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Comment: Greece's Welfare State is Unsustainable (Score 4, Insightful) 742

I've been following the Greek debt crisis for at least five years, Greece's problem is that they absolutely refuse to stop spending money they don't have. Remember: Greece has never practiced real austerity (cutting deficits to match receipts) since they joined the Eurozone. Not once. (By contrast, Estonia did eliminate their deficit, and as a result started recovering from The Great Recession quicker than other EU economies.) Greece merely slowed the rate at which they were going more broke (or at least pretended to). Despite being right at the edge of complete national bankruptcy, Greece continues to insist that there will be “no wage or pension cuts” for government workers.

Greece lied about their economic situation to get into the Eurozone, lied about it before the crisis broke, lied after it broke, and continue to lie now.

Keep in mind that the past four years of bank loans from the ECB have not been to save Greece. What they were really designed to do was to keep the card game running long enough to let EU insiders and favored national banks unload Greek bonds, and to reduce their exposure to Greek default risks long enough to put European taxpayers onto the hook in the inevitable event of a Greek default. They pretended to save Greece, and Greece pretended to reform. And now here we are.

The adoption of the Euro hastened and deepened Greece's crisis, but was not the central cause, which was their refusal to stop spending money they didn't have to prop up their extravagant (even by European standards) welfare state. This modern welfare state has now become more sacred to voters than the capitalist economics that make it possible. As Mark Steyn put it, "People’s sense of entitlement endures long after the entitlement has ceased to make sense."

The problem is that with declining demographics, the cradle-to-grave European welfare state is unsustainable. Greece and the rest of the PIIGS are discovering that first, but birth rates are declining all across Europe, and modern welfare states are unsustainable without a new generation to stick with the bill. Most economists believe that Greece will never be able to pay back what they've already borrowed.

Syriza was elected on a platform of ignoring basic economic reality, but they've finally run out of people willing to loan them money to spend. The risk of a Grexit is already priced into all the European markets, But leaving the Eurozone doesn't provide relief for any of the Euro-denominated debt Greece already owes, and there's no guarantee European markets would even be willing to exchange refloated drachmas for real(er) money. And since it's hard to see any sane institution buying Greek debt after a default, Greece's government would undoubtedly start printing drachmas like mad and trigger hyperinflation.

If Greece was willing to pare back its welfare state to much saner levels, they might have a chance to slowly dig their way out of the crisis. Since they refuse to, they're in for a whole lot more economic pain...

Comment: The European Welfare State is Unsustainable (Score 0) 396

Since the UK wisely kept its own currency, disruptions from a "Brexit" would be relatively minimal. It's far more likely that will see Greece exit the Euro, because they absolutely refuse to stop spending money they don't have. (Note that despite talk of "austerity," not once since the European debt crisis started has Greek cut government outlays to match receipts.) To Greece (and to a lesser extent the other PIIGS), the welfare state benefits have become more sacred than the capitalist system underwriting them.

The problem with the modern welfare state is that eventually you run out of people to stick with the tab. It both discourages work and generates declining demographics, a dynamic that is unsustainable in the long run.

Well, Greece is starting to reach the long run. They can't afford their own welfare state, but it's become so entrenched that politicians refuse to significately pare it back even on the brink of national bankruptcy.

The UK, like Germany, has a strong enough economy to avoid this fate for quite a while, but it too will get there eventually...

Comment: Re:"Kaspersky's relationship with the Kremlin" (Score 1) 288

I currently am a systems engineer working specifically on email systems design.

And this makes you an authority about Weapons of Mass Destruction how? Even if you were doing email systems design for DuPont or the military, you'd have no authority to cite.

Also, if you were any good as a "systems engineer" they wouldn't have you working on email, that's a lower rung than even web backends. Whoever was responsible for cooking up Saddam's nasties in the 80s wouldn't even hire guys of your caliber as a floor manager, let alone as an engineer.

