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Comment: Re:Proper risk management (Score 1) 372

by guanxi (#48224009) Attached to: NY Doctor Recently Back From West Africa Tests Positive For Ebola

How is suspending flights to Liberia a "high opportunity cost"?

Is the economy going to turn down because somebody cannot get to Monrovia?

My understanding is that it wouldn't protect us, so it would be a needless distraction, a waste of limited leadership attention, and false comfort.

Instead of making decisions from fear and sensationalist news broadcasts, let's study what really works and do that. This field has been studied very carefully for a long time, so let's see what the people who study it have to say.

Comment: Re:Proper risk management (Score 1) 372

by guanxi (#48223935) Attached to: NY Doctor Recently Back From West Africa Tests Positive For Ebola

Since at least August the CDC has been spouting the line "We know how to control Ebola" yet months later we were caught with our CDC protocols around our ankles. So far that mistake appears not to have snowballed in the US.

The evidence says it is not a risk in the US and that the protocols, while not perfect, worked. The 3 people in the US infected no others (except a health care worker). Consider that the health care worker worked in a hospital, closely interacting with all their co-workers, and was out in public, etc. -- and nobody else got infected.

You are starting with a predetermined conclusion, that Ebola is a great threat to the country, and calling all the evidence and expertise wrong.

In the world of public health, people unfortunately die. We don't provide enough resources to treat all preventable deaths. Is it better to spend $1 million preventing 1 death from Ebola than to spend it preventing 10 from heart disease (or probably even more from Malaria or TB)?

Let's save as many people as possible, and not let more needlessly die because we are too afraid to think straight.

Comment: Proper risk management (Score 2) 372

by guanxi (#48218417) Attached to: NY Doctor Recently Back From West Africa Tests Positive For Ebola

1) What is the likelihood of harm?
2) If harm occurs, what is the cost?
3) What is the cost of preventing harm, including the opportunity cost?

And allocate resources accordingly. In this case:

1) Extremely low. Approx. 3 people in the US have Ebola; all were in West Africa or treated someone already very ill. Nobody else in the US has been infected by these people (again, except someone providing health care to one of them). You are at much greater risk of heart disease, cancer, traffic accidents, hospital error, crime, and probably even lightening strikes and bee stings.

2) The cost is very high, including a substantial risk of death.

3) The cost is easily affordable for the US, but the opportunity cost is higher: The United States and the world have limited health care resources. For example, there's a good chance that many of the resources (doctors and money) would save many more lives and better protect US citizens by addressing heart disease (via prevention, treatment, or research) or controlling the outbreak in W. Africa than by responding to public panic.

I think you'll find that many experts in these fields will say that the panic is the greatest risk, greater than the disease.

Comment: Re:This could be political too (Score 1) 274

by guanxi (#47309019) Attached to: China Starts Outsourcing From<nobr> <wbr></nobr>... the US

That's just one example, and they do make their mistakes (as does everyone). Here are some successes:

  * Bloomberg and other news organizations openly refuse to publish reports critical of the Chinese government.
  * Major US universities sacrifice academic freedom in order to get funding for Confucius Institutes
  * Hollywood films that you may have watched last night are written and edited to appease Chinese censors.
  * Norway's government refused to meet the Dalai Lama, to appease China.
  * Taiwan has diplomatic relations with few countries, because they don't want to anger China.

Comment: This could be political too (Score 3, Interesting) 274

by guanxi (#47308493) Attached to: China Starts Outsourcing From<nobr> <wbr></nobr>... the US

The Chinese government is very strategic about creating 'soft power' (political, cultural, economic, and diplomatic influence; as opposed to 'hard power', which is typically military force or economic sanctions). Look up Confucius Institutes and the Three Warfares, for example. China also uses its market power to get what it wants politically; look up how Hollywood studios allow Chinese censors to edit their movies (and not just for Chinese distribution).

It's not a new idea to use jobs to create influence. Government contractors locate jobs in the districts of key members of Congress in order to get votes; when Japan's auto industry was viewed as a threat, the built factories in the U.S.

In the locations where Chinese companies are placing jobs, how likely is it that the people or their representatives will support sanctions, force, or any actions detrimental to China?

