Some things I have been thinking about...

I have tried to summarize here some topics that have interested me recently including:

More recent blog notes can be read below while a list of all my blog notes can be read here

• 2018:

15 Post(s) for June 2018

 Gold 2018/06/11 00:06 Erdős Number 2018/06/11 00:06 Emacs & Macros 2018/06/11 00:06 Currency Variation & Stock Price 2018/06/11 00:06 Could Democracy & Our Market System Save Us From Ourselves? 2018/06/11 00:06 Commerce and politics have always been sources of dramatic change - why is this always surprising? 2018/06/11 00:06 Collecting My Notes as a Blog 2018/06/11 00:06 Probability & Statistics 2018/06/11 00:06 Technology, AI & Distribution of Capital 2018/06/11 00:06 Monetizing positive impulses 2018/06/11 00:06 Memories from Childhood 2018/06/11 00:06 Led Astray by the Media 2018/06/11 00:06 How I now do my reading - Instapaper & Kindle 2018/06/11 00:06 Author Michael Lewis 2018/06/11 00:06 Achill 2018/06/11 00:06

Gold

What is the fascination with gold?

It is an interesting material. It doesn't react chemically and therefore doesn't oxidize or degrade over time. It has high electrical conductivity as well as good optical reflectivity in infrared. It is malleable and easily worked and reworked. However it's importance and current value is more due to the cultural place it fills rather than a technical one in the modern world.

The lack of chemical reactivity, it could be argued, gives it a sense of permanency which is a rare thing in an ever changing world. It has been seen therefore as a constant store of value since ancient times. The idea of having gold for the days of Armageddon when modern society breaks down and all Fiat currency becomes worthless seems dubious to me. If I have a gold bar in my house in our current modern, functional society in peacetime, it is still not a trivial thing to get this converted into goods I can actually use (food, clothing, shelter etc..). First of all, you have to prove in some way that the material you have is actually gold. This requires assaying it in some way. Then you need to find someone to accept this block of metal and exchange it for something that is of actual use to you. In our current fully functional society, where all services and systems are running as normal, this is still not trivial. How would this look like in some type of post apocalyptic world where nothing is running or working? How many willing takers are there going to be for the block of metal in exchange for the rare food / clothing etc… they may be in possession of ?

What is the point in the trade in gold? As someone once said,1) from the perspective of an extra-terrestrial visiting our planet, you have one set of people investing a lot of effort in digging up and gathering this material in one part of the world, then transporting it with a great security effort to another part of the world to deposit it in another hole in the ground and then sit around guarding it. This does not have any positive economic impact for anybody. Nothing has been made, produced or accomplished in this exercise.

BUT, as long as people view gold as being a safe haven asset, then it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy and so long as people react in this way in their handing of gold, then it will fulfill this purpose. This does sound more due to the confidence level people place in the material rather than inherent value. This then starts to be similar to the paper currency risk, whose value is also based on confidence levels in governments that people think they are guarding against.

~~DISCUSSION~~

2018/06/11 00:06

Erdős Number

In the world of mathematics, you can see networking effects in terms of your Erdős number which quantifies the series of connections through the scientific community to the published work of Paul Erdős. As well as being a prolific author of mathematical papers, Paul Erdős was also quite an enigmatic character. His biography, The Man Who Loved Only Numbers, is worth a read.

To be assigned an Erdős number, one must be a coauthor of a research paper with another person who has a finite Erdős number. Paul Erdős has an Erdős number of zero. Anybody else's Erdős number is $k + 1$ where $k$ is the lowest Erdős number of any co-author.

