Stubborn Mule

Randomness

6 April 2014

With three children, I have my own laboratory at home for performing psychological experiments. Before anyone calls social services, there is an ethical committee standing by (their mother). This evening, I tried out one of my favourites: testing the perception of randomness. Here is the setup: I gave the boys two pieces of paper and […]

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Chinese non-residents…in China

31 March 2014

Recently I travelled to China for the first time. My first glimpse of Beijing took in the Escher-like headquarters of Chinese TV station CCTV. It is an extraordinary building and to get a proper sense of it, you have to see it from a number of different angles. Driving across the city, impressed by the […]

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I’m with Felix

16 February 2014

FT blogger Felix Salmon and venture capitalist Ben Horowitz have very different views of the future of Bitcoin. Salmon is a skeptic, while Horowitz is a believer. A couple of weeks ago on Planet Money they agreed to test their differences with a wager. Rather than a simple bet on the value of Bitcoin, the bet centres […]

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Shark season

31 December 2013

Summer in Australia comes with cicadas, sunburn and, in the media at least, sharks. So far, I have learned that aerial shark patrols are inefficient (or perhaps not) and that the Western Australian government plans to keep swimmers safe by shooting big sharks. Sharks are compelling objects of fear, right up there with spiders and snakes […]

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Qantas and Adobe

9 November 2013

In my last post, I complained about the approach Qantas has taken to password security for its new Qantas Cash website. When I called Qantas to express my concerns, my query was referred to the “technical team”. I was assured they would be able to assuage my concerns. Here is the email response I received: […]

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Security can be tricky

27 October 2013

Qantas has recently launched Qantas cash, a pre-paid Mastercard which you can charge up with cash in multiple currencies. The contemporary equivalent of traveller’s cheques, cards like this can be as convenient as a credit card with the added advantage of reducing the uncertainty associated with exchange rate volatility. If you have a rough idea […]

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The price of protectionism

24 August 2013

An  article in Friday’s Australian began Ford has blamed Kevin Rudd’s $1.8 billion fringe benefits tax overhaul for halting production, forcing at least 750 workers to be stood down in rolling stoppages that will further imperil Labor’s chances of retaining the nation’s most marginal seat. and goes on to report that the Federal Chamber of Automotive […]

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ngramr – an R package for Google Ngrams

16 July 2013

The recent post How common are common words? made use of unusually explicit language for the Stubborn Mule. As expected, a number of email subscribers reported that the post fell foul of their email filters. Here I will return to the topic of n-grams, while keeping the language cleaner, and describe the R package I […]

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How common are common words?

11 July 2013

One of my favourite podcasts is Slate’s Lexicon Valley. All about language, it is rigorous and detailed in its approach to the subject, which appeals to the closet academic in me, but also extremely entertaining. It is a sign of a good podcast to find yourself bursting out laughing while walking down a busy city […]

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Feedburner on the fritz

30 June 2013

Those of you who have subscribed to email updates from the Stubborn Mule will have noticed some strange behaviour lately, as old blog posts have appeared in your inboxes. Why this is happening remains a mystery to me. The email subscriptions are powered by Google’s Feedburner service and, with the recent announcement that Google is […]

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