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Timmerov's Blog
Friday, February 29, 2008
i got the greatest valentine's gift ever this year. the beautiful and talented alisa wove me a heart shaped basket filled with chocolates. she always makes me something really cool. but this year's was extra cool because i had no idea how she did it. it was a nifty little puzzle to figure out. the basket was made from two sheets of paper. one red, one white. the bands in the weave were connected together at both ends. both pieces of paper. i searched very carefully for where she glued them back together. but there were no seams anywhere. it looked for all the world like the papers were created woven together like that. damn, i love that woman. anywho, i was afraid we were getting out of sync. but completely independently, i had woven her a heart out of red and white construction paper. so i guess we're completely in sync. anywho, mine was flat and had a heart pattern in the weave. cool enough. but not best ever.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
  zero sums
a friend of mine inspired this post. quite passionately. are taxes a zero sum game? more generally: is trading a zero sum game? well it is and it isn't. he's right and wrong. depends on what you're summing. when you trade say lumber for coal, nothing is created. there are no new trees or coal or anything. from the game's point of view there are exactly the same number of things before and after the trade. clearly a zero sum game. however, we make the lumber for coal trade because i perceive the value of lumber to be higher than you do and you perceive the value of coal to be higher than i do. after the trade we're both happier even though the absolute value of our resources hasn't changed. the technical term for that perceived value is utility. which is not conserved. ie total utility is higher after the trade than it was before. clearly trading is not a zero sum game. it all depends on what you're summing.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
a while ago our house shifted and the front door latch and the dead bolt no longer lined up with the holes in the door frame. made closing it kind of a pain in the backside. well, now the house seems to have shifted back and everything works perfectly again. there! i fixed it! heh. the garage door has magic hinges with springs in them that close the door for you. one morning they went sproing! and now the door just stands there instead of closing itself. sigh. think if i procrastinate long enough the spring will pop back into place? worked for the front door.
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
fark headline: the surge is kicking al queda's ass. actual article: al queda fighters are defecting because the us pays them more. heh. a while ago we started paying jobless iraqi's $10/day to be armed security guards defending their community instead of attacking us interests. so i guess the surge in money is working.
Monday, February 25, 2008
my grandmother passed away recently. she was in her 90s. remarkable woman. i went off to college at 18 and didn't get home much. on one of those early trips mom-mom as we called her, pulled out a chair climbed up on it, looked me straight in the eye, and said, you may be a big shot college boy living all alone on the other side of the country, but i'm still your grandmother. all the while she was shaking her crooked ancient finger at me. she then climbed down and returned to normal life as if nothing unusual had happened. heh. my aunt did something i think is really cool. no funeral. we'll be having a memorial service in july. way cool. funerals are expensive inconvenient traditions for people who don't visit their relatives while they are alive. and seem to be genuinely surprised that the passage of time has taken someone away. i'm gonna go hug my kids.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
there are many different types of lie. one of my favorites is the lie by misassociation. that's when you put two unrelated truths together and produce a conclusion that is completely wrong. for example: i picked my toddler up at day care and asked him what he did today. truth #1: he spilled juice on himself and had to change into his spare clothes. truth #2: he had his picture taken for a mother's day gift they are making. unrelated truths. but put them together and you get a really wrong idea. let's try it. what did you do today? i took off my clothes and they took pictures.
Saturday, February 23, 2008
i don't really like recruiters calling the house. usually they offer some job i'm not at all interested in. and yeah i realize they serve a useful purpose. necessary evil and all that. anywho, this guy was from the army. i was shocked. i mean shit. my oldest son is 9. going after them kinda young i snarked. patiently and in small words. he just as patiently explained that he wasn't calling for b. he was calling to see if i or my wife would like to enlist. huh. i said, sorry i'm too old. he said, you're 42. uh yeah, so? so congress raised the maximum recruitment age to 42. nice. no problems making recruitment targets there eh? anywho, i patiently explained that i didn't have any interest in working in an environment where 30% of the people don't have high school diplomas. sigh.
Friday, February 22, 2008
i announced at the dinner table that i had "forgotten" who's turn it was to pick where we go out for dinner this week. 'course i didn't really forget that it was g's turn. i said i'm thinking of a number from 1 to 4. whoever guesses correctly gets to pick. b says 3! i shook my head sadly and winked at him. g says 2! correct! where are we going? he picked sushi of course. so anywho. if this game was fair, would it be fair? i mean, suppose i wrote the number on a piece of paper before anyone made their guess. is the probability of winning the pick the same regardless of whether you guess first, second, third, or fourth?
