Category Archives: Other Stuff

Supply and Demand

Posted by Lex, on March 14, 2011

By lex, on March 14th, 2011

The Somali pirates are reacting to market pressures * :

Somali pirates said on Sunday they would lower some of their ransom demands to get a faster turnover of ships they hijack in the Indian Ocean.

Armed pirate gangs, who have made millions of dollars capturing ships as far south as the Seychelles and eastwards towards India, said they were holding too many vessels and needed a quicker handover to generate more income.

“I believe there is no excuse for taking high ransoms. At least each of our groups holds ships now,” pirate Hussein told Reuters from Hobyo on the Somalian coast. He said the pirates were holding more than 30 ships at the moment.

“We have lowered the ransom only for the ships we have used to hijack other ships. We sometimes release these ships free of charge for they generate more (money). But we shall not lower the ransom for the bulk ships we are sure can bring bulk money.”

What a pathetic mess.

* 05-04-18 Link updated – Ed.

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Check Six

By lex, on March 13th, 2011

Some World War II-era gun camera footage *  of planes, trains and  ships under attack, courtesy of occasional reader HornetGunner.

Most of the air to air targets obviously never saw it coming.

Belly checks are still in fashion.

* 05-04-18 – Link Updated – Ed.

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A New Tool For Big Oil


Courtesy Wall Street Journal / BP

Here I am all ready to call it a night – it is 0051 – and I come across an interesting article [Paywall] in the WSJ on a new tool the big oil companies are using to aid in exploration: Super Computers.

In my programming career, I came from an era where the true mainframes were starting to fade away, and the upstart micro computers were taking over.

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You Are Almost Certainly in a Simulation

Posted by Lex, on September 1, 2010


The universe, many physicists agree, is “fine tuned” * for life. If any one of a number of different of fundamental, physical constants  * were altered only just a little, life – at least as we know it – would not be possible.

One of these fundamental constants is the so-called “fine structure”  * constant, so named because by multiplying a number of other fundamental constants together a pure, unitless number is attained. The fine structure constant, known to physicists as α is elegantly dimensionless, and utterly mysterious, as quantum mechanic Richard Feynman  * wrote:

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2834 miles

By Lex, on May 19, 2008

Give or take.

It’s Monday, I haven’t done a productive thing all day and real work doesn’t start again until 16 June. So I was thinking, maybe drive the bike up to Missoula, see my nephew and his family. After all, they’re kin. And I have never yet seen Montana. Google Maps tells me that it’s 1262 miles from my house to Missoula. I believe I could make Provo on the first day. Maybe camp at the park.

Reckon I’d need to bring my own beer.

Then up to Missoula the next day. Spend a day or two. Float a dry fly perhaps on the Bitterroot.

Wouldn’t make any sense coming home the same way. Have to decide between heading west via Klamath Falls, or south through Boise. There’s so much to see. The PCH through the Bay Area and down all the way to LA maybe before getting back on the highway. That’s another 1572 miles or so.

Klamath Falls is about 600 miles from Missoula. Ten hours in the saddle, not counting breaks for food. About as much as a man could take, I imagine, but at least I’d be fresh. That’d leave around 900 miles to split up over the last couple of days.

Truth to tell, the Hobbit’s enthusiasm for this plan is difficult to discern. The last time I went on a really long ride she ended up having to visit me in the ortho ward at Oakland Naval Hospital. And it isn’t like I don’t have stuff I ought to be doing here at home. Need to clean up some loose ends.

Still. It’d be quite an adventure.

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The Amazing Internet

What has amazed me over the years is how much the Internet – and specifically the World Wide Web, has connected people around the world.

But not only the WWW, but the search engines that put it all together. They are equally important because if you can’t find it what good is it?

A long time friend and I have been programmers – me since the early 80s, Larry since the 70s. We both talk from time to time of the creative destruction we’ve seen in our industry.

Billion dollar companies for awhile, then has-beens in the computer landscape.

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Technology and Value of the American Worker

A very sobering post for which neither the left nor the right have the answer. The author compares Kodak which 20 years ago was a blue chip company to Facebook.

“…At its height, Kodak employed 150,000 people— 60,000 in Rochester alone.

In 1997, Eastman Kodak’s stock price hit an all-time high of $94.75 as the company’s market value soared to $30 Billion. In 2012 when the company filed for bankruptcy, the stock was worth just 78 cents, the company just $145 million.

It was one half of one percent of its value 15 years earlier….. Every day, Facebook users post about 1.5 times more photos than the total photos taken by mankind in a day during the height Kodak’s profitability in 1997. In the world of storing and sharing imagery, things are better now. It’s not close. Nor debatable.” 

The American worker is more productive than ever. But with changing technology, much of that doesn’t matter.

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