Tuesday, December 29, 2020

QOTY and Books of the Year

 My Quote Of The Year is from Freeman Hunt:

Doesn’t anybody say ‘Fuck off’ anymore?


The best books I read this year were

Fiction: Prelude to a Certain Midnight, Gerald Kersh. A mordant novel of murder, from the 40s.

Non-fiction: The Club,  Leo Damrosch. Johnson, Boswell, Smith, Burke, and friends in 18th century London.

I didn’t watch a lot of movies but the best was Ford vs Ferrari.

David Diamond, a symphony

 Symphony 2

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Maya Forstater

 As a society we must not sacrifice children's welfare - sterilising them, medicalising them for life and taking away adult sexual function - to satisfy the interests of a community of adults.


Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Olbermann Unbound

 Hey, at least he didn’t call Trump “an uppity little Frederick Douglass”.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

The boastful drug warrior

 He seems to gloat at the harshness. Here.  Of course, he makes an exception for his son.

Trump is no better on the drug war of course. 

Saturday, October 17, 2020

WSW on 1619 Project

 An update from The World Socialist Website, following the Bret Stephens article.

 Aimed at propping up the 1619 Project, the statements from Sulzberger, Baquet and Silverstein have only added new layers of dishonesty. 


Saturday, October 3, 2020


An early chess problem, simplicity itself.

White to play and mate in 2

I'm not telling! 

A little bit of chess problem history, with some nice problems. 

Thursday, October 1, 2020


Herbert Grasemann, 1950

White to play and mate in 6

Solution follows ...

The trick is to mate on g3. So checks on h3 and f1, twice, then Nf5. 

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Wrong again

I didn’t think I could be shocked by anything in US politics anymore. I was wrong. That's literally, literally, a Democrat campaign event. That's really the candidate beating a woman to death in effigy. 

Tuesday, August 4, 2020

A Few Heist Novels

I have been reading or rereading some heist novels during the lockdown. Here are a few micro-reviews.
  • Black Wings Has My Angel, Chaze. Romantic heist noir in the James M Cain tradition. A.
  • Fallout, Disher. Contemporary crime in Australia. Parker-lite but fast and lean. B.
  • Northern Heist, O'Rawe. Based on a real heist in Ireland. A bit arty, but an interesting setting. C+.
  • The Rare Coin Score, Stark. One of the very best Parkers. Personalities destroy the heist. A.
  • Clean Break, White. The basis for Kubrick's The Killing. The film follows the book closely. A.
  • The Case of the Unhappy Angels, Homes. A hard boiled detective story from the 1940s. By the author of Out of the Past. B+.
  • The Big Gold Dream, Himes. Himes's precise, cold, vivid prose, with the usual manic plot. A-.
  • Dead Skip, Gores. Not a heist (although Parker makes an appearance!) but a hard boiled detective yarn from the early 70s B+. 
  • The Grifters, Thompson. One of Thompson's best: short, fast, mean. A.
  • Breakout, Stark. One of the weaker Parkers. C-. Still better than anything by Don Winslow!
  • Hostage for a Hood, White. Another winner from Lionel White, whom I shall read more of. The heist goes wrong even before it starts, and turns into a kidnapping. A-.
  • The Black Echo, Connelly. Not really a heist, but Harry Bosch investigates a heist. I liked it but won’t rush to read another. B-. 
  • Prelude to a certain midnight, Kersh. Gerald Kersh was the best selling author in England in the 40s. This is a unusual, intense, dark and funny book. Not the strongest plot but one of the best books on this list. Easily the harshest one. A.
  • Swag, Leonard. Heists in my old neighborhood, the suburbs of Detroit. Fast and funny, but somehow not involving. B.
  • The Name of the Game is Death, Marlowe. A terrific read from 1962. Jim Thompson with a toothache, and as good. A thief with a fondness for pets but not for people. A.
  • Final Notice, Gores. The second DKA novel, almost as good as Dead Skip. B. 

Tuesday, July 14, 2020

The Acme of Romantic Noir

Black Wings Has My Angel by Elliot Chaze is a pulp heist novel from 1953. It’s both brutal and romantic. It has, and deserves, a grand reputation. It's in the tradition of The Postman Always Rings Twice. And it’s cheap!

Saturday, July 4, 2020

A random example of “killed by police 2019”

This website displays a random case from a database of all police killings in the USA in 2019. It selects another case each time you reload.

Taleb Test

My point is that you cannot do "science" without knowing & rigorously applying statistics & you cannot do statistics without knowing & rigorously applying mathematical statistics & you cannot do mathematical statistics without knowing & rigorously applying probability theory.

