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Comment: Re:Not so fast (Score 1) 459

by overunderunderdone (#41123063) Attached to: Republican Platform To Include Internet Freedom Plank
"The 2008 economic decline was from......the housing bust." - and the housing bust was caused by the Housing Boom caused by the securitization of mortgages on GWB's watch while the Glass-Siegel act was gutted into uselessness I've heard that claim about Glass Stiegal before but never any concrete theory of *how* it supposedly did so beyond vague generalities and hand-waving which doesn't seem to amount to much when you look into them. First off Glass-Stiegal had nothing to do with securitization of mortgages or selling them on a secondary market and neither did it's repeal. That was initiated by the GSE's which were created by the government in the 30's explicitly for that purpose. The Investment banks at the epicenter of the crisis have been able to hold such securities since the 70's so that has nothing to do with the repeal of Glass Stiegal in the 90's either. Bill Clinton (who signed that bill, not GWB) has made the case that if anything the repeal of Glass-Stiegal mitigated the effects of the crisis. The banks in the worst shape and most in need of a bailout weren't the big diversified commercial banks permitted after the repeal (BOA, Citi et al) but the big specialized investment banks required by Glass-Stiegal (Bear Stern, Lehman, Goldman et al) were hit first and harder. I'm certain there's a lot of truth to the liberal argument that deregulation played a role in the crisis but that particular deregulation not so much. The long gradual decline in mortgage underwriting standards and the failure of regulators to notice (or care?) that CDS's aren't really insurance but that ratings agencies were treating them as if they were surely had a lot more to do with the crisis than the repeal of Glass-Stiegal. I also suspect that there's some truth the conservative argument that other government policies by politicians of both parties designed to promote home-ownership among the poor played a role in that decline in standards.

Comment: Re:Don't worry... (Score 1) 727

by overunderunderdone (#38579384) Attached to: Are Engineers Natural Libertarians Or Technocrats?

But it is the only country in the world where German, French, British and Swiss drug companies profit on their R&D. Developing drugs is very, very expensive but manufacturing is very, very cheap. Which means that once the R&D has been paid for (and to be fair... richly profited from) in the the USA the drug companies can also make also make a nice profit on the side by churning out the cheap manufactured product to those places either too poor or too regulated to pay for the initial R&D.

Should the USA ever adopt a less "disgraceful" model that forces the price of pharmaceuticals down to what is paid in the rest of the world, prices in the rest of the world would have to rise and we'd all be paying something somewhere half way between the current USA and World price for drugs. Yes, getting rid of the rich profit margins would account for some of the discrepancy, but not anywhere near all of it.

So if your in Canada or Europe (or just about anywhere else) stop being so eager to change the USA medical system... you'll kill the goose laying cheap pharmaceuticals

Comment: Re:Recovered? (Score 1) 309

by overunderunderdone (#38034986) Attached to: A Job Fair For Jobs In India — In California
I won't argue with that since I haven't read the book. It sounds frighteningly plausible. However, if I'm understanding it, it's not that GDP measures nothing. It's that it's not measuring something else we'd better be taking into account (and maybe we need another more prominent measure that does). We've experienced real growth over those years otherwise with population growth we would have seen increased unemployment and/or falling wages rather than modest wage growth and relatively higher employment (aside from the more recent unemployment which may be only a harbinger of what's to come). We're in the position of a guy who buys a new sports car, a big house and takes a huge vacation all with debt he can't possibly pay back. He has the real benefit of those things for a little while. The car, the house and the vacation are real for today but so is a painful bankruptcy tomorrow.

Comment: Re:Can you handle the truth? (Score 3, Insightful) 309

by overunderunderdone (#38034798) Attached to: A Job Fair For Jobs In India — In California
What both you and the OP are missing is that there is a balance between costs and benefits. He is looking only at the costs of those protections, you are looking only at the benefits. I'll disagree with the OP and say that many of those protections are necessary and ultimately beneficial, but realizing that they have very real costs. On the other hand a great many of those protections are NOT worth the cost. If you assert that they are worth the costs you have no standing to complain when the bill comes due in the form of a slower economy and persistent high unemployment.

