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Comment: Re: Somethig wrong with that (Score 5, Insightful) 254

by Loki_1929 (#49045385) Attached to: What Intel's $300 Million Diversity Pledge Really Means

If there are some women who are perfectly capable of learning to do the job, and they're being steered away from tech careers by well meaning guidance counselors because "vaginas!" then it is NOT an issue. Even if it *is* an issue of emphasizing genitals over ability, that is NOT "segregation," as the GGP poster stated.

It isn't "segregation", but it is discriminatory hiring practices. If we take the view that less qualified individuals should be hired on the basis that they are "perfectly capable of learning to do the job", then Intel and other companies shouldn't be targeting women, but high school drop-outs, illegal immigrant farm workers, and convicted felons who will be cheap and easy to find. Those groups are most certainly more under-represented than women in that field.

We can debate the merits of a strategy utilizing apprenticeships for certain jobs, but the fact is that there are plenty of people who don't need to learn to do the job who are looking for work. Until it comes to pass that that's no longer the case, then hiring anyone but the most qualified for the job, especially when race, sex, or other such factors are overriding job qualifications, is prejudicial and discriminatory and it ought to be illegal. That goes both ways; excluding women or minorities as well as excluding whites and males.

If we want fairness, let's have fairness; not unfairness in the other direction.

Comment: Re:Another silly decision (Score 2) 480

by Loki_1929 (#49036109) Attached to: The Mathematical Case For Buying a Powerball Ticket

That's true. But the banks weren't allowed to properly evaluate the risks.

Yes. And that's fair since it is the representatives of the taxpayer who forced the banks to ignore the risks and make the loans anyway. The Community Reinvestment Act was a legislative act that forced banks to make loans despite well-known and patently obvious risks. When a bank was required to include things like unemployment payments and ignore past credit histories when deciding which loans to approve (and how much money could be loaned), then those who forced the high risk loans should be the ones responsible when they fail.

That the "community activists" (ACORN, PUSH, etc.) jumped on the CRA bandwagon to threaten banks that didn't make enough risky loans with legal action is still a side-effect of the legislative regulations that our politicians enacted. Their actions led to the collapse. Be angry at them, not the people they forced to make the loans.

I mostly agree with you, but consider the fact that the CRA really only got the ball rolling. The banks were forced to take on vastly more risk than they ever would have under normal circumstances and the pressure to do more of that was only increasing. The banks responded to increasingly frightening balance sheets and risk management warnings by investigating ways of continuing to provide ill-advised loans forced upon them by CRA and public policy without carrying the risk long terms. In other words, they needed a dumping ground for terribly risky debt. But since they couldn't force recipients of such loans to pay fair market rates (even bad loans tend toward absurd when you start talking about 25%+ interest rates), so they had to unload risky AND underpriced debt to someone. But what fool would buy up massive amounts of such debt (you know, besides the government)?

The answer came when banks began talking with large investment firms. They came up with the right packaging and labeling to get the debts into much more reasonable looking form that investors could be suckered into buying. It looked good on paper, so long as you didn't have the whole paper, and the investment companies ensured nobody did (including their own auditors, accountants, risk management officers, compliance officers, etc). Even the ratings agencies and regulators got snapshots tailored to fit the story being told. It all looked legitimate from ground level and nobody got the 30,000 foot view necessary to see the whole house of cards.

The result was magical: suddenly banks could move literally any amount of terrible mortgage debt off their books (given sufficient time) and investment firms had a hot new product to sink their investors' cash into. When banks and investment firms no longer had to remain separate for regulatory compliance, the wheels got greased that much more and it was off to the races. When the .com bubble burst and suddenly there were hordes of investors looking for the next big thing, the whole show went straight to ludicrous speed. Suddenly the banks had zero reason to care who was buying what for how much. They took a cut, the loans were off their books in months or even weeks, the investment firms got a cut, investors got an investment that was paying solid and consistent returns, the CRA pushers at HUD and other places were thrilled, and people who never would have stood a chance at buying a home (for blindingly obvious reasons) suddenly had no trouble at all buying anything they wanted and much much more.

