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Comment: Re:Casper is Concerned (Score 1) 352 352

Technically he is an ape, but anyway... It's not racist because there is no historical racist context for calling while people monkeys, only black people. That's just the way history is. It's hurtful though, sure.

So again, why are we letting people who are trying to be hurtful dictate to us what we're supposed to consider hurtful?

That's stupid.

Comment: Re:Casper is Concerned (Score 1) 352 352

So let me get this straight:

An algorithm mistakenly calls a person an ape, and that's racist and hurtful. Even though it knows nothing about racism and is just doing its job.

A person calls George W. Bush a monkey, and that's not racist or hurtful. Even though they're deliberately trying to be... racist and hurtful.

Help, stop, the double standard is killing me.

And second of all, why are we letting white people from a century ago tell us what is 'racist'? That the most stupid (and racist) thing I've heard all month.

Comment: Re:Two things (Score 1) 818 818

The Civil War started April 12, 1861. The Emancipation Proclamation was issued January 1, 1863. If the Civil War wasn't about slavery, then what the hell were they fighting over for nearly half the time of the war?

Second, if you were to show me an arbitrary person and tell me they were from the Confederacy, I could more likely than not correctly guess their opinion on race. So what if the designer shares in this opinion?

The only part of the argument I find persuasive is that states started flying it around the time of the civil rights movement. You offer no evidence that the correlation is causal; my only objection is that there was really no good reason to start flying it in the first place, regardless of time period. "Under God" was added to the Pledge of Allegiance around the same time, do you wish to imply that was also added in protest of civil rights?

As others have pointed out, Lincoln was a tyrant of the worst degree, imposing unconstitutional taxes, an income tax, deploying the military to enforce it, and jailing anyone who disagreed with him, without recognition of habeas corpus. I don't suppose you're trying to defend this!

There's every indication his position on slavery was 100% political: He needed the support of foreign powers and anti-war abolitionists; and there is still, today, active before the states, a Constitutional amendment that would permit slavery in individual states, approved as a measure to end the Civil War (North states signed on, but the South didn't bite, refuting both the notion the war was about slavery and the notion that Lincon was 100% principled on this issue).

Yes, both sides had absolutely despicable qualities, and even today, we do horrible things to foreign countries under the US flag. That doesn't make me ashamed of the flag!

Comment: Re:The most underrated misconception of economics (Score 1) 940 940

I know we talk about it sometimes as if you can, but you cannot, in fact, measure utility. You're making no sense.

Supply and demand deals with exchange. For as long as an apple is more valuable than the price you're selling it for, I'll buy apples; AND for as long as $2 is more valuable than the apples I'm selling it for, you'll keep buying $2; and as long as the two previous conditions are true, we'll perform that exchange.

This neglects the price mechanism, but hopefully this clarifies something.

Comment: Re:The most underrated misconception of economics (Score 1) 940 940

Oh yes, the old "there's no such thing as a right triangle in real life, only in mathematics" argument.

I'm afraid I don't have a good answer for that, but I'm curious, how ever do you manage to use a tape measure? /s


Your demand curve has less to do with price than it does with whether or not you've seen a billboard for ice cream or it happens to be a hot day and your kids are in the back seat screaming for ice cream.

Economists call that a change in demand.

Also consider that cost includes not just the $5, but the drive to the store, tolerating screaming kids, etc. $5+(drive to store) is much more expensive than $8+(right next to you while inside a movie theater).

Most of the time, it's accurate enough to combine these costs into the price and call it a day.

Why do you think they're able to sell so much premium ice cream at $6/cone?

This is totally possible if some people have a demand curve above $6/cone. That doesn't even sound unreasonable, my last purchase of an ice cream cone from a retail storefront was 8USD after tax.

People go to Starbucks when they can get a coffee at McDonalds.

The nature of a good is well-defined in economics. If there's any reason to distinguish between two instances of a good, then they're not the same good. Any other conclusion is a violation of ceteris paribus.

For simplicity's sake, unless there's a need to talk about competition, substitute goods, etc, we talk about one kind of coffee, one kind of ice cream. Same thing as neglecting the gravitational pull of the sun in physics.

Is it because there is a smaller supply of Starbucks coffee?

Dunno. Different sellers will have different supply curves.

The argument is based on a notion of cardinal and/or ordinal utility of commodities, but neither the cardinal nor ordinal utility can be measured (or even observed).

