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Comment: Re:Should the United States accept more foreigners (Score 1) 374

by David Jao (#47530167) Attached to: Western US States Using Up Ground Water At an Alarming Rate
First of all, the number claimed in your link is 95%, not 97%. Second of all, try making even basic efforts at fact checking. For example, your article claims 99.7% of poor families have refrigerators. This is plainly untrue -- homeless people don't have refrigerators, and they make up 10% of poor people. The numbers in the article are clearly unreliable and agenda-driven, which is not surprising, considering the source.

Comment: Re:Should the United States accept more foreigners (Score 2) 374

by David Jao (#47528909) Attached to: Western US States Using Up Ground Water At an Alarming Rate

For those with access to a supermarket, a combination of lack of time, lack of education, and lack of ability to delay gratification that causes people to eat junk food. Not money.

None of the above. For most poor and even lower-middle class families, the limiting factor is lack of access to food preparation equipment and facilities. Low-income housing often lacks a kitchen. Even if you have a kitchen, one often lacks appliances; trying to subsist on unprocessed food without a refrigerator or a stove is difficult to put it mildly. Families near the poverty line move from place to place a lot, often on short notice in response to evictions. There's no way they could maintain possession of bulky appliances under such circumstances, not to mention an adequate inventory of cookware.

Poor families are really living on the edge, much more than you realize. Once you get to the point where you can't afford a security deposit for an apartment, a lot of options close off. Food preparation is one of them.

Comment: Re:Should the United States accept more foreigners (Score 1) 374

by David Jao (#47528883) Attached to: Western US States Using Up Ground Water At an Alarming Rate

Food prices are high, but all of my meals (which are nutritious) cost $1-$2 max, usually closer to $1. You just have to know how and where to shop. Of course, this is the US, which is a first world country...

It is not enough to know how and where to shop. You also, generally, need a kitchen and appliances (stove, refrigerator, etc.) in order to produce nutritions $1 meals. Many poor and even lower-middle class families simply don't have these things. The kind of housing that you can get for cheap is going to be one-room boarding houses with limited access to food preparation facilities. You're lucky to have even a shared kitchen. As for appliances, they're not actually very expensive -- an iPhone costs more -- but poor families generally move far too often (usually involuntarily) to maintain possession of bulky items.

Comment: Re:laying off...but needs more H-1B's (Score 1) 282

Believe it or not, there was a time, not too long ago, when a company was defined as a collection of employees and shareholders, rather than exclusively as a collection of shareholders as is the case today. Back then, the definition of what's best for a company included employee welfare as well as shareholder welfare. A company was considered successful if it generated employee wealth as well as shareholder wealth, rather than the exclusive focus on shareholder wealth which prevails today. Companies had planning horizons of decades, which you need in order to offer retirement pensions, which were also commonplace. At some point, all of that went out the window, and except for a few big winners, we are all the poorer for it.

Comment: Re:Communism (Score 1) 404

by David Jao (#47312485) Attached to: San Francisco Bans Parking Spot Auctioning App

The other two examples, however.. even if I don't personally agree with them, why shouldn't they be allowed? I think those are perfect examples of good free market. Someone should be able to sell something they make for whatever they want.

Monopoly power leads to deadweight loss and suboptimal consumer surplus. This is economics 101. The theory is very well known. I wouldn't expect members of the general public to know basic economics, but on slashdot, it's fair game.

There are other obvious examples of free market failure. Do you let factories pollute the oceans? What about overfishing and tragedy of the commons? How about photocopying books at cost -- do you prevent this (via copyright) even though it's obviously market interference?

Comment: Re:It depends on the field (Score 1) 538

by David Jao (#47292807) Attached to: Teaching College Is No Longer a Middle Class Job
We're talking about two different things. Yes, a school like Harvard pays top dollar for a full professor that they really want. Those positions are not underpaid. Harvard will outbid Ohio State and anyone else for the cream of the crop. But when it comes to untenured assistant professors, Harvard absolutely does underpay, and so does every other elite math department. For example, BPs at Harvard make $60600 per year. That's low even compared to the national average, never mind compared to what you would expect at a top institution.

Continuing with the Harvard theme, if you google Benjamin Pierce assistant professor, the first page of Google results links to the following former BPs: Lauren Williams, Pavel Etingof, Danny Calegari, Nathan Dunfield, and Xinwen Zhu. These people, obviously, landed on their feet and got hired in other universities, quite prestigious universities in fact. And I am sure if you did a comprehensive survey of all former BPs, you'd find the majority working in R1 universities and on the tenure-track. Similar remarks would apply to the untenured named instructorships at any other elite math department, e.g. Dickson Instructor, C.L.E. Moore Instructor, Veblen Research Instructorship, and so on. They're all slightly underpaid. They're all hugely prestigious. And few people have trouble landing a job afterwards.

If you get denied tenure at a lower-ranked school, then yes, that is a disaster. Those schools are set up to give you every opportunity to pass the tenure review. If you fail to do so, then that's on you, and as you say, you'll be an outcast.

Comment: Re:It depends on the field (Score 1) 538

by David Jao (#47291285) Attached to: Teaching College Is No Longer a Middle Class Job
I addressed this issue in the last sentence of the paragraph that you quoted (or misquoted, as the case may be, by omitting that critical last sentence). The GP was talking about "professors in technical areas" which I interpret to mean areas such as computer science or engineering as opposed to mathematics, in other words the "TE" part of "STEM". Salaries in these fields are quite a bit higher than in mathematics.

Comment: Mary Margaret Vojtko (Score 2) 538

by David Jao (#47291163) Attached to: Teaching College Is No Longer a Middle Class Job

When Mary Margaret Vojtko died last September—penniless and virtually homeless and eighty-three years old, having been referred to Adult Protective Services because the effects of living in poverty made it seem to some that she was incapable of caring for herself—it made the news because she was a professor.

The story of Mary Margaret Vojtko is more complicated than it seems on first glance. Vojtko was a hoarder who rebuffed numerous attempts by others to reach out and help. Among other things, she refused to let a repairman fix her boiler because she didn't want anyone disturbing her house. Yes, she was paid poorly and had no benefits, but there were other factors at work.

Comment: Re:It depends on the field (Score 2) 538

by David Jao (#47291143) Attached to: Teaching College Is No Longer a Middle Class Job
Well, that's the trade-off of working at a top university. The top universities have no problems attracting top talent, and they can get away with underpaying their professors. People will still compete for those jobs because of the prestige. As a rule, the phenomenon of associate professors without tenure exists only at a few elite universities. Even if you get denied tenure at these places, it still looks good on your CV. The mathematics community understands that you can be extremely strong and still not meet the standards for tenure at these places.

Once you get below the very top, the GP is basically right, all the way down to at least liberal arts institutions (at community colleges, the situation is again different). I'm an associate professor of mathematics at a very good but not absolute top university (Waterloo). All associate professors here have tenure. I make north of 10k gross per month, although perhaps not well north. I'm very happy where I am. I could make more money in private industry, but tenure is worth more to me than the salary difference. In more technical fields than mathematics (such as computer science or engineering), the salaries are higher, as they have to be, to compete with Google and engineering firms.

All of the above applies to tenure-track professors only. Contingent faculty positions are much more financially precarious.

Comment: Re:Cross-platform (Score 1) 146

by David Jao (#47206631) Attached to: Auditors Release Verified Repositories of TrueCrypt
If you're seriously interested in disk encryption, it's pretty clear that there is no viable platform other than Linux, and maybe BSD. Any other platform will be riddled with NSA backdoors, and you'll have no way to check. So I don't understand why cross-platform compatibility is even desirable, much less necessary.

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