It got to the point where the banks ran out of the "just below the cut" people HUD was pushing and so they relaxed standards even further. "Just put whatever you want on that income line, we aren't going to check, and the bigger the number you write there, the bigger the house you'll get!" Fake income still not enough? How about interest-only that'll require twenty times your annual salary in seven years? Ridiculous? Doesn't matter; not our problem. Just refinance or something before then! Don't have a job? Fuck it! Approved! Homeless crack addict escaped from two prisons and a mental hospital? Approved! And the result was skyrocketing home "values". When everyone can buy regardless of the price, the price invariably goes up (see also: higher education and government-backed loans). Skyrocketing home values means instant equity. Can't pay the insane mortgage you never should have gotten? Take out another one, or a home equity loan, or various other means of squeezing imaginary cash out of the overpriced home you never should have been allowed to buy. Second rule in government spending: more debt can help you with your debt problem! (first rule is of course to always buy two at twice the price)

It really became a self-propelled system in that the investments that looked good from ground level held out far longer than they should have because the artificial scarcity enabled massively overburdened homeowners to keep their heads above water (but only from a purely localized and isolated point of view that's devoid from big-picture reality). And that's why it worked for so long.

In the end, while there were problems along the way, there was no single nefarious actor pulling the strings behind the curtain. The CRA got the ball rolling, but its intentions and the intentions of HUD were fairly pure (if misguided and a bit silly). The banks didn't want to do this in the first place, but take away the risk and provide a seemingly endless stream of cash and you'll have a tough time finding the financial entity who won't partake. The investment firms had customers with problems; one who had tons of cash but no more .coms to invest it in and another who had an "asset" they wanted to sell. They merely connected the two and took a cut off the top. Investors merely wanted to park their money somewhere and the firms they hired to enable them to do so did just that. The people coming in to buy houses got everything they wanted and more, for a time (but no dream can last if it isn't firmly planted in reality).

So who do you blame? Everyone to some extent. The CRA is responsible for getting this journey started, but the banks did knowingly enable truly absurd purchasing activity. The home buyers knew (or should have known) that they couldn't afford half million dollar homes on $30k salaries, regardless of what anyone might have told them. Common sense, for Christ sake. The investment firms connected eager sellers with willing buyers, but they knew they were helping push good money into bad assets. Investors, regulators, and ratings agencies ought to have taken the time and effort to get the whole picture into focus considering the amount of capital flying through this great machine. In retrospect, each was willfully ignorant so long as the machine kept running.

Some economists have downplayed the role of the CRA, but none have come up with a plausible explanation for what happened that takes into account the whole history of this process from development to crash and none of them fully account for basic human nature. This was nothing more than supply and demand, stimulus and response, hubris and willful naivete. In a mostly free market, when you push the right (or wrong) buttons, the market responds. If you're pushing the wrong buttons, the market response will not be what you intended at all. That's the risk one runs when one attempts to do central planning (via public policy) in a human society. Either push the buttons very lightly and carefully or have so much control over all responses that no amount of button mashing can result in too much damage. In the latter case, all the responses will be fairly lousy as the system itself will become increasingly ill, but your decline will be relatively well managed and steady.

We, the people, via public policy, made a choice. That choice kicked off a series of events that resulted in a massive system crash. As usual, nobody wants to take responsibility for it. What else is new?

Comment: Re:Similarity (Score 1) 425

by mekkab (#48971169) Attached to: One Man's Quest To Rid Wikipedia of Exactly One Grammatical Mistake
Mod Parent up, because I came to post this exact thing. In fact, the fascinating thing about Stealth Mountain is the amount of absolute abuse he 'suffers' from those who don't appreciate his corrections. And it's too bad he hasn't posted recently; I can't imagine it's due to a lack of tweet-fodder to work with!

