Thursday, September 30, 2010

Place Your Bets

I came across an interesting site the other day and thought I'd give it the spotlight for a minute. The site goes by the name of, and it gives people the option to make bets on long term predictions on anything from what population will be like in 2060, to when the world will reach 'peak oil', to if there will be a casino on the moon by 2040. Some of them are obviously more absurd then others, and if you think they are in fact absurd you can bet against them. I personally just bet against a casino being on the moon by 2040, especially with the debates going on about NASA's budget ( One of the more high profile cases I came across was a prediction made by Warren Buffett, the ultimate speculator, which reads as follows:

DURATION 10 years (02008-02017)
“Over a ten-year period commencing on January 1, 2008, and ending on December 31, 2017, the S & P 500 will outperform a portfolio of funds of hedge funds, when performance is measured on a basis net of fees, costs and expenses.”
Warren Buffett
Protege Partners, LLC
STAKES $1,000,000
will go to Girls Incorporated of Omaha if Buffett wins,
or Friends of Absolute Return for Kids, Inc if Protege Partners, LLC wins.

Obviously, not all of the bets are this high stake, but it's interesting to see a site that has you betting towards, presumably, the future you want to see; or at least the one you think you might see. To me this beats sports betting any day. Anyways, what kinds of predictions do you guys have for the future? What do you worry about, and what do you look forward to?

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Drugs Are Bad, Mkay?

Not in Portugal. In 2001 one the experiment began to see what would happen if instead of getting sent to jail, recreational drug users were put before a panel consisting of a psychologist, a social worker and a legal adviser; a team that would provide advice and treatment that could be refused at will. It sounds ridiculous to Western governments. I'm sure Frederic G. Cassidy (the founder of DARE) would be be preaching about the dangers of young teens doing coke off of the asses of hookers in the middle of downtown intersections, and geriatrics downing LSD during their daily visit to the grocery store. Of course, none of this happened, in fact, drug use went down, as the study by the Cato Institute showed. Tom Chivers (reporting the news from Time magazine, who actually wrote about this in 2009) goes through the statistics:

Drug use among 13- to 15-year-olds fell from 14.1 per cent in 2001 to 10.6 per cent in 2006. Among 16- to 18-year-olds it has dropped from 27.6 per cent to 21.6 per cent. This, incidentally, has come after years of steadily increasing drug use among the young; between 1995 and 2001, use in the 16-to-18 bracket leapt up from 14.1 per cent to its 2001 high. This drop has come against a background of increasing drug use across the rest of the EU.

Chivers notes that drugs are still deleterious, but this kind of decriminalization certainly doesn't seem to be.

Should other countries follow suit?

Full story here:

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Good Ideas

So I stumbled across google's 10^100 project finalists

and I'm glad to see Khan Academy mentioned under making educational content free online. I've found lately that the university system these days often creates a lot of barriers to learning, and this kind of move to free education might help Canada (and even more so you guys in the United States) pick up its average education. Two questions though: What ideas would you have google consider? Should google be considering these things at all, or should they be in the realm of government?

Friday, September 24, 2010


I recently added another person to my list of people I'm following, and the first thing I read was "and yet here I sit", which reminded me:

The above video is an hour long presentation by physicist Lawrence Krauss about the nature of the universe, its implications, and how it might end. Although he does seem a bit pontifical at times, the overall message is quite interesting, and much like the name of the person's blog I mentioned above it's led me to think about the anthropic principle.

Now, for those of you who don't know what the anthropic principle is, it's - in brief definition - the cosmological principle that theories of the universe are constrained by the necessity to allow human existence. As I think Lawrence Krauss puts it in the video "the universe is the way it is because astronomers are here to measure it". It's a bit dogmatic, perhaps, but it certainly sounds interesting to me. Skeptics might suggest that the universe is simply illusory or intangible; that we have no way of knowing how to measure it. And yet here I sit.

What's this all about?

Whatever comes to mind, a theme comes with time.