On thing to remember when evaluating those costs. It's not usually the big bad corporations, the villains of the morality play that usually bear those costs. They have the resources to comply with the regulations and in many cases welcome them as a barrier to entry protecting them from competition. The law preventing BigFoodCo, Inc. from poisoning children (like they really want) is at worst a minor inconvenience to BigFoodCo. They do what's required, file the paperwork, raise the price of milk by a few pennies and turn to some other scheme to fulfill their goal of poisoning children. The people who bear the cost are potential entrepreneurs who look at the costs and decide it's not worth it. Or those that go for it but end up bankrupt because the costs of compliance were too high. Or, those who don't comply and get caught like organic coops and Amish farmers raided by the police and FDA for selling raw milk to the tree hugging hippies who want it. Note that in the California case selling raw milk is legal, but they didn't have all the proper paperwork filed.

Comment: Re:Recovered? (Score 4, Interesting) 309

by overunderunderdone (#38034492) Attached to: A Job Fair For Jobs In India — In California
You're complaining that the definition of technical terms ("recession" and "recovery") having to do with one thing (economic growth) aren't a about another related thing (employment). There are already other terms that address the issue you think economists are missing (unemployment, underemployment, job growth etc.). And there's even qualifiers you might notice economists attach to terms like recovery, for instance "weak recovery" or "slow recovery" to describe exactly the situation we're in, a recovery that's too slow to add many of the lost jobs back.

An economy is a complicated thing with lots of moving parts. Dumbing down the vocabulary used to describe those parts to accommodate the ignorant it unlikely to help much. "Recovery" even qualified as "weak recovery" may sound too positive to people when it describes a situation with persistent high unemployment. On the other hand it's certainly more positive than the alternative.

Comment: Re:Recovered? (Score 1) 309

by overunderunderdone (#38034336) Attached to: A Job Fair For Jobs In India — In California
This. It's technically true that the economy recovered. But, the sad fact is that it's only growing at the same rate as before the recession which is only sufficient to add new jobs about the rate that population growth is adding new workers. We're stuck with high unemployment unless we can grow the economy faster than before (which is what usually happens after a recession). If they're right that we're headed to another downturn unemployment will go up even further, at which point we're looking at something closer to great depression levels of unemployment.

Comment: The "Expert" (Score 4, Insightful) 371

by overunderunderdone (#36443206) Attached to: How Citigroup Hackers Easily Gained Access

One expert, who is part of the investigation and wants to remain anonymous because the inquiry is at an early stage, told The New York Times he wondered how the hackers could have known to breach security by focusing on the vulnerability in the browser.

He said: 'It would have been hard to prepare for this type of vulnerability.

IF the article is correct about the nature of the vulnerability this quote is the single stupidest and most frightening things I have ever read on the internet.

Comment: Re:1 word. (Score 1) 596

by overunderunderdone (#30696414) Attached to: Why Everyone Has High Hopes For Apple Tablet
No they were not talking crap. Doing work in front of the client is a horrible idea unless the client is a better designer than you are, in which case each of you should consider a career change. Good design takes time which you're not going to take with a client sitting over your shoulder so even if the client leaves you alone you're going to be producing shoddy work. Even worse, their instant feedback ends up with you being nothing more than an input device, a glorified mouse providing the merely technical skills any trained monkey could master while they design it themselves with these results. For all but the absolute worst designers this is their least valuable skill, presumably what the client actually hired you for your design expertise not merely your knowledge of which menu is hiding the lens flare filter.

Comment: Re:Climate skeptics caught manipulating temp data (Score 1) 1011

by overunderunderdone (#30290864) Attached to: Where the Global Warming Data Is
That's a rather loaded way to look at this controversy. The skeptics pointed out that the overall the raw data was flat and only showed warming after adjustments. The believers responded that all the adjustments were reasonable and produced their rationale for the adjustments to the Wellington series as an example.

