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Comment: Re:Bad economics leads to bad policy (Score 1) 152

by Cytotoxic (#48920295) Attached to: Uber Capping Prices During Snowmageddon 2015

Have you ever considered the AG office understands exactly what they're doing, and prefer the negative consequences?

Yeah, that was kinda the entire point.

Or have you considered that the AG office understands basic economics and realizes that these claims of shortages unless we have surge pricing are bullshit?

Yes. Yes I have. And that is without doubt one of the dumbest assertions of all time. Of course there are shortages. That is the entire economics argument. If there were not shortages, raising prices would not work. Your customers would just go to the competition. It is only when demand is inflexible and supply is short that prices spike.

When hurricane Wilma blasted south Florida there was no power for 2 weeks (minimum) for most of the bottom half of the state. Many millions of people were affected. Some folks were without power for over a month. You couldn't lay your hands on a generator anywhere. Demand went from a couple dozen a month per store to a couple thousand per day. Most stores were not open for the first week or so. There was no gas available because the service stations didn't have power to pump the gas.

We have laws against "price gouging". So guess what you didn't see? Tractor trailer loads of generators and portable air conditioners for sale in the parking lot. You did see huge lines for ice from FEMA.

Without price controls you would have been able to get gas if you needed it. You would have been able to buy a generator. You could have gotten ice. All at a steep markup. But you could have gotten it. But we had price controls. So you couldn't get it. Not at any price. And you couldn't drive out to go get it yourself, because you'd run out of gas before you made it far enough to be able to buy gas.

The supplies did show up at Home Depot.... eventually. You had to put your name on a waiting list to buy one. They sold every one before the shipments arrived. Since they had to charge the normal amount, they had to use their normal procurement and shipping procedures. If you turned them loose, how quickly do you think they could have gotten those things over here from China? You think they might have had a fleet of 747 cargo planes moving generators if they could have made $1,000 on each one? The inflexible demand only lasted 2-4 weeks. The shortage lasted for several months as pallets of generators arrived with each weeks shipment and were snapped up by people who lived through the horror of south florida without air conditioning and without a refrigerator.

A fair price is what a willing buyer will pay, and a willing seller will accept. Any other definition of "fair" is made up out of whole cloth. Price controls mean rationing. That is all. The choice is between some people getting what they want at a fixed price, but lots of other people doing without - or lots more people getting what they want but paying a lot more. There is no option for "everybody gets to buy what they want at the original price" when supplies are short.

Comment: Bad economics leads to bad policy (Score 1, Informative) 152

by Cytotoxic (#48913881) Attached to: Uber Capping Prices During Snowmageddon 2015

This move by the AG office shows a complete lack of understanding of basic economics. But I suppose it also goes to priorities. Is your priority to deliver services to people in need during major disruptive events, or is it to prevent people from having to pay high prices for goods and services during major disruptive events?

If you want people to be able to get supplies and mobility (via Uber), then you'd let prices find their own level. Nobody wants to be out running a car service in a blizzard. But if the price is right? Maybe you get in your SUV and go to work. Higher prices means more supply - until there is enough supply to meet demand. Then prices will fall again as demand wanes and supply increases.

If you need milk, bread, ice and water after a hurricane hits you could wait for FEMA to deploy and deliver while using the law to keep prices stable. Or you could let prices rise until it is worth it for someone with a big truck and a chainsaw for clearing downed trees to drive a load of supplies in from another state.

Politicians are going to respond to the outrage of "Price Gouging", which places the priority on price stability at the expense of delivering needed services.

Uber's model is to allow prices to find their own level. If there are not enough cars to meet demand, prices rise until there are. If there are too many cars chasing too few riders, prices fall until there is balance. This is the best way to ensure that service is delivered to those who need it, but it doesn't guarantee what the price will be.

Comment: Re:The (in)justice system (Score 1) 291

by Cytotoxic (#48844029) Attached to: Innocent Adults Are Easy To Convince They Committed a Serious Crime

One could argue that there's a no need to have a court system. If a cop pulls you over for a traffic violation, you're guilty.

For many traffic violations, this is indeed the case. I know in Georgia the only defense against a radar clocked speeding ticket is one of three questions: Was the officer properly trained? Was the instrument properly calibrated? Was his location proper (not too close to a curve or on too steep of an incline)?

