11 November 2008

My trip to cotton wool world

The problem started on Sunday morning. My back felt a little stiff, but not unusually so given the weather. The day continued in a relaxed and pleasant way, with coffee, sunshine, and then some moderately satisfying games of Team Fortress 2. At 7pm, I went to get up off the couch and get a drink, and realized that something was badly wrong. My back was sore and stiff. I used the heat pad for a while, took some aspirin, and had an early night. ... Read more

21 October 2008

The exciting world of Credit Default Swaps

I just listened to the This American Life episode Another Frightening Show About the Economy, a followup to their earlier show The Giant Pool of Money. The earlier show explained the mortgage crisis in terms anyone can understand. The new show explains how the problems of the mortgage industry have spread to the rest of the economy. In particular, it explains: What a Credit Default Swap is, and how it turned from something harmless into something disastrous; What the commercial paper market is; Why AIG nearly collapsed and needed to be bailed out, and how the bailout was carried out; How the rest of the financial system nearly collapsed; Why the original $700 billion bailout plan was terrible, and how the new one (the one made into law) is slightly better in that it at least allows the right thing to be done; That the total failure to regulate a risky credit default swap market, bigger than the entire global stock market, was a totally bipartisan fuckup. ... Read more

20 October 2008

Sony goes stupid (again)

Sony has revised the terms of service for the PlayStation Network. The new TOS says: You may not provide anyone with your name or any other personally identifying information other than your own Online ID As it happens, I broke the new TOS twice at the weekend without realizing it at the time. I’ve told people in Team Fortress 2 and Burnout Paradise both my name, and the fact that I live in Austin, TX. ... Read more

10 October 2008

Dangerously convenient Thai food

A couple of weeks ago I saw a new Thai place had opened up a few blocks from our house. Today I was bored of my usual lunch fare, and decided to check it out. It’s called _thai_fresh and is at 909 West Mary, in the same block as Café Caffeine. One wall is occupied by Thai groceries. Opposite that is the kitchen area, and in front is a cabinet with the dishes on offer. ... Read more

9 October 2008

MIT dream

Last night I dreamed about MIT. Texas Instruments had finally decided to build an RPN-based calculator, and for obvious reasons had chosen MIT for a major promotional event. I had been browsing the MIT bookstore and had seen a promo kit, so I snuck in to the labs to see the hardware in action. It was “landscape” format, like the classic HPs (12c, 15c, 16c), but had a wide bitmapped display that could show 20 digits easily. ... Read more

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