It’s rare to read a negative book review from the scientific community written with this kind of candour and certainty. Stephen Wolfram of course is the author of Mathematica and a pretty bright lad. Seems he went astray somewhere, or at least this reviewer thinks so.

The book is “A New Kind of Science”.

The reviewer calls it “A Rare Blend of Monster Raving Egomania and Utter Batshit Insanity.”

Worth a read, even if you have no interest in the book, science, Wolfram…

  • Flustrated
  • Misunderestimated
  • Heathengelical
  • Spontanimosity
  • Exorberant
  • Traumajesty
  • Overflowded
  • Ambiviolence
  • Craptcular
  • Fugly
  • Manscaping
  • Misconscrewed
  • Malamanteau

These are all malamanteaus. Anyone need that explained? Anyone know any others?

For those desperate enough:

Sometimes, I feel just like this…

(the little girl, that is.)
Sorry, unknown attribution.

Two witnesses provided evidence in court.

Tom is a somewhat reliable witness giving accurate testimony 70% of the time. Harry is less reliable, giving accurate testimony 60% of the time.

Both testified to the same effect.

What is the chance that their evidence was indeed accurate ?

Think carefully now.

[Thanks to Mark W for this one.]


Shine as a verb means self-luminous. Emitting its own light (or metaphorically so).

  • The sun shines brightly.
  • The winner’s face shone radiantly.

Shine as a noun or adjective means reflective. Reflecting light that falls on it.

  • Put a shine on those boots, lad!
  • The material we have is too shiny.

There appears to be no noun or adjectival form with the sense of light emission. It’s meaningless to say the sun is shiny or has a shine to it.

The verb form can include reflection if suitably qualified or the kind of light is uncertain.

  • The polished metalwork was shining in the sun.
  • The jewellery shone under the lights.
  • The moon shines brightly (reflected light, but not “shiny” and looks like emitted.)


Take a country that has become rich through a combination of natural resources, manufacturing and trade. Let it discover that goods can be imported at lower prices from countries with lower labour costs.

Consider the finance sector, where instant profits today can be made by capturing cash flows from the future. Watch the finance sector suck in all the talent that used to engage in inventing new technologies and making new products by the promise of instant riches.

Now the investors who made those instant profits are committed to making sure those cash flows do eventuate in the “real” economy, so they impose rules and discipline where the only thing that matters is the bottom line, profits are more important than people, economics trumps all.

Politicians are the first to catch on. They pay off their deficits, trumpet their budget surpluses and boast about their “economic management” and of course make sure to protect the finance sector from too much scrutiny or regulation. The taxes roll in and they re-elected because times are good.

Labour is a cost, so everyone must work longer hours and still workers’
salaries must fall but the investors have an answer for that too. They offer loans to make up the difference and because loans must be secured, they inflate the price of the houses and land the workers live in. Everyone wins!

Great news! There are other countries willing to sell cheap products and instead of keeping the proceeds, lend the money back again to keep the cycle moving.

Even greater news! We have finally discovered perpetual motion, the eternal free lunch.

This is what is called the Anglo disease and you can read more about it
here: It was invented in England, although it has been greatly refined in other countries such as the USA.

As it happens the first good example of where it leads is Greece. It will not be the last.

This is a scrabble tile. I might use it as an avatar.

This article argues that an ageing society has a significant upside.

The Japanese will soon be the first where 50% of the population are 50 or older. It’s likely that 50% of all the humans who ever reached the age of 65 are alive now. But as we are now finding out an ageing population has more wisdom, more accumulated knowledge and skills, probably consumes less and puts less stress on the environment. Sure, they need more health care but most older people are fit and active, well able to look after themselves. In Europe and the UK less than 5% are in any kind of institutional care.

Imagine that the natural equilibrium for a human population with enough to eat and good health care turns out to be old and stable,  producing only just enough babies to maintain itself! Certainly some of our current concerns, including alcohol-fuelled violence, drug usage and indeed war would diminish greatly if there were simply far less young people around.

This article is about Keirsey personality types. See Keirsey describes four main types.

  • Guardians speak mostly of their duties and responsibilities, of what they can
    keep an eye on and take good care of, and they’re careful to obey the
    laws, follow the rules, and respect the rights of others. (SJ 40-45%)
  • Idealists speak mostly of what they hope for and imagine might be possible for
    people, and they want to act in good conscience, always trying to reach
    their goals without compromising their personal code of ethics. (NF 15-20%)
  • Artisans speak mostly about what they see right in front of them, about what
    they can get their hands on, and they will do whatever works, whatever
    gives them a quick, effective payoff, even if they have to bend the
    rules. (SP 30-35%)
  • Rationals speak mostly of what new problems intrigue
    them and what new solutions they envision, and always pragmatic, they
    act as efficiently as possible to achieve their objectives, ignoring
    arbitrary rules and conventions if need be. (NT 5-10%)


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