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Comment: Re:From the outside... (Score 1) 659

by lars_stefan_axelsson (#48874573) Attached to: US Senate Set To Vote On Whether Climate Change Is a Hoax

Look at the EU and their policy on GMO. It is ENTIRELY fear based.

Sure. But it's not fear of GMO as such. It's fear of American companies saying "Trust us, would we lie to you?"

Only half joking...

P.S. And the last thing Europe needs is even more food production. We don't know what to do with all the stuff we're growing/making as it is.

Comment: Re:"undercutting a private sector unable to keep u (Score 1) 158

No, I don't keep using the word "natural monopoly" other than to tell people that the concept is bullshit.

So you are of the opinion that in (for example) industries with large fixed investments such as water distribution, electrical distribution etc. that the most efficient use of resources would be to have multiple companies competing for the same customers? That is, that there would naturally develop a situation where multiple companies would lay roads, or water/sewage lines, or electrical lines to your house, and that that would lead to a more efficient use of resources? (E.g. lower total cost for the system(s), lower cost of providing the service, and lower prices for the consumers?)

Nobody has ever demonstrated the existence of a permanent natural monopoly in anything.

Just a cursory googling for example brought up: Are Municipal Electricity Distribution Utilities Natural Monopolies?, Massimo Filippini, Annals of Public and Cooperative Economics Volume 69, Issue 2, pages 157â"174, June 1998, DOI: 10.1111/1467-8292.00077. Which points to that quite nicely. I.e. both natural monopoly and "permanent", i.e. have been so for a long time. (Of course any human endeavour isn't "permanent"). (Sorry, can't help you with full text access, you'll have to use your own library.)

Comment: Re:Teams are overrated anyway (Score 1) 219

by lars_stefan_axelsson (#48857307) Attached to: Why Some Teams Are Smarter Than Others

Turing I know less about, but I know that he also worked as part of a team, and many of his brilliant ideas built upon the work of those around him.

Alonzo Church and (to a lesser extent) Kurt Goedel immediately comes to mind. Church was Turing's thesis advisor at Princeton and Goedel was there at the same time.

Turing's biography by Andrew Hodges is a very good read and lists many more collaborators and friends. Turing most certainly didn't exist in a vacuum.

Comment: Re:Communication skills (Score 3, Informative) 219

by lars_stefan_axelsson (#48856679) Attached to: Why Some Teams Are Smarter Than Others

Then there are the Germans who refuse to take orders from female voices to the extent that GPS manufacturers have to make special male recordings for those markets. Was that a factor during WWII as well?

No, it was the other way around. When the British started doing "Funk spielen" mainly with German nightfighter controllers (breaking into the circuit and giving false or conflicting orders etc.) the Germans answered by using female intercept operators exclusively as there was no female British personell flying in combat. This promted the British to bring their own female operators along for the ride, aso.

Many other advantages are reported from having female ground control officers, for example easily being able to hear if the communication is from your fellow (male) pilots on that frequency or from ground control. (Yes, call signs are meant to do that, but voice differences that carry over radio give a more secure and faster way of determining the sender).

When it comes to automated voice messages in the cockpit I seem to remember USAF research in the F-16 time frame, that showed that female voices ("pull up") were preferable to male voices, due to better legibility and easier distinction against all the male pilot voices on the radio. The best effect was reportedly had by having a very young female (child) voice, think 8-9 year old, but that was never implemented due to the creapiness factor. But I can't find any reference to this research when Googling, and wikipedia says that new research points to this result being less stable today than what it was.

Comment: Re:"Lack of understanding"? (Score 1) 48

by lars_stefan_axelsson (#48837703) Attached to: $freaks++

Well, I am certainly no fan of watching the US get more corporate and more conservative with each passing year. I'm not exactly steaming over with anger, though.

No, it's time for the pendlum to start swinging back, that's for certain. But to be clear, I was reserving the righteous anger for the plea bargaining based justice system in particular, not the whole mess. Many parts of which just merits a "meh", for sure.

And I actually am conservative, in the litteral sense of the word, but being from Sweden that means "social democrat". ;-)

Comment: Re:"Lack of understanding"? (Score 1) 48

by lars_stefan_axelsson (#48818007) Attached to: $freaks++

Sure. While I wouldn't necessarily call Swartz an "idiot", as I do agree with his sentiment. He probably broke the law and should expect punishment (that's what civil disobedience is all about). And the firing of the prosecutor is as you say neither here nor there, as long as we both agree that all other aspects of this case is overshadowed by a "justice" system that encourages and makes possible a factor of a hundred difference in an accepted and sought punishment. No effort should be spared in dismantling such a system.

P.S. Have you figured out what put the "conservatives" on my "foo" list? ;-)

Comment: Re:Uninterested people aren't worth it (Score 1) 480

by lars_stefan_axelsson (#48804695) Attached to: How Bitcoin Could Be Key To Online Voting

I'm sure there are many more reasons.

How about, without proportional representation and rampant gerrymandering, the vote won't "count" anyway?

And another thing that's always surprised me, you vote on a work day, right? For example, in Sweden we always vote on a Sunday, when most people are off from work and actually have (more) time to go to the polls. (And the voter traffic is more spread out as well, reducing waiting time).

Comment: Re:"Lack of understanding"? (Score 1) 48

by lars_stefan_axelsson (#48792109) Attached to: $freaks++

Yes. Scale matters. No argument there.

