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Comment: Re:I guess that if a Mathematician... (Score 5, Informative) 59

There isn't a Nobel prize in Economics though, even if that is what the article says. It is the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences as Alfred Nobel did not set it up.

Yes, it's technically correct, though I get tired of hearing this brought up all the time, as if it's some sort of weird conspiracy theory to make it sound like there's a "Nobel Prize" when there isn't one.

Look -- the Nobel Prizes are awarded by the Nobel Foundation. They use the same administrative mechanisms and process for choosing the economics prize, the same academic body (the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences) makes the selections as most other prizes, they give the same award money, and they give the award at the same ceremony.

The difference is that the other prizes were created by Nobel himself, while the economics prize was later endowed by contributions to the Nobel Foundation, who agreed to administer the prize under the same criteria.

So yes, while Nobel himself didn't set it up, the fact is that the only body that matters NOW is who awards the prize, that that foundation (which actually OWNS and administers things called "Nobel Prizes") has decided to award a prize in economics too, which it basically treats in every way EXACTLY THE SAME as the other prizes.

This strikes me like someone claiming that the Harvard Medical School or the Harvard Business School aren't REALLY "Harvard" schools, because John Harvard didn't explicitly will money to create schools of medicine or business or whatever back in the 1630s... he just wanted to create a college, and it was mostly a kind of seminary in the early days. So, you may think you are a Harvard Medical School grad -- but it's not REALLY "Harvard."

There IS a bit of a difference here because the Nobel Foundation itself tries to keep a subtle distinction in the naming of the prizes, probably due to legal constraints about how the will was worded exactly. But acting like there's some big difference and it's not "really a Nobel Prize" is ridiculous -- it's just a historical and semantic distinction, not one that actually means anything in terms of how the prize is administered, selected, or awarded. And that's probably why the media usually makes little distinction, because in all ways that ACTUALLY MATTER, there isn't one.

(And by the way, usually this argument tends to come up from people who want to claim economics isn't a "real science" or something. I won't get into that argument, but well, neither is "peace" or "literature.")

Comment: Re:Can Political Correctness please wake up? (Score 1) 251

by AthanasiusKircher (#49763393) Attached to: Study: Science Still Seen As a Male Profession

There is a New York state law banning male daycare teachers from changing diapers.

[Citation needed.]

Here are the New York State requirements for staff qualifications in child care facilities. I don't see anything in there that places restrictions on what male caregivers can do, let alone specific details about diapering.

I agree with you that there is a BIAS among some parents and among staff at many childcare centers that causes daycares to restrict what male staff do. That's horrible and ridiculous. But it is NOT enshrined in law as you claim.

There is a strong preference in custody cases that the child will end up with the mother, even if she isn't nearly as fit to parent.

You're referring of course to the tender years doctrine. That policy is no longer in force in most states, and in fact has been specifically repudiated in many states, in favor of new policies that try to treat both parents equally.

That doesn't mean that there aren't still judges and some policies (in some states) that favor mothers. But there has been a rather strong push in the past couple decades to weaken the assumption that children should always go with the mother.

Prejudice exists in the system and among lots of the public. I'll be the first one to stand up with you and complain about bias -- but more-and-more it's bias among the PUBLIC and specific people, rather than laws that create discrimination... both for men and for women.

There is actually more of a written inequality against men then woman.

[Citation needed.] There were written inequalities against both sexes in different places decades ago. There have been efforts to overturn these written inequalities for both sexes, though.

Comment: Re:Science is Anti-Family (Score 1) 251

by AthanasiusKircher (#49763343) Attached to: Study: Science Still Seen As a Male Profession

Amen! Science is a difficult profession with a long and winding road until you get a stable career, and no guarantees even after boatloads of education. You often have to be willing to sacrifice a family and personal life early on to make coin in the profession.

This is all true. But is it something inherent in the nature of science or is it something about the specific way science tends to be organized in our current social structure?

Women tend to value family life and family issues more than men. I won't put a value judgement on that preference here, but the practical side is that science is NOT a family-oriented line of work.

When I was younger, I didn't care that much about work/life balance. The older many people get, the more they realize that they have other things in life that they care about just as much (or more) than career.

