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Comment Re:And it all comes down to greed (Score 1) 585

actually, anyone in a regular car generally pays for their fair share of road maintenance. It is all large trucks that do not, as road damage goes as the 4th power of axle weight but fuel consumption does not. So most light weight mid sized sedans pay way beyond what they should, while tractor trailers pay well under what they should.

Comment Re:Not the right tool (Score 4, Interesting) 144

really depends on use case. Our spreadsheets (finance, derivatives) can get damn big, but there are 3 reasons they persist: ease of modification, speed of the interface, and easy integration with powerful analytics libraries we use.

Now I have functioned in a python based environment before, and that had some huge benefits (especially when working on tick level data, or data that was just a pain to manage in VBA until I got output down to a reasonably visualizable size) , and I regularly push for trade level data and details to be put off into a SQL database as it is pretty easy to write flexible queries to get what I want out. But visualizing data, interacting with historic data (user forms for display), generally integrating with many other financial libraries (bloomberg and reuters for realtime, internal quant libraries for complex calculations), and having a fast interface out of the box is amazing.

I've been at places that have tried to replace excel as the interaction layer. The problem is, for all its problems, most coders cannot hack together, on their own, a better GUI that is as performant or easily interacted with. Sometimes it isn't the data analysis layer (which if at all possible, we like to farm off somewhere else for perofrmance), but everything else that makes the spreadsheet far superior. And of course, I can modify and adapt someone else's work far faster than anyone using code. On a regular basis I can build up a complete tool in excel 10-20x faster than any coder can write me something outside of it. And most of the time a 95% correct answer in 1 hour is far more useful than a 100% correct answer in 3 days.

Now saying that, once the office ribbon started, that was the beginning of the end. Slowly the interface is getting too clunky to waste my time with when it was the simplest things I required. Now I try to do a lot of my work in a proper coding language and write out files I can parse quickly in vba and display in excel.

Comment Re:TNSTAAFL (Score 2) 272

then you don't advertise unlimited without a clear explanation of those reasonable limits.

In every other country I have been in, that is what they do. Buffets set a time limit on the table (usually 90 minutes or so, else people actually come in there and can sit all day).

When I get a cell phone plan, they say unlimited data usage but if your data usage goes over X in any rolling window (was 3 days on my last one) your speed will be throttled from whatever the network can handle to Y. Once that period of high use rolls out of the window, you are restored.

Only in the US do they advertise unlimited, promise you a certain speed as long as the network isn't congested, and then refuse to admit they are actually throttling you or tell you under what auspices they have throttled you. It's a real pain in the ass actually that they are allowed to have unwritten rules that you are supposed to just acquiesce to and that are not stated explicitly in your contract.

Comment Re:Eventually - but the lies do real damage meanwh (Score 1) 444

it was a perfect storm. The original paper had only one author come out against the MMR, and originally, before he probably realized how much money he could make becoming a vaccine denier, he only came out against the triple vaccine and suggested reverting to individual ones until further study was done. Then of course he realized a fool and his money can be easily parted, and he became a real issue. Had he not walked down that path, and stuck to only saying the triple may be problematic and moving back to the individuals was fine, he wouldn't have been quite as ostracized.

Considering how troubled the MMR triple roll out was (see problems with the vaccine in Japan for example, a strain issue) it compounded an already worrisome issue. And of course, Measles had been mostly removed from the population as the inidividual vaccine had been around quite a while, and a generation of parents hadn't experienced it, so when the triple hit in the early 90s, it was a "new" vaccine for a disease people hadn't experienced in decades.

A lot contributed to the fear mongering, and now lots of bad information exacerbates the problem.

Comment Re:The real problem is... (Score 1) 190

actually in many countries it is that black and white, what you mean to say is "in the US where companies want the ability to mail you a credit card without doing any verification, it doesn't work".

in most countries I have lived besides the US, it takes 2-3 weeks, and 2-3 forms of separate, verified information for me to get a credit card (or open a bank account). Now that isn't representative of a majority of countries in the world, but I can at least talk about 3 other first world countries that have active banking systems and credit markets without nearly as many holes for identity theft.

Actually, the last time I did it, it required my passport, work visa, proof of home address via a public utility bill, and a letter of employment from my employer which needed to validate my address, work status, and name for a bank account. The credit card could be done remotely, but I had to mail copies of this all in, and get the copies certified for some documents (namely, ID documents).

Sure, it's a bit of a pain in the ass. But then again, no country ever had its economy grind to a halt because it took a week to get a personal credit card.

Comment Re:Same in the UK (Score 1) 190

if you get to know the inside of collection agencies, you'll see why. Ebay sends bulk data on delinquent accounts to a collector, that collector then is paid purely as a percent of the money he collects for you. Ebay has 0 costs involved in this beyond sending data to the collections company. It's also why you may keep getting called for the same delinquent account.

But, beyond sending it to a collector, they aren't going to spend the time and money of their employees' to get that money. It's too expensive in effort and paperwork, if not just salaries. Collection agencies make their money by specializing and pooling together delinquent accounts from tons of companies (hospitals, doctors offices, ebay, etc, etc) and applying the same high pressure tactics that can be scripted to get as many to pay something as possible.

Comment Re:Get over it (Score 2) 190

yep, I had a citibank issued card years ago. And a couple months after canceling it someone got hold of the info (didn't fish it out of the trash, I hold all old cards for quite a while before dumping them) and started charging it.