That's it. The court is not supposed to consider any other defenses. "I didn't do it." is not an admissible defense. "I have a video tape showing that I didn't do it" is also not an admissible defense. Or at least it wasn't the last time I interacted with the georgia traffic court system.

Comment: Re:It worked on me (Score 1) 218

by Cytotoxic (#48842613) Attached to: Study: Belief That Some Fields Require "Brilliance" May Keep Women Out

That's exactly the kind of people I am talking about. Just loads of talent, even if it isn't being used properly. Someone who is very skilled in a certain area is impressive in their own right. Like a John Paxon firing in jump shots. If you were a basketball player you could see yourself doing that with enough hard work in practice over enough time. Then you see Jordan take off from the free throw line. And you know instantly that you are never going to be able to do that no matter how hard you work.

  (to the argument about entering a field and doing good work whatever your talent: there are a lot of guys out there with the athleticism to take off from the free throw line and throw it down. There are still very few people mentioned in the same conversation with Jordan. Talent isn't everything. )

Comment: Re:It worked on me (Score 4, Interesting) 218

by Cytotoxic (#48826585) Attached to: Study: Belief That Some Fields Require "Brilliance" May Keep Women Out

Yeah, I have seen all of that. But when I say "speak" math, I don't mean "speak knowledgeably about math". I mean "speak it like a native speaker speaking in his own language". When I was a student I was a musician as well. I played in a couple of working bands and had a few solo gigs. I received several full ride offers to college. But it was because I worked my ass off. I was only modestly talented. When I started meeting people who were really destined to be musicians, the difference was trivial to spot. Where I was feverishly doing math in my head and transposing like a madman, they could do all of that deep in the background. When they played music, they were simply expressing ideas. Those thoughts came out through their hands as easily as you form your thoughts into words. It was both humbling and frustrating.

If you meet real math people, they are the same way. They have an intuitive understanding of the language of math that allows them to explore the world of physics and mathematics the way that you might explore the mall. A lot of it is practice - the hours of hard work that go in to reaching a certain level. But there is something more in a small percentage of people who are particularly gifted for the topic. Their ability to speak math as easily as you speak english allows them to explore their ideas much more rapidly and in a different way than I would. While I am busy translating from english to math and back again, they speak math in the native language. If you ever work with them, you'll know. There is no way to fake your way through it.... any more than Michael Jordan could fake his 44" vertical or Charlie Parker could fake his improv skills. If you are knowledgeable in the field it only takes a few moments to spot a virtuoso.

But you could be right about the kind of people who don't care about such things. Many people reach success because they ignore obstacles, perhaps they are even blind to them. People like Donald Trump come to mind.

Comment: It worked on me (Score 5, Insightful) 218

by Cytotoxic (#48826233) Attached to: Study: Belief That Some Fields Require "Brilliance" May Keep Women Out

I don't know about women, but it certainly kept me out of theoretical physics. It also delayed my entry into the computer industry by about a decade.

As a student I loved cosmology and particle physics. Then I met the guys who were working on their PhD's. I was good at doing math. They spoke math. It was clear that they were in a different category from me, and even though I might be able to do it with hard work, I would never be one of them. At the time you had to be a math major to get a degree with a concentration in computer science. Again, I met folks who were real math majors. They also spoke math as easily as John Coltrane spoke music. I knew I could never compete in their world. So I didn't.

As it turns out, my friends in comp sci were right to encourage me to join them. Just because I was never going to be the next Alan Turing doesn't mean I couldn't have been doing good work.

Anyway, there is definitely something to the notion that certain fields appear to require a certain type of brilliance. Music. Athletics. Field theory. Topology... Fields like these all appear to require special gifts. LeBron James and Tiger Woods have abilities that 99% of us just don't have. The same goes for Eddie Vedder and John Lennon. Or Alan Guth. But that doesn't mean that you can't participate in athletics if you aren't Michael Jordan. There are gym coaches and trainers all over the place making a living in athletics. There used to be music teachers at all the elementary schools. And there are loads of people working in applied mathematics crunching numbers for companies and governments for various purposes, doing perfectly good work in a field they love without being a 1% talent.

