Thank God Trump only hires the best

Some people have been making nasty accusations that Donald Trump does not, as he constantly claims, “hire only the best people”. Articles like this and this have suggested that his advisors are second-class and top people simply won’t work with him. Nonsense! Just look at the incredible grasp his spokesperson has over the facts in this ISIS/Afghanistan discussion.

 

 

I mean, the interviewer tries to spew out some utter nonsense that really suggest she hasn’t done any homework at all and doesn’t understand the basic facts, but Trump’s guy is magnificent! He doesn’t stand for any of that crap and he just gets straight in there and corrects her. Well done fella.

Mind you, he needs to watch his back, because Trump could fire him and turn around and hire any one of these geniuses instead

 

 

Americans are scary.

 


Meta-ignorance

So I just came across this video, which I’m going to assume is fake

 

 

I mean, come on right? No-one, with the possible exception of Donald Trump’s supporters, is this dumb.

Turns out there’s a whole series of these

 

 

But now I’m confused. Because I thought these videos were about making fun of her for being so dumb, except in this one she’s actually right that bricks fall faster than feathers, so maybe this one is making fun of him for being so dumb, except that aren’t most people watching going to think he’s right so maybe it’s making fun of them for making fun of the wrong person? Or perhaps I’m just not able to follow this level of sophisticated humour because I’m so dumb. Either way, I’m confused.

Fortunately this kind of confusion means you should listen to me because Metaknowledge is where it’s at right now

The solution, Prelec suggests, is to weight answers not by confidence but by metaknowledge: knowledge about knowledge. Metaknowledge means you are aware of what you know or don’t know, and of where your level of knowledge stands in relation to other people’s. That’s a useful measure of your value to the crowd, because knowledge and metaknowledge usually go together. ‘Expertise implies not only knowledge of a subject matter but knowledge of how knowledge of that subject matter is produced,’ says Aaron Bentley, a graduate student at the City University of New York Graduate Center who studies social cognition.

In the land of the ignorant people, the ignorant person who realises they’re ignorant is the king.(1)I mean, king in the sense of having an accurate sense of how dumb they are, not king in the sense that no-one is going to listen to someone who says “I don’t know, but at least I know I don’t know”. This, I know. This is where we’ve got to after billions of years of evolution/a couple of thousand years of kinda ignoring the big guy upstairs (delete according to ignorance).

 

Sources Brad Holmes for the dumb videos and Aeon for the metaknowledge piece that’ll make you a little smarter.(2)Like anyone is going to click on the second link. You’ve probably buggered off to watch the dumb videos already, without even bothering to read this footnote.

 

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. I mean, king in the sense of having an accurate sense of how dumb they are, not king in the sense that no-one is going to listen to someone who says “I don’t know, but at least I know I don’t know”. This, I know.
2. Like anyone is going to click on the second link. You’ve probably buggered off to watch the dumb videos already, without even bothering to read this footnote.

Oh come on

You cannot trust anyone or anything these days. Not even circles and rectangles. Or rectangles and circles. Or whatever the fuck these witchery objects are

 

 

When you can’t even trust your own eyes, how can you know anything is true? Next thing you know German trains won’t run on time, and then we will truly be living in a world where nothing is real any more.

To the rest of the world, German trains still have a reputation for punctuality. But German passengers know better. Delays, sometimes shockingly long, are increasingly a standard part of the German rail system.

This January, fewer than 77 percent of long-distance trains hit their punctuality target, in spite of mild winter and few strikes. Late arrivals are up 30 percent since 2009. To put it another way: In the last 12 months, German passenger and goods trains lost a total of 174.63 million minutes, or 7,945.21 hours per day.

I give up.

PS That video didn’t even win first prize! WTF? This one did, but it might make you feel seasick

 

H/T to Marginal Revolution for the video, Digital Trends for the explanation of how to make these yourself (TL:DR version: Sell your soul to the devil(1)Or 3D printing, whichever is easiest for you and Handelsblatt for the incompetent Germans

 

 

 

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. Or 3D printing, whichever is easiest for you

Singapore is (mainly) awesome

Singapore’s economic growth over the past few decades has been mind-blowing. It is (mainly) awesome

source: tradingeconomics.com

More than doubling PPP per capita GDP since 1990, they barely even noticed the credit crisis out there. Here’s the UK by comparison

source: tradingeconomics.com
PPP per capita GDP was actually lower here in 2014 than it was in 2007. We haven’t stopped noticing the credit crisis yet.

