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* Posts by Identity

260 posts • joined 20 Aug 2009

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iOS 8 release: WebGL now runs everywhere. Hurrah for 3D graphics!

Identity
Boffin

A Little Revisionist History

At the time, Apple had a (late, unlamented) plugin known as QuickTime VR [QTVR], initially released in 1994 (if Wikipedia got the date right). It worked both with QuickTime and as a browser plug-in. As i remember, it was best suited for spinning things around...

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Limits to Growth is a pile of steaming doggy-doo based on total cobblers

Identity

Re: Parameter error

@ Robinson

I suppose ad hominem attacks are not beneath you, so I wonder what is?

That said, 1) you missed the word "if" and 2) the idea that population will rise to 9bn and then fall due to wealth is a) rank speculation and b) not borne out by history. No one will deny that the wealth of the United States has only increased in 200 years, but population has steadily risen. True, poor agrarian families often a) feel the need for more hands to do the chores, so have more children and b) have little or no opportunity or desire for birth control. In such societies, often life expectancy is lower and infant mortality higher. However, in Africa, the main cause of population decline seems to be disease, which by the way is a function (though not sole, by any means) of concentrated populations.

I have watched local populations of shorter-lived species, like squirrels, boom and bust, and there is no reason why humans cannot follow that path. Indeed, no one knows or can know what the human population will be in 2100. Perhaps we'll all stop breeding, à la Children of Men; perhaps we'll all be dead from hubristic actions or disease or perhaps those causes will result in a vastly reduced population. We use math to make some kind of an educated guess, even though the farther you get away from the known, the wider the margin of error.

The point, dear reader, is not the numbers, but that we live in a finite situation, into which we cannot continuously inject more and more demand without limit. Optimism is all well and good, but it is no cure. As Mr. Worstall noted, "starvation is a substitute for food," just not a good one...

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Identity

Re: Parameter error

My information comes from

http://www.eolss.net/sample-chapters/c11/e1-13-02-05.pdf

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Identity
FAIL

Parameter error

Seems to me, just like The Limits to Growth cited (which, admittedly, I haven't read, so I'll go with Mr. Worstall's take), said Tim Worstall makes the same kind of error — when you limit either the information going in or the conclusions you'll allow, you're bound to come up with a crap conclusion. Here, we speak solely of energy and mineral resources (in the general sense). Without trying to make a detailed argument, factor this in:

In 1800, there was one city with a population of 1 million — Beijing. By 1900, the population of the world was about 1 billion, mostly agrarian, with at least ten cities exceeding that population (London the most populous with 6,480,000, followed by New York with 4,242,000). By 2000, the world population was nearing 7 billion, with many cities around 20 million (Tokyo the largest at 26,400,000, followed by Mexico City at 17,900,000. New York, only the fifth most populous had grown to 16,600,000 — approximately a four-fold increase in 100 years). If we are able to survive and maintain that world growth rate, by 2100, there will be 49 billion people on the planet.

Already, and for some time now, we have been having problems with our fisheries. According to Pew, about 10 years ago, 92% of large ocean fish were already extinct! Sure, we're doing fish farming (which is barely taking up the slack, if that, and we can switch to species that were hitherto distasteful, though history shows when we do that, we soon extinct them, too. Witness the Patagonian toothfish a.k.a. Chilean sea bass.

Fisheries are not the only place where we are seeing scarcity. With more and more people, and increasingly those wanting the American lifestyle, the writing is on the wall. (I've heard —but can neither prove nor demonstrate— that if the current population were to live that lifestyle, we'd need four Earths.) However much there is of any given resource, that number is finite. If we do not get off this planet in a big way and find more resources, then there will be consequences that all the economists —of whatever stripe— in the world cannot solve. Other than that, any solution will have to rely on natural systems, whether that means living within the carrying capacity of the Earth or Mathusianism, I cannot say.

I'm not altogether hopeful...

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Britain's housing crisis: What are we going to do about it?

Identity

Re: Where do I begin?

"It also creates lucrative opportunities for rent controlled tenants to illegally sublet their apartments to people who pay more-or-less market rate - so the tenant gets the cream for free."

That's illegal, and generally against the terms of the lease — which is not to say people don't do it...

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Identity
FAIL

Where do I begin?

While I cannot speak to the UK housing situation, this essay is fraught with error of both fact and ideology.

So, let me start with the latter: plainly, this is written from an economic rather than social point of view. It makes the assumption that the so-called market will find the ideal situation for all concerned. First, let's begin with the fact that there is no such thing as a perfect market. Joseph Stiglitz won his Nobel proving this. People are always trying to 'warp' the market to suit their own desires.

