Follow Slashdot stories on Twitter


Forgot your password?
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×

Comment "Unemployment rate" isn't simple (Score 1) 286

I personally remember when government data back early in the Reagan presidency went from reporting nearly 15% unemployment nationwide to well under 6% by redefining what "unemployed" meant. So . . . has government data ever been trustworthy, and is it still so?

This is a tricky topic with no easy answers or fixes.

The US government actually publishes several different metrics on unemployment. They don't make any ONE of them "official".

There has been one that has been by convention used as the unemployment rate by most of the press. But any politician or pundit can and often do cherry-pick which metric they want to use to spin things their way.

There are many gray areas to measuring. For example, there many people who would enter the work-force if offered enough, but otherwise are not actively seeking. "Domestic spouses" often fall into this category. They may be perfectly happy being a domestic spouse, BUT would probably take a job if it paid well enough. Same with retirees. That's why "actively seeking" if often a component of preferred metrics. However, some are down and out and have given up actively seeking. The reasons and motivations for not actively seeking vary greatly and have no clear cut-off points.

Compare it to trying to measure who is the best basketball player. Points-per-game is often used, but leaves out a lot of other details, such as passing ability, defense, rebounds, turnovers, shooting percentages, etc.

Shooting percentage is a fairly nice metric, but it often skips out the fact the best shooter is often given the ball when the play-clock is running down and they have to take desperate, well-defended shots because the defense knows they have to shoot very soon (as opposed defending against passing or driving toward the hoop, since there's no time for those). That's likely to lower their shooting percentage. We can perhaps compensate by splitting shooting percentage into those made with more than say 6 seconds to go and those made with less than 6. But as you see, it's difficult to find a single simple metric. Composite metrics can be formed, but few will agree on how to weigh and construct the various sub-metrics that go into such.

Comment Re:Why go back to Reagan? (Score 1) 286

Interesting links, but I don't see how it constitutes a "big lie". The Gallup blog's title seems strikingly sensationalistic—especially considering it's from the Gallup CEO.

Maybe, this explanation will help you understand, what Gallup's CEO was trying to say. In particular (emphasis mine):

if you are so hopelessly out of work that you’ve stopped looking over the past four weeks — the Department of Labor doesn’t count you as unemployed


Say you’re an out-of-work engineer or health care worker or construction worker or retail manager: If you perform a minimum of one hour of work a week and are paid at least $20 you’re not officially counted as unemployed in the much reported 5.6 percent.

But, hey, maybe, the government has always counted things this way — and Obama is simply continuing the misleading practice?

No, employees of the Census Bureau were actually faking data, and the Bureau knew it.

The lesson here is that no one should be trusted with statements, that benefit him. When there is a conflict of interest — be it a President lauding his achievements, a Climate Scientist defending his discipline's grave importance to humanity, or a salesman hawking his product, the spin and "alternative facts" are the matter of course.

Comment Re:Begging popups (Score 1) 140

every time I start up a browser that isn't Edge, it pop ups a little warning saying how Edge is a better and safer browser.

Clippy lives!: "It looks like you are trying to use an inferior non-sanctioned browser..."

Have Vivaldi display a counter popup that says Microsoft is a lying greedy bastard. Make it only periodic and fade by itself so it's not a lasting annoyance.

Comment Re:Hey, I have a tangential question . . . (Score 1) 276

I wonder if fracking will bring enough money into the region to pay for the damages which will be caused by the major earthquake which is now foreseeably coming their way?

LOL no. Oklahomans seem to think they're in the business of exporting energy. No. They're in the business of importing environmental devastation from other states who want energy without destroying their own homes. So thanks, Oklahoma! Enjoy the money while it's still medically safe for your kids to play outside, but understand that the rest of us have no plans to help you clean up the mess afterward. After all, that's what we paid you for. Best of luck!

Comment Re:Silly question (Score 1) 286

he result is that you simply cannot ANSWER the question "is government data reliable" - there's just no single answer.

And partly because there's no single data set or even data repository, in the government or out of the government. A lot of data is gathered elsewhere specifically to sanity check other data, and in some cases data is gathered for another purpose but happens to overlap with data gathered for another purpose, allowing comparisons and checks for sanity.

It's probably not even within the realm of the possible to cook the raw data even if you wanted to because there's just too much of it in too many places and significant deviations from comparison data would expose it.

The larger risk isn't corruption of the data itself or even its gathering, it's false narratives built with good data. You can't challenge the veracity of the data itself, you have to argue against the conclusions made and that's much more difficult.

Comment Re:Externalities. (Score 1) 342

"So when a state 'forgives' taxes, it is just pushing it onto the existing residents"

Do the math. How much are the "existing residents" paying for 50,000 unemployed citizens? So it's not that they are paying zero -- they are a net NEGATIVE on the budget. If the math says it's cheaper to blow off BigBusinessX and lose a bunch of jobs and keep providing aid to unemployed or underemployed people so be it. I think the math would show something quite different, though.

" it ends up being a race to the bottom."

Welcome to the world of unintended consequences! Please sign in!

Comment Why go back to Reagan? (Score 1) 286

I personally remember when government data back early in the Reagan presidency went from reporting nearly 15% unemployment nationwide to well under 6% by redefining what "unemployed" meant.

Why go back to Reagan — a hateful RethugliKKKan — (with an uncited "drive-by" accusation) when a beloved Nobel Peace Prize winner did just such a big lie in 2010?

And, if we are searching for the first such lie, we ought to go to, at least, F.D. Roosevelt — another beloved Democrat — and his redefining the price of gold and silver.

Comment Re:Own goal! (Score 2, Insightful) 107

Except, it's a non-fungible choice.

The US has led the free world for 70+ years, and is taken for granted by its allies and even the neutrals - the US military protects them, so they can spend $ on butter not guns (and then out-compete US industries). The US taxpayer's checkbook funds their social spending so they can complain freely about what a shithole America is.

We're spending $billions on foreign aid...that we have to BORROW FROM CHINA. That's like taking out a mortgage so you can continue making donations to United Way.

I've always been an internationalist, moreso than most of my peers but even I recognize that while of course there is enlightened self-interest in foreign aid, we've built a culture of world-addiction to American sacrifice. We're done spending blood and treasure to try to drag some shathole country into the 20th century, to say nothing of the 21st. ISIS is a problem? Yep, maybe fix your own country instead of fleeing to a nicer place. You're overwhelmed with troublesome refugees? Maybe a coast guard or even some semblance of border security is YOUR problem, we're not taking any of them.

No, I would say instead that a few years of China will help the US enormously

Comment Re:Back Up! Back Up!... (Score 1) 147

The problem with really good backup strategies is they are also really expensive, being demanding of disk I/O and disk capacity. We joke sometimes that based on usage patterns, many customers should run production on backup storage and backups to production storage because backup uses more IOPS, throughput and capacity than primary.

I don't know what their systems or processes are like in St Louis or what they had to restore, but a smaller library I worked with once had something like 5 TB of production data (basic LUN consumption for their VM environment).

A total restore from disk backup capable of aggregate throughput of 100 MB/sec is in the neighborhood of 13 hours for that much data, and I would say for most places a backup storage, system and primary storage environment capable of running restores at that rate is pretty impressive, usually it bogs someplace in the backup software (assembling data from incremental chains, decompression or something).

Improving on that can be done, but it's never cheap -- secondary production-quality storage that holds frequent replicas, for example, but it requires more storage and more money, and even if its not right, budget realities often prevent a customer from buying 2-3x needed production-quality capacity to store this.

Slashdot Top Deals

Top Ten Things Overheard At The ANSI C Draft Committee Meetings: (3) Ha, ha, I can't believe they're actually going to adopt this sucker.