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Comment Re:Most forms of metric are like this (Score 1) 196

" A label which captures this concept is 'Goodhart's Law' -- after economist Charles Goodhart, who posited in essence that 'when a measure becomes a target, it becomes useless.'"

I've seen a similar effect in places where I've worked. A poorly defined metric that is used to rate employee performance will suddenly become the primary focus of the job, instead of actually doing the job.

I've seen a similar effect in places where I've worked as well, that is, public schools. Since the nineties, both school and pupil evaluations have been based on achieving questionable targets using questionable metrics. It's nice to know that even if the metrics weren't questionable, using a target like that would make them so. And not only that, a term, Goodhart's Law, exists to describe the phenomenon. I'll place it up there on the shelf right next to Godwin. Thanks!

Comment Wages don't matter (Score 2) 954

"They're always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there's never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex, or race discrimination case"

He complains about wages, and then lists the reasons he'll automate no matter what the minimum wage is, no matter what the regulations are. Sounds about right.

Comment As a K12 teacher, I have to say . . . (Score 5, Insightful) 352

The TFA is an excellent example of that fraction of the population who has no idea what a K12 teaching job actually entails, but somehow thinks they understand it completely. As one of the respondents in this thread (who did understand it) put it, real teaching jobs will be one of the last to go, as they entail interaction between human beings. It's in the interaction that the best teaching happens. That's why K12 classes need to be smaller, and not like my 200+ member Biology 1 lecture at university forty years ago.

Submission + - NSA Can Hack wifi 8 Miles Out - Implications For Commercial Use ( 2

littlewink writes: Assume that the NSA, as they claim, can hack wifi 8 mile out. Then it must be possible for a network of enhanced wifi routers (not controlled by the NSA) to act as a wide-area network similar to now-defunct Metricom's Ricochet system except far more robust, distributed and less costly. Such a network, by reducing the role of local ISPs, could reduce unwanted monitoring (by NSA and others).

I am asking for suggestions about software/hardware enhanced stacks for such a "New and Freer Internet"?

Comment The Paper Chase (Score 1) 169

This idea of instruction bears much resemblance to that depicted in the movie (and television series) The Paper Chase. That is, "you learn the law, and I'll train your minds."

Yes, sometimes the old ways are best.

Comment So, in other words . . . (Score 1) 633

For one thing, paying off the national debt would mean the end of Treasury bonds, a pillar of the global economy. Treasury securities are crucially important to the world financial system in a number of ways: banks buy them as low-risk assets, the Fed uses them for executing monetary policy, and mortgage interest rates vary based on Treasury rates. 'It was a huge issue ... for not just the U.S. economy, but the global economy,' says Diane Lim Rogers

So, isn't this basically saying that the US taxpayer is propping up the world's economy?

Comment Will it also be able to save html as pdf? (Score 1) 257

I know the answer to this must be no, at least in the short term, but I would think that the same engine might some day be used for that purpose, which I would use a lot, as I often save web pages, and I usually save them in that awful format with the text separated from the directory of resources, because that's what every browser, even old models, can read. It would be nice to save web pages or even web sites from the browser into pdf, like I used to do with Adobe Acrobat, back when I could afford to buy such things.

Comment Discoverability (or lack of it) (Score 1) 244

Speaking as someone who very casually uses an ipod touch, which I obtained on a special deal, and bought mainly because I just wanted to know what the device was like:

It's not easy to browse for apps or discover new ones. Sure, you can search, but search for what? I'm more likely to discover new apps when they're described on forums and bulletin boards than I am from cruising the Apple Store. Yeah, you can easily find the most popular ones in a list, but then, that's the point, isn't it? Once you're on that list, you're pretty much guaranteed to stay there, and remaining one of the small percent who gain the lion's percent of the income.

Well, I'm not wild about the device, anyway. Can't even simply transfer pictures to it without it reducing the resolution.

Comment Re:Game of Chicken (Score 1) 533

I've thought for a while that the ejection of Facebook, the probably ejection of Google, etc., is all part of a face-saving Kabuki to give Chinese companies room to grow, now that Facebook and Google have proved the utility of their respective functions to large groups of people.

For example, without Facebook as competition, such functional facebook clones like,, and are growing quickly, keeping both the service and the economic benefits of the Facebook idea within China's borders in a classic case of economic protectionism. Yes, the government can exert more direct control over them than they could over facebook, but at this point, that's kind of the icing on the cake.

Without Google as competition, Baidu ( has that much more room to grow and take more tech jobs from the Indian economy and give them to Chinese. Yes, the government can censor more, but again, that's icing on the cake, since there are many other ways to maintain censorship and manage the population. Simply keeping things in the Chinese language and managing the traditional media go a long ways towards maintaining such control anyway, automatically excluding foreign ideas while keeping the frames (and therefore the conclusions) of major debates under control. Such a condition is not "censorship" in the strict use of that word, but this is the system used by Western governments to control discourse, even though they lack the self-isolating features of the Chinese language, so there's no reason why it shouldn't work here in China.

Examples of Western "censorship" can be found at sites like, by the way. My point, then, is that, while censorship is important to the government, there's more than one way to accomplish it. There is only one way to provide economic protectionism, which is to divert more economic activity to local businesses, whether that be through tariffs, governmental spending, or what have you. Therefore, economic protectionism seems to me a primary reason for this kerfluffle, even though censorship may, of course, remain as a secondary reason.

This Google exclusion is all of a piece with the general economic protectionism with which China has been irritating ideologically "free market" types for a long time.

The current arguments over principle, then, can be viewed as a dramatically-colored veneer allowing both sides to save ideological face when the inevitable market protectionism takes place.

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