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Comment Re:Three main types of bad jobs. (Score 5, Interesting) 287

Basically tech jobs are closer to blue collar than white collar

A peer and I once made the same comparison. We called ourselves digital maintenance men, because by and large that's what it is.

I've never worked for a company that had a significant manufacturing component, but I kind of wonder how the blue/white collar split works there for the people who setup, maintain and manage seriously complicated factory systems. I think they might have been called millwrights at one time.

Are they treated like blue collar people (probably, if the job involves any serious mechanical tools), or because of the sophistication of the equipment (all computer driven and complicated) are they treated like dirt, like other blue collar jobs, with all the usual management/labor hostility, clock punching, etc.

And why do "office" jobs seem to escape a lot of that labor/management hostility? Even the lowly marketing associate seems to get treated better than the most skilled blue collar worker. I've known some electricians who were really intelligent and used to sort out cabling issues in my data center better than I could, even though he didn't know how to configure the equipment. He'd make suggestions via some kind of intuition that never dawned on me.

Comment Policy recommendations aren't predictive? (Score 1) 141

That would make the techniques less interesting to many economists, who are usually more concerned about giving policy recommendations than in making forecasts.

Decision Maker: The opposition and the polls are beating me up over the jobs numbers. Give me some policy advice, economist.

Economist: I think you should implement this policy.

Decision Maker: Will it improve the jobs numbers?

Economist: I have no idea what the outcome of the policy will be, I just made some stuff up.

Isn't the entire point of policy recommendations to achieve some kind of desired goal? Even if the policy recommendation is based on pure ideology, usually the alignment with the ideology is based on some notion that the ideology produces the best outcomes. There may not be data to prove any of it, but it's not like the policy was selected because it has a cool logo or you like Hayek's suits or something.

Comment Re:Programmed behaviour is programmed behaviour. (Score 3, Informative) 400

Every time I've heard an expert (usually a college professor with a background in computer science, robotics, or automation) discuss existing self-driving cars (the Google car is almost always mentioned as an example), the experts always describe self-driving cars as something more highly programmed and rule-bound than actually autonomous.

They rely less on machine vision and more on extremely detailed and high-resolution saved maps versus driving the road they see in front of them. Sensors are used to determine hazards, but more for avoidance than some kind of self-guided navigation decisions.

Comment Re:exhibit A: OK Cupid's famous essay (Score 1) 297

I don't doubt that my made up example would be difficult to actually pull off in practice, although who knows. There may be enough women who are turned off by the meat market aspect of other dating sites that a service with a zero tolerance for weird behavior might find it appealing. And both sexes may find the idea that "the system" automatically weeds out inactive or unsuccessful daters appealing, knowing that they will be much less likely to waste time on "losers".

I think there are some "higher end" in-person dating services that cater to higher-income professionals looking for long-term relationships that have made something similar work. They cost a bundle and involve a lot of human interaction and these kinds may be doing the sort of active filtering that eliminates dead wood.

I also wonder if the pricing model of dating sites isn't skewed against more and better matches. If women (or even men) gain access at reduced costs, they may value it less and invest less in it personally. If men pay a higher cost for access, they may over-engage because they value it more than women and appear desperate when really they're just trying to get their money's worth.

I suspect that some minimal level of cost to participate is probably necessary -- without "skin in the game" it's too easy for people to willfully not participate and create imbalances in interest. You probably could also benefit from a "participation economy" -- credits against your bill for responding to messages, credits for going on any kind of a date, etc, with credits valuable and easy enough to obtain that people who are actively engaged in the site might actually end up having zero monthly cost. Encourage participation, discourage non-participation.

I'd also wager that some kind of moderation system would make sense -- I hear a lot of complaints from women who have used online dating that the creep factor is really high -- men who make lewd propositions to people whose profiles are listed as "seeking a relationship", etc. Perhaps users bothered by a message could submit it for moderation, and moderated messages would be anonymously displayed to other users who could vote them up or down and receive credits for it. I would probably limit moderation of messages to people seeking similar relationships, since those looking for longer term relationships would have a lower tolerance for messages suggestive of casual encounters. This would avoid an obvious values conflict between the two groups.

Users who have messages moderated as inappropriate would lose credits. Users who submit messages for moderation where their complaints are unsustained would also lose credits. This would enforce a kind of community standard for acceptable behavior as well as discourage people from being offended too casually, and I think the latter is probably equally important. I think there are people who are single not because they don't want to be in relationships but have really skewed, intolerant or unrealistic standards and are basically single because of it.

Comment Re:exhibit A: OK Cupid's famous essay (Score 1) 297

It strikes me that dating generally is imbalanced by the very nature of the combination of gender and culture.

Online dating would seem to be more so because some significant percentage of the women don't find offline dating hard enough to make the effort.

For those that do try it, the social/gender pattern of male initiation means women's smaller numbers are deluged with interest, reducing their numbers further either via successful matches or via disinterest with the nature of the responses.

Men paying for online dating would seem to not make sense because the odds are against you from the beginning. The only way it would seem to make sense would maybe be in narrower communities (ie, Jewish dating sites) where there may be other social factors that would even the odds.

I could also see it making sense if there was a highly managed and honest site that made an attempt to keep the odds even, by forced attrition if necessary -- removing women who were unresponsive, removing men who were obnoxious and otherwise culling accounts after a period of time under the assumption that despite near-even odds and following the rules, those people were unmatchable for some reason or other.

