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Comment: Monkeys = good guards (Score 3, Interesting) 119

by meburke (#46951473) Attached to: China Using Troop of Trained Monkeys To Guard Air Base

Back in 1996 there was a warehouse in Cam Ranh Bay that had large amounts of goods continually disappearing at night. AP patrols with dogs didn't stop the theft, so the K9 guys attack-trained a half dozen monkeys (about 30 lbs each). They would keep the monkeys in a CONEX container and back it up to the entry door in the eveneing, and when they opened the CONEX the monkeys would race into the warehouse. The next morning they would back the empty CONEX to the door and bang on the back wall; the monkeys would then race into the CONEX to get food. From that point on, nothing disappeared from the warehouse at night.

Comment: Re:Not the phone (Score 1) 243

by meburke (#46935707) Attached to: The Feature Phone Is Dead: Long Live the 'Basic Smartphone'

ATT points out that the demand for wireless services will increase 8 times (800 percent for those of you who don't undrstand math) from December 2013 through December 2018. Most of this increase will be the continued rise of phones as internet devices. (2014 is the first year that demand for internet to phone devices exceeds internet to desktop computers.) A large trend is the demand for inter-connectivity between devices; Vehicle-to-vehicle, phone-to-computer, wearable gear-to-desktop and cloud. Thesity will be increasing ly replaced by virtualization ande are all crating demand for wireless services. Data pipes will be like oil piplines untill the infrastructure catches up. Worse, where we have hardware connectivity will be replaced by virtualization and software-defined device emulation and virtual networks, so errors and breakages will be more disruptive.

Comment: Other Econoimic reasons... (Score 2) 384

by meburke (#46861133) Attached to: How Concrete Contributed To the Downfall of the Roman Empire

There is a good argument that the Roman Empire succumbed to an energy crises: They couldn't get enough firewood to even keep their cookfires going. Those famous Roman Roads were hauling firewood from as far away as Northern Gaul and the Danish coast. It was expensive and not the least timely. The hills around Rome were denuded of trees, and Romans spread out. Soon there was a lack of cohesiveness in Roman Society.

Pompey and Caesar were not the only rulers to make the mistake of thinking that public works construction was equivalent to productive employment; this fallacy is prevalent even in the USA today. Infrastructure on the other hand, such as the roads and harbor, greatly increased the trade in the area.

And lastly, concrete was used in Egypt a couple thousand years earlier than it was employed in the Roman Empire.

Comment: Re:Yes they do (Score 1) 217

by meburke (#46851335) Attached to: How the FCC Plans To Save the Internet By Destroying It

Again, the issue is not a matter of Black or White.

My relatives in Canada are constantly commenting on the delays and inefficincies of the heal care system. I have a some relatives who came down to the USA for bypass operations and transplants because they could get treated in a week or two instead of 6 months or more.

My relatives in Sweden have similar complaints.

My 96-year-old Mother might not be alive if she had to depend on Canada's National Health Service. At 92 she had a mitral valve replacement. In Canada, because of her age, she would have been put on a low priority. At 96 she drives herself everywhere, does her own shopping, goes to Writer's group, and has a pretty good life. She thinks that's better than being forced to die from lack of oxygen and energy over a period of a year or two.

The issue is not insurance. The issue is health care distribution for the most people, at the highest quality possible. For the last 30 years the USA has been the "Gold Standard" for health care. In just one year Obamacare has tarnished the standard, and, based on the experience in Sweden, UK, and Canada, it doesn't look like it will ever regain its luster.

There are a couple of moral questions that bother me: 1. Is it moral to steal from others (in the form of taxes) for your own benefit? And 2. Who has the right to make decisions on your health care?

Of course, even in the most Socialist countries the bureaucrats are going to be cared for even if the common populace is given short shrift.

Comment: Re:Money: Two Kinds (Score 1) 91

by meburke (#46625977) Attached to: Book Review: Money: The Unauthorized Biography

Actually, there are many kinds of money if you consider money as a "thing." However, money is a "measurement" used to help determine if trading is equitable for all parties.