Men are biologically more lucky in this regard, though, since a guy can equally choose to settle down and have kids in his 20s, 30s, or 40s (often even later), with little penalty. If it takes longer for men to "grow up" and figure out that working 16-hour days 6 or 7 days per week doesn't have to define their lives, that's okay... they can still have the family experience if they want.

For women, it's not that easy if they don't "frontload" the family experience. Once they get to the late 30s or 40s, there are biological constraints that make babies harder to have (and more likely to have birth defects, etc.).

So it's not a matter of "putting a value judgment on that preference" -- it's recognizing that our current standard of "work your ass off for 10 years or so after 20+ years of school until you can stop for a breath" isn't going to be biologically compatible with women's reproductive systems, while it still can be with men's.

From my perspective, the question we should be asking is the one I raised above -- it's a fact that science isn't very "family-friendly," particularly early in a career. But is there a necessary reason that MUST be so?

And if not, maybe we need to reconsider our standards... not lowering them, but adapting them to be more reasonable. It's not merely a gender issue here -- it's an age issue ("if you haven't met X criteria by age 35 or 40, you're obviously not a good scientist!!"), a prejudice against people who want to have multiple interests/hobbies in their lives, etc.

[On a broader more speculative note: In some cases, I think such prejudices can actually be detrimental to science -- for example, many of the most interesting and creative people I know tend to have a wide variety of interests, have unusual hobbies that get them thinking and working in very different ways outside of work, read voraciously on topics outside of the field, etc. Those people sometimes don't do as well in a "publish or perish" environment where they need to focus on rapid production of concentrated knowledge in a particular area. But having a "broader perspective" on the world often allows people to make weird connections across disciplines (or inspired in unpredictable ways from other disciplines)... and that can be important for "thinking outside the box" and finding a new way to tackle a problem that has stumped a discipline. OTHER people may thrive best through concentrated work in one area, but there probably is NOT one single personality or career organization/track that can predict contributions to scientific progress.]

Comment: Re:This isn't a question (Score 1) 477

by AthanasiusKircher (#49762875) Attached to: Ireland Votes Yes To Same-Sex Marriage

More than one movement has talked about ending marriage, and all that did that failed.

My post wasn't about "ending marriage" per se. There are lots of ways to deal with the issues I brought up. But if we keep just "patching" broken laws without a real redefinition or re-examination of what we are trying to accomplish with these laws, we're just going to keep running into these sorts of legal and ethical conundrums. Perhaps the solution is to end marriage, but more likely we may need to create a number of different bundled legal contracts that are more appropriate for the various types of relationships. Or, at a minimum, we need to reconfigure legal "dependency" relationships created by marriage and redefine them based on actual financial dependency, for example.

Comment: Re:This isn't a question (Score 1) 477

by AthanasiusKircher (#49761987) Attached to: Ireland Votes Yes To Same-Sex Marriage

Also, in this case, the public contract has been around so long that many laws have been written assuming it. "Family" law assumes and is built around government-approved marriages. To change marriage would change thousands of laws, with unknown and untested consequences.

This is all true, except we've been tinkering with these "thousands of laws" without dealing sufficiently with "unknown and untested consequences" for decades. Probably the strongest example of this is "no-fault" divorce, which came about for many noble reasons (not requiring people to PROVE abuse to get out of an abusive relationship, etc.), but which has had untold consequences requiring whole new mechanisms to deal with distribution of assets, support duties for dependents, etc. And the "patching up" of marriage law to deal with the increased rate of divorce following no-fault statutes is ongoing.... decades later.

I'm not arguing that no-fault divorce was bad, or that gay marriage is bad, or anything else. I'm happy to see people receiving equal rights: I couldn't figure out what the anti-gay justifications were 20 years ago when even the liberals in the U.S. were championing DOMA and "Don't ask, don't tell," so I'm glad people have in some ways realized where injustice existed.

On the other hand, decisions like this sadden me, because they serve as one more way to "punt" more essential problems and decisions down the road a couple more decades. Marriage laws as the parent noted came into formation to deal with a particular social construct. That social construct is now being altered in all sorts of ways, but yet we still award elements of the legal marriage contract (including a number of significant legal and financial benefits) that were originally granted to support marriage patterns that no longer are universal or in some cases aren't common at all anymore.