Comment Which scholars really believe it's divine source? (Score 1) 599

Some scholars believe, however, that Muhammad did not receive the Quran from heaven, as he claimed during his lifetime

So are there actual scholars, I mean people who put facts before belief, who DO believe the divine inspiration story?

Are are those "scholars" merely religious functionaries whose "scholarship" is really just a form of theology?

Comment Re:I wish Netflix stayed true to its loyal custome (Score 1) 288

HBO has all the usual HBO TV shows, most of which are on another plane above everything else. The movie selection isn't ultra deep, maybe a couple hundred titles, but they do change over time and most all of them are well-known titles.

The advantage with prime is for little stuff that often requires a speciality trip to a specific store, or worse, a time and gas guzzling trip to several. I recently needed a mini-DP to VGA adapter. There's one store I could have bought it from locally, a 15 mile round trip where it would have cost me $25. I got it from Amazon for $12 and they delivered it on Sunday.

I like to support the local economy, too, but buying something made in China for double the price isn't supporting the local economy, it's subsidizing a local retailer. I buy all my beer locally and avoid chain restaurants and try to buy local grocery products.

Comment Re:I wish Netflix stayed true to its loyal custome (Score 1) 288

If my son wasn't so enthralled with Netflix for TV series I would have cancelled it when I realized HBO Now included movies, too. Good movies for the most part, too, not just 3 movies and a bunch of crap shot on an iPhone by the college kids down the block.

I can get most of that crap from Amazon Instant which is part of Prime anyway and prime is worth it for the shopping alone.

Comment It depends on the definition of wealthy (Score 1) 808

..and how good you are investment and taxes.

I think unless you have an after-tax one-time amount in excess of $10 million dollars or more, you're unlikely to live better than a basic upper-middle class lifestyle.

I did a spreadsheet based on investing all of it into tax-free munis (because they're safe, and I can eliminate tax questions) and only have to make rough guestimates on investment yields and inflation.

It isn't hard to outspend your capital and dividends over time, especially if you dump a bunch of money on property.

I put in $200 million in principal, less $25 million invested in real estate and I run out of money in about 30 years, but it does require spending about $5 million a year in cash, which wouldn't be hard to do if a person liked to travel -- a private jet to Europe from NYC could be close to $100k to charter. You could throw out a million per year easily flying private aviation.

Want to own a yacht? Very easy to blow $3 million on a pretty basic motor yacht (Hinckley T55, you can drive it yourself, no crew or certification required) and not hard to see spending $50-70k per year on fuel and maybe another $100k on services for it.

And $25 million doesn't buy you fantasy real estate, either. NYC condos go way past that all the time, and if you factor $25 million buying you more than one property you're getting into pretty ordinary luxury if you divide that by 2-3 unique properties and they would all need maintenance and caretaking.

Comment Re:Spontaneous combustion (Score 1) 130

I just read this, which could be total horseshit, but it looks reasonable:


Lithium only accounts for 3% of the cost of a battery. Recycled lithium is 5 times more expensive than 'new' lithium.

I think they said that recycling's biggest economic benefit is stabilizing the price fluctuation in lithium if demand for 'new' lithium exceeds resource output. I don't know if there's a point at which you don't need much new lithium for batteries because basically you will have built all the lithium batteries you will ever need and as you need new batteries you will just be using recycled lithium already mined.

I could see where battery storage gets good and cheap enough that, when coupled with solar, reaches the point where you get close enough to practical off-grid that the promise of free solar (minus capital investment) causes people to get more energy efficient.

If I could have 500kWh of lithium in my house and my daily solar production average was 5kw over my all day consumption, then having deep battery reserves would more than cover a run of bad weather. You could drop 10kWh negative for a couple of months and just draw down your battery to make up the difference and then slowly recharge back up in better weather.

Even with best case solar, I'd be under water by 10kWh now. My summer power bill tells me I'd need nearly 60kWh per day and I would bet that's a lot of periods of over 5kW when the central AC runs.

Comment What's the leading reason for jailbreaking at all? (Score 1) 206

There's lots of possible reasons, like sideloading or pirating apps, exposing features or customization hidden in the stock settings or apps, curiosity/technical/tinkering, or ideological reaons/free software advocacy.

Which is most common? I figure pirating might be kind of popular, but a lot of useful software is pretty inexpensive to begin with and how many people want a hacked candy crush that has free powerups?

I could see where customization/hidden features could be a big reason. Apple are kind of design fascists (I say that having owned all iPhones since 3G and 3 iPads) and there are some irritating hardware and software limitations imposed that rankle.

Like why can't you even pair a bluetooth mouse? Apple wouldn't even have to support it in the home screen or any of their applications or even UI as a touch source, just allow third party apps to utilize it. I could seriously see being able to do meaningful work via RDP with a HDMI display, BT keyboard and moue using just my iPhone as a computer and it would nearly replace a lot of my laptop use with my iPad.

It's hard to see "because it was there" tinkerers being that huge of a group and I'd bet a significant number just kind of go oh well and go back to stock out of sheer convenience.

I bet the philosophical/ideologicals don't add to too many, why would they buy an iPhone to begin with when they can get much further down the free road with Andoid.

Comment Re:A silly test (Score 1) 473

Was the primary mission of the A-10 general close air support of ground troops or more specifically anti-armor close air support against the waves of T-72s supposed to be flooding the Fulda Gap?

It's 30mm gun is impressive, but is that the end-all-be-all of close air support? It would seem like similar results could be had from attack helicopters or AC-135 gunships. A lot of Viet Nam close air support came from F4s.

If you steal from one author it's plagiarism; if you steal from many it's research. -- Wilson Mizner