Thursday, February 21, 2008
i'm thinking of a particular scientist. well known and well respected in some circles. for some his word might as well come from the almighty hisself. anywho, he's a fraud. intentionally or otherwise i don't know. he gets away with it because: one, statistical analysis is way beyond 99.44% of human brains. two, social engineering. his results resonate with people who want to believe. careful analysis of one of his works shows he uses a confidence level that's way too high. so he concludes the data support the hypothesis. careful analysis of another of his work on data from from a completely unrelated field shows he uses a confidence level that's way too low. so he concludes the data don't support the hypothesis. sigh. here's my proposal. give him the data from the first topic but tell him it's from the second topic. and vice versa. see if he gets the same results. my money is no. i'm gonna be so rich.
i read a blurb about how much exxon pays in taxes. last three years averaged some $27 billion. they pointed out that's 41%. and to give the reader some idea how much money that is... the bottom 50% of individual wage earners, some 65 million people, collectively paid $27 billion at 3%. they were careful to not say this is an apples to apples comparison. but they didn't say it's apples to oranges either. individuals pay taxes on their net income less a tiny fraction in deductions. corporations pay taxes on their net profit. heh. some years 41% of my net profit would be less than 3% of my income.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008
don't slice your muffin too thin. and if you do slice your muffin too thin don't stick it in a toaster. and if you do stick it in a toaster stick it in an oven style toaster. don't stick it in a pop up style toaster. cause if you do the thinly sliced muffin will slip between the popper upper and the heating element and catch fire.
Tuesday, February 19, 2008
statistics are deceptively complicated math. all you're doing is adding and averaging numbers. right? yeah, well. there's a whole lot more to it. some people have great confidence in their ability to create and understand statistics. and they can pass themselves off as top notch economists, scientists, debunkers, etc. pretty easily in fact. because statistics is that hard and that subtle. okay. so if you're talking to a guy who sounds like he might know what he's talking about but you're not sure. apply this test. steer the conversation to vegas. see if the guy thinks he can make money gambling at games of chance. like slots, roulette, blackjack, etc. if so then smile and nod for the rest of the conversation. his credibility is zero. that doesn't mean that his positions aren't correct. they could be by luck.
Monday, February 18, 2008
you can't just draw to the screen. if you do it'll look crappy. whatever you're drawing will flicker visibly. unacceptable. so you draw to a back buffer while the video card shows the previously drawn front buffer. this is called double buffering. when you're done drawing you tell the video card to swap the front and back buffers. it doesn't actually move any memory. which would be really slow. it just changes pointers. which is really fast. but you can't just do that any old time. if you swap buffers after the top half of the screen has been drawn you'll see what is called tearing. for obvious reasons. also unacceptable. so you wait for vertical sync. then swap buffers when nothing is actually being drawn at that moment. but suppose you can't wait. whatever it is you're drawing is being collected or created in real time and cannot acquiesce to the whims of your video card. if it comes in slower there's no problem right? the video card simply repeats the front buffer if no new back buffer is ready. but if the video card is slower then we need to triple buffer. ie one front buffer and two back buffers. we draw to one of the back buffers. then immediately start drawing to the other. the video card will swap the front buffer with whichever of the back buffers is ready. works great when it works. last week's fire drill was because triple buffering is broken on some computers. sigh. the driver was simply cycling between the three buffers. and blocking when we asked for a free back buffer. frikken idiots. that's the point of triple buffering. you can't block the calling processes. ever. so now we're quintuple buffered. which is just frikken offensively brilliant. i put a correctly working triple buffering thing between the drawing routines and the (now) double buffered video card. wee.
Sunday, February 17, 2008
  work blogs
usually i publish the day's post first thing in the morning. except when i'm working too hard. then i have to skip the morning ritual of reading the news and my little blogger friends and posting. then some time later in the day or the next day i catch up. that was last week. yesterday i got a break. finally. sheehs. i still have too much work to do. but i finished putting out one fire. and now i can finally start that 3 week project that's due in 1.5. sigh.
Saturday, February 16, 2008
  fruit flies
our house was recently infested with fruit flies. a violent campaign of smooshing every one wasn't doing the trick. they're breeding too fast. in the shower drain of all places. so now we cover the drains with duct tape. and pour some internet special orange juice down. apparently they love decaying biological material that clogs drains. but bathing in orange juice kills the poor baby fruit flies. anywho, we seem to be winning now.
Friday, February 15, 2008
everyone welcome jason to the linked list. jason is a coworker who is not quite as smart as i am. nor is quite as opinionated. nor quite as good looking. much younger though. he is however over the top charismatic. everyone loves jason. so they tend to overlook his other shortcomings. jt
Thursday, February 14, 2008
  well duh 3
ethanol's real popular with the greeninites. clean burning save the world renewable fuel. right? something something some things are obvious to some human brains but not others something something something. well duh. the production of ethanol in indiana where the corn is grown requires so much electricity that the power companies need to build huge new power plants. coal burning power plants. cause they're the cheapest. which kinda turns that green power black. a nice sooty co2 colored black. which pretty much gives the greeninites fits of apoplexy.
Wednesday, February 13, 2008
oops is the appropriate thing to say when you walk in on people engaged in intimate acts. i've only ever oops'd once. and i've only ever been oops'd once. on a boat. the upper cabin was the only place one could get any privacy. it had been days and days. i was fit to burst. the only problem was another couple had been using that cabin as their living space. we tried to say don't come up the ladder. but she wanted to fetch something and would just take a moment. and uh... oops!
