Sunday, December 27, 2009

Google translate good for chess (at least from spanish)

I found the blog http://comentariosdeajedrez.blogspot.com/ recently. The authors posted a comment on the Google Group 'Chess Library' about a blog posting on the development of the use of time limits in chess.

Not being a spanish speaker (or reader), I attempted to use translate.google.com. It did an excellent job and I find I can understand all the posts there. One interesting thing is that it translated Spanish algebraic chess notation to English algebraic chess notation. For example, Cf3 was translated, correctly to Nf3. Pretty handy.

By comparison, babelfish didn't do nearly as good a job at the translations, and did not convert the chess notation. Here's a comparison of the translations:

Babelfish:

Until half-full of century XIX, the chess games were juegaron without no limitation in the necessary time for the examination of a movement.

Translate Google:

Until the mid-nineteenth century, chess is played without any limitation in time for consideration of a motion

This looks like a great site, by the way. I greatly appreciate their historic posts, which seem well researched and interesting. I'll try to follow it, using translate.google.com, of course.

[Update: Tried Microsoft Translator from bing.com. It didn't do well in the translation. Confusingly, it translated some of the chess notation correctly and some not correctly and strangely used mixed case in the chess notation that was not in the original Spanish text.

Actually, I'm reading the translation now more carefully with translate.google.com and it appears to get confused in the translation of spanish algebraic to english algebraic also.]

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Jonah Goldberg on CRU scandal

You should read the whole article. Here's a particularly good paragraph:
This should be considered not merely a scientific scandal but an enormous journalistic scandal. The elite press treats skepticism about global warming as a mental defect. It uses a form of the No True Scotsman fallacy to delegitimize people who dissent from the (manufactured) "consensus." Dissent is scientifically unserious, therefore dissenting scientist A is unserious. There's no way to break in. The moment someone disagrees with the "consensus" they disqualify themselves from criticizing the consensus. That's not how science is supposed to work. Skeptics who've received a tote bag from some oil company are branded as shills, but scientists who live off of climate change obsessed foundations or congressional fiefdoms are objective, call-it-like-they-see-it truth seekers. Question these folks and you get a Bill Murrayesque "Back off, man. We're scientists."

Saturday, February 07, 2009

The Great Depression and how we got out of it..

There's been a lot of discussion about how to get out of the Recession and how we got out of the Great Depression.

A lot of focus is on the New Deal and Government spending. Others say it was the War that jump started the economy.

I've read some on it and I think there's a perspective you hear sometimes, but doesn't get enough play. The US economy in the late 30s was terrible and getting worse. The economy in the 40s was better by some measures. Sure, GDP went way up, but we were building tanks, planes and ships. Standard of living was terrible during the War as you would expect.

What happened to the economy when the War ended? In '46-'48 there was high inflation and then a bad recession hit with high unenployment. It appeared that the Depression might have come back. What happened then? The economy picked up as markets started opening world wide for US goods.

I'm no economist, but could it have been the case that it was the destruction of world-wide productive capacity (primarily Europe and Far East) during the War that accelerated the US economy out of the duldrums? Perhaps this continued until the bad economies of the late 60s/70s? Not sure what happened during the 80s/90s, but I think maybe we've been living on debt during that period and the basic realities of the economy haven't changed.

It's cautionary. If we have another Great Depression, will there be pressure for us to use our status as the only Superpower to start or encourage the start of a Great War? A War that would diminish world productivity to our benefit?

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Madoff and those who invested

I've been reading some articles on the Madoff scandal and I haven't heard this opinion stated, so here it goes.

I think that some (many?) of the people who invested with Madoff thought they were benefitting from a network of connected people. With his secretive investment strategies, his reputation and his consistent returns the investors could assume that Madoff was getting inside information from other investors that they couldn't act on themselves, but could reap reciprocal rewards from other insiders who similarly helped guide Madoff's investments.

It was just insider trading, once removed. It was a scam on Madoff's part, he wasn't brave enough to actually DO that, but that's what I think he was selling. Whenever you look into what he said he was doing to make such consistent returns, it didn't make sense, so "smart" money would assume he was doing something he couldn't talk about.

Insider trading is such a complex subject. I think, more and more, I'm coming around to the view that we should abolish insider trader restrictions. I read an opinion piece on insider trading in the WSJ a few years back that took this stand. I was suprised to learn a few years back that they are a fairly recent invention, going back only to the 60s. Used to be, CEOs were rewarded by insider trading, but their trades were all public (still are), so you could follow them. Sure, they were front runners, but shouldn't someone who worked hard and came up with a winning strategy be rewarded? Note that in this world, the CEOs (and other well-connected people) typically made money only when they did well for their companies. Now, we have these arrangements where CEOs make many millions whether their companies prosper or not.

Getting back to Madoff, here's my takeaway. The "smart" money, the big players who were investing with Madoff knew (or should have known) that they were involved in risky business and they got what they deserved. The little guys who were hurt in this were either conned by their advisers or shouldn't have been involved with Madoff at all. I do think that there should be criminal penalties for not just Madoff but advisers who were directing money into what should have been viewed as a risky investments.