But I certainly didn't believe that when I was 19 and trying to decide where to dedicate my life's work. So I agree with that part of the premise. What in the world that has to do with gender, I don't know.

Comment: Re:I hope they succeed, but... (Score 2) 426

by Cytotoxic (#48793299) Attached to: Chevrolet Unveils 200-Mile Bolt EV At Detroit Auto Show

Tesla's advantage with their charging network is hardly decisive. GM probably could buy Tesla outright with their coffee and bagel budget. Putting up a network of charging stations would not be a challenge for a company with their resources, even on the heels of a bankruptcy.

I'd say execution on the concept will be their biggest challenge. As Jeremy Clarkson once said of an American car - "It's just that everything inside looks like it was made by the lowest bidder." He said it about a Chrysler, but it could easily describe any GM offering as well.

Comment: Re:Only 30 Grand? (Score 2) 426

by Cytotoxic (#48793231) Attached to: Chevrolet Unveils 200-Mile Bolt EV At Detroit Auto Show

I think the Saudis and other OPEC leaders have made it pretty clear that they are targeting low oil prices to kill the new production in North America from shale oil and tar sands. Once they force all those plains state oil operations into bankruptcy, they'll move prices back up.

It seems like they will probably be successful. I am pretty sure I remember reading that $60 per barrel was the point at which these newer oil recovery technologies become profitable.

Comment: Re: Umm, no. (Score 1) 187

I have hired some top people from India. I have also worked with some developers out of India that were extremely... not top people. So, your mileage may vary, I guess.

There do seem to be lots of Indian development groups that will pound out the fastest, sloppiest mess possible to meet a deadline. But I wouldn't put that down to being Indian, I'd say it is more a function of attempting to be an ultra-low-cost vendor. What is it they say about fast, good and cheap?

Comment: Re: Why do I want to upgrade? (Score 1) 437

by Cytotoxic (#48763457) Attached to: Is Kitkat Killing Lollipop Uptake?

This latest update has had some major issues on several devices - particularly the Nexus 7 and Nexus 4 and 5. We have a couple of Nexus 4's and they have been rock solid since they came out. Until now. Battery problems and crashes abound. They are improving though, without any updates from google. So I'll surmise that they are due to issues with 3rd party apps.

Still, it is disconcerting to have your phone working as a pocket warmer and running out of juice before lunch.

Comment: Re:MicroSD card? (Score 1) 325

by Cytotoxic (#48722197) Attached to: Apple Faces Class Action Lawsuit For Shrinking Storage Space In iOS 8

You don't need to root your device. Android has allowed moving apps to the sdcard for years.

It is pretty complicated though. You have to go into the "Settings" and select "Apps" from the menu. Then you have to select an application and press the "Move to SD" button. At least that's how it worked two phones ago. My Nexus devices don't do the SD card thing, just like Apple devices.

Comment: Re:Nobel? (Score 1) 288

by Cytotoxic (#48683841) Attached to: The Interview Bombs In US, Kills In China, Threatens N. Korea

The part about the depiction of Kim Jong-un being perceived as dangerous is very believable. The Vice Guide to North Korea rather powerfully demonstrates the absurd levels of state propoganda in North Korea. The government portrays their dear leaders as a sort of god-man who is regarded as the greatest of all leaders by every nation on earth.

A film that mocks the leader as a buffoon and crybaby would indeed be a very dangerous thing inside that country.

Comment: They do have one advantage (Score 4, Insightful) 232

by Cytotoxic (#48668299) Attached to: Should Video Games Be In the Olympics?

Video games have at least one advantage over many of the Olympic sports: They can have clearly defined objectives and scoring. Many of the Olympic sports don't really qualify in my book because they rely on judges to tell us who was better. Even if they were fully objective in every respect, it still smacks of a beauty contest rather than an athletic competition. If we play a match of FIFA 2015 there will be absolutely no question as to who the winner is.

I still think it is silly to talk about video games as an olympic sport, but it is also silly that we have sports like ballroom dance and synchronized swimming in the Olympics. My rule of thumb is "if you have to ask someone else to tell you who the winner is; it isn't a sport, it is a recreational activity."

Remember -- only 10% of anything can be in the top 10%.