Both of these positions can be true, or may be spin. Without knowing the basis of all the adjustments (not just those at one station) can we be sure which is which. That said, it's not an insignificant issue if a trend is only apparent in the data after adjustments are made because those adjustments are often just educated guesses which introduces a larger margin for error and the possibility that subtle biases affect which way and how far that educated guess goes.

In their explanation of the adjustments to Wellington they used the differential between the Airport and Kelburn to calculate the differential between Thorndon and Kelburn because they are at the same elevation. But is it really likely that elevation is the *only* factor causing the temperature difference between Kelburn and the Airport? The bits of Kelburn above 125 meters look like relatively leafy hillside suburb of Wellington, while the Airport is a pretty vast expanse of concrete. Is it really a good proxy for the Thorndon waterfront of the 1930's just on the basis that they're at the same elevation? What if we decided to make a cooling adjustment over time to account for the increasing heat-island effects of increasing urbanization?

Comment: Re:Oh, hey, (Score 1) 1011

by overunderunderdone (#30272926) Attached to: Where the Global Warming Data Is

NIWA explanation for what is going on for the temperature adjustments.

For a single station out of many that were adjusted. I suspect they picked one of the most reasonable adjustments out of the many that were made to present their strongest case.

But even the adjustments for this single station are at least a little problematic. There's no overlapping data between Thorndon and Kelborn so the adjustment is a guess. They took the newest station at the airport for which they have overlapping data with the old station at Kelborn (so that adjustment is not a guess) and applied the same differential to Thorndon because it was at the same elevation. Not a bad basis for a guess, but is it likely that elevation is the only variable between a modern airport and the Thorndon of 100 years ago? Is this one station really representative of all the other stations that have been adjusted? (was there a mid-century trend to move weather stations to higher elevations?)

Heat-island effects will generally be getting worse over time as suburbs and urban centers grow up around weather stations. When this is brought up as a reason for skepticism we're informed that this is a known problem and that the raw data is being adjusted for such affects. Instead when we compare the raw data to the adjusted data we're seeing a general upward adjustment rather than the generally downward one you'd expect because of the increasing heat-island effects. When asked why the trend is generally upward data for a single station which saw an altitude change is trotted out as a justification. Tellingly while adjustments for changes in elevation were made as this station moved around there were no adjustments for the fact that the city is significantly larger than 100 years ago and that the newest station is sitting amidst acres of paved runway.

Let me be clear that I don't think there's any kind of conspiracy. But I do suspect there's a subtle bias towards warming adjustments and away from equally necessary cooling adjustments. Because scientists now expect to see a warming trend if one doesn't show up in their data they're more likely to look for reasons why it didn't and account for them ("Hmm... that's funny this station data exhibits no warming trend. Ahh I see... the elevation changed in the 1920's") while similar factors causing an artificial warming trend in the data are less likely to be accounted for because the data looks like what is expected ("The warming trend for this station is in line with the global trend, I think we can safely assume there's no significant heat island effect in this case").

Science

Programmable Quantum Computer Created 132

Posted by Soulskill
from the four-out-of-five-ain't-bad dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A team at NIST (the National Institute of Standards and Technology) used berylium ions, lasers and electrodes to develop a quantum system that performed 160 randomly chosen routines. Other quantum systems to date have only been able to perform single, prescribed tasks. Other researchers say the system could be scaled up. 'The researchers ran each program 900 times. On average, the quantum computer operated accurately 79 percent of the time, the team reported in their paper.'"