Erdős wrote around 1,500 mathematical articles in his lifetime, mostly co-written. He had 511 direct collaborators; these are the people with Erdős number 1. The people who have collaborated with them (but not with Erdős himself) have an Erdős number of 2 (9267 people as of 2010), those who have collaborated with people who have an Erdős number of 2 (but not with Erdős or anyone with an Erdős number of 1) have an Erdős number of 3, and so forth. A person with no such coauthorship chain connecting to Erdős has an Erdős number of infinity (or an undefined one). Since the death of Paul Erdős, the lowest Erdős number that a researcher can obtain is 2. 2)

Below is the distribution of Erdős Numbers3)

 Erdös number  0  ---      1 person
Erdös number  1  ---    504 people
Erdös number  2  ---   6593 people
Erdös number  3  ---  33605 people
Erdös number  4  ---  83642 people
Erdös number  5  ---  87760 people
Erdös number  6  ---  40014 people
Erdös number  7  ---  11591 people
Erdös number  8  ---   3146 people
Erdös number  9  ---    819 people
Erdös number 10  ---    244 people
Erdös number 11  ---     68 people
Erdös number 12  ---     23 people
Erdös number 13  ---      5 people

My Erdős Number would appear to be 5

Path 1

O'Brien-Huyet/McInerney-Pokrovskii-Boltyanskii-Soifer-Erdős

“Rigorous analysis of complicated behaviour in a truncated LangKobayashi model” O. Rasskazov, G. Huyet, J. Mcinerney, A. Pokrovskii

• Alexei V. Pokrovskii coauthored with Vladimir Grigorʹevich Boltyanskii MR0862446 (88a:93001)
• Vladimir Grigorʹevich Boltyanskii coauthored with Alexander Soifer MR1104655 (92f:52031)
• Alexander Soifer coauthored with Paul Erdős1 MR1214695
Path 2

Stephen Barnett is same or?? Huyet-Barnett-Johnson-Schönheim-Erdős
Superposition states at finite temperature G. Huyet, S Franke-Arnold, S.M. Barnett

• Stephen Barnett coauthored with Charles R. Johnson MR0943760 (89c:15005)
• Charles R. Johnson coauthored with Johanan Schönheim MR0705965 (84j:15007)
• Johanan Schönheim coauthored with Paul Erdős1
Path 3

Arlazarov, V. L.; Uskov, A. V. Faradžev, I. A. An algorithm for finding all simple cycles in a directed graph. (Russian) Studies in discrete mathematics (Russian), pp. 178–183. Izdat.“Nauka'', Moscow, 1973.

MR Erdos Number = 4

• A. V. Uskov coauthored with I. A. Faradzhev MR0412019 (54 #148)
• I. A. Faradzhev coauthored with Mikhail H. Klin MR0617203 (82g:20012)
• Mikhail H. Klin coauthored with Peter J. Cameron MR1920405 (2003f:20001)
• Peter J. Cameron coauthored with Paul Erdős1 MR1106651 (92g:11010)
Path 4

MR2070618 34C23 (34C25 34K13 34K18) Krasnoselʹskii, A. M.; McInerney, J.; Pokrovskii, A. V. Synchronized double-frequency oscillations in a class of weakly resonant systems. Nonlinear Anal. 57 (2004), no. 7-8, 929–949.

MR Erdos Number = 4

• J. G. McInerney coauthored with Alexander M. Krasnoselʹskii MR2070618
• Alexander M. Krasnoselʹskii coauthored with Vladimir Grigorʹevich Boltyanskii MR0862446
• Vladimir Grigorʹevich Boltyanskii coauthored with Alexander Soifer MR1104655
• Alexander Soifer coauthored with Paul Erdős1 MR1214695
Erdős Number 4 ?

tool From Microsoft would suggest Erdös number of 4 McInerney-H.S.Gamble-H.L.Montogmery-Erdős

doesn't look reliable though, results don't make sense.. (McInerney search does not show this link!)

~~DISCUSSION~~

2018/06/11 00:06

Emacs & Macros

Looking again at my old text editor Emacs and what it can do with Emacs lisp. Lisp expresses everything in terms of lists and the editor itself is written in this and can be modified and extended using it. Watched some of Emacs Rocks videos and it is quite amazing what you can do if you can become fluent in this environment. Then again, the amount of time you need to invest to reach that level of proficiency is enormous. The number and functions and key bindings involved is huge
4)

Under Alternative Text for this comic: “Real programmers set the universal constants at the start such that the universe evolves to contain the disk with the data they want.” - May br right if the Simulation_hypothesis is true.

