Author Archives: blueocean

The economic value of life

In the 1970s, the motoring industry and legal world in the US was subject to the now famous Ford Pinto incident. Through a leaked memo, it was apparently discovered that Ford had realised that there was a design flaw with the car that could cause an explosion upon rear impact. To repair this, so the story goes, Ford could have spent $11 per car, but ultimately decided against it because it would have proven more expensive than any legal damages […]

Discovering musical identity

A little while ago, I came across the interesting website ‘Every Noise at Once‘. It is an attempt to visually map every defined genre of music, so that one can see the proximity of one genre to another. This is not only useful as a discovery tool for finding new music styles that you might enjoy, it also has the potential to tell us something quite insightful about the history and evolution of music. There are some very cool analyses […]

Religion by Numbers

I tend to shy away from discussions of a religious nature, because there is usually not much objective information exchanged. The only way, I say to myself, that I would touch the topic, is if there was actually some evidence that was not purely subjective or opinion-oriented in nature. However, I thought of an empirical question that interested me: does being religious and actively engaging in religious activity actually make people any better off in terms of their wellbeing than […]

Understanding Selection Bias

Measuring the effect of an intervention, or ‘treatment’, is essential to the scientific method. It helps us to separate real relationships from spurious ones. But there are some pitfalls that cloud our ability to see the true effects of a treatment. Let’s try to understand these pitfalls using an explicit example. Suppose that we want to test the impact of a new fangled weight loss pill that has been released in only one town. The pill was only available at […]

Musical Winterlude: Hourglass

Here is an early Christmas present. This is my solo guitar adaptation of Hourglass, by John Petrucci and Jordan Rudess.

A Simpleton’s Succinct Summary of Sport

In today’s modern world, it is quite likely that you will come across a group of individuals doing battle with another group of individuals. However, it may surprise you that there are no kingdoms, knights heads, or fair maidens up for grabs. Instead, these people running around like headless chickens are participating in something known as ‘sport’. I appreciate that this may seem rather puzzling. Fear thee not! I have assembled the finest succinct guide in all of the galaxy […]

My kingdom for a toasted baguette

As you might imagine, I was quite miffed when everyone’s favourite campus sandwich shop stopped offering to toast your baguette for you. Apparently this was because the toaster oven broke, and they found they could serve 100 or so more customers in total (per day I believe). From the firm’s point of view, it’s clear that they can make more money if they sell more sandwiches. It seems like a no brainer. But it’s not so clear how it’s affecting […]

Linux Porting: A Golden Opportunity

Steam OS was released in its first iteration almost a year ago. It was Valve’s attempt to move towards a PC gaming operating system that emulated the experience of consoles, without the impracticalities and overheads of Windows. It also avoid various legal and licensing issues with Microsoft that are costly and undesirable for games developers. For those of you that aren’t aware, Steam OS is a Debian-based Linux distribution, centred around Valve’s Steam content distribution and management platform. Early experiments […]

Film vs digital: another case of the nudge

I’ve read a lot of stuff about photography lately. One argument that keeps popping up, especially with older photographers, is that they prefer traditional film cameras to modern digital cameras. What reasons do they come up with for this? Although some prefer the colours and grainy feel of older photos, most reasons boil down to some sort of nostalgia factor. Those of you below a certain age threshold may not have used or even seen a film camera. So what […]

Sticking with your ‘own kind’

My cousin and I both share the view that choosing friends or associations based on group attributes rather than individual attributes is a dangerous idea when aggregated. Rather than choosing to associate with others based on common interests, ideas, personality matches etc, there are many people that have a tendency to forge ties based on some stereotypical or socially constructed rule. The most obvious of these rules seems to be to gravitate around others of similar race or religion, though […]

Beamer Boredom

In one of my earlier posts, I described my thoughts on why LaTeX is a superior alternative to word processing packages (like MS Word) for creating written documents. In short, it is a system that more or less makes all the formatting decisions for you so that you can just focus on writing. It is also indispensable for those that want to use mathematics or technical symbols that are a pain in the ass to get right in other programs. […]