Although this book is interesting, I would recommend Ludwig Von Mises, "The theory of Money and Credit"
for a more well-rounded look at what money actually "is".

Question Suppose you needed a board 3' long for a bookshelf, and the government made the "inch" smaller between the time you measured and the time you decided to purchase the lumber; Would you settle for a shorter board or would you expend more resources for a board that would fit? (This is the problem with fiat money.)

Comment: Physical/Mental Harmony (Score 2) 384

by meburke (#45955253) Attached to: Ask Slashdot: How Can I Improve My Memory For Study?

There have been many memory courses and systems taught over the last couple of centuries. I personally liked, "How to Develop a Super Power Memory," by Harry Lorayne. It's old but good, and you only have to read it once. (!!!)

There are many others: One of my favorites for studying is, "Brainbooster" by Robert Finkle. It helps organize your memory system specifically for studying.

I have over thirty how-to books on memory and learning that revolve around mnemonics. They all teach pretty much the same thing,, and some of them may appeal to you more than others, so check around. The books by Tony Buzan are pretty good, and some of them teach skills besides memory that apply to study.

The book, "Find Your Focus Zone," by Lucy Palladino is terrific, and includes insights into how the brain works and how to make it work better.

A lot of people don't study well because they don't take care of their body. I highly recommend, "The Four Hour Body," by Timothy Ferriss. As for learning, His book, "The Four-Hour Chef" is more about learning than cooking. (Tim did a show for Discovery called, "Trial by Fire" which followed him while he learned martial arts skills (Yabasume) equivalent to 20 years' ordinary practice in only about 4 months. He has a background in neuro science, so he seems to have access to a lot of cool resources.)

Again, the connection between brain and body; "Change your Brain-Change your Body" by Daniel Amen. This is very much about Brain Fitness, but also syncs the health and fitness connection.

For fun read, "Moonwalking with Einstein," by Joshua Foer. It is an overview of the culture of people who train their memory for serious competition.

Good luck.

Comment: Minor observations- (Score 2) 440

by meburke (#45409783) Attached to: Soylent: No Food For 30 Days

The need for carbohydrates has never been established. True, the body needs fuel, but the body can burn fats and protein. The brain is actually designed to run more efficiently on ketones than sugars. People have lived healthily for years on meat-only and mostly meat diets. However, if you don't take in carbs you pretty much need fats and oils for fuel.

I'm more worried about the soy content than anything else; There seems to be strong evidence that lots of soy is antagonistic to testosterone balances.

As for vegetarianism: . This is a great basis for lively discussion from a former vegan.

Comment: Re:As an outsider. (Score 1) 559

by meburke (#45364285) Attached to: Official Resigns, Website Still a Disaster

I have another reason for opposing Obamacare: It is immoral. "Thou shalt not steal'"

Suppose you woke up tomorrow and the Constable was towing away your car.

The reason is that the widow woman down the street can't afford to buy one, she needs one to go to work, and yours is handy. Besides, you have job, you have money, you can obviously buy another if you want. Are you happy now? Are you better off now? Is Society better off?

And since the Constable and title people don't work for nothing, about every 5th car they seize must be sold to pay their expenses.

And here's the kicker: If YOU seized someone else's car to give to another less-privileged person, you would be arrested for theft.

IMO, since you cannot authorize another person to do something that would be illegal for you to do, you cannot authorize government to do it either.

So, one of my favorite stories is about Davy Crockett's "Not yours to give" speech to Congress:

Unfortunately, it is not true:

However, the proposition and conclusions seem to be correct, and I agree with the sentiment.

Comment: Re:As an outsider. (Score 1) 559

by meburke (#45363995) Attached to: Official Resigns, Website Still a Disaster

The 9% number comes from multiple sources that say that the additional cost of providing insurance to qualified employees is around 8.9% (CBO) to 9.5% (Aetna and others). On the other hand, FactCheck has arguments that indicate the portion of the increase due to ACA is only about 2-3% . IMO, even 2-3% can be a burden if added to other increasing expenses, but 1.) I don't know where the margin is, and 2.) We are talking about estimates (which, by definition, lack precision).