Yes, utility is ordinal. But we're not measuring utility, we're measuring price, which is objective exchange ratio: I give up $6, you give me an ice cream cone, the price is $6/cone. (A cost is also a ratio, but the usage is slightly different.)

The circularity of the argument can be described as "Utility is the quality in commodities that makes individuals want to buy them, and the fact that individuals want to buy commodities shows that they have utility".

Utility has to do with the satisfaction of a person's inherent, subjective wants (including needs), irrespective of goods/services. Sitting on my couch right now, not trading with anyone, has utility. Yet in a little bit, going to the store hopefully before it closes will have more utility.

You don't need utility to apply the law of supply and demand, however.

Comment: Re:The most underrated misconception of economics (Score 1) 940 940

The law of supply and demand is a mathematical theorem.

Surely you're familiar with mathematical theorems: If A is the length of one side of a right triangle, and B is the length of another side, then the length of the hypotenuse = Sqrt(A*A + B*B)

Supply and demand is the same thing. If I'm willing to buy two ice cream cones at $2/piece, one at $4/piece, and none at $6/piece; that forms a demand curve.

If you're willing to sell up to 100 ice cream cones at $2/piece, and up to 200 ice cream cones at $4/piece; that forms a supply curve

If the two above statements are true, then other things being equal, the law of supply and demand says I'll purchase somewhere between 0 and 2 ice cream cones from you - that's where the curves intersect.

It's only about as complex as the pythagorean theorem -- though far fewer people are familiar with it. In fact, I had to sketch this out on paper to make sure the numbers were correct.

Comment: Re:The most underrated misconception of economics (Score 1) 940 940

You realize the banks were hauled into the Treasury Department and ordered to take the money, right?

And you realize the purported purpose of the bailouts was so people don't lose their life savings, homes, and businesses, right?

And you realize that I'm against the bailouts, correct?

And you realize that two wrongs don't make a right, yes?

Finally, who's to say what the "correct" duration of time to hold a house is? If the banks really need the cash, they can put them to auction. And they frequently do.

But frequently, it goes to a speculator who thinks there's another person, somewhere down the road, that'll be willing to pay more than they did. (This is a valuable service to the market, by the way: The speculator is risking their own savings to bet that housing will be in higher demand in the future. If they're right, this has the effect of stabilizing prices, eliminating huge peaks in prices, and stimulating construction in time for when the demand actually arrives.)

Comment: Re:The most underrated misconception of economics (Score 1) 940 940

...where they can make decent money. But if they moved, they'd have a harder time making the same money; they'd either have to commute, contributing to their stress level (stress still being referred to as the #1 killer in America) and the death of the ecosphere we hold dear, or take an inferior job and make less money, thus retaining roughly equivalent purchase power. Hicks in sticks don't buy McMansions for retirement because they were able to save due to their lower cost of living. They also have lower wages.

The point is this: For an area that supposedly nobody can afford, there's a lot of people managing to afford it.

No, this is not about liquidity, this is about supply and demand. That was a nice long word, though. For a slashbot.

What's your point? Mine still seems to stand.

Uh, no. It's a downward force on supply. Not all the developers are willing or able to take advantage of opportunities involving higher-dollar properties.

You're confusing Supply with Quantity Supplied. I don't blame you, I wasn't very clear on this.

The law of supply says price determines quantity supplied; and a higher price increases supply, other things being equal.

If demand increases - say, an employer moved in and starts hiring a bunch of people - then supply will stay the same, demand will go up, which translates into an increase in quantity supplied.

The differences in the terms are subtle, so I'll repeat: Supply (the whole curve, is independent of price) stays the same, Quantity supplied (which is dependent on price) goes up.

This essentially means the article is completely backwards.

Oh, now you want to talk about supply and demand? Banks are letting houses sit, rotting, and get stripped of their valuable parts rather than decrease the prices because they're waiting for some invisible hand to stop playing with its invisible dick long enough to somehow hand the people enough money to pay what they want to charge. They took on these mortgages based on bullshit inflated property prices (inflated to increase property taxes) and then foreclosed on them en masse and now they seem to want to get paid based on the bullshit values estimated for those properties at the time rather than what people can afford. You know, what the market will bear? Because you can't squeeze blood from a goddamned ghost.

