Links 9/20/10

Stone tools ‘change migration story BBC

The Quadrotor Drone Learns Several Terrifying New Tricks Gizmodo

Ghostwriters in the sky Bad Science

Scientists Decode Genomes of Precocious Fruit Flies ScienceDaily. Reader John M notes “Evolution is more complicated than you thought.”

Outside Edge: When pigs flew and bears fled Jurek Martin, Financial Times (hat tip reader Scott)

GOP Aims to Erode White House Agenda Wall Street Journal

Europe Debt Crisis Abates as Traders See Yield Spreads Narrow Bloomberg versus Guest post: El-Erian on an interesting week ahead FT Alphavile

QE the Sequel: Putting Ben’s Money Where His Mouth Is Chevelle

Universal Travel Group’s cash balances: is there any way of testing whether the $43 million is really there? John Hempton. A bit of a due diligence wild goose, or maybe turkey, chase.

Did France cause the Great Depression? Douglas Irwin, VoxEU

Wall Street’s Engines of Profit Are Slowing Down New York Times. Note despite the effort to link the profit fall to financial regulations, the decline hit over the summer, before new rules were in effect. This is the real economy slowdown blowing back to Wall Street.

Backlash against plan to disclose losses from class-action cases Financial Times

Munger Says `Thank God’ U.S. Opted for Bailouts Over Handouts Bloomberg. We’re all exhorted to “suck it in and cope” by a billionaire who benefitted from the bailout. Anyone keeping a pitchfork list?

The Angry Rich Paul Krugman

Antidote du jour. I have a real weakness for Abys (particularly ruddys):

Picture 10

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    1. Dirk

      One reason a (former?) libertarian such as I am questioning my philosophy were the statements and actions of Buffett before and after his buying into to Goldman. And now Munger adds to it. If someone such as Buffett can delude himself to make sure his legacy as the shrewdest capitalist ever is secured, then there is something about human nature that such philosophies are leaving out. Not as bad as communism, say, but something.

  1. Francois T


    What is there to say? His remarks should be filed in the “Particular Assholery of the Rich who talk their book” folder.

    My choice assholery is:

    “You should thank God” for bank bailouts, Munger said in a discussion at the University of Michigan on Sept. 14, according to a video posted on the Internet. “Now, if you talk about bailouts for everybody else, there comes a place where if you just start bailing out all the individuals instead of telling them to adapt, the culture dies.”

    It couldn’t possibly occur to Charlie Munger that some subcultures must die…like the banksters’ one for instance. Given Berkshire’s investment in Goldmine Sack, should we be surprised that Munger had a problem with letting this particular culture die?

  2. wunsacon

    >> The Quadrotor Drone Learns Several Terrifying New Tricks

    Realizing Kyle Reese’s nightmares (in the Terminator series) need not require truly rogue AI. Maybe Kyle’s village was fighting a country that possesses superior technology and simply sends only its gadgets to war.

  3. MyLessThanPrimeBeef

    Evolution is complicated?

    The question is too difficult. We should focus on simple questions like whether coffee is good or bad for you and move, ever gingerly, from there to, um…man-made global warming perhaps.

  4. propertius

    Thankfully, we know that Daniel Mellinger and Vijay Kumar, the U Penn researchers behind the project, will only use their talented little bot for good. Like flying through supervillains’ windows and killing them in their sleep.

    I nominate Charlie Munger.

  5. john c. halasz

    Munger repeats a standard bit of historical revisionism. The hyperinflation of the Weimar Republic was resolved with the introduction of the Rentenmark in 1923. Hitler didn’t gain power because the value of the currency had been destroyed by hyperinflation, but because Germany underwent a massive deflationary depression. That, er, also might hint at what is wrong with his prescriptions.

  6. Hugh

    As I commented elsewhere on the net, folks like Munger and Buffett are really terrible macroeconomists. They would have gone to the wall in 2008 like everyone else, if our kleptocrat controlled government had not bailed them the markets out. It is the classic case of the privatization of profit and socialization of loss. When Munger and Buffett make money, it is evidence of their genius. When the house of cards system of crony casino capitalism is teetering on the brink, they get or the markets on which they depend get bailouts, and it is for the rest of us to suck it up. How can they lose? The answer is they can’t. They have perpetually rigged the system in their favor. Heads they win, tails we lose.

    They aren’t smart. They’re crooked. Oh sure, I expect someone will say but Buffett said this or that about markets. He knew this was coming. Well, if he did, he did surprisingly little about it.

    The truth is these are predators, not predictors. They didn’t see the mess we are in now and they don’t see the next one coming. But then they don’t need to as long as they have the government backstopping the casino.

  7. Hugh

    BTW the NBER announced the recession ended in June 2009.

    I seriously disagree with the reasoning. Un- and under-, employment plus the uncounted unemployed is around 19.5% or 31.1 million by my count. The stimulus and inventory rebuilding were too small to effect a reversal. All we are seeing is the superposition of a stock and commodities bubble on a depression. As far as the NBER is concerned, smoke and mirrors is as good as reality. This, of course, is always true, until it isn’t.

  8. Pelle Schultz

    W.r.t. the Science Daily article on fruit flies, a few factors should be noted:

    1) the “long-held belief” that sexually reproducing organisms (diploid or higher ploidy) evolve and “simpler” (i.e. asexual and generally haploid) ones “evolve the same way” is in fact a long-abandoned belief (and perhaps even never held) among population geneticists.

    2) this paper used high-throughput short-read (re-)sequencing, and therefore says little about genome structure outside of non-repetitive regions. This is a technical consideration, but one that severely undercuts the assertion of this being a “genome-wide” study.

    W.r.t. to the original paper published in Nature: the authors clearly state that these lab populations of flies are “outbred.” For even the lay public, that’s a lot different than ‘inbred.’ It is somewhat mystifying to me, as both a geneticist and former Nature editor, that this got published in Nature. If I read this correctly, this is not a truly inbred population; they’ve been introducing flies from the outside (hence the term ‘outbred’) the entire time. This is done precisely to prevent what is known as ‘inbreeding depression.’ (

    It’s quite simple, really:

    If this was a truly inbred population of fixed (and generally small) size, genetic variation (of alleles, not genes) would be substantially reduced due to fixation. This has been proven many times, and at this or greater depth, in sexually reproducing species under both conditions of both natural and artificial selection. But it would likely have led to reduced or inviability long before 600 generations.

    In a population under natural selection with random mating (i.e. the ancestral one), there would be substantial variation for all the obvious reasons.

    In this population–under conditions of artificial selection, but with constant new genetic input from outbred, i.e. non-selected, flies–you get an intermediate state, consistent with ‘soft sweeps.’ Exactly as one would expect.

    Even if I am incorrect about the usage of ‘outbred’ here, migration between identically treated subpopulation is almost certainly occurring. They dismiss the impact of genetic flow between subpopulations (a.k.a. contamination) on ‘convergence’ between the strains. In my experience, this is by far the most likely explanation.

    Beware of science by press release (and aggregator site oversell).

  9. Sundog

    Manufacturers in Russia, China and Japan are joining Brazil’s Embraer and Canada’s Bombardier in the market for big passenger jets. Most of these newcomers get government support.

    I tend to view aerospace, and territory (Arctic and South China seas), as somewhat more transparent analogues of oil.

    This article is more or less about an old story, which is that the hardware advances faster than the software and we’re getting to the point where the illegitimacy of our coping mechanisms is all too obvious.

    The Economist, “Boeing gets huge illegal subsidies, the WTO rules”

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