Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Off the Cuff

This evening I engaged in one of my least favourite activities: shopping for trousers. I like to have the cuffs on my trousers fairly high, so they don't get dirty from puddles, messy floors etc. However the fashion is to have the cuffs quite low to avoid revealing too much of your socks while sitting down. Add in the fact that I have pretty short legs, and I find it near impossible to get the length I like.

Note to annoying fashionista shop assistants: I like my socks, and my feet tend to be hidden under a desk when I sit down anyway. That's why I wanted you to pin the cuffs higher for alterations and left when you kept trying to change my mind. I'll try a department shop in the next couple of days: hopefully they'll have a range of leg lengths so alterations won't be needed, or at least few enough shop assistants that I can try a few pairs without receiving persistent unwanted advice.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Overlapping Identification Numbers?

I supplied a lot of personal details when starting my new job today, and it got me thinking. The Australian government keeps tabs on its citizens using a 9 digit tax file number. Meanwhile Australian phone numbers consist of a zero followed by 9 variable digits, if you include the area code. So now I'm wondering: is there anyone whose tax file number exactly matches their phone number? Or is there some unfortunate person who has most of the digits in common and keeps mixing the two numbers up?

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Good Job News

I've found a real job! It's an analyst position with a company called AME Mineral Economics, which does analysis and costing of mining projects and the commodity markets. I'll get to plow through all sorts of data (company documents, the news, geological analyses, who knows what else) and synthesise it into reports and predictions.

I heard about the company after talking to a friend from high school. It made sense to look at the mining sector, given that it's doing so well at the moment. Apparently AME have to take on generically smart people and train them in the industry because all the geologists and mining engineers have been snapped up by the actual mining companies.

I'm starting next Monday, and really looking forward to it. There will be a lot to learn, so I'll be very busy and may be neglecting this blog over the next few months.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Books: 21%

Here's a little internet game lifted from David Simon's blog. I'm skipping the third instruction, as Blogger doesn't seem to allow for underlining.

"The Big Read reckons that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they've printed."
1) Look at the list and bold those you have read.
2) Italicize those you intend to read.
3) Underline the books you LOVE.
4) Reprint this list in your own blog so we can try and track down these people who've read 6 and force books upon them ;-)

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Bronte
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee

6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte
8 Nineteen Eighty-Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D'Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveller's Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli's Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - AA Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones's Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight's Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte's Web - EB White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

Total count: 21 read

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Booms and Bubbles

Here's a thought on semantics and economics for the new financial year. Any price increase will be described as a "boom" while it's occurring, and a "bubble" in retrospect. There's a distinction between a bubble driven by speculative investment and a boom driven by increased demand and / or supply constraints, but a boom gets redefined as a bubble whenever people lose money after buying near the top of the market.

At the moment, there's a "commodities boom" or "mining boom." The surge in mineral prices (coal, iron, oil, aluminium etc.) is clearly driven by the fundamentals: consumption of most materials has increased due to Asian industrialisation, while production capacity has yet to catch up. Even so, mineral prices will fall back at some point, due to a severe recession or new mines coming into operation. While I can only guess at the timing (2009? 2012?), I'm certain about the reaction. We'll start talking about the "late 00's mining bubble."