J Larsen

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Everything posted by J Larsen

  1. Ordering from Tower.com

    They are my primary source for CDs. I usually opt for two day shipping. Other than my first order, where they sent used CDs that were supposed to be new, I've had no problems.
  2. Dispellng Economic Myths

    Again, I was abusing technical language and assuming that I would be understood. I'm not posting under ideal circumstances. Edit: In retrospect, I wish I had said "market value as expressed in any given currency" in place of "intrinsic value". Haste is the enemy of accuracy.
  3. Dispellng Economic Myths

    It is "explanatorily vacuous" if the whole point of the argument is to demonstrate that the instrinsic value of oil is independent of the currency in which it is denominated.
  4. Dispellng Economic Myths

    I don't see that in his post at all. I took Guy to mean this: hold all currencies other than the dollar fixed wrt to each other. Now take X% off the value of the dollar. All else being equal, this will have an X% impact on oil prices as expressed in dollars. Your last paragraph seems to me to fit under the disclaimer "obviously other factors can exert upward or downward impacts on oil prices".
  5. Dispellng Economic Myths

    Not sure about that. The Japanese Yen, Deutsche Mark (sp) and Swiss Franc have generally been more stable. The problem is that those nations have kept interest rates low. The dollar was primarily used because it was the main source of foreign reserves for nations. Why? Well is was somewhat stable, but more importantly, it offered a nice mix of relative stability plus nice return on the treasury notes. OK, I should have phrased that more carefully. During the period in which the decisions were made which led to the dollar being the standard pricing unit for international commodities markets, the dollar had a history of being the least volatile currency in large supply.
  6. Dispellng Economic Myths

    I am not sure this is true. I would guess that most who trade oil contracts use such large volumes that the transaction costs are tiny in relative terms. You know, I would have thought that too, but then Buffett said last year that he was no longer trading in foreign currencies because the costs had grown too large, and was instead focusing on acquiring foreign equities (using USD). I have nearly no knowledge of the associated costs, but this did surprise me. My knowledge on this issue is limited to the point where I don't know how it would affect the entities typically engaged in oil trading.
  7. Dispellng Economic Myths

    That is obvious, but it isn't what Guy asserted. What he asserted is if the value of the dollar drops by X%, then this will have an X% upward impact on the dollar value of oil prices. Other forces could have additional upward or downward impact on prices. In response to your question, I think you are asking what would happen if oil revenues as expressed in dollars flattened while the dollar continued to depreciate relative to other currencies, say the Euro. All this would indicate is that the value of oil was declining in "real terms" (I'm slightly abusing the language but you know what I mean). If priced in Euros, it would be observed to be declining in "nominal terms" as well. Any other possibility is ruled out by arbitrage.
  8. Dispellng Economic Myths

    It is also worth noting that nearly all international commodities markets are dollar-denominated. Oil makes the headlines, but precious metals, grains, etc all trade in dollars. Some part of the gains seen in international commodities markets over the past couple years is attributable to the declining value of the dollar, which speaks to Guy's first point. The second point I think is a little more slippery, and I *think* Guy would agree with me on that. There would doubtlessly be some impact, but it is not likely to be catastrophic. It seems to me the most likely consequence would be some degree of upward pressure on interest rates. I happen to disagree with Guy on the impact of dropping the dollar standard on demand for dollars; I think there would be a real effect (just look at how many dollars foreign governments keep on their balance sheets - I think that at least to some extent this represents a hedge against the effect of currency fluctuations on commodities markets). Finally, to the extent that everyone realizes there is a non-zero probability of OPEC dropping the dollar standard, this has already been priced into the dollar.
  9. Dispellng Economic Myths

    Because historically the dollar has been one of the least volatile and most plentiful currencies.
  10. LCD vs Plasma

    Viewing distance is certainly part of it (as many Chuck Close, impressionist or divisionist paintings will demonstrate), but have you ever plugged your computer into an HD LCD TV and, say, tried to work in a spreadsheet? In my experience, it is painful, regardless of the viewing distance. Granted, I haven't tried this on the new set but I'm not optimistic. Now with something like a spreadsheet you are realy concentrating on fine, static details, and I will admit that the extent to which one perceives this in a moving picture is questionable.
  11. LCD vs Plasma

