Archive for the ‘Real Life’ Category
December 06, 2009
Filed Under (Real Life) by crumble on 06-12-2009
Here’s an interesting graph. I first saw it a couple of months ago and have been thinking about it on and off ever since:
By measuring tree rings, it is apparently possible to estimate average temperatures for each year in the past. You sample a lot of tree cores and take the average and you get a scary graph like the red line in this picture.
This is the official record that shows quite dramatically how average temperatures for the last 2000 years have shot upwards in the last few years.
You need to average quite a few trees to get a reliable answer, because tree growth rates can be affected by lots of things other than temperature, e.g. rainfall, wind, etc. So the scientists who did the study collected cores from 252 trees.
But then you have the problem of deciding which trees to include in the average and which to leave out. The scientist who published the above picture decided to use … twelve.
What happens if you average the other 240 trees? You’ve guessed it … you end up with the black line on the graph.
Still, I suppose energy saving lightbulbs can’t do any real harm. Unlike scientists who make stuff up to fit their favourite theories.
There’s a detailed piece on this particular piece of “research” on the register, here.
November 22, 2008
Filed Under (Real Life) by crumble on 22-11-2008
I’ve been reading Bill Bonner’s economic essays again (see Blogroll on the right there).
Bill is the gloomiest economic commentator of them all, so obviously he’s in his element right now. But he still hasn’t gone into “I told you so” mode, he’s spending his time telling us how this recession is different from any previous one. In fact if you listen to him we are now entering the First Global Depression (GD1). Blimey.
Mostly I read Bill so I can try and pick holes in his arguments, but sometimes he comes up with interesting evidence. This one caught my eye this week, talking about the behaviour of the US Federal Reserve Bank:
Bill reckons that all the western governments and central banks are just pumping air into a burst balloon, a futile attempt to re-inflate the bubble of spending and debt we were all in. And while it might work for a short time, it’s bound to end in tears eventually – and the longer it’s delayed the worse it will be.
Hey ho, never mind, it’ll soon be Christmas. Lots of people with a few drinks inside them trying to earn a little extra cash on the poker tables…
September 25, 2008
Filed Under (Real Life) by crumble on 25-09-2008
Walking to the office this morning, I took one of my favourite slight detours: the Thames Path between London Bridge and Tower Millennium Pier. I like to look at the tide and count the cormorants.
But this morning, I was forced to take a detour: they have removed a small flight of steps on the Path and are in process of putting in a ramp instead.
Actually, they have been at it for a couple of months now, which has given me plenty of time to ponder its significance.
Ramps have been springing up all over the place for some years now. It’s not just London, but everywhere you go in Britain they are putting the things in and making routes more circuitous for everyone with two working legs.
I’m sure you all agree with me that the stated motive for this – accessibility for the less mobile – is a worthy aim. But it occurred to me recently…
WHAT IF IT’S ALL A COVER-UP?
What if Davros is controlling the minds of staff in the Mayor’s Office? What if, right now, there is a Dalek ship in orbit around the moon, waiting for the right moment to land and annihiliate all humans?
I know that Daleks have levitational powers nowadays, but it surely must burn a whole lot of energy to keep a Dalek aloft. Even Daleks must be subject to the second law of thermodynamics, so the ubiquitous ramps will make their victory simple and certain.
Ever since this occurred to me I’ve been carrying a packet of blu-tak in my pocket just in case I need it to blind a Dalek invader or two.
I suggest you do the same. Watch the skies, people, watch the skies!!!
p.s. normal poker commentary will resume soon once the work-life balance is reinstated. In the meantime I have no time available to play so my reader will just have to wait a little longer.
August 25, 2008
What a great medal haul for GB in the Olympics! Maybe the cycle is turning again at last.
When I was at school we were taught the importance of competition, of trying as hard as you can to win within the rules. This rubbed off on me even though I am rubbish at sports – the Baglady tells me I am a bad loser and a worse winner.
But by the time my kids went to school, the playing fields had mostly gone and instead of sports days the schools held “afternoons of non-competitive activities”. I don’t believe it is coincidence that GB’s performance in sport has, overall, been pretty rubbish for a generation.
A striking image of the Olympics this year, for me, was of four British rowing ladies after the final, in tears, having only won the silver medal again. This shows us all how much winning really meant to them.
Roll on 2012, it’s going to be fantastic!
