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Comment Re:Not Causation! (Score 1) 627

Everytime I hear people trot out the "correlation is not causation" thread, I feel like thwacking them over the head with a statistics book.

Here's the correct formulation (paraphrased from textbooks): Correlation MIGHT be causation if other factors can be analyzed and accounted for. As a corollary: If you can use different regions and times, but have only the one variable (leaded gasoline) changed, you can make a strong argument for causation.

From the MJ article:

Meanwhile, Nevin had kept busy as well, and in 2007 he published a new paper looking at crime trends around the world (PDF). This way, he could make sure the close match he'd found between the lead curve and the crime curve wasn't just a coincidence. Sure, maybe the real culprit in the United States was something else happening at the exact same time, but what are the odds of that same something happening at several different times in several different countries?

The MJ article goes through the history of this research and multiple researchers using different datasets and techniques reached the same conclusion. This may go beyond "might" by correlation.

Comment Re:three words, one hyphen: (Score 1) 549

If everyone paid out of pocket, I can assure you it would be way cheaper.

Like pet veterinary care.

There's a much simpler, basic reason: most people believe the $1000+ hearing aids are better. They aren't really, but that is the value seniors and other place on them, and no manufacturer wants to leave money on the table. Even seniors without insurance would want to pay that price because they believe quality has to cost that much. If they bought a $300 model, seniors would be lobbying their kids for the $2000 model.

So much of health care spending is 'irrational', and as long as our comfort and longevity are on the table, we'll spend what ever it takes even if it is out of our own pockets.

Comment Re:Gasoline is an Imported Commodity (Score 5, Informative) 402

Wow. You manage to bring in one thing to explain this thing and get it spectacularly wrong. As someone else pointed out, the Columbus Day weekend is the traditional ramp down time for refineries in the U.S. as they rejigger their formulation for fall (You didn't know refineries changed formulas for the season?). Also, several major supply routes got messed up:

From California gasoline prices soar amid refinery and pipeline shutdowns By The Associated Press:

"Among the recent disruptions, an Aug. 6 fire at a Chevron Corp. refinery in Richmond left one of the region's largest refineries producing at a reduced capacity, and a Chevron pipeline that moves crude to northern California also was shut down. There also was a power failure that affected an Exxon Mobil Corp. refinery in Torrance, but the refinery has resumed normal operations."

As for Krugman and this being all the fault of QEx: there's a reason gas is not part of the core measure of inflation. Last I checked, we aren't in an inflation cycle yet. Gas is a volatile price (no-pun intended) that jumps way up and down responding to things like, you know, refineries having fires and pipeline shut downs. It's left out of most inflation conversations among economists.

Anyway, thanks for playing! Here's a home version of the game "The Eeeevil Fed Is Coming For Your Savings!!"

Comment Re:I'm surprised (Score 2) 134

What I *am* surprised about is that they're admitting to it this quickly. I expected it to be a decade or two before TEPCO or the government would admit that anything but the earthquake/tsunami were to blame. And that they're even blaming their own culture of discipline... wow. That's some harsh self-criticism.

Exactly. Japanese Parliamentary reports are usually cover-ups or whitewashes of political and industry screw ups. This is probably a first in Japanese post-war history!

Comment Am I the ony one who didn't like Snow Crash? (Score -1) 256

I tried to read it, but couldn't get past the first 100 pages. It was trying soooooo hard to be cool & edgy it turned me off. It was a like an Ritalin-addicts pastiche of William Gibson.

I think everything he wrote from from Cryptonomicon on are his best works. The Baroque Cycle was fantastic! It's kind of sad that it's Snow Crash that gets all the attention.

Comment Re:Ron Paul (Score 1) 577

He scares the left because he's basically about leaving the states to their own resources, and most states (especially the Red States), don't generate enough GDP to do anything on their own. Also, state politics are notoriously corrupt and prone to special interest groups (see California). The U.S. Federal government is the easiest institution to create a social safety net, control big corporations, etc. The things Ron Paul wants to let go of.

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