Comment: Re:It's about entitlement for no work not guns (Score 1) 577

I would strongly disagree with that, but it's preferable to the absurd concept that the guys who'd just forcibly overthrown their oppressive government ensured that their new government had a monopoly on the instruments of force.

In other words, I don't have to show that my actual viewpoint is correct in order to demonstrate that his is incorrect. The idea that the "militia" consists of the US military and the National Guard is ridiculous and doesn't even have a basis in modern law; let alone colonial understanding.

Comment: Re:It's about entitlement for no work not guns (Score 2) 577

Yes and PI is 3.11 by law as well. Try again.

I would assume you're referring to the infamous Indiana state senate bill from 1897 in which an amateur mathematician attempted to have the state use his incorrect formulas to "square the circle", as it were. Firstly, that never became law. It was never even voted on in the Senate because after 30 minutes of laughing at the bill for being absurd, it was indefinitely tabled as a waste of time and money.

You also missed the "well regulated", and since gun clubs are opposed to regulation I'd be interested in how you weasel out of that one.

I most certainly did not miss "well regulated". The Oxford English Dictionary from the time that phrase was penned ought to help you understand why it doesn't help your argument. That can be found here: http://www.constitution.org/co...

Even without the help of the Oxford English Dictionary, one should be able to discern that a group of men who'd just used their personal firearms to overthrow their oppressive government would not mean to secure the right of the government - rather than the people - to keep and bear arms. That's absurd. One does not use firearms to overthrow an oppressive government only to turn around and insist that only the government should have firearms. It's a farcical view of history. Something like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?...

I learned how to fire a rifle at nine but I see it as a tool and not a flag or penis substitute.

Of course it's a tool. It's as much a tool as a hammer or a screwdriver or any other. However, its uses can be vastly more important. That doesn't elevate it to something beyond a tool and it should never be treated as anything but (with the obvious exception being as a collector's piece in some circumstances). However, it being a tool which can be used to secure freedom, life, and other basic human rights, the government cannot and must not deprive the people of it through force of law or otherwise.

Comment: Re:Regulation, more regulation, only lawyers win (Score 2) 224

by Loki_1929 (#48956611) Attached to: Nuclear Safety Push To Be Softened After US Objections

Only reason it didn't go Chernobyl was

No, it didn't go Chernobyl because it couldn't, regardless of what anyone did or failed to do. The Fukushima Daini plant reactors are all BWRs, utilizing a negative void coefficient. The original RBMK-1000 reactor design used at Chernobyl used a void coefficient of 4.7ß. The physics of the reactor designs are entirely different and while the situation at Fukushima Daini was terrible and nearly every possible human error in both planning and operation was committed, it was also about as bad as it can get in any reasonable reactor design. As such, when everything went to Hell, it didn't go Chernobyl and it didn't cause any mass fatalities.

Learn something about nuclear reactor design before pontificating on how close something was to "going Chernobyl".

Comment: Re:It's about entitlement for no work not guns (Score 4, Interesting) 577

Would it blow your mind to know that current US Federal law defines the militia as "all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard"?

Seriously, it's 10 U.S. Code 311 - Militia: composition and classes

Comment: Re:The sad part? (Score 5, Insightful) 577

Do you really believe a shotgun will deter the most powerful military machine the world has ever known from doing whatever the fuck it wants to do? Fact is, if they truly wanted to "trample your rights" they would have been trampled already.

Actually, history has proven that no military, no matter how powerful, no matter how brutal, can ever conquer an armed civilian population. It's a lesson the Soviets learned in Afghanistan, one we re-learned in Afghanistan, one everyone learned in Iraq, and one the British learned when their colonies rose up and demanded independence.

