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Comment: A diplomatic euphemism (Score 3, Insightful) 211

by mbkennel (#47427081) Attached to: After NSA Spying Flap, Germany Asks CIA Station Chief to Depart

| The Obama administration and that of George W. Bush both resisted such entreaties, in part because many U.S. intelligence officials believe that there are too many areas where German and U.S. security interests diverge."

This is a euphemism for saying "we believe that the German intelligence department is significantly penetrated by the Russian FSB".

Of course the German intelligence apparatus also spies on US, and France and UK, as they all do to one another.

Comment: The right competitor to SAS is Statistica (Score 1) 143

R isn't a replacement for SAS---in practical use it requires much more command line programming ability and although it has an enormous number of packages, many of them are 'academic quality' (meaning good enough to make papers) and fewer are highly validated production quality with all the edge cases & stability tested.

Some SAS capabilities can run 'out of core' (unlike R) so you can process data sets which would not fit into RAM.

Statistica (StatSoft) is the closest direct competitor (Windows only unfortunately) to SAS, and from all the reviews I've read, it's significantly better.

If your institution already has a SAS base, then it will stay that way. However, there are probably many "data management" and "data processing" tasks whose nature is somewhere between computation and file/database management---but often they get implemented suboptimally in whatever package the authors found at hand. So you may be doing lots of things in SAS that you shouldn't be---and the best replacement here is python, not R. The business case to your management could be improving workflow, clarity and lowering the number of SAS licenses needed.

Keep the SAS core tasks for which SAS is good as it is, and evaluate Statistica for these as a competitor, if only to get a break on licenses from SAS if your company does a bake-off competition & bid.

Comment: Tim Draper is engaging in powertalk, not fact talk (Score 1) 115

by mbkennel (#47370791) Attached to: Investor Tim Draper Announces He Won Silk Road Bitcoin Auction
People at that level talk with purpose, and the purpose is not always conveying well-justified facts or opinions.

Draper is far from stupid. He is already starting to talk his book by giving increased legitimacy to *bitcoin technology startups*, which is his actual investment.

The profits are in the fees in the payment systems.

From which he will cash out profits in cold dollars and euros, and a few bitcoins as a lark.

Bitcoin can't possibly be any kind of stable or useful general currency until there's a bond market in bitcoin. People imagine that transacting for bubblegum or downloads makes for good currency---but that's meaningless trivia. It's the existence and strength of *debt markets*, whether direct (loans) or capital markets (bonds) which truly signal strength, because these instruments are arbitrage through time. The dollar and euro aren't going anywhere because there are trillion $ bond and FX markets behind them.

Draper knows this, too.

When you start to get a bitcoin bond market with enforcable contracts, then it's time to take it seriously.

Comment: the most important one is missed out (Score 1) 273

| taxi licenses are limited to ensure that taxi drivers can still make a decent living

But in practice it doesn't work that way, taxi drivers still make a crap living working for owning companies who actually own the licenses, who make a great living.

And that's where the noise is coming from. Why else are the licenses/medallions, bought and sold on the free market, so expensive? Because they're profitable.

Uber drivers keep substantially more of their fare.

What's special about taxis that doesn't apply to grocery stores? Why aren't there a limited number of Grocery Store Medallions to be auctioned? People need to eat even more than they need a taxi.

Comment: Re:Good? (Score 1) 273

| If/when uber and other private entities take business away from public services,

How does that work?

I see additional taxi-limo-driver-like services. If prices for transportation go down, does that

a) help
b) hurt


Is the problem that Uber et al might get so convenient and inexpensive that people will use it instead of the public buses? Is that really going to be a problem?

Comment: Is it any different with anybody else? (Score 1, Insightful) 206

by mbkennel (#47328503) Attached to: Germany Scores First: Ends Verizon Contract Over NSA Concerns
There's an illusion that the USA is unique in this. It isn't, it's just that there aren't any other whistleblowers.

If you contract with Deutsche Telecom, you'll be subjected to German intelligence interception certainly.

Realistically---you'll be subjected to German, British, Chinese, French, Russian, American and Israeli intelligence interception to some degree or another.

Comment: go ahead and blame (Score 1) 283

by mbkennel (#47302343) Attached to: Perl Is Undead
"I don't think we should blame the language for being powerful enough that an evil programmer can be unfathomably evil, if it also enables a just programmer to be eminently understandable"

Why not?

Other language designs restrict an evil programmer to be only ordinary orc-level evil, and not unfathomably balrog evil.

