I think Bitcoins and the Blockchain are amazingly cool. I still don’t think Bitcoins are a useful currency and I worry that many of Bitcoin’s biggests fans also like the gold standard, Austrian economics and some other crazy stuff.
There is a Mauritian insurer called Island Life. Best name ever for an insurance company.
I firmly believe in anthropogenic climate change. I am not an expert, but my reading has convinced me of the seriousness of the issues, the overwhelming evidence that it is humans at fault. Having young children makes me seriously concerned about our ability to remedy the mess we’re in for their sake.
Part of my very inwards focussed, selfish research was on the practical impact for where I live. Unfortunately for my cycling aspirations, this is current on the bottom slopes of Table Mountain. Fortunately for my flood risk, the same.
I’ve played plenty of board games in my life. I’m not (only) talking about Monopoly.
I went to Cambridge (to visit, very sadly, not to study) in 2003. I found an awesome board game store and tried to buy Diplomacy. The incredibly wise assistant basically forced me to buy Settlers of Catan before he would allow me to buy Diplomacy.
About Settlers of Catan
I have played hundreds of hours of Settlers, and recently gave Diplomacy away never having played it. I still believe it’s an awesome game. (Strategy, relationships, IQ and EQ, competition and a little backstabbing. What’s not to like?) However, it requires having enough people, the right sort of people. enough time (a weekend apparently is ideal) and ideally a couple people who have played before because it is complicated.
Now, Settlers has plenty of scope for tension as it is. I kicked my best friend out of my flat once after a kingmaking incident. I’ve had arguments with significant others over games. And this is Settlers, not Diplomacy.
Ah models, my old friends. You’re always wrong, but sometimes helpful. Often dangerous too.
A recent article in The Actuary magazine addressed whether “de-risking in members’ best interests?” I say “recent” even though it’s from August because I am a little behind on my The Actuary reading.
In the article, the authors demonstrate that by modelling the impact of covenant risk, optimal investment portfolios for Defined Benefit (DB) pensions actually have more risky assets than if this covenant risk is ignored.
The covenant they refer to is the obligation of the sponsor to make good deficits within the pension fund. Covenant risk then is the risk that the sponsor is unable (typically through its own insolvency) to make good on this promise.
On the surface it should seem counterintuitive that by modelling an additional risk to pensioners, the answer is to invest in riskier assets, thus increasing risk.
The explanation proffered by the authors is that the higher expected returns from riskier assets allow the fund to potentially build up surplus, thus reducing the risks of covenant failure.
Non-life claims reserves are regularly not discounted, for bad reasons and good. This part of the series looks at the related issue of inflation in claims reserving. (You’ll have to wait for part 3 for me to talk about the analysis that prompted this lengthy series.)
In many markets, inflation is low and stable. Until a decade ago, talk of inflation wouldn’t have raised much in the way of deflation either. That’s still sufficiently unusual to put to one side.
I love to read, so I’m not proud to admit right upfront that everything I know about “Love in the time of cholera” I learnt in 3 minutes from wikipedia starting about 3 minutes ago. Seems like a book I should read.
But another than playing on the well known book and movie title, this post has nothing to do with the book.
It has everything to do with cholera. And the very real possibility of a cholera or similar disease outbreak in Cape Town in the next year. Here is a little superficial analysis of the numbers.
The City of Cape Town now expects us to run out of municipal water
The City of Cape Town has gone from claiming unequivocally:
How are dam levels and consumption point away from achieving these targets
CT has been stuck persistently above 600Ml (million litres) per day for an extended period and this is down from a peak of 1,200Ml per day in January 2015. The low hanging fruit are long gone. I do not see how we will decrease consumption by another 20% (since we’re over 600Ml at the moment) and this therefore suggests we will run out of water.
I’ve found many ways of the years to continue my education – formal and informal. From time to time I feel my self stagnate a little and a change of approach can reinvigorate the process.
For the last few months, podcasts have been the answer. I’m fortunate enough not to have a very long commute typically. I still get 20 minutes each way listening to some amazing podcasts, and longer when I have the opportunity.
Sam covers a range of technological, philosophical, neuroscience, political and AI related topics. Generally a super calm, balanced host, he does have occasion to show emotion from time to time, most notably in relation to Scott Adams, the Dilbert creator.
This one is TED, but better. More curated, more condensed but also supplemented with additional discussions with the speakers, and in a beautiful audio-only format. It turns out that visuals of earnest speaking individuals swaying across the floor doesn’t add as much as you might think to the content.
Best of all, listen to all the podcasts, don’t be tempted to select only the topics you find interesting. Allow yourself to explore unexpected new areas.
Including this is a bit cheeky since I’ve only listened to two episodes. Most recently, on flood insurance (in the wake of Hurricane Harvey at al in the US). This will likely inspire a separate blogpost soon.
I’d like to say that I’ll add to this list over time, but time constraints mean I barely keep up with just these. I may look to change them up over time, but for now I’m really enjoying the boundary stretching intellectual stimulation of this selection.