Tuesday, February 12, 2008
everyone welcome azriel to the linked list. no that's not his or her real name. they choose to remain anonymous. i can respect that. i had just written up some blogs inspired by this real life person. but now i won't post them so you won't be able to figure out who he or she is or was. or maybe you can figure it out by figuring out who i'm NOT writing about. that must be them. definitely.
Monday, February 11, 2008
  mmm... brains
heh. i've said it before and i'm sure i'll say it again. human brains are really cool. this time i mean it literally. they perform some 4 orders of magnitude more computes per second than a modern computer. yet they consume a fraction of the power. cool. way cool.
Sunday, February 10, 2008
  well duh 2
human brains are really cool. some things are obvious to some brains but not to others. for example it was obvious to some brains that bush was lying about iraq before the war. yet those brains walk around completely oblivious to things that are obvious to other brains. the trick is to figure out which of the 6 billion brains on earth has a clue. unfortunately that usually happens after it's too late.
Saturday, February 09, 2008
  well duh
well, duh. one is tempted to say, told ya so. but the center for public integrity is obviously a vast left wing conspiracy funded by george soros. the recent wars made a $trillion dollars worth of stuff disappear from the face of the earth. in other news, fearing economic recession, the rich will be getting more tax cuts. because it's worked so well before.
Friday, February 08, 2008
the top 20% of income earners earned 50% of the total income. sounds kinda like a high percentage, doesn't it? but actually it's pretty low. nearly 2x low. heh. i explain. the wealthiest (in dollars) 20% control some 90% of the total wealth. if wealth comes strictly from income then we'd expect to see that 90% figure head towards 50%. but it's been going up, not down. ergo we conclude that nearly half of all wealth doesn't come from income. i'm tempted to say something inflammatory. like, cool. not only do the rich pay a lower income tax rate but they also pay zero tax on half their real income. neat huh? but i'm kinda in a kinder gentler less antagonistic phase right now. so i'll just let you ponder how the rich pay taxes on their wealth as they accumulate it. let me know what you come up with. cause i couldn't figure it out.
Thursday, February 07, 2008
how does one measure wealth? money is conveniently easy to quantify. though there are other methods. my favorite is the number of wylands you have seen. pretty sure i've seen more than donald trump. others are happiness, grandchildren, trees, sunshine, and bathrooms. wealth is a touchy subject to talk about. you make a statement that implies you're richer than someone else and their immediate reaction is, oh no you're not! you may have more money but i've got more < insert random tangible/intangible > than you and that's what's truly important. great. stand in it. i don't talk about wealth to rub your nose in my perception of your lack of it. i talk about wealth because some aspect of it is fascinating, like ecuador's decision to use u.s. dollars as their currency. or broken, like taxes.
Wednesday, February 06, 2008
  robert james
most people won't recognize the name robert james. he's the guy who represented the forces of good in a titanic clash with evil. he single handedly defeated the soviets during the height of the cold war. he was the physical embodiment of everything capitalist taken to extreme. he was greedy, irrational, innovative, unpredictable, brilliant, paranoid, and completely insane. he toured apple with his visitor's badge stuck to his finger because he refused to stick it on his shirt. he was bobby fischer. rip.
Tuesday, February 05, 2008
  grain bubble
the csm had an article about rising grain prices all over the world. and the inevitable unrest. this is despite the fact that this year's crop was the largest ever. they attributed it to powerful us and eu lobbies pushing to make fuel out of food. well sure. that's part. the other bigger imnsho part would be the ever growing number of people on the planet.
Monday, February 04, 2008
i love google. silliness.
Sunday, February 03, 2008
so stand reaganomics on its head. if you cut taxes for the lowest incomes they have more disposable income. and they buy stuff. lots of stuff. which makes gobs of money for the store owner. who passes it along to the shareholders. who pass it along to the hedge fund managers. who pass it along to the super rich. see? cutting taxes for the poor makes rich people richer. call it bubble up economics. heh. when you understand the flaw in that logic you'll understand the flaw in tinkle down economics.
Saturday, February 02, 2008
the administration seems to be genuinely surprised that supply side economics isn't setting the economy on fire. like it did in the 80's. it appears that at least some of them really honestly believed that tax cuts for the rich would be good for the non-rich. which makes it pretty easy for the ones who knew better to feign flabbergastedness and get re-elected. neat huh? in retrospect you gotta wonder. how does giving money to wealthy people get more money to poor people? you can torture logic. or you can cut gordian's knot with occam's razor. it doesn't.
Friday, February 01, 2008
  last word
don't you just hate the kind of person who always has to get the last word? some will go to absurd lengths. like this guy. i don't agree with everything he says. usually i'm compelled to respond. but there's no point in arguing with him. he's dead.
most every day i wander the corridors of my mind and open a door at random.

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cool science facts (idle)
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