    1080 on a 42" screen works out to about 50-60 ppi (about half the resolution of a high-end computer monitor). It has generally been observed that the human eye resolves differences in ppi up to about 300 ppi. So I would expect that you could see a difference - I certainly do on mine. But as always your best bet is to go to a good store that has the TVs set up properly and find out on your own. In NYC, I've found that the audiophile shops are the best places to go for comparing TVs (although naturally the bargains are elsewhere).
  12. I think it is extraordinarily unlikely for the universe to be in a superposition of states. I remember as an undergrad being asked on an exam to come up with a rough estimate of the probability of leaning against a wall and rematerializing on the other side. I recall the time scale for this event being something like a million times the age of the universe.
  13. As expected, Krauss claims to have been deeply misconstrued by New Scientist (which I don't find to be a very good source for anything, frankly): http://blog.wired.com/wiredscience/2007/11...orten-univ.html
  14. The second law argument is simply wrong. The application of quantum mechanical principles to macroscopic objects in and of itself isn't wrong in principle, but one needs to be very careful. Macroscopic superpositions have been observed, but only in special laboratory situations (and only for devices like SQUIDS that can barely be considered macroscopic). Also, I believe some researchers have been able to do single and double slit experiments with buckyballs.
  15. I suppose you could look at it that way, if you take a very narrow view of what constitutes an observation, as Krause does. I personally take a very broad view - I am inclined to believe that "observation", in the quantum mechanical sense, does not require conciousness (this is indeed the view historically taken by the overwhelming majority if physicists, with Wigner being a notable exception). But it turns out to be very difficult to design an experiment to determine which view is correct, so this is really a matter of personal bias and speculation. In any event, it bears noting that statistically speaking it is extraoridinarily unlikely for any macroscopic object to be in a superposition of states, so pratically speaking this is much ado about nothing.
  16. The point isn't that nothing can happen if nothing is observed. The point is that the act of observation can alter the course of future events. This has been proved beyond any reasonable doubt through Bell's Experiments and subsequent, similar experiments of greater sophistication. As the article correctly points out, a crucial open question is "what constitutes an observation?" I tend to take a far more broad view of what constitutes an observation than what Krause takes, but I must admit that this is based on my own personal bias and not on scientific evidence. In any event, I think the article must have somewhat distorted the views of Krause (who is a well-respected physicist), as the article makes it sound like the evolution of a system subsequent to observation is deterministic, which no one has ever claimed. What really happens is the probabilities of future events are altered (the exception is if one performs continuous measurements, which is not the case here). In other words, at most we increased the probability of the demise of the universe in 1998.
  17. This isn't quite as far fetched as it might sound; Google "Bell's Inequality" (or "Bell's Theorem" or "Bell Experiment") for example. NB: John Bell is one guy who should really have won a Nobel prize; it is shocking to me that he was overlooked.
  18. LCD vs Plasma

    These do a pretty good job: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Display_resolutions http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1080p Where there is serious room for improvement in modern displays is the dpi. Of course, addressing that would considerably increase the power demands of the monitor.
  19. LCD vs Plasma

    Porcy, FWIW I agree with you on all five points. It is a serious consideration when I buy things. I have very precious little time for home entertainment, so I guess I "carbon splurge" on the equipment so that in the few hours a week I have to actually use it I get the most satisfying experience. That said, when the TV is on the lights go off, so it is close a neutral impact in my house.
  20. LCD vs Plasma

    Inch for inch, LCDs use about the same amount of power as CRTs. My 40" model is 235W, which isn't nothing but isn't so awful either. I probably use more energy playing a CD.
  21. LCD vs Plasma

    I don't know the Panasonic, but this weekend I upgraded to a 40" Sony XBR4 and it is incredible. The picture from even standard DVDs is stunning. Best of all, there is absolutely no blurring in action scenes at all, unlike my previous Sony. It's wirth a look.
  22. Talk Talk

    Color of Spring is the only other album of theirs that is even sort of good. The Mark Hollis solo album is ok, but at times verges on overplaying its hand IMO. The unedited version of Laughing Stock is worth picking up if you can find it (it's not particularly easy to find as I understand).
  23. Blue Note Reissues for 2008...

    The Louis Smith is waaayyy at the top of my list. Every other BN that I really, really felt like I had to have has been made available in one way or another in the last few years.
  24. Today is "No Music Day"

    I do this intentionally every now and then - I find "reseting" my ears to be useful every now and again.
  25. It is really a widescreen, internet capable ipod with integrated phone. Details to follow.