Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Thought for the day

From RJ Lipton's blog (included in the blog list on the left) this quote from Martin Grötschel (2003):
{\dots} that a benchmark production planning model solved using linear programming would have taken 82 years to solve in 1988, using the computers and the linear programming algorithms of the day. Fifteen years later—in 2003—this same model could be solved in roughly 1 minute, an improvement by a factor of roughly 43 million. Of this, a factor of roughly 1,000 was due to increased processor speed, whereas a factor of roughly 43,000 was due to improvements in algorithms! 

Monday, August 29, 2011


Sustained and courageous effort enables man to see Fate turn its back and flee from the field.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Forbes: Why Amazon can't make the Kindle in America

Forbes: Well worth reading, thinking about, and acting upon.

“So the decline of manufacturing in a region sets off a chain reaction. Once manufacturing is outsourced, process-engineering expertise can’t be maintained, since it depends on daily interactions with manufacturing. Without process-engineering capabilities, companies find it increasingly difficult to conduct advanced research on next-generation process technologies. Without the ability to develop such new processes, they find they can no longer develop new products. In the long term, then, an economy that lacks an infrastructure for advanced process engineering and manufacturing will lose its ability to innovate.”

Monday, August 22, 2011

Dowd, Obama, Frost

Maureen Dowd had this in the NYT:

Obama was truly stung by his budget experience with John Boehner. And now, Senator Tom Coburn, whom Obama called “not only a dear friend, but also a brother in Christ” at February’s National Prayer Breakfast, tells a town hall in Oklahoma that Obama’s views are “goofy and wrong,” and that the president wants to “create dependency” because “as an African-American male,” he had received “tremendous benefit” from government programs.

There is no way to sell the idea that being a black man in America gives you tremendous benefit.
How does Obama feel after his brother in Christ painted him as something akin to a welfare queen and an affirmative-action president?

Let us take today’s lesson from Frost, who deliciously wrote in “The Lesson for Today”:

I’m liberal. You, you aristocrat,
Won’t know exactly what I mean by that.
I mean so altruistically moral
I never take my own side in a quarrel.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

US Health Care

Thursday, August 18, 2011


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A little puzzle

Dr. N.K. sent me a little puzzle.

Construct the Fill of a set of points by drawing all the lines (extending to infinity) using every pair of points in the set.  Thus the Fill of three non-collinear points is the triangle with the 3 points as vertices and the edges extended to infinity.  The Fill * Fill of three non-collinear points is the whole plane.

The question is: what is the Fill * Fill of four non-coplanar points?  Is it all of space (Euclidean 3D space)?
Answer beneath the fold.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Who am I?

1-10% of me (depending on how you count it) was blown away by this in the New York Times: (emphasis added). No doubt, some large part of me already knew this.

"As they look beyond the genome, cancer researchers are also awakening to the fact that some 90 percent of the protein-encoding cells in our body are microbes. We evolved with them in a symbiotic relationship, which raises the question of just who is occupying whom."

“We are massively outnumbered,” said Jeremy K. Nicholson, chairman of biological chemistry and head of the department of surgery and cancer at Imperial College London. Altogether, he said, 99 percent of the functional genes in the body are microbial.

Murdochs in the dock

Further revelations.

    Rupert Murdoch, James Murdoch and their former editor Andy Coulson all face embarrassing new allegations of dishonesty and cover-up after the publication of an explosive letter written by the News of the World's disgraced royal correspondent, Clive Goodman. In the letter, which was written four years ago but published only on Tuesday, Goodman claims that phone hacking was "widely discussed" at editorial meetings at the paper until Coulson himself banned further references to it; that Coulson offered to let him keep his job if he agreed not to implicate the paper in hacking when he came to court; and that his own hacking was carried out with "the full knowledge and support" of other senior journalists, whom he named.

