Corrections to the blogosphere, the consensus, and the world

Monday, December 22, 2008

Turducken

To the shops to get meat thermometer. Panic: is it too short to reach the the radius of a large turkey? I get a (longer-shafted) pizza oven thermometer which does, however, cover many more degrees and thus has much less accurate fine gradations.
Also kitchen thread, needle, and boning knife.

With global warming, John, the question is surely not "Is 2 degrees plus global warming if we do nothing certain?" but rather "Is there more than a 5% chance that 2 degrees plus global warming is coming if we do nothing?"
In view of the unequal balance of pro and con in the scientific community I'd find very it hard to say that the chance was less than 5%. If it's at or over 5%, that's warrant for strong action. In any case, I think the first step in any dispute over this is for some kind of numbers to be applied to statements of probabilities. What's your estimate?

Friday, December 19, 2008

Ponzi

There is a theme in the articles on Madoff of people asking where the 50 billion went to. With no actual knowledge on the details, isn't a classic Ponzi scheme largely redistributional, the money from new customers going out to old customers? You get the finagler's cut not so much by taking a percentage off the top as by heading off to Rio in the middle of the enterprise. A quick Excelling of a scheme where investors are paid 10%, there are no investment profits, there are no administration costs, and there's a constant flow coming in every year shows that the business goes into deficit in year 20. Anybody who's been in Madoff's funds for more than ten years has already broken even.

And on the financial front, isn't the problem with the boom pundits the same problem that comes up with Rudd's climate plans - the systematic downplaying of the possibility of low-probability catastrophic events in the belief that any such catastrophe is most unlikely to come along before the manager has taken his rewards and moved on? The chance of a total wipeout isn't factored in to anybody's structure of incentives.

Melbourne and Sydney may be lucky: we can always put a dyke across the heads. If we were Dutch we would have done it already.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Miller time

Has there in the history of the world been a worse decision than the choice of Frank Miller to bring The Spirit to the screen?

Though, to be fair, the Rudd decision to shoot for only a 5% carbon cut must come close.

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