I am familiar with rent control in New York City. This is a very expensive place to live, exceeded by few (I think San Francisco, London and Tokyo are among them, but that's neither here nor there...). Rent control is the only way many can afford to live there (example follows). Strictly speaking, if the essay were right in its assumptions, that there are plenty of places to build in the city, economic constraint would not hinder it — any new construction can be rented at whatever the owner wants. Further, the rules of rent control are called, strictly speaking, vacancy decontrol. Which means that when the occupant departs, rent at whatever desired level may ensue. (Again, really neither here nor there) my father lived in a rent controlled apartment in Manhattan. He was the Creative Director at a smallish advertising firm, belonging to Litton Industries. He was middle class (remember when there was such a thing?) and when he died, he left an estate of only a few thousand dollars. His rent was $300/mo, which he'd been paying since the '60's. At some point, the building went co-op and he had the choice of buying his apartment (for around $30K) but declined, because he "didn't want to be tied to those nuts" — the other owners. God knows what the costs of owning (in taxes, fees, repairs, assessments, etc.) would have been, though... When he died, that one bedroom apartment went for $300K. He (or at least, I) would have been richer had he bought, but he thought like an ordinary human with personal wishes and not like a theoretical economist.

One last issue, and then I'll leave off (though there's more to say): when an insurer pays a claim on your destroyed house, they are paying (ostensibly, at least) the cost of rebuilding less deductible. This does NOT include the land. If your house was worth 10x the insured value on the open market, once the builders are done, you can turn around and sell it for that!

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ROAD TRIP! An FCC road trip – Leahy demands net neutrality debate across US

Identity
Pirate

One has to be careful

Years ago, the FCC held such a meeting Boston. Comcast paid people to come off the street and sleep in the seats so there would be vastly limited room for those who wanted to discuss the issue. Just having the meetings isn't enough.

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Yosemite Siri? Apple might plonk chatty assistant on your desktop - report

Identity
Gimp

Some years ago...

Apple had a speech command system (which remains today as the Speech preference pane), which put up an avatar that would execute certain canned commands when addressed by name. They based their avatar on TV personality Connie Chung and called her Connie. You'd have to say something like, "Connie, open Word."

When they were initially trialling it at the Boston Apple Center, it didn't quite work. One tester could not get a response and asked an Applenaut, "Is Connie turned on?"

To which, that worthy replied, "That's an awfully personal question!"

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Beware WarKitteh, the connected cat that sniffs your Wi-Fi privates

Identity

I'm surprised

someone would let a Siamese wander the neighborhood. In my experience, they're quite subject to catnapping...

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Surprise! Government mega-infrastructure project cocked up

Identity
Boffin

I agree, but

one thing typically missing from Cost/Benefit Analysis is often termed 'externalities.' As a crude example, when we look at clearing a section of Amazon rainforest, we'll count the cost of bringing in the people and equipment, reduced by the value of the lumber removed, and then tossing in the value of the jobs created and the cattle raised. Ignored is the value that forest provided in CO2 —> O2 (including carbon sequestration), habitat for the forest denizens and even the potential value of pharmaceuticals that might be developed from the existing flora and fauna.

As Mr. Worstall says, it all hangs on the assumptions you make. People seem inclined to make only those assumptions that benefit themselves in the short run.

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CIA super-spy so sorry spies spied on Senate's torture scrutiny PCs

Identity
FAIL

I understand

that by the time the public document is released, it will be so heavily "redacted" that you could use it as a room-darkening shade.

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Bose says today is F*** With Dre Day: Beats sued in patent battle

Identity
WTF?

Delaware?

Not East Texas?

(—Yeah, I know Delaware is corporate-friendly, but E. Texas is more patent troll-friendly!)

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eBay impulse buyers STAY AWAY: Holy Grail Superman comic book to fetch $2m+

Identity
Coat

Really?

"...primary grader Paul Litch said in a release."

Don't you think they could get someone more qualified than a child?

Mine's the one with the attached mittens...

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HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs

Identity
Boffin

Not that Mr. Worstall

or any of the self-declared Libertarians out there would necessarily agree, but another source of jobs is Government. Of course, Government can generally create only Government jobs, but some them can actually be useful. The secret, as always, is to find the proper balance. When Government listens only to Big Business, the system is thrown out of whack with some of said businesses accepting the good things Government provides (roads, disease control, etc.) but refusing to pay for them by dint of clever tax strategies or even decamping to pastures green. And as Mr. Worstall says, Government then ignores other legs of the figurative table, which are actually holding the whole thing up. Further, when Government sucks up too much of the available resources and becomes bloated, it is like the tail wagging the dog.