So you’d think that Singaporeans would be pretty chuffed. Which they probably are. But not entirely chuffed. Because this morning I discovered the Complaints Choir of Singapore. And they are quite awesome…

 

 

Judging from the YouTube suggestions, these complaints choirs are a thing across the world. I had no idea(1)It’s possible that I did have some idea and I’ve just completely forgotten.. I particularly liked the way the Tokyo choir wears protective facemasks.

The videos and songs are pretty funny but I do have one complaint. The choir from my home-town of Birmingham doesn’t have proper subtitles on their video and people from Birmingham are really hard to understand.

 

All the Complaints Choir videos you could ever want

 

 

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. It’s possible that I did have some idea and I’ve just completely forgotten.

From the depths of hell

Watch this bit of video, and be prepared to answer a question

 

 

Who wins? Obviously not the woman in front, right? Otherwise why the hell would I be asking. Unless this is some kind of double-bluff. It could be. I’m sneaky like that. But would I mention that possibility if it were a double bluff? Probably not, right? So who wins? The woman in 2nd? 3rd? 4th5th6th? Nobody? Make your selection now.

 

 

Some things are really hard to predict. Others, not so much. Predictable event number 1 – if you poll the internet, you’ll get a stupid answer

Forget the EU referendum. The major test of modern democracy has fallen into the hands of the Natural Environment Research Council – over the naming of a boat.

As the polls finally closed for the naming of its new polar research ship, the NERC confirmed that the votes were overwhelmingly in favour of RRS Boaty McBoatface.

The suggestion, which sent the competition viral last month, received 124,109 votes, four times more than RRS Poppy-Mai – named after a 16-month-old girl with incurable cancer – which came in second place.

Predictable event number 2. Once you get that stupid answer, you look silly and a spoilsport when you refuse to go with it, just making the whole thing a waste of time

Science minister Jo Johnson has suggested that Boaty McBoatface is such a stupid idea that it doesn’t deserve to count. “The new royal research ship will be sailing into the world’s iciest waters to address global challenges that affect the lives of hundreds of millions of people,” he said. “That’s why we want a name that lasts longer than a social media news cycle.”

Booooooooooo!

 

 


Lies, damned lies, and Reddit getting involved in global economics

This morning I came across this map which purports to show GDP per capita change from 2008 to 2015 across the world

 

 

Screenshot 2016-04-19 at 1.02.51 PM

 

My first thought was “ugh look how red Russia is, I wonder what GDP change that corresponds to?”. My next thought, having looked at the scale was “there’s no way that Russian GDP has fallen more than 30% over the last seven years. WTF is this map?”

And when you look closely, it’s like that all over the place – US GDP up more than 50% in that time? 7% per year? Even if you go from the very trough (which wouldn’t have been 2008) to the very peak, the growth isn’t going to be anything like that. UK negative growth over that period? France more than 10% negative growth? WTF is this map? So I went to the comments to make sure someone had informed the person posting it that the data made no sense before the image spread all over the internet…

 

Screenshot 2016-04-19 at 12.23.49 PM

 

That goes on a lot further than my screen-shotting software could cope with. So much for that plan.

Turns out that the person who created it decided not to use purchasing power parity because they don’t understand economics they thought they should be using nominal figures. The whole original thread on Reddit is a mass of ignorance, misinformation and confusion.

Now you might say “what do you expect if you’re looking on Reddit?” but here’s the sad thing: I think everyone here is actually trying (or at least not trolling). The guy who created the map did the best he could, he just didn’t understand what numbers he should be using. The people liking and sharing it have so little clue about economics that they’re not questioning whether it’s really the case that the US is twice as rich as Europe now versus less than a decade ago. The people attempting to explain why this is the case nearly know what they’re talking about…

 

Screenshot 2016-04-19 at 12.27.32 PM

 

…but sadly don’t. At all. (1)It’s this kind of convincing-sounding nonsense that Donald Trump is using so successfully right now. For those scoring at home, apart from the issues that they’re trying to defend a hopelessly wrong thesis with a bunch of “facts” that are mostly wrong and occasionally irrelevant, this person has done a fine job explaining the world.But they’re trying dammit.

