Tuesday 10 November, 2020

The bike shed at the Computer Lab, with a storm coming.

Quote of the Day

”People ask me why I ride with my bottom in the air. Well, I’ve got to put it somewhere.”

  • Lester Piggott, Champion Jockey 11 times.

Musical alternative to the radio news of the day

Gillian Welch and Dave Rawlings | By the Mark


I’d never heard of this duo until this morning, where there was an interesting piece about them in the New York Times. So I went onto YouTube and what do you know?

What Jonty did next

My friend (and former BBC Business reporter and Wolfson Press Fellow) has a new blog. If you want an informed source on the implications of Brexit for the economy, then Jonty’s your man.  

Long read of the Day

Ink-Stained Wretches: The Battle for the Soul of Digital Freedom Taking Place Inside Your Printer.

Wonderful essay by Cory Doctorow on how a legion of tech grifters, led by HP, turned printer ink into liquid gold. The basic idea is to ensure that the customer of a ‘smart’ device never actually gets to own — or control, or repair — it.

Here’s the opener…

Since its founding in the 1930s, Hewlett-Packard has been synonymous with innovation, and many’s the engineer who had cause to praise its workhorse oscillators, minicomputers, servers, and PCs. But since the turn of this century, the company’s changed its name to HP and its focus to sleazy ways to part unhappy printer owners from their money. Printer companies have long excelled at this dishonorable practice, but HP is truly an innovator, the industry-leading Darth Vader of sleaze, always ready to strong-arm you into a “deal” and then alter it later to tilt things even further to its advantage.

The company’s just beat its own record, converting its “Free ink for life” plan into a “Pay us $0.99 every month for the rest of your life or your printer stops working” plan…

Enjoy it. Nobody does this stuff better than Cory.

(It also provides a justification for my decision never, ever, to buy an ink-jet printer.)

The Efficient Markets Hypothesis

“The efficient-market hypothesis (EMH)”, says Wikipedia, “is a hypothesis in financial economics that states that asset prices reflect all available information. A direct implication is that it is impossible to “beat the market” consistently on a risk-adjusted basis since market prices should only react to new information.” It goes on to point out that since risk adjustment is central to the EMH, and yet the EMH does not specify a model of risk, the EMH is therefore untestable. But that doesn’t stop people believing it.

So the old jibe about economics being “the dismal science” is only partly accurate: it is dismal, but it ain’t science. As Karl Popper could have told you 50 years ago.

Brexit contradictions

A while back Michael Gove said that up to 50,000 people may be needed to manage the paperwork for the borders of the newly-‘liberated’ UK. This prompted George Packer and Daniel Thomas to observe (in the FT) that “By the time Britain exits the transition period, the private sector may have hired four times more people to fill in customs forms than the 12,000 people working as fishermen in the U.K. — the industry that is supposedly one of the big beneficiaries of Brexit.”

You couldn’t make this up. Unless you lived in Britain.

Other, hopefully interesting, links.

  • Betty Dodson, Women’s Guru of Self-Pleasure, Dies at 91. If ever a woman deserved a great obituary, she did. And now she’s got it: Link
  • New York Times Hits 7 Million Subscribers as Digital Revenue Rises. Link
  • The perfect tan corduroy suit. A meditation on Robert Redford in All The President’s Men. Link

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