On another issue, I submit that growth beyond the needs of the population; growth for the sake of growth; growth to run up the numbers is indistinguishable from inflation.

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Banning handheld phone use by drivers had NO effect on accident rate - study

Identity
Boffin

For any number of reasons

I find this study suspect. It's plain that many people use phones in the car without having accidents. Also plain that people have accidents without using phones. Likewise, attention to driving, skill, conditions of all sorts [including not only road, but inebriation, traffic, light and so forth], amount of enforcement, etc. are all highly variable. The smaller the sample, the less likely it is to be accurate. Add to this, the caveats mentioned herein, and you've got one useless study — which even scientifically cannot be counted on unless replicated.

I wonder who paid for this mess?

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Identity
Go

Re: re : James 51

Really? In Massachusetts, green means go and red means go...

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BMW i8 plug-in hybrid: It's a supercar, Jim, but not as we know it

Identity

It seems to me...

it would be next to impossible to get out if parked in a parking lot [car park].

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Delaware pair nabbed for getting saucy atop Mexican eatery

Identity
Coat

Old Joke

A couple were going at it on the roof of a whorehouse when the action got so frantic, they fell off. A passerby knocked on the door and said to the madam, "Lady, your sign fell down."

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Identity
Coat

Old Joke

A couple were going at it on the roof of a whorehouse when the action got so frantic, they fell off. A passerby knocked on the door and said, "Lady, your sign fell down."

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It's finally happened: Bloke builds BOFH-style goofing-off cattle prod

Identity
Black Helicopters

Just wait

until they're mandatory!

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20 years on: eWorld, Apple's spectacular online 'portal' failure

Identity
WTF?

Freudian typo?

"whom Firedman also credits..."

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Luxembourg patent troll suing world+dog

Identity
FAIL

Mistake

They SHOULD have filed in Texas. Delaware, (in)famously corporate-friendly, probably won't support this kind of shenanigans...

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Blame WWI, not Bin Laden, for NSA's post-9/11 intel suck

Identity
Boffin

Re: All Governments are dangerous and can easly end up as criminal gangs

There's more than a whiff of bias here. In the 19th century, banks in the US were private enterprises endowed with the power to create their own currencies. Some of these were even known as 'wildcat banks,' because only wildcats could reach them, making it difficult-to-impossible to redeem the notes. Needless to say, many of these failed, causing MUCH economic hardship. President Jackson lost significant sums on paper money, and thus became a 'hard money man.' US Government banking began with the Civil War, as Lincoln passed the National Banking Act (1863) to fund it. This not only gave us a National Bank, but created for the first time a national currency.

But here's the thing: ALL currency is fiat money. It is a consensual fiction. If you really want to solve these problems, you'll have to replace it. You might have bad names for people who want to do this, though...

SHAMELESS PLUG: You might want to read my book, The Root of All Evil, available for free! at http://books.noisetrade.com/cacohen/the-root-of-all-evil

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Identity
Big Brother

And yet...

In 1929, Secretary of State Henry Lewis Stimson shut down the State Department's cryptanalytic office saying, "Gentlemen don't read each other's mail." (Though he later reversed this attitude.)

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We're ALL Winston Smith now - and our common enemy is the Big Brother State

Identity
Black Helicopters

Re: @Irongut and others

Have you not heard of the 'secret room' at AT&T at 611 Folsom St. in San Francisco outed by former AT&T technician Mark Klein?

https://www.eff.org/nsa-spying

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Identity

Re: Niven has this one covered

I always liked this formulation:

In theory, there's no difference between theory and practice, but in practice there's a great deal of difference.

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Snowden's Big Brother isn't as Orwellian as you'd think

Identity
Black Helicopters

Was ist das?

Seems to me a semantic argument to foster stage two of the denialist triad*: 'OK, it's happening, but it's not as bad as you say.' Those of you in Blighty may have grown used to constant surveillance, what with the cameras and all, but on this side of the pond we are supposed to have a right to privacy. Today, it was reported on National Public Radio** that your cell phone (mobe, if you prefer) is leaking all kinds of information about you, even if you're not using it!

*The other two are 1) "It's not happening" and 3) "OK, it's happening, but it's somebody else's fault."

**http://www.npr.org/2014/06/11/320882348/project-eavesdrop-what-passive-surveillance-collects

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Piketty thinks the 1% should cough up 80%. Discuss

Identity

Once again, this is them triumph of bias over fact. Here's an example: in one West Virginia town [can't remember which one, but some diligent searching will probably find it], the coal mine ceased operation, due to being "tapped out." All the miners were forced to find other work. Some years later, technology allowed that mine to reopen with better extraction methods. The miners, who had become established in new employment, went back to the mine! There is, apparently, some kind of brotherhood and pride among miners...

