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Comment Re:The sampling is robust. (Score 0) 584

Fine, they've added cell phones to their methodology. It still doesn't create a representative sample. Did they ask how many of the landline respondents have cell phones to account for the overlapping sub-population? Did they ask people with landlines how many adults lived in their household? Did they generalize the opinion of one householder to the entire household? Did they account for deactivated, temporary, and multiple cell phones? Did they account for the outsized influence of people who answer to strange numbers and choose to participate in surveys? How did they survey Luddites and the homeless? Did they control for the wording of the question? Did they randomize the order of questions?

None of this is unique to Pew or this survey, but you can call it "robust" all day long, it doesn't change the fact that it's a meaningless number one step removed from being pulled out of a hat.

Comment Re:The sampling is robust. (Score 5, Insightful) 584

There are other factors in determining the "robustness" of a poll besides how the questions are worded and how many people were surveyed. For example, what people were surveyed, and what population they represent. Pew surveys homes (not individuals) with landline phones (which younger people don't bother with) that are listed in the phone book. That is not even a representative sampling of households, nevertheless of individuals.

Comment Re:Nepal can charge what it likes (Score 1) 204

If you don't like it, don't go to Nepal.

This idea seems to encapsulate the belief that everything in the world is perfect. Laws are never arbitrary, enforcement is perfectly consistent, and knowledge is uniform. In the reality we actually live in, the sentiment ought to be "if the Nepalese don't want people filming anything, they should tell them that at the summit, or else confiscate their equipment, or levy a fee prior to entry." If they're not going to be upfront about it, that ought to be considered their own fault.

Comment Re:It's their country.. (Score 1) 204

It's not really up to anyone outside Nepal to tell them how to change their laws, they're an independent nation.

If they're so independent, then surely they can withstand the criticism of outsiders? If it offends them so much, they can just ignore it.

This isn't a human rights issue or something similarly abusive to a group of people.

Unless you consider freedom of movement a right.

If they need you to get a broadcast permit, however ridiculous it seems, get a broadcast permit.

Except that the requirement was not clear before the fact. Capricious enforcement is in some ways worse than heavy handed but consistent enforcement.

Comment Re:Their country, their rules (Score 1) 204

I'm sure the guy could have said anything he wanted while he was up on top of that mountain. The right to say anything is not the right to come into your house and take pictures and broadcast them to the world without your permission, even if you have invited me to dinner. His "human right to free speech and free press" were not abridged by the fee to broadcast from Everest. He was still free to go home and say anything he wanted about anything. He could have turned to the Sherpa standing next to him and said whatever he wanted. He could have taken photographs, written a story or poem or essay.

Hence, "free press" and not just "free speech".

Many libertarians (I'm not saying this is you, drinky), go off the rails on this issue. It ends up with "speech = money, money = speech" which dead ends at "paying people to vote". It is a sentiment that comes from believing that the people with the most money have your best interest at heart, which comes from missing Daddy.

Nobody has your best interest at heart, except you. Anyone who claims to believe in the benevolence of abstract others has no idea what libertarianism is about.

I don't blame Nepal for being very stingy with their heritage sites.

It's not being stingy, it's changing the terms after the fact. If they don't want video recorded and transmitted, then they should charge a broadcaster's fee to anyone who brings a device capable of recording and transmitting video. We could go on and on with this "but the law said! the law must be followed!" bullshit all day long, but at the end of the day the law is never 100% clear and no one knows the law 100%, even in his own country, nonetheless a foreign one. Upfront enforcement should be the norm wherever possible, as it leaves nothing to doubt.

The West believes about every place on earth, about every culture, "Fuck them, I do what I want because I've this big bag of money hanging between my legs" and yet when the people whose home they are in want to charge for the goodies it's all, "FREE SPEECH!! FREE SPEECH!! HUMAN RIGHTS!!". This ends in the "human right of white people to exploit the Third World".

The funny thing about hosting someone with a "big bag of money hanging between [his] legs" is that you get to negotiate how much of that money the person will give to you in exchange for what you can offer to him. Someone running the gateway to the most well known mountain in the world should probably have some idea of how to negotiate with foreigners who want to climb it. No one has ever been "exploited" except because of his own ignorance or gullibility.

Let's not bullshit. The libertarians who make the most noise (and I'm not saying this is you, drink) don't give one flip about human rights. They're children of privilege who are trying to press their advantage, nothing more.

Indeed, there are natural rights (life, liberty, and property), and the rest is all privileges and entitlements, none of which is a "human right".

Comment Re:The Spin was Awesome! (Score 1) 1145

While you are correct that, in practice, the President is largely a powerless figurehead, the President actually does possess a number of useful powers. The problem is that most Presidents nowadays do not use them. The President has the veto power to reign in legislative excesses. The President has the power to commute and pardon prisoners to reign in judicial excesses. And the President has the ability to appoint the officers of government and terminate the employees of executive agencies. Although the extent of the President's independent warmaking powers is open to considerable debate, the President is indisputably the commander-in-chief and so has the power to set military priorities in peacetime and strategies in wartime. Of course, taking a bold position and exercising any of these powers judiciously would open the President up to personal responsibility, which means he couldn't shift blame to other people as much.

Comment Re:Something is wrong (Score 1) 311

Who the hell thinks making 5% over inflation every year for 20 years is "very conservative"? That is quite a successful investment plan! Also, it only takes one of those heirs being profligate to destroy all of your "math". Moreover, real wealth cannot "multiply forever, faster and faster" unless economic activity as a whole does likewise. In other words, for every fat cat sitting in his mansion, somebody (most likely, many somebodies) had to be doing something useful with that money.

Comment Re:There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch (Score 1) 405

Yeah, I'm not gonna lie, my argument is crap. Rather, this is what I should have said:

1. The postal monopoly legally prohibits private carriers like FedEx and UPS from providing a service comparable to first-class mail delivery.

2. The price of first-class postage is regulated by the Postal Regulatory Commission, to which the USPS is beholden per its charter as established by Congress in the Postal Reorganization Act of 1970 and amended by Congress in the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act of 2006. Hence $0.46 does not necessarily reflect the actual cost of delivery.

Comment Re:No contest, surely. (Score 1) 405

The VA hospitals don't just treat people, they do research on which treatments work and which don't.

The quality of the research the VA does, while it might be quite beneficial to the field as a whole, is irrelevant to patient outcomes. You could make a case that research should be government-led while treatment should not be, but that was not the point originally at discussion.

For example, I looked up the outcomes colon cancer surgery, and the best results, with the best survival, were in the VA hospital system

While that's to the credit of the VA system, it hardly disproves that its outcomes are wildly inconsistent. Furthermore, it fails to address the quality of care that is provided (e.g., how many people got bacterial infections while their cancer was remediated?).

Military doctors have priorities, and their first priority is to treat soldiers from the battlefield (or at the battlefield) with head wounds and legs blown off. You may have to wait for them to take time off to look at your hemorrhoids.

That is irrelevant to the Department of Veterans Affairs, which does not provide medical care in proximity (in space or time) to the battlefield. Also, I think you should look closer at what you are trying to say, because it implies that anything less than a grievous wound can be ignored, which is an attitude that is endemic to active-duty health care and leads to poor lifelong health outcomes for ex-soldiers.

Comment Re:A dumb public is an easily manipulated public (Score 1) 405

The problem with your thesis is that it looks at correlation and infers causation. This is the fallacy that has driven "education reform" for decades and continues to drive educational outcomes downward. It is the same fallacy that created the previous housing bubble. Home ownership does not give a person responsibility; it used to take responsibility in order to own home. Likewise, education doesn't cause any of the things you say it does. Unfortunately, the causal relationships are in many cases very difficult if not impossible to identify, and even when they can be identified they typically cannot be controlled.

How do you get a kid who doesn't want to learn anything to pay attention? How do you get parents who don't value education to change their opinion? How do you get a school full of kids who believe their best chance of amounting to something is to form gangs, deal drugs, and kill each other to recognize that alternatives exist? These are difficult questions that are highly unlikely to be answered by twiddling with funding levels, tweaking curricular milestones, or administering standardized tests. Yet those are precisely the sorts of things that "education reform" has been, and will likely continue to be, about.

Never mind the grossly bloated administrative staffs, the extremely high liability insurance costs, the ridiculous inconsistency of teacher quality, the almost completely worthless and disgustingly expensive teacher certification programs, or any of the many other forms of structural rot that have taken hold. I've often thought that there is no such thing as a conspiracy in the US, because it's so hard to get two Americans to agree to anything that any "conspiracy" would have to be so decentralized that it would be unrecognizable as such. Nevertheless, if you set out to create a system for preserving the status quo while appearing sincerely intent on doing otherwise, you'd be hard pressed to do better than what we have.

Comment Re:No contest, surely. (Score 1) 405

There are two factors you are ignoring in proclaiming the greatness of government-run health facilities:

1. Quality. The military healthcare system is notorious for its terrible (or, at the very least, wildly inconsistent) quality of service and outcomes.

2. Confounding variables. There are examples of facilities (e.g. in India) which are not state-run yet achieve decent outcomes at much more reasonable prices.

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