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Comment: secrecy (Score 2) 116

by Jodka (#47728987) Attached to: NSA Agents Leak Tor Bugs To Developers

Tor developer Andrew Lewman says... agents from [NSA and GCHQ ] leak flaws directly to the developers, so they can be fixed quickly.

Why announce that publicly? The NSA and GCHQ will now attempt to to shut down the leaks and arrest the leakers. Even if they fail, it is certain to scare the leakers and make leaking more difficult.

"You have to think about the type of people who would be able to do this and have the expertise and time to read Tor source....

Why give those agencies clues to help them figure out who are the leakers?


Comment: abolish all environmental regulations (Score 0) 327

by Jodka (#47667403) Attached to: California May Waive Environmental Rules For Tesla

California State and federal EPA environmental regulations are all unnecessary and harmful. The massive, wasteful, expensive, totalitarian, sadistic and incompetent EPA bureaucracy can be abolished and the environment made cleaner and safer. All that is required to efficiently limit environmental pollution and risks to any desired levels are these two measures:

1. The government implements pollution monitoring and sells tradable pollution licenses for individual pollutants in specified quantities. It buys back licenses to reduce emissions. It sells more credits to increase emissions.

2. The government monetizes risk by mandating bonding, requiring that any enterprise which risks accidental environmental damage hold a bond at the value of the maximum potential damage. (Offshore drilling is a good example.) This prevents companies from causing damage which they can not afford to pay for. The cap also limits the feeding frenzy among lawyers after an accident. To reduce risk exposure the government mandates more expensive bonds. To decrease risk exposure the government mandates less expensive bonds. Let insurers price and sell bonds to those business which are required to buy them. Obviously, the actual price of the bond to the purchaser from the insurer will typically be less than the nominal value of the bond because the price will be the nominal value of the bond multiplied by a risk factor usually less than 1.

Those two measures in combination reduce pollution and accident risks to any desired level with high efficiency and they do so equitably. Externalities are bad. Internalize externalities by compelling polluters to pay for the costs of polluting and the risk-takers to safeguard against risk.

That system allows state and local preferences for pollution levels and corporate favors to combine easily and transparently with national standards. Suppose that system was actually in place in California and Tesla was lured in with either subsidies or by slackening environmental regulations. Well, under that system, it would be done by giving/subsidizing/purchasing Tesla pollution licenses and adjusting the bond requirements or subsidizing a bond. Those actions would have assigned monetary values and identifiable and quantifiable changes to the level of pollution and risk. So we would know exactly what doing favors for Tesla costs the environment in increased pollution and risk and what it costs the taxpayer in dollars.


Comment: Six Reasons (Score 2) 107

by Jodka (#47666393) Attached to: Where are the Flying Cars? (Video; Part One of Two)

Six reasons we do not have flying cars:

1. Unforgivingness: Run out of gas, stall, fail to perform scheduled maintenance? You plummet and die. Road vehicles are more forgiving of errors and faults.
2. Regulation: There is an overwhelming regulatory burden imposed by the FAA. This restricts R&D, commercialization and ownership.
3. Expertise: Piloting requires specialized skills and extensive training.
4. Expense: Flying vehicles are expensive.
5. Infrastructure: The air traffic control system can not handle ubiquitous flying vehicles. Take-off and landing zones are not ubiquitous. For short distances, it is inefficient to to the airport to fly to the next airport to drive to where you are going, Why not just drive to where you are going to start with? For longer distances, drive to the airport and take a plane. The flying car only makes sense if we put airports everywhere. Yes, VTOL would mitigate this.
6. Inherent inefficiency: Hauling your car around with you everywhere you fly? Carrying your airplane with you everywhere you drive? A combination car/plane of the future makes about as much sense as traveling with your car on a commercial passenger flight today.

You are stuck with #6; Flying cars might just be an inherently stupid idea. Other barriers can be overcome with technology and mass commercialization except for the FAA regulatory burden and restrictions.

Ubiquitous personal air transport makes more sense for short to medium distances if you do not try to make combination, flyable/roadable vehicle. As-the-crow-flies routes are way more efficient than road networks and with automated navigation and automated air-traffic control there would be no traffic jams in 3 dimensions. Automated VTOL would largely obviate road travel.

Comment: Re:The elephant in the room. (Score 1) 227

by Jodka (#47648263) Attached to: About Half of Kids' Learning Ability Is In Their DNA

Race Differences and the Out-of-Africa theory of Human Origins. East Asian-White-Black differences fit the theory that modern humans arose in Africa about 100,000 years ago and expanded northward. During prolonged winters there was evolutionary selection for higher IQ created by problems of raising children, gathering and storing food, gaining shelter, and making clothes.

And/Or possibly by interbreeding with neanderthals. They had larger brains than modern humans.