Eventually (a century from now?) we may start to finally address some of these problems head-on, but for the foreseeable future we're going to be stuck in various stupid legal conundrums because of changing ideas of what marriage is vs. why and how government regulates it. We'll see the polyamorist woman with three husbands arguing for rights (or the female threesome or whatever). We'll see the two brothers who want to do away with incest laws -- whether they want sexual relationships as consenting adults or not -- because they love each other and want the inheritance and other benefits that come from being spouses. We'll see all sorts of challenges in ways we just refuse to talk about now because everyone is just pretending that the "definition and purpose of marriage" is kind of irrelevant as long as we've given equal rights to the current minority group of concern.

At least 20 years ago people were all still talking about these real definitional issues and how shifting social perspectives are interacting with legal problems. While this is a great victory for equality, it is also yet another "patch" to a broken set of marriage laws that we are continuing to tinker with without considering the long-term consequences.... and why we even have these bundles of laws in the first place.

Comment: Re:Dual use (Score 4, Funny) 73

by AthanasiusKircher (#49749637) Attached to: Musical Organ Created From 49 Floppy Disk Drives

You can also use it to Bach up your files.

I tried that. But, to be Franck, I couldn't Handel how the sound Varese in this thing, so I ended up Haydn this Creation away; now it's just Leonin the server Cage. If I Figaro out what will work better, I'll make a Chopin Liszt, and go buy something that's Godunov.

Okay, very punny. We done now?

Comment: Re:Warning: RAID 0 (Score 1) 223

I'm going to go ahead and say that it mitigates the serious of the damage caused in actuality since most IT people entrusted with serious and important data aren't going to be that stupid.

And that's where your assumptions are different from mine. I was discussing people who are probably NOT "entrusted with serious and important data," but nevertheless have their own personal data (which they think is at least somewhat valuable) and choose to run a RAID 0 setup because of some stupid reason, like it makes their system run a bit faster.

(Well, that's not a completely stupid reason, but it is a reason to have a good backup strategy for essential files and to segregate your data so only the minimum files are at risk on RAID 0. Many people don't worry about these things until it's too late.)

If you doubt such people exist, do an internet search or read some gamer forums. And given such people are more likely to be running a bleeding-edge new version of software than a IT pro with a server who does thorough stability testing before upgrades, I'd imagine that a bug like this will disproportionately affect those hobbyists.

I'm not talking about IT pros here. I'm talking about random idiots who run RAID without thinking of the consequences. For them, this bug could be really serious.

Comment: Re:Gerrymandering (Score 1) 607

by AthanasiusKircher (#49744229) Attached to: The Demographic Future of America's Political Parties

'Compactness' is not a remotely optimal means of determining whether a district is gerrymandered or not. Republicans want 'compactness' to be the standard because Democrats are more likely to be clustered in dense cities, where 'compact' lines will cause 'packing' automatically.

Do you have any clue what you're talking about? "Compactness" just means that a perimeter measure is smaller -- it doesn't mean the AREA is necessarily smaller. Population density can various a lot, so areas can vary too. One could draw a nice "compact" set of districts that split a city right down the center, for example.

Of course compactness is not an optimal measure of gerrymandering, but have you looked at many of the districts highlighted in the article I linked to? Do those shapes seem remotely reasonable to you?

Maintaining communities of interest has an actual benefit, allowing people with a shared community to select their representation.

Yes, that's true. But we're looking here at particularly egregious boundaries which tend to skew the metrics much more. Also, who gets to determine these "communities"? That's the problem.

They're not mutually exclusive; states with a non-partisan redistricting process usually do better at finding a happy medium, with relatively geometric-shaped districts that preserve communities.

Yep -- and basically the study I linked to seems to show that Democratically controlled states tend to do WORSE than non-partisan redistricting states, according to all measures of compactness. So, either Democrats just happen to be dominant in places where communities are unusually oddly-shaped, or there's a political bias at work.

Regardless, as I said, I'm not complaining about either party here more than the other -- both have PROVEN histories of using gerrymandering for political gain. Are you disputing that?

Comment: Re:Warning: RAID 0 (Score 1) 223

Would you say the same thing if the bug affected RAID 1 or RAID 5?

I suspect not, since his point seemed to be that you shouldn't be using RAID 0 for data that you care about anyway.

