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Comment Mean value theorem (Score 1) 476

Slashdotters are educated enough to apply the mean value theorem to convert this from a quesiton of "does it ..." to a question of "at what level ...", which changes it from an existence question to an at what level question. However, the real question is whether anyone with any political audience is doing these analyses while incorporating a strong demographics and growth component (of course there is, but is anyone listening DoD Systems 2020). It is one thing for a person to owe 4x their annual salary when they are buying a house at age 25, compared with a 60 yr old buying one at 1x annual salary. The 25yo has a major factor that works in their favor, which is that their income should (in theory) increase during the payoff period, making it ever easier to pay off that debt. The political equivalent to this is the growth-based economic model, which assumes that the economy will grow every year, forever. It is when this assumption fails that we suddenly get very uneasy about debt, just as you might be very uneasy extending "125% of value" mortgages to a 70yo (fair lending and FannieMae, FreddieMac aberrations not included). The Keynesian model sort of works in the exponential part of the economic growth curve, but it fails catastrophically in the Limits to Growth part of the economic universe. The Adam Smith model of economic growth does not fair much better in this region.

Comment Attention to details ! (Score 1) 400

Follow the history:
  • - in 1950's a highway patrolman had to follow you for a fixed distance (e.g., a quarter of a mile) to clock your speed. Human beings do all the work.
  • - in 1960's they used to paint markers along the road and a cop with a stopwatch would time you through those "gates" and compute your average over that distance.
  • - then came radar, and we accepted that an instantaneous measure was adequate, a subtle and unheralded change in philosophy. But at least no one worried about "repeat business"

Now we bring the discipline of the coder to the problem, and we really have a way to understand the rules. I love it!

Comment Re:Place names (Score 1) 642

Sorry, the assumption that pure democracy (or pure representative democracy) is better than a republic is completely at odds with the facts of modern psychology, brain science and marketing research. In a democracy we let the mass speak with their advertisement-besotted understanding of issues that are far too complex to fit into 30-second video bits. In a republic we let the mass pick representatives who then act in the best interests of the highly paid lobbyists (who are paid by rent-seekers (definition)) and activists (who spend time the rest of us cannot or will not). The rent-seekers and activists count on the fact that the losers in their transactions (the taxpayers) see small marginal costs while the focusing of those small marginal costs into the winners pockets becomes a very attractive cash flow (just think, if you could get a penny for each credit card transaction, you'd be able to retire, but which of the millions using credit cards would have the will and the incentive to fight back?). As for forming large coalitions (in a sort of fully realized "at -large", well just look at how well that is working in the countries that have the parliamentary systems. I think that Europe's inability to address their fiscal nightmare lines up quit nicely with the US inability to address their own fiscal problem. And reactions of people like Depardieu just serve to remind us that talent and money are mobile in ways that the run-of-the-mill rest are not. Any strongly formed effort to prevent rent-seeking will have to deal with that mobility or face turning their country into the next "place to be from." The real solution for the truly conscientious might be as simple as "dropping out" the way the hippies in the 60's wanted to, leaving the salarymen and wage-slaves to support the rent-seekers.

Comment You have to teach creationism first ... (Score 1) 813

You have to teach creationism first, because only in the context of overturning reason-based and faith-based beliefs can you teach the history of the scientific method in a way that guides the student to understand its power. Seeing the theory of evolution come to life (ahem, so to speak) as the result of a discovery process that slowly tears down those cherished creationist fallacies is the PERFECT way to teach how the scientific method itself evolved to be based on data and observation over "pure intellect" (as in the ancient Greeks, per Aristotle, who argued that "heavier things fall faster because they logically had to) and faith (whose followers argue that " God created the heavens and the earth..." ).

We sometimes forget that both of the non-scientific methods lead to great and often institutional stupidity. Reason without data is seen all the time when charlatans and the like argue that "women are the same as men because anything else is social heresy". And as for faith without data, well, get thee to Missouri.


Submission + - Can't sleep? Maybe it not just those powerdrinks!

FreedomFirstThenPeac writes: SciAm reported that late night video, especially the "I'll just read my tablet so sweetie can sleep" variety, might be to blame for sleeplessness. It re-programs your circadian rhythms through your primary EM coding interface (eyeballs). So now I'll be wearing blue-suppressing sunglasses to bed, think that'll get noticed?

  1. The first ref is the SciAm article Bright Screens Could Delay Bedtime
  2. The second is a what's what list of great references from the literature f.lux sleep research site

Comment Moral equivalency is bogus (Score 1) 564

Frankly, the confluence of islamofascist infiltration and political correctness drive my strong tendency to arm myself to the limits allowed by the laws in effect at the time I am arming, hence my 50-round clips are not registered and never will be. Because my other on-line persona are not nearly so gracious as this one, as in other venues I refer to the islamofascists in far less civilized terms (even, gasp, presenting pictures of Mohamet in unflattering ways). And a large caliber with high rate of fire works pretty well in defending against onesies and twosies of any religious sect.

The people who argue that we are (im)morally equivalent to these goat-fekkers are confusing the 1400s (nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition) with the 1960s. The separation of Church and State (such as it is in the West, see Magna Carta) has not been discovered yet in the MIddle East. Only the Europeans and in some sense the Chinese-Japanese-Koreans and similar have separated the two.

Footnote: high-caliber and high fire rate do not help at all against the mob (adverts not-withstanding, so don't look for me in cities.

Comment Do the math right (Score 1) 233

Idiocratic journalists don't even ask the first order correcting question let alone the second. The first is, how much is their spending per capita compared to ours (duh, about a factor of 4 or 5 there), and second, how much is their spending per engineer/scientist (or whatever subgroup that actually needs that spending). Again, duh, about a factor of 3.5-4? Of course, we ARE producing the worlds most educated baristas, busquers and bloggers.

Comment Google and Wikis (Score 1) 255

We also get Google and Wikipedia ... doing for free (with tip jars ala NPR/PBS) what AOL, Yahoo, etc could not do. This is just like musicians having to learn to make their money off their IP by selling concerts rather than by selling the songs. They make less on average as a consequence, but there are more people making those token wages as 2nd income (my perception, no data). Sure, we still have the top-pop-40 industrial-"musak" feeding the masses, but who cares? Let them tear each other apart in the free market while the rest of us enjoy the new subsistence economy.

Comment Baristas and busquers (Score 1) 510

One thing that Henry Ford was noted for was his idea that the workers should be paid well enough to afford the products they produce (at least, in basic industries like car production). This idea (that workers are also customers) may need to be revisited. How will a world operate when it is producing all the electric cars we need with only a handful of technicians running massively automated factories? More importantly, how will we keep clothing and food production factories running when the only work available is as baristas and busquers? The automated workplace needs a new model for (re)distributing income, or it will collapse from lack of markets. And we cannot simply borrow against equity (like we did in the 1990s with housing) to fuel the consumer-based economy. The transition from industrial to the new subsistence society is not going to be any smoother than any other massive shifts in economic systems were.. Fasten your seatbelts, it's going to be a rough ride.

Comment Re:Quoting Bob Dylan here - (Score 1) 2987

Well, I could turn this around and claim that the thing we are doing over and over is making it harder for citizens to defend themselves, with these sorts of things as a natural consequence of that failure to change. But then I am more of an evidence-based decision maker rather than a simple ideologue.

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