On the other hand, 'Obamacare' has relieved what has come to be known as job-lock — people forced to stay in a job to keep their insurance. A significant number are now quitting to start their own businesses (surely, you must applaud such entrepreneurialism), or work in something more to their liking.

Road sweepers and garbage men, here, make a pretty good living (often on a government paycheck).

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Identity

Truth to tell, I know only one welfare sponger — a former drunken 'tenant' who didn't pay rent and who forced me to take her to court, then kept it going for 20 years!. She had a cell with her name on it at the local police station, due to the frequency of drunk-and-disorderlies. Even she has a job. The experience with immigrants is different here, as they tend to work (illegally) far below the going rate, pissing off those who work and expect a decent day's wage.

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Identity

One might be required to work for, say 20 years, in order to receive those benefits.

BTW, in a totally unscientific poll I took some years ago among random people I know and met, when asked if they would continue to work if given some base level food, shelter, clothing, medical care, etc., by far the most common answer was, 'yes, but I'd do something else.' My take is, people need to fill their time and like a feeling of accomplishment. The idea that without the threat of starvation and deprivation they would lie on the couch and eat bon-bons or get drunk is more of a bugaboo than a fact.

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Identity
FAIL

Speaking as an American

(who, I must admit, has only started reading Piketty's book and has only a generalized knowledge of his argument), I can say that Mr. Worstall's take is completely beside the point. On this side of the pond, income for the masses has been stagnant since about 1974, while prices have continued to rise. Both income and wealth have risen for the top 10% and more so for the top 1%, to the extent that income for some CEOs has been clocked, in at least one instance, at 750x the income of the lowest paid worker in the same company (more commonly being a mere 250—300x). The welfare state here is not nearly so generous here as in the UK or Sweden (or France, for that matter). Medical bills are one the most common causes of bankruptcy. The current attempt to remedy this (which I call the Insurance Industry Protection Act) was a Republican idea now repudiated by said Republicans, because it was passed under a Democratic President. (Admittedly, it's a hot mess that would not have occurred had Mr. Obama lived up to his promise of a 'public option,' but that's an argument for another time.) While coverage is somewhat improved, we are now mandated to pay for it (which the Right and Mr. Worstall no doubt term a tax, and a largely regressive one at that). Of the 45 million uninsured, there are now only some 28 million... But enough of insurance and healthcare.

Even those working today can find it hard to make ends meet. WalMart workers are infamously often on EBT (née Foodstamps) and Medicaid. True, the poor are nowhere near as poor as the poor of past centuries, and that's good, but it's not really the question. (When I lived in Holland in the 70's, they said under the Dutch system you can't soar as high, but you can't fall as far. At this point in the US, you can soar with eagles but you can still be driven into the ground.)

There are two things, to me, that are especially germane: gross societal inequality, where 90% of the assets are in the hands of 10% of the people is a leading cause of economic catastrophe, as in the Great Depression. The other is societal and economic mobility, which except for a few, has all but ceased. This means that top percentiles stay rich, and in a land where by law money equals speech, they take control of the levers of power and warp the nation to their personal ends, which becomes a kind of economic feedback loop. One can see a future where 'wage slave' is not hyperbole.

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The enemy of my enemy is my, well, temporary ally: Apple and Microsoft in pact against Google

Identity
Boffin

It's interesting to note

that 'Bing' is Chinese for 'disease.'

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It's Google's NO-WHEEL car. OMG... there aren't any BRAKES

Identity
Black Helicopters

What could go wrong?

'Nuff said.

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Poll: Climate change now more divisive than abortion, gun control

Identity
Boffin

I'm writing from New Hampshire

Here, you will find geographical pockets of every political persuasion. Famously, New Hampshire is home to rock-ribbed, laconic (even those not from Laconia, NH) Republicans. In the last 20 or 30 years, Massachusetts residents flocked to the southern tier (I'm one of them), for various reasons (not excluding taxes), to the extent that all but one (Sen Kelly Ayotte) of the main offices in the state are held by Democrats and ALL are women. In the last few years, so-called Free Staters (read: Tea Partiers. Our State motto is "Live Free or Die") have tried to move into the state in large numbers with the intent of taking over. They're troublesome, selfish jerks, but so far have had little practical effect. Overall, the state is pretty evenly divided with a leftward predominance.