(China isn't the only country to do such things, of course, but they have a lot of money, an aggressive outlook, and their government has a lot of involvement with and influence over their businesses.)

Comment: Re:Boring and repetitive? (Score 1) 394

by guanxi (#46935937) Attached to: Richard Stallman Answers Your Questions

He's apparently super paranoid (worried about the government eavesdropping on your cell phone calls and tracking you? Wishing for a pager so that you could perfectly control how much tracking information you give when you answer your phone? Jesus christ, get over yourself!)

I'm not sure there is broad consensus that it is "super-paranoid" to not want to be tracked, or to have end-user control of your data. You may disagree, but many people think that it should be the norm.

Is the government interested in RMS (and did he mention the government? Maybe he meant businesses, who certainly want to track him and everyone else?) I have no idea. Periodically it comes out -- in serious publications, not conspiracy websites -- that one government agency or another tracks seemingly harmless groups and people, especially those oriented toward human rights or some sort of radicalism, so it certainly is not paranoid to think it is possible.

Comment: Re:do they have a progressive view? (Score 3, Interesting) 336

by guanxi (#46791693) Attached to: Detroit: America's Next Tech Boomtown

It may seem to fit that partisan narrative, but you don't really know Detroit politics. The Big Three run Detroit, in any meaningful sense. The economy of the city is completely dependent on them, and as auto company jobs have declined since the 1950s, so has Detroit. GM just went bankrupt and Chrysler nearly did; it's hard to blame that on local Detroit politics.

Race problems have been huge. Much of the city's talent was effectively barred from eduction, productive employment, or decent housing for a long time. The riots in 1967 did not come from a vacuum, but from decades of oppression by the white population. You probably haven't read about the riots that would happen when a black person dared to move into a white neighborhood. George Wallace (former Alabama governor and ardent segregationist) won the 1968 Democratic primary in the city!

If you really want to understand Detroit and urban politics, and the role of race, read this history (which won the Bancroft Prize, among others):

The Origins of the Urban Crisis by Thomas Sugrue

Comment: Re:Depends on if it is in aggregate. (Score 1) 93

by guanxi (#46791543) Attached to: How Nest and FitBit Might Spy On You For Cash

Will they care? It all depends on the data being shared is in aggregate. I don't care if people know that the average person in my city walks a thousand steps a day, and that still has a lot of value for health care companies, and I'm happy to contribute to that. I *DO* care if they know the details about me *individually*. There is a big difference.

That data is worth a lot more than you think, and they can learn a lot more about you as an individual. Also, knowing the value of that data, why give it away?

Comment: Everyone who can spy on you, will (Score 2) 93

by guanxi (#46791533) Attached to: How Nest and FitBit Might Spy On You For Cash

Isn't it obvious at this point that everyone who can spy on you, will? There is no legal regulation, or simple pragmatic or moral restraint.

Remember Obama saying about the NSA, 'maybe just because we can gather some data doesn't mean we should' (paraphrased). It doesn't seem like others are even thinking about it, except Mozilla.

Comment: The spoils are for the elite (Score 1) 581

by guanxi (#46725941) Attached to: Michael Bloomberg: You Can't Teach a Coal Miner To Code

I don't know about Bloomberg in particular, but it now seems almost common wisdom among the elite that college isn't for everyone and now skills like programming aren't either.

While those words are true, what they mean in practice is that 'not for everyone' means 'not for the poor and working class' (poverty is a strong predictor of college eduction). I bet Bloomberg's kids go to college and he wouldn't doubt his non-technical buddies' ability to learn to code based on their job descriptions

What happened to the American Dream? Where is the land of opportunity, where anyone can succeed if they work hard enough? Apparently, Bloomberg et al believe that only the elite live in that land and that we should abandon that dream for the working class and poor. Why don't they just accept their places?

Comment: Re:Infighting: Linux's biggest weakness (Score 1) 155

by guanxi (#46587217) Attached to: Canonical's Troubles With the Free Software Community

NOTHING on linux even close to a real business accounting package

Try Moneydance, which is close to QuickBooks for a small business, depending on your needs:
http://moneydance.com/

In my limited experience it's well-designed, well-supported, and geek-friendly (extensible with Python, open API, etc.). It appears to be multi-user but I've never tried that feature.

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