That said, I am a big proponent of proportional representation as opposed to the first-past-the-post system of both the US and Britain. I think that would both solve the problem of gerrymandering and increase voter turnout, at least at the local level. How to scale that to the national level, where you have so (relatively speaking) few representatives per area, I don't know. The system kind of breaks down there as if you only have one or two representatives for an entire state, then a lot of opinions aren't going to be heard/represented...

Comment: Re:"Lack of understanding"? (Score 1) 48

by lars_stefan_axelsson (#48792037) Attached to: $freaks++

However, I'm skeptical about whether the Swedes can really whip organizational behavior. But by all means: school me. :-)

Well, we haven't had any major cases of regulatory capture yet for example. (With a possible exception in the nuclear industry, that was pounced upon quite quickly though). Rather, we haven't had any yet I should say... :-) Watch this space. One major reason (dare I say difference?) is that working for the government is still a sought after position, that attracts if not the very best, at least still very good people. How/if this will change I don't know.

However, we're not nearly as homogeneous as we once were (only thirty years ago), and how that will play out will be interesting to see. Since the Norwegians and Finns are still very homogeneous there will be opportunities for comparison in the long run.

P.S. And just for the record, Swedes are known for a distinct lack of a sense of our history. At least we think we are, whether that holds up to an international comparison I don't know. :-)

Comment: Re:"Lack of understanding"? (Score 1) 48

by lars_stefan_axelsson (#48787005) Attached to: $freaks++

Sure. I'll bite. The problem is with a justice system based on plea bargaining run amok (I had a nice reference, but I can't find it...) This leads to a justice system where almost no cases go to trial as the risk for the defendant is much too high since the prosecutor will often skew the risk by offering a sentence reduction of a factor of twenty or more (in the case of Aaron Swartz an even one hundred!)

Any prosecutor that feels that society is safe and justice is served if a defendant agrees to six months in prison, but will call for fifty years as a punishment for going to trial, should be (at a minimum) fired, and a system that thinks this a reasonable approach to meter out justice should be taken out back behind the shed and be put out of its misery.

This leads of course to many innocent people pleading "guilty" (note that the quotation marks are real as you even have that abomination called the "Alford plea" where you can plead "guilty but not really". WTF?)

Now, if for practicalitys sake you wanted to sugar the deal to entice the guilty to confess, then sure, you could argue for a deduction. Say 10% or 15% or something. Not 99%...

In Sweden at the moment we have no plea bargaining, no immunity from prosecution for in turn for providing evidence/being a witness, no juries (laypeople take their place, that sit for a set term and hence can gain some experience), no electing judges and prosecutors (last place on earth you want a politician), and the state provides for your defence (i.e. they pay the lawyer of your choice according to set standards, we don't have any public defenders or something like it).

Now, there is pressure to change that, as we're always looking to what the US does, esp. when it comes to pleas and immunity. You can guess the political persuasion of those shouting the loudest for this change. They're not usually the people most famous for thinking everybody should have the same opportunities regardless of what cards they were dealt when they first sat at the table.

Comment: Re:"Lack of understanding"? (Score 1) 48

by lars_stefan_axelsson (#48786857) Attached to: $freaks++

Had a blast serving with the Swedes in Afghanistan. But that's beside the point. Sweden has about the population of New York City. What works great for Sweden may not scale at all to a less homogenous population.

Good to hear! Yes, Sweden is small and homogeneous (though that's changing rapidly). So scaling from our small example is tricky. However, the German situation is similar when it comes to how industry and unions are organized, they're a bit more diverse, and they're 80 million or so, so it can scale by a factor of ten at least. So I wouldn't give it up just yet.

When, exactly, does the bureaucracy EVER accept any pain? It's all as swell as Sweden until the first sign of stress. Then you see the kinds of shenanigans you encounter in every "blue" state in the U.S.: California, Illinois, Michigan, etc.

Well, that's a problem. Not an insurmountable one though. After all, it was the Social democrats in Sweden that in the late nineties said that "He who is in debt is not free" and we lowered our national debt from 100% of our GDP (I seem to remember) to around 30% where it is now, in only a few short years. So the bureaucracy can sometimes take the pain. Being small and feeling the cold wind blowing of course helps helps with that.

Comment: Re:"Lack of understanding"? (Score 1) 48

by lars_stefan_axelsson (#48786771) Attached to: $freaks++

The American economy is awash in organized crime throughout, all the way to the top in DC, which has turned the unions (and various government branches) into violent gangs, which serve exactly the opposite purpose of what the press would have you believe. They actually exist to control and set the price of labor, not serve as its advocate. It seems that your country still holds a small degree of morality that is totally absent in other parts.

Yes, that everybody needs non-corrupt government or government-like functions is pretty much a given. That said, the US isn't that bad. According to transparency international you rank 17, Germany 12 and we (Sweden) 4. So while there's room for improvement, you have a long way down until you rank with Afghanistan and the likes. All shouldn't be lost.

And we did retreat from the Norwegians once (they didn't dare to follow even though they were numerically much stronger), but winter hit in full force and more than half of the soldiers froze to death. The Norwegians didn't have anything to do with that loss though... :-)

No, seriously, Swedes and Norwegians are like one big family. Not necessarily one big happy family mind you, no more like any old family. :-)

You are in a maze of little twisting passages, all alike.