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Comment Re:Horrible change in Wall Street culture (Score 1) 331

The stock market is actually a secondary market. The entrepreneur who needs capital can get it through private investment or through an IPO. The stock market provides liquidity to those who already own (either initial founders or later investors) shares in the company; by liquidity I mean it allows those shareholders to turn the wealth represented by ownership in a company into cash by selling shares. On the other side buyers in the stock market hope that the wealth represented by owning shares in a company will go up as the company grows, or hope that the company will make profit and pay some of that back in the form of dividends to all part owners.

So if we can agree that there's a societal need for entrepreneurs to raise capital through giving up equity, we can agree that there's a societal need for the stock market to contribute to liquidity of such equity. And if we can agree to that, we might agree that any way inefficiencies can be weeded out of such a market is a boon to society. That last sentence is fundamentally the question that people are trying to investigate: is HFT contributing more to the stability of the stock market than the value it extracts? A free markets proponent might say that if they're still in business, that must be the case, but a counter point would be that the market is not constructed (regulated) in such a way that allows the true worth of an action to shine through. I think that's a question everyone's been trying to answer.

Comment Goals? (Score 1) 329

Why do you want to do this? Are you just curious or trying to get something on your resume? This is an important question because a diversity of advice can be given without knowing the answer to this.

I'm not an expert and probably not qualified enough to answer this question, but in my experience, you can't just start looking at a large project on your own and expect to get anywhere. As an example, any undergrad level OS course will only dig you skin-deep into the Linux kernel. The way I imagine things to work is, someone with more experience in the project you want to work on will help you get started contributing and learning the code base. Alternatively if you use a product extensively and know exactly what you want to contribute and why, you go in with surgical precision and try not to screw it up.

Comment Re:Walking on sand (Score 2) 210

You make a good point, but there's two things I don't think you considered deeply enough: 1. It might not be a noticeable difference. Phones don't need much power. It could be millimeter depressions that generate this energy. 2. People, especially in this country, voluntarily get on treadmills to make their leg muscles use more effort. This can certainly be a win-win situation.

Comment Re:Astounding! (Score 2) 141

There's no absolute concept of time anyway - it would not be more or less correct to say a few hours rather than a few million light years because it all depends where you are in space-time. Their frame of reference is clearly the earliest at which we could have observed the explosion. Still incredible given we were not expecting it and it's not something that people can just observe without lots of equipment.

Comment Re:Capitalism at its best (Score 1) 201

Ok, in any standard supply-demand analysis, you will find that if a company is attaining non-zero profits, in a competitive environment, another company WILL sprout up out of nowhere to snatch a percentage of that, possibly by selling the same products at a lower cost. This reduces the sum total profits attainable by both companies. The reduced value goes into the pool of money that customers get to KEEP.

However! There is a catch to that. It's called barriers to entry. Examples include: patents that the first company holds that are required to produce the product, infrastructure required to deliver the product (think ISPs' fiber, cell towers), and marketability (if you wanted to sell an OS in the mid 1990s, your company name better be Microsoft). There is a huge (debatable in terms of fairness) advantage the market gives to the FIRST guy to succeed in a certain line of business.

So in your examples, it's not in 100% of the cases in small businesses, they give up profit out of a sense of misplaced altruism. It's simply that they don't have anything that can command a higher profit. For companies that rise up again and again in the news (Microsoft, Apple, AT&T, Verizon, the list goes on), they DO have the chips to play. They understand that barriers to entry prevent Joe Shmoe from writing his own OS or making his own smart phone or building his own cell network and compete successfully with them. They understand they are not in a perfectly competitive environment and can thus act monopolistically or oligopolistically.

This is all not to say that analysis involving assumptions of a competitive environment is purely academic and impractical. In this case, the best action for any governing body to do is to try to increase the competitive potential of the market. This is why they allow certain mergers. The standard case is when two small companies merge to better compete against a bigger one (see Thompson-Reuter vis-a-vis Bloomberg). They will/should never allow a merger that is purely or mostly for eliminating competition (which is the case that was leaked here).

Comment Chinese (Score 3, Interesting) 198

I think it's interesting that in most doomsday asteroid scenarios, the US is the one to launch a mission to save the earth. Granted, part of that is because Hollywood wrote those scenarios, but generally the rest of the world doesn't think twice when watching those movies because US is the de facto leader in most things. I think this is a telling inflection point in the history of nations.

Comment Re:Capitalism at its best (Score 3, Informative) 201

Law 1: not true. In a competitive market, the corporation that can give customers the most value will keep the most value for itself. What you say is only true in monopolistic and (sometimes) oligopolistic environments. In this case, however, the market is pretty much an oligopoly. That's why the government has to step in to determine if this merger is something that allows AT&T to compete better and provide more value to the customers or if it's something that will altogether transfer more value from customers to AT&T.

Comment Re:It's called Kalocin. (Score 1) 414

Uh... that's not how it works. Just because you get a cut doesn't mean you'll get an infection nowadays. Granted, that assertion comes as a result of other pieces of modern society like clean water and soap to wash away a wound, but penicillin itself is not directly responsible for the quality of life we enjoy. Most in the US for example don't ever critically need to use penicillin for much of their lives.

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