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Comment it was about greed? (Score 0) 155

To say that "there can be no free market in the absence of regulation" is equivalent to saying that there can be no free market, period. A regulated market, by definition, is not free.

Despite all his insights, Adam Smith contradicted himself on many points, including on the subject of regulation. Fortunately, we are not bound by his mistakes. The early pioneers in any field tend to get many things wrong, and it's nothing to be ashamed of. Those who come after will naturally keep the best parts and discard the mistakes. The idea that the market requires regulation is simply one of those areas that Smith got wrong. He couldn't see how certain problems could be solved while keeping the market free. However, others who later built on his work were able to find better solutions and do away with those inconsistencies.

Comment Re:Opposite (Score 5, Interesting) 523


I'm a gen X'er and I *know* I won't have a pension. Even if I retire, the government or the pension providers will default on me - either through inflation, or just because the damn pension providers will flatly announce they just don't have anything left in their coffers. I know this because they've already done it to my dad, who was born in the silent generation. So it's nothing new, but it sure won't get no better.

So, I'm not putting any money in a system that'll shaft me and I'm not saving anything for old age - most likely I'll be working until I die anyway.

What I do instead is, I enjoy as much free time now while I'm still young: I found me one of the last "old-style" jobs still available that lets me work 36 hrs/week with unreasonably great pay, in a heavily unionized old company that does business in a market that doesn't know the word recession.

In other words, I've maximized my salary/work ratio and I do as little work as possible to enjoy life the the fullest while I'm still in a condition to enjoy it. Time enough when I'm old and decrepit to kill myself at work for a living.

Comment Re:Update: Testing EnergyStar by GAO resulted in: (Score 1) 267

GAO submitted a few non-existant products to test the EnergyStar program. Some notable results:

Gas-Powered Alarm Clock: Product description indicated the clock is the size of a small generator and is powered by gasoline.

Product was approved by Energy Star without a review of the company Web site or questions of the claimed efficiencies.

I'd buy one of these. :D

Comment Re:Medieval Guild Structure (Score 1) 708

It's not really that imbecile's fault - indeed they might not even agree with the law but still feel they have a duty to enforce it.

If their job would require them to enforce a law they believe to be unjust then they should resign rather than contribute to harming others through the enforcement of that law. The excuse that they were "just doing their job" does not shield them from responsibility for the consequences of their actions.


An Artificial Womb Successfully Grew Baby Sheep -- and Humans Could Be Next ( 184

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Inside what look like oversized ziplock bags strewn with tubes of blood and fluid, eight fetal lambs continued to develop -- much like they would have inside their mothers. Over four weeks, their lungs and brains grew, they sprouted wool, opened their eyes, wriggled around, and learned to swallow, according to a new study that takes the first step toward an artificial womb. One day, this device could help to bring premature human babies to term outside the uterus -- but right now, it has only been tested on sheep. The Biobag may not look much like a womb, but it contains the same key parts: a clear plastic bag that encloses the fetal lamb and protects it from the outside world, like the uterus would; an electrolyte solution that bathes the lamb similarly to the amniotic fluid in the uterus; and a way for the fetus to circulate its blood and exchange carbon dioxide for oxygen. Flake and his colleagues published their results today in the journal Nature Communications.

Comment Re:And you apparently do not understand calculus (Score 1) 349

OTOH, taxation based on income treats everyone the same regardless of whether they spend their money wisely or foolishly.

So people who took advantage of the opportunities available to them should have to pay more taxes, while others who had exactly the same opportunities but choose not to exploit them should have to pay lower taxes and qualify more easily for government aid?

Taxation based on income does not treat everyone the same. Those who take better advantage of the opportunities that come their way are penalized compared to others who let those same opportunities pass by but were equally wise or foolish in spending what money they did earn.

Comment Re:Ontario, largest subnational debtor on the plan (Score 1) 513

OK, so the government owes us money. So what's the problem?

The problem is that any repayment you receive on that loan will be coming from the taxpayers, i.e. from you. That's great (for you) if you happen to hold an exceedingly large portfolio of government bonds, so that the net interest you receive fully offsets your taxes. Otherwise it's a net loss. From the average taxpayer's point of view it's simply bad debt, along the lines of buying consumer goods with a credit card and continually applying for more credit rather than paying it off each month.

Comment Re:I like functions... (Score 1) 415

So you were treating (**) as the free variable? That works, provided the operator actually appears as a function argument or local variable in an enclosing function context. References to global definitions do not create closures in Python. (The value of a global variable or function definition is looked up at each call, not captured as part of the lambda.) However, in that case you can't really refer to (**2) as "the squaring function" since (**) could do anything, not just exponentiation.

Comment Re:It has its uses (Score 1) 415

... we'll keep rolling our eyes and ignoring you.

It's your loss. BTW, the mathematical definition of a "function" as a fixed mapping from objects in the domain to objects in the range has been around a whole lot longer than the (mis)use of the term to describe procedures or subroutines in (some) programming languages. The idea that "state" implies mutation is commonplace even within the more mainstream areas of the computer programming industry, not just among functional programmers.

Comment Re:I like functions... (Score 1) 415

** is a function of two variables. The 2 is coming from a different context. **2, as a squaring function is a closure.

(**2) is a Haskell-style "operator section" which would be shorthand for "lambda x: x**2" in Python. This lambda has no free variables and thus is not a closure. An example of a closure would be the second lambda in "lambda x: lambda y: x**y", which closes over the free variable "x". You can also do this without lambdas:

def pow(x):
____def curried(y): return x**y
____return curried

# returns closure of lambda y: x**y, capturing x=2
f = pow(2)

# returns 2**4

(Pretend the underscores are spaces.) The important part is that the function you are capturing includes references to free variables inherited from its original context.

Comment Re:It has its uses (Score 2) 415

There's no real difference between a lambda and an object full of state, beyond the syntax. Lambdas capture arbitrary state.

When functional programmers talk about state they're referring to mutable state. What you are describing is simply data. Capturing immutable data provided through function arguments does not violate referential transparency. You still get the same result for the same arguments.

Plus, in real software, the results of some functions is often some measurement of some changing real-world thing.

That isn't a function, not in the mathematical sense. In Haskell it would be referred to as an I/O action. In functional programming objects exist which describe "impure" actions, such as sampling a sensor or printing to the console; these objects can be manipulated by pure functions, e.g. combining two actions to make a larger action, or mapping a function over the result, but are only executed (logically speaking[1]) by an impure external interpreter in the language runtime. The program itself is pure, even the parts which evaluate to IO actions—barring abuse of specific constructs like unsafePerformIO. The runtime, inevitably, is not pure, since has the responsibility of interfacing between the pure program and the real world.

[1] For performance reasons, of course, the compiler actually "inlines" the interpreter, generating impure object code similar to a traditional compiled imperative program. The external interpreter, like the C virtual machine model, is merely an aid for thinking about the code, not a concrete implementation.

Comment Re:Still a dream (Score 1) 148

... even with that benefit today, a small 2 seater piston driven aircraft will make the most obscene SUV look like a Prius efficiency wise.

Most small aircraft presently operate at 15-20 MPG, mostly because the engines are based on simple, old (and thus well-tested), fully analog designs, but it doesn't have to be that way. For example, here's a 2-seater piston-driven aircraft retrofitted with electronic ignition and fuel injection which gets better mileage than most high-efficiency cars: Hypermiling Plane Gets 45 MPG at 207 MPH. The challenge is adapting the tech improvements which have made ground vehicles so much more efficient to small aircraft without compromising safety—a fuel-injection system failure on the ground tends to be a much smaller problem than a similar failure at cruising altitude.

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