Comment: Yes it was hijacked by Dick Armey (Score 1) 932

by mbkennel (#47218133) Attached to: House Majority Leader Defeated In Primary

It started out as "Freedom Works", a group against crony capitalism and scot-free bailouts for bankers without responsibility or prosecution.

I was on the list. The messages then started getting weirder and more aggressively right wing and hysterical in ways distinct from its original purpose. I dug around and found it was Dick Armey who was responsible for the hijacking. It was intentional and by a powerful insider. I removed my name from their list.

Comment: Re:You're being an idiot (Score 1) 932

by mbkennel (#47218089) Attached to: House Majority Leader Defeated In Primary

Actually it seems that homosexual rights is the only area in which Republicans are more to the left than in 1980, much less 1956.

Exceprts from the 1956 Republican platform.

On Antitrust:

We also propose: Legislation to enable closer Federal scrutiny of mergers which have a significant or potential monopolistic connotations;
Procedural changes in the antitrust laws to facilitate their enforcement;

On labor & wages & benefits:

The record of performance of the Republican Administration on behalf of our working men and women goes still further. The Federal minimum wage has been raised for more than 2 million workers. Social Security has been extended to an additional 10 million workers and the benefits raised for 6 1/2 million. The protection of unemployment insurance has been brought to 4 million additional workers. There have been increased workmen's compensation benefits for longshoremen and harbor workers, increased retirement benefits for railroad employees, and wage increases and improved welfare and pension plans for federal employees.

In addition, the Eisenhower Administration has enforced more vigorously and effectively than ever before, the laws which protect the working standards of our people.

Workers have benefited by the progress which has been made in carrying out the programs and principles set forth in the 1952 Republican platform. All workers have gained and unions have grown in strength and responsibility, and have increased their membership by 2 millions.

The Eisenhower Administration will continue to fight for dynamic and progressive programs which, among other things, will:

Stimulate improved job safety of our workers, through assistance to the States, employees and employers;

Continue and further perfect its programs of assistance to the millions of workers with special employment problems, such as older workers, handicapped workers, members of minority groups, and migratory workers;

Strengthen and improve the Federal-State Employment Service and improve the effectiveness of the unemployment insurance system;

Protect by law, the assets of employee welfare and benefit plans so that workers who are the beneficiaries can be assured of their rightful benefits;

Assure equal pay for equal work regardless of Sex;

Clarify and strengthen the eight-hour laws for the benefit of workers who are subject to federal wage standards on Federal and Federally-assisted construction, and maintain and continue the vigorous administration of the Federal prevailing minimum wage law for public supply contracts;

Extend the protection of the Federal minimum wage laws to as many more workers as is possible and practicable;

Continue to fight for the elimination of discrimination in employment because of race, creed, color, national origin, ancestry or sex;

Provide assistance to improve the economic conditions of areas faced with persistent and substantial unemployment;

Revise and improve the Taft-Hartley Act so as to protect more effectively the rights of labor unions, management, the individual worker, and the public. The protection of the right of workers to organize into unions and to bargain collectively is the firm and permanent policy of the Eisenhower Administration.0--

Health & education:

Republican leadership has enlarged Federal assistance for construction of hospitals, emphasizing low-cost care of chronic diseases and the special problems of older persons, and increased Federal aid for medical care of the needy.

We have asked the largest increase in research funds ever sought in one year to intensify attacks on cancer, mental illness, heart disease and other dread diseases.

We will vigorously promote, as we have in the past, a non-political career service under the merit system which will attract and retain able servants of the people. Many gains in this field, notably pay increases and a host of new benefits, have been achieved in their behalf in less than four years.

The Republican Party will continue to fight for eagerly desired new advances for Government employees, and realistic reappraisement and adjustment of benefits for our retired civil service personnel.

District of Columbia.

We favor self-government, national suffrage and representation in the Congress of the United States for residents of the District of Columbia.

Equal Rights.

We recommend to Congress the submission of a constitutional amendment providing equal rights for men and women.

Comment: Re:Tea (Score 1) 932

by mbkennel (#47218025) Attached to: House Majority Leader Defeated In Primary
| Republicans will still welcome a pro-gun guy who is happy with the government providing welfare.

Only to old, white people.

| But burn him at the stake if you want to be a Democrat and think a stong military is ok.

What do you mean? Other than, perhaps, getting elected to the US Senate?

A penny saved is a penny to squander. -- Ambrose Bierce