Thursday, May 27, 2010

Coverage of the oil spill

Am i the only one who's really disappointed in the coverage of the BP oil spill? All they do is talk about political posturing and blowback or how much oil might be coming out. What I want to hear, and has been almost completely absent, is a basic description of the mechnical systems down there, how they are suppowsed to work, where the damage is believed to be, why obvious solutions like pumping a bunch of cement or cement equivalent won't work, and why seemingly ridiculous things like shooting ping pong ball in to block it are even seriously discussed. And please throw in some serious diagrams, not something the art department whipped up after watching The Abyss last night. If anyone is aware of such converage, let me know and give me a link if its on the web.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

some sci-fi nerd stuff

I just finished grad school and finally have some relaxation time between working and drinking, so i've been reading and watching more movies. And I found the first really good sci fi movie i've come across in years. And no, its not Moon (2009) or whatever the one was about the shitty time maching which was confusing and stupid. Both were totally overrated in my opinion. Moon has an 8 on imdb, but i'm not sure why. the plot was tedious, the "twist" obvious and the characters non-sensical in behavior and dialogue. And the one i can't remember started with a cool idea but then the plot became unnecesarrilly convoluted and it ended without clear resolution for what the fuck had happened. And yes, i "got it", in general. but there where still unanswered questions about many details and characters' motivation.

Anyway, the good movie was "Sunshine" (2007). I'm amazed i had never heard of it, but i guess it didn't have any major actors. Or at least i didn't recognize anyone except cillian murphy who was in the dark knight. I won't go intop the plot since it doesn't sound all that great. And the way the handle the very end is kinds over the top and silly. But the writing and acting are great. the characters are well developed (for an ensemble action film) and the plot makes sense and holds together well. The story starts a bit slow and i was worried that it would be a straight ahead, mission to save the world thing. But after about 30 minutes things pick up, the plots more gripping and from there things are great (till tthe kinda wierdness in the end). So go watch it.

And secondly, my latest sci-fi book is Spin, was the hugo winner in 2006 or something. Its also very good. I'm halfway though so it may end up shit (like the sequel to that decent book about the trojan war reenacted on mars with robots and various god whose name i can't remember) but so far excellent. Once again, i'm impressed by complex characters, interesting plot and novel scientific ideas. anyway, someone's bothering me so i'm done. but go read it.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Vix

So i've been wondering for awhile now how exactly the Vix (a index that is meant to reflect volatility in the stock market) works. looked it up on wikipedia today and figured it was something interesting to post on the blog. Its based on a weighted average the prices of 30 day put and call options for stocks in the S&P500. This makes intuative sense since higher volatility (ie change in price) means a futures option will be more like to be in the money. For example a call option with a strike price of 100 and a current price of 80 will be more valuable the ,more the market expects the price to increase by the expiration date. Thus a high option prices = high implied volatility = high vix. Or that's my understanding. and just to sound smarter ill thow in "black-scholes...blah blah blah".