I remember when I lived in Holland, noted for it's tolerance, driving through a town of religious zealots where there was a sign over the town dock that read, "First there's birth, then there's duty, then there's death. Nothing more." You see the same sort pockets here...

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Google: The Internet of Things to become the Internet of ADVERTS ON YOUR THERMOSTAT

Identity
Black Helicopters

Suggested Reading

"Buy Jupiter" by Isaac Asimov

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buy_Jupiter

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Our Reg reader 'mutt's nuts' dictionary is le chien's biens

Identity

What? No Dutch?

Try klote hond

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Net neutrality protesters set up camp outside FCC headquarters

Identity
Alert

Update

"Over 100 leading technology companies, including Google Inc, Facebook Inc, Twitter Inc and Amazon.com Inc, have written to U.S. telecom regulators to oppose a new "net neutrality" plan that would regulate how Internet providers manage web traffic."

https://smallbusiness.yahoo.com/advisor/technology-firms-write-u-fcc-oppose-net-neutrality-222341162--finance.html

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Report: Climate change has already hit USA - and time is RUNNING OUT

Identity
Holmes

When faced with denial, just remember this

There are three types of denial, which are often phased:

1) Straight denial — It's not happening

2) Minimization denial — OK, it's happening, but it's not as bad as you say

3) Transference denial — OK, it's happening and it's bad, but it's somebody else's fault

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FCC: We're GUTTED people think we'd gut net neutrality

Identity
Facepalm

At the risk of stating the obvious...

"Commercially reasonable" = profitable

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A scanner, darkly: Master data-miner Google tweaks terms of service

Identity
Coat

Here's what I like...

"...to provide you personally relevant product features, such as customized search results, tailored advertising, and spam..."

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US taxman blows Win XP deadline, must now spend millions on custom support

Identity
Coat

I thought

they were using MS-DOS!

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Hey, Michael Lewis: Stop DEMONISING Wall Street’s SUPERHUMAN high-speed trading

Identity
Mushroom

Here's my problem

(apart from not having time to read more than the first page of comments)

The Masters of the Universe, with their HFT and smug belief that they know best, have eliminated any chance that the individual, small trader can succeed (except by luck and chance). The Masters, at the very least, have added to their costs. The economy now belongs to the few. (There are many further unrelated examples of this, but the net result is that equality, democracy and fairness have been defenestrated, despite our fervent desire to believe otherwise.)

Please note that Joseph Stiglitz won the Nobel prize in Economics for showing that the 'perfect exchange of information' on which the markets are supposed to operate is a crock of dung (otherwise known as information asymmetry, if you prefer) — but you all knew that, didn't you...

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Can you tell a man's intelligence simply by looking at him? Yes

Identity
Stop

Another problem

Is it just me, or do the catchlights in the eyes appear brighter the more supposedly intelligent the subject? In art class they told us that it was these reflections that gave the appearance of life to a portrait.

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Identity
Childcatcher

Some years ago...

in a thoroughly unscientific study of National Geographic magazines, which frequently ran photos of tribal societies, a reader found that young men looked fierce —they had to be aggressive to be good hunters and warriors— which was apparently attractive to the young women, who were smiling and looked demure. Older men looked happy and relaxed while older women looked bitter.

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Judge throws out lawsuit lobbed at Facebook for using kids' pics in targeted ads

Identity

Re: Presumably some people at Facebook are at least smart enough

T&Cs commonly have a paragraph stating which law governs, as in 'this contract shall be governed by laws of the State of California.' While IANAL, I have been taught that a contract is 'a meeting of the minds,' and any contract for which you can't negotiate is an adhesion contract and thus unenforceable, but that may vary by state...

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Apple to switch HUMAN iPhone-juicer-fiddlers with ROBOTS – report

Identity

It seems to me...

Apple has been making noise about building things in America. If they (and not Foxconn) ARE going to buy robots, there would be advantages to doing it here and not (or in addition to, for Asian shipments) China...

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Cisco belches forth mighty intergobblenator CLOUD OF DOLLARS

Identity
Alert

Suggested reading

"The Machine Stops" by E.M. Forster

http://manybooks.net/titles/forstereother07machine_stops.html

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Proof Apple is GOING BACKWARDS: It's trying to patent a Newton-ish touchscreen stylus

Identity
Facepalm

Re: Prior Art

Adobe has just released news of their own products: http://xd.adobe.com/mighty/notify.html

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Wackadoo DIYers scissor-kick beatboxer

Identity

It's a treat

to see all these 'new' words listed as misspellings by my browser!

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CIA hacked Senate PCs to delete torture reports. And Senator Feinstein is outraged

Identity
Big Brother

Nothing to see here

Move along

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