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Comment: Re:You're not willing to pay (Score 1) 255

I purposely ignored supply considerations because the source of the apparent paradox is all on the demand side. Of course one could "resolve" the paradox by saying that there is a greater supply of water in the market than supply of diamonds but that still doesn't address what makes people uneasy about it; namely, that people *want* diamonds but *need* water. So it's really the demand that calls for an explanation, even though you are correct that you also need to think about supply to get a price.

Comment: Re:You're not willing to pay (Score 5, Interesting) 255

What is puzzling you is called the paradox of value. It can be described as the apparent paradox that water is necessary to life, while diamonds are not, but diamonds are much more expensive than water. The answer is that decisions to buy and sell are made at the margin, so the question isn't "How valuable is water to you?" but rather, "How valuable is the next gallon of water to you?" Since, in "our society", we have enough water to support life and agriculture, the marginal gallon of water is used, say, to water golf courses and wash cars. These low-value marginal uses means that the price of water is low, as is actually seen.

Similarly, with the average American's BMI pushing 30, the marginal value of the next strawberry isn't very big to the vast majority of Americans. So the price of strawberries is low, and there is little room to pay strawberry pickers a good wage. Also see Worth: Just because you're necessary doesn't mean you're important.


Comcast Officially Gives Up On TWC Merger 112

Posted by Soulskill
from the keeping-them-small-enough-to-govern dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Confirming speculation from yesterday, Comcast announced this morning that its attempt to merge with Time Warner Cable has been terminated. The announcement was very brief, but indicated that regulatory pressure was the reason they killed the deal. CEO Brian Roberts said, "Today, we move on. Of course, we would have liked to bring our great products to new cities, but we structured this deal so that if the government didn't agree, we could walk away." The Washington Post adds, "The move by regulators to throw up roadblocks shows that the government has grown concerned about massive media conglomerates bigfooting rivals that are finding success by streaming content over the Internet, analysts said. And after years of approving a wave of mergers in the industry — including that of Comcast and NBC Universal in 2011 — federal officials are taking a new tone, they said."

Comment: Re:Buying cars based on fuel price... ugh (Score 1) 621

by njnnja (#49528715) Attached to: Cheap Gas Fuels Switch From Electric Cars To SUVs

I once read a joke that if people were forced to spend 5 minutes a week, every week, staring at the price of yogurt in the supermarket, then we would all get upset when the price of yogurt went up. So it's not that gasoline is a huge part of the budget for a new car buyer, but it is an unavoidable reminder that gets thrown in their face each and every week that you are spending more and more money.

Comment: Re:America (Score 2) 120

by njnnja (#49511563) Attached to: Pull-Top Can Tabs, At 50, Reach Historic Archaeological Status

Oh come on. This post is so clearly wrong and makes me so upset that I just have to reply to it. I could show you a logical proof that refutes it, and based upon my vast experience I know that it surely isn't true. I await your reply so that I may provide a more detailed, point by point explanation that will convince you that my position is the correct one.

Comment: Re:seven ordinary shuffles (Score 1) 63

by njnnja (#49487695) Attached to: Magician Turned Professor Talks About the Math Behind Shuffling Cards

You are not even wrong. Measure-theoretic probability has proven itself as an exceptionally accurate model of highly complex, yet fully deterministic, phenomena that cannot be predicted well using other means. Such as the shuffling of a deck of cards, slightly different each time, but similar enough to be able to build a model of its behavior.

You called it "random," not me. I would call it "\underset {A\subset S_n} {sup} |Q^{*k}(A) - U(A)|" and then label it as "random" because that is what most laypeople would recognize as being like "randomness". If you have a different definition of "random" that's fine, but you can't argue against the proof that 7 shuffles is sufficient to reduce the total variation distance to stationarity from about 1.0 to about 0.33. If you disagree, please show your work.

Comment: Re:Do not want (Score 1) 192

by njnnja (#49485695) Attached to: The Car That Knows When You'll Get In an Accident Before You Do

I just bought a brand new car last month with 4 doors, performance, reliability, and reasonably priced. It has all sorts of driver aids like backup and blind spot cameras, hill assist, traction and stability control, and an emergency stop brake assist. But it has the best manual shifter I have ever had in 2 decades of driving, which includes everything from American muscle to a turbo import. There is nothing that says that a new automotive technology must necessarily diminish the fun of driving a stick shift, and I see no sign that manufacturers intend to eliminate a manual transmission as an option except in sofamobiles which you and I wouldn't want to buy anyways.

Comment: Re:seven ordinary shuffles (Score 1) 63

by njnnja (#49484649) Attached to: Magician Turned Professor Talks About the Math Behind Shuffling Cards

The Gilbert-Shannon-Reeds model of shuffling is a textbook example precisely because it is both mathematically tractable and a pretty good model of how a riffle shuffle actually distributes cards. It is so good a model, that I would argue that if your shuffling technique isn't well-approximated by the model, then you aren't doing a riffle shuffle.

