June 30th, 2010


HackerDojo A/C fundraiser

The HackerDojo is a community center for hackers, programmers, entrepreneurs, artists, and makers of various sorts. The Dojo has hosted a number of cool events, such as Random Hacks of Kindness, Android meetups, API Hackathons, Startup Weekend, the Augmented Reality Conference, and many more. However, during the summer months, much of the Dojo becomes unbearably hot. Only a small portion of the space is currently air-conditioned. In order to air condition the rest, they need to raise about $35,000. I've donated, and I encourage anyone who supports the mission of the Dojo to donate as well.

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Frozen in time: How life insurance can make you immortal

The "average cryonicist is male with an extremely high intelligence level, and is often a mathematician or computer engineer," Hoffman says. John Dedon, a principal in the trust, estate and tax planning practice of Washington, D.C.-area law firm Odin, Feldman and Pittleman, agrees that his cryogenic clients are smart and accomplished. "There's a somewhat limited audience, but the ones I've worked with are incredibly successful and bright," he says, adding that he's designed trusts for six to eight cryonicists. "I wish I had a hundred more of them."

In addition to sometimes macabre misnomers, "one of the myths about cryonics is that it's only for wealthy weird dudes," Hoffman said. "Through the magic of life insurance, it's also available to non-wealthy weird dudes," he adds, with a self-deprecating laugh.

Fair coverage of cryonics at Fox Business. Original link here:


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Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality

So not only is the wizarding economy almost completely decoupled from the Muggle economy, no one here has ever heard of arbitrage. The larger Muggle economy had a fluctuating trading range of gold to silver, so every time the Muggle gold-to-silver ratio got more than 5% away from the weight of seventeen Sickles to one Galleon, either gold or silver should have drained from the wizarding economy until it became impossible to maintain the exchange rate. Bring in a ton of silver, change to Sickles (and pay 5%), change the Sickles for Galleons, take the gold to the Muggle world, exchange it for more silver than you started with, and repeat.

Wasn't the Muggle gold to silver ratio somewhere around fifty to one? Harry didn't think it was seventeen, anyway. And it looked like the silver coins were actually smaller than the gold coins.

Then again, Harry was standing in a bank that literally stored your money in vaults full of gold coins guarded by dragons, where you had to go in and take out coins out of your vault whenever you wanted to spend money. The finer points of arbitraging away market inefficiencies might well be lost on them. He'd been tempted to make some sort of snide remark about the crudity of their financial system...

But the sad thing is, their way is probably better.

On the other hand, one competent hedge fundie could probably own the whole wizarding world within a week. Harry filed away this notion in case he ever ran out of money, or had a week free.

Via evwhore. Original link here:


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Avertible catastrophe: EPA regulations block Dutch oil skimming ships

The Dutch know how to handle maritime emergencies. In the event of an oil spill, The Netherlands government, which owns its own ships and high-tech skimmers, gives an oil company 12 hours to demonstrate it has the spill in hand. If the company shows signs of unpreparedness, the government dispatches its own ships at the oil company's expense. "If there's a country that's experienced with building dikes and managing water, it's the Netherlands," says Geert Visser, the Dutch consul general in Houston.

In sharp contrast to Dutch preparedness before the fact and the Dutch instinct to dive into action once an emergency becomes apparent, witness the American reaction to the Dutch offer of help. The U.S. government responded with "Thanks but no thanks," remarked Visser, despite BP's desire to bring in the Dutch equipment and despite the no-lose nature of the Dutch offer --the Dutch government offered the use of its equipment at no charge. Even after the U.S. refused, the Dutch kept their vessels on standby, hoping the Americans would come round. By May 5, the U.S. had not come round. To the contrary, the U.S. had also turned down offers of help from 12 other governments, most of them with superior expertise and equipment --unlike the U.S., Europe has robust fleets of Oil Spill Response Vessels that sail circles around their make-shift U.S. counterparts.

Why does neither the U.S. government nor U.S. energy companies have on hand the cleanup technology available in Europe? Ironically, the superior European technology runs afoul of U.S. environmental rules. The voracious Dutch vessels, for example, continuously suck up vast quantities of oily water, extract most of the oil and then spit overboard vast quantities of nearly oil-free water. Nearly oil-free isn't good enough for the U.S. regulators, who have a standard of 15 parts per million -- if water isn't at least 99.9985% pure, it may not be returned to the Gulf of Mexico.

When ships in U.S. waters take in oil-contaminated water, they are forced to store it. As U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, the official in charge of the clean-up operation, explained in a press briefing on June 11, "We have skimmed, to date, about 18 million gallons of oily water--the oil has to be decanted from that [and] our yield is usually somewhere around 10% or 15% on that." In other words, U.S. ships have mostly been removing water from the Gulf, requiring them to make up to 10 times as many trips to storage facilities where they off-load their oil-water mixture, an approach Koops calls "crazy."

The Americans, overwhelmed by the catastrophic consequences of the BP spill, finally relented and took the Dutch up on their offer -- but only partly. Because the U.S. didn't want Dutch ships working the Gulf, the U.S. airlifted the Dutch equipment to the Gulf and then retrofitted it to U.S. vessels. And rather than have experienced Dutch crews immediately operate the oil-skimming equipment, to appease labour unions the U.S. postponed the clean-up operation to allow U.S. crews to be trained.

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