大開眼界

五月 17, 2009

My Personal Credit Crisis – NYTimes.com

When I first called Chase in October, a representative named Sarah said I didn’t qualify for a loan modification because I wasn’t yet 90 days past due. The only “loan modification” she could offer me was a “repayment plan” under which I paid $400 more per month for six months until I was current again…

“I’m sorry, but our analysts have been backed up,” yet another Chase rep told me, even more politely than the previous one. She said each analyst had about 500 distressed borrowers to deal with, and it had been taking about five weeks for customers to get a direct response. The delays seemed to be getting longer.

金融風暴以前,貸款之容易與美國人的理財能力同樣令人吃驚。如此看來,不止是借次按的低收入家庭,年收入六位數的專業人士同樣糊塗,在寬鬆的借貸環境下不能幸免。

由此看來,金融風暴前樓價暴升,與現在暴跌,皆無可避免。

廣告

再談六四

五月 15, 2009

快二十年了,最近和一個年紀比我大的朋友談起六四,那年他還在國內,正準備出國。他說到,六四之前是中國新聞最自由開放的時候,大小報章每天都在罵政府。

後來學生在天安門示威,不肯讓步。他的理解是,這次事件讓保守派有了借口,自由開放會導混亂,江山都保不住了,還談什麼自由開放的政體?放是保守派就得勢了,以後的事大家都知道:鎮壓、收緊新聞自由、只搞經濟。

我覺得在六四事件中,中共當然是犯了大錯,顯現了為權力而草菅人命的本質,同時亦是對所謂共產主義的理想國的一大諷刺。但從宏觀歷史看來,如果學生願意讓步,現在的中國很可能不一樣了。他們堅持爭取美好的事情,到頭來反而弄得更糟糕,實在是個悲劇。

豬流感

五月 3, 2009

Flu Cases Increase, but There Is Some Optimism – NYTimes.com

“Very few confirmed are over 50,” Dr. Schuchat said. “They tend to be younger. Whether it will pan out in the weeks ahead we don’t know, but it is a pattern that looks different from seasonal influenza.”

最近常聽到一個論調說豬流感是傳媒炒作,其實和一般的流感沒有兩樣。這樣說是因為在數字上,每年死於普通流感的人數比這次豬流感多了。

但這個論調忽略了受感染者的年齡分布。一般流感死者大多數是抵抗力低的嬰兒和老年人,而老人死亡或多或少可以說是比較「自然」的死亡--年老力衰後,不少人是病死的。

至於這個新病毒,受感染者不分年齡,全人類都沒有抵抗這病毒的抗體。數學模型告訢我們,一旦受感染人數到了一個數目,病毒就能迅速擴散到整個社群。這時候,即使豬流感的殺傷力只是和普通的流感一樣(如幾個 % 死亡率),也將會是一個相當大的數目。

所以,不要把殺傷力和感染力混為一談。

obama

四月 29, 2009

Sizing Up Obama’s First 100 Days

That was the house built on sand. His house built on rock had five pillars – new rules for Wall Street, new initiatives in education, alternative energy and health care, and eventually budget savings that would bring down the national debt –

我想不止我一個懷疑,obama政府能不能同時做這麼多事情。有預感美國要不變得非常好,要不變得非常糟糕….

Mac vs PC war, 更新

四月 19, 2009

之前 MS 的 PC hunter 廣告一石激起千重浪,Mac和PC fans 各自交鋒,以下是 Mac fan 的辯白:

Mac vs. PC: What You Don’t Get for $699 – BusinessWeek

Yes, $699 beats the $2,800 you’d pay for a Mac with a 17-in. screen. But when it comes to PCs, there’s still a great deal more to buy.

First, there’s security software. The PC in question comes with a 60-day trial Norton Internet Security 2009 from Symantec (SYMC). After the trial runs out you’ll pay Symantec $50 a year to protect your PC (and up to two others in your home) from all the nasty viruses, worms, and other malware lurking on the Internet. That’s $150 over the three years Lauren is likely to hold on to her PC. No need for antivirus on the Mac.

Next, let’s say something goes wrong on the computer once the warranty expires and that it requires the intervention of a third party. Geek Squad will charge you $129 just for a diagnosis. A diagnosis from the Genius Bar in Apple’s retail stores? Free.

Then there’s iLife, the suite of multimedia tools that comes standard on the Mac. With iLife you can organize photos and home movies and turn them into watchable DVDs. Garageband helps you create your own music and another iLife element aids in Web site creation.

免費的防毒軟件不少,電腦有問題不一定要找 Geek Squad…. 至於所謂的多媒體軟件,免費的大把。最後到 Apple 官方發言人:

“A PC is no bargain when it doesn’t do what you want," Apple spokesman Bill Evans says. “The one thing that both Apple and Microsoft can agree on is that everyone thinks the Mac is cool. With its great designs and advanced software, nothing matches it at any price." Microsoft declined to comment.

其實簡單的經濟原理告訢我們,PC 的性價比一定比 Apple 高。如果一個人決定買 Apple,就只能從一個生產商買;但若決定買 PC, 品牌有很多選擇。同一檔次的電腦都有很多競爭,價格必定不斷往成本價方向走;但是 apple 只是 marketing 的考慮。

另外,但PC 一樣有很多 high end 的型號。用 $2,800的話,可以買兩部。

頹相

四月 16, 2009

廣告同現實,真係有咁大對比?

不過又人幾多人食包之前會拿出來觀賞一下?好多人一打開就食,先叫快餐。

Lifehacker – Avoid Unhealthy Junk with a Fast-Food Reality Check – Health

隱形肢體

四月 15, 2009

The Mind-Body Problem: Scientific American

In Annals of Neurology, the researchers, led by Asaid Khateb, report the case a 64 year-old librarian who began to experience a supernumerary phantom limb four days after being hospitalized with a stroke. The phantom, she said, started from the elbow of her left arm (which had been paralyzed by the stroke) and felt “just like a real hand," but was “weightless." “transparent" and “thinner" than her actual arms. The patient also told the doctors that the phantom was not experienced permanently, but only when she intentionally “triggered" it. Furthermore, it was anatomically correct and functional—she said that it had flexible, independently moveable joints at the elbow, wrist and fingers, and claimed that she could not only see it, but also feel it and purposefully move it.

The doctors placed her into a brain scanner, and asked her to scratch her cheek with her phantom limb. Remarkably, the scan confirmed the patient’s subjective reports. When she willed the phantom limb into action, the doctors observed an increase in the activity of the right motor cortex. When she said that the phantom was approaching her face, they observed an increase in visual cortical activity. And when she told them that the limb had made contact, they observed increased activity in the region of somatosensory cortex corresponding to the cheek. The patient’s brain had generated a virtual simulation of a fully functional arm, which had been incorporated into the body image and which ran alongside the neural representations of her real arms. In her mind, this virtual arm was just as real as her actual arms.

interesting

Live search algebra

四月 13, 2009

Lifehacker – Let Live Search Do Your Algebra – Live Search

OMG!  幾時可以做微積分,就不用 mathematica 了。

Mac

四月 13, 2009

從來沒有興趣用Mac,見過有部 macbook,連 projector video output 都要另外花錢買。

PC 的生產商多,一般的 PC 價錢比 mac 便宜,功能比 mac 強。

apple 的 ipod 也是,明明只是普通不過的 mp3 player,都要賣 $100-$200,非常 overpriced。

小紅帽故事

四月 12, 2009