I think this is a testable hypothesis. Ask the next research chemist you meet to explain the Carathéodory Extension Theorem.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Bullshit from Taleb

I'd say it's an isolated demand for rigor. 

In reality it’s a discrete process, and Taleb's nowhere differentiable continuous model is as much an idealization as Levitt's. Except Levitt doesn’t pretend otherwise.

I see I am not the only one to have noticed this.

Really bad.

Monday, June 29, 2020

CCP vs Uighurs

A report from AP on the Chinese government's programs to suppress its ethnic Muslim Uighurs. Here.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

A small moment of courage

There are flashier videos around but this is worth the 52 seconds it takes to watch.

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Quote of the Year?

A serious contender from Diana S. Fleischman
It's pretty incredible that the same movement celebrating George Floyd can't tolerate other historical figures we admire who have done terrible things.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

The NYT is despicable

The NYT threatens SlateStarCodex. Doxxing is mob rule and deliberately endangers lives. This is truly despicable behavior by the New York Times.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Losing respect for Taleb

“Bleached Barbarians”

Free speech advocates “support sinister racial ideas”

UPDATE: Slip slidin’ away. Seriously, this is a ridiculous tweet, argument by imaginary ellipsis.

UPDATE: Taleb makes a howler.  The correct answer to the question as stated depends on the non random sample, and can be any percentage greater than 0 and less than 100.  If anyone else made this error, how would Taleb have responded?

Friday, May 22, 2020

Curlew River

A performance of Britten's strange opera.  I know the Britten/Pears recording by heart I think.

Friday, May 8, 2020

The Distribution Zoo

A nice page for displaying some basic probability distributions. Created by Ben Lambert, whose Youtube videos are very good

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Thursday, April 16, 2020

Not a prediction, a possibility

A terrific piece on prediction and covid from SlateStarCodex. Long but excellent. And not as long as usual!

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Adapting to Change

The Covidiot Creed

A comment I left chez Althouse.
Several comments above make the argument I call The Covidiot Creed. Here it is in concentrated form:
“Predictions were high. Now deaths are low. The lockdown was never needed.”
It exists in a slight variant
“Predictions were high. Now predictions are low. The lockdown was never needed.”

Here is one of the examples above from M Jordan
“ Neil Ferguson’s model that really kicked off Britain’s and the US’s social distancing panic was a flat-out lie. His “model” spewed out 2.2 million US deaths, 500,000 Brits. As soon as this swayed Boris Johnson, he lowered his British death projections to 20,000. ”

Here is another, subtler example, from ST
“This panic was wildly overblown so they could run around like little Hitlers ordering shutdowns and telling people to hide in their homes.”
We can argue whether almost 2000 deaths a day are overblown of course, but it is certainly a lower figure than the original projections, and so ST concludes the measures take were just budding Hilterism, unconnected to that reduction. 

Of course the Covidiot Creed is entirely wrong. Here is what actually happened
Predictions were high death counts *unless we increase social distancing.*
We increased social distancing, in many cases with lockdowns.
The worst case did not happen, and new predictions *based on keeping the social distancing* were lower.
Social distancing saved lives.

There are other problems with the Covidiot Creed. Deaths are not low, they are just not as high as they might have been. Projections are not really low since they only go a few months, they are just not as high as they were. And the lower ones all assume the measures will continue.
But this absurd and dangerous Covidiot Creed is all over this blog.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Evergreen Redux

Coyne, who has been terrific on this stuff, has links to a documentary. Here.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Tuesday, March 24, 2020


Ugh.  I like opera too, but there might be higher priorities this month?

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Bergstrom refutes Ginn

I wasted some time warning people about the Gin. Post on Medium that got a lot of play. Here an epidemiologist takes it apart. https://twitter.com/CT_Bergstrom/status/1241565284290293760

Instapundit should be ashamed to have linked to the Ginn piece. Martin praised it. Driscoll relinked to Zerohedge after Medium took it down. Dreadful behavior.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Jennifer Rubin lying about Corona virus

The WaPo has to print a correction. Here. Again, this can only happen if she does not check. But a news organization reporting something they did not check is lying, because the very act of reporting something as a fact implies they checked.

Ioannidis on covid uncertainty

He is always worth listening to. I don’t get the sense anyone has an idea what to do in two weeks, but I guess they have ten or so days to figure it out. But I think we needed quick action, if only to buy a little time.

A small example from Frum

I have called it Spanish Flu all my life, and I grew up in Canada just a few miles where Frum grew up, and we are two years apart in age. Here.  It's maybe not a big thing, but he is always like this, and he isn’t the only one. It’s not the severity it’s the ubiquity, the monotony of it.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Biden lying about Corona testing

Details here.

Let's remember too Joe's reaction to the travel ban

Jan 21: First person with coronavirus arrives in USA from China

Jan 31: Trump bans passenger traffic from China.

Jan 31: Biden calls Trump’s decision “hysterical xenophobia … and fear-mongering.”

Monday, March 16, 2020

Overview of the Corona Virus and its family

A heavy duty Power Point summary.  A lot of useful information here. Not for the faint of heart.

Excellent simulations.

The Chinese communist government made this crisis much worse

We have been jettisoning traditional safety precautions for some time now. This is kinda screedy but the underlying point is worth thinking about.

Oh FFS, the NYT distorts yet another quote

Really dishonest.

And, as a bonus, CNN lies about the Ohio primary being delayed. The judge denied the request; CNN reported the wrong result without checking. I think that counts as a lie when a news agency reports it; by reporting it they affirm they have done due diligence in their reporting, and they had not.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

A Comment at Althouse

A comment about communist China.

I agree about Xi but I don’t know who or how. Perhaps a revolt starting in Hong Kong, if it isn’t squashed or ... conveniently hit by a new virus. As for disengaging, I agree again. Who is for that, in US politics?  Does that mean I have to hope Trump wins?

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Holy shit, Biden's covid19 plan

This will doubtless change once the embarrassment gets too strong but right now Biden's covid19 plan is a fundraising page. Here is a screenshot

Look at the URL.  https://joebiden.com/covid19/. Note the title of the page, which I have moused over. This really is the Biden Covid19 plan!

A commenter GingerBeer said on another blog 
"I half expect Biden to challenge COVID-19 to a push-up contest."

Reactions, over-, under-, and mis-

I have been in a few discussions about appropriate reactions to Covid19. I have seen a few interesting stories about good, bad, and awful reactions to things today, not just to the virus, and thought I would collect a few here.

Italy alone.

A prophylactic closing in Dayton.

Another fake hate hoax.  Note the ratchet effect. 

Milwaukee reacted well to the Spanish Flu. 

We have an excellent public health system. They give advice. We should take that advice. It seems trite and obvious to say that, but I have had lots of discussions with people who don’t agree. I am not the only one.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

PCR Explained

PCR is used to replicate and sequence DNA. Here is a good, but somewhat advanced, video explaining PCR. 20 minutes.

Here is a shorter visualization, with annoying music and no narration (that is, you can safely mute). Here. 4 minutes.

Monday, March 9, 2020

Facts on Corvid Handling

We had relatives over, who were convinced the Trump response was hopeless. So a few useful reminders that the WHO and even Democrat governors disagree. The governor of Washington said the same thing. Lots of balls that can yet be fumbled of course, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

And another reminder of how Obama handled H1N1.

Update. NY governor Cuomo praises Trump's handling of things.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

A little Kapsberger

By Clogs.

And for theorbo, live.

And a talk on what the theorbo is. 10 minutes.

Caning Senator Sumner

Schumer should be expelled. His threats are one step short of the caning of Senator Sumner.

Friday, February 28, 2020

When I get low, I get high

An enjoyable cover of an old Ella Fitzgerald song. Written by Marion Sunshine in 1936,  it was originally recorded by Chick Webb.

Plus, Cab Calloway and a spectacular sequence from the Nicholas Brothers.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Joe Biden's Arrest Record

It's seared, seared into his memory. Just not anyone else's.

UPDATE: The next debate is soon. Biden needs to score big against Sanders. My suggestion is that he emphasize his record. Walk straight up to Sanders, poke him squarely in the chest and say “Look fat, I did push ups in the Birmingham jail with Martin.” No way can Sanders match that.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

Saturday, February 8, 2020

A long consideration of Ian Fleming

Apropos of nothing, a longish essay on Ian Fleming's literary reputation.  I have read all of Fleming, in high school, and recall him as a very vivid and skillful writer. I reread From Russia, With Love a few years ago and enjoyed it. Not up to Eric Ambler though.

Je suis Mila

Twitter mobs attack a child in France, and the government piles on.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Monday, January 27, 2020

Gad Saad Summarizes the Impeachment

Two minutes. Here. Sounds about right to me.  Note that Saad was and is a Trump opponent.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020


Glenn Greenwald is one of the few reporters I trust, even if I do dislike his politics. This looks like retaliation.

Thursday, January 9, 2020


Leif Segerstam is a slow conductor. I like slow conductors. This is a very good performance. Celibadache is slower ...

Segerstam record a very slow Sibelius cycle on Chandos, which is well worth seeking out.