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Comment Re:Statistical fallicies (Score 1) 351

A good way to think about it is that people have needs. In the case of transport: to get somewhere. This need existed prior to the car. When the car came along and people became aware of its benefits, demand for cars suddenly appeared. So even though there was no demand for the car before its invention, there was a need for a solution to the problem that cars solved.

Comment Re: IBM (Score 1) 135

Your statement about the relative value of income makes sense but is a bit simplified. Typically it is not the exchange rate that is important as much as the purchasing power parity, which also takes into account local costs of living, etc.

Comment Re:Troubling signal, why? (Score 1) 471

If you do the DCF analysis you will see that it is expectations of share price appreciation and not dividends that is the source of most of the valuation for many equities. It is only for very stable, slow-growing companies (e.g. utilities) where you can draw a strong connection between dividends and share prices.

Comment Re:Do large corporations need to advertise? (Score 1) 400

It can be hard to believe the impact that advertising has on products, especially consumer packaged goods. For something like a toothbrush, 40-50% of the cost of the toothbrush might be advertising spend. This can seem like a waste, but companies like GM and GE are brand powerhouses because they have spent decades building and maintaining those brands. Sure, everyone knows who GE is today, and probably won't forget about them even if they stopped advertising tomorrow - but every year a new cohort of consumers comes of age, and those people may not have had exposure to the brand. Companies also need advertising to tune their changing image over time - would you buy GE just because they had the most reliable vacuum tubes in the 50s? What you care about today might be entirely different - e.g. the design aesthetic, rather than the reliability that is now a commodity in e.g. radios. And what if GE has a brand new type of product or wants to compete in a new area - how would anyone know that they were an option if they don't advertise?


This American Life Retracts Episode On Apple Factories In China 326

New submitter Hartree writes "This American Life aired an episode in January about visiting Foxconn's factory in Shenzhen China that supplies Apple with iPhones and iPads. It was the most downloaded of all of its episodes. That show helped prompt Apple to release, for the first time, a list of its suppliers and allow outside audits of working conditions at its suppliers. This American Life has now retracted the episode after finding out that Mike Daisey, whose visit to the factory the show was based on, fabricated portions of the story. This included a number of minor items, but also major ones such as his saying that he personally met underage workers and those poisoned by hexane exposure. To set the record straight, this weekend's episode of This American Life will present how they were mislead into airing a flawed story (PDF)."

Comment Re:Should have been triple-blind... (Score 5, Interesting) 237

This is not really true. The purpose of a double-blind experiment is to set up a study with a controlled variable and observe the outcome. This is a meta-analysis, which looks at previously gathered data and tries to see if there are interesting patterns. The problem with such analysis is that although "blind" in the sense that it does not influence results, it is not "blind" in the choice of data. Whether intentionally or not, by cherry-picking data it is easy to create associations where none exist. This is further biased by the fact that only positive results are reported - no one writes of all the "no correlation" results they may have found through different choices of matched sets.

For example, I am sure that I could take a piece of data such as daily temperature and pick a subset of the stock market that happened to correlate with it - something that is likely entirely a figment of the data sets. This is the danger in such studies and it explains why they are NOT in any way the same as a double-blind trial.

Comment Re:Simple solution...no more Russian taxis to ISS (Score 3, Informative) 451

Why is this so crazy? Now, I don't actually believe that HAARP has anything to do with this, but HAARP has 3.6 million watts at its disposal, and can concentrate that to achieve an ERP of 5.1 billion watts. If you concentrate enough RF on an electronic device you can screw it up in an almost infinite number of ways.

Comment Re:learn? (Score 4, Insightful) 229

Well, I think it is hard to generalize the way you have and be correct. I'm sure there are shops like the one you described - managers making much more than the devs, worrying more about their golf handicap than the project timeline. There are plenty of places though where the dev and manager payscales have quite a bit of overlap, where you'll find all of the senior devs making (much) more than the junior managers. I think this is right. At well-run companies there will also be quite a lot of pressure and stress put on the manager, simply because the manager is responsible for the success of every person on the team - so take all the things that can go wrong on the dev side (hit a snag and have to refactor, sick time, etc.) and multiply that by the size of the team. Good managers are also taking the heat for making the inevitable tradeoffs - "yes, we know big client X wants feature Y but we need to keep the release on track." Dealing with VPs several levels up trying to pull the project in different directions is also less than enjoyable.

Managers are also much more vulnerable to politics than individual contributors. You can be a great manager and still get canned if new upper management rolls in and doesn't like you or doesn't think you're the right person for their new policies - or if you get a tough project that doesn't go well and someone needs to be blamed. So, I think part of the compensation difference is because the job is simply riskier.

Comment Re:St. Reagan (Score 2) 788

Japan does not have an AAA rating. Japan is rated AA- (4th from best) by 2/3 agencies, and third from best by Fitch. In contrast, Greece is rated CC (20th best). We have a long way to fall before comparisons to Greece enter the equation! As a result, being "only" 90% Debt:GDP, although better than Greece, may not be as safe as you might think.

See wiki for the scale (which also applies to their sovereign debt ratings)

The question isn't "are there other countries with greater credit risk than the US?" it is "does the US deserve a rating that is so good as to imply nearly zero chance of default?" This is a bit like the standard for criminal guilt - the US needs to prove beyond a shadow of doubt that they will always pay up. Under current conditions I think it is realistic to wonder if the AAA rating can be preserved long term without significant action by Congress.

Comment Re:I've often pondered... (Score 1) 398

Now that is a strong argument that the salicylic acid had no real effect, and that all three went away when your immune system figured out how to combat the virus. I believe the research has shown that most wart removal techniques, including surgery, are no more effective than waiting for it to go away. I think the theory is that eventually your body figures out how to kill the virus but until then, all of the above techniques are of limited value because unless you excise the wart with huge margins, you are still likely to have infected cells ready to begin multiplying again.

Comment Re:That's far too glib. (Score 1) 691

The math here is not remotely correct. For one thing, the plumber is not taxed on his income but upon his profits. In fact, typical net margins for businesses are in the 2-8% range, meaning the portion of cost due to tax is as much as 50x lower than you state.

Every cloud has a silver lining; you should have sold it, and bought titanium.