Jared Bernstein on Social Security

College/Non-College Social Norms

Yglesias points to some.  In light of Dalrymple's essays on England, pointing out similar issues, this is interesting.  In particular:
Between 2006 and 2008, among moderately educated women, 44 percent of all births occurred outside marriage, not far off the rate (54 percent) among high-school dropouts; among college-educated women, that proportion was just 6 percent.
The same pattern—families of middle-class nonprofessionals now resembling those of high-school dropouts more than those of college graduates—emerges with norm after norm: the percentage of 14-year-old girls living with both their mother and father; the percentage of adolescents wanting to attend college “very much”; the percentage of adolescents who say they’d be embarrassed if they got (or got someone) pregnant; the percentage of never-married young adults using birth control all the time.

Friday, August 12, 2011


Theodore Dalrymple I know only through his essays (not his books). For instance.

First and foremost he is a good and interesting writer.   He also comes off as a honest and compassionate person.   Second, he challenges liberal views, and it would be good for liberals to address what he has to say.  Third,  while he writes anecdotally, as a prison doctor and psychiatrist, his anecdotes are backed by many cases.

I think three good reasons are sufficient for me to provide as to why I follow his writings.   In the idea that culture matters, I agree broadly with him.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Theodore Dalrymple on the London riots

In The Australian.

British youth leads the Western world in almost all aspects of social pathology, from teenage pregnancy to drug taking, from drunkenness to violent criminality. There is no form of bad behaviour that our version of the welfare state has not sought out and subsidised.

British children are much likelier to have a television in their bedroom than a father living at home. One-third of them never eat a meal at a table with another member of their household -- family is not the word for the social arrangements of the people in the areas from which the rioters mainly come. They are therefore radically unsocialised and deeply egotistical, viewing relations with other human beings in the same way as Lenin: Who whom, who does what to whom. By the time they grow up, they are destined not only for unemployment but unemployability.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Much less made in China

Such is the claim (over at Matthew Yglesias):

A very interesting analysis by Galina Hale and Bart Hobijn of the San Francisco Fed concludes that very little of American personal consumption spending actually ends up in China. When Americans go buy stuff, they’re overwhelmingly buying things that are made in America:

In part, this reflects the fact that 67 percent of spending is on services rather than goods, and services are 96 percent made in the USA. But even durable goods, which only account for about 10 percent of total spending, are mostly made in America — 66.6 percent to 12 percent for China with the rest coming from the rest of the world. In fact the only category of spending in which Made in the USA doesn’t account for the majority is clothing and shoes. What’s more, even a lot of the spending on imported goods actually reflects the cost of shipping them around the United States:
Table 1 shows that, of the 11.5% of U.S. consumer spending that goes for goods and services produced abroad, 7.3% reflects the cost of imports. The remaining 4.2% goes for U.S. transportation, wholesale, and retail activities. Thus, 36% of the price U.S. consumers pay for imported goods actually goes to U.S. companies and workers.
This U.S. fraction is much higher for imports from China. Whereas goods labeled “Made in China” make up 2.7% of U.S. consumer spending, only 1.2% actually reflects the cost of the imported goods. Thus, on average, of every dollar spent on an item labeled “Made in China,” 55 cents go for services produced in the United States. In other words, the U.S. content of “Made in China” is about 55%. The fact that the U.S. content of Chinese goods is much higher than for imports as a whole is mainly due to higher retail and wholesale margins on consumer electronics and clothing than on most other goods and services.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Some understanding for truckers, please!

Saturday, August 06, 2011

How not to negotiate

Kurt Andersen, in the New York Times:

I had breakfast this week with one of Hollywood’s most ferocious, self-confident and successful doers of deals. He was still steamed about what an unforgivably lousy negotiator his president had been on the debt ceiling agreement.

Friday, August 05, 2011

The mendacity that pervades our public discourse

A small example exposed.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

What for?


And unless we find a way to go interstellar - or at least, not depend on a planetary surface for our survival - this chain of life will eventually end.

PS: A Hindu story to help reconcile you to all of the above.

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Scott Bateman: Obama on the Debt Deal

Actual Audio: Obama on the Debt Deal from scottbateman on Vimeo.