Citi had a rule that even though it is a canceled card, if any charges come in during the next 3 months, they will automatically reactivate the card. well a few months later I got a letter saying I was months behind and when I called, they said this was standard policy. When I tried fighting them, they reported me as delinquent. Lucky I have money and don't need credit for any big purchases in the US, else I'd have been screwed. It took 3 years of fighting them to get it corrected and probably 60+ hours of my time. Because, even once they finally admit they f'ed up and clear the account, you are probably stuck with all the leg work of contacting each credit bureau to confirm they corrected the record (they didn't' at 2 of them and I had to do a bunch of back and forth getting letters that it was an error) and then contacting any credit issuer who may be giving you bad terms because of it (easy for me, less so if you have a large number of loans).

Comment Re:yep. Calling is wrong 70% of the time. Better i (Score 1) 93

if I understand, it is playing 4 heads up matches simultaneously. It is losing in 3 of the matches, and winning in 1. To even be winning in 1 is pretty damn amazing though, as I'm sure they don't lose to anyone who isn't damn good. It also looks like a second match could swing back its way. Nothing certain as they are only half way done, but this computer is doing damn well. I'm sure if I played 20 top level players in heads up, no limit, I would lose against all 20 by a pretty damn large margin.

Comment Re: Technology allows (Score 1) 636

this isn't uncommon in the arab oil countries even 30 years ago, but now it is getting very rare. it's more complicated than "the government pays". You have to remember just 1-2 generations ago, they were all dirt poor. Having lots of children usually slowly shrinks to having 2-4 then finally 0-2. And of course, you were listening to someone who really doesn't know what they are talking about, and going by (most likely) a couple of people they know. The fertility rate in Kuwait is 2.6. This is significantly higher than other countries with their income, but in the last 50 years it is down from over 7. The national shock of the Iraq invasion stopped the collapse in the fertility rate, but had it continued, it could easily have tracked with the emirates to 1.8.

Comment Re: Mind games (Score 1) 89

That's because chess and poker are different. In chess all players know the complete state and the best move is to make the beat move possible, regardless of what your opponent may be thinking.

This is why poker is harder. Chess isn't an AI problem,because it does not need to learn about the nature of your play. The engine need merely take the board and solve for the best move. But a good poker AI must find a way to infer your thinking patterns else it is just playing an odds game and will dump excess information about its own hand every betting round.

Comment Re:I don't know what to think (Score 1) 407

the opium experience of china, first, was unique in many respects and was not repeated in any other country, and second is a great example of why governments should not be taxing, especially for general fund uses, any vice. Even the Maoists, the occupying Japanese, and the standing governments for over 100 years derived most of their funds from opium taxes. The Opium wars themselves were complex, and opium imports were not the only reason (note that by the time of the second war, or soon after, domestic production of opium in 19th century China dwarfed imports, Opium was a major economic engine of the country).

And of course, both Opium wars were fought, and lost, not because China was going broke from importing opium, but because the british desperately needed to export opium because they were going broke buying Chinese goods. By the second opium war, even with open opium trade, the British were importing 9x their exports to China (primarily Opium on a silver basis). China, contrary to the common story, was richer than sin and Opium was basically where they were spending all those riches they were sucking from the Brits. Losses were primarily due to the fact China had withered when it became insular after sending out its great fleet and seeing the rest of the world as backwards. It turns out you spend centuries not competing, you will collapse.

For a counter example of society functioning fine, there are estimates that 19th century America had as many opium addicts as we had Heroin addicts at the turn of the millennium. Think about that. Across a much much smaller population, there was heroin dependence on a large scale and yet not only did society function, but it thrived.

Opium usage through out the world points to a pretty self regulating outcome (as in, just like a virus can't kill all humans if it needs humans as a host, opium can't bring down all of society because addicts usually are not capable of influencing said society to make opium more available). And while you can point to the complexities of China as a great warning (as I said, I would not use taxes on these things to fund, say, schools, or medicare, or any such effort because of it) it is pretty unique in showing us a failing society because of widespread opium/heroin (and that assumes you believe Opium was the cause of their problems and not their complete lack of ability to compete with the west). Many of the things Europeans forced on China they forced on Japan as well, without opium as a trigger or a lever.

yes, I'm aware this was quite rambling. it is late, and as your response wasn't filled with righteous indignation about your moral superiority, I thought it would be interesting to reply. apologies for the horrible writing.

Comment Re:I don't know what to think (Score 1) 407

there is nothing teenage about it, but I can forgive the fact that you have little knowledge of history and drug use across the millennia, or even a couple hundred years. Society, not just the US or western society but all societies, have had drug use going back far longer than prohibition. And almost all of these countries offered no services to those who found themselves addicted. Just like alcohol, they dealt with it via a series of punishments for those who broke other laws.

Your view isn't invalid, you just gloss over all the assumptions you make, as if they are fundamental or required of a functioning society. It's a pretty common error when people are faced with a suggestion to do things radically different. I personally see absolutely nothing cruel about warning someone against doing drugs because it will lead to a life of poverty, addiction, and early death and then making them face the consequences of their decisions when the turkey comes home to roost. But then, I don't believe it is government's job to try and regulate away stupidity. You obviously believe it is part of government/societies job to regulate away any decisions you deem bad (based on your value system, which again I'm not saying is invalid, just is an assumption). I don't because I feel it fails on a regular basis and leads to the truly detrimental actions of bias being used to determine who gets helps (you know, how a nice middle class white girl caught with heroine goes in for drug treatment and the black male goes in for narcotics distribution). I'm far more scared of prosecutorial discretion in a world with lots of laws and special carve outs than a few drug addicts running around. It didn't bring down 19th century society, or 18th. I figure we will survive it in the 21st.

Comment Re: republicrats (Score 1) 209

There has been amazing commentary on why this is. The largest, and most unified group of republican voters are evangelical Christians and within that group, the existance of Israel is seem as a prerequisite to the second coming.

Being all for Israel is a less controversial stance than many others that still panders to a key bloc.

You cannot have a science without measurement. -- R. W. Hamming