These musings were brought on by my winning the EMS league game last night. I could be wrong, but I think this is actually my first league win ever. I’ll be on a high now until next week, especially since I’ll be top of the table until next Sunday!
Anyway, here’s the screenie for posterity…
It’s not really about the money, is it. Winning is everything.
August 21, 2008
Filed Under (Real Life) by crumble on 21-08-2008
Here’s a plug for the financial journalist Bill Bonner, one of my favourite bloggers.
Bill is also one of the gloomiest economic commentators you will ever read.
Here he is writing this month about the forthcoming US Depression:
As I say, gloomy. But always readable, always provocative.
I just hope he’s wrong. What happens in the US happens here later.
You can read his essays here.
April 19, 2008
The Terminal 5 building is lovely. Unfortunately it still delivers the same crappy old air travel experience.
Vienna is lovely too, what I saw of it. Unfortunately conference hotels look the same the world over.
Anyway, I played a little poker today. Being a bit tired I didn’t feel up to going back to my Cash Challenge, so I opened up Gnuf (used to be Dream Poker) where I had a massive $6.32 sitting there doing nothing. So I took it to a $10 cash table.
It was only about 10 hands in when I had an opportunity to get all the money in with the best hand against a loose aggressive Villain …
I have to say I’m quite pleased with my deceptive play that helped me get the money in on the turn with Villain drawing really thin. Only one of the two remaining sevens will save him!
So as usual good play goes unrewarded and I’m once again stony.
Thoroughly disconsolate, I decided I’d play a freeroll. The Gnuf Happy Saturday $500 freeroll seemed to fit the bill, since I was logged in there anyway.
Three hours later I’m chipleader on the final table! You want proof:
I’d like to report that I went on to win, but in fact I was card dead from about 8-handed onwards and actually finished in 3rd place racing unsuccessfully with another medium stack. Still, the $44.50 prize is a lot more than I started the day with, so I guess that’s a good thing.
Maybe soon I’ll get back to the cash tables!
April 14, 2008
Neither the Baglady nor I did any good in the €100K on Sunday. I was out in the first hour when I misjudged QQ vs KK and then pushed with AJ vs 77.
I’m kind of bored with poker just now. Maybe I’m just jealous of the EMS guys who seemed to have such a good time in Newcastle? I dunno …
Anyway, I’m away on business for a few days for a conference in chilly Vienna. Not as glamorous as it sounds, but still it’s a break. I fully expect to be re-enthused for the poker again once I’m back again on Friday.
Missing you already, to coin a particularly unpleasant American expression. I’ll let you know what Terminal 5 is like!
March 18, 2008
I’ve neglected my blog a little the last few days, apologies to all my regular reader.
One of the problems with working in the city is that every now and again things get a bit frantic. This is one of those times. Actually this is quite exceptional; often city volatility isn’t noticed by the mainstream media but this time we’re headline news.
It’s looking like quite an “interesting” year in prospect, while the various bubbles that have been slowly inflating over the last 15 years or so start to wobble…
But I don’t want to talk about that, I want to tell you how I got on with the bridge game at the weekend. It was great to see my old partner, it’s about 15 years since we last played and his hair isn’t the same colour as it was then. Neither is mine, of course. But we had a pleasant lunch and settled down to an afternoon game in the “newcomers” tournament.
There were 8 other pairs in the tournament, so we played 3 hands of bridge (“boards”) against each pair, 24 boards total. The great thing about bridge tournaments is that everyone plays the same boards but against different people, so that the scores on each hand can be compared like-for-like. You score 2 match points for every pair you outscore and one point for every pair you tie with, on each board. Add them all up and convert to a percentage.
In theory this takes most of the luck out of it; in practice it just means the luck is recharacterised. On a good day you get the straightforward hands against the skillful opponents, negating their skill, but the complicated hands against the donks, maximising their cluelessness. On a bad day it’s the other way round.
Anyway, on Sunday we played pretty well and were quite disappointed with our final score of just over 52%, 4th out of 9 and no prizes.
However, this particular tournament is scored nationally – clubs all over the country were playing the same hands against each other. So later that night, when we checked our national score, we were actually on 58.9%. This is a very respectable (although not winning) score, although surprisingly it’s actually a higher score than the pair that won in our heat.
It was great fun anyway and we’ll be playing again soon.
City crises permitting, of course!