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Comment: Re:Not Uncommon for Portland (Score 1) 216

by Trepidity (#46804017) Attached to: Why Portland Should Have Kept Its Water, Urine and All

Because there is so far no scientifically validated reason to think it's a health problem: the water is regularly tested at the point where it's drawn from the reservoir, to monitor the water quality, and it's of excellent quality. Water quality isn't some weird mystical thing that depends on what you personally find the right thing to do, but is measurable.

Comment: Re:medical industry = rent seeking (Score 1) 162

by Trepidity (#46803999) Attached to: $42,000 Prosthetic Hand Outperformed By $50 3D Printed Hand

I think the particular problem with the U.S. is those con-men haven't been put out of business: there is still a whole slew of private companies getting their grubby hands into healthcare. And they are still profiteering from misleading people, providing substandard service, advertising things people don't need and/or that are quack bullshit, etc. There is regulation but the regulation has you dealing with insurance companies, for-profit health clinics, all sorts of nonsense.

I agree that an unregulated laissez-faire health market would be ridiculous, but the U.S.'s system is only slightly less ridiculous. I think we did it right in Scandinavia by just taking an axe to the whole sector of privatized medical care, replacing it with an efficient and much less complex state-run system.

Comment: Re:Sunk Costs (Score 1) 162

by Trepidity (#46803981) Attached to: $42,000 Prosthetic Hand Outperformed By $50 3D Printed Hand

The real costs of medical stuff (operations, hardware, medication, etc) has long since been lost to the bureaucrats.

I think that's how it should be, having medical services delivered in accordance with their needs rather than in accordance with market mechanisms and profits. But you need an actually compete system of health bureaucracy that is aiming to maximize outcomes for the country's citizens given the available budget. Not, as the U.S. seems to have, bureaucrats looking to profiteer for some insurance companies and biomed labs.

Here in the Nordic countries medical devices do not cost nearly as much as they do in the U.S., and that's because we have more and better bureaucracy, not because we have a free-market health system (in fact providing private healthcare is illegal).

Comment: Re:The problem with Political Correctness (Score 0) 375

by Trepidity (#46800729) Attached to: Beer Price Crisis On the Horizon

That's why I hate fuckin' white people, and no longer am going to be forced by politically correct, inbred hick motherfuckers, who can't tell their bible from their asshole, to refrain from saying so publicly. "Oh you can't call me white trash, that's raaacciiiisssmmmm" the losers whine. Send 'em back to England or Italy or Portugal or whatever other shithole they came from.

Comment: Re:There are many journals (Score 1) 82

Not with quite the same profile, though. For just the "academic game" part there are indeed plenty of alternatives, journals with high impact factors and other such metrics, well-respected within a field. What Nature and Science mainly have going for them is a bunch of media and science-popularizer attention as well, which is useful for people who want to build up a high profile for themselves. If you get your paper on evolutionary robotics into a robotics journal, you can get prestige, but if you get it into Nature you can be on CNN talking about our future robot overlords.

Comment: Re:This makes perfect sense (Score 1) 273

by Trepidity (#46577463) Attached to: IRS: Bitcoin Is Property, Not Currency

Either way would make it inconvenient for those wanting to follow the rules, but if they had treated it like a foreign currency at least the $200 gain exemption would have taken the burden of keeping records off of many purchases.

True, though it would've made it worse for people with large amounts. With this ruling, gains realized after >1 yr of holding bitcoin are taxed at capital-gains rates, while with the alternative ruling that bitcoin is currency, large gains would've been taxed at ordinary income rates (like forex-trading gains are).

Comment: Re:Other way around (Score 1) 466

by Trepidity (#46573911) Attached to: AT&T Exec Calls Netflix "Arrogant" For Expecting Net Neutrality

To complicate things more, it looks like it might depend on whether you're calling from a mobile or landline. If you call from a landline, I think calling mobiles is still (much) more expensive. You can see that in the Skype rates, for example, because Skype originates its calls from landlines: Calling Finnish landlines from Skype is 0.04 EUR/min, while calling Finnish mobiles from Skype is 0.19 EUR/min (!).

Comment: Re:It's not arrogant, it's correct. (Score 4, Interesting) 466

On U.S. mobiles phones, interestingly, both sides pay.

On European mobile phones, on the other hand, only the caller pays, but they pay a non-neutral rate, which varies depending on the type of device the recipient has: calling mobile phones is more expensive (in some countries, much more expensive) than calling landlines.

Comment: Re:It wasn't the computer (Score 2) 62

by Trepidity (#46554183) Attached to: Computer Spots Fakers Better Than People Do

I'd say the computer is pretty intelligent. For one, it's better at recognizing facial expressions than people are! ;-)

I mean, if you hired a textile worker, nobody would object if you talked about the worker being "good" or "bad" at sewing, even though they didn't design the sewing machinery and aren't exhibiting any particular creativity, but rather are just following instructions.

Comment: Re:It wasn't the computer (Score 2, Insightful) 62

by Trepidity (#46554009) Attached to: Computer Spots Fakers Better Than People Do

I'd say it's a mixture of the two. The computer can't discriminate these facial features without people to program it, but the people can't discriminate these facial features on their own, either, because we aren't good at applying this kind of analysis ourselves (even if we can come up with what it ought to be). The existence of a computer isn't enough, and the existence of the people is also insufficient, to carry out the task. So I'd call it a collaborative activity.

Comment: Re:What he's really saying (Score 2, Informative) 281

by Trepidity (#46502305) Attached to: Eric Schmidt On Why College Is Still Worth It

I'm not looking at highest overall pay, but highest incremental pay, vs. if you self-taught that field. CS degrees pay a lot, but their incremental value is not nearly as high, b/c self-taught programmers also get good salaries. Therefore, if you are going to do CS, the incremental value of getting a degree in it vs. just self-teaching is not that high.

Now compare people with liberal-arts degrees to people who are looking for liberal-arts jobs without having a degree. Now here you see a big differential: people looking for liberal arts jobs with no college degree don't have many offers coming.

Comment: Re:Mark and Bill (Score 2) 281

by Trepidity (#46501097) Attached to: Eric Schmidt On Why College Is Still Worth It

Bill Gates himself even says that he's a dumb example of a college dropout. Not only because the odds of following his trajectory are small, but because he was basically at the point of graduating when Microsoft blew up. Had Microsoft gotten its big break 6 months later, he would've graduated, but it got big and he ran with it. He didn't drop out and then roll the dice.

Comment: Re:What he's really saying (Score 3, Insightful) 281

by Trepidity (#46501071) Attached to: Eric Schmidt On Why College Is Still Worth It

I seem to recall some numbers that the differential value of a college degree is actually highest outside of STEM. Can't seem to find them again, but would be interesting to look at.

It makes sense if you think of it from the "negative" side: how do you fare looking for a job without a degree? If you are looking for tech jobs, a degree is valuable but you can still get a good job without one: CS degrees are not required for all tech jobs, not even all six-figure tech jobs. The incremental value of being a programmer vs. being a programmer with a degree is positive but modest.

But if you are looking for non-tech jobs without even having a liberal-arts degree, then you are effectively hosed. All those mid-five-figure white-collar administrative jobs in a typical Fortune 500 company are filled by people with liberal-arts degrees. Why? Because companies find it a useful filter. Not perfect, but better than nothing: if you want to select for "likely to be a decent employee, show up on time, follow directions, write English sentences coherently", and you have 50 applicants with degrees and 50 without, you just pick someone out of the 50 who have a degree.

"Never face facts; if you do, you'll never get up in the morning." -- Marlo Thomas