+ - Jason Scott of textfiles.com Wants Your AOL & Shovelware CDs-> 1

Submitted by eldavojohn
eldavojohn writes: You've probably got a spindle in your close tor a drawer full of CD-ROM media mailed to you or delivered with some hardware that you put away "just in case" and now (ten years later) the case for actually using them is laughable. Well, a certain mentally ill individual named Jason Scott has a fever and the only cure is more AOL CDs. But his sickness doesn't stop there, "I also want all the CD-ROMs made by Walnut Creek CD-ROM. I want every shovelware disc that came out in the entire breadth of the CD-ROM era. I want every shareware floppy, while we’re talking. I want it all. The CD-ROM era is basically finite at this point. It’s over. The time when we’re going to use physical media as the primary transport for most data is done done done. Sure, there’s going to be distributions and use of CD-ROMs for some time to come, but the time when it all came that way and when it was in most cases the only method of distribution in the history books, now. And there were a specific amount of CD-ROMs made. There are directories and listings of many that were manufactured. I want to find those. I want to image them, and I want to put them up. I’m looking for stacks of CD-ROMs now. Stacks and stacks. AOL CDs and driver CDs and Shareware CDs and even hand-burned CDs of stuff you downloaded way back when. This is the time to strike." Who knows? His madness may end up being appreciated by younger generations!
Link to Original Source

Comment: Re: You're dying off (Score 1) 286

by donscarletti (#49722997) Attached to: The Auto Industry May Mimic the 1980s PC Industry

Young men would buy expensive custom sound/entertainment systems for mediocre cars when I was a lad, but they would stop well before 30. This was not a generational thing then and it isn't one now.

Young people (under 25) as a rule feel they should be provided quality entertainment while driving. Less young people (over 25) don't. I for instance have a 6 stack CD player full of shitty Chinese pop songs that I don't particularly like, but really I don't care.

Crime

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Gets Death Penalty In Boston Marathon Bombing 649

Posted by timothy
from the what-say-ye? dept.
mpicpp writes with a link to the New York Times's version of story that a Boston jury earlier today returned a verdict of death in the Boston Marathon bombing. From that report: A federal jury on Friday condemned Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, a failed college student, to death for setting off bombs at the 2013 Boston Marathon that killed three people and injured hundreds more in the worst terrorist attack on American soil since Sept. 11, 2001. The jury of seven women and five men, which last month convicted Mr. Tsarnaev, 21, of all 30 charges against him, 17 of which carry the death penalty, took more than 14 hours to reach its decision. It was the first time a federal jury had sentenced a terrorist to death in the post-Sept. 11 era, according to Kevin McNally, director of the Federal Death Penalty Resource Counsel Project, which coordinates the defense in capital punishment cases.

Comment: They took the Tea Party seriously... (Score 2) 405

by Nova Express (#49652131) Attached to: Is IT Work Getting More Stressful, Or Is It the Millennials?

...because the Tea Party took scalps . They defeated Republican incumbents in primaries. They ended political careers. That's what forced Republican office-holders to take them seriously.

As far as I can tell, an Occupy-backed candidate (if there even is such a thing) hasn't defeated a single Democratic incumbent. As such, the Democratic Party can continue to ignore them the way they ignore black voters.

Comment: Re: sampling bias (Score 1) 405

by donscarletti (#49651969) Attached to: Is IT Work Getting More Stressful, Or Is It the Millennials?

Well, Aristophanes quoting Socrates is not so much different to Plato quoting Socrates, which is where his canonical quotes come from.

Aristophanes himself was an expert on cantankerous old people, as evinced by reading "The Wasps", an insightful critique of the classical period / Iron Age problems of increased life expectancy based on better diet and sanitation coupled with a marked decrease in violence compared to the Bronze Age leading to people living well past 40 and causing trouble for the young.

The allegory he tells, of Procleon, an old man addicted to voting and public participation to the detriment of the state rings true today, especially in countries without mandatory voting and too many elections for a working man to attend (the U.S.).

One also should consider that when Aristopanes was born, Rome was still a little discussed village in the middle of nowhere, so as far as knowing about old men, he would have you all bested.

Comment: Re: sampling bias (Score 2) 405

by donscarletti (#49651667) Attached to: Is IT Work Getting More Stressful, Or Is It the Millennials?

They seem to feel "owed" by society a job, and to be treated nicely and fairly.

I'll tell you some personal anecdotes if I may. I'm right on the old end of the so called "Millenial" generation, I graduated from university in 2006. 6 months after getting my first job, the U.S. economy went to shit and the American customer for the project I was working on cancelled the project and my contract was not renewed. 8 months after getting my second job, another round of layoffs hit (based on declining U.S. sales, a failed Nasdaq IPO and the national government cancelling subsidies), with some exceptions in a last in first out pattern, until finally after a year and a half, I was the new guy again and I was actively encouraged to apply for other jobs. I tried a foreign country after that, but the company I worked for folded after 10 months.

To my knowledge I am not a pariah and for what it's worth I am well appreciated by my current employer, I would assume this is more or less typical of those who entered the workforce with me and were laid off along side me. Compared to even Generation X, who got started during the prosperous 90s and were able to keep their first jobs for long enough to make them meaningful, or the Baby Boomers who often went through their whole careers with a single employer, it is really hard to picture those who entered the workforce along side me considering having a job as anything less than an elusive state that can only be retained through long hours, office politics and luck.

Comment: Re:Defense of the Article (Score 1) 425

by eldavojohn (#49620497) Attached to: The Programming Talent Myth

So there could be two groups, those who look to improve their skill, who quickly distance themselves from the group that doesn't. Of course, there will still be wide variance in skill between the members of each group. I'm sure you can think of other ways it could happen.

No, I can't. I started out and I sucked. I got better eventually through experience. In order for it to be truly bimodal, people have to start in either camp A or camp B and end in the same camp they started in. Because if you transition from one to another over time, any point in time will capture a group of people in between the modes. Now, you can argue that people don't spend much time in between those modes but you haven't presented any evidence for that. What's more likely is you have geocities coders on one tail and John Carmack/Linus Torvolds on the other tail. And in between are people like the presenter and I. And since I'm not instantaneously going from bad to good, the reality of the situation is most likely some degree of a normal curve filled with people trying to get better at programming or even just getting better though spending lots of time doing it and learning a little along the way.

For all your attacks on the presenter, your argument of a bi-modal distribution sounds more flawed to me. I would love to see your study and hear your argument.

+ - Recent Paper Shows Fracking Chemicals in Drinking Water, Industry Attacks It->

Submitted by eldavojohn
eldavojohn writes: A recent paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences turned up 2-Butoxyethanol from samples collected from three households in Pennsylvania. The paper's level headed conclusion is that more conservative well construction techniques should be used to avoid this in the future and that flowback should be better controlled. Rob Jackson, another scientist who reviewed the paper, stressed that the findings were an exception to normal operations. Despite that, the results angered the PR gods of the Marcellus Shale Gas industry and awoke beltway insider mouthpieces to attack the research — after all, what are they paying them for?
Link to Original Source

Comment: Defense of the Article (Score 1) 425

by eldavojohn (#49619837) Attached to: The Programming Talent Myth

This guy doesn't know how to measure programming ability, but somehow manages to spend 3000 words writing about it.

To be fair, you can spend a great deal of time talking about something and make progress on the issue without solving it.

For example the current metrics are abysmal so it's worth explaining why they're abysmal. I just was able to delete several thousand lines of JavaScript from one of my projects after a data model change (through code reuse and generalization) -- yet I increased functionality. My manager was confused and thought it was a bad thing to get rid of code like that ... it was absolute dopamine bliss to me while he felt like our production was being put in reverse. KLOC is a terrible metric. But yet we still need to waste a lot of breath explaining why it's a terrible metric.

Another reason to waste a lot of time talking about a problem without reaching an answer is to elaborate on what the known unknowns are and speculate about the unknown unknowns. Indeed, the point of this article seemed to be to advertise the existence of unknown unknowns to "recruiters, venture capitalists, and others who are actually determining who gets brought into the community."

So he doesn't know......programmer ability might actually be a bi-modal distribution.

Perhaps ... but that would imply that one does not transition over time from one hump to the next or if they do, it's like flipping a light switch. When I read this I assumed that he was talking only about people who know how to program and not "the average person mixed in with programmers."

If he had collected data to support his hypothesis, then that would have been an interesting article.

But you just said there's no way to measure this ... how could he have collected data? What data set could have satiated us? The answer is quite obvious and such collection would have been a larger fool's errand than the original article's content.

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. -- Arthur C. Clarke

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