And his definition of "random" is not "outright blasphemy." To the contrary, the definition is basically "the greatest difference in probability of any particular subset of the universe of possible distributions between a perfectly uniform distribution (the distribution of an infinite number of shuffles) and the distribution you actually have after a finite number of shuffles." As the Wikipedia article mentions, another alternative would be to use a measure of entropy instead of the statistical distance, but nevertheless statistical distance is a pretty good way to do it.

Comment: Re:Tip: The best method to shuffle (Score 3, Informative) 63

by njnnja (#49481227) Attached to: Magician Turned Professor Talks About the Math Behind Shuffling Cards

Cats aren't taking pleasure in tormenting prey, or playing with the mouse, they are tiring out an animal that has teeth and claws and could potentially hurt the cat. In the wild, even if a predator manages to kill the prey, if that prey manages to wound the predator so that the next time it goes on the hunt, it is not so strong or sharp, the predator is in trouble.

Have you ever gone fishing? The best way to catch many kinds of fish is to fight it for a while and tire it out. That's the hunting methodology that cats have evolved to use.

Comment: Re:What? Why discriminate? (Score 3, Interesting) 700

by njnnja (#49479531) Attached to: 'We the People' Petition To Revoke Scientology's Tax Exempt Status

That means the plane, big building, parking lot, etc. gets paid for before taxes. Same with salaries

Not exactly. There are rules about how big your expenses can be for things like executive compensation. For example, when a company pays for business lunches for its executives to dine out, it can't reduce income by the entire amount. And a firm can't deduct the entire amount of, say salary ($1,000,000 cap) or stock options (cap on deductible amount on incentive stock options, which is why they also offer "non-quals", i.e., non-qualified stock options).

In general, if the choice is between the firm paying a tax or an executive paying the tax, the firm will generally pay the tax (in the US), since corporate rates are lower than the highest personal income tax rate. But if they can defer taxes altogether, by giving the executive something that will appreciate in value (like equity) but avoids immediate income tax, they will do that.

Comment: Re:How far back, perhaps (Score 2) 365

by njnnja (#49469357) Attached to: Can Civilization Reboot Without Fossil Fuels?

After an apocalyptic event, the definition of "safe" would change. Unlimited energy for weapons production and agriculture versus the possibility of a meltdown? In a world where might makes right and food shortages are a major problem, nuclear power, no matter how unsafe, becomes incredibly safe relative to the alternative. If such an event ever happened, manhattan project level nuclear technology would be the the most valuable thing to salvage in terms of rebooting civilization.

Comment: Re:Abusive authority breeds abusers, not obedience (Score 1) 629

I have kids and a cat and yes, mistakes have been made. But a dining room table? I guess it depends on the table. Mine doesn't have a good sealant so if you were to drop oil or food coloring on it it would definitely stain. And while I can live with a hairball stain on the carpet, I wouldn't want to live with a s#*! stain on the table where I eat.

Comment: Re:Abusive authority breeds abusers, not obedience (Score 2) 629

I think you have the ordering wrong. If someone defecated on my dinner table I would never eat off that table again. He might as well have set fire to it. And since the table is worth more than the iPad, I think the first scenario is actually the worst.

It seems like a small thing, but it does highlight how something like theft is easy to judge the seriousness of; namely, stealing a $2 candy bar isn't as bad as stealing a $20 shirt, which isn't as bad as stealing a $20,000 car. But sometimes it can be difficult to judge the damage of vandalism, and the vandal almost always thinks it is a smaller deal than the vandalized. So let's say someone is going to slash somebody's tire. The vandal might think that it is no big deal, like a $50 tire that needs to be replaced. But the vandalized is thinking "I'm going to be late to work to deal with this, so I'm losing pay, and I have to make sure that the tire salesman gives me a good price on an equivalent tire, etc etc"

Having said all that, it certainly seems like calling the police for this particular incident of vandalism is way overkill, but (playing devil's advocate a little), what if the administration is totally technologically ignorant, and think that this kind of situation requires a $300/hour consultant to come in and "clean" the "infected" machine? Stupid people have all types of higher costs, and if you make them incur those costs, they will blame you, not themselves.

Comment: Re:Saudi Arabia, etc. (Score 1) 653

by njnnja (#49417045) Attached to: Carly Fiorina Calls Apple's Tim Cook a 'Hypocrite' On Gay Rights

They could say, "You can have your 'stoning gays act of 1304' or your iCool 7, but you can't have both." They don't do that. If they did, then I'd be the first one to say, "great job apple" but if they take a "stand" that wasn't really going to cost them anything to begin with then I don't see why everybody is getting in line to pat Apple on the back.

They are a company, and care about money first and foremost. I expect that of them so I'm ok with that. But if you want my applause, then do something that hurts, at least a little.

"Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago." -- Bernard Berenson