Think about it for a moment: the Declaration of Independence was a formal declaration of treason against the Crown, which at the time controlled the most powerful military machine the world had ever known. That open declaration of treason was signed not by a battle-hardened group of freedom fighters with CIA training, but by a group of farmers, doctors, and lawyers. Those same farmers, doctors, and lawyers beat that most powerful military machine in the world multiple times over the course of decades until finally they were left to do as they wished. The Soviets thought that maybe modern technology would make a difference, so they tried carpet bombing the Afghans into oblivion and eventually had to give up and run away. The US thought that maybe more modern technology and better tactics would make a difference, but the Taliban is still there and we're resigned to the fact that they always will be.

You see, so long as a group is willing to fight and die for their cause, and so long as they're sufficiently well armed, it doesn't matter how big and bad your military is. It doesn't matter how many of their fellow citizens they're willing to murder before they decide to turn 'round and shoot in the other direction. So long as people can organize themselves and have the means to exert force, a popular movement is unstoppable. A single guy with a shotgun is no match for a fully equipped military. A fully equipped military is no match for a pissed off populace armed with shotguns, handguns, semi-automatic rifles, and other instruments of war. And the idea isn't to rejoice at the opportunity to live through such a Hellish conflict, but rather to ensure that the government doesn't cross that line into oppression which would trigger such a thing.

I hate to bring it up because I don't think it's a great example of a good David versus a bad Goliath (i.e. the "little guy's" argument and methods leave a lot to be desired in this case), but the Bundy Standoff is most certainly an example of how suddenly government agents who are used to being able to use force to perform their duties get real polite real quick when met with an opposing force of dedicated and armed individuals. That's not to say that the Federal government lacks the resources to do whatever it wants by force at that ranch, but a bloody use of force on American soil has historically created a major backlash among the people (e.g. Waco, Ruby Ridge, etc) and raises the risk that additional incidents like it could spark serious unrest.

Which leaves the government in a challenging position. It can back down and work toward a peaceful resolution that doesn't risk bloodshed, it can tell its agents to use whatever force is necessary to do their job and have huge shootouts broadcast live on CNN, or it can send in Apache gunships to kill everyone who opposes them live on CNN. They (thankfully) elected to go with the least risky option of working everything out peacefully. But can you imagine the social unrest if you'd had CNN broadcasting Federal troops firing on (or slaughtering, as in the crazy overreaction option) American citizens on US soil over a land dispute? There would have been Congressional hearings, investigations, mass resignations, possibly indictments, etc. And if the government didn't do all that and basically told the people to go f themselves, the resulting unrest would be vastly worse.

Comment: Re:Won't be enough (Score 1) 176

Nothing you saw can stop Chernobyl from being something that happened,

The fact that the reactor at Chernobyl had a runaway reaction which resulted in a number of deaths is not in question. The relevance of an experimental military reactor using an inherently unstable design in a discussion on the safety of civilian power plants is.

the risk of it happening is part of the equation.

No it isn't. Chernobyl happened for a number of reasons, but ultimately, regardless of failures of equipment or operational mistakes on the ground, the fundamental issue was with the original design of the RBMK-1000 reactors and its high positive void coefficient. This was the only reactor design in the history of nuclear reactors to use a void coefficient nearly so high. Of the few designs that have ever existed that use one that's positive at all, it's so small that the passive safety systems (the ones which work without power or human intervention) protect the functioning of the plant and the simultaneous failure of all active and passive safety mechanisms can never (per physics) result in a Chernobyl level of criticality.

Understand what a void coefficient is in a nuclear reactor and how it applies to former and current reactor designs, then you'll understand why an incident like what we saw in Chernobyl simply isn't possible.

You blame politics, etc., well guess what: you don't get to choose the future politics of the world. That is the level of failure that exists, that is known.

I never once mentioned "politics". I have no idea what you're talking about here. Perhaps you're confusing this with another post by someone else.

That you want to write it off and have history somehow "not count" shows a deep disregard for reality; for the part of reality that has already happened, and that really should have better vision than just the covering of eyes.

