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Comment: Re:If I was running counter-intelligence for the C (Score 2) 340

by SEE (#48395601) Attached to: Alleged Satellite Photo Says Ukraine Shootdown of MH17

I have no idea why a sane person would suspect Mossad.

Oh, that's simple. The Russian tradition of conspiracy theory always blames the Jews. If you're the sort of person used to reading and believing conspiracy theories that justify Russia, it would take exceptional intellectual effort and insight to realize blaming the Jews makes no sense at all in a particular case.

Comment: Re:Prison (Score 1) 407

by SEE (#48173109) Attached to: As Prison Population Sinks, Jails Are a Steal

But incarceration rate per population doesn't tell you if the population is being over-incarcerated unless you know the crimes-worthy-of-incarceration rate. If America's rate of crime-worthy-of-incarceration is several times the European, then it's perfectly natural the US has a several-times-higher incarceration rate.

Now, there are all sorts of difficulties in calculating such a rate. But it doesn't seem too unreasonable to guess that, however it's calculated, the general rate of crime-worthy-of-incarceration would correlate with the homicide rate. So, let's use the homicide rate as a normalizer. How many incarcerated persons does a country have per annual intentional homicide? Using the Wikipedia numbers for prisoners and annual intentional homicides, we get:

Australia: 121
Belgium: 68
Bulgaria: 73
Canada: 74
Croatia: 90
Czech Republic: 163
Denmark: 91
Estonia: 46
Finland: 36
France: 103
Germany: 98
Greece: 71
Hungary: 142
Iceland: 157
Ireland: 74
Israel: 138
Italy: 111
Japan: 170
Latvia: 56
Lithuania: 48
Luxembourg: 164
Netherlands: 91
New Zealand: 203
Norway: 33
Poland: 175
Portugal: 115
Romania: 96
Slovakia: 134
Slovenia: 94
South Korea: 109
Spain: 180
Sweden: 86
Switzerland: 145
Taiwan: 91
UK: 147
US: 147

Thus, the US incarceration rate differential is within the normal variation seen in developed countries, after you account for the fact that the US has a lot more violent crime than other developed countries (as seen in its much higher homicide rate).

Comment: Re:Price of using scientists as political pawns (Score 1) 342

I don't think any serious person thinks that Galileo woke up one morning and said lets do politics.

Oh, yes, every serious person thinks Galileo was being completely apolitical when he published a tract in the common language of the people of the Papal States that put quotes from the sovereign of the Papal States in the mouth of a character named Simpleton.

Comment: Re:Not illegal (Score 2) 218

by SEE (#47078981) Attached to: Amazon Escalates Its Battle Against Publishers

Yes, it's one of the fundamental distinctions between the capitalist US and the corporatist EU in anti-trust law. In the US, you are expected to show the business practice harms consumers; in the EU, you merely show it hurts the profits of existing businesses.

Thus, for example, fixing the price of books is an illegal conspiracy under US law, but mandated by law in Germany.

Comment: We already had this happen back in '99 (Score 5, Informative) 325

by SEE (#46872449) Attached to: <em>Star Wars: Episode VII</em> Cast Officially Announced

The EU has always been subject to being tossed out for the films. I mean, I still have a copy of the 1994 "A Guide to the Star Wars Universe". On pages xviii-xx, it has a timeline that establishes the following:

1) C-3PO is 57 years older than Anakin Skywalker.
2) Obi-Wan Kenobi is only five years older than Anakin Skywalker.
3) The Clone Wars ended 17 years before Anakin became Darth Vader and Palpatine became Emperor.
4) Anakin was in his mid-thirties when he fathered Luke & Leia.

How could anybody have anything like a reasonable expectation that things would be different this time?

Comment: Re:What does it mean to divest? (Score 1) 214

You call it "key", but it's pointless. Profits on the trade of stocks accrue to traders, not the underlying company. Making Exxon's stock price collapse with a "successful" divestment campaign can wreck any number of stock traders, pension boards, and mutual funds, but it does not remove a single cent from Exxon's bottom line.

Comment: Re:What does it mean to divest? (Score 1) 214

What is divestment but a form of boycott?

Boycotts of a company's products work because the operations of a company are making and selling the product, and not buying that product cuts off their income, lowering their profits. Boycotts of a company's stock, on the other hand, have no affect on the company's operations at all, and do not affect either income or profits. The business goes on as normal.

There is _nothing_ that compels an "automatic, equal and opposite transaction"

Um, yes, there is. The fact that until someone buys the stock, you have not actually sold it. This is really, really basic. Otherwise there's no sale. Every single successful sale of stock ever, by definition, is also a successful purchase of stock by the counterparty. Until someone other than Harvard buys the stock from Harvard, Harvard has not yet divested itself. Since the amount the other party paid and the number of shares they receive is identical to the amount Harvard receives and the number of shares Harvard gets rid of, the divestment is automatically coupled to an equal and opposite investment.

selling stock can actually generate a positive feedback loop that causes _more_ stock to be sold.

But it cannot cause more stock to be sold than is bought. Because without a buyer, there is no sale. Transactions have two parties and two sides and both sides are always in balance.

Yes, if lots of people want to sell the stock and few want to buy, that makes the stock price go down, and because lots of stock traders are stock price speculators, that can have a herd effect. So what? The price of stock does not affect the operations or the balance sheet of the business in the slightest.

Stock price only matters to investors who are gambling on share price appreciation. There are a lot of investors like that, but not all. Plenty of people buy stock for the dividends, and your divestment campaign simply makes the stock more attractive to those people. Net, what you do with a divestment campaign is change the owners of the company from people who want the stock price to go up to people who want the company to pay high dividends - and the former care a lot more about bad PR than the latter. Divestment, insofar as it has any effect on a coal company, will make that company less sensitive to social pressure that might affect the stock price and more interested in maximizing operational profit to maximize dividends.

Comment: Re:What does it mean to divest? (Score 1) 214

No, divestment doesn't touch income at all, in the slightest, much less "profoundly". Boycotts and sanctions do, and what hurt South Africa was the boycotts and sanctions. If they were calling for Harvard to boycott energy from fossil fuels, there would actually be an economic point to the petition.

Divestment, on the other hand, does precisely nothing to income. In order to divest, Party B, the divestor, sells Party A's stock to Party C. Party C invests in the stock to the exact same extent that Party B divests. It's an automatic, equal-and-opposite transaction. And Party A doesn't have its operations affected in the slightest.

FORTRAN is a good example of a language which is easier to parse using ad hoc techniques. -- D. Gries [What's good about it? Ed.]

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