Look man, I know you wanted to get this house, but everyone I turn to says I can get at least 10% more for it than what you offered -- well above the cost of interest. That means there's someone else out there who's willing to pay more than you are. If you think it's ok for me to take a 10% loss, how about 20%, or 50%? It's not in anybody's interest for me to take less than about 5%/yr, the rate of interest. Sorry, no, not selling. But if you want a hot market that's insanely liquid, try San Francisco.

Comment: The most underrated misconception of economics (Score 5, Insightful) 940 940

This reads like a common economic trope: A journalist (presumably not an economist) observes that A has a positive effect on B, and B has a positive effect back on A. They then proceed to assume that both A and B will "spiral out of control" into infinity, as if the only kind of effect is a proportional effect, and as if the only kind of feedback loop is a positive feedback loop.

Well as it turns out, there's a such a thing as a negative feedback loop. In fact, that's how markets work; there's this law called the law of declining marginal utility. In most cases, given the nature of geometric sums, there's a total, maximum amount of utility that a single good can ever give you, ever, no matter how much you buy.

Let's take a look at the author's argument:

1. People paying high rents have a harder time saving for a down payment, preventing tenants from exiting the rental market.

People paying high rents are, presumably, living in an area with high demand, further suggesting that they have a much better ability to pay for housing than the average person as it is; they just choose to live in a high-rent place because it's more beneficial than an average city or neighberhood.

2. Low vacancy rates let landlords raise rents still higher.

There's no special correlation between prices and liquidity; there's a better correlation between how "hot" or bubble-like a market is, though. Volume isn't the same as price.

3. Developers who know they can command high rents (and sales prices) are spurred to spend more to acquire developable land.

This is a downward force on prices. See also, the Law of Supply: higher prices creates more supply, or at least forces people to use the resources more effectively. Software developers don't need a huge living area, at least not compared to (at the extreme end) farms. In contrast to farms, which can go pretty much anywhere there's halfway decent land. As a result, people (in expanding cities, for example) tend to buy out farms, not the other way around.

This may seem obvious, but knowing it explicitly is a crucial component of knowing how resources are efficiently allocated. It doesn't even matter how resources are initially allocated, if we mixed everything up and assuming low transaction costs (something not typically present in housing markets, though), then people will trade with each other back to the optimum allocations.

4. Higher land costs can force builders to target the higher end of the market.

No, there's this thing called the law of supply and demand. Rates are set based on what the market as a whole is able to bear - where the supply and demand curves meet. And if San Francisco can find 50k buyers for 50k $10/sqft (or whatever) rentals, then that's the market price (a simplified argument, of course, but hopefully still an accurate one).

Comment: Re:A hypermedia API is self-documenting (Score 1) 50 50

All the constraints of the dissertation are required to call your HTTP service RESTful; although some of the constraints themselves are 'optional', e.g. Code-on-demand (your server doesn't have to actually use it, but your protocol must support it).

See my second link for an analysis of why the Twitter and Amazon APIs are not RESTful. Mostly, they don't implement the uniform interface, HATEOAS in particular. They don't provide hyperlinks, but instead you have to read their public documentation and hard-code your application with platform-specific URL patterns.

To implement HATEOAS, Twitter could opt to emit a machine-readable URL template (e.g. , or the URI Templates standard). They don't even do that, except on their website, which does provide forms to write a tweet, retweet, shows links to view context, and similar. This means Twitter's own website is more RESTful than their (so-called) REST API.

Comment: A hypermedia API is self-documenting (Score 2) 50 50

The Web is designed to not need APIs or dedicated documentation. You might have heard of REST - it's a set of constraints on network architecture designs, which are: client-server protocol, layered interface, caching, stateless connections, code-on-demand (e.g. Javascript), and a uniform interface (e.g. HTML). REST is defined by the principal author of HTTP, Roy T. Fielding.

Lots of people call themselves RESTful (Amazon, Twitter) but aren't even close. A RESTful service is pretty much just like a website: You enter at an entry point, then start following hyperlinks and filling out forms to manipulate the state of your client and the server (respectively).

If you have an existing plain-old-HTTP API, you might want to build a hypertext interface on top of it that users can browse and submit documents with. Use a hypermedia data format like JSON-LD, Hydra, or JSON Hyper-schema to expose machine-readable hypertext. HTML is perfectly fine too, and preferable if you want to navigate the API with a Web browser.


They are called computers simply because computation is the only significant job that has so far been given to them.