Category Archives: economics

Microsoft: Some serious design mistakes

Beautiful, elegant

A nice keyboard

Ever so often I stumble across another annoying feature Microsoft is putting into their products. It never ceases to amaze me how creative the folks at Microsoft are at mis-designing products. Their products are always sleek, elegant, easy to use, and contain some hidden monstrosity under the folds.

At work, we have Microsoft Keyboards – just the most unbelievably hideous trap ever to be inflicted upon the unsuspecting world. The keyboard look nice enough, and is OK to use. Look at the picture. Notice those three little flat keys just between the ENTER and the numpad? Above the upper-arrow and below the “delete” key lurks a monster. Yes, it is a SHUTDOWN KEY! In the middle of the keyboard!

Need I tell you the details? You type a document, send out your little finger to press “up” or “del”, and all of a sudden the computer is shutting itself off.

And today I encountered another trap, at home. Here I am working at my computer (sometimes I still use MS windows, you see). And out of the blue pops a message. “Do you want to save?”. Well, why would I, in the middle of a messy revision? I press ESC, and the computer shuts down. Got me: It had an automatic update that was so much more important than my work…

So, shut down your automatic updates on Windows, double check MS products before you buy them, etc. All these advice work, but in my experience, they don’t work very well. remember: MS will always  have the upper hand. There’s always another snark hidden beneath the table, ready to jump at you when you least expect it.

Use Linux.

Is crime good?

No, it is not. Of course. But.

Take a look at Dennis vanEngelsdorp’s TED lecture:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Dennis vanEngelsdorp: a plea for bees…“, posted with vodpod

And here is my strange thought:

The extent of parasitic behavior (and predatory behavior is an example of such) is a very good measure of a population’s health. A prosperous population has many parasites. As a population’s health deteriorates, the predators and parasites are the first to disappear.

Can you use this benchmark for human populations? If so, it would probably mean that the more prosperous a human society becomes, the greater will be the amount of a-social behavior it can tolerate.  So, can crime be a measure for cultural success?

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Some good takes on the baking catastrophe

Although they were posted nearly a year ago, they are just getting more and more relevant.

Welcome Bird and Fortune – SubPrime Crisis:

And – Bird and Fortune – Financial adviser:

Both are great. And, unfortunately, very true.

If you want a mathematician’s take on these matters, better look at Mark’s blog:
Mortgage basics 1
Mortgage basics 2
How disaster came about

I hope I will have time to add a bit myself in the near future.

Brother, can you spare me a viable Economic Theory?

Prof. Robert Nadeau, through Scientific American claims that current economic theory is a severe (and irrational) hindrance to fighting global warming.
(the exact link is: ).
The claim is:
  1. Current (neo-classical) economics is based on false premises.
  2. These false premises include this important premise: That nature is irrelevant to economic growth (and that natural resources are boundless).

Because the irrelevance of nature is a premise of Economic Theory, it is not surprising that it pops up as an outcome of Economic Theory. Given the type of models they work with, economists have to claim that fighting global warming is economically inviable. And when they do so, it’s a tautology – what they are actually saying is: “since we assume that nature is irrelevant to Economics, no action to save natural reasorces could possibly be cost-beneficial”. A claim which is, of course, absurd.

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How to cheat on a poll without actually lying

As you can read on various blogs (I did on Mark Chu-Carroll’s), there is some fuss over Washington State Republican caucus. Apparently, the GOP stopped counting votes on 87%, declaring McCain a winner before all votes got counted, and said the final results would be determined sometime next week. Now I won’t get into the gory details of the Republican party’s election methods (and gory they are, what a mess!). Some people, however, claim none of it matters. After all, was this really cheating? Isn’t the GOP right? They’ve counted 87% of the caucus. McCain has an edge, so what’s the chance that the total caucus will be different?

Well, today we shall answer that first question. Bottom line: it does matter, it was cheating, and pollsters do cheat like that all the time.

This is election lesson no. 1:

How to cheat on a poll without actually lying

What if Huckabee did have an edge? Suppose, hypothetically, that he had 55% of the votes, and that the other 45% were McCain’s. The chairman, who is a McCain supporter, supervises the votes counting. There is a very simple thing which he can do if he wants McCain to win – he can wait for a McCain to gain a temporary advantage, then stop the count, and declare McCain the winner. If you like riddles, you should try this question out, and then skip to the end of the post: what are the chairman’s chances of success?

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