Archive for August, 2009

Fabrication and friends

Posted in DIY, musings, pedantry, projects, Science with tags , , , on 31/08/2009 by sangomasmith

Recently, a friend of mine and I had a debate about universal fabrication in general and fabbers in particular. The conversation and resolution we came to were, I thought, worth writing about. Full disclosure: I’m a biologist and JP (my friend) is an engineer. Oh, and we both want to buy a fabber someday.

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Disctrict 9

Posted in movies with tags , on 31/08/2009 by sangomasmith

District 9, District 9, District 9! Yes, I watched it. Yes, I’m blown away. And yes, there are small spoilers under the gap.

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A quick shout-out to Caster

Posted in News-related with tags , on 25/08/2009 by sangomasmith

We know you’re a freak, but then all runners are.

We love you anyway.

A quick prediction.

Posted in musings, News-related with tags , , on 25/08/2009 by sangomasmith

Now that the number of confirmed cases of swine flu here in sunny S.A. has reached triple digits, allow me to do the incredibly stupid thing and make a prediction.

First, the assumptions:

  • The virus is ‘stable’ (its disease profile with not change over the next year or so)
  • The under-reporting of cases is higher for clinical cases then for deaths by a large margin. Under-reporting of deaths is therefore ignored.
  • The under-reporting of cases is about 10:1 (one case will be tested and confirmed for every 10 that go unreported)
  • About one in ten people will become infected with the disease.
  • No large-scale action to limit swine flu spread will take place.

Next, the known facts:

  • 2844 confirmed cases and 6 confirmed deaths(latest official source).
  • 50% of deaths were of pregnant women. Most of these were in their third trimester.
  • South Africa has a population of about 48 000 000 (source).
  • The GDP per capita is $10119 (from the same source as above)

This leads to some simplistic predictions:

  • At the end of the epidemic, 4.8 million people will have become sick with swine flu.
  • Of these, approximately 1000 people will die.
  • Of these, 500 will be pregnant woman (especially those in the late stages of pregnancy and those with pre-existing conditions).

Now for a retarded set of predictions and assumptions:

  • The economic loss per death will be equal to the GDP per capita of the dead person plus 10% of the GDP per capita of 10 other people (in total: twice the GDP per capita)
  • Thus, approximately $ 20 000 000 will be lost.
  • Thus, it would be worthwhile for the government to immediately cut a $ 20 000 000 check for swine flu prevention and treatment.

So, dear reader, what is wrong with this prediction?

I could cry…

Posted in Crop science, News-related, Science on 24/08/2009 by sangomasmith

Was over at True/Slant and found this gem. Having your case made for you is wonderful.

Thanks, Eilene!

The new economics

Posted in economics, musings, News-related with tags , , , , on 24/08/2009 by sangomasmith

Where the fuck did common sense go?

The current crisis in the world economies amuses me no end,although much less so when I think of the impact of this bout of stupidity on ordinary people. Firstly, we have a crisis brought about by a combination of poor oversight and corporate irresponsibility in a country where corporate freedom is an eternal rallying cry. Secondly, we have a series of costly bailouts to the very same companies that were allowed to put fire to the tinder of the world financial system. And now we some of the affected countries declaring a premature victory over financial disorder. I ask myself, when did these people forget basic economics? Where did they lose their common sense? The world financial system, it seems, is doomed to forever fail to learn from its own mistakes.

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Swords and Stockholm syndrome

Posted in History, media, pedantry, rant with tags , , , , on 24/08/2009 by sangomasmith

The new rash of historical revisionism is killing historical understanding

I was recently watching a history-themed show by National Geographic called ‘Samurai bow’ and was enjoying myself immensely until they got to the inevitable ‘comparison with X’ section of such shows. In this case, the comparison was between a Japanese longbow (or Yumi) and an English longbow of equal draw weight. Which is where I start to have problems.

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