Comment: Re:As an outsider. (Score 1) 559

by meburke (#45363899) Attached to: Official Resigns, Website Still a Disaster

I've only been keeping track since the 2014 figures came out, and my informal scoring should not be a benchmark. I neglected to mention that the increase averages about 2.3 times the current coverage. (230% for non-mathematicians.)

However, you make a good point, and I 'm looking up statistics as we speak: Multiple sources say that the average health care costs increased annually from a little over 9%/year in the early 2000's to around 4%/year in the years preceding 2010. The statistics on health insurance costs kept pace increasing about 1-2% higher than healthcare costs.

There are some questions to be answered before just accepting those statistics; Is the cost increase due to economic conditions like inflation? is it due to demographics like people my age incurring more severe illnesses? There are expenditures that may be being currently amortized but intended for future consumption. (For instance, MD Anderson has at least 2 totally empty buildings, empty for multiple years, that are intended to provide services for future patients.) So there are a LOT of possible contributions to the previous increase in healthcare and insurance costs.

However, it seems apparent that the ACA rollout has caused a disproportionate lift in healthcare insurance costs.

Comment: Re:As an outsider. (Score 2, Interesting) 559

by meburke (#45356821) Attached to: Official Resigns, Website Still a Disaster

I totally object to your language and argument. It is inflammatory without being relevant.

I agree that Obamacare is bad economics, and I have the opinion that it was rammed down our throats by a Socialist mob, but faulty argumentation is not going to get people focusing on WHAT's right; it just keeps the focus on WHO's right. (or who thinks they are right.)

At this point I'm so fed up with politicians I think they should all be fired for not focusing on solutions that work for everybody, or at least almost everybody.

Comment: Re:As an outsider. (Score 4, Informative) 559

by meburke (#45356671) Attached to: Official Resigns, Website Still a Disaster

Actually, I kind of agree with you; The law may be faulty, but sniping at the website problems won't fix the underlying flaws.

Economists know that every attempt at price controls over the last 4500 years (approximately) have resulted in shortages of the goods/services under control, and higher prices for those goods/services. All I needed to know about Obamacare was that it is a form of price control.

I'm 65 years old, and I've been tracking the results of Obamacare among the people I know. (NOT a scientific study.) So far, I'm seeing 8 instances of increased insurance costs (including two people who just qualified for Medicare/Medicaid) for every 1 instance of cost savings. It seems that some States, like NY, are benefitting from the increased competition created by allowing offers across State lines.

It is an Economic Principle that whatever you tax, you will get less of. Obamacare imposes about a 9% additional tax on each employee, and so it is probably going to lead to fewer qualifying jobs in the private sector. The number of part-time and temp jobs seems to be increasing here in Texas, but full-time work is hard to get outside industries such as Medicine and Energy.

Comment: Re:Er what...Pre-conviction (Score -1) 510

by meburke (#44432273) Attached to: SF Airport Officials Make Citizen Arrests of Internet Rideshare Drivers

There is a strong argument that licensing is a form of pre-conviction and should be declared unconstitutional. Licenses should be reserved for those who have been shown to be a threat to safety. Enforcement would be easier, monitoring would be easier (since the number of unsafe providers would surely be smaller than total number of providers.

In actuality, licensing is a form of revenue for the State, and is unlikely to be discontinued. Welcome to creeping government interference in your life.

The Economic argument against licensing is that it restricts the number of providers and therefore drives the price up for consumers. It is a form of unionization, designed to keep the number of providers limited and the prices and rewards higher for the providers who are willing to go through the expense and inconvenience of complying. Yup, hairdressers, massage, barbers, taxi drivers, restaurants, doctors, nurses, etc.,etc... All rip-offs.

Then there is the price control argument: Economists know that for 4500 years EVERY attempt at price control has resulted in higher costs and shortages of the good or service being controlled. San Francisco? Famous for hard-to-find price-controlled, expensive apartments. (Obamacare is just another instance of price control. It is not even close to fully implemented, yet we are already seeing shortages and higher costs.)

For large values of one, one equals two, for small values of two.