Comment: Re:Tax 'em! (Score 1) 532

by overunderunderdone (#28531987) Attached to: Rhode Island Affiliates Banned From Amazon.com Sales
I'm curious, is your online store already collecting taxes for all 50 states? If yes is it a burden dealing with 50 different sets of tax regulations and agencies? If no would you bother with your online store if having it required you to? Aside from just knowing the base sales tax rate for each of those states would you know which items aren't subject to sales taxes in some states? Or which items in which states are subject to an additional luxury tax on top of the base rate? How about municipal sales taxes charged by various cities around the country, should online retailers by responsible for collecting those too? I would think only the very largest companies would have the resources to deal with that much regulatory and compliance overhead.

Comment: Re:Ummm (Score 1) 541

by overunderunderdone (#28446177) Attached to: Could We Beam Broadband Internet Into Iran?
Well true it's not about us, I don't think anyone is ultimately arguing with that. What they ARE arguing about is about what our response should be... which *is* about us and is worth talking and even arguing about.

Unless we're going to start following a Buchannanite isolationist foreign policy the statement "It's not about us" isn't an argument. The fact is we *do* favor one side of this dispute over the other for both altruistic and selfish national interest reasons. The proper response may be to say and do little so as to avoid becoming foils to the hard-liner's accusations & because previous policies have left us too toxic to audibly support those we actually favor without doing them more harm than good. That's a worthwhile argument, but it's a tactical argument incompatible with the reasoning that "it's not about us".

It will be interesting to see how many of those previously advocating that the USA do and say nothing will be consistent and criticize the President now that he has started to come out with more forceful statements condemning the regime. (Forceful enough to win some grudging approval from those pundits most critical of his earlier muted statements.) Will their opposite number stick to their "no meddling" convictions or where they hacks?

Comment: Re:It takes a special breed of idiot (Score 1) 562

by overunderunderdone (#28098197) Attached to: Sony Pictures CEO Thinks the Net Wasn't Worth It

to call humanity's second greatest invention since Mathematics(*) itself useless.

At what point did he say the internal combustion engine was useless?

We're talking about a technology that allows Joe Average in the US to send a message to Juan Promedio in Spain in less time it took you to read this paragraph...

Oh, you mean the telegraph! or... errr... the telephone? the wireless?

The personal computer and the internet are really great but calling them humanity's 1st and 2nd greatest invention of all time is shortsighted. It's more like: "two greatest inventions that have happened recently enough for me to have personally experienced their impact on society so I think they're better than all those other revolutionary inventions I'm taking for granted".

I recently ran across a set of family stories my grandmother compiled about her childhood as well as those of my grandfather and his siblings... and I concluded that the tropes about us living in an age of unparalleled, ever faster technological advancement simply aren't true, at least not any longer. My Grandfather experienced more, and more significant, technological advances in his life than I have in mine: He was born in 1908. A third of the population (including his family) were farmers, the typical home had no electricity, no phone, no indoor plumbing, no refrigeration (His father, my great grandfather owned a dairy farm, their refrigeration was a spring house, and during transportation a cloth in the wagon over the dairy products to keep them out of the sun). Most if not all appliances and tools used in his home and farm were powered by human or animal muscle. Transportation was by horse or over long distances by locomotive... There were almost no cars, model "T" production began that same year. His lifestyle growing up was very, very different from what we are familiar with today. The year he was born the Wright brothers were conducting demonstration flights in Paris to convince the governments of Europe that heavier than air flight was in fact a reality and might even have practical application. In contrast by the time he was 50 (1958) his life was not significantly different from my own, he lived in a raised ranch in the suburbs (a type of place that didn't exist in his childhood). He commuted to work at an office using a car kept in the garage. His home had electricity, indoor plumbing, phone service, radio and TV and every appliance except a computer that we would expect in a home today. He wasn't part of the "jet set" so the price would be out of his means, but in theory he could have flown via commercial jet when he went on vacation. The 50 years since then (1958-1998) hasn't seen nearly as many revolutionary technological advances, mostly just a lot of evolutionary advances to the technologies my grandfather already enjoyed by '58 . The personal computer and the internet are the big revolutionary advances since then but even those two biggies don't don't yet hold a candle to the impact the automobile had on individuals or society at large.

How can you work when the system's so crowded?

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