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Comment Nearby even higher than that (Score 5, Informative) 387


"Here is an update on the South Pole and nearby Nico and Henry Automatic Weather Stations (AWS) record high temperatures recorded on 25 December 2011:
-- The prior record high temperature at South Pole was recorded on 27 December 1978, not on 12 December 1978, as misquoted in some sources.
-- Preliminary assessment of  the record high at Nico AWS was -8.2C or 17.2F on 25 December 2011.  This breaks the previous known record of -13.9C or 7F recorded on 4 January 2010.
-- Preliminary assessment of the record high at Henry AWS was -8.9C or 16F on 25 December 2011. This break the previous known record of -14.5C or 5.9F on 5 January 2010."

Comment Re referenced FOUNDER-EFFECT article (Score 1) 309

[[Helpful response to article, published 8 December -->]]

Language is complex, having many variables with many possible values; selection of modeled variables has tremendous impact on model's claims; seriously, claims of founder effects are unjustified when you realize that linguists are still debating the basic VARIABLES and MODES of speech perception (gestures or acoustic cues, how they relate, how speech plans are translated into articulation and into perception, rules or constraints, ranked or weighted, exemplars or not, and if so, exemplars for allophony?).

Interesting archaeological discovery -- and I'm sure interesting to historical linguists --, as always, though, the tower of babel remains a fable.

Comment Re:sold to china (Score 1) 522

"Iran will sell this drone to China, I'm sure."

It may not fetch so high a price (assuming truth of claim, integrity of wreckage, ...), if wikipedia/aviation weekly can be trusted: "The design lacks several elements common to stealth engineering, namely notched landing gear doors and sharp leading edges. It has a curved wing planform, and the exhaust is not shielded by the wing. Aviation Week postulates that these elements suggest the designers have avoided 'highly sensitive technologies' due to the near certainty of eventual operational loss inherent with a single engine design and a desire to avoid the risk of compromising leading edge technology."

Comment Re:Wow (Score 5, Insightful) 300

"They are equipped like a damn government."

(see Mancur Olson:
"In his final book, Power and Prosperity, Olson distinguished between the economic effects of different types of government, in particular, tyranny, anarchy and democracy. Olson argued that a "roving bandit" (under anarchy) has an incentive only to steal and destroy, whilst a "stationary bandit" (a tyrant) has an incentive to encourage a degree of economic success, since he will expect to be in power long enough to take a share of it. The stationary bandit thereby takes on the primordial function of government - protection of his citizens and property against roving bandits.")

Comment Intention and execution: some discrepancies (Score 1) 629

First, the intention and the stated regulation:
"What is the discount rate?
Banks also can borrow reserves directly from the Federal Reserve Banks at their "discount windows," and the discount rate is the rate that financially sound banks must pay for this "primary credit." The Boards of Directors of the Reserve Banks set these rates, subject to the review and determination of the Federal Reserve Board. ("Secondary credit" is offered at higher interest rates and on more restrictive terms to institutions that do not qualify for primary credit.) Since January 2003, the discount rate has been set 100 basis points above the funds rate target, though the difference between the two rates could vary in principle. Setting the discount rate higher than the funds rate is designed to keep banks from turning to this source before they have exhausted other less expensive alternatives. At the same time, the (relatively) easy availability of reserves at this rate effectively places a ceiling on the funds rate."

--- discount window rate is determined by regulation A, though there is substantial freedom for rates to to below market (see, especially complaint that "above-market discount window framework generally would increase volatility" for their thought process)
--- as other comments have pointed out, the discount window was conceived as ample liquidity with a steep price

Second, the execution:
--- the data for federal funds and discount rate:
Date    Discount Rate            Federal Funds Rate
    change    New Level*        Change    New Level
        Primary1  Secondary2

Feb 19     +.25    0.75    1.25         N/A    N/A


Dec 16     -.75    0.50    1.00        -1 - -.75 0.00 - 0.25

Oct 29     -.50    1.25    1.75        -.50     1.00

Oct 8     -.50    1.75    2.25        -.50     1.50

Apr 30     -.25    2.25    2.75        -.25     2.00

Mar 18    -.75    2.50    3.00        -.75     2.25

Mar 16     -.25    3.25    3.75         N/A    N/A

Jan 30     -.50    3.50    4.00        -.50     3.00

Jan 22    -.75    4.00    4.50        -.75     3.50

-- on 5 Dec 2008, federal funds target rate: 1.00
-- on 5 Dec 2008, published discount rate: 1.25 or 1.75

--- we already know the discount rate charged to these institutions was 0.01%

The most interesting question, for me, and the most pressing:
How is it that member banks learn that the discount rate is a goodly 0.01% if the published rate is 1.25% or 1.75%?