That's some lovely poetic language, but it completely distorts what I've said. I'm not trying to write off what happened at Chernobyl. I don't think the military should be building experimental and inherently unstable nuclear reactors near civilian populations and then pushing them to their limits with extremely risk experiments. If you put that on a petition, I'll sign it. If the government wants to do it, I'll protest it. But I don't think that incidents that happen with experimental military reactors have any relevance to a discussion on the safety of civilian power plants. That's like questioning the safety of high school chemistry labs because some meth heads blew themselves up with their home meth lab.

And I noticed you completely ignored the simple fact that watt for watt, nuclear power has been shown to be orders of magnitude safer (even when you include experimental military reactors that went awry) than all other forms of power production. I can only imagine that's because it was evidence that didn't fit with your world view. I would encourage you to expand your horizons and do some research into nuclear power plants instead of taking the Greenpeace talking points at face value. In fact, why not listen to some of the founders of Greenpeace who've come to realize the simple truth that nuclear power is the safest and best solution to our energy needs? If you can't be swayed by new information and evidence, then what you're advocating is more of a religious philosophy.

Comment: Re:Won't be enough (Score 1) 176

It's about as contested as the validity of the Theory of Evolution and the effectiveness of childhood vaccines in that there are people who claim it not to be true in spite of massive amount of empirical evidence.

First, is nuclear power safer than other methods of power generation? Yes, by orders of magnitude.
http://www.forbes.com/sites/ja...
http://nextbigfuture.com/2011/...

Second, Chernobyl (which is included in the evidence presented above). Chernobyl was a reactor that served two purposes for the Soviets. First, it was used to experiment on the capabilities and the limitations of the RBMK-1000 reactor series (this is what caused the disaster there). Second, it was used to produce weaponized materials for nuclear weapons for the Soviet military. As it produced power and that power needed to go somewhere, it was connected to the grid and added supply to nearby communities. Now I could get into the fact that the RBMK-1000 was one of the only reactor designs ever constructed that used a high positive void coefficient and that since that disaster, every single nuclear reactor in the world has been either designed or modified to not do that. I could get into the fact that the disaster that happened there (runaway reaction) isn't possible anywhere else without breaking the laws of physics due to the design of the plants (regardless of any safety features - it's a physical limitation of the design itself). But I think you should do your own research on those things.

Suffice it to say that Chernobyl is included in the numbers proving that nuclear power is the safest form of power production ever utilized by mankind and that it's arguable that it shouldn't be (which would only improve the numbers above for nuclear). Whichever way you stand on that point of contention (whether or not an experimental military facility operating a reactor design known to be unstable and dangerous in such a way that it was regularly pushed to its design tolerances should be included in a list of civilian nuclear power plant accidents), nuclear still comes out way ahead in the basic math. It's merely a matter of how many orders of magnitude its safety record exceeds that of other power production methods.

There's nothing unclear about over half a century of safety record that demonstrates an exceedingly safe technology. There's nothing unclear about the fact that if you care about human life, nuclear is the only option and that if you care about the environment, nuclear is the only good option that can handle base load. You can contest whether gravity exists all day long, but if you jump off a desk, you're going to fall to the floor every time.

Reality is that which is still there regardless of how much you wish it weren't so.

Comment: Re:Won't be enough (Score 1) 176

much less establish a track record of nuclear safety.

Do you realize that nuclear power - with everything that people have done wrong with it - is by far the safest method of producing energy (clean, dirty, or otherwise) that mankind has ever developed? Literally nothing, including wind or solar, is safer. Nothing is. Even if you choose to include Chernobyl (which was an experimental reactor used as a weapons research lab that happened to produce electricity for nearby communities), it's still by far safer than any other source.

So let's talk about risk and let's be real about it. The other sources of power are killing human beings; actually killing them (not just pretend in somebody's head killing them). Nuclear, even 1950s nuclear, is vastly safer. That's demonstrably the case with decades of clear evidence.

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