Exactly. About the only reason I would ever use RAID 0 is for some sort of temp data drive where for some reason I wanted to string multiple drives together. You've basically taken a bunch of drives that each would be vulnerable without redundancy and have produced one big drive that will fail whenever any component does, thereby greatly increasing failure rate over individual drive failure rate. There are only a limited set of use cases where this is a helpful thing, and basically all of them are situations where you can assume that 100% data loss won't hurt you.

t doesn't really make it ok for a bug to exist that destroys RAID 0 volumes, but it does mitigate the seriousness of the damage caused.

Well, it mitigates the seriousness of the damage a bug should cause, assuming that people use RAID reasonably. But that's obviously a poor assumption, since many people seem to love playing Russian roulette with essential data.

I was lucky enough to have a significant (but not catastrophic) data loss hit me when I was young and didn't have a lot of essential data to lose. It taught me the importance of redundancy and backups. Most people who haven't experienced such things are more cavalier with data -- and a RAID 0 bug could be catastrophic for them.

Comment: Re:This is total nonsense (Score 1) 386

It has been well established for many years now that both learning and using "cursive" writing (I know it as "joined" writing) is important for the development of young brains.

Meh. Many of the cited studies in your link are relevant to general task types -- it's not the cursive writing per se that has the benefit.

There is something to be said for having kids do tasks that require fine-grained coordination, awards for precision, significant effort, lots of repetition to achieve perfection, etc. Among other kinds of tasks, of course.

Your argument is like the people complaining about why kids don't use logarithm tables anymore or that there should be more geometric proofs in high school or whatever. Lots of things teach important skills in school curricula, but often those skills can be taught in other ways (e.g., logarithm use encourages keeping track of magnitudes in calculations, but instruction in estimation, significant figures, and scientific notation can achieve similar goals AND... proofs are an exercise in formal logic that could be achieved by giving exercises in actual formal logic syllogisms, math proofs in other fields than geometry, doing programming exercises that require logical flow, etc.).

Cursive is fun and all. I spent many years perfecting mine, and I've actually spent some time learning older variants (Spencerian, Copperplate, etc.) because it's fun and elegant. But when I take my notes quickly and roughly, I usually print... it's faster and easier to read than the scribble I can create quickly in cursive.

But whatever. That's my experience. The point is that the benefits of cursive are minor, it takes a lot of instructional time, and it has become a less valued skill these days. So the question shouldn't be "Why should we retain cursive?" but "Is there something we could teach with that time which would still have similar cognitive and coordination benefits?" etc.

Comment: Re:So, when has this not been true? (Score 1) 607

by AthanasiusKircher (#49726605) Attached to: The Demographic Future of America's Political Parties

The joker in the deck was that presently the younger generation is less vanilla than the older generation

[Citation needed]

People have been saying the exact same thing about "those damn kids these days" for thousands of years. You really think the "hippie" generation of the late 60s and 70s was more "vanilla"? From a political standpoint, that generation was probably far more likely to openly defy the government, go to protests, get arrested, etc. than today's youth. They were significant political "activists" who hated the system and were actively demonstrating that they wanted to do something about it. Today, we have things like "Occupy," which means people camp out in tents in a park -- I'm not insulting or denigrating those actions, but how many of them would be willing to take the kinds of actions people were doing in the 60s/70s?

Anyhow, those hippies are now the "older generation," and while I know plenty of aging hippies who are still crazy liberal, I've seen many of them turn into crazy Republicans too.

and the older generation isn't being very welcoming to people who aren't like them and never will be.

Again, you'd need some sort of stats to prove this. What tends to happen in the real world is that as people get older, they get more conservative, but specific beliefs or values may still shift -- and those become adopted by the NEW older class. Which means that the party of old people tomorrow will be different from the party of old people today. It's likely that parties will gradually shift along with demographics, as they continuously have ever since they came into existence in the early 1800s.

So what used to be a pipeline from Democrat to Republican has developed a blockage and a lot of people are being squeezed out of the party pipes entirely.

Now, that's an interesting argument, and there do seem stats to be out there that show a growth in "independents" in some places. But that doesn't really matter as much as how those people actually VOTE. And the reality is that VERY few people tend to vote for 3rd-party candidates unless the 3rd-party candidate is already a celebrity or is otherwise well-known or something. You may lament the fact that people aren't choosing other candidates, but if they're still stuck choosing from the 2 major parties, one party or the other is probably going to become the "party of the old people."