Anyways, this brought me on to the topic of Keyboard macros that makes it easy to string together actions in Emacs

<F3> record,
Complete long list of Emacs “Keyboard Yoga”
<F4> to stop
M-x  kmacro-call-macro    to run the sequence automatically
optionally tie the macro to a keybinding. 

… and then onto Excel Macros — which may actually help me do some routine data entry tasks automatically. This, however, also seems to require some time needed to implement across a series of excel files.
“Computers can help you do everything more quickly… it just takes longer.”

~~DISCUSSION~~

2018/06/11 00:06

Currency Variation & Stock Price

Stock prices are discussed a lot. Currencies a lot less - though variations can be equally dramatic. The Euro has held values as priced in US dollars from a minimum of 0,84\$in Nov 2000 up to 1.6\$ July 2008. At the time of writing it is priced at 1.17\$which is similar to valuation at launch in Jan 1999. The short term variations can be equally dramtic. In the year to date, the € as priced in \$ has risen by around 10%. Significantly, at least to me, this mirrors exactly the “rise” of the SP500 in this time frame. Priced in € the SP500 has completely stalled in the first 6 months of 2017. The SP500 is, however, priced in \$and as such is nominally doing perfectly well in 2017. No major alarm about a stalling US stock market. The 10% depreciation of the$ in € terms is also notable absent from headlines.

Gyrations of the GBP with various crises also does not get much coverage. I wonder is there a critical psychological point where this does become important. Crossing parity I think is something that would penetrate through to a headline. Maybe this 1€ having greater value than 1GBP would provoke some debate in Brexit?

~~DISCUSSION~~

2018/06/11 00:06

Could Democracy & Our Market System Save Us From Ourselves?

~~META: date created = 2016-12-02 ~~

If technological advance is not an absolute good and it is instead precisely technological advance (Nuclear weapons, AI or some other version of Nick Bolstrom's black ball from the Urn) that will bring about our ultimate demise, then what can bring an end to this? Kaczynski would say there is nothing that can halt this advance in our current system without some type or revolution to overthrow our current institutions. Our ever rational drive to higher efficiencies & productivity cannot be stopped through any intellectual endeavor. Can our big brains that drive us towards ever more technological advance be our own undoing as in Vonnegut's Galápagos? Can we truly stay that we are driving technology for our greater good and not just for its own sake? Do the technologists do their work for the greater good of all humanity or merely because they are driven to do so as it is who they are? Being one of them, I suspect the latter,

But could the solution to the problem on how to halt or regulate technological process be already built into our current democratic, market system? In our current system, technological progress allows a certain small group of people who are skilled in these arts of pushing this technology to prosper disproportionately to the rest of the population. This causes economic imbalances over time that will cause some type of democratic unrest and rise anti intellectualism against the people who have more. Here the people reject the dogma of technological progress at all costs. (Trump's “post fact” victory in the US as a positive example to save humanity… I am potentially reaching a little bit here… ;) )

This somehow agrees with the view that through democracy the wisdom of the the people comes through - even if this does not happen every time, errors will be recognized and corrected. The typical disdain for democracy shown by intellectual elites (see for example H.L Menckens - “Notes on Democracy”) is based on the argument that the common man is too stupid to understand the complex issues of the day. It may however be that the intellectual elites are defining and pursuing particular issues that may not be relevant or indeed beneficial for everyone. The hope is, that on a long enough timeframe, people can recognize what is in their own best interests and this may not be aligned with the logic of what a small number of intellectuals would like to do. Recognizing what is in your best interest may not be an intellectual endeavor but one of low level preference.

Maybe stupidity is indeed a virtue, and it is maybe humanities stupidity that will allow us to keep our humanity, meaning our flawed, inefficient, unproductive ways at the center of our world instead of being pushed ever more to the edges by technology's rational.

~~DISCUSSION~~

2018/06/11 00:06