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Comment: Re:This again? (Score 1) 458

by blue trane (#49596887) Attached to: New Test Supports NASA's Controversial EM Drive

"When somebody sounds like a total fucking crackpot, they almost always are."

Aristarchus of Samos sounded like a total fucking crackpot, and if you had called him out your prediction would have been right - for a couple millennia.

What if instead of taking your attitude, the Greeks had devoted their energy to developing better sensors to test Aristarchus's claims about the parallax motion of the stars? Instead of sitting around calling him a crackpot, we could have had an accepted heliocentric model of the solar system some 1800 years before Copernicus.

Comment: Re:Why? (Score 1) 108

by blue trane (#49596533) Attached to: Messenger's Mercury Trip Ends With a Bang, and Silence

I just saw this article on today's front page:

The EM drive is controversial in that it appears to violate conventional physics and the law of conservation of momentum; the engine, invented by British scientist Roger Sawyer, converts electric power to thrust without the need for any propellant by bouncing microwaves within a closed container. So, with no expulsion of propellant, thereâ(TM)s nothing to balance the change in the spacecraftâ(TM)s momentum during acceleration.

Comment: Re:Aether (Score 3, Interesting) 199

by blue trane (#49458437) Attached to: Supernovae May Not Be Standard Candles; Is Dark Energy All Wrong?

No, science has never disproved the aether. It was ruled out for social reasons. When that social reality changes, science will probably bring it back. Yves Couder's experiments with silicon "walkers" bouncing on a liquid substrate, with which he can recreate Young's double-slit experiment on a macroscopic scale, would fit nicely with aether theory. But that fit is ignored by physics, because of the social ramifications of bringing back aether theory.

Comment: Re:End the Fed! (Score 2) 160

by blue trane (#49331367) Attached to: Energy Company Trials Computer Servers To Heat Homes

Even so.

$20 in 1913 was worth almost $500 today. But the nominal gdp per capita in 1913 was about $400, while in 2013 it was over $50000. So: $20 / $400 gdp per capita in 1913 = 0.05 or 5% of yearly income. $400 / $50000 = 0.008, or 0.8% of yearly income. Thus, purchasing power has increased since 1913. The equivalent of $20 today will buy you much more than you could get in 1913. That includes electronics that didn't exist in 1913: radios, wind-up LED lights, cell phones, etc.

Regarding your example of a good suit costing "in the thousands": 5% of $50000 is $2500. So your purchasing power has not decreased: you can spend the same percentage of yearly income on a suit, and get a very high quality one today, as you did in 1913. Also, there are so many electronic products that cost $infinity in 1913, such as computers, cellphones, TVs, and many other things we take for granted today.

The myth of inflation being such a destructive force is thus revealed to be hyperbole.

Comment: Re:End the Fed! (Score 2) 160

by blue trane (#49330847) Attached to: Energy Company Trials Computer Servers To Heat Homes

Purchasing power has advanced much faster than inflation. A common meme is "A suit cost $20 in 1913." But the GDP per capita in 1913 was much less. You can look it up (as I have) and you will find that as a percentage of GDP per capita, a suit today is something close to 5 times less than it was in 1913.

The money supply has increased significantly faster than inflation. The quantity theory of money is deeply flawed.

Comment: Re:End the Fed! (Score 3, Interesting) 165

by blue trane (#49322577) Attached to: RMS Talks Net Neutrality, Patents, and More

What non-governmental institution turns over its profits to the US Treasury? What non-governmental institution has to have its head approved by Congress? What non-governmental institution has its charter written by Congress?

The Fed should learn to keep interest rates low. If you look at a graph of interest rates, you'll see that interest rate hikes preceded 8 of the last 9 recessions. Only four out of 12 rate hikes didn't cause recessions.

Why should the Fed raise interest rates now? It just raises costs to borrowers and increases bank profits. Interest rate hikes caused the housing crisis in 2007, because the ARMs adjusted to the increased prime rates instigated by the Fed.

Why is there this mass hysteria that rates have to increase, when clearly rate increases precipitated the most recent crash?

"The Federal Reserve also ignored Bagehot's recommendation of what to do during a bank run: make money readily available but on good collateral at dear prices. Instead, the Federal Reserve paid good money for garbage from the banks."

I would argue that the collateral is good. It was market groupthink that resulted in the crash, gossip in chatrooms hysterically screaming that every mortgage was in default. In fact the vast majority of mortgages didn't default. A few did, which was expected, but irrational paranoiac fear took over, as the market loves to let it.

Bagehot was too conservative with his "at a high rate of interest" dictum. Also, the Fed should bail out individuals, not banks. Even Kenneth Rogoff agrees:

Without question the best and most effective approach to the problem would have been to bail
out the subprime homeowners directly, forcing banks to take losses but keeping them manageable.
For an investment of perhaps a few hundred billion dollars, the US Treasury could have saved
itself from a financial crisis whose cumulative cost, counting lost output, already runs into many,
many trillions of dollars. Instead of âoesaving Wall Street,â a subprime bailout would have been
targeted, almost by definition, at lower-income households. But unfortunately, this approach too
would have been politically impossible prior to the crisis.

It is up to us to change the political possibilities by educating ourselves and voting in representatives that will tell the Fed to help individuals instead of corporations.

Lack of skill dictates economy of style. - Joey Ramone