The higher IQ of caucasians likely developed due to the cold, temperate climate of Northern Europe which required more long term planning and skilled crafts to develop technologies to survive the cold winters. The cold winters heavily selected for higher IQ, whilst the tropical environment, where the fruit hangs on the true all year, does not.

Neanderthals inhabited cold northern climates over 300,000 before present. We know they were extremely muscular, they were also probably highly intelligent. Perhaps they were, literally, superhuman. Modern Europeans are partially descended from them.

Those comments are speculative obviously, but testable, because we have sequenced neanderthal DNA. In fact there have been many ancient and modern migrations into Europe. There was an ancient invasion into central Europe of agriculturalists from the middle east, and the medieval Jewish diaspora into the Rhine Valley. Mongols reached Poland, not sure how much DNA they left behind.

It would be interesting if the ancient genetic origins of distinguishing modern European behavioral traits could be identified. Interesting because Europe is unique in the high degree of genetic mixing which has gone on for such a long period. Other societies not so much, they are more genetically homogeneous. Judging from tremendous achievements of Europeans in science, art and technology, diversity is a good thing. Diversity in the traditional sense of the word, not in the modern sense of eligibility for affirmative action handouts.

Comment: Because Taxes (Score 1, Interesting) 111

by Jodka (#47578973) Attached to: French Provider Free Could Buy US Branch of T-Mobile

U.S. companies are worth more to foreign companies than to other U.S. companies because foreign companies pay lower income taxes. A U.S. company, Emerson, lost a bid to a French company, Schneider, for APC for that reason. As the WSJ states (free access to the paywalled article via FaceBook):

In 2006, Emerson sought to acquire a company called American Power Conversion (APC). This was a Rhode Island-based company that made more than half of its earnings outside the U.S. Unfortunately, Emerson competed against Schneider Electric, a French company, to acquire APC. Emerson offered more than $5 billion, but ultimately Schneider acquired APC by offering a bid in excess of $6 billion.

Why was Schneider willing to offer more? Schneider outbid us because France's tax code—typical of most OECD countries—exempts 95% of foreign-source income from taxation, while the U.S. tax code fully taxes such income. APC's profits were worth more to Schneider because, once absorbed, APC's global profits (net of the taxes paid in the countries where those profits were earned) could be repatriated to Schneider's headquarters in France, where they would be taxed at less than 2%.

In contrast, earnings repatriated to the U.S. are subject to a tax rate of nearly 40%, with a credit for taxes paid abroad on that income. That dramatic difference made it possible for Schneider to offer more for APC. So what had once been an American company became French.

Comment: Re:Disengenous (Score 2) 306

by Jodka (#47571535) Attached to: Amazon's eBook Math

You're not the 'efficient seller' if you lose money at it.

Though inefficiencies reduce profitability, the inference that negative profitability implies inefficiency is invalid.

Let's unpack your own reasoning here: An inefficient business will be unprofitable. Amazon is unprofitable. Therefore, Amazon is inefficient. If A, then B. B, therefore A. The category of error you have made is termed "affirming the consequent", colloquially known as Modus Morons.

Profit is, to quote WP, "the difference between the purchase and the component costs of delivered goods and/or services and any operating or other expenses." Therefore negative profitability could result from either inordinately low pricing or inordinately high expenses, or both.

Comment: same thing again (Score 2) 306

by Jodka (#47571025) Attached to: Amazon's eBook Math

Amazon's pricing argument is one instance of the same general phenomenon that gross expenditures, under some conditions, increase in response to price decreases. The effect has different names in different contexts:

With taxation, people sometimes refer to the Laffer Curve, which for levels of taxation to the right of the peak of the curve, reducing tax rates increases tax revenues.

For technology, Jevons Paradox explains why, as the efficiency of home appliances increases, so does energy consumption.

My grandfather, an economist, had an amusing story about a toll bridge authority attempting to taper down revenues as the bond which funded the bridge was paid off. They lowered the toll price to reduce revenues and revenues shot up as customers responded to the lower toll price by crossing the bridge more frequently. So they lowered the toll price again and revenues shot up further. As I recall the story goes that it worked the third time.


Comment: Re:Disengenous (Score 2, Insightful) 306

by Jodka (#47570869) Attached to: Amazon's eBook Math

...using size and supply chain efficiency to force smaller guys out of business is not a good thing in the long run.

Why is it bad for efficient suppliers to replace inefficient suppliers? And why bad in the long run but not the short run?

If efficient suppliers replaced inefficient suppliers, but then in the long run inefficient suppliers returned to dominate the market, than that would be a good outcome in your view.

Can you explain your reasoning?

Comment: Amazon is OK (Score 3, Interesting) 306

by Jodka (#47570645) Attached to: Amazon's eBook Math

Even if Amazon's argument is flawed, their attempt to persuade by using reason and presenting facts is nonetheless admirable. As opposed to the feces hurling which accompanies most public disputes these days.

