Archive for the ‘News’ Category
Dead Sea Games: Adrift
Just in time for your Halloween reading. Get in the mood to smash some mother-flipping ZOMBIES!
It’s finished. Go buy the first episode of my new serial on Amazon NOW! $0.99 post-apocalyptic zombie mayhem. It doesn’t get any cheaper than that.
Book Review: The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine by Michael Lewis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I love this book. I’d read dozens of in-depth articles on the financial meltdown of 2008 but was always left with an incomplete picture of what happened, who was involved, and more importantly, why? This book fills in all the gaps and does a fantastic job of breaking it all down for non-financial folks.
Don’t get the impression that this book is dry or uneventful or hard to read. Michael Lewis is fantastic at spinning reality into fiction-like tales. Good guys, bad guys, lackeys, stooges, fools, disasters, jokes…this book had it all. I think there might have even been a car chase in their somewhere. It’s an incredibly easy read and I laughed out loud on many occasions.
The story follows three groups of investors who took a systemic look at the sub-prime mortgage business and saw what no one else wanted to admit. A ticking time-bomb. These investors literally had to reinvent market devices and their business persona to bet against the insanity/fraud/stupidity of the players involved. Long story short, they made out like bandits shorting the big boys because they saw how the system was gamed from the inside.
I won’t go into a 5000 word analysis of the crash. Read the book for yourself, you won’t be disappointed. I will tell you that anyone who speaks of the crash of 2008 and pins the blame solely on Freddie and Fannie, or Barney Frank and the Democrats, is a fucking idiot and you should walk away from any conversation at that point. The book is entirely apolitical and with good reason. The trouble started and ended in a giant circle of disaster in the heart of Wall Street.
And if you think the story ends with a great solution or some wisdom about where to go next and how to prevent the next catastrophe, stop reading. Michael Lewis makes it clear that Wall Street Investment giants have broken the traditional feedback loop between success in the markets and personal remuneration. When the CEOs and top bond traders can fail spectacularly and still walk away from the table with 10′s of millions of dollars while their shareholders and customers (and ultimately taxpayers) get screwed, then there is no reason for them not to take bigger and more complicated risks the next time around.
We’re through the looking glass now. The system is rigged and there is no turning back. The disgraced ratings agencies are a bought and paid-for sham, the government “Inspector Clouseau” regulators show up three years too late with a wooden pistol, and the customers (you and me) are blind-deaf-mute morons who hand over our hard earned cash with glee in our hearts for 2%.
I love this book for it’s simple honesty and humor in the face of disaster. I would recommend this book to everyone.
Stripper Apocalypse Shelter
I happen to think this is funny, so I’m blogging about it. If you have delicate sensibilities you should probably skip this one. Consider yourself warned.
An L.A. based Adult Entertainment company, Pink Visual, is reportedly building their very own apocalypse shelter according to local news sources here and here. There is an additional press release about the construction on the parent company’s website (but if you think I’m linking to a porn site you got another thing coming – NSFW).
They even include a terrific graphic of the design:
Now, I’ve been studying emergency planning and various disaster shelter plans for years, so this design intrigues me. It look suspiciously like the inside of a strip club, but I know that HAS to be purely coincidental. Look, there’s a command center, decontamination shower, security area, satellite communications center, and a place to keep the kegs cold. That seems legit to me. Of course my glowing recommendation and analysis has nothing to do with the fact that the company’s invitation list is still open. <call me!>
The 1200 occupancy listed in the news brief seems way high to me, but to be completely fair to Pink Visual, they didn’t say anyone would survive the apocalypse in this shelter. It’s just a great place to ride out the end of the world. Think carefully…sit in a damp dark basement with canned food and flashlights, or party with the strippers…er…beautiful people until the world crashes. Hmmm….decisions, decisions.
How much is a plane ticket to LA?
A blog post here from the folks at MIT Technology Review clued me in to a new article in the wonderfully weird world of quantum mechanics. Interesting reading, the blog breaks it down to a fairly simple level. The original article by Raphael Bousso, Leonard Susskind, from arXiv.org is here.
For those of you who don’t follow quantum mechanics, what we have here is a great attempt at trying to resolve some of the more esoteric weirdnesses that quantum mechanics brings to life. By now, everyone is on board with the idea that quantum mechanics is a real, and heavily experimentally demonstrated field of physics. What everyone is NOT on board with is what the results of these theories MEAN in terms of building an understanding of the nature of reality.
The Many-worlds interpretation (summary here) of quantum mechanics bothers a lot of people. It bothers them in the same way that modern predictions of many – possibly infinite – universes bothers people. I think, philosophically, it bothers people because they like to think that we’re unique. That everyone is “special” in a very Sesame Street feel good kind of way, and the many-worlds interpretation debunks this notion.
This new paper brings the two principles of mulitverses and many-worlds together and effectively predicts that they are one in the same thing. I’m not going to pretend to understand the math in the original article, but the introduction is accessible and a good skim of the article to pick up the definition of causal diamonds is necessary.
A nice little unintended philosophical/religious tie in from the article is spotted in the abstract:
This requires not only the existence of exact observables but two additional postulates: a single observer within the universe can access infinitely many identical experiments; and the outcome of each experiment must be completely definite.
They may not have intended to postulate the existence of a potentially omniscient observer as a real entity – theoretical physicists rarely do – but if the theory is sound, then the possibility exists. Imagine an entity sitting at the global nexus of the multiverse running an infinite number of experiments and getting exact answers…to everything…everywhere.
They call this observer the Census Taker in the paper. What would YOU call such a being? I know what word I would use.
The Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta posted this on their social media blog. A fun little article on the preparedness for the end of the world by Zombie outbreak.
Overall, really the article is a rehash of their standard emergency preparedness bulletin. Food, water, emergency contacts, family plan for disaster, etc. I like their bit about the first aid kit…i.e. if you’re bit you’re a goner but might as well keep first aid supplies around for other stuff.
The best part of the article:
Never Fear – CDC is ReadyGet a Kit, Make a Plan, Be Prepared
If zombies did start roaming the streets, CDC would conduct an investigation much like any other disease outbreak. CDC would provide technical assistance to cities, states, or international partners dealing with a zombie infestation. This assistance might include consultation, lab testing and analysis, patient management and care, tracking of contacts, and infection control (including isolation and quarantine). It’s likely that an investigation of this scenario would seek to accomplish several goals: determine the cause of the illness, the source of the infection/virus/toxin, learn how it is transmitted and how readily it is spread, how to break the cycle of transmission and thus prevent further cases, and how patients can best be treated. Not only would scientists be working to identify the cause and cure of the zombie outbreak, but CDC and other federal agencies would send medical teams and first responders to help those in affected areas (I will be volunteering the young nameless disease detectives for the field work).
To learn more about what CDC does to prepare for and respond to emergencies of all kinds, visit:
Good luck CDC. The only “cure” for being a zombie we’ve imagined is a bullet to the brain, but kudos for trying everything in the medicine cabinet first. Every movie, book and comic has the CDC overwhelmed within the first couple of days of an outbreak and then sidelined as the infection grows to an epidemic. I’m not sure how they would quarantine free roaming disease transmitting flesh eating undead. But I bet they have a few plans they won’t show the public.