Links, 3/8/10

  • Megan McArdle, “Don’t Blame Credit Default Swaps for This Greek Tragedy” – from the article: You see this sort of folk mythology among market watchers very frequently.  They note that there are financial instruments which convey negative information about the soundness of the underlying institution.  Furthermore, they quickly realize that just before institutions fail, there is often quite a lot of activity in those sorts of financial instruments.  Therefore, if you could only eliminate the instruments, you could also eliminate the failures!Unfortunately, there is always some official around to make the case to gullible journalists that his institution’s failure is the result of exotic financial predation, rather than his own mismanagement.
  • Steven Strogatz, “Finding your Roots” (h/t Josh) – from the article: Complex numbers are magnificent, the pinnacle of number systems.  They enjoy all the same properties as real numbers — you can add and subtract them, multiply and divide them — but they are better than real numbers because they always have roots.  You can take the square root or cube root or any root of a complex number and the result will still be a complex number. Better yet, a grand statement called The Fundamental Theorem of Algebra says that the roots of any polynomial are always complex numbers.  In that sense they’re the end of the quest, the holy grail.  They are the culmination of the journey that began with 1.
  • Michael Yon, “Of Concern” (h/t Josh) – allegations that the Spanish are running a base very poorly in Afghanistan have to be taken seriously. Do click the link to find out more; there’s too much to explain in this space.
  • Jay Cost attempts to count House Democrats re: health care reform. It’s about as much fun as it looks, I’d imagine.

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