It builds a solid foundation for a researched and reasoned response in opposition. As opposed to picking up the monkey dung and throwing back.


Comment: True (Score 4, Interesting) 166

by Jodka (#47570535) Attached to: The Problems With Drug Testing

So my mother has a Ph.D in experimental psychology and knows a thing or two about how to design experiments, how to avoid systematic bias, how to distinguish that from random error, and in the admittedly non-objective opinion of her son, is quite sharp about identifying sources of those in methodologies. After raising three children she tries to restart her career. At first the only work she could find was a lowly temp job entering survey responses from a drug trial into a database. Turns out that the forms completed by the doctors and patients surveyed left answers to many questions blank. So how is she instructed by those managing the data entry to handle those cases? She is told to systematically select particular answers to particular questions. And which answers? The answers consistent with the drug being effective and harmless.

Now you do not have to be a Ph.D. to spot a problem with that. Hell, my German Shepherd could probably do that. But maybe as a scientist herself the violation of scientific integrity stung too strongly and my mother insistently raised complaints within the company. And how far did those go to correct the "mistaken" guidelines for data entry? Absolutely nowhere.


Comment: Re:Brilliant... (Score 1) 419

by Jodka (#47558951) Attached to: A 24-Year-Old Scammed Apple 42 Times In 16 Different States

from your Puffington Host link:

"The participants were first asked about their wealth, schooling, social background, religious persuasions and attitudes to money in an attempt to establish their perceived social class."

Interesting experiment. The methodology is broken.

Because of the possibility that dishonest people will lie about their own income and social status the conclusion that wealthy people are more dishonest is unfounded. According to the description of the experimental methods, subjects categorized as "wealthy" in the study would have included both the genuinely wealthy and the non-wealthy liars. That is, the study misidentifies poor liars as wealthy liars. And with some degree of idiocy; The experimenters simultaneously identify a group as dishonest and believe their self reports of income, without recognizing the contradiction in that reasoning.

Then, also, more intelligent subjects would seem more likely both to be wealthy and to recognize that lying and cheating within the artificial context of a human psychology experiment causes no real harm and is part of the game. Human subject guidelines would mandate that these experiments be performed with informed consent of the subjects, so no doubt the smarter ones understood this was not real life. Snookering others in games vs real life is a similar distinction to killing others in video games vs real life. Just because you murder others in virtual online environments does not make you more prone to do that in real life. So does lying in games contrived by psychologists make you more prone to lie in real life?

Comment: 1,000+ a questionable figure (Score 3, Informative) 868

by Jodka (#47558145) Attached to: Gaza's Only Power Plant Knocked Offline

Over at the Wall Street Journal Bret Stephens questions the claim that as many as 1,023 Palestinian lives have been lost in the conflict. The column is paywalled but can be accessed for free via the WSJ Opinion Facebook Page.

Consider the media obsession with the body count. According to a daily tally in the New York Times, NYT -6.42% as of July 27 the war in Gaza had claimed 1,023 Palestinian lives as against 46 Israelis. How does the Times keep such an accurate count of Palestinian deaths? A footnote discloses "Palestinian death tallies are provided by the Palestinian Health Ministry and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs."

OK. So who runs the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza? Hamas does. As for the U.N., it gets its data mainly from two Palestinian agitprop NGOs, one of which, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, offers the remarkably precise statistic that, as of July 27, exactly 82% of deaths in Gaza have been civilians. Curiously, during the 2008-09 Gaza war, the center also reported an 82% civilian casualty rate.

When minutely exact statistics are provided in chaotic circumstances, it suggests the statistics are garbage. When a news organization relies—without clarification—on data provided by a bureaucratic organ of a terrorist organization, there's something wrong there, too.

Comment: Re:Why does Obama keep doing this? (Score 1) 211

..What causes [Obama] to keep doing this?

Maybe this has something to do with it:

The American Association for Justice, formerly and more accurately known as the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, gave 96 percent of all its contributions so far this year to Democrats. A fluke? They gave Democrats 96 percent in 2012, 97 percent in 2010, and 95 percent in 2008. The Washington Examiner’s 2011 investigative reporting showed that, of political contributions given in 2010 by the employees and partners at the top 110 plaintiff’s firms in the United States, 97 percent went to Democrats.

Democrats’ reliance on this legal gravy train was highlighted two years ago when Sherry Sylvester of Texans for Lawsuit Reform wrote an article claiming that 80 percent of all contributions to the state Democratic Party over the previous decade came from trial lawyers. The bean counters at Politifact weighed in to declare that she was mostly right, but that the real fraction was closer to 75 percent. Read that again: Three-quarters of the Texas Democratic Party’s cash came from trial lawyers.

It is impossible to travel faster than light, and certainly not desirable, as one's hat keeps blowing off. -- Woody Allen