Comment Re:I always thought the reasons were technical (Score 1) 276

I don't think that is true. What happens is this:
(1) Female voices have higher fundamental frequency
(2) Higher fundamental frequency greater distance between harmonics
While (1) and (2) would lead you to believe that therefore female voices have more high frequency components than male voices, what you need to look at is the formants, the bands of energy centered around some frequency that our brain uses to interpret speech. What we see is that formants for vowel sounds for male and female voices are just about at the same frequency, regardless of their fundamental frequency.
If anything, because of (2), female voices carry less information than male voices.
There may be, however, some technical reason re the ease of simulating fewer harmonics with female voices, or we may perceive simulated female voices as more natural than simulated male voices...

Comment Connectionism and encoding meaning (Score 1) 143

I posted the following comment on neuroskeptic about this article:
`"Noteworthy was the high frequency of agent-slotting exchanges between the hospital boss, Joe, and the Mafia boss, Vito, and parallel confusions between the “I” self-reference and underling Mafia members, suggesting generalization of boss/underling relationships."

For the model to recognize these types of relationships, the authors would have had to explicitly tag these agents as possessing either these qualities the constituent elements of these qualities. In either case, it's easy to imagine post-hoc biases in the model's "memory encoder" that generate just-so results without actually reflecting the biological or theoretical underpinnings.
How these relationships are assessed by the "memory encoder" and the "story parser" has much to do with the way features are associated with lexemes. From
"Processing in DISCERN is based on hierarchically-organized backpropagation modules, communicating through a central lexicon of word representations. The lexicon is a double feature map, which transforms the orthographic word symbol into its semantic representation and vice versa."`

A judgement of this article depends largely on whether the parser assigns meaning with a result (at the very least, or, given that the goal is to model schizophrenia, in a way) that's compatible with the output (or processes) of human linguistic cognition.

Comment Richesse or largesse? (Score 1) 156

The search for this black box has been dragging on and on. I remember a few months back when it seemed that the French government was going to give up the search, given that it's cost quite a bit of money already. Other than humanist pride (which is worth more than we might say prima facie), I can't think of a goal that will be reached by furthering this search that's commensurate with the cost.
Were there some (sons or daughters or grand-nieces) of some well-connected people on that flight? (A quick search reveals no name I can place:

Comment Re:Preview (Score 1) 123

An even better example is Ali: Fear Eats the Soul (, which has arguably better (=more dynamic) acting than my previous Fassbinder example, Marta, and which cost only $267,694 2009 USD, though that may be due to the fact that:

[t]he prices for facilities and equipment have been very quickly approaching the marginal cost

I'm interested to see some data re the breakdown between fac./equip. costs and actors/writers/directors/producers/fluffers costs...

Comment Re:Preview (Score 2) 123

This is true. But it doesn't cost a fortune to make a good film; see Fassbinder's Marta (, or really any of his - they were made on a budget, but the acting was phenomenal). In today's dollars (according to some perhaps shaky assumptions re the equivalence of DM and USD inflation rates between 1974-2009, and these sites: and, Marta cost ~$833076 2009 USD. I can't find any information about Zenith's cost, but even ~$900,000 USD is not out of reach for an ambitious (and talented) (outsider) director.

Comment Re:Preview (Score 5, Informative) 123

Nice equipment and editing, quite poor dialogue/acting, though:

[pained, confused]: "Why did you take me here?"

[rapidly and without emotion, as a fast-paced intonation]: "I didn't mean to hurt you, I'm sorry"

[teenage angst]: "Can you at least look at me like you really mean it?"

[customer support]: "I'm sorry."

Comment Re:Horribly written article (Score 1) 88

Agreed. "Because Mercury, unlike Earth, is not tilted relative to its orbital plane, there are areas near the poles where the sun would never come up over the horizon. Those areas are a lot colder than the rest of the planet. Most scientists think the mystery material is water. These regions were discovered when ground-based astronomers bounced radio waves off the planet." How is this 'mystery material' that the author is talking about relevant? We can infer, but for a topic that usually sends science reporters into waves of wankery (i.e., **water in space!!!**), I would expect that we wouldn't have to infer at all; or more like, we'd usually have to roll our eyes, not squint.

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