Comment: Re:Gerrymandering (Score 2) 607

by AthanasiusKircher (#49726275) Attached to: The Demographic Future of America's Political Parties

Nonsense. Maybe Republicans have been more successful in gerrymandering, but both parties have engaged in this practice. That's why there are so many "reliable" Republican and Democrat seats.

Indeed. For anyone interested in the overall trend, I'd encourage them to have a look at this report, which does not appear to be biased toward or against any particular party and makes use of a number of different measures of gerrymandering.

After the 2010 census redistricting, they conclude the following regarding both parties' effects:

The mean Polsby-Popper, Schwartzberg and Reock scores indicate that districts drawn with total GOP control have a higher compactness score than districts drawn with total Democratic control under those measures. States with split control fall in the middle. Nevertheless, districts with a political party in control remain less compact than the national average by every measure. . . . Using the convex hull measure shows a different story. Districts drawn by a split in control come out with a higher compactness score, with districts drawn by the GOP not far behind. Districts drawn by the Democratic Party are much less compact than either.

While districts drawn by Republicans in this decennial redistricting process may be somewhat more compact than those drawn by Democrats, it is also clear that both parties appeared to take advantage of their situation and draw districts more favorable to their party's election. For example, Democrats took advantage in Maryland and Illinois while Republicans took advantage in Ohio and Pennsylvania. Republicans just had many more states, which may have buffered their average.

In other words, Democrats controlled fewer state legislatures than Republicans, but where they did control them, they introduced even WORSE (i.e., "less compact") gerrymandered districts than Republicans on average.

But since Republicans had control of more states, overall they may have ended up ahead THIS TIME in the gerrymandering war... maybe. Note that this crap goes on after every census, and whichever big party happens to be in control tries to exploit it. The Dems are certainly not more innocent than the Reps. They all should be thrown out of office for it.

Comment: Re:Fark those clowns (Score 1) 318

by AthanasiusKircher (#49725935) Attached to: Battle To Regulate Ridesharing Moves Through States

Licensed, legitimate cab companies run a gauntlet of state & local regulations before they can collect fares. Uber and Lyft bypass them, start operating, and then act surprised when their illegal operation using unlicensed, unvetted drivers run into trouble.

Indeed. Can we just stop calling it "ridesharing," too? You want to offer a coworker a ride in your car to work? That's "ridesharing." You want to say, "Can you chip in a little for gas and wear-and-tear on the car and such"? That's still "ridesharing."

When you start offering these services to different strangers every day and trying to make a profit off of giving them rides, that's no longer "ridesharing" -- that's a taxi service.

And there are good reasons why many regulations exist to protect both drivers and passengers in these sorts of transactions. Inevitably, there are probably some bad regulations in most places -- ones that are unnecessary or bring in extra revenue to governments or end up protecting traditional existing cab companies or whatever.

But just because there are SOME bad regulations doesn't mean that NO regulations is the best idea (or is even better than having some bad ones along with the good ones).

Regardless, most businesses in the U.S. have to obey various rules according to the law. Don't like that? Then vote to change the laws or vote for representatives who will. But stop pretending that you're just trying to "share a ride" with people when you're running a business and trying to make money off of it. That's just as crooked and dishonest as some of the bad government regulations you're complaining about.

Comment: Re:The Component Ph (Score 1) 335

There is no Nobel price in economics

Yeah, yeah... I know the controversy. It was partly ironic in my post which was obviously intended to be funny.

On the one hand, I think most of the field of "economics" has severe methodological problems. On the other hand, I find those people trying to claim it's "not a real Nobel prize" are making a bogus argument too. Yes, it wasn't in Nobel's will, but who is Nobel to determine what fields deserve prizes for all time? It's not like the "peace" prizes are awarded with any accountability for intellectual rigor either. And the Nobel Foundation authorizes these prizes, chooses them basically using similar criteria to other fields, and awards them on the same day in the same ceremony.

Do I think there *should* be a Nobel prize for economics? Probably not. But pretending there isn't one is just stupid, until the actual organization that regulates Nobel prizes decides it will no longer award one or will call it something else.

Maternity pay? Now every Tom, Dick and Harry will get pregnant. -- Malcolm Smith