So it’s not all the wrong that’s getting me down. It’s the fact that when we’re all trying our best we still end up producing, sharing and commenting on so much wrong. Hell is other people.

No wonder the Washington Post is reporting this

First, they find that people who live in more densely populated areas tend to report less satisfaction with their life overall. “The higher the population density of the immediate environment, the less happy” the survey respondents said they were. Second, they find that the more social interactions with close friends a person has, the greater their self-reported happiness.

But there was one big exception. For more intelligent people, these correlations were diminished or even reversed.

“The effect of population density on life satisfaction was therefore more than twice as large for low-IQ individuals than for high-IQ individuals,” they found. And “more intelligent individuals were actually less satisfied with life if they socialized with their friends more frequently.”

Hurry up with that super AI will ya, Google.(2)Since no-one will bother reading the article, the more positive interpretation than I’m implying here is that smarter people just enjoy their work and achievements, and spending time with friends causes them dissatisfaction because they’re not getting the stuff done that they wanted to. So it might not just be that you’re all dumb as rocks.

 

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. It’s this kind of convincing-sounding nonsense that Donald Trump is using so successfully right now. For those scoring at home, apart from the issues that they’re trying to defend a hopelessly wrong thesis with a bunch of “facts” that are mostly wrong and occasionally irrelevant, this person has done a fine job explaining the world.
2. Since no-one will bother reading the article, the more positive interpretation than I’m implying here is that smarter people just enjoy their work and achievements, and spending time with friends causes them dissatisfaction because they’re not getting the stuff done that they wanted to. So it might not just be that you’re all dumb as rocks.

All the evil of this world, and a little bit of good too

I often get asked to recommend books, particularly books about finance because people reason that since I read a lot of books (correct) and know about finance (incorrect) I’ll know about books about finance (I’ll leave it to you to decide).

When it’s non-fiction they’re looking for, it’s hard. There are some interesting books about finance (the kind of stuff Michael Lewis writes) and there are some informative books about finance (like Too Big To Fail). But the thing is, finance is really pretty dull when it’s accurate, and there aren’t that many books I generally want to recommend to people I like. For people I don’t like, you could try A Colossal Failure of Common Sense.(1)I say that, but then I realise that I don’t really want people I don’t like to be any less well-informed than they currently are, so don’t bother.

But when it’s fiction they’re looking for, it’s really hard. In the main people who write novels about finance either know how to write well (Robert Harris) or know about finance (Nest of Vipers)(2)The first review I found of this book had the tagline “A Central Banking Thriller by Linda Davies” which strikes me as being a description that could hardly have been designed better not to sell any copies. Seriously, if I’m a friend of Linda Davies I’m looking at that description and going “yeah, it looks great Linda, really great. Good luck with it” and then donating my copy to one of those aforementioned people-I-don’t-like without ever cracking open the cover because who has time for central banking [yawn] thrillers when there are books like “Reusing old graves: A report on popular British attitudes” out there? Unfortunately I read the book before I saw the review…, but not both. Sometimes they know neither.

Jared Dillian can write, and he knows about finance. In fact he’s making a name for himself writing about finance and spraying the internet with photos that make him look like he’s just about to punch you. So when he asked me if I would care to receive an advance copy of his first novel All The Evil of This World(3)He perhaps hasn’t read the “mocking the mockable” tagline I have at the top of my site. I immediately jumped at the chance(4)I say immediately. First of all I cursed him for waiting until after I’d pre-ordered the book from Amazon. Lousy timing that, Jared.. And he’s been extraordinarily patient in not bugging me for what I think of it, presumably because he has so many people telling him how awesome he is all day long these days that he doesn’t need to hear my thoughts.But he’s going to get them anyway, shambolically(5)How the hell has my spell-checker never heard of the word “shambolically”? organised and full of footnotes as they are.

The problem is, I don’t quite know how to describe this book. When I finished it, my first thought was “wow!” in the sense of “what the hell was that?” I mean, it’s a terrific book, but it’s not easy going, and the ending would be too outrageously ridiculous to believe if it weren’t for the fact that Jared has apparently installed some kind of implant in my head to read my thoughts. Those of you who didn’t like the lack of clarity provided by the ending to the Sopranos are really not going to like the squirmishly uncomfortable finish to this one (where’s the sequel Jared? I need to know what happens next dammit!)

It reminded me of Brett Easton Ellis. There’s something quite American Psycho about the dislikability of the characters and the stream-of-consciousness thought processes you’re privy to. The intertwined plotlines are beautifully balanced to provoke enough disgust to make you truly upset, but not so much that you want to stop reading. The implausibility of the scenarios leaves just enough of a nagging doubt that maybe, just maybe, this is really what is was like at the peak of the cocaine-fuelled dotcom bubble. Is it real? No. But it is fake? No. There’s an authenticity that could only have come from experience of the events. The conversations, the terminology, the slang, the attitudes, the wit, the humour, the misogyny – this book reads like The Wire set amongst increasingly rich dudes in San Francisco in 2000.

You might not like this book. You might not understand this book. You may wish you could turn on the subtitles like you did with The Wire(6)You did this too, right? You might end up wanting to wash out the inside of your brain. But it’s a fine novel, and I heartily recommend it.

And I’m not saying that just because I think Jared might punch me if I don’t.

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. I say that, but then I realise that I don’t really want people I don’t like to be any less well-informed than they currently are, so don’t bother.
2. The first review I found of this book had the tagline “A Central Banking Thriller by Linda Davies” which strikes me as being a description that could hardly have been designed better not to sell any copies. Seriously, if I’m a friend of Linda Davies I’m looking at that description and going “yeah, it looks great Linda, really great. Good luck with it” and then donating my copy to one of those aforementioned people-I-don’t-like without ever cracking open the cover because who has time for central banking [yawn] thrillers when there are books like “Reusing old graves: A report on popular British attitudes” out there? Unfortunately I read the book before I saw the review…
3. He perhaps hasn’t read the “mocking the mockable” tagline I have at the top of my site.
4. I say immediately. First of all I cursed him for waiting until after I’d pre-ordered the book from Amazon. Lousy timing that, Jared.
5. How the hell has my spell-checker never heard of the word “shambolically”?
6. You did this too, right?

A ball and another ball, a ball and a pair of balls

Have you ever seen two holes-in-one from the same shot? Not two different guys at the same hole. Two balls, one shot…

 

 

 

OK, so you still haven’t. But man that was a close shave.

And speaking of close shaves, Novak Djokovic might enjoy showing off like this but he’s going to regret it when he misjudges it fractionally and spends the next five minutes in the fetal position while everyone around him pisses themselves laughing.

 


Websites worth reading

There are still a few websites worth reading out there, in these dark days of “Sign up for our newsletter” pop-ups, slideshows that take forever to download and clickbait bullshit which nicked non-factual “facts” from other people’s lists of non-factual “facts”.

One such site is The Jerx which is

a site for magic commentary, criticism, and comedy. You are likely too unfamiliar with the subject matter to find this site funny, or too reverential of the subject matter to find this site appropriate. Oh well.

It’s interesting and well-written and generally excellent and I highly recommend it, not only because you’ll get to see tricks…

 

 

…and not only because you’ll get to learn about the psychology of how effects are (and should be, which isn’t always the same thing) performed.

But because you also get stuff like this…

Speaking of looping around like a möbius strip, this is a pretty clever way to start a blog post.

…which might not make much sense now but will make you smile if you read the whole article.

 

Another site is Wait But Why, which I’ve mentioned before but I’m including here because I found the article Why Cryonics Makes Sense absolutely fascinating and a proper, thoughtful, analysis of a subject that has much ill-informed ranting. Even if you don’t agree with what he’s saying, and you don’t agree with his conclusions, he’s making the case – putting his money where his mouth is you might say – and he’s not trying to convince you of half-truths. It’s like a written version of the intelligent balance that you get from Serial.

It’s also not short, so give yourself some time to read it.

 

Source: Gardyloo #7 and Why Cryonics Makes Sense

 


Keeping things clean in the kitchen

Every so often you come across a picture from a hotel demonstrating how cool it is by putting a bathtub or a shower in the middle of the bedroom.

This one, for example

 

 

Sometimes they go a little far. A bathtub can be romantic, especially with all those petals…

 

 

…a toilet? Not so much.

But I just got an email with a novel idea and this is a new one for me. I can see the bedroom/bathroom synergy, but I’m struggling a bit with this. However, if you’re the kind of person who thinks your bathtub should be in your kitchen…

 

 

…then Rifra has what they describe as “the birth of a new category” for you

 

Source Kitchens and Baths: the birth of a new category