Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Late bloomers

The average age at which physicists do Nobel-prize-winning work has crept up to 48 years. Will the age cut-off for the Fields Medal always be 40?

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Monday, November 28, 2011

Runaway mitochondria

Item 14,662 on the list of things to fix to save the brain from aging.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Choosing a major

How much do you want to study? How harshly do you want to be graded? How much do you want to learn? How specialized do you want your job to be? How fast do you want your industry to grow?

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Import more doctors

Friday, November 25, 2011


Thursday, November 24, 2011

The wave function is real.

Here's the arXiv preprint. Here's a very positive review.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Foolish faith in Basel Accords

On Engineering the Financial Crisis. See also here. Regulations can and will be gamed; it's only a matter of time. The question is how to prepare for the next time. Of course, if the Next Time is actually Europe, 2012, then already it's too late.

Randall Munroe's latest research

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Complementary flavors


Anthropologists say it's complicated. Less trivially, they say it's even more anarchic than it appears.
Western soldiers meet with village councils, or shuras, and work to strike deals with local elders; and the methods of counterinsurgency may well give them a greater capacity to do so. But what if the shura is largely ceremonial, with real power exercised behind the scenes? And what if the elders are not all they seem? What if they exaggerate their own authority, or seek to establish that authority through prominent meetings with easily impressed outsiders? What if the elders, like everyone else, are anxiously hoarding their power, refusing to take risks, and preparing for an unpredictable future in which it’s equally plausible that mullahs, militias or Kabul bureaucrats might each gain more power?

Arrested Development

~10 new episodes in early 2013.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Traffic analysis

License plate readers in DC are tracking all the cars they see, and keeping the data for 3 years. Welcome to the future. Would you prefer to live in (A) a small village where everyone knows your comings and goings, (B) a city where only Big Brother is supposed to know (until you misbehave), or (C) your personal underground bunker, off the grid?

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Unfortunate economics jargon

“Investment” and “personal consumption expenditure” probably do not mean what you think they mean.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Friday, November 11, 2011

Ferrying past immigration laws?

I would love for this to better expose to shame the current farce that is US immigration policy.
This is what Blueseed is attempting to do, but instead of gambling, they are taking the issues around not being able to get H1B immigration visas head on:
Blueseed aims to provide an alternative solution to the US work visa problem for Silicon Valley and allow professionals lacking a visa to legally work in close proximity to companies and investors from the Valley.

Blueseed plans to do this by providing living and office accommodations on a vessel anchored 12 nautical miles [or 13.8 miles] offshore from California (half an hour by ferry), in international waters outside the jurisdiction of the United States...

...I agree with Greg Anderson from ArticStartup, who wrote, "As an American citizen, I don’t know if I should feel really impressed or disappointed about Blueseed’s plans."

...While [Max Marty, director of Blueseed,] was in college in Florida, he made friends with amazing and talented people from around the world and after they graduated, they found it incredibly difficult to stay in the US. Most returned home where they started their professional careers, even though that wasn’t what they wanted.

See also the comments at Hacker News.

Why not? Here on the border, folks cross over and back between the two Laredos all the time. Folks on this boat wouldn't have permission to be employed in the US, but someone could call himself an "independent contractor" and visit the US five days a week to do frequent "business" with his "client." But what's to stop Congress+President from closing this loophole? On the other hand, if Congress and the President wouldn't mind this stunt, nor mind its subsequent imitation on a larger scale, then why not just fix the H-1B visa shortage?

If the goal is to pressure Congress and the president to fix the H-1B shortag, then it might work. But will Blueseed ever turn a profit? Why would the political equilibrium stabilize at "they can work here and play here, just not sleep here (until they marry US citizens)"? Even if Blueseed succeeded, I think their success would soon attract less scrupulous imitators who would provoke popular demand to expand US jurisdiction beyond 12 nautical miles offshore. Think offshore brothels and ships full of slaves "indentured laborers."