 4, 2008
Over several rounds, the game involved the investor choosing how much money to pass to the trustee. The investment was automatically tripled and then the trustee had to decide how much money to pass back to the investor. For maximum returns, both parties need to cooperate. If the trustee is unfair in the returns he gives back, the investor will likely reduce his investments on future rounds, meaning less profit for everyone.
The researchers found that cooperation broke down when a person with BPD played the role of trustee. They failed to recognise smaller investments as a sign that the investor was losing trust. Healthy trustees, by contrast, responded to a distrustful investor by increasing the returns they gave, thereby coaxing back the investor's trust and provoking a return to larger investments.
Brain scans taken while the participants played the role of trustee showed that healthy participants, but not participants with BPD, showed greater activity in the anterior insula as investments reduced in size (this is a brain region known to be involved in fairness, as well as sensing the body's internal states). Perhaps because of their low expectations for how others will treat them, the participants with BPD didn't appear to recognise a low investment [return] as unfair.
--Research Digest blog on why BPD people are so difficult to interact with
Friday, October 3, 2008
--Christopher Carroll, RGE Monitor, on Woody Allen's insight into adverse selection
UPDATE: Whoops, both